Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Household Economy

I can spin 2,500 ypp woolen singles and make 2-ply sport weight yarn in 3 passes (each ply + plying) through the wheel, meaning that it takes me ~ 2 days to spin the yarn for a jumper. Or, I can spin 5,500 ypp worsted singles and make sport weight yarn in 6 passes through the wheel, so 5-ply worsted yarn for a jumper takes me about 4 days to spin.

Then, it takes me about 10 days to knit a good sport weight sweater (on US #1 needles.).

The 5-ply worsted is warmer, and much more durable, and if I am working with long wool, it has more luster.  On the other hand, by saving 2 days of spinning I get a softer sweater that is not as warm and not as durable.

The knitting wins. It is thriftier for me to spin better yarn and spend less time knitting.  This analysis makes spinning 5-ply worsted well worth the effort.  A similar analysis applies to hose and sock yarns, plied up from even finer singles.

 Or, it is better for me to buy the best available yarn and save the effort of knitting more frequently.

Of course, I could spin (or buy) worsted weight yarn and knit it on big (US 7) circular needles in couple of days. That would give me a decorative garment in only 4 days  that gives the appearance of warmth, but which is cool enough that it can be worn in a centrally heated environment - and if I need to go OUTSIDE, I can always put on my cold weather gear from Marmot, NorthFace, LL Bean, Patagonia, or Needless Markup.

I am not a snob.  The last time I was sailing on the Bay, I wore a sweater from LL Bean.  As backup, I had one of mine in my bag, but the LL Bean was enough for the day.  That works on sunny warm days, but when it is murky overhead,  and the wind begins to blow, I like hand knit. And, hand spun because that is how one gets the long wool that endures.

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