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What is Aran Weight Yarn?

It's one of the best yarns for blankets, and yet aran weight yarn is often misunderstood. Find out all about it here.

By: Krista Childers for AllFreeCrochetAfghanPatterns.com

If you crochet (or knit), then you have probably come across a yarn shop, pattern, or reference that mentions Aran. What is Aran Weight Yarn? Aran weight yarn is a medium-heavy weight yarn that is similar to worsted weight yarn.

You will see Aran referenced more in regions outside of the United States. This yarn type is used in the U.K. more than the U.S. Although they are not completely alike, Aran and worsted weight can often be substitutable in crochet and knitting patterns. We will focus on crochet, particularly afghans.

Below, learn all about Aran weight yarn as we go into frequently asked questions, provide information on when to use it, and give you some amazing crochet afghan patterns that use Aran yarn.

Table of Contents
Aran Weight Yarn Definition
What is Aran Weight?
Is Aran the Best Yarn for Afghans?
Aran Weight Yarn Substitutes
Aran Crochet Afghan Patterns

 

Aran Weight Yarn Definition

You may know the word "Aran" in reference to the Aran Islands off Ireland. When it comes to yarn, the Aran weight definition, according to Oxford Living Dictionaries, is, "Denoting a type of knitwear or garment with traditional patterns, typically involving raised cable stitch and large diamond designs."

Collins English Dictionary defines Aran as, "made of thick undyed wool with its natural oils retained."

Although both of those definitions are relatable to Aran weight yarn, one refers to the traditional design associated with it and the other is the traditional treatment. These days, Aran weight yarn is used for many different designs in both crochet and knitting and it is often dyed to allow for lots of color options.

In the image below, you will see the traditional Aran pattern, consisting of a row of diamonds and stripes in a raised stitch.
 

What is Aran Weight?

The weight it just one of the factors to consider with Aran (and all yarn types). As you can see from this Yarn Guide 101 chart below, Aran is in between worsted and chunky yarn in weight and WPI, and comparable in ply.

Aran weight yarn can be made from any fiber that yarn is made from, either natural, synthetic, or a blend. Take a look at Best Yarn for Crochet: Different Types of Yarn to learn more about yarn types.

Weight: The Aran weight yarn number (or weight number) is 4. That means it's in the medium to heavy category. Because of this, it is perfect for crochet afghans and blankets. It is also often used for cold weather clothes like scarves and hats.

WPI: Its WPI, or Wraps Per Inch, is about a 7 or 8. WPI is a way to measure the thickness of the strands of yarn. However many times an inch length can be wrapped around a circular circumference, such as a pencil. Aran weight yarn can be wrapped 7 or 8 times.

Ply: What ply is is Aran Weight Yarn? 10 ply. Ply means thickness, or the single strands of yarn combined. As you can see in the chart, the ply for Aran is the same as it is for worsted weight yarn. However, a thin yarn like lace, has the lowest number ply, 2. Chunky yarn has a higher ply, 12.

Hook: Medium to medium-heavy weight yarn, like Aran yarn, will have the recommendation of I/9 to K/10.5 size crochet hook (5.5-6.5mm). A thicker yarn needs a bigger hook but crocheters can go up or down for their comfort level.

Gauge: 10-15 stitches (sts) is the standard recommendation but this is dependent on the crocheter. Some people crochet tighter or looser, so you will have to experiment or use what you know about your crochet style to fully understand the best gauge for crocheting Aran weight yarn.
 

Is Aran the Best Yarn for Afghans?

Many crocheters ask, "What is the best yarn for blankets?" and Aran is certainly one of the best options. This is because it is thick without having too much bulk. It can be slightly thicker and warmer than worsted weight but it isn't into the chunky or bulky category of yarn.

As you will see in the blanket pattern list below, many afghans use Aran weight yarn. This yarn type is used for the same patterns that afghan yarn and worsted are used for, though some patterns will note if you need to stick to the yarn listed.

Because Aran is not as easy to find as worsted in the U.S., many crocheters substitute any Aran yarn with worsted. However, it cannot promise the same results. You will see in the next section, we will go over some substitutes and equivalents for Aran weight yarn.

Aran is the best yarn for crochet blankets that need to be a medium-heavy weight. There are a few other factors to consider before choosing a yarn as well. Softness, colors, and allergies for example. 

Image below features the Aran Afghan in two ways.
 

Aran Weight Yarn Substitutes

Many people see Aran and think it is exactly a worsted weight yarn equivalent. Aran is slightly thicker, so they aren't perfectly interchangeable. However, if you ask anyone, the closest you can get to an Aran weight yarn substitute is worsted weight.

When substituting Aran for something else, try to get the same yarn type as well as similar yarn weight. For example, if the Aran yarn is 50% wool and 50% merino, your substitution should be the same so that the texture matches. Remember that the thickness may not match up but it will usually be close.

Also, if you double dk/sport yarn, it matches the weight of Aran because it is 2 and Aran is 4. Keep that in mind when shopping for yarn replacements.
 

Aran Crochet Afghan Patterns

Now that you have learned all about Aran weight yarn, it's time to try it out. We feature several gorgeous Aran weight afghan patterns to crochet. You will see that many Aran afghans have a traditional or vintage appearance. These patterns are truly stunning!

As mentioned before, Aran can be used to describe a pattern or a yarn weight, which is why it can be confusing. You may see an afghan pattern described as "Aran" but doesn't use Aran weight yarn at all.

The patterns below all have the option of using Aran but most can use worsted as a substitution. You will see the yarn brand and types listed but you can look into whether or not you can find them in your area and go from there.
 

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I order Aran weight yarn online or at specialty stores. I like that slightly-heavier-than-worsted feel.

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