Worsted Weight Yarn

Are you looking for the best-worsted weight yarn? If you’ve just started knitting, you’ll come to notice many beginner kits and patterns suggest this yarn. When shopping, you’ll find many manufacturers describing their yarn as worsted weight. So, what exactly is it and what’s so special about it?

Well, for one, knitting yarns behave similarly to sewing threads. They’re available in different weight/ thickness, structure/ plies, and fiber/ material. Some are as soft as cotton and others very thin like a cobweb.

When we speak of worsted weight yarn, this is the yarn that sits in the middle of the yarn weight class. It’s heavier/ thicker than the lace, super-fine, fine, and lightweight threads, then lighter/ thinner than the bulky, super bulky, and jumbo yarn. In other words, a worsted weight yarn is a go-for yarn when you want a project warm but not bulky.

Worsted Weight Yarn Or Number Four Yarn

Here in the US, we often use descriptive names to define the weight of yarn. Even on the label, you’ll notice brands like Madelinetosh using “worsted weight” to refer to the medium-thick yarn. 

In other countries, especially the UK and other parts of Europe, knitter/ crocheters often refer to the yarn weights by numbers. For instance,  “Fingering Weight” is number one, “DK weight” number three, “Worsted Weight” number four, “Chunky Weight” number five, and “Jumbo Weight” size seven.

Therefore, when a yarn doesn’t have a “worsted” weight in the description, look for #4. The two are the same thing and in some cases listed as aran or afghan weight.

Worsted Weight Yarn VS 4-Ply Yarn

A 4-ply yarn is another way people often confuse the worsted weight yarn. Contrary to that, 4-ply yarn may also refer to sport, light, super bulky, and the rest of yarn weights. This is so as a ply in a yarn refers to the number of strands spun together. A worsted yarn can also be 3-ply (three plies), two-ply (two plies), or 8-ply (eight plies). You can even get a single-ply yarn (known as just singles) like that used in making a cushy cowl.

When thinking about plies of yarn, by the way, it’s worth noting that the more they are, the higher the tensile strength. Thus, the less likely the yarn will break or even pill. 

Regardless, how strong yarn is also does depend on the fibers used to make it. If it’s Acrylic (synthetic), the worsted yarn will deliver knitted items that last since it’s a man-made fiber from polymer. The yarn type is the first choice for many beginners and many proficient crafters as it’s affordable.

More on that, let’s explore the various fibers you can get of a worsted weight yarn.

The 7 Wonderful Fibers of Worsted Weight Yarn

1. Acrylic: other than affordability, acrylic yarns are also resistant to splitting, easy to care for, lightweight, and hypoallergenic. However, acrylic material lack breathability, which causes it to hold onto water (sweat), plus it loses body heat fast. Hence, the reasons brands like Lion Brand recommend an acrylic-wool blend for sweaters as it has qualities of both materials.

2. Acrylic blend: an example here is an acrylic-wool blend, which is less expensive than pure wool yarns. Best of all, the yarn’s still warm and soft like cotton, plus strong and easy to wash like acrylic. 

3. Wool: this is the best fiber when knitting garments for winters or blankets. It absorbs moisture better than acrylic, keeping the body warm and dry. Sad to say, however, wool yarns can be pretty expensive, difficult to clean, and quite many people are allergic to them. 

4. Cotton: Similarly, cotton is less expensive, warm, light, and breathable. It’s great for making summer garments, though you could also use it for dishcloths and scrubbies. Even so, as a knitter or crocheter, you have to be confident and patient with this yarn to avoid splitting. It’s also inelastic and doesn’t hold its shape when blocking. Thus, may affect the drape of your project, especially if new and don’t know how to go around it. 

5. Silk: the yarn is pretty easy to use, durable strong, shiny look, and smooth on the skin. Similar to cotton, silk can make amazing summer kits, albeit you’ll have to cope with slipperiness. 

6. Bamboo: Like other natural fibers, bamboo yarns are cool and breathable for summer tops or sweaters. It also has a wonderful drape, feels very soft on the skin, plus has antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties. Despite the sweet upsides, though, this yarn often weakens when wet and mostly requires hand-washing. So, not ideal for knits that will need regular washing. 

7. Mohair: this one is most common to pro knitters from its high luster and sheen, although it’s also durable and beautifully soft. Moreover, the yarn fiber has excellent evaporation properties, plus can be used for all seasons’ knits. However, mohair yarns are more of a luxury line, making it a bit pricey than ordinary wool. Also, some people feel it itchy on the skin. 

What Are The Best Needles For Worsted Weight Yarn

To begin with, the type of needle that you use to knit with a worsted weight yarn depends on the project at hand. Different items require different knitting techniques. Thus, the needle and even the hook for crocheters need to be special. 

For instance, knitting socks or dishtowels needs a tighter tension for a stiff and sturdy stitch. As such a needle size ranging from 3.25 to 4.0 mm will give the best results in this case. This is nearly double the size for lace knitting, in which case you use a 6.0 to 8.0 mm needle.

