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Wool Counting & Measuring Systems

Worsted is a type of yarn, the fabric made from this yarn, and a yarn weight category. The name derives from Worstead, a village in the English county of Norfolk. The essential feature of worsted yarn is straight, parallel fibres.

Top is scoured wool that is processed by combing so that all of the fibres in the preparation lie parallel to each other.

A Hank refers to a unit of yarn or twine that is in a coiled form.

A Skein is a length of thread or yarn wound in a loose long coil.

Shearing A Sheep Of Its Fleece Of Wool
Skeins Of Yarn

The Bradford Count System

The Bradford Count System is the oldest of the Wool Counting systems and dates back to 19th century. It was developed in the city of Bradford, Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. It is a system based on the number of 560 yard hanks of singles yarn that could be spun from one pound of combed top. The spinning method used in this measurement is worsted and the most experienced spinners would have

spun this yarn. It is possible that mechanical spinning equipment was used since it was developed about the same time as the Bradford scale. Woolen yarn is about 256 yard hanks and is carded, which means that the fibres do not lie parallel. Fleece graded on the Bradford Count System is marked with a number followed by the letter "s" which stands for skeins. For example, a marking of 56s would mean that 56 skeins of singles, each 560 yards could be spun worsted from one pound of that fleece if it was prepared as combed top. That is 31,360 yards of yarn. 80s would be 80 skeins, 45s would equal 45 skeins. What this translates to is that the higher the number, the finer the wool fibre of the fleece.

The Micron Count System

The most modern system is the micrometre, or Micron. Micron Count measures the exact diameter of the wool. One micron is equal to 1/25400th of an inch or one millionth of a meter so special testing equipment is required. For testing, two fleece fibre samples are taken from different pans of the fleece and sent to a lab for measuring. The results of these two tests are averaged out with the average being the Micron Count assigned to that fleece. In this system, the lower the count number; the finer the fleece.


It is not difficult to understand the confusion that can arise between the higher the number, the finer the wool fibre of the fleece and the lower the count number, the finer the fleece. For comparison, the table below shows how the two measure up against one another.






Finer than 80s

Under 17.70 microns



17.7019 microns



19.1520 microns



20.6022 microns



22.0523 microns



23.5024 microns



24.9526 microns



26.4027 microns



27.8529 microns



29.3030 microns



31.0032 microns


Low 46s

32.7034 microns


Common 44s

34.4036 microns


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