Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Reboot - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Yarn Ply - Part 3

This series on Yarn Ply from 2016 continues to get a lot of traffic, mainly through google search. I'm going to rerun it over the next month for those of you who are new to my blog. Also a reminder, there is a topic index at the top of the page if you are looking for older posts. 

We're at Part 3 and it's about 3-ply and 4-ply yarns and their characteristics. Please keep in mind that I'm writing as a knitter not as a spinner, my perspective and interest is in how these yarns perform while being knit. These yarns are much more balanced than 2-ply yarns. The 3 strands create a yarn with a round cross section. They are strong and therefore well suited for items which will need to stand up to abrasion. Typically, while additional plies add extra strength, they also add extra weight. Remember within the descriptions of ply the fibre used will play a role in the characteristics demonstrated by every yarn. When using 3-ply yarns you will find the roundness of the strand makes these yarns good candidates for cable stitch patterns. In plain stocking stitch these yarns will appear much smoother than 2-ply. Textured stitches will pop up from the surface of the work, since while the ply lines are more visible than those of 2-ply, they are finer with less shadow. 

Three-ply yarns can also be spun using the basic plying method: joining three singles together and spinning in the opposite direction. Three-plies are even stronger than two, and the resulting yarn feels plump and round.

You will hear fingering and sock weight yarns referred to as 3 and 4-ply yarns. Which is what they usually are but you will also find many other yarns in heavier weights which are created with 3 or four plies. This is due to the mixing of international terminology between weight and spinning vocabularies, just remember that plies are independent of the thickness of the yarn because a ply can be any thickness.   

Check out my search in Ravelry for 3-ply yarns and note they come in fingering, Aran and bulky. Further down in the search you'll see worsted sport and DK.

Available 3-ply yarns
You will find the same weight ranges if you worked the search on 4-ply although in this case the fingering weights seem to be more dominate.
Available 4-ply yarns

The difference between 3 and 4 ply yarns are that 4 ply is even stronger but the plies don't nest together as neatly as 3-plies do. I've been told that some spinners can see the fourth ply in stocking stitch. I can't unfortunately, so I suspect I'll have to keep practicing.  

Next time I'll cover crepe and cabled yarns. 


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