The One Where I Attempt To Unravel The Mysteries Of Wool (Or Yarn)

I like wool. A lot. But many, many a time I have been left staring at the computer screen only knowing that I wanted really thin wool, but maybe I really need yarn? And do I want fingering or sock? And what’s Aran? And why have they named wool after the monkey in Nintendo??

Stop. Breathe. It’s okay.

So for any others out there who also have trouble differencing between their lace weight yarn and Aran wool, we no longer need to scratch our heads in confusion! Because I finally got on Google and did my best to nut it all out.

Lets start at the very beginning. The difference between wool and yarn. Yarn is long fibres which are used for knitting and weaving and can be made from anything, including acrylic and cotton. Wool comes from fluffy animals and is a type of yarn. I did not know that! It kinda blew my mind for some reason. Wool is a type of yarn, so you can just call everything yarn and you’ll be right!

Quick note – Australia doesn’t have very creative names for our yarn. Instead of calling them worsted or sport, we simply call them by their ply. 8 ply, 4 ply and so on. This completely explains me standing in the local wool shop looking for sock yarn and finding numbers instead.

Super chunky, Aran, DK, fingering and crochet cotton


Thread – not thread you use in the sewing machine, but cotton thread often used for crocheting. They need a teeny hook, from 0.75mm to 1.75mm.

Lace Weight Yarn – this is an extremely light yarn, good for – wait for it – lacey patterns! Who knew, right? This is normally a 2 ply yarn and knitted up on tiny needles, from 1.5 to 2.5mm. It’s often is knitted on bigger needles than the gauge says to achieve that light, airy look.

Fingering Yarn – is… well, I don’t think I’ve ever used this, so I’m not quite sure what it is. I do know its a step above lace weight, and that it’s 3ply and knits up on 2.5mm to 3.5mm needles. I’m guessing lightweight jumpers and baby items?

Sock Yarn – This one always confusing the stuffing out of me. I don’t knit socks, but the wool always looked so pretty! And so I faced an quandary… can I make other things than socks with sock wool? (Yes, that really was a question I asked myself) The answer is.. of course! Sock yarn often called sock yarn and not just 4ply yarn because it is made out of tougher stuff, good for much wear and throwing in the wash. Use 3mm to 4mm needles for this one.

Sport Yarn – I don’t know why this is called sport yarn. I mean, you don’t knit sports gear so why..? Any ho, its a 5ply yarn and knits up on 3.5mm to 4mm needles.

DK Yarn – Dk doesn’t mean Donkey Kong (anyone else wonder about that? Just me? Okay then), but double knit or 8 ply. It knits up on 4mm – 5mm needles and is one of the more popular sized yarns.

Aran, or Worsted Yarn – These two are pretty much the same. Worsted is more common in the US and is slightly finer than it’s UK Aran cousin. Or you can call them 10ply and be done with it! They need needles ranging from 5mm to 6.5mm so be sure to check the gauge.

Chunky – also know as bulky. Or 12ply. They use lovely big needles 6mm to 9mm.

Super Chunky – My personal favourite! It’s so big!! and the needles are huge!! 9mm to 12mm, sometimes up to 25mm!! (I have 20mm needles. I love my 20mm needles.) I once knitted a jumper in six days using super chunky yarn. That was about my knitting limit, so the timing was excellent!

I learned a lot while writing this. I had always wondered about the names for yarn, but for some reason never looked them up. Now I actually have a bit more than a vague idea of what I’m looking for, and gazing blankly at all the options shall be a thing of the past 🙂



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