WIPWed #125: Back to Socks

I’m starting to feel more like my old crafty self again: I have an active pair of socks on the needles!

Waiting for Hatchling

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering, colorway Royals. Click for project page.

I have been trying to turn the above yarn into socks since before my wedding and honeymoon in 2014. (Yikes!) I knit an entire plain stockinette sock that I then had to frog because it was too small. I did not account for the fact that BFL has less stretch than Merino wool and I should’ve increased my cast on more. This time, I’m using a pattern with texture and ribbing (Aramis by Caoua Coffee) and cast on more stitches which should loosen things up. I started these while I was pregnant but my hands and joints were always tired and sore then and I hated fiddling with the small needles. Things feel back to normal now, though, so here’s hoping I get to actually wear these socks someday soon!

Wine Toasts

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage. Click for project page.

These are super simple armwarmers that I’m making extra big and toasty to wear with  3/4 length sleeve sweaters in my chilly office. I am currently in a game of yarn chicken with the deep wine colorway. A friend of mine has a backup skein if this one is not enough, which is a good thing because it appears that The Verdant Gryphon is no more. Gryphon herself is now living and working on a commune with her daughter, and the people she left the business to were not able to keep it going. I feel like a chapter of my knitterly life is ending! I’ve been deeply in love with VG yarns since I discovered them in 2010, when they were still teamed up with Cephalopod Yarns as The Sanguine Gryphon. My first skein was Bugga in the Cowkiller colorway that I knit up into one of my favorite shawls.

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This was 5 apartments ago… ha!

Looks like I’ve always had a thing for Gryphon’s reds. Sigh. As with CY, VG yarns will be missed, but man am I glad I have a nice stash to sustain me for a while. #justified

Tropical Merino

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun project page.

I started spinning this fiber way back in 2014 as well (wow, have I completed anything in the last 3 years!?) on a tiny Turkish spindle. Even though the Women’s March on Washington is over, I’d still like a Pussyhat of my own (I donated the others) and since I am out of pink yarn, I figured I’d make some. To speed up the process, I’ve also started spinning this fiber on my wheel and on my new Bosworth Mini spindle. The singles are very thin so I’m thinking I’ll 2-ply and then chain ply that 2-ply yarn to get a bulkier 6-ply. We’ll see how that works out!

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Current reading.

I haven’t tracked my reading in a while but since I’m finally starting to read things OTHER than parenting-related, get-my-kid-to-sleep, what-should-his-poop-look-like type books, I figured I’d share. And since the March for Science has got me all fired up, I’m doing some science-y reading for fun. (Because #scienceisreal! It’s not made up! Experts know what they’re talking about! The world around us can be understood!) This book is all about the different forms that sexual reproduction takes within the animal kingdom, so that should be fascinating. It’s refreshing to read a work written just because the author was curious about something, so they went and researched and figured it out.

What have you been reading these days? Linking up for the first time in a LONG time with Yarnalong.

WIPWed #94: Back In Rotation

It seems that my recent discovery of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix (so much teen drama! so much like a vampires-instead-of-aliens  version of Roswell! so irresistible!) has lead to me getting a bit more knitting time in, so I’ve actually worked on something other than that one pair of socks. Yay for WIPs!

Camelot Monkies:

WIPWed #94: Back In Rotation | Woolen Diversions

Progress, progress! Click for project page.

I’m nearing the finish line on my Monkey socks! The green one was reknit and is now mid-foot, while the pink one has had the gusset begun. This is going to be a totally fun pair of socks, methinks.

Rotted Days:

WIPWed #94: Back In Rotation | Woolen Diversions

Knitting with handspun! Click for project page.

I’m making rather slow process on my handspun Dotted Rays shawl but that’s to be expected with this kind of short row knitting (for me, at least). All the counting of stitches slows me down and prevents this from being good travel knitting, despite all the garter stitch. I’m also not totally in love with the handspun I’m using. It wasn’t plied tightly enough so it’s a bit splitty and not very lively. The fabric it’s making is still nice, though.

Colinton Cowl:

Like the Spinzilla fiber pack that I was sent for review, Louet also sent me a skein of yarn and a pattern to try out. The pattern is Myra, designed by Trudy Van Stralen, a very simple and airy lace cowl. The yarn is a 100% mohair, 2-ply laceweight called Colinton. It’s really lovely, shiny stuff and I adore what the Rav page says about it:

Yes – it’s mohair. But it’s not at all what you were expecting.

