What is Worsted Weight Yarn?

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When it comes to knitting and crocheting, you’ll see the term “worsted weight yarn” a lot. But what is worsted weight yarn? What does worsted mean? And why does our brain keep glossing over it and calling it Worcestershire yarn?

Well, in this article, we’ll discuss what worsted weight yarn is, where it came from, and all its uses in your various crafting projects. However, you’re on your own with the Worcestershire issue.

what does worsted mean

What Does Worsted Mean?

The word ‘worsted’ is a noun and refers to a yarn that is spun from combed, long-staple wool. It also refers to the fabric that is made from worsted yarn, which has a close-textured surface with no raised hairs or threads.

The name worsted comes from the village Worstead, located in Norfolk County, England. Back in the 13th century, Worstead was the very center of fiber making. Those fibers included both yarn and cloth.

Nowadays, Worstead is no longer the center of worsted fiber making, but the yarn still carries the name to this day.

Worsted Yarn Making

The word “worsted” can also refer to the weight of yarn, but mostly refers to the method of processing wool – such as the Worsted Method versus the Woolen Method.

Some spinners differentiate between worsted preparation and worsted spinning. Worsted preparation refers to the way the fiber is prepared before spinning, using a ginning machine which forces the fiber staples to lie parallel to each other.

Once these fibers are made into a top, they are combed to remove the short fibers. The long fibers are combined in gilling machines to again make the fibers parallel.

In short, worsted spinning refers to using a worsted technique, in which the end result is a smooth yarn where the fibers lie parallel.

How Worsted Yarn Differs from Other Yarn

Worsted yarn is a medium weight yarn, as defined by the Craft Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System.

It differs from other yarns in that it is heavier than double knitting yarn, baby weight yarn, fingering yarn, sports weight yarn, and crochet thread. However, it is lighter than chunky or bulky yarn.

What makes worsted yarn differ from other yarns are the straight, parallel fibers. When the process was first started, long, fine, staple wool was spun to make worsted yarn. Today, however, other long fibers are used as well.

Working with Worsted Weight Yarn

Worsted yarn is nearly everybody’s go-to yarn. It is one of the most popular weights for knitting and crocheting and, as such, there are plenty of different types of yarn to choose from.

It is made from many different kinds of fibers, including cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, and alpaca.

worsted weight

Worsted weight yarn is an excellent yarn for beginners. It is generally sturdy and, weight-wise is right in the middle of the spectrum.

Its size makes it perfect for showing you the stitch definition, so it’ll be easy to see when you’ve made a mistake, especially when trying a new project.

When it comes to finding worsted weight yarn in the store, sometimes the package won’t say explicitly that it is worsted weight yarn. In this case, the package will generally feature a prominent number 4, and might have the word ‘medium’ written on it.

Worsted weight yarn is great for knitting, crocheting, textile arts, weaving, and more, to make clothing, afghans, accessories, toys, or home décor items.

Overall, if you’re seeking a thicker style of yarn for more plush or comfy projects (gotta love those sweaters!), this is the best choice.

Hooks and Needles

Just like with all projects involving yarn, having the right tools for the project can help tremendously.

When knitting with worsted yarn, it’s best used with needles ranging from a size 7 to a size 9, and when crocheting, it is best to use a size G or F hook.

What Does “Weight” Keep Referring to?

When it comes to yarn, you’ll hear the word “weight” thrown around a lot! However, this doesn’t necessarily refer to how much the yarn weighs. In fact, it almost always refers to the thickness of the yarn, and how it’ll turn out when worked into a pattern. The greater the weight, the thicker the yarn.

worsted weight yarn

The weight of the yarn is measured by the Craft Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System. Without the weight system, it would be difficult to figure out what you’re buying, and difficult for manufacturers to describe the yarn to each other.

Setting a standard way to identify yarn is helpful to both the crafters and the makers of the yarn.

Well, that’s one bit of curiosity that can be put to rest. This article discussed what worsted weight yarn is, where it came from and the history behind the name, as well as tips on how to work with this type of yarn and what types of projects you can use it for.

Happy crafting!


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