Friday, June 24, 2016

Yarn Craft Council is a marketing organization to sell yarn.

They set standards that help their members sell yarn craft products, and ensure the maximum profit on those products. They are good at marketing.  They know how to tell you myths you believe. They teach you myths that are impervious to facts. I do weatherproof knitting, but many knitters prefer factproof knitting.

Twist in yarn is very expensive to insert. Energy to insert twist is the largest single cost of a yarn mill.  Low twist yarns are therefore cheaper to produce, and more profitable.

Low twist yarns are less durable, so objects knit from low twist yarns do not last as long, and must be replaced.  Thus, selling low twist yarns can help the mills sell more yarn.  Since the yarns are less durable, the mills add nylon to sock yarns.  Nylon is cheaper than wool, so the mills save productions cost.  However, the nylon appears to improve the durability of yarn, so the mill can charge a premium for adding nylon. In truth, the nylon fibers are slippery and allow the wool to slip out of the yarn under abrasion, leaving the nylon and making it appear that nylon improves durability.  It is brilliant marketing.

When I spin hoisery singles from long wool (22,400 ypp, 17 tpi), and ply them up into a 9-ply sock yarn, the resulting yarn is held together by some 170 tpi, and is very durable.   The 6-ply,  1, 640 ypp sock yarn that I make is held together by almost 90 tpi and is more durable than the commercial sock yarn, but does not endure like a true hoisery yarn.The  3-ply 1,640 ypp  commercial sock yarns (that are 25% nylon) held together by something less than 36 tpi, and tend to go thread bare.

However, hoisery yarn requires 170 total twists per inch.  A pair of socks for me takes ~1,000 yd (~ 200 gm) of yarn.  That will take the most of 4 days of spinning.  Ouch! I can spin 5-ply for a sweater in less than half that time. This is an all wool yarn that knits up into socks that endure.  In a LYS, such yarn would present sticker shock, and not sell -- because we have become accustomed to cheap socks that wear out quickly.  As long as we buy into their  "wear out quickly" concept of socks, the mills can sell a lot of  high-profit yarn.

Still, even the large effort to make good sock yarn is much less than the effort to knit another pair of socks.  That is the incremental effort to re-knit socks is much more than the additional cost of more durable yarn.  Or, over a period of years, it is less effort to just knit good socks or sweaters or . . . ..  And, this is the reason for worsted spun 5-ply.  Knit it once, and you are done for a long time.

Note that the YCC members do not make/sell the kind of multi-ply yarns commonly used to knit durable fabrics. Their goal is to sell you more yarn, not to sell you excellent yarn. 

And, fabrics that are firmly knit tend to be more durable. 

To promote the myth that all yarns wear out quickly, the Yarn Craft Council suggested yarn band content does not include information that helps estimate durability.  Durability indicators would include how much twist is in the singles or the fineness of the wool. Instead YCC suggests (in other materials) that fine wool (often Merino) is the best for all skin contact fabrics, including socks. I know that is a myth that most of my readers have accepted, will retain, no matter how many facts I lob at them.  However, look at how many fine lace objects were knit from Shetland lace yarns for ladies and even infants.  These objects were silken to the touch.  

The truth is that well graded, well combed, worsted spun yarns are smooth and comfortable against the skin. Suffolk is perhaps my favorite fleece for hoisery singles.  And, finer knitting can make the fabric much smoother, more silken.  I would describe some very finely knit  fabrics as "slick".  

These days, I knit 840 ypp 6-ply boot sock yarn on 2 mm needles. I knit 1,640 ypp, 6-ply sock yarn on 1.5 mm needles.  I am swatching the current generation of hand spun hoisery yarns on needles in the range of 1 to 1.3 mm looking for the fabric I like; something slick! 


purplespirit1 said...

Wow... so now you know more than the Yarn Craft Council? Really.

It's one thing if you want to think you know more than people who've been knitting or spinning decades longer than you have... and you presumably know more than most of ravelry... but now you know more than the Yarn Craft Council.


Aaron said...

There is knitting for 30 years, where each year is an adventure and learning experience, so that skill and knowledge increase month by month and year by year. Then there is one year's knitting experience done 30 times so that at the end of 30 years, one is still bound and limited by the myths learned when first knitting.

Then there are people like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Mozart, Haydn, and etc, who become better artists with a few years of training than most become with 30 years of practice. Years of experience do not define great skill and knowledge.

