I am confused about the term "worsted" as it is used to label yarn. It seems like it has more than one meaning. Worsted, worsted weight, knitters worsted ... what's the difference? And what does "worsted"  actually mean?

Thanks for any clarification you can give.


Posted on Wed, 10/05/2011 - 21:42

If you look at a book on textiles, you will find worsted and woolen.  Woolen yarn is carded and is done to put air into the yarn to make it lofty.  This makes it easier to be brushed and usually it felts easier.  It is used for yarns which will be brushed, as for scarves and blankets.  Worsted is spun from combed fibers, which makes the fibers lie all in one direction.  This creates a smooth yarn which has some sheen.  It feels smooth and resists pilling.  Worsted yarns can come in different sizes.  I have used a very nice 20-2 worsted yarn which has over 1,000 yards in a 100 gm skein.

The name worsted is not the name of a size.  I don't know how the size names for knitting yarns got started, but those names do not relate to the terms woolen and worsted. 


Posted on Wed, 10/05/2011 - 21:56

Your explanation really clears it up for me.

I suppose that means that the scratchy, "sticky" wool yarn I have in my stash is woolen, and not worsted. Good to know!

So, is wool the only yarn that is worsted? What about alpaca or other yarns?

Posted on Wed, 10/05/2011 - 22:28

Any fibre can be prepared in a worsted manner but 'true' worsted yarn (for weaving) is made from wool fibres that are classified as worsted, then combed and spun appropriately for worsted cloth.  That cloth, to be called worsted should then be wet finished in the worsted manner (i.e. absolutely no agitation whatsoever).

Since so many new weavers have come from the knitting world which has 'worsted' as a designation for a knitting yarn, it does tend to get confusing.



Posted on Wed, 10/05/2011 - 22:59

Thanks to all contributing to this group so far.  Eventually I would like to put all our terms in some form of order accessible on Weavo, in a manner that can be searched.




Posted on Thu, 10/06/2011 - 07:07

is prepared "in a worsted manner" - but (to my knowledge) is always called "combed". (Am I right?)

Re odd terms for describing yarn sizes: the first time I noticed this I was at a small spinning mill in England. I had just bought their sample card, and examining it I found a 3-ply (printed on the card) that was a 2-ply yarn. On asking, I was told it was the "normal" way to describe this particular yarn, but could not get a better explanation. In Sweden we use either Nm (Number Metric), meters per gram, or, on knitting yarns often meters per 100 gram or per whatever package the yarn comes in (this for wool or fancy knitting yarns).

Posted on Thu, 10/06/2011 - 19:06

So far as I know, 'worsted' (in weaving terms) is only applied to worsted yarns/fabric.  I've only seen cotton that has been combed described as combed.  But I stand to be corrected on that.  If I knew how to reach Judith MacKenzie I'd ask her.  :}