One of the trickiest parts of buying yarn online is that there is no definitive way of describing yarn counts (or weight). Some knitters like to use phrases such as “chunky” or “DK” or “4 ply” which in their own way are a fairly useful way of describing yarn counts. However, our preferred method is to use the “NM” (metric) system.
Why? Well the metric system is a scientifically measured quantity – a spinner will frequently use the metric system as a benchmark to produce their yarn to and it is an internationally recognised standard.
We know that lots of knitters aren’t familiar with the metric system so whenever possible we use both systems to describe our yarns. As a rough guide we work on the following conversions:
NM 1 – 1.3 Chunky weight
NM 1.3 – 1.8 Aran weight
NM 1.8 – 2.4 Double knitting (DK)
NM 2.5 – 4.5 “4 ply”
NM 5 – 8 “3 ply”
NM 9 – 12 “2 ply”
NM 13 – 16 “1 ply” / laceweight
NM 16+ “zero ply” / cobweb
There’s always some overlap between the above systems, so sometimes some yarns may fall into more than one category.
PLEASE NOTE: Neither the “metric” system nor the “ply” system are a method of measuring the diameter of the yarn – simply because the diameter of the yarn is a function of the density of the fibre, which varies between yarns (plus it is fiendishly difficult to measure the diameter of most yarns). As a result, this means that two yarns with the same metric count but differing compositions will have different diameters. A good example is the comparison of “4 ply” acrylic with “4 ply” wool – the wool will appear finer as it has a higher density, where as the acrylic will appear thicker as it has a lower density.
Always remember that we sell our yarn by weight so a finer yarn doesn’t mean less yarn – it actually means more yarn!