Alpaca Direct Blog

What does worsted weight mean anyway?

Many times I am asked the question, "What does worsted weight mean?" It's a good question! There are several thicknesses of yarn which we refer to as weight. Don't confuse this with the actual gram or oz weight listed on the label which reflects the heaviness of the yarn. I am referring to weight as it is called for in a pattern, such as sock weight, worsted weight or bulky weight, to name a few. It can be a mind boggling affair and it is not uncommon for two experienced knitters to disagree about the weight of any particular yarn they are considering. Enter The Craft Yarn Council of America! This fine institution has for many years now made a valiant attempt to standardize the Craft Yarn industry. Many larger yarn companies and publishers use this standardized system when labeling yarn and patterns as you see below:

Standard Yarn Weight System

Categories of yarn, gauge ranges, and recommended needle and hook sizes

Yarn Weight Symbol & Category Names
lace super fine fine light medium bulky super bulky
Type of Yarns in Category
Fingering 10-count crochet thread Sock, Fingering, Baby Sport, Baby DK, Light Worsted Worsted, Afghan, Aran Chunky, Craft, Rug Bulky, Roving
Knit Gauge Range* in Stockinette Stitch to 4 inches
33–40** sts 27–32 sts 23–26 sts 21–24 st 16–20 sts 12–15 sts 6–11 sts
Recommended Needle in Metric Size Range
1.5–2.25 mm 2.25— 3.25 mm 3.25— 3.75 mm 3.75— 4.5 mm 4.5— 5.5 mm 5.5— 8 mm 8 mm and larger
Recommended Needle U.S. Size Range
000–1 1 to 3 3 to 5 5 to 7 7 to 9 9 to 11 11 and larger
Crochet Gauge* Ranges in Single Crochet to 4 inch
32–42 double crochets** 21–32 sts 16–20 sts 12–17 sts 11–14 sts 8–11 sts 5–9 sts
Recommended Hook in Metric Size Range
Steel*** 1.6–1.4 mm 2.25— 3.5 mm 3.5— 4.5 mm 4.5— 5.5 mm 5.5— 6.5 mm 6.5— 9 mm 9 mm and larger
Recommended Hook U.S. Size Range
Steel*** 6, 7, 8 Regular hook B–1 B–1 to E–4 E–4 to 7 7 to I–9 I–9 to K–10 1⁄2 K–10 1⁄2 to M–13 M–13 and larger
* GUIDELINES ONLY: The above reflect the most commonly used gauges and needle or hook sizes for specific yarn categories.** Lace weight yarns are usually knitted or crocheted on larger needles and hooks to create lacy, openwork patterns. Accordingly, a gauge range is difficult to determine. Always follow the gauge stated in your pattern.*** Steel crochet hooks are sized differently from regular hooks—the higher the number, the smaller the hook, which is the reverse of regular hook sizing
I recommend you print this handy guide out and tuck it into your pocketbook. You will always be able to figure out what yarn you need or want based on the information here even if it isn't marked with the standardized system! Alpaca Direct has also incorporated the Standard Yarn Weight System into our website! What a great resource when shopping for yarn. I am so excited about this new feature. Let us know how it helps you!  
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Posted by Mary Wade on

I started crocheting as a child. I started with cookies, then migrated Afghanis. When I get sleepless at night, I find a piece to work on to get me back to sleep. I usually give them as gifts.

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