Wednesday, November 05, 2014

My Favorite Yarn (11/2014)

Some of you know that I always seek as much warmth as possible from a minimum amount of wool.  This is a result of too much hiking with heavy backpacks.

I like sport weight yarns, I think they are a nice compromise between patterns with fine detail, and stitches that are large enough to see.  And, sport weight works with my favorite needles.

I tried 10-ply worsted spun sport weight and ended up cabling it so it always seemed harsh.  It was very durable but it never made it past boot sock heels. I still have a ton of it up stairs.

More recently, I have been spinning the Rambouillet from Anna Harvey
( )  as woolen and semi-worsted weft.  Of course some of that gets plied up as knitting yarn, and I find that I love the semi-worsted as 5-ply sport weight.

It is not as durable as my worsted spun 5-ply, but it is much more elastic, and it has more loft.  After knitting and blocking, I brush up a nap and it is a very skin friendly fabric. The samples have been properly abused, but do not seem to pill -- the extra twist in the fine singles seem to keep the fibers from pulling out and pilling.   With all that twist in it, it is more durable than any mill spun sport weight or worsted weight yarn that I know of - even those yarns made for knitting boot socks with large amounts of nylon them.

And this stuff has luster.  JM has told me that Rambouillet never has luster, but this stuff does. Sometimes it gleams and glints like the sparkly synthetics.

The singles need about 15 tpi, but I have not made up the whorls for that yet, so I just fudge it by using the 18 tpi whorl and a slightly larger effective bobbin diameter, e.g., I wind off frequently, and leave a layer of yarn on the bobbin.

This stuff is about 60% more spinning effort than worsted spun gansey yarn.  Is it worth it?  Not sure yet.  Maybe 3-ply semi-worsted sport weight is good enough?  Or maybe not - not sure the 3,400 ypp singles have enough twist to give the final yarn enough elasticity or whether those singles are fine enough to drop out as much VM.   They are OK for weaving, but knitting is different.

I tend to think the old timers understood things well enough that when they settled on 5,400 ypp singles as a building block of knitting yarns, they had good reasons. I should understand what they knew, before I try to reinvent the wheel.  Perhaps, it really is worth while to just spin the 5,400 ypp singles.

It is a great yarn -- and I have already spun a few miles of the 5.400 ypp semi- worsted single for it.

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