Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, January 23, 2023

A Sweater's Ply

A reader question:

To my SWNE colleagues,

When it comes to sweaters, I am ply-ignorant.  I see many references on this site to different ply sweaters.   Is 2-ply sufficient?  Is 4-ply better, and 6-ply better still?  Or is it just a matter of preference?  I wear sweaters a lot during the winter for everyday living and for business casual entertaining.  
Thank you! 

Some of the sweaters from this site of various plies:  Photo by Salt Water New England

4-Ply Shetland from Bosie, Made in Scotland
4-Ply Lambswool from Cordings of Piccadilly, Made in Scotland
4-Ply Lambswool from Cordings of Piccadilly, Made in Scotland
4-Ply Donegal from Bosie, Made in Scotland
4-Ply Donegal from Bosie, Made in Scotland
4-Ply Shetland from Bosie, Made in Scotland
6-Ply Lambswool from Cordings of Piccadilly, Made in Scotland
3-Ply Wax Coated Merino Wool from Cordings, Made in Wales

7 comments:

  1. The number of ply can be thought of as a measure of thickness or heft. A typical Shetland is either two ply or four ply. Higher numbers like 6 or 8 starting getting into the chunkier knits. The ply number will largely dictate warmth, but other factors including the gauge of the yarn and the tightness of the knit will also come into play. I find 4 ply ideal for a Shetland, providing a good bit of warmth but still looking reasonably trim under a jacket.

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  2. To be clear, ply refers to the yarn the sweater's made of, not the sweater itself. It means the number of strands twisted together to make the yarn. A sweater might be knitted tightly or loosely, or be thick or thin, regardless of the ply. For cashmere, which is more delicate than wool, a high ply is better because it makes it stronger.

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  3. This is off the subject. Does anyone else save the clothes tags and use them as book marks? Maybe this should be taken off the comments for the given subject.

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    1. A very good idea, especially when the tags are nicely designed. This would be a transition, from golden bookmarks received every year for a Lunar New Year from Citibank (they stopped a couple of years ago), to Bosie sweater tag. I like!

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  4. You are not missing anything. I've been buying sweaters for 40 years and never paid attention to number of ply. No ply is "better," it depends on how and where you wear the garment, your own body temperature, the look you favor (chunky vs. trim), etc. Buy what is comfortable for you.

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  5. Depends on how you wear sweaters & your personal thermostat. Two ply may be better for people who run hot or who plan to wear the sweater on cool summer evenings (i'm mostly thinking Shetlands here), whereas the options with a little more bulk/volume tend to be better for colder weather or people who get chilled more easily. It's also not as simple as looking at two vs. four ply because brushing a sweater can add some volume that will keep a person warmer, particularly when wearing the sweater under a jacket.

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  6. Truly a personal choice!

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