Friday 31 October 2014

Understanding Yarn Weights

For the last couple of weeks I haven't felt like knitting, thanks to food poisoning coupled with a chest bug that's going around. Whilst I've been resting, however, I've been browsing through my knitting books and trying to come to terms with what different yarn weights are. I've found this particularly confusing when looking at books written for both the UK and US markets, which mention hitherto unknown to me terms such as 'sport weight'.

So here's my quick and hopefully easy guide to different yarn weights and the needle sizes to use (the size you choose will depend on the outcome of your knitted test square):

  1. Lace weight/feather weight - the thinnest yarn, used for shawls and very delicate items. Check the pattern for the needle size.
  2. 2 ply - a thin yarn not often used in modern patterns. Knit with 1.5 - 2.5 needles.
  3. 4 ply - also known as fingering weight and sport weight. Used for more delicate knits with 2 - 3mm needles. Great for socks - you may see this yarn marketed as sock yarn.
  4. DK (double knitting) - This is a common yarn weight in the UK and is usually knitted with 4 or 4.5mm needles. It is known in some other countries as 8 ply.
  5. Worsted and aran - these are heavier than DK but not as thick as chunky.  Worsted may also refer to the way the wool is processed. usually knitted with 4.5 - 5.5mm needles.
  6. Chunky - 12 to 16 ply, great for knitted garments and accessories speedily. Use with 5.5 - 8mm needles.
  7. Super chunky - for very big knits! Requires a needle size larger than 8mm.  

I've treated myself to some killer flamingo yarn from Rainbow Heirloom, custom dyed in the UK by Emily Wessel. It is a pinky/orange yarn I spotted at Yarndale, but didn't buy. It has been on my mind ever since and I'm looking forward to knitting a hat and cowl with it when my three skeins arrive.

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