Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Out of Lyme

I seem to have found a Lyme Literate MD (LLMD), and massive doses of  Doxycycline seem  to be bringing me out of the debilitating fatigue and brain fog of Lyme Disease.  However, the physical therapy to repair the ravages of LD suck the time out of the week, and there are gigantic uncompleted task lists.  My productivity over the last 5 or 6 years has not been as high as it was in other periods of my life.

I expect LD imposed physical limitations on me, starting about 5 or 6 years ago. This was about the time I started spinning, so that I did more planning and analysis, rather than stupidly rushing in and trying to make a great wheel do what only a DD wheel could physically do.  Looking back, with or without Lyme Disease, working out the mechanical details of differential rotation controlled flier/bobbin systems was a nice piece of work.

And, if like Holin, I had wasted 28 years spinning on a GW rather than using a faster, lower effort, technology, I would be furious with myself.  Imagine, spinning for 30 years on a GW and still not being able to produce a hank of worsted spun gansy yarn in one day, and then have a fellow that had been spinning for only 5 years learn to use a DD wheel to easily spin a hank of gansey yarn in one day, even when he is disabled by Lyme Disease.  I mean after 30 years of spinning, one might use a GW for aesthetic reasons, but after 30 years of spinning, and still not understanding that a DD wheel can be much faster than a GW; Oh, my! It would be so humiliating.

Nevertheless, time devoted to physical therapy seems to have peaked, and with brain fog clearing I seem to be able to get more stuff done. I have referred to myself as a "fat old man, with palsy".  Much of that was due to Borrelia.  These days, I feel 15 years younger.

LD produces a brain fog, so one fails to index the knitting journal and thus picks up Mary Thomas, rather than the knitting journal as one sits down to knit Eastern Cross Stitch. In the drawing in MT illustrating ECS, the needles are at an obtuse angle. That approach requires pointy needles and brute force.  If the angle between the needles is acute, ECS is easier. She would defend the drawing saying it depicts continental style knitting. I say, if you want to knit tight using continental knitting, you will ruin your wrists.  And, ECS is about knitting socks and hose that need to be knit tight.
Due consideration of prototypes tells me that ECS is not the traditional Jersey stitch. On the other hand, it is a very good stitch for socks.

In my world, most knitting is intended for destruction and discard.  Initial swatches will be tested to failure, and discarded. Prototypes are tested to failure, and discarded.  Objects are worn, repaired, worn some more, and ultimately discarded.  Objects that show great virtue will have replica swatches knit, which are kept and used in planning future objects.  However, I expect a knit object to last a few years, and in that time I study and learn. I know the effort to knit and test swatches and prototypes will result in better objects in the future, so the effort does not bother me.  I expect every object to be better than the object that it replaces. The socks that I knit today are much, much better than the socks that prompted Bob to offer me $200 for a pair of  hiking socks.  That is the way it should be.

I make and test: new tools, new yarns, and techniques.  None of the needle makers understand my knitting needle needs as well as I do. All of my needles have been adapted to my techniques and yarns.  My knitting sheaths have been adapted to my needles, my knitting techniques, and my yarns.  My yarns are adapted to my needles and my knitting technique.  It is a system and it works.

Needles and  yarns designed to generic standards and common techniques will not work together as well as my integrated system, and they will not produce objects of  similar virtues.

I demand extraordinary virtues from my knit objects.  The virtues that I demand may not be the virtues that you desire, and you may even disdain the virtues that I demand, but people who touch and feel my objects admit that I push knitting much farther than anyone else.  People either love or hate my knitting.  Nobody is indifferent to it.

PS  Everyone should just assume that each and every future post in this blog asks Holin, " How long does it take you to spin a hank of 560 yards of sport weight, worsted spun 5-ply yarn?"  When she is able to say, "less than a day", I will post her response so all of her students can ask for a demo.


purplespirit1 said...

fwiw, I can spin an entire hank of yarn within one day. And it's consistent and enough yardage to make an adult sized sweater with. When would you like a demonstration? Or are you specifically only looking for one from Holin?

Holin Kennen said...

Your research skills area appalling, Aaron. You assert facts to suit your peculiar and unfounded view of history and people without anything at all to back them up. You don't research anything at all - you merely invent. There is a reason you are no longer employed or employable. You couldn't get the job done then, and you can't now.