And, somebody that comes to knitting to driven by a need to seek answers will learn faster than folks who come to knitting to knit pretty things and have a social group. Somebody that is looking for better ways to knit 8 hours a day will learn more and faster than somebody that only knits 4 or 5 hours a week. After 16 years, the seeker will have put in on the order of 45,000 hours while the casual knitter will have put in only about 4,000 hours. The casual knitter would have to knit for 161 years to have the same number of knitting hours as the seeker.

Tools matter. The old knitters turned out fine knit objects using knitting sheaths. Did the knitting sheaths contribute to the fineness of their knitting? The seeker would investigate! Who else has the diversity of traditional knitting tools. One cannot investigate the details of techniques without exploring the details of the tool designs. Who else has the collection of needles and knitting sheaths that I have?

The old knitters either spun themselves, or worked directly with hand hand spinners. Did that contribute to the excellence of traditional hand knitting? Who else do you know that has explored the impact of plies on fabric hand and drape? Who else works with 20,000 ypp lace yarn? Who else works with 12-ply sock yarn? Who else works with 10-ply, 500 ypp aran yarn?

purplespirit1 said...

So now you're comparing yourself to da Vinci and Mozart? AND you still insist on condescending to other knitters, who presumably "only" knit pretty things?

I don't knit for only 4 or 5 hours a week, or only knit pretty things. I have a degree in Fashion & Costume Design, from an accredited university, with the focus on knitwear design. I've been knitting and crocheting since I was 8, therefore over 30 years and I have a degree and I knit professionally - as in people actually pay me to knit quality items for them on a commercial and professional level.

I've knit entire sweaters (note that that's plural) using sport weight or finer yarns within a week - and all on circular needles. I've never once used a sheath or knitting belt or any of the other nik-nacs you insist make "all knitting better". Now, it's not to dismiss those tools, because people do use them - but it's what works best for them, and not for everyone. I've never had issues with my joints or hands, have never had surgery or needed medical help or medication.

I still don't understand why you do the "science" that you do with knitting. I'm not sure what your end game is with it, or what your goals are - but you keep posting them over and over in your blog. You insist your way is right, that it's the only way, that you stay on ravelry even though you hate ravelry because other knitters and spinners are all kinds of wrong because they're not only not doing things your way, but they're presumably damaging any future knitters and spinners because they're giving out not-your-information.

You are wrong. For numerous reasons that people have already mentioned, on ravelry and in your comments, you're painfully regretfully wrong. I, for one, am glad that very few (if any) knitters and spinners are taking your advice because you couldn't possibly be more wrong in how you mess up this craft. You are not the expert you think you are.

But, I guess you seem to get pleasure in lecturing women on how wrong they are and how right you think you are, because that's the kind of guy you are.

Aaron said...


I would guess your knit objects are pretty. Ok!! However, many people knit beautiful hand-knit objects on a full-time professional basis. If the objects are being knit to YCC standards it is possible to do knit such objects full time on circular needles with some margin of safety. Professionals that knit finer objects use knitting belts (to protect their wrists).

However, if you are knitting to the gauges specified in Gladys Thompson or Mary Wright or Weldon's 21st Series, for seaman's gear or cabman's gear, then after a few objects your wrists will be damaged. It is just the way of things.

The full time knitting professionals (contract knitters for Burberry's) that knit the gear used by Shackleton's crew during their year on the Antarctic ice used -- knitting sheaths. The full time knitting professionals that knit the gear used by Hudson's Bay Traders used -- knitting sheaths. The full time knitting professionals that knit the gear used by British navel fleets in China and India from 1799 to 1840, used -- knitting sheaths. The Shackleton gear, the navel gear, and the Hudson Bay gear was -- UGLY, but very functional. The fine ladies' gloves knit by the Terrible Knitters of the Dales were fine and lovely, and they also used knitting sheaths. Knitting sheaths can produce finest quality knitting.

On the other hand, if somebody flops down in the snow wearing just one of your sweaters, they will get cold. If someone wearing one of your sweaters needs to be on deck in a cold storm for 8 hours, they will get cold (and cold causes loss of coordination and loss of judgement. Getting cold on a sailboat is a matter of life and death). If someone spends a couple of hours in cold water wearing just one of your sweaters, they will get cold. These are all thing I have done in warm comfort, many times in my sweaters.

When I was younger, I would depend on my athletic abilities to defend me from the cold; and, I got in real trouble. Then, I started taking extra warm clothing whenever I went off on a little adventure. Now, I depend on a hand knit gansey, knowing that if I have to spend night or 2, in the rain or snow, I will be ok. I have moved from my old 6 pound Marmot anorak to a little 2.5 lb parka - in short, with good knit gear, my pack / jump bag is much lighter and much more versatile. Sure, last saturday, I did take my heavy foul weather gear, but there were gale warnings up and I really did not know how bad it might get.