That about sums up my thoughts at the moment, I’ll expand more fully when I write my review.

As for spinning, I finally finished some yarn that I’ll show you on Friday (yay!) and as for reading, I started a new book.

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I swear, I’m not always so self-help-y with my reading but I suppose quarterlife crises will do that to a gal. This book is an interesting follow-up to one I began (but haven’t finished) by the same author called “I Could Do Anything, If Only I Knew What It Was”. The most interesting chapter in that book was about people whom the author termed Scanners, who love learning about (and doing) a variety of different things and who feel frustrated in their search for One Career Path. This book expands upon the Scanner idea and is supposed to help such people view their variety of interests as an asset instead of a liability in finding a career. The author points out that scientists are Divers, not Scanners, because they go deeply into topics. However, I think one can be both a scientist and a Scanner (which might just make me a Frustrated Diver, we shall see). I have many more thoughts about this topic, but I’m reserving them for the science-related blog I plan to start one of these days… I’m remaining skeptical about combining all of my interests into a career, though, because I’m mildly terrified of what a knitting-spinning-blogging-lotionmaking-Etsy-ecology-conservation-science-hiking-music-writing-poetry-kids-plants-teaching-beaches-sheep career would look like.

Scanner much? Yeah. Are you a Scanner or a Diver? Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Ply Experiment

A few weeks ago, I watched Jillian Moreno’s spinning class on #Craftsy called Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want. If you’re not familiar with Jillian, she writes and edits KnittySpin articles as well as a weekly spinning blog post on the Knitty blog. I enjoy her writing and her spinning very much, so when Craftsy had a sale I figured I’d give the class a try.

Screenshot from Craftsy.

Screenshot from Craftsy.

I don’t intend this post to be a thorough review of the class, but I will say that I probably would have been a little disappointed if I had paid full price for it. I think Jilllian is a great teacher and I love the Craftsy platform, I just don’t think there was enough material in the class that I didn’t already know for me to feel it worth the money. I would recommend it for an absolute beginning spinner. As a very beginner, or as someone who has only spun on spindles and just started on a wheel, it is always worthwhile to watch someone else’s spinning technique. You will invariably pick up little tricks and tips you never thought of if you are primarily self-taught. If you’ve never plied singles together before, the class will likely provide lots of little lightbulb moments all at once. Since I’ve been spinning for three years now (how did that happen?!) and I’m a voracious reader of spinning-related books, blogs, boards, and magazines, not much in the class was news to me. At one point, I thought she was going to start getting into some of the more unusual ways to ply yarns (for art yarns and such), but then she stopped and implied that those topics were for another class.

Ply Experiment | Woolen Diversions

Three bobbins of Falkland wool, ready to ply.

There was, however, one excellent nugget of information that I gleaned from the class, my own personal aha! moment that inspired this post. I’ve sometimes been underwhelmed by my handspun, feeling that some skeins lacked the oomph that other lovely skeins had, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why or what was different. I plied them to the point where they seemed balanced, I did the same to one skein as I did to another, but I didn’t really pay close attention to exactly what I was doing. This class taught me that the secret to great yarn is in the plying twist.

Ply Experiment | Woolen Diversions

(L to R): Ply 1, Ply 2, and Ply 3

You see, I knew that handspun skeins lost some twist after finishing, but I didn’t really understand how much, nor did I know how to tell how much twist was enough to add in the first place. Jillian does an excellent job demonstrating how to detect the amount of plying twist you are adding, and how to get a feel for when enough is enough. So I conducted a small experiment to see what difference the amount of plying twist really made in the finished yarn. I used the same Falkland wool singles for a all three 3-ply yarn samples (spun Z twist on a 8:1 ratio whorl), and I changed the ply twist as follows for each one:

  • Ply 1: ply ratio = 8:1 (same whorl), treadles per length = 5
  • Ply 2: ply ratio = 8:1 (same whorl), treadles per length = 3-4 (roughly alternated)
  • Ply 3: ply ratio = 6:1 (larger whorl), treadles per length = 4-5 (roughly alternated)

