Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Good stuff

 Hand spun, worsted 10-ply Aran

The yarn is not designed to be easy to knit.  The yarn is designed to have very high fill, so as to produce a fabric that is exceptionally warm,  durable, and very comfortable to wear.  Knitting this yarn into the desired fabric is a ferocious effort!  On the other hand, the yarns that are easier to knit do not produce the same fabric!  Do I want "easy to knit" or "warm,  durable, and very comfortable"?

What do you want?

I had to spend days reworking the needle tips to find a shape that allowed knitting this fabric at a good pace.  I had to modify my knitting technique. I had to put padding on the knitting sheaths.  The fabric is worth all these efforts.

The shape of needle points is important, and different yarns require differently shaped needle points.  And some projects are much better knit with blunt, curved needles, that are rotated into the fabric.
"Bombproof" fisherman's socks being  swaved from
 worsted 5-ply, sport-weight, high-ply twist (non-splitty)  handspun from Romney fleece.
Such needles (pricks) require a knitting sheath optimized for this technique.

Good products may take more effort!  I would rather put in more effort and get a better product than just do it the easy way for a lesser product.  How about you: Do you want easy?; Or, better?

I have been spinning, and knitting 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 14 ply yarns for some years now; and, knitting swatches (socks, etc,) to figure out how the various yarns behave.  I have plied yarns firmly and softly, and cabled them as 2x2, 2x3, 3x3, 3x2, 4x2, 5x2, and etc to see how each of these yarns behave as fabrics.  I have compared my-spun with mill spun.  I know how to spin/ply yarns that are not splitty; and, I know how to produce yarns that are easy to knit.  Been there. Done that!

Mills need to sell "easy to knit yarns" because not all of their customers are superior knitters. Consider for example how many modern knitters are so dedicated to their craft, that they make their own needles.    Likewise, not all hand spinners, are superior hand knitters. And, being more members of a social club, than craftsmen seeking mastery, they are not willing to make the effort to spend  YEARS of working out how to spin and knit a particular, exceptional fabric.  They do not follow paths to fabrics that require special tools and special skills to produce. Special fabrics also require the insight to predict even the existence of the fabric. 

One gets to special fabrics by beginning with the end in mind.  One does not just stumble onto special fabrics,  rather, one must visualize the tools and skills that will be required for the fabric, before the combination of  tools and skills required for a particular fabric can be developed.  If you are buying your tools, materials, and skills at "Stitches", then you are not going to get to "exceptional fabrics".

Most modern spinners use commercially available spindles and spinning wheels, so they are not going to spin yarns that are difficult to spin on modern commercial spinning wheels (e.g., worsted spun, 5,600 ypp singles).   Most modern knitters use commercial needles, so they are not going to knit fabrics that are difficult to knit on such commercial needles. In contrast, I spend years making the spinning tools that I need to spin exceptional yarns that are difficult to spin on modern commercial wheels. AND,  I spend years making the knitting tools that I need to knit fabrics that are difficult to knit with commercially available knitting needles.

Exceptional yarns and fabrics are outside of the social boundaries of modern spinning groups (e.g local guilds and Ravelry).  Mostly, modern spinning and knitting is about being a member of the social group, rather than of producing exceptional textiles.

Those that cannot do, criticise.

How many of  you have actually worn objects of hand spun worsted 10-ply Aran yarn so that you have a basis of comparison?  How many of you have seen cakes of handspun worsted 10-ply Aran yarn so that you have a basis of comparison?  How many of you have made objects of 10-ply Aran yarn, (and worn them in a good, long, hard, cold rain?)  The truth about seaman's sweaters is only found in  a good, long, hard, cold rain!   If I was knitting objects for Siberia, then in 5 of the plies, I would have used a finer wool, spun woolen.  That fabric is not as durable, but it is softer, and warmer for the weight.  It is also harder to knit, and more likely to felt/shrink when abused.

Going to all woolen, produces a yarn that is much easier to knit, but not nearly as durable and  the high country (and Siberia) have long winters.

I had to sit in the snow, and watch the whole parade.
(long lens on tripod, easy peasy photography in the dawn's early light)

It is a wild mountain goat, near the top of  a wild mountain, in wild Montana. 
I took this with a handheld Nikon F4 with a 50 mm lens.  
There was some sitting in the snow, waiting.
All things considered, this ledge is about as warm as
the Northern Tree Line in Siberia.

Let us know when you have spent enough time sitting in the snow
to get such pix.


knitphomaniac said...

"Those that cannot do, criticise."

You know what's interesting... People like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot) and yourself, who have knitting blogs, it's interesting the polar opposite responses that your blogs get. Ever wonder why that is? It has everything to do with content.

Both blogs are educational (I'm using that term loosely, but nevertheless.) Both are about knitting. One has a whole lotta "look at the things I've made", and the other is "look at all the things that I made, that is better than anything you've made because I know all the things and anyone who says otherwise is just a clucking hen who doesn't know better."

You get what you give, Aaron. You wonder why you get negative responses and criticism? It's because that's what you project.

Anonymous said...

But that yarn is poorly constructed. I don't understand your self-professed superiority.

As an aside - before sitting on cold ledges waiting for goats to take photographs of it would be sensible to learn how to take a good photograph in poor light. You would get a much better product.

Aaron said...

It is clear that you have not tested such yarns. With that attitude, my 10-ply likely works much better than the yarns you have tested.

Pretty yarn does not equal warm and durable fabric.
Easy to knit yarns do not equal warm and durable fabric.

And, hypothetical yarn that takes forever to spin is worthless when the snow flies.

I have real yarn in hand, that works better than any other yarn that I have tested. What yarn do you have that stand head and shoulders above all other yarns that you have ever knit?