(I have a little towel that they issued us in the UAE. I keep it because it reminds me that no matter how bad things are, they can always get a lot worse, fast!)

The US DOE Inspector General reported that my group saved US taxpayers ~$5 billion dollars. Tell us again some of the things you have done help your friends and country : )

purplespirit1 said...

You're right, the things that I knit are (for the most part) pretty - but they're also functional. People who wear my sweaters are, in fact, warm. (To assume that something is pretty therefore not warm is wrong.)

What I knit is not just meant to be 'pretty' but they're also functional. They are meant to survive Canadian winters, as opposed to your nice warm California winters.

When I knit things for movies and tv shows that are being filmed in Alberta, Michigan, Norway, Iceland and Russia, they are meant to not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also functional to survive these cold, rigid temperatures - because the actors who are wearing them are often filming for 12-16 hours a day in sub-zero temperatures. (And I don't mean sub zero in celsius temperatures, but often even sub zero in fahrenheit temperatures too.) They're often wearing just their day clothes plus my knitwear, and outside for hours at a time to get a scene right, w/o having the luxury of warming up in their trailers in between takes.

So, that's what my knitwear endures. I use fibers that are the warmest, I use designs that are not just pretty but functional too - and I'm not wasting time having to worry about producing the tightest grist or working with 2mm needles. These are (for the most part) commercially available yarns.

Now, if you think that testing your finished knitwear rolling around in California snow for an hour or two, or pouring a glass of water on it, is the end-all test to producing perfect knitwear, and that works for you - that's fine, if you're working on the assumption that we should take your advice and we all live in California conditions.

My knitwear survives the cold in Canada and Russia, which has some of the coldest temperatures in the world, and for much longer times than your knitwear does, I'm sure. And, I manage to do it without your tools, without hurting my wrists, and without investing a lot of time on my spinning wheel making uber-tight yarn.

Like you said, knitting is different strokes for different folks. And your knitwear, I'm sure, is ideal for your peachy, laid back, relatively warm California weather.

The invitation still stands if you ever want to test your knitwear in Canadian winters. If you want to spend 6 months at my house in the dead of winter, I'll take you skiing, ice fishing, and snowshoeing a few hours a day, and we can even test out your knitwear compared to mine on a movie set that's being filmed in the dead of winter, and see who's sweaters are warmest.

Aaron said...

Don't compete with me, compete with yourself.

Consider how your objects could be better!

I have knit thousands of swatches as I compete with myself. I seek to understand how the old timers stayed warm without central heating, without warm cars, and without synthetics - not for a day or a week, but for seasons on end. And, I have tested my objects - in really miserable conditions, freezing rain every day for a week with nights in a tent.

I use a cup of water, because I do not carry a camera when I am up to my neck in cold water. When green water is crashing across the deck, it is "one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself" - and no hands for a camera.

Staying functional as others are dying under the same conditions is the test of a knit garment designed to be warm. (Not all knit garments are designed to be warm.)

In fact, when we were doing back-country rescue work in the Adirondacks, most of the fatalities occurred when the weather was wet and just about freezing. The folk doing rescue on Mt Shasta tell me about the same thing. We had a regular science sampling expedition into Adirondacks. We went in even if it was -40, and we camped 6 or 7 nights along the way. The only time we had serious problems was when the temperature was just over freezing, with a full gale soaking us with spray from the lake. That trip, 19 out of 21 members ended up in the hospital. This was a situation where self-rescue was the only option.

purplespirit1 said...

I know how my objects are better. What I've issue with is someone who's saying their products are better, but aren't truly tested to what it ought to be, and claiming their work is somehow better.

The reason why you stay on ravelry even though you hate ravelry is because you feel the need to educate spinners who are being mislead by all these knitters who are spinning "pretty" things, or your insistence on your knitting knowledge being somehow superior to those knitters who've been doing it longer than you've been alive, but apparently are only knitting "pretty" things rather than functional things.

For the same reason that you've (for some reason) devoted an entire blog post on what it's like to work on a movie or tv set after I've made my comment on what I know based on my decades (yes decades) of knitting-for-movie-production experience, but you provide a couple of links and maybe a few minutes of 'research' because, presumably, you feel the need to - because why? You think I'm wrong? Once again, you insist on trying to prove others wrong because they can't possibly know something you don't.