Never mind the quality - feel the width...

Both in the UK and the US (and Australia - and let's face it they know a thing or two about wool) - we have all developed a method of describing wool weights, which is related to how they are spun rather than having any true meaning in terms of what tension they will knit to. For example, in the UK, a 2-ply wool is very fine lace-weight wool, and yet "2 ply" just means how many strands of spun thread have been used to make the final yarn - the "single" many be very thick indeed and a hand spun 2 ply is often a double knitting or an Aran weight. In the US, a worsted yarn is a medium weight, all-purpose "double knitting"; however, worsted yarn actually means spun with the fibres all aligned down the length of the yarn, making a very smooth strong yarn; again, nothing to do with the thickness. Australians tend to focus on using "ply" - as the ply goes up the yarn is thicker.
So we are all as bad as one another in this respect, and here is a rough guide to equivalent terminology

...and the length.

When trying to translate from one wool quality to another, it is important to check the yardage. The yardage can vary a lot, pure wools being denser than man-made fibres, for example. So work out how many yards were required as stated in the pattern, and then divide by the yards per skein or ball in the wool you are using.
This method works very well for modern yarns as for some years now the yardage (and other Good Advice) is printed on the ball band. It is almost impossible for vintage wools and patterns though. The only rough guidance if you do not actually have a ball of "Patons Fuzzy Wuzzy" to hand in order to measure it, is that vintage wools were usually heavy, so unless the wool is "wonderful new NYLON", (a 60s pattern), or an economy pattern "knits up in only 2oz" (40s pattern), then be pessimistic about the expected yardage.
Here speaks a woman who always needs "just one more ball".

UK Yarns
2 ply
3 ply
4 ply
5ply or
Quick-knit
Double Knitting
Aran
Chunky
Big
Knitting tension
(sts to 4 inches)
36-40
32-36
28
24-26
21-22
16-20
12-16
5-8
Needles size (UK)
14
12
11
10
8
7
6-4
2-0000
Needles size (mm)
2mm
2½mm
3mm
3¼mm
4mm
4½mm
5-6mm
7-12mm
Crochet tension
(sts to 4 inches)
21-28
21-28
21-28
16-20
16-18
16-18
12-16
8-12
Hook size (UK)
1-2mm
2 - 3½mm
2 - 3½mm
3½ - 4mm
4 - 4½mm
4½ - 5mm
5 - 6mm
6½mm ↑
US Yarns
Fingering
(Baby)
Fingering
Fingering
(sock)
Sport
(Baby)
Light Worsted
Worsted
Chunky
Bulky
Australian Yarns
2 ply
3 ply
4 ply
5 ply
8 ply
10/12 ply
12/16 ply
20 ply
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