So, Aaron, where do you obtain your facts about how fast I can or cannot spin? Are they somewhere in your head, because since I've never seen you, you would have no idea how fast I can spin. You also presume to know how long I have been spinning on a great wheel, and you assume that this is the only wheel I have. It isn't, but it wouldn't matter if it was. I care about quality, not speed.

I am not humiliated to be able to spin on a great wheel. I am actually quite proud of that, since there are fewer and fewer people who are able to do so. As I and others have said many times - and you still refuse to listen - it doesn't matter how fast you spin if the result is like the crappy yarn you produce. The master painters of the Italian Renaissance took their time in creating their master works. The Pope had to wait impatiently for Michaelangelo to finish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but the end result was more than worth it. If it takes me a bit more time to spin yarn that people want to purchase over and over and over because it is consistent, durable, and (yes) beautiful, then I'm doing my job well. When was the last time anybody wanted to buy your yarn?

Rather than actually offering something of value, you merely provide endless amusement for those of us who actually know what we're doing and produce finished objects and quality yarns. After five years and endless "tests," you are still churning out the same crappy yarns and swatches as you always have. The person who should be feeling humiliated is you.

Anonymous said...

Why do you persist on using the wrong name for Eastern Crossed? (There is a difference between cross stitch -- a form of needlework, but more generally a stitch which is either angry or in the shape of a cross -- and crossed stitches. Eastern Crossed is called that because the stitches all have Eastern mount and all are crossed.)

Mooneybeams said...

You are a truly horrible person. A bully, a boor and a braggart.

Mooneybeams said...

You are a truly horrible person. A bully, a boor and a braggart.

Holin Kennen said...

Speed, speed, speed. When will you ever learn, Aaron? Ashford produces lots and lots of wheels very quickly. They are great starter wheels and very durable and affordable, but they have their limits. On the other hand, your hero, Alden Amos, made spinning wheels that were known far and wide for their quality. He made them the way master craftspeople do - one at a time, taking the time needed to produce a beautiful wheel that would meet the skills of a spinner as she or he advanced in their ability and technique. People waited YEARS to get one of his wheels after ordering one. It was worth the wait.

I now have the pleasure of an increasing number of people who are willing to commission custom spun yarns from me and are willing to wait to receive them. Each order will be given exactly the time it needs to spin the yarn requested by my customer for their needs. These are people who come back again and again to have me spin yarn for them. They tell their friends, and those friends request custom spinning. And those friends are also willing to wait. When, Aaron, was the last time you had people willing to wait for your yarn because the quality was worth waiting for?

McDonald's produces food at high speed. Nobody in their right mind would consider it to be a high quality, nutritious diet. Your yarn is the equivalent of a Big Mac. All quantity, no quality.

Aaron said...

Once I put Alden's custom made flyers on my "Ashford", I took it up to show him what we had created. He watched me spin, and told me that my traddy as it stood was worth more than he wanted for a new wheel.

The treadles and drive wheel of an Ashford Traddy are very good. The problem is with the flyers. The Ashford Double Drive fliers are heavy and use a 2-piece shaft, which allow vibration at high speed. Replace the Ashford flyer with a better flyer and you have a excellent spinning wheel. Replace the Ashford flyer with a excellent flyer, and you will have a superb spinning wheel.

Aaron said...

I read the Seven Pillars of Wisdom when I was way too young and took the Preface, way too much to heart.

I start with an Eastern Mount, and I make nice little crosses marching along like crosses at some war cemetery. I deal with the thing, and the tools, materials, technique for making it. The name of the thing is not so important. In fact, I came to this stitch seeking to make a stitch for which I only had a description in an old French dialect.

I know which stitch I mean. It turns out that you do know which stitch what I mean. If this was a finished document that I was charging you for, I would worry more about editorial issues. However, it is simply a journal that I make public, and it is chock full of editorial issues.

Aaron said...

The challange was for 500 yards of worsted spun, sport weight, 5-ply spun and plied in a day. That is: Five true worsted-spun singles of 5,600 ypp, and 560 yards long are plied into 500 yards of gansey yarn, all done in a day.

I would be delighted to see every spinner able to do that. I think every competent spinner (with or without Lyme Disease) should be able to do that anywhere, any time.

However, Holin has been rude to me, so the challange was to her personally.

Aaron said...

