Tuesday, 13 May 2014

LONG VERSION = Yarn Types / Weight

Decoding Series

With the majority of free patterns, tutorials, etc coming from US or UK and I'm in AU but MO from NZ (confusing? lol), I decided to make this reference series.
Even I have started using US terms though, like saying "Yarn" when we used to just say "wool" even if it was silk, or cotton, or whatever lol...

Yarn Types / Weight

If you belong to Ravelry, you may or may not know that there is a (?) link next to the Yarn Weight, which takes you to a conversion chart. But what does it mean? and how do I use those numbers and letters and gobbledygook when I go yarn shopping?

(IMG Source  Wikipedia)

Decoding The Columns

Standard Yarn Weight System

This is the system that the Craft Yarn Council (United States) has defined as "Standard" and includes symbols that can be seen on their yarn labels etc. Like this one...

 Nm (length per mass, SI (International System))

The answer to this column is a little tricky, probably irrelevant for shopping, and "geeky" but...

Nm stands for nanometer. Which is one billionth of a meter. It is used in conjunction with  manufacturing terms rather than on labels at your local yarn store. 

The SI unit of mass is the kilogram, a fundamental unit of the SI. The kilogram was once defined as the mass of one cubic decimetre of water. Since 1901 it is by definition the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram, a platinum-iridium mass which is stored at Sevres in France. The metric tonne is a common name for the megagram (Mg). Conversion factors between other units of mass and the kilogram, or its subdivision the gram, are:
1 unified atomic mass unit (u) = 1.66... yg
1 pound (lb) = 453.59237 g (exactly); 1 ton (short, 2000 lb) = 907.18474 kg (exactly); 1 ounce = 1/16 lb = 28.348523... g

Now we know that Nm/kg is what this column is referring to, lets convert that into Tex (another unit of measure used in textiles). 
1 Nm = 1000 Tex
or another way...

If you want to read about what I was going to waffle on about... 
Read Wikipedia's version its wayyy shorter hehe

Yarn Type (US)

This is much the same as the standard weight system

Ply (UK, NZ, AU)

This is the most important one...
Ply refers to the number of strands twisted together in yarn production.
It is wrong to assume that all ply sizes can be used for in this instance because, some manufacturers have a different standard strand Nm/Micron/Tex before these strands are twisted together.

I have brought 12ply yarn before (online) expecting it to be "chunky" and while it was 12 strands twisted together, its thickness was about the same as a light yarn. 
(Now I stick to brands I am familiar with or has a meterage measurement included because of this.)

Having said that, the conversion table and their respective terms generally relates to wool or wool blends. The synthetic fibres have a different micron (diameter) to start with and affects the overall thickness. Other fibres used, such as cotton and silk are different again. You can buy a 4ply cotton that has a relative "weight" to Sport or DK (5-6 ply according to the table).


Australia, New Zealand and the UK should think about adopting the "Standard Weight System" of the US or include "strand diameter" or such on the labels.

For those getting utterly disgusted by constantly hearing "copy the US", there are certain things that should be copied and others just wiped out!
(I was going to insert a picture here of a chicken imitating a US actor/singer, but oops FAMILY FRIENDLY PAGE etc etc...)

Well, that is my 5c on the yarn types etc... Shopping local and in person is always better than online browsing any day :)

((PS:- there will be more on this and other conversions later...)) 

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