By adjusting how many times you treadle before you allow a set length of yarn (whatever is comfortable and consistent for you) wind onto the bobbin, you are adjusting the amount of ply twist that enters the yarn. You also adjust the amount of ply twist by changing your whorl or drive ratio, which determines how much twist energy is inserted with each treadle (higher ratio/smaller whorl = more twist, while lower ratio/larger whorl = less twist). Ply 1 seemed to have way too much ply twist, while ply 2 (not pictured above) had too little with 3 treadles per length, but too much with 4. So I lowered the ratio and aimed for roughly 4 to 5 treadles per length, which resulted in the nice easy loop on plyback that looked just about right, and this amount of twist is what I used for plying the rest of my singles.

I then took a series of notes and measurements about the different yarns. I measured wraps per inch (WPI), which helps classify the thickness of the yarn, and yards per pound (YPP), which you can think of as a measure of the density (or grist) of yarn. In the photo gallery above (hover for captions or click for closeups), you’ll notice that the sample strand for Ply 3 (to the right) is much longer than for Ply 1 or Ply 2. Those samples were strands that were cut until they balanced out on a McMorran Yarn Balance (one way to measure YPP). The Ply 3 strand is longer because the scale could hold a longer length before it balanced out, meaning that yarn had a much higher YPP. (Translation: you could spin more yardage out of a pound of wool at this grist because it is a thinner, less dense yarn.) I used a chart from an old issue of Spin-Off to help determine what the knitting weight was (classifications are not very standardized at all so it differs by source) but another chart you could use is here. The stats:

  • Singles: WPI = 25, YPP = 2,350, knitting weight = laceweight to fingering
  • Ply 1: WPI = 9 -10, YPP = 525, knitting weight = aran to bulky
  • Ply 2: WPI = 10, YPP = 625, knitting weight = aran
  • Ply 3: WPI = 10 – 11, YPP = 900, knitting weight = worsted
Ply Experiment | Woolen Diversions

Swatches, pre-blocking.

While the changes in measurements were subtle for WPI, I was a little shocked at how big of a difference small tweaks in the number of treadles per length or the size of the whorl made in the YPP measurements, or the grist of the yarn. More ply twist (Ply 1) lead to a thicker, denser, chunkier yarn while less (Ply 3) resulted in a thinner, fluffier, more pliable yarn. I commenced swatching each yarn on size US 8 needles in a variety of stitches.

From a distance, the swatches don’t look all that different and their stitch gauges were practically identical, but you’ll have to trust me that they each felt different to knit. Ply 3 (which I knit first) was delightful in every way: fluffy, soft, smooth, and it produced a cohesive, fluid fabric in all stitch patterns. Ply 2 was distinctly beefier than Ply 3, it was a tad thicker and denser and it felt it, but it had a pleasant ‘toothy’ feel to it and I could see adding a little extra ply twist to purposefully make an extra spring-y yarn. Ply 1 was the least pleasant to knit with, I would have wanted to go up a needle size to relax the knitting process. If you look closely, you might notice that the extra ply twist is much more visible in the stitches of Ply 1, making the fabric as a whole look less smooth. The extra twist created great 3D relief in the seed stitch sections, but is somewhat less desirable in the stockinette and garter stitches.

Conclusion: You could certainly not pay much attention to your plying and get a fairly serviceable yarn in the end. However, I did find that checking for the right amount of ply twist (and actually counting my treadles!) produced a yarn I enjoyed knitting with the most. From a practical standpoint, plying ‘properly’ also produced a heck of a lot more yardage than I would’ve obtained from overplying my singles: 375 extra yards per pound of fiber, in fact. Finally, while the stitch gauge or swatch appearance didn’t change much when using the same size needles, the thickness of the yarn and the feel of the fabric certainly did. All in all, I will certainly be paying closer attention to my ply twist in the future and I’m excited to explore its effects further.

If you spin, how do you usually ply your yarn? Do you keep track of how much twist your adding?

Pura Vida! Part 2

When I last spoke about my Costa Rican honeymoon, we were preparing to leave Alajuela (in the Central Valley) and travel 4-5 hours to Cahuita, a quiet little town on the Caribbean coast. Like last time, I’ve created photo galleries so that if you hover over a picture its caption should pop up, and if you click on a picture it will take you to a large-sized version of the photo. Onwards!

