When it comes to the world of knitting, those with experience can talk your ear off about the whole hobby. Yet, very few people can accurately explain the difference between yarn ply and yarn weight. This is a question that causes much confusion in the industry, and it’s time that this issue was addressed. With this in mind, let’s explore the truth!
Weight vs Ply
Before anything else, it’s important to dispel one of the most common myths in knitting. When you see ply weight mentioned, this doesn’t mean the weight it has when placed on a scale (sorry!). This information alone is likely to cause a stir and get knitting groups talking. Don’t worry, your whole life hasn’t been a lie. Instead, the topic of yarn weight regards its thickness. While some are as thin as a thread, others are incredibly thick.
On the other hand, the word ‘ply’ was traditionally used to refer to wool with a consistent size. While an eight-ply yarn was extremely thick, a two-ply yarn was extremely thin. What does this mean? Well, it all starts with a singles yarn (effectively a one-ply yarn, although it doesn’t go by this name). To achieve a two-ply yarn, two singles yarns are plied together. Therefore, your 4 ply yarn is just four singles yarns plied together.
The issue that causes confusion even amongst knitting fanatics with decades of experience is that there’s no consistency in terms of the yarn’s weight. Just because there are more plies, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have thickness.
If you perform a little Google search right now, you’ll find 4-ply yarns that are thin as well as 4-ply yarns that are thick. Likewise, a singles yarn can be bulky or thin. The important detail is that yarn ply refers to the number of singles yarns plied together to form the yarn while the yarn weight refers to the thickness.
In theory, a 4-ply yarn could be thinner than a two-ply yarn if each of the singles yarns in the former is much thinner. If this is causing all sorts of headaches and making you want to curl up in bed, the good news is that the Craft Yarn Council of America is attempting to do something about this problem. It has created the Standard Yarn Weight System so that there’s a universal understanding, regardless of where you’re located in the world.
With this simple numbering system, people in Australia and people in the United Kingdom will instantly know the thickness of a strand of yarn. While one is the thinnest, six is the thickness (these are also known as superfine and super bulky).
If you’re just entering the world of knitting, don’t be nervous. As long as you know that people who have been knitting for many decades also sometimes don’t understand the difference between yarn weight and yarn ply, this should make you feel a little better. While weight describes the thickness, ply describes the number of singles yarns plied together to form the yarn.
Generally speaking, 4-ply yarn is a great starting point for crocheting and knitting products. Once you find a high-quality provider, you can return to them time and time again. Since you can trust the yarn, you don’t need to worry about weight, ply, or anything else. Whether you’re experienced or a beginner, why not get started with 4-ply yarn today and create something special?