As we stock yarns from around the world, they’re not all manufactured to the same standard weights. Elizabeth Bagwell explains the different terms.
Yarn weights are confusing enough when you stick to one system. With the plethora of beautiful yarns crossing the oceans every day, more knitters are getting in a tangle, particularly when substituting yarns. Using the American Standard Yarn Weight System as a backdrop, my goal is to outline the types of yarn, from thinnest to thickest. If any are missing, please mention where they would fit in the comments. What does ‘yarn weight’ mean? The term ‘yarn weight’ refers to the thickness of the thread, not the weight of the ball or even of the thread itself. As different fibres have different densities, a metre of a fluffy aran wool may weigh less than a metre of 4ply cotton, even though the aran is the ‘heavier’ yarn. What’s a ply? Spinners pull fibres from a disordered mass into a single, long thread. This thread is usually plied with one or more others to make up a yarn of the desired weight. This way, the spinner or spinning machine can make one type of thread but multiple weights of yarn.
Historically, this was a good way to describe weight, as plies were fairly uniform. Today, a single ply yarn can be a very fine laceweight or a bulk sweater yarn like Icelandic Lopi, and a DK can have 10 or 20 plies in it. Plies have remained as yarn weight names, particularly in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, even though the meaning is no longer as clear. 0: Lace Approximately 32-40 stitches per 4in/10cm on 1.5-2.25mm needles. Starting with the thinnest yarns, this category covers: Thread which is approximately the same thickness as sewing thread or 10 count crochet cotton. Cobweb yarn also known as 1ply in the UK and Australia/New Zealand. Laceweight which is most commonly 2ply (UK/AU/NZ) thickness. However, the term ‘laceweight’ can be used for any light yarn used for lace. Light fingering (US) which is approximately 3ply (UK/AU/NZ). Some UK manufacturers call 3ply yarns ‘baby weight’.
Lace yarns are often knit on larger needles to create a more airy effect so its important to find the right weight of yarn as well as getting gauge. 1: Super Fine Approximately 27-32 stitches per 4in/10cm on 2.25-3.25mm needles. Fingering (US) is approximately equivalent to 4ply (UK/AU/NZ) and sock weight.
Sock weight is a very useful term but not a fixed standard. As an example, German sock yarn manufacturers may issue their colourways in ‘4-fach’ and ‘6-fach’ weights. 4-fach is approximately 4ply, while 6-fach is thicker, more like sport or DK.
In the UK, 3ply and 4ply are commonly sold as ‘baby’ yarns. Like sock yarns, baby yarns can vary enormously in thickness and you’ll commonly find them in categories 0 through 3. 2: Fine Approximately 24-27 stitches per 4in/10cm on 3.25-3.75mm needles. Sport or sportweight (US) is approximately equivalent to 5ply (AU/NZ). There is no direct UK equivalent. 3: Light Approximately 21-24 stitches per 4in/10cm on 3.75-4.5mm needles. DK or double knitting (UK) is the same thickness as 8ply (AU/NZ). There is no direct equivalent in the USA, although imports may be described as a ‘light worsted’. 4: Medium Approximately 16-20 stitches per 4in/10cm on 4.5-5.5mm needles. Worsted (US) is slightly thinner than aran (UK). Both are approximately equal to 10ply (AU/NZ).
The term ‘worsted’ comes from a particular spinning method so it is possible to find worsted-spun DK yarn although this is relatively rare unless you’re buying hand spun yarn. 5: Bulky Approximately 12-16 stitches per 4in/10cm on 5.5-8mm needles. Bulky (US) is known as chunky (UK) and 12ply (AU/NZ). Icelandic Lopi is a bulky yarn.
Bulky and chunky yarns can vary a lot in thickness. Frequently, yarn companies will lump all yarns thicker than aran or worsted into this one category. As a result, finding successful substitutions can be difficult. 6: Super Bulky Anything thicker than bulky.