Our entire first day consisted of travel, more or less. It was fascinating to watch the landscape change from mountainous and crowded to more pastoral and full of pineapple, palm, and banana plantations. We stopped at the Del Monte processing facility on our way. The workday was over so there wasn’t too much to see, but it was interesting anyway. When we finally arrived at Coral Hill Bungalows, we were thrilled. The owners were incredibly friendly and helpful, the bungalow itself was gorgeous, and it had a lovely front porch. And the fresh fruit and pastry breakfasts were delightful, I had the best croissants of my life there. I highly recommend this location if you’re planning to travel to Cahuita! We were happy that the longest stretch of our trip (4 days) was spent there. Just be sure you go to the correct Playa Negra when you’re looking for it, our driver went to the one in Puerto Viejo accidentally at first! Our first full day in Cahuita happened to be the Fiasco’s birthday, so we headed to the bus station to visit a very special place.

You know this is the only part of this post that anyone will care about: SLOTHS! We visited the Sloth Sanctuary because the man wanted to see sloths on his birthday, and see sloths we did. Apparently Buttercup has her own TV show and is kind of a big deal. Part of the tour involved a canoe ride down the river (for which the torrential rain stopped and the sun came out just in time) where we saw an abundance of wildlife: bats, lizards, birds, and of course, some rehabilitated sloths. There are two species of sloths in Costa Rica: the two-fingered sloth and the three-fingered sloth. Surprisingly little is known about their reproductive habits, for one of them we have no idea how long gestation is and cannot tell when a sloth is pregnant until a wee little sloth pops out one day. As a biologist, I find it fascinating how little is still known about basic life history of some species. (Which makes me particularly worried about the rate of extinction, the idea of losing things we have yet to discover or understand is extra horrible.) And then there were baby sloths, which are just about the cutest things ever.

We made friends with a neighborhood dog, whom we dubbed Sweetheart. He accompanied us on our walks every single time we left our bungalow, I don’t know how he found us! On our second day, we decided to make the most of the one truly sunny day of our trip and visit the Cahuita National Park for a short hike and a swim. This park is an absolute must-visit. The beginning of the trail is easy to hike, mostly a wide, flat sandy stretch. There is wildlife everywhere (more on that later) and easy access to long  stretches of unoccupied beaches. At a couple points along the trail you need to wade through a shallow river, and eventually we had to stop hiking because the trails were essentially 4″ deep in mud (yay, rainy season) and one of us had a little hissy fit about that (not naming names). But it all worked out for the best, since we spent an enjoyable afternoon rolling around in the bathwater-warm waves. As a native Long Islander, the concept of warm water at the beach is completely foreign to me! It was beautiful, though. Leafcutter ants, by the by, are some of the coolest insects ever. They actually practice agriculture! They cut leaves, carry them back to their nests, and use them as a culture to grow a very specific type of fungus that they eat for food. Seriously guys, biology is fascinating.

That’s all I have time for today, but I’ll finish summing up our time in Cahuita in the next post! What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or learned about in nature? Has anything else been inspiring you lately? Share with us!

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IS #75: Under the Sea

My apologies for missing my Inspiration Saturday posts over the last couple of weeks, I finally have a moment to breathe today! Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

I don’t know how it’s possible that I got to my 75th IS post without featuring Hunter Hammersen. I’ve mentioned her designs plenty of times on this blog but have apparently failed to write a comprehensive post about her work, which is ridiculous since I instantly purchase every book of patterns she publishes. I love her design sense and in particular I love the inspiration behind her Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet series.

“Curiosity cabinets were collections of wonderful objects brought together to inspire, delight, and inform. I loved the idea of assembling a knitter’s curiosity cabinet—one full of fancy edgings and captivating stitch patterns and fabulous shapes instead of shells and fossils and seeds. These books are the result.” – H.H.

Curiosity cabinets (full of shells, bones, plant specimens, fossils, preserved animals, etc.) have always appealed to me… they encapsulate everything I love about museums, science, natural history, and the sense of wonder with which insightful people view their world. Marrying that idea with knitting patterns was a stroke of genius. Hunter has designed 2 patterns — one sock and one accessory — based on each vintage illustration in her books of either plants (volume I), butterflies (volume II), or marine life (volume III).

