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worsted weight yarn comparison: huge update!

I published my original worsted weight yarn comparison almost a decade ago, as a way to show that, even though two yarns are both labelled as 100% acrylic and worsted weight, they may be too different (in terms of thickness, softness and/or shininess) to mix within the same project and get a good result.

Since then I’ve had many requests for an update including more common and modern yarns, so we could all use it as a lookup table to find suitable matches. With more local craft stores closing and the trend towards online shopping, it’s becoming more difficult to just go into a shop and compare yarns directly, so I decided to go for it and create a useful resource for all of us!

I asked my Ravelry group members to send me samples of worsted weight acrylics from their stashes, and they really came through for me – I had dozens of different yarns to compare! A huge thanks goes to ravelers SilentSilence, MagicalAmigurumi, JEMCCreations, somelady42 and abjCrochet for their help with this project. 🙂

worsted weight yarn samples

I sorted and labelled all the samples, then I realised I had a daunting task ahead of me: trying to figure out how to categorize and catalogue these samples in a way that would a) be useful and b) let me add to the results in future…

Can We Just Calculate the Thickness?

With my wide range of samples, I was hoping to discover a trend that we could use to determine yarn similarities in future without having to compare specific yarns side by side. I hoped to come up with some numbers so you could just look up the details of a yarn online and then do the calculation to figure out for yourself whether it should be a lighter or heavier worsted weight yarn.

Using the weight and yardage info from the ball band of each yarn, I calculated the weight per metre of each of my yarn samples in the hope that this would give an indication of the thickness of the yarn. While this may work for broader differences between yarn weights (e.g. a fingering weight yarn would definitely weigh less per metre than a bulky weight yarn!), within the worsted weight category I found absolutely no correlation between the nominal length per gram according to the ball band and the actual thickness of the yarns.

So no, we definitely can’t use the information on the ball band as a way to compare different worsted weight acrylic yarns.

My Testing Methods

I had an idea that winding bobbins with the yarns may be a good way to compare yarns without crocheting a sample with each, so I tested my theory by carefully winding bobbins with leftover yarn from the exact same balls I crocheted my original samples from, way back in 2012! (Luckily I never throw anything away…)

And here are the results! First, the original samples:

worsted weight acrylic yarns

And secondly, the bobbins:

worsted weight acrylic yarns

Each of my bobbins is wound in exactly the same way, with the same number of wraps. I’ve arranged my yarn bobbins in the same colour order as the size order from my crocheted samples, and you can see that there are clear height differences in the yarn wound onto the bobbins that correspond to the size difference I found in the crocheted samples. So this seems like a good indicator of yarn weight.

But that’s not the only factor; the best chance of getting a good match between yarns seems to be by visual and tactile comparison, so I’ve looked at, touched and compared samples of each yarn side by side to assess their thickness, sheen and texture.

Categories

As with my original comparison, I’ve split the yarns by two measures:

Weight: I’ve named my categories the same as before:

  • light worsted weight
  • worsted weight
  • heavy worsted weight

Appearance and Texture: In my original comparison, I called these sheen, slight sheen and no sheen. I’ve clarified the category headings now:

  • soft and shiny
  • slightly soft/shiny
  • sturdy and matte

Here’s an example from each of the categories (I’ve chosen samples that vary in both weight and appearance/texture):

worsted weight acrylic yarns - differences

Left: light worsted weight; soft and shiny
Middle: worsted weight; slightly soft/shiny
Right: heavy worsted weight; sturdy and matte

Hopefully you can see the differences! Between the left and right samples there’s a huge difference in both thickness and appearance, and the middle sample lies somewhere between the two in both measures.

So, I’ve ended up with 9 different categories: for each of the three weights, there are three appearance/texture options.

Results

With over 40 samples wound, labelled and categorized, I’m finally ready to share the results with you!

worsted weight acrylic yarns

I’ve published the results in a table here: Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison. The blog isn’t the best format to display them in, so, I’ve also compiled them into a 3×3 table in a downloadable PDF file, with weight across the top and appearance/texture down the side. This is a free download that you can grab from my shop for no charge 🙂

Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison - a free 2 page PDF file by PlanetJune

I’ll keep both versions updated as and when I receive new yarns to include. (And, if you have a worsted weight acrylic yarn you’d like me to add to the list, please scroll to the ‘What’s Missing’ section at the bottom of the Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison webpage for details of how you can send me a sample!)

I hope you find this resource useful! And don’t forget to download the PDF version from my shop now – no charge, no catch – it’s my gift to you 🙂

5 Comments »

  1. Rio said

    Great

  2. Patricia said

    Wow!
    GReat job! Thank you!

  3. Hi,
    Wow, I just read all the “procedures” you went through in order the get objectives mesures, standards that you can use with futurs yarns, etc.!!! I can believe nobody tought or did that before!!!:smile: You really did a Fantastic work June!!! I ‘m gonna look closer at it, and I ‘m pretty sure its gonna be pretty usefull in the future for me!!! Thank you so much to share that for free with us!

  4. Ruth Lister said

    Wow! You have done a brilliant job June, with thanks also to the lovely people who gave you assistance by sending yarn samples.
    Thank you so much for giving your time and energy to provide this useful tool to us all, and at no cost. It is much appreciated and will be of great assistance to the crochet community. :clap_tone1::blush::bouquet:

  5. Linda Wise said

    WOW, i didn’t realize how helpful this could be. Thank you!

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