Super bulky (USA) yarns are usually put in together with super chunky in the UK. Novelty yarns, art yarns and other off-the-charts fibres Yarn weights were developed when yarn meant wool and (perhaps) cotton. As more and more creative yarns appear, from fluffy acrylic ‘eyelash’ yarns to ones made from recycled fabric, the categories become less helpful. As novelty yarns are often knit at odd tensions, finding substitutes can be like doing a frustrating (but hopefully rewarding) puzzle.
This article was copied off the Love of Knitting blog.
SOAR has an update on "Decorah" [D20/male]
Per SOAR: "3/8/15 Update - Tail feathers... January through March is not the time of year that birds should be molting feathers. In February, Decorah had five new tail feathers growing. The feathers grew about half-way in and then the blood supply to the feather dried up and the feather dropped out of the follicle. A blood supply to the feather is necessary for feather growth. This has happened more than once. A consult with Dr. Dirk...s tells us to be patient. Dr. Dirks is hopeful that once the photo-period is correct and that stimulates hormone production that signals molting, that Decorah's tail feathers will grow in as we all hope. Doctor also said there could be follicle damage. At some point, Decorah will go visit Dr. Dirks for another consult regarding those tail feather follicles. Getting jesses on Decorah is back on the "to do list" for us. Once he has jesses, then training activities can begin."
~ Sitting on the shelf ~
Latest photo of Ambassador-in-Training Decorah... for an update on the tail feathers saga, click over to the website: http://www.soarraptors.org/index.html#MarchUpdate
Long story short is that we are still waiting to see if Decorah can grow tail feathers. Now is not the normal time for feathers to molt and re-grow. We're hopeful that when the correct photo period comes that signals to birds to begin their feather molt, that Decorah will then be able to grow his tail feathers.
We are sorry to announce that Four, the single remaining bird from the 2014 Decorah alumni to remain in the wild, was electrocuted on Tuesday, March 2nd. This is the fourth eaglet from Decorah that we know of to die from electrocution. Bob and a good friend picked her carcass up on Thursday after the Eagle Valley team notified us that they received a mortality ping. Bob and Brett examined her on Saturday and verified the cause of death.
Bob found her lying underneath a utilit...y pole. He took photographs and sent them to a consultant, who told us the pole was unsafe and made suggestions to improve the safety of this pole and other poles in the area. We brought them forward to Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light and are waiting for a response from them.
Why do the eaglets keep perching on power poles? Bob theorizes there is a behavior difference between urban and rural eagles. Rural eagles are programmed to perch in trees because that is what they have available. But urban eagles, including our beloved Decorah family, are exposed to power poles and other man-made structures from the beginning. There are vast amounts of power poles serving our needs. With eagles beginning to nest in close proximity to man - something new for both species - he believes electrocution will be an increasing concern for urban-fledged eagles and utility companies.
What can you do?
- Find out whether your utility has an avian protection plan. If they don't, they should consider adopting one. An APP helps keep animals, equipment, and people safe. http://www.aplic.org/APPs.php
- Report electrocuted birds and other animals to your power company. Electrocutions are deadly to animals, harmful to equipment, and potentially dangerous to human beings.
- Report collisions to your power company. While our eagles have been electrocuted perching on poles, collisions are also deadly. Swan diverters and other deterrents can be installed.
- If you are a member of an electric cooperative, make your concerns known to the board. I know of at least one electric cooperative in the process of retrofitting all of their poles. Electrocutions destroy equipment, require unscheduled repair time, and are expensive.
We will continue our work with the electric distribution industry to address this issue and are researching deterrents for the poles near the nest and elsewhere.
It was a beautiful day yesterday. The sky was clear and blue and it is early March. I learned about a new knitting group starting at the WW1 museum. One of my friends and I went and had a very enjoyable time. This lecture was on the music of WW1. Did you know there were about a dozen songs related to knitting. Neither did I. We were given a pattern of wristlets, a pattern made at the time for the soldiers. It appears this is going to be a monthly event and I plan on going when I can. There were almost 100 knitters in attendance. They wanted to see if this would take off and I say it did. I have never been to the museum but I need to take the time to spend a day here and see what it offers.