Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why don't I just leave Ravelry?

Because there is a stream of new folk coming into Ravelry, and Mother Nature does not post there.  Somebody needs to make sure that there is some echo of the truth in Ravelry for new seekers to find.


  • Yarn matters!  Regardless of what patknitter asserts, both grist and yarn structure matter to the quality and ease of knitting a fabric.  Yarn density affects the drap and hand of the fabric. 
  • Knitting affects the warmth, durability, drape, hand.  Using finer needles can cause knit wool fabrics to be "smooth" and even "slick", without being stiff and losing drape. Most people do not see such fabrics these days because few knitters do fine knitting. And hand is something that needs to be felt. Seeing a picture or looking through glass is not the same.
  • Wool yarn can be spun so there are only 20 staples in the cross section.  This can be down with a supported spindle, or a Scotch Tension wheel or a DRS controlled double drive wheel. Working with fine wool the grist of a single can be on the close order of 100 m/gram (45,000 ypp). The fine long wools such as Shetland yield  yarns  of ~ 30,000 ypp ( 70 m/gram). As 3-ply, these were the base for the great Peacock lace yarns of the Victoriana.  Long wools spun at 17 tpi (22,400 ypp, 50 m/gram) were the base for the great hosiery yarns.
  • Yarns can be hand spun at a reasonable pace.  With a good wheel 45,000 ypp singles can be hand spun at more than 100 yards per hour.  Singles with a grist of 5,600 ypp which make an excellent base for ordinary knitting yarns can be spun at more than 500 yards per hour.  It is very reasonable to spin enough worsted spun, 5-ply sport weight yarn for a sweater in a day and a half.  Enough 2-ply yarn for a sweater can be spun in a morning.
  • Knitting yarns with several plies are warmer, more durable, and produce fabrics with better drape and hand. Fabrics knit from multi-ply yarns can yield astonishing warmth with minimal bulk.  (e.g., figure flattering)  Finely knit, these yarns produce figure flattering fabrics.
  • Knitting sheaths are the knitting tool of choice to produce fine fabrics at a reasonable rate.  Knitting sheaths are the tool of  choice for knitting very fine fabrics (couture) , or fabrics which must be very warm ( objects for cabmen or seamen) or very durable (socks and objects for men working in an industrial environment) are best knit with a knitting sheath.
  • Knitting sheaths have a wide variety of form factors and  support several very different knitting techniques.  These techniques produce fabrics that cannot be practically knit with circular needles or handheld DPN
  • Knitting belts are an excellent tool to produce fine, soft fabrics that do not need the higher density  that can be delivered by a knitting sheath.  Knitting belts are the tool of choice for decorative Fair Isle objects.
All of the above are easily demonstrated to anybody with an open mind. These are not subtle effects that require statistics to tease out. These are bold effects.  When seen in person, they are as startling as getting hit in the face by a large, live salmon.  

Fine hand spinning and knitting are traditional skills that we should preserve for the future.  Certainly the concept of DRS spinning is in Alden Amos, but a more practical and concrete example does not hurt.

Traditional use of knitting sheaths by full professional knitters is in the literature. I merely point out what a diverse, powerful, and practical set of technologies they are.

Mother Nature always has the last word.

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