Basic engineering calculations. It is why I keep pointing you to the numbers. It is why you should lean to do them.

I know how fast spinners like Stephenie Gaustad, Judith MacKenzie, and other good production spinners can spin.

I know how fast various kinds of spinning wheels can insert twist, and how much twist is required for various kinds of yarn.

When I wanted a faster wheel, I did an extensive study on all of the human and physical factors in hand spinning speed.

When I bought the #1 Flier from Alden, he told me that he had tested it to 3,000 rpm which was much faster than it would ever be subjected to when spinning. This tells me that Alden Amos, with all of his experience in wheel building and commercial spinning did not think it possible for any hand spinner to insert twist at a sustained average of 3,000 rpm. For 5,600 ypp, that would ~400 yards per hour for woolen, or about a hank per hour if you can draft worsted that fast. However, the only way to draft true worsted that fast is DRS, and your comments demonstrate a deep ignorance of DRS.

I often insert twist at over 4,000 rpm on a sustained basis. Spinning a hank of either worsted or woolen 5,600 ypp single in 48 minutes is just not a problem for me. I can spin a hank, have a cup of coffee, wind off, and pump the bilge in less than an hour.

I only spin for myself. I spin because I want better yarn. Ok,you are doing custom spinning. What would you charge me for 10 pounds of worsted spun singles, spun from medium long wool with grist of all hanks within 5% of 5,600 ypp? (That is not an order, it is a request for a bid/proposal; including demonstration of ability to meet deadlines.)

Holin Kennen said...

I have neither the time nor the inclination to spin anything whatsoever to meet a challenge from you, Aaron. Based on your prior behavior, even if I did meet your challenge, you would move the goalposts and change the criteria. I'm not interested in spinning a 5-ply gansey yarn when a 2-ply will do the job just as well and take less than half the time. Why bother? You are hardly worth the time to even write this response, let alone spin for. I have customers waiting. You aren't one of them. We've already been through your bid/proposal nonsense in your ridiculous prior posts. I'm not going there again. Challenge away, Aaron. I have better things to do.

purplespirit1 said...

it's interesting how you write, complaining of being bullied, and you devote entire blog posts to bullying others. It's okay for you to do it to others but not back to you? Ironic.

And yes, btw, I can spin to your specs. I'm willing to bet money that it's more consistent than your yarn, and I don't have a fancy high powered wheel or tracometer AND I can even do it with my dear little lyme-free lady brain.

Seeing as you still owe another raveller a case of whiskey, I believe, on a bet that she won but you changed the rules on, I doubt to trust you on taking you up on any challenge. You're a coward.

Anonymous said...

"[this blog] it is chock full of editorial issues."

Yes. Yes, it is.

Aaron said...


I try to fit my writing to my audience. When they are rude, I respond in kind.

Where I see good work, I applaud and cheer. Where I see people trying to pass mediocre work off as "good" work, just because there is no other competition, I say what I see.

I did not learn to spin until I was old, and I state my miserable spinning rate. Every competent professional spinner in the 15th century could almost certainly spin much, much faster. Nevertheless, I think my rate of spinning is a reasonable (low end) benchmark on how fast a production hand spinner should be able to spin.

In the 15th century, hand spinning was an important industry, deserving of serious economic analysis. I think that spinning production rates based on Victorian spinning paradigms massively understate the productivity of earlier hand spinning.

Now, please tell me how you are more polite and refined in your posts than I am in mine. Or, give me a numerical basis of your spinning rates that I can applaude, and say well done, WELL DONE!!

I would like to be nice to you, but you are not really giving me an opening.

purplespirit1 said...

"Where I see people trying to pass mediocre work off as "good" work, just because there is no other competition, I say what I see."

^^^ Priceless.

Again, you keep wanting to emphasize speed. Quality and quantity are not the same. The few pictures you've shared of your spinning, even though spun fast, is clearly of poor quality. It's not even an issue of "pretty" vs "not pretty". Quality doesn't have to mean pretty.

Consistent quality yarns are what is needed for quality garments. In your very short spinning career, it seems you have skipped over practicing making quality yarns to seeing how much you can spin in a short period of time. You focus on creating The Ultimate Spinning Wheel when your attention should be on how to make quality yarn.

Whether it takes you a day or a week to spin 500 yards of worsted spun, sport weight, 5-ply - honestly, it doesn't matter. Really, I swear it doesn't matter.

