What is Worsted Weight Yarn? American Vs English PatternsJen May
You might notice that my blogs are going to change slightly: instead of a weekly show-and-tell of new yarns, I’ll be posting monthly more informative ones answering questions I get asked regularly which will hopefully be more helpful! If there’s anything specific you would like to see, just pop a message on the bottom, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try and get round to it! Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting pictures of our new yarns on Facebook and Instagram!
One of the questions I get asked the most (and which was asked yesterday which prompted this blog post!) – is what is worsted weight wool?
We get a lot of people in the shop who have found patterns online that require American yarns, which can be tricky to substitute. You wouldn’t think it, but yarns vary quite drastically across countries – while our standard yarn is DK, America’s is worsted, which is inbetween a DK and an aran, so using an English yarn with an American pattern can cause quite different results. If you are having any difficulties trying to substitute a yarn, Wikipedia have an excellent table with the conversions for popular yarns in different countries, which I have found invaluable when working with American patterns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_weight#International_standard_weights
The needle sizes can often cause a lot of confusion too, especially as there are so many different kinds! America has their own size range, and the UK has two: millimeters and imperial! If in doubt, patterns do often state which they are (usually prefaced by a UK, US, or have MM after), you just have to look carefully!
If you are substituting needle sizes, Yarn Forward has an excellent table that has the conversions for US, imperial and milimetres which is very handy: http://www.yarnfwd.com/needleconv.html You can even print it off and stick it at the front of your knitting notebook or folder – I’ve got one behind the counter at the shop for easy access!
You can also buy a needle gauge which has the milimetres and imperial sizes on, if you are having trouble confusing the two. If your needles don’t say what sizes they are, or are a mixture of milimetres and imperial, you can just pop them through the holes and see what size they are!
If you have decided to use a pattern that suggests worsted yarn and substitute it for DK or aran, it is usually best to use the needle size that the wool you are using suggests, rather than the needles in the pattern, as you don’t want the fabric overly loose or stiff. It is best to to a tension square so ensure your garment will end up the required size, but it might take a bit of trial and error to get it spot on.
If all of that sounds terrifying, or you are a beginner and don’t want all the hassle – you can usually find something very similar in a UK pattern, although it can be quite nice to set yourself a challenge sometimes!
I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and if there’s anything specific you’d like to see me talk about, just let me know!