Nonetheless, a 4.5 to 5.5 mm needle is the standard size for knitting worsted weight yarns. It gives neither tight nor loose stitch,            but that’s firm enough for most projects.

The following table compares the recommended size of the knitting needle and crochet hook when working with worsted weight yarn. However, we have included the data for the other yarn weights as well so that you can better understand how they differ from each other.

1. Yarn Weight VS Knitting Needle

Yarn WeightOther NamesYarn Number(UK)Knitting Gauge(in Stockinette)Best Needle(in Metric)Best Needle (in U.S. size)
LaceFingering 10-cunt#033-40 stitches1.5-2.25000 – 1
Super-FineSock/ fingering/ baby#127-32 stitches2.25-3.325mm1 – 3
FineSport/ baby#223-26 stitches3.25-3.75mm3 – 5
LightDK, light worsted#321-24 stitches3.75-4.5 mm5 – 7
WorstedMedium/Afghan/ Aran#416-20 stitches4.5-5.5mm7 – 9
BulkyChunky/ Rug#512-15 stitches5.5 – 8 mm9 – 11
Super-bulkyRoving#67 – 118-12.75 mm11 – 17
Jumbo#76- fewer stitches12.75mm – larger17 –larger

2. Yarn Weight VS Crocheting Hook

Yarn WeightOther NamesYarn Number(UK)Crochet Gauge(in Stockinette)Best Needle(in Metric)Best Needle (in U.S. size)
LaceFingering 10-cunt#032 – 42 double crochets1.6 – 1.4 mm (Steel)2.25mm (Regular)6, 7, 8 (steel)B-1 (Regular) 
Super-FineSock/ fingering/ baby#121 – 32 stitches2.25-3.5mmB – 1 to E – 4
FineSport/ baby#216 -20 stitches3.5 – 4.5 mmE – 4 to 7
LightDK, light worsted#312 – 17 stitches4.5 – 5.5 mm7 to I – 9
MediumAfghan/ Aran#411 – 14 stitches5.5 – 6.5 mmI – 9 to K-10½ 
BulkyChunky/ Rug#58 -11 stitches6.5 – 9.0 mmK- 10½ to M-13
Super-bulkyRoving#67 – 9 stitches9.0 -15.0 mmM-13 to Q 
Jumbo#76- fewer stitches15.0 mm – LargerQ – Larger

Notes:

A knitting gauge is a measure of the number of stitches per inch horizontally and the number of rows per inch vertically. It’s what helps you know the size of your finished project. If you’re knitting or crocheting from a pattern book, the designers usually include the target gauge.

However, the author of these knitting patterns expresses this gauge in stockinette as it can give you more accurate results. Besides, measuring the stitches and rows on stockinette is a lot easier. But again, a gauge of stockinette stitch is expressed as per four inches rather not a single inch.

For instance, the knitting gauge of a worsted weight yarn is 16 to 20 stitches in stockinette. This means that your horizontal stitches fall between 16 – 20 stitches and should measure 4 inches in width. Also, you will only achieve that gauge when knitting with a needle size between 4.5mm to 5.5mm ( 7 -9 US).

How Much Worsted Yarn Do You Need For A Scarf?

In many cases, knitting patterns don’t list down the amount of yarn (total yardage) you need to complete your project. But then, different weights of yarns will require varying amounts of yardage to make a finished product. So, it’s upon you to do a little bit of math to determine the approximate number of skeins or hanks to buy.

If it’s worsted weight yarn, you certainly will need a lesser amount than when working with a Lace, superfine, fine, or light yarn. 

The following table shows the average yardage of yarn you can use to make a scarf, sweater, afghan, hat, and sock for adults. You can use it to estimate your needs if playing with numbers isn’t your thing.

Yarn WeightHat(in yards)Scarf(in yards)Afghan(in yards)Socks(in yards)Sweaters(in yards)Mittens(in yards)
#0 – Lace 350 – 400350 – 8503500 – 3750400 – 5002000 – 4000200 – 350
#1 – Superfine 300 – 375300 – 8003000 – 3500350 – 4501500 – 3500150 – 300
#2 – Fine 250 – 350250 – 7502500 – 3000300 – 4001250 – 3000100 – 250
#3 – Light 200 – 300200 – 6002000– 2500250 – 3501000 – 250075 – 200
#4 – Worsted150 – 250150 – 5501500 – 2000200 – 300800 – 200050 – 150
#5 – Bulky125 – 200100 – 500750 – 1500750 – 1500
#6 – Superbulky75 – 12550 – 450500 – 1000500 – 1000

To Conclude:

Worsted weight yarn is more of the all-purpose sewing thread. It’s the best yarn size for beginners or when in doubt of what your pattern needs you to use. The yarn is so knittable (easy to use) and its medium thickness is compatible with a wide range of knitted items.

Anyways, while there are one or two things we might have forgotten, we have covered most of the essentials that are a big take when knitting or crocheting. Hopefully, the article was helpful enough and you’re now okay to carry on with your project.

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