Saturday, August 17, 2013


I claim to knit "weatherproof" garments.  If you claim to knit as tight as I do, your fabrics should do anything that my knitting does - without limit.

A pool of water on a sweater is a nice visual aid, but it is not test for weatherproof. Fog droplets in still air move at almost zero speed - rather like a pool of water beading on the sweater.  Real rain drops fall at ~ 20 mph in still air.  A weatherproof sweater can withstand a lot of water hitting it at 20 mph.  Test for it.  I do. My test uses a high pressure nozzle throwing 12 liters/min at the sample.

To a sailor, "weather' means wind.  I test to be sure my gasneys will keep me warm in a cold gale (35 mph). Test for it.  I do.

Wind will accelerate the rain drops or ocean spray to more than 20 mph. Test for it.  I do.

In the 18th century, cod fishermen in the North Atlantic worked from open boats and hand knit sweaters that would keep them warm and dry in a 48F  gale. ("Frostbite" time for bare skin = 30 minutes.)   When the weather got bad, they put on another gansey, and oil skins.  However, their Jerseys and Guernseys were warm to a degree that you cannot imagine. That is what I test for - Can I knit as warm as they did? And, I always seek better. What is your standard?

I wear my ganseys in the rain and in the wind.   And when conditions get bad, I wear them  2 at a time, under a commercial fisherman's foul weather gear, with proper accessories. I admit it, that combination is warmer than what the old timers had.  They were very tough. In the real world, it does get colder than freezing, the wind does blow harder than a gale, and I have fished in places where 20 feet of rain per year is normal.  I figure that my sweaters are just sort of minimum competence for a working fisherman's shirt.  If you want to say that you knit as tight as I do, then prove that your sweaters have  minimum competence for a working fisherman's shirt.

If you want me to prove things, then turn-about is fair play. We test for  minimum competence.


Allison said...

You do love moving the goalposts, don't you?

PatB said...

I grew up in NW Montana in the 1940s - 50s. The winter in 1951 was one of the worst ever recorded for both snowfall and low temps. My brother and I were caught in a minus 20 deg blizzard with winds of 20 to 30 MPH. Those were the days before wind chill. We walked for half a mile to our farm house. We were wearing whatever grade school kids wore in those days - sweaters, heavy jackets, snow pants, rubber boots over your shoes, cotton socks.. The only hand knit stuff we had were mittens and scarves. It was so cold your eyelashes froze to your cheeks.
We made it home. My brother had a frostbitten nose. I can still remember the excruciating pain of soaking my hands and feet in cold water. I know cold.

Wind chill on the water in 48 deg F? Oh you poor thing! You could have died without your gansey. Yeah, because you're such a wus. What a load of crap. Get a life.
I suspect you've been in the awful 48 deg weather you're talking about maybe twice in your life and you've built a whole fantasy about preparing for the third time. At your age how many times are you going to need a gansey that will keep you from freezing when you go out in the ocean off the California coast? What a waste of knitting time. With all the swatching you do to prove what? You could have 20 or 30 sweaters and wear them in multiples.

Aaron said...

I have camped in the the snow when the temps were -40 to -20F. (forestry research) Days and weeks out in such weather is different from walking to school. You should try it sometime.

I did rescue work in the Adirondacks. Most of the people that died were subject to wet conditions above freezing.

We had fewer people die when the weather was really cold.

I know about real cold, and I have great respect for hypothermia.

Aaron said...

They claimed to knit like I do. I knit -- "Weatherproof"!

Some people just did not understand how weatherproof I do knit.

Let them prove that they knit as weatherproof as I do.

Sarah said...

You prove you knit as weatherproof as you say you do. Talk is cheap.

Kathe Lewis said...

Hi Aaron,
I would like to spin and knit a weatherproof gansey, and I wonder if you can tell me what type of fleece works best? I have tried finding info of what was used originally, without luck. I know they used what they had, but I believe the type of wool matters.
I also wanted to ask you how you mount your combed wool on the distaff? Picture, please?
Kathe, Denmark

Aaron said...


This has nothing to do with what I say, it has only to do with physics. Water runs downhill regardless of what I say. That can be checked by studying the physics or doing an experiment.

Up to the limit where wool fibers are less than ~ 20 microns apart, tighter knitting produces a warmer fabric - regardless of what I say. That can be checked by studying the physics or doing an experiment. At the very least read about the knitting done for the Arctic and Antarctic explorers before they converted to nylon and down.

You have not studied the subject or done any experiments. You have not even tried arrange to touch and feed the fabrics. (Real gansey knit fabrics are different.) You have not called Alden Amos (the great textile judge) to ask what he thinks of the fabrics. You have not talked to Beth Brown-Reinsel about me. In short, you have not done any of your homework.

At this point, your ignorance is not my problem.

Aaron said...

See Sunday, March 04, 2012
More on how I spin

Funny, it looks just like the pictures on Greek Urns from the Bronze age.

Peter Teal's method of winding it on a stick and putting the stick in your lap also works. Just remember to have it feed from bottom or it will roll off your lap. A heavier stick allows drafting against its weight, but tend to crush the roving. All in all, I found a real distaff to be worth the effort.

Some days I think winding it on clockwise is better. Other days Widdershins seems better. I think it depends on how I wind the bird's nests. I think going the same way puts too much twist into the roving.

I think I want the roving to have just a bit of twist opposite to the twist in the final yarn but I am not remembering to do this consistently.