What Is Worsted Weight Yarn?

What is worsted weight yarn? Why is it so knittable? Can it knit sweaters, blankets, hats and beyond? Why are there so many shapes and sizes of wool? Which yarn is the most popular? 

Newbie knitters often have many questions when it comes to one of the most popular types of yarn on the craft market today. Worsted weight yarn is an all-purpose medium weight yarn in the middle of the weight scale which provides 16-20 stitches for every four inches. Heavier than DK, double knitting, sports weight, baby weight, fingering weight, or crochet thread, it is soft and chunky enough for use in jumpers, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, and blankets. But still thin enough to be simple to work with, even for beginners!

Weight Scale

The weight scale was made popular by the Craft Yarn Council, used by crafters, manufacturers, designers and publishers who consider it the gold standard.

Each type of yarn has a number, making it easy to achieve your desired results. When purchasing new yarn, weight number will be visible, so it’s essential to become aware of these categories. If the number and description are missing, you need only check the gauge falls between 16-20 stitches per four inches. Worsted yarn is frequently labelled as Aran or Afghan depending on the brand. 


Plies are the individual threads which make up a strand of standard yarn. Four yarns entwined together are four-ply, three yarns entwined together are three-ply, and two yarns entwined together are two-ply, and so forth. One-ply of yarn can be made thicker for a brushed effect.

A single string of yarn can consist of as many as eight plies often named Cabled Yarn because they are so smooth, giving the yarn strength and durability. Worsted yarns come in a range of thicknesses whatever your purposes. A single-ply yarn can be broken if you pull it from each end, but if two single-plies are twisted together, the yarn becomes a lot harder to damage. Because of this, when browsing for a worsted yarn, it’s crucial to bear in mind what your final product will be.

Needles and Hooks For Worsted Yarn

The needle sizes for worsted weight yarn vary, a 4.5 to 5.5 mm needle will produce a firm and pliable standard fabric. If you desire an increased tension and a sturdier structure, downsize to a 3.25 to 4.0 mm needle. For open lace, it’s possible to use a 6.0 to 8.0 mm needle.

These are just guidelines, for a better estimate, check the label for the recommended needle size for your yarn. You can size up or down to achieve the optimal effect. 

For crocheting, there are no hard and fast rules about the correct hook size. Preference is key and (again) so is the type of project you want to make.

When making toys with strong fabric a size G or F hook works best, whereas a flexible stitch for shoppers and beach bags do better with a size H hook and for a drapey, flowing fabric a more substantial size I, J, or K hook will do the trick.  

If you’re learning to crochet, you might be suited to a size G hook with worsted weight yarn. The Craft Yarn Council recommends using a hook from 5.5–6.5 mm (I–9 to K–10). Not surprisingly, your early crochet work might look close and tight. Take your time to practice and see what you can achieve.

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