What the heck is Aran weight yarn? If you knit or crochet, you've probably asked yourself this question. Maybe you've typed it into a search engine; maybe you've asked British friends who knit (yep, they know). Maybe you've just let the Aran mystery live on, assuming you'll solve it someday.
We're here to spill the secret once and for all. Because Aran weight yarn is definitely worth knowing about, and once you do you'll want to use it for all kinds of projects — no matter where you live.
What is Aran Weight Yarn?
Aran is a medium-weight yarn that can be made from any fiber, from wool to acrylic, and it's more commonly used in the U.K. than stateside. But if you check out the Texas-based Craft Yarn Council's standard yarn weight system, you'll see Aran weight yarn listed along with worsted weight yarn in the medium-weight category. (Meanwhile, on British yarn company websites, Aran weight is listed as a category everywhere, but worsted isn't widely used to refer to the medium-weight category the way it is in the U.S.)
Sometimes you'll see patterns mention the two interchangeably, and tell you that you can use a worsted/Aran weight yarn. But here's the confusing part: Aran and worsted aren't exactly interchangeable, especially in the U.S. Aran actually weighs slightly more than worsted yarn. Some knitters and crocheters even refer to Aran-weight yarn as "heavy worsted."
How to Work with Aran Weight Yarn
If you decide to substitute Aran yarn in a pattern that uses Aran and worsted weights interchangeably, keep in mind that swatching will be super important. Pay close attention to the gauge of the pattern and make sure you're meeting it. Sometimes a pattern might use a worsted weight yarn that's just slightly lighter than an Aran weight yarn, which could throw off your gauge a bit.
Since British knitters sometimes categorize worsted weight yarns as Aran weight, you don't need to limit yourself to Aran weights if you're substituting the yarn in a British pattern. A worsted weight might work just as well, too.
The best thing about Aran weight yarns is that you can use them for almost any project. Because of their slightly heavy weight, they're especially perfect for cozy pillows. Aran weight yarn is also ideal for situations when you need a slightly heavier yarn that still looks delicate.
What's Up with Aran Sweaters?
When you hear the word "Aran," you might think about Aran sweater design. But Aran weight yarn and Aran sweaters aren't the same thing. (Confusing, right?!) Here's the deal: Aran weight yarn is just a weight category; meanwhile, Aran sweaters are named for the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland and involve designs made by knitting beautiful cables .
You definitely don't need to save Aran weight yarn exclusively for Aran sweater designs. But knitting an Aran sweater with Aran weight yarn is probably a fabulous idea, so go for it!