All knitting patterns take into consideration the texture, weight, thickness of a finished project by accounting for the knitting yarn used in combination with the knitting needles used.
Knitting Yarn Plies and Weights
Most commercial yarns are plied—4-ply, 5-ply, 8-ply, 10-ply, 12-ply, and 14-ply the most common. The number of plies, making up a variety of thicknesses called weights, determines the garment weight. 4-ply knitting yarn, as you might have guessed, is the thinnest and lightest in weight and will render a fine lacy garment, light socks, or summer shells.
Knitting Yarn Weight Classes
The various yarn thicknesses, or weights, fall into six categories, or weight classes:
- Super Fine – The lightest weight yarn, including the 3-ply, 4-ply, 5-ply, and jumper weights, super fine yarn is typically best suited to baby items, fine or lacy garments, and super fine throws.
- Fine – Also known as sport-weight yarn or baby yarn, fine yarn is most often used for knitting lightweight sweaters, baby items, and lighter throws.
- Light – Well-suited to knitting baby blankets and clothes and lightweight garments.
- Medium – Aran and 10-ply yarns are in this weight class, the most common weight and most popular with beginner knitters making hats and scarves, but is also most popular weight for knitters of all calibre and for crochet crafters alike.
- Bulky – Also known as chunky, craft, and rug yarn, bulky yarn is good for hats, heavier scarves, and blankets or throws.
- Super Bulky – Often as high as a 14-ply, super bulky yarn is great for winter slippers, mittens, Afghans, and sweater-jackets.
Some Yarn Materials/Fibres
Angora – Made from rabbit fur, angora has no give (no stretch) and results in knitted items that are soft and warm.
Camel – Made from Bactrian camel hair, this knitting yarn can come in 8-ply, for heavy worsted pieces. But more commonly, this lightweight and fragile yarn knits into light, silky, soft and warm pieces. Also noteworthy, camel yarn cannot be bleached, so the colours are either left in the browns and tans or dyed darker colours.
Cashmere – Made from Cashmere goats, this knitting yarn is rare, expensive, and delicate to work. Usually, because the undercoat fur of the Cashmere goat is taken only a few ounces at a time and during select times a year, this fibre is mixed with wool to be made more available, accessible, and sturdier for knitting.
Mohair – Like Angora, Mohair yields a fluffy knitting piece. Unlike Angora, this knitting yarn taken from Angora goat fur is durable, dirt-repellant, and amenable to dyes.
Silk – Even more stable to knit as its finished knitted product doesn’t stretch or shrink, silk knitting yarn retains heat and absorbs moisture well. Moreover, silk yarn, made from silk cocoons/fibres, does very little pilling and is a sturdy yarn to work.
Wool – Wool knitting yarn, from sheep, is one of the more common and popular yarns to work: it is dye-receptive, flame-retardant, and heat-retentive even when wet.
The knitting patterns do the calculating and considering for you, but once you get accustomed to knitting yarns personalities, you will want to make your own choices, altering patterns and designs according to preferences for ease of use, wearability, and fashion flair.After all, it’s your craft and your unique skills that will decide the final outcome!