By your own posts in these comments and in very recent blog posts, you've created a mass amount of shit yarn and crappy swatches that have been disposed of. Why? For someone who's so focused on speed and efficiency, why is this being done?

Your blaming lyme disease or 'uneducated' "bullies" from ravelry is rather lazy on your end. You've created shit yarn because you're not an experienced spinner. A fast wheel and memorizing a few spinning books does not make you an expert.

Reading a book on swimming doesn't make you an Olympic swimmer, either.

Isabella said...

"The challange was for 500 yards of worsted spun, sport weight, 5-ply spun and plied in a day. That is: Five true worsted-spun singles of 5,600 ypp, and 560 yards long are plied into 500 yards of gansey yarn, all done in a day.

Is that all? I can do that no problem and I'm thought a very average spinner round here. I thought it was going to be something astonishingly difficult given the way you keep going on about it. And I can do it on any of the bog standard Traddys that I keep for teaching on. The spinning is in the hands of the spinner, not the wheel. If you need some sort of home made bolt on gadget to be able to do that sort of yardage per working day then can I suggest you find yourself a decent teacher and work on your actual spinning skills?

Aaron said...

Do the numbers. A stock Ashford Traddy will not go fast enough to insert that much twist -- not by a factor of 2!

I do not think you have any concept of worsted 5,600 ypp single. It is 75 wpi. My guess is that it is class of yarns so fine that you consider "frog hair".

Alden told me that when he started testing Ashford flyers, they had a tendency to self destruct at ~3,000 rpm, but Ashford has improved. At this point, I have spun all of my Ashford flyers on the lathe at 3,000 rpm without a problem. However, on the wheel, the Ashford DD flyers start to vibrate at ~2,200 rpm, and the vibration reduces drive belt contact so the maximum useful speed with the Ashford DD flyser is ~2,000 rpm. Also for either the Ashford DD or SD flyers, the cadence become excessive for sustained spinning.

Using the Ashford lace flyer/ Scotch tension with either the supplied plastic drive belt or 21 ply cotton with drive band dressing, vibration in the drive band limited contact at less than 2,000 rpm in all trials. So while in theory, the lace flyer could deliver the required twist, it would require a treadle cadence of 140 strokes per minute - which is tough to sustain for more than 3,000 yards.

At this time there is no mass produced hand spinning wheel being made in the world today that will allow a hand spinner to insert 3,000 twists per minute. Allowing time for wind off (and bio-breaks), the wheel must actually run at ~4,000 rpm.

And on all of the standard Ashford wheels, true worsted must be drafted "inch-worm". You cannot draft worsted at 325 to 360 inches per minute on any standard Ashford - and remember this is 75 wpi yarn. The great advantage of DRS is that it changes the drafting technique. You have to try it to understand.

Without a wheel that will insert that much twist, it does not matter how fast the spinner is. It does not matter if you can draft 600 yards per hour if your wheel will only twist 300 yards per hour.

Aaron said...

You pretend to want to spin excellent yarn, and yet you are unwilling to investigate the great virtues of multiply yarns.

Let me recount what you are missing:
> multi-ply yarns can be more flexible
> multi-ply yarns can be warmer
> multi-ply yarns can be more durable
> multi-ply yarn can be rounder to make decorative stitches "pop"
> multi-ply yarns can provide more cushion as for rugs, socks or to protect a sailor against sharp edges
> multi-ply yarns can have more stretch - allowing the garment to have more stretch

This rather deflates your claims of wanting "better" yarns

Holin Kennen said...

Your use of the word "can," tells all. All of the things you state are, indeed, possible, but they are not necessarily desired by all people at all times. If they were, the entire world would be wearing fishing ganseys and nothing else. There's a lot more to spinning than just gansey yarn and boot sock yarn.

I'm not missing anything, Aaron. I know all of the things you are saying, but my customers are not fishermen, nor am I spinning for rug makers. My customers do not need to be protected against "sharp edges" on sailboats. I live in farm country in the Midwest near two urban centers. We don't have seawater nearby nor fishing fleets, though we do have lots of tractors. Multi-ply yarns may be more durable, but it depends on the breed of sheep. A five ply Merino or Cormo isn't going to last as long as a two-ply Romney. I spin to the requests of my customer. If my customer is making dress socks, I spin sock yarn for dress socks. If they want a lace shawl, I choose my fibers and spin my yarns differently. For a sweater, it will be something else. That is the definition of a professional spinner. You, on the other hand, are the epitome of a "one trick pony."

