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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Stephen West pattern (Pogona) that asks for fingering wt yarn, 4 ply...what does that mean? I understand that fingering wt should yield 27-32 stitches/inch using U.S. needles size 1-3. The 4 ply is what is throwing me. Checking the yarn in my stash (that I would love to be able to use), the fingering wts are 2 ply. I am looking at Ella Rae Lace Marino, Prism Merino Mia, Koigu KPPPM, Caudia Hand Painted finger wt merino, and Shalimar Yarns Breathless. All are 2 ply when I untwist. Can someone please explain the 4 ply issue? Thank you all.
 

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In this case, "4 ply" means fingering weight. Check the ball band gauge on the yarn, if it matches the recommended yarn/gauge, you're on the right track.

Years ago, the "ply" actually meant the number of plies of a very thin spun single ply that were spun together to get thicker yarns. Now though, a lot of that has gone out the window with man-made fibres. Acrylic worsted weight yarn will often have marked on the label that it is "4 ply" - meaning it is made up of four plies of single-spun acrylic fibres.

To complicate things -- I have seen bulky yarns that are a single ply, as well as finer yarns that have up to 8 plies.

In general, though, when a yarn is referred to as a 3ply or a 4ply, it is generally in the baby fingering range. A 2ply is closer to the laceweight size. 8 ply is usually a dk or sport, and 10 ply a worsted weight. 12 is Aran weight.

Hope that helps... though there is no substitute for knitting or crocheting a gauge swatch!!
 

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This is time for a temporary swatch (or permanent if you do it with similar weight but rougher yarn.

The US 1 or 2 (2.25, 2.5 mm) needles should be just fine as you will probably have to increase the number of stitches across to fit your foot (or make the adjustment for a smaller child/baby). Having the finer weight yarn makes for a longer wearing sock!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you! I feel some relief now re: choosing yarn for this project...I will follow gauge, and not worry about ply. I too have seen bulky wt one ply, and understand that perhaps the industry has gotten more sophisticated than the lingo.
 

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Actually, in this case, 4-ply means absolutely nothing! Consider Red Heart Super Saver is worsted weight and 4 ply. All it tell you is how many plies are in the yarn. The info you need to do a good substitute is:

Yarn weight
Gauge
Yardage
And in some cases yarn content.
 

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What I am finding odd is that sport weight yarn from different companies are totally different. Take I Love This Yarn Sport Yarn from Hobby Lobby and Red Heart Sport Yarn. The Red Heart is much thicker and makes up totally different than the one from Hobby Lobby.

Makes things really confusing. You almost need a science degree to know what yarn you are buying these days.
 

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That's why the yard gauge (not the weight "number, 1, 2, 3, etc.) as stated on the labels in the important thing. I am currently working with a "sport" that is really a fingering. And I've seen worsteds that were really DK's or Bulky.
 

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Have a look at what other people have used:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pogona/yarns

I agree that a lot of the time people use 4-ply to describe thickness -- but the ply is about behavior more than thickness.

4-ply in this case means a balanced yarn ... the same weight in 2-ply would be kind of ... twisty? springy? and make nice pronounced yarn overs in lace. If you were making a lace shawl you'd want two ply, but this pattern doesn't need it.

The behavior of the yarn also depends on the amount of twist and how the plies are plied together and ... well, I am not an expert on how plying affects yarn behavior but really all knitters should read some of the books and magazines on spinning. It helps you predict how a yarn will behave in various types of stitch patterns.

Even if you don't have any intention of spinning, the next time you are at the library see if you can find some back issues of Spin Off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Y'know what? You may just be right. I just unearthed an old WIP abandoned b/c it was just not working out. The yarn wasn't behaving. I see now that it was 4 ply, 60%mohair, 40% new wool, with a gauge of 24 sts, 30 rows = 4"x4". (Label is DalegarN Tiur) I had hoped to knit a scarf that utilized many yo s. I may as well been knitting with steel wool and springs. I purchased the yarn, sealed bag of 10?, on sale and did not get to touch it.
It still looks beautiful, but what a brat! I am timid about buying on line if I am not familiar with the yarn. I can get very picky about color as well, so I feel I am taking chances in the realm as well.
 
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