8 ply wool (or yarn) is probably the most commonly used ply for knitting, and is available in a wide variety of colours and textures.
This ply is also commonly referred to as double knit or medium weight depending on which country you live in, and can be used for a virtually endless variety of knitting projects including:
For more information on the names given to each weight of yarn in various countries, check out my yarn comparison chart page.
But if you are still unsure of the weight of a particular yarn, another way of measuring the weight of your yarn is to count the number of wraps per inch.
You can use any ruler to do this (as I have in the photo), 8 ply yarns will wrap around your ruler at the rate of 13 wraps per inch.
The normal tension for knitting in 8 ply is around 22 stitches and 30 rows over a 10cm square on 4.0mm knitting needles.
If you are a first-time knitter or still consider yourself a beginner, 8 ply is probably the best choice for your knitting projects.
© Knitting Naturally - 8 Ply Wool Wrap per Inch
Because it is the most commonly used ply, patterns are readily available and many of them are designed to be knitted by beginners. If you have a look at my beginner knitting patterns page you will find several patterns for children's sweaters and scarves that are knitted in 8 ply.
If you are going to purchase a pattern (or a pattern book) just check the skill rating on the patterns to select one appropriate to your skill level before you buy them.
© Julie | Flickr - Knitting Wool on Store Shelves
If you are still learning, nothing will turn you off knitting faster than a complicated pattern that is beyond your current level of ability and let's face it, wool can be expensive and you don't want to be in the position of having given up and hiding your project in a back cupboard somewhere until you can face starting again!
If you are going to make a garment with a ribbed edge, you will probably need a pair of 4.0mm and 3.25mm needles to complete your garment.
But having said that until you are familiar with your tension, (and everyone's tension is different) you really should knit a tension square to determine the correct needle size for your knitting tension. Using the wrong size needles will result in an ill-fitting garment that is either too wide or too narrow for the length.