I received another commission for custom yarn on Saturday as well as selling three more skeins of my handspun - two for socks and one for a shawl. How many skeins of hand-dyed, handspun yarn did you sell this week? How many commissions did you get?

Aaron said...


You have told me how cold your farm country is. Make up your mind about your requirements. If one is a shepherd lambing in a spring blizzard, warmer is better. On the other hand, fisherman's sweaters were rather expensive objects, whose (capital) cost was justified by the need to keep men alive under extreme conditions. On the other hand, I produce a good, warm fisherman's sweater in about the time others take to produce less warm objects. However, I only make such objects for people that have saved my life.

Let us compare oranges to oranges. 5-ply Romney is warmer, more durable, and has better drape and wearing ease than the same grist yarn from Romney as 2-ply.

The same holds for Merino, or Shetland wools. The 5-ply is warmer, more durable, has better drape, better wearing ease, and is easier to care for than the same grist yarn as 2-ply.

5-ply yarns can be plied tightly to produce stitches that pop or more loosely to provide better fill. One style is focused on decorative use, and the other on warmth. Which is better? Depends on the purpose of the finished object. If one wants a cheaper object, one uses 2-ply. It seems your clients like the lower price point.

A fine peacock lace yarn at about 6,700 ypp can be produced from 3-plies of 22,400 ypp single. Spun worsted, it is a lovely strong clean, thin line compared to the more beaded, and weaker (7,500 ypp) line from 2-ply made up from 16,800 ypp. The 3-ply 6,700 was a favorite of the high-end Victorian lace knitters, and when I tried it, it understood why they liked it. Again, the yarn is rounder and the stitches pop. In comparison, modern 2-ply lace yarns look like rope. I like the 3-ply worsted 6,700 ypp lace yarn. I usually spin it from my best Cotswold or Shetland so it gleams in the candle light.

Cashmere and guanaco are spun woolen at 22,400 ypp, plied with a fine worsted single to make fluffy lace yarns that are comparable with Orenburg style yarns. Guanaco is available from Dana at Royal Fibers. Another approach for fluffy lace is 3-ply based on 30,000 ypp woolen spun from Rambouilet. I do not like fluffy lace yarn. I like clean, distinct lines. I think lace should gleam in the candle light.

Traditional Shetland haps knit from high luster, worsted yarns, gleam with a glamor that dyed fine wool cannot match. Fashion has me on the losing side of this issue and you can understand why I do not write on it. It is just fashion. In 20 years, gleam will be back.

For dress socks, I like the medium long wools (esp. Suffolk from Royal Fibers over in Dixon, Ca) worsted spun at ~18 tpi => 22,400 ypp.
I started with 10-ply, then 2x5-strand cable and settled into 3x3-strand cable as the best yarn construction. The high twist of the singles gives them good wear and durability. The spiral crimp of the Suffolk gives good cushion, and the cable construction give good ease and stretch. And, it is a very round yarn that makes stitches pop, while at 2,000 ypp, the stitches are not so large as to make a bump against the foot, even with a dense yarn structure. And, of course, the Suffolk has luster, and worsted spun, has a smooth, almost silken feel. It makes nice gloves, socks, and hose. And, the effort to spin it, gives it a certain exclusivity.

Yes, I am a one trick pony. I do fine, but I do fine, very well.

I hope you get rich selling your hand spun. I am not any kind of competition for you. I do not intend to ever sell yarn.

I did post pictures in this blog of typical old spinning wheels, and I guess you did not notice. Not my problem.

Holin Kennen said...

No, Aaron, you spin yarn very, very poorly, as your photos make abundantly clear. Ifvyou were only half as good as you claim to be, you'd have people lining up to buy your yarns. That isn't happening because your yarns are poorly spun. it's time to go back to school, Aaron, and learn how to do it right the first time.

Holin Kennen said...

No, Aaron, you spin yarn very, very poorly, as your photos make abundantly clear. Ifvyou were only half as good as you claim to be, you'd have people lining up to buy your yarns. That isn't happening because your yarns are poorly spun. it's time to go back to school, Aaron, and learn how to do it right the first time.