There are many different kinds of yarn classified by their different characteristics, such as thickness and weight. So what is worsted weight yarn, and how does it fit in?
Definition of Worsted Weight Yarn
Worsted weight yarn is classified as medium weight. It has a medium thickness, which is one reason why it’s so great for knitting items such as blankets, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and hats. Many knitters believe that this kind of yarn is the best and most versatile for their craft. The medium weight comes in between the lighter weight and heavier weight varieties.
You may not always see the word “worsted” on this yarn’s packaging. If that isn’t there, there should at least be the number 4 and the word “medium.”
The Needles You Should Use with Worsted Weight Yarn
The best needle size to use will vary by project. If you want to end up with a fabric that is firm and flexible at the same time, you should use a 4.5 to 5.5 mm needle. In the United States, this will be labeled as US 7-9.
When it comes to lace knitting, if you want to use worsted yarn, you should probably use a needle between 6.0 and 8.0 mm in size. This will help give you open lacework. A needle with a much smaller diameter (between 3.25 and 4.0 mm) will usually be necessary if you want to knit more practical items such as dish towels, knitting socks, and potholders. This will render a much more durable and stiffer type of fabric.
How Many Plies is Worsted Weight Yarn Available In?
You can find worsted weight yarn in several different plies. Generally, it can range from one-ply to as many as eight-plies. Generally speaking, yarns that have more plies are more resistant to breaking and pilling. When plies are twisted together, the yarn is stronger and has more volume.
When deciding how many plies you should go for, think about what you have in mind for your project. If you want to knit something that needs to be especially durable, a 3-ply or 4-ply yarn is probably the best bet.
Projects that Suit Worsted Weight Yarn
Just a few of the projects that you can make with worsted weight yarn are dishcloths, mittens, cardigans, home décor items (such as cushion covers and throws), hats, cowls, baby items, baby blankets, sweaters, and afghans.
As mentioned earlier, it is the most versatile yarn, so you can use it for almost anything. It’s also incredibly affordable and won’t be an issue if you need a huge amount of yarn for a very large project.
Differences in the Materials Used
Traditional wool isn’t the only material yarn is made of. Let’s take a look at some of the materials that are often found in worsted weight yarn:
- Wool (such as Malabrigo’s Merino Worsted)
- Alpaca (such as Rowan Lima)
- Blends of cotton and synthetic materials
- Combinations of wool and synthetic materials
Are you wondering whether you should choose wool or another material for your worsted weight yarn? Each type of material has different qualities. Without question, wool and Alpaca are superior to the rest. However, the most important thing to consider is your specific needs and the requirements of the specific project.
Many knitters who want to make a sweater will end up choosing between wool and acrylic. Acrylic has a bad reputation, but it does have some qualities you might like. Acrylic is less expensive than wool and doesn’t affect people who have wool allergies. It’s also machine washable.
Acrylic does, however, have significant drawbacks. For one thing, it can be scratchy and hot. This is sometimes true even with newer, higher-quality acrylic fibers that are softer than the ones you probably remember from childhood.
If you don’t mind cost but want a natural fiber comparable to wool that many people with wool allergies can wear, go with Alpaca yarn. Alpaca yarn is superb quality. Be aware, though, that it can cost as much as twice the price of even Merino wool.
Worsted Weight Yarn vs Worsted Wool
Despite their naming, worsted weight yarn and worsted wool are two entirely different things.
Worsted wool is a special wool processing technique called the worsted method. In the worsted process, combing removes the short fibers, leaving only fibers of the same length.
These are spun so that they’re positioned parallel beside one another. This leads to an extremely dense yarn that is silky and smooth. Worsted wool is used for fine-quality clothing, such as high-end men’s suits.
Why Worsted Weight Yarn May be Your Best Choice
We’ve touched on some of these points but let’s summarize the ways in which worsted weight yarn may be the best choice for your project:
- Worsted weight yarn is always easy to find, sometimes much easier to find than other weights. So you won’t have to waste lots of time going from section to section or even store to store.
- If you want to do colorwork knitting, it is a safe bet.
- It allows for excellent stitch definition. This is an attractive quality for many knitters.
- This yarn is medium weight, meaning that if you make it into a sweater or cardigan, it will provide warmth while not being too bulky.
- It’s really easy to find knitting kits and patterns that specifically call for this type of yarn.
- It has dependable strength and resilience.
- It’s quicker and easier to knit with worsted weight yarn than it is with several other types of yarn.
A Fantastic “All-Purpose Yarn”
Worsted weight yarn can be used for so many things that some people actually refer to it as an “all-purpose yarn.” While there are certainly some projects out there that you may not be able to use this yarn for, the vast majority of the items you want to knit and crochet can be made with this versatile yarn.