Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Spinners produce skeins so the yarn can be easily judged. In the past, skeins allowed the factors and weavers to judge the quality of the yarn that a spinner was producing.  However, what really matters is the appearance and function of  the fabric(s) produced from the yarn.

Judging a skein of yarn in the skein at a show is like judging a hunting dog or a sheep dog in a show ring.  The only way to really judge such dogs is to watch them hunt or work sheep.  Judged in the ring, you are likely to come up with a "champion" sheep dog that is pretty, but can't work sheep.  And, a sheep dog that cannot work sheep is not a sheep dog, it is just a pet.

Yarn must be judged by how it performs in a fabric, and the intended use of the fabric must be known. Yarn for a sweater is different from yarn for gloves.  And, yarn for matching sweater and gloves is another set of compromises depending on how the outfit will be used.  No! that is the mind set of a knitter using commercial yarn.  A hand spinner can make soft sweater yarn, and durable glove yarns that match.

I have been sampling yarn for gloves.  The soft yarn's do not wear well at the finger tips. The yarns that wear well at the fingertips, tend to feel harsh at the cuff. Certainly it is also an issue with socks, but it is more an issue with gloves.  This brings up the idea of spinning different, but matching yarns for cuffs and  areas of high wear.

Mostly transitions from one fiber type to another are visible where the transition is abrupt.  However, the hand spinner can make such transitions gradual and very much less apparent.  That is, suppose it is desired to put more Romney in the fiber blend over the heel and toes of a sock to increase durability. The hand spinner can change the blend over a length of  the yarn that will result in a inch of knitting, so that in the finished object, the transition from one fiber blend to another is not noticeable.  In a skein, that transition from one fiber blend to another would look like crap.   In the finished object it looks like magic. It is a touch of true craftsmanship.


K A Archer said...

"Spinners produce skeins so the yarn can be easily judged."
I'm a handspinner, but, I don't wind my handspun into skeins because I want them to be "easily judged". In fact I don't ever intend to enter my handspun into contests.

I wind my hand spun into skiens because, well....its just easier.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean, "soft yarns do not wear well at the fingertips."

Yarns, without an apostrophe, means more than one yarn (plural). Yarn's (your spelling) is the possessive form of yarn. Doesn't make sense in your sentence.

And believe it or not, fingertip is one word.

Aaron said...

My spelling is terrible.

At one time, I was writing in a program that had a very good spelling program in it, but when I pasted into Blogger, it was a mess. If you look back through the blog, you will find posts with millions of errors in them.

Sometimes the current system is better, sometimes it is not.

Aaron said...

If I am spinning and using the yarn, then if I wind off into a skein, (for washing?) then I have to wind the wet skein onto a reel for blocking. It is easier for me to just wash the skein on the reel, and skip the skein step.

I find winding 560 yards of wet 11,000 ypp singles from a skein to a blocking reel to be a pain in the neck. For me, it is easier to wind off from the spinning bobbin to a reel, wash and block the single on the reel, then wind off the reel to a plying bobbin. Now, I have clean, blocked single on my bobbin.

Badger said...

Why would you wind off wet yarn onto a skein winder? Wind it onto the skein winder before you wash it. If you've plied it so that the yarn is balanced, the apparent overtwist caused in plying will be balanced out when the yarn relaxes in the hot water. For someone who claims to be a super-duper spinner, this is pretty basic stuff.

A fifth grader can understand that twist is what makes the fibers hold together. Once a child has seen me make yarn and explain that the twist is what keeps the fibers from separating, they nod sagely and move on. I fail to grasp what "understanding" of twist you feel is necessary in order to spin properly. This is a no-brainer.

BTW, anybody who has entered a spinning or skein competition, which you apparently have never done, knows that the spinner will be required to indicate what the skein is intended to be used for, or in the case of a live spinning competition, the spinner will be given fiber and told to spin up a yarn for a particular type of garment/project. In both cases, if the yarn doesn't match the intended product, points are deducted, even if the yarn is perfect in all other respects.

=Tamar said...

Spinning different composition of yarn for a specific project, e.g. sock heels: to me, that's a fascinating concept. How do you know exactly where to insert the harder-wearing yarn, and how much you need? I'm guessing experience and using the same pattern over time, but that does require very specific knowledge of the knitter's work. As a dilettante, my knitting is far too uneven for me to predict where I'd need more durable yarn, even if I were a spinner.

Aaron said...


I do wash my yarn on reels.

However, even Amos references winding wet yarn from skeins onto blocking reels. So somebody lets their skeins get wet.

And, I hear of spinners trying to block whole skeins of yarn by hanging a weight form the skein. I even hear of spinning teachers advocating blocking whole skeins. I do have to admit trying it and deciding it was stupid.

Aaron said...

As you knit a sock pattern that you like, stop where there might be holes and frog back, then measure the required yarn. Spin a transition section and the tough section.

Over the years, I have knit and frogged so many socks, that I know how many arm lengths of yarn produce how many inches of knitting.

ThatLibraryMiss said...

Where are the photos of these marvellous socks? Are they like the emporer's new clothes, too fine for mere mortals to see?

Anonymous said...

"And, I hear of spinners trying to block whole skeins of yarn by hanging a weight form the skein. I even hear of spinning teachers advocating blocking whole skeins. I do have to admit trying it and deciding it was stupid. "
And there is the reason that people despise you. You can't accept that there are different ways of doing things, you just call anyone who does something in a different way than the one you prefer "stupid."

What is truly stupid is pretending that you have the One True Way of doing anything.

We still haven't seen any proof that you actually spin anything at all, just your arrogant assertions that everyone else is wrong. So, I call you both liar and stupid.

Aaron said...

Dear Anonymous,

Why should you care if I spin or not?

You do not seem to actually have any interest in spinning, or you would discuss a dozen ways of blocking yarn, listing the advantages of each method. No, you do not contribute.

You just want a place to be rude.

Russian Fibers said...

"And, I hear of spinners trying to block whole skeins of yarn by hanging a weight form the skein. I even hear of spinning teachers advocating blocking whole skeins. I do have to admit trying it and deciding it was stupid"

You are right about the rumors of hanging the weighted skein using DH tools or rocks as a weight. Great granny did that, granny did that, I did that. There was to room for great deal of tools in a small 1 room apartment with a small bathroom where the yarn was hanging over the bath tub to try in winter. Because that's how we lived, 5 people in 1 room apartment. It was not stupid, it was our life. It was a life of a pros when their 3m looms and tools were gone with the house and the village all together, and yet they lived after that, they space was gone, the village was gone, people remained and they lived. People do what they need to do. as simple as that. and they wind that skein in a way that it is uniform and tie it in a way that it will weight block hanging. enough to make a sweater for Russian winters to do not freeze in -35C + wind factor or a shawl. And they yarn that was knit into the garment for a child otr adult was then later unraveled, and re-blocked and re-used. Our garments had more than one turn in life because it was out life. Did not have a big house in Cali, or well, not everyone does and we were ok. We just lived.

Your yarn reflects your state of mind. please calm down. take it from a person who did that and who's prior generations did the same.