Learning About Plies in Yarn

Mrs. Crosby Satchel yarn in Dogwood

I’ve been relatively clueless about plies of yarn. Probably like most beginner knitters, you jump in and buy because of color!

And….Sale yarns… don’t you hate them? They call to me and say “What a deal! Too good to pass up!” And yes, I am a sucker. Without any idea what on earth I will do with the beautiful bargain yarn, I buy and stash and hope some wonderful pattern will spring to mind.

When I purchased my latest deal yarn, I was hoping to knit a baby blanket. I wanted “baby” colors and since there is no baby on the way in my family, a neutral color would work best. I also wanted to try my hand at a “center out” blanket, because they look so cool (not so easy to begin). Also I would be learning a new knitting skill.

Mrs. Crosby single-ply Satchel yarn in color way Dogwood
Ball of single-ply yarn by Mrs. Crosby

The super-sale yarn I bought the other day is a single-ply by Mrs. Crosby in an off-white mixed with other pastels colors. The type of yarn is Satchel, color name is Dogwood. I am not really thrilled with the color, but I am knitting up a swatch. I had recently made a little baby hat with animals using a similar sock yarn by Madeline Tosh and did not like the outcome. I think it’s safe to say I don’t like single-ply yarns. Or maybe I just don’t know how to use them.

Vogue Knitting book
My new Vogue Knitting book

I now own the new, hardcover, Vogue Knitting book and I love it! (I bought a used edition on sale and it’s like new!) Already it has helped answer some of my knitting questions, and it’s just fun to read. Unfortunately it really didn’t help much with how to choose a ply. It did describe plies, but there were no suggestions for choosing single, double, or more plies for knitting – not that I have found anyway.

Help With Choosing Plied Yarn

Plies are single strands which are twisted together to give strength to the yarn, so the more plies, the stronger. Am I correct? It seems to make sense. I understand what plies are, but not how to choose the number of plies for projects.

Since there is usually such good yarn places online to find information I went to Mason Dixon Knitting and found a wonderful explanation of ply! She even uses the Mrs. Crosby yarn as an example of single ply, and she knits up swatches to compare single, two and three ply yarns. It was a fabulous article.

After reading the explanation, it appears that 3-ply yarn is the best for stitch definition and performance. Sometimes yarn descriptions simply say “plied”, so what then? If yarn is made from three fibers, they would be 3-plied, I assume. I will keep learning.

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