What Ply is my Yarn?

…And I’m back again!

I’ve mostly ignored directions about what type of yarn to use in particular patterns thus far in my knitting. I just bought some yarn I liked, and started patterns that I thought I could do. Generally speaking it’s working out fine as I’m just making scarves and hats for the most part…

But now I’d like to start moving on and: I’ve noticed patterns calling for a particulary ply for the yarn…like 2-ply or 4-ply or 8-ply wool yarn. What does this mean? And how can I figure out what “ply” my yarn is? There doesn’t seem to be anything obvious on the label that tells me.


Ply refers to the number of strands a yarn is composed of. The term “ply” is misleading. Some people assume that the more plys a yarn has, the thicker it is. Not true. Some bulky yarns have only 2 plys and some multi-ply yarns are as thin as baby/fingering weight. It is better to look for yarn in terms of weight such as baby, sport, worsted, bulky, super-bulky. These refer to the thickness. This is also how most yarns are labeled. I have seen yarns that list the ply number, but also the weight (the thickness, not the ounces or grams) Always look for yarn that has a recommeded knitted gauge, and compare this to the gauge required in your pattern. Get as close as you can, then adjust needle sizes to be sure you get the gauge needed.

Sorry, I hope that helps and wasn’t too confusing. Maybe someone else can explain better.

Ply does affect how stitches will look (how the “v” looks in st st), but definitely weight is more important. If you have a wool that works up to the same gauge as what’s called for in the pattern then you should be good to go.

Look for words like worsted, bulky, dk, sport, fingering–These indicate the weight of the yarn, and your pattern should mention them, too.

Ive noticed that british patterns talk about “ply” instead of weight. So, instead, look at the needle size and the number of sts per inch called for on the pattern, and match that up with the yarn you are considering.