Friday, February 07, 2014

Knitting 10-ply

It is "gansey yarn" on steroids.

The thing that jumped out at me was that the fabric is more elastic than fabric knit from other any wool yarn that I have ever knit before. 10-ply has a different look and feel than the commercial mill spun yarns.  My hand spun gansey yarn looks just like mill spun gansey yarn, but there is no commercial equivalent of this stuff.

Otherwise, "gansey yarn" can be knit into a  "commercial  duty" textile -  and able to stand up to hard use, while 10-ply is for industrial duty textiles to stand up to harder use, or for use in colder weather.

What this project really taught me is that I can easily use 5,600 ypp singles as building blocks to make what ever yarn that I need, ranging from 2-ply to 10-ply or more.  While cabling is good, it changes the feel of the yarn. Now, I no longer have to resort to cabling to easily prepare a 6-ply or 8-ply yarn.  This was a worthwhile evolution.

Why do we not see these high ply yarns any more?  Because they are expensive.  The power to run machinery costs money, and a 10-ply Aran weight yarn takes more than 6 times as much twist as a 3-py of the same grist. Modern hand spinners have not needed heavy duty yarn and hence did not put the effort into inserting the twist.  It is like building a palace of stone or lath and plaster.  The plaster looks good and is cheaper, but the stone endures.   Likewise, 3-ply Aran yarn looks good and is inexpensive, but the 10-ply is warmer and it endures.

It takes time and effort for fancy knitting. I think it is worth spinning the best yarn I can get or make.  Sometimes that will be 10-ply.  I do expect to make more 10-ply, 8-ply, 6-ply and of course 5-ply because some knitting projects are worth spinning better yarn.  Despite the yarn mills promotion of yarn forms that they can produce more cheaply ( fewer plies, core spun, etc.), sometimes more plies are simply better.  However, modern mills do not offer such yarns any more.  And slow hand spinning does not the allow the practical production of such yarns, so the only way to get such yarns is to put in the effort to learn to spin fast.

None of this changes my feeling about mill spun warp yarns cabled up into knitting -cabling produces a different class of yarns that produce a different class of fabrics - also worth putting a lot of effort into knitting.


vampy said...

Just a FYI, not all mills have stopped making high ply yarns. The much-coveted Wollmeise sock yarns are 8 and 9 plies, and I am pretty sure a mill in the US started making a copycat base yarn after requests to do so.

Aaron said...

true, true, true.

I was in LYS a few days ago, and there are a large array of high-ply knitting yarns now available.

And, I think I commented on a 10-ply wool sport weigh from Lion Brand (spun in Turkey)more than a year ago.

Still most Aran weight yarns are not actually constructed as 10-ply. Aran yarn constructed as 10-ply is warmer than Aran weight yarn constructed of fewer plies.

Why don't hand spinners make the real thing?