The Basics of Knitting Yarn (Not All Skeins Are Spun the Same): Types and Uses

Knitting is perhaps one of the oldest hobbies ever to exist. Back in the day, when they didn’t have all the entertainment resources we have now, they had to pass the time somehow. Luckily, knitting allowed them to do exactly that all while creating a few comfy items of clothing. When you take that into consideration, it’s definitely not surprising that knitting has managed to stick around for so long. It’s passed on from generation to generation like a family treasure and a much-appreciated tradition.


Either way, you’ve probably seen your grandma do all the handy knitwork like a pro so now it’s time for you to take over the mantle and keep the tradition alive. Whether you’re looking to put together stylish socks for your little munchkin or you want to make yourself a nice, warm scarf for the winter, taking up knitting will surely do the trick. But as is the case with literally everything else these days, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. All you have to do is grab a random pair of needles and some yarn and you’re good, right? Not exactly, that’s simply the tip of the iceberg. Stick around if you want to find out what lies underneath.

What Are the Different Types of Plied Yarn?

First off, we need to lay down the basics of plied yarn. The concept is pretty simple – singular strands of all kinds of yarn fibres are warped together to create a thicker, more resilient bundle. The larger strand is less fragile and easier to handle when you’re knitting which is why the type of plied yarn you use can make a tremendous impact on the way you make your knitwear. In any case, there are two main types of plied yarn – single-strand and multi-ply yarns. Here’s a quick breakdown of each one.

Single-Ply Yarns

Single-Ply Yarns

As the name suggests, here you have only one strand of fibre which inherently makes this type of yarn more delicate and prone to breakage. For this reason, you need to be extra careful when handling it because one sharp tug at the strand and could be damaged beyond repair.

Due to their single-strand build, one-ply yarns have a somewhat more roundish shape. While this may initially seem like a perk, it can actually flatten out pretty quickly. So if you’re planning on knitting something you’ll be wearing quite a bit, maybe this isn’t the best way to do it.

Multi-Ply Yarns

If you’re looking for yarns with a more durable structure, you’re on the right track. Basically, if you twist two strands of yarn together, you get a two-ply bundle. The more strands you spin, the bulkier the fabric gets. Yarns with multiple plies, such as sturdy yet comfortable 4 ply knitting yarn, are perfect for making everyday knitwear such as socks or leggings. Given that those two items of clothing are quite prone to regular wear and tear, it makes sense that you would use thicker fibres as their base. If we’re all being honest, we’ve all dealt with inexplicable tears in socks at least once in our lives. With 4 ply yarn, that may well become a thing of the past.

Multi-Ply Yarns

We should note that just because your yarn has more plies, that doesn’t mean that it’s immediately heavier than those with fewer strands. Depending on the type of material, the fibres themselves don’t have the same weight, whether they’re isolated strands or bunched together. For example, wool 4 ply knitting yarn doesn’t weigh the same as the cotton alternative.

With that said, plying your yarn can be quite beneficial for those fabrics that are innately thinner and more fragile. So basically, if you want to knit something out of silk or cashmere, you can easily do so by twisting a few strands of yarn together to make a tougher combination. In this way, you ensure that your knitwear will retain its original shape and form for many years to come.

What Types of Yarn Fibres Are There?

There’s a wide range of yarn fibres available these days which is why it can be difficult to choose just one. Luckily for you, we’ll be letting you in on a few tricks to help you make the right decision.


This is perhaps the most commonly used fabric out there. It’s super soft and cosy which is why it’s a great match for those with sensitive skin. Moreover, its smooth surface is non-irritating and hypoallergenic so it should definitely be on your list of must-haves.


Unfortunately, the only downside is that cotton falls short in the elasticity department. While you likely won’t notice a difference while wearing it, this may cause patterned irregularities in the knitting process.


If you’re looking for something to keep you extra warm during the winter, look no further than wool knitting fibres. It’s incredibly snuggly yet resilient so it’s the perfect combination. Some might even argue that it gets even softer with every wash which is definitely a bonus in our book.


Who can resist the silky smooth surface of linen? It feels like absolute heaven on your skin. Plus, it’s super lightweight and breathable which means it’ll keep you cool in the burning summer heat. Don’t be fooled by its delicate appearance either, it’s quite tough and resistant to tears so you won’t have to worry about any inconveniences.

Linen yarn


Last but not least, this luxurious fabric stands out from the rest due to its unique fluffiness and softness. Sure, it’s a tad bit more expensive than the other options but it’s definitely worth the investment in the long run. Sometimes we all want to feel like royalty, wouldn’t you agree?