Thursday, March 12, 2015

3-ply again

After much wandering in the land of grist, I have decided that I really like 5,600 ypp singles  as a basis of knitting yarns.

I spin such singles from long wool like Romney, a blend of medium wools that I get from a  commercial vendor, and Anna Harvey's fine Rambouillet or  Royal Fibers CVM.  For knitting, these days, I am spinning everything semi-worsted.  Everything gets spinning oil and several passes through the drum carder.  Sometimes the batts are dized off to form roving and sometimes they are just torn into strips.  Then, they are all spun at 9 tpi.  The slight woolen character of the yarn means that these yarns are softer than worsted yarns of the same grist and twist and firmer than pure woolen yarns.  And the long wool yarns are more worsted in character and firmer than the singles from finer fibers.

I have been blending these singles into yarns of specific use.  Hiking socks are 3-ply all Romney and Cotswold - very durable.  Street socks and are 3-ply - all medium wool - not as firm as hiking socks.   A ply of each gives a mitten yarn that is durable, but which fulls into a soft, dense fabric.  The long wool singles help stabilize the fabric, and the fine wool provides fill. (These are gloves - no shrinking and felting allowed.)

I knit these yarns on needles in the 2 mm range.  Stitch counts run just under 10 spi, so the fabrics are not at all stiff.  In general, the fabrics are very light weight, low bulk, and warmer than commercial 2-ply worsted weight yarns knit at 5 spi.  Thus, I have warmth with less weight or bulk, and with much better drape.

I find these yarn somewhat less splitty and easier/faster to knit than the 6-strand yarns of the same grist that I produced from commercial warp yarn.  Since knitting takes longer than spinning, over all, I  find spinning my own 5,600 singles faster/easier than using the 2-ply, 5,600 ypp warp yarn to cable up this grist of yarn. I also like being able to control the fiber content.

My 3-ply yarns are about the same grist as Shetland 2-ply jumper yarns, that are often knit in the just under 8 spi range.  However, when my 3-ply medium wool yarn is knit at that gauge, the 3-py produces a warmer and actually softer fabric, with a better drape.  In the over all cost of the object from fleece to finished product, the cost of  the extra ply is trivial - on the order of  less than 10%.  In a commercial operation, seeking to control production costs to meet a price point, 10% production costs is a big deal.  For a craftsman seeking to produce a much better product, 10% higher production costs to produce a much higher quality product are a good investment.

No comments: