Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5-ply revisited

I came to spinning as a knitter seeking better "gansey" yarn.  Everyone said that gansey yarn was worsted spun, so I spun worsted.  I liked the yarn better than mill spun. Thus, I started spinning 5-ply worsted.

I spun a lot of worsted 5-ply, then I started spinning worsted warp for spinning, and the 5-ply knitting yarn became a by-product of what I was spinning for the loom.

Then, I started spinning woolen weft of about the same grist.  There was a basket of it by the lazy kate.  Plying up a ball of woolen 5-ply was easier than going up stairs to get some worsted.  I liked the 5-ply woolen.

As I spin more woolen weft, it becomes a source for singles to be plied into knitting yarns.  After all, I have a big basket of weft singles sitting there, so when I want some knitting yarn, I just ply some up.

I like knitting yarns plied up from lace weight (6,000 ypp) woolen singles.  They are more elastic that any mill spun.  They are more elastic that any 2-ply.  They are more elastic than my 5-ply gansey yarns.  I like elastic knitting yarns.

They are durable.  More durable than any mill spun or any 2-ply.  They are almost as durable as my 5-ply gansey yarns.

They are warm.  Perhaps too warm for modern centrally heated environments.

The yarn is less splitty and more elastic than 5-ply worsted, so it knits faster. And, I tend to knit it on bigger needles than I use for worsted. I am still using blunt needles for all woolen knitting.

The yarn is much rounder than 2 or even 3-ply, so it shows stitch patterns almost as well as 5-ply worsted, Since the fiber is not combed, I can add something to give a halo and hide the stitch pattern.

Carding and fine spinning drops out the veggy matter. If one spins 1,800 ypp woolen singles, most of the VM stays in the single, thus, getting the VM out become a large effort in fiber prep.  Spinning fine, drops the VM. Dropping VM remains a worth while reason to spin fine.

Combing for worsted spinning rejects much fiber.  Spinning woolen conserves fiber.

Woolen is easy to spin from short fibers.  Some days I get tired of spinning Merino worsted.

It is soft.  I can spin it from fine wool and it is always skin soft.

Why did I not do this before?  I had the idea that the right way to make 5-ply was to spin worsted.  Nobody was making 5-ply/sport weight woolen yarns. I was a captive of the conventional wisdom.

Net time to spin 5-ply woolen yarn is about 100 yards/ hour for me. A sweater is ~2,000 yd, so it takes me about 20 hours to spin the yarn for a sweater.  Having DRS lets me afford better yarns.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a spinner, but could you recommend a commercially available gansey yarn? All the ones I find say "5-ply," but this must not be the same as what you're talking about. What would you choose if you weren't an accomplished spinner? Thank you.

Aaron said...

I sort of have to go with Frangipani. The price is reasonable. It comes in better colors. And, Jan is so nice.

But it really comes down to< "What do you want out of your gansey?" Pick a yarn that produces a fabric that you like for this project. The fabric that I like may be too warm or not warm enough for your project.

The technical term for a hat or mittens or socks is "swatch". Do a lot of swatches.