I have not posted for a bit, because I was learning to spin my own gansey yarn.
I had been told that NOBODY ever spun gansey yarn by hand because it was impossible. The required plies were so fine that they could not be spun by hand and that it was impossible to ply 5 singles together by hand.
Well, lots of pre-mill spun woven cloth had very fine singles - that were spun by hand. Plying 5 singles together is not that hard.
Thus, after a 3-month learning curve with my little Ashford Traditional, I am turning out my own handspun gansey yarn, and I am very impressed with its competence.
It is stronger and more durable than any of the modern commercial gansey yarns. I spin it softer, so it is more friendly. It is warmer than modern commercial gansey yarns. I like it.
Why in the world would somebody bother to make a 5-ply yarn when it would be easier to spin 3 thicker plies? Well, 5-ply is warmer and more durable. It is the compromise that provides the most warmth for the least amount of wool. Given all the effort to prepare the fiber and knit, it is also the compromise that provides the most warmth for the least amount of effort.
Here is the pix taken in November. The blue on the left is hand combed, hand spun 5-ply at 16 wpi, and the darker yarn on the right is is 5-ply at 14 wpi being knit up as boot socks.