Meet the Yarn: For Better or Worsted

Jill Wolcott

For Better or Worsted is so yummy to knit!  Again, we find that 10% cashmere, blended with 80% superwash Merino and 10% nylon.  This yarn is cushy and so soft a couple times I had to actually look at my hand to make sure I had the yarn tensioned in my fingers!


As I look at the yarns on my yarn shelf, there isn’t much in the way of worsted yarn.  I love DK, sport, fingering, lace.  I think of worsted as being best for hats, mittens, and other accessories. Because I like stitch patterns, worsted is sometimes just a touch too large for what I want to accomplish, but really, I have nothing against worsted; one of my favorite projects is done in a worsted weight!  When I make something out of worsted I wonder why I don’t use it more, but for me it is primarily best in accessories.  

For Better or Worsted is a 4-ply yarn, with a WPI of 11.  If you look at the other other yarns I’ve introduced here, the WPI is between 13 and 23, and this is the first 4-ply yarn.  It isn’t the first round yarn, but I don't believe it would be as round and cushy without that fourth ply. 


This got me really curious about plies.  It isn’t easy to find information on more than 3-ply yarn, so I appreciated the concise information I found here on

Four-ply plus

The more plies in a yarn, the stronger, more durable and more rounded it becomes, giving good structure to textured stitches and cables. The more plies you add, the more dense the yarn becomes, as all available space within the column of yarn is used up.

I was also  curious about twist per inch.  I count 14 or 15 TPI in For Better or Worsted. Comparably, Cricket has 11 TPI and Lucero (washed) has 10 TPI.  Here’s some information on twist which is useful, even if it is related to thread/yarn for textiles:

Twist may be defined as the spiral disposition of the components of a thread which is usually the result of relative rotation of the two ends. Twist is generally expressed as the number of turns per unit length of yarn, e.g. turns per inch (tpi), turns per metre (tpm), etc.

What exactly does twist do a yarn?

  1. The twist in a yarn binds the fibres together and helps to keep them in the respective positions. It thus gives coherence to yarn.

  2. Twist gives sufficient strength to the yarn.

  3. Twist is also used to bring about novel effects that are prominently visible when the yarn is converted to fabric. This is achieved primarily by having a combination of yarns with different twist levels and twist directions in the fabric.

As I finished my first swatch I grabbed my yarn tail and attempted to break the yarn as I always do (unless fiber content tells me it won’t).  That was not possible and I had to reach into my knitting box for scissors.  This is a strong yarn!

Here are the results from my exploration swatches and my project swatches.  I got curious about the garter stitch because there was so little row change.  I put my swatch up with a small amount of weight on the blocking wire and left it to hang for the weekend.  The Garter/Dressed numbers in the Blocked and Difference columns tell the result.  The difference is from Unblocked.

Garter Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Garter Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Garter Stitch Dressed

Garter Stitch Dressed

Stockinette Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Stockinette Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Seed Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Seed Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Double Seed Stitch with 1x1 Rib, Unblocked

Double Seed Stitch with 1x1 Rib, Unblocked

Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch

I made my long-time favorite shawlette, Taos, in For Better or Worsted.  Taos in its original design is easy to wear as a flat small rectangular shawl or with the drawstring at the neckline pulled up.  I always wear it with it drawn up just enough to bring the ends to the front of my shoulders so I don’t have to worry about Taos staying in place.  While working on another design in worsted weight yarn I became enamored of making large buttonholes by increasing, so I did a version of Taos with that option, which will be added to the pattern soon.

Taos by Jill Wolcott

Taos by Jill Wolcott

The problem with buttonholes in knits is 1) finding the perfect button, and 2) getting the buttonhole to the right size and having it do its job without gaping, pulling, or coming undone. The buttonhole can be used with a shawl pin too!  The buttonhole closure option gives a little different feel to how Taos is worn. 

Taos with buttonhole by Jill Wolcott

Taos with buttonhole by Jill Wolcott

Notice how the roundness of the yarn works with the tonal coloration and what high relief there is in the garter, the eyelets, and the cross-stitch pattern.  Whatever you make in For Better or Worsted, these are things you can easily take advantage of in your knitting.

Keep up on all things Jill Wolcott:
Twitter: @jillwolcottknit
Instagram: @jillwolcottknits
Pinterest: Jill Wolcott Knits 

Pattern Spotlight: Equal Measure by Emma Welford

This week designer Emma Welford joins us to tell the creation story of her newest design:

Some designs start with an inspiring image, others are born from a pretty stitch pattern, and sometimes the yarn itself takes center stage and tells you what to do. Such was the case with Equal Measure, which started way back in 2014 as three beautiful skeins of For Better or Worsted I took home with me from Anzula's TNNA booth. I couldn't decide between Avocado, Sexy and Hyacinth so I took one of each. These colors could go together....right? I told myself. Or am I just crazy? (The jury's still out on the crazy part.)

Photos by Lindsey Topham

I knew I wanted to use all three colors in the same design and craved something textural to elevate them past simple stripes. The crisp stitch definition of For Better or Worsted looked fantastic when I added a cable to my swatch. Garter stitch and an accent cable it is, then! Originally I planned on making all three pieces have the same color placement, but then it hit me. 

  1. I wanted to use all colors equally, rather than having excess yardage leftover on some colors.
  2. This was already shaping up to be a...funky design. Why not go all the way and play round robin with the colors?

I toyed with the debate of knitting flat vs knitting in the round. The cable on the hat spans 12 stitches, which is longer than I like any floats to cross, and to tell the truth working garter stitch in the round is not one of my favorite knitting activities. But who wants to knit small accessories flat and seam them up? Not to mention a seam would be more obvious due to the stripes, unless you really wanted to shoot yourself in the foot and alternate stripe colors as you seam. Didn't think so!

While I've done plenty of traditional intarsia, I wanted to see if it was possible to work intarsia in the round. Off a-Googling I went, and I discovered yes! It's not true circular knitting, since you're knitting back and forth in rows and joining them seamlessly as you go, but it would do the trick just fine for me with the added bonus of getting to learn a fun new technique. Don't worry, dear knitter—I whipped up a photo tutorial, included in the pattern, so you have your own personal reference! Equal Measure is sized to fit toddlers through adult large, making it the perfect set for your whole family. Pick your favorite colors of For Better or Worsted and let 'er knit! 

What new techniques do you want to try? What's your favorite way to learn new techniques? Let us know in the comments below!