Woolen Vs. Worsted

The difference between begins in the preparation of the wool or fibre. Of course in both cases, the fibre needs to be clean and have most of the vegetable matter or VM as it is called (bits of hay or straw or weeds or even burrs), removed. After that, the difference begins.

Woolen yarn is carded, either by machine or by hand, and for worsted fibre spinning, the wool must be combed. [Insert picture of wool combs] Then, during the spinning process woolen yarn is spun so that the twist travels into the yarn while it is being stretched out. The more curly they wool is, the softer and more stretchy, airy, light and warm the woolen yarn will be.

In worsted yarn, the wool or fibre will be completely stretched out and then twisted. This, together with the wool having been combed, makes a very smooth, strong, durable and shiny yarn. Woolen yarns are often used for making sweaters, and worsted yarns are used for things like weaving the fabric for men's suits. By far, though, most of the yarn is some combination of the fibre processing or spinning types, which produces yarns that are then either semi-worsted or semi-woolen, depending on which end of the spectrum they have more of the characteristics of. In hand spinning, woolen yarn is often spun with a long draw, and worsted yarn is spun with a short draw.