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My copy of volume III.

When I read that the third volume would be based on marine illustrations, I was particularly excited (my job involves researching marine organisms). I confess that after flipping through, I was a teensy bit disappointed with how some of the prints were interpreted into knitwear — but perhaps I had particularly high expectations. Some of the sock designs feel a little bit repetitive (many have a similar look) and there were a few designs for which I couldn’t really see the relationship to the print. I think some of the gorgeous prints could’ve been interpreted in different ways that might have made for more interesting designs. That said, the book is and admirable piece of work and is full of lovely things that I have already queued to knit someday. Here are some of my favorites.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

The cover sock, Zostera marina, is absolutely wonderful. I want it in my sock drawer right now. The color, the wavy lines, the BFL sock yarn it is knit from… sigh. I want it. The difficulty with a pattern like this (for me) is finding the right sock yarn. A vast majority of my stash consists of variegated colorways, which just won’t work well with all the vertical lines and stitch details in this sock. Looks like someone will need to enhance her semi-solid sock yarn stash! (Aw, shucks.)

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

In truth, the stitch pattern used in this Padina pavonia sock is nothing new (it’s a variation of the Old Shale or Feather-and-Fan stitch) but it still looks really great in this sock and I think it’s one of the few patterns in the book that would actually play really nicely with variegated or stripey yarn.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

I really dig the funky stitch used in these Planorbis corneus socks. This is one where I don’t quite see how the pattern was inspired by the print, perhaps because the stitch used reminds me so much of rotifers (microscopic aquatic organisms) and that’s all I see when I look at it, not shells. However, it’s still a fine-looking sock with a basically simple pattern and really fun detail, so I’m bound to make it someday. It’s also available free on Knitty.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

I have nothing really to say about this Fucus asparagoides socks except that I am a sucker for lacy socks, thus, I love them.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

Finally, I am a big fan of this Pelagia noctiluca hat. It’s lacy, slightly slouchy, does an excellent job of evoking its inspiration print, has great crown decreases, and is knit with DK weight yarn which is a perfect weight for stylish hats. This one is very likely to happen.

Do you have a favorite Hunter Hammersen pattern? What’s been inspiring you, lately? Leave a comment and/or share your blog post with us below!

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Winner & More Than You Cared To Know

We have a winner for the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz review & giveaway! Congrats to Whit of knitsbywhit, Stitchraft Marketing will be in contact with you about your prize.

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Entries for comments and pingbacks were listed in the order in which they were received.

I can’t get over how many entries there were! Turns out you guys really like your needles. I had a great time reading all of your comments and I wish I could send needles to everyone. Since I can’t do that, I figured I could at least summarize some of the interesting things people said about their needle-using habits. (Data analysis is a great consolation prize… right?)

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How many people mentioned that they owned/preferred a particular set or brand of needles.

First up is a table displaying all the brands and sets of needles that people mentioned either owning or preferring. Knit Picks Harmony wood needles are a clear frontrunner here but I was pretty surprised by the wide range of needles in use out there. It seems like there is something that appeals to everyone, and I had never heard of Inox before.

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The needle materials and types that people stated they preferred.

If you were to sum all of the numbers of types mentioned, you’ll have more than the number of people who commented on the post since many people expressed a love of both metal and wood… which is probably why those columns are so similar, with wood in the lead by just 2 mentions. Still others said pragmatically that it depended on the project and kind of yarn being used, and a few mentioned that weather payed a role in which needles they preferred. Seems like Karbonz were high up there on the list of needles you all tried and liked, too, which is pretty cool.

Well, there you have my quick-and-dirty summary of all the lovely things you said. Thanks to everyone who commented and shared the giveaway post. I hope you stick around and continue to visit!

Twist Experiment Results!

After a weekend of ungodly tooth pain (not cool), a total and complete showering of love and generosity from my friends and family (awesome), an indescribable circus show (odd-but-cool), and a couple of really silly hats (a bridal-shower-ribbon-tophat-extravaganza and a bachelorette tiara), this Monday has been rather a rude and exhausting return to reality. But no matter! We’re going to perk ourselves up with some KNIENCE! (Ahem. Knitting science…of course. You like it.)

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Twist experiment yarns.

If you remember, our experiment consisted of spinning 4 yarns:

  1. Normal