Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Nor-Easter Juno has reminded New England that as global warming warms the bottom of the atmosphere, it also cools the top of the atmosphere - setting up conditions for a good snow storm every so often.

While Juno pounded New England, another bigger storm pounded the North Pacific. Juno was not unique, or the last of her kind.

Global warming and even ubiquitous centrally heated structures and transportation does not mean that we no longer need very warm clothing.

The last time that I HAD to be outside working in blizzard conditions, the warmest yarns that I knew about were from MacAusland  ( ). A gansey knit from MacAusland yarn kept me warm, dry, and safe while working for extended periods of time in nasty, nasty conditions.

However, I now know that hand spun hi-ply yarns can produce fabrics that are just as warm, but that have less weight and less bulk. Now, I know that hand spun hi-ply yarns can be just as durable, but more comfortable. Yes, garments knit from hand spun, hi-ply yarns can be better.

Hand spun hi-ply yarns are likely to require 2 or 3 times more spinning effort than the yarns commonly spun by modern spinners. All in all, many of my 5-ply finished yarns contain 50 or more twists per inch. More twist gives the yarn warmth and strength.  When I started spinning, spinning teachers told such yarns had never been hand spun. And, they told me that such yarns could not be hand spun.  That was incorrect.  Sometimes spinning teachers are just plain wrong. And, even when a teacher is correct, sometimes one must stand on their shoulders to see and understand more.

On the other hand, if I was not going to spend the effort or did not have the time to hand spin hi-ply yarns, I would use MacAusland. One can knit very warm, very durable fabrics from MacAusland, at a very reasonable price.  This is not a yarn for knitting objects that you intend to wear to a ladies's tea party.  This is a yarn for objects that must endure the worst weather. I keep bins of it on hand.

The warmest mill spun yarn that I have ever used was the old Lion's Brand Fisherman's Wool.  This is no longer available, as production was moved to China and the style of the yarn changed. The old LBFW, I hated to knit (splitty). but loved the fabric.  The new yarn, I love to knit, but hate the fabric.

Modern "gansey" yarns have too much ply-twist, which reduces the "fill" of the yarn so there are gaps between the individual yarns in the knit fabric. The gaps are large enough that air can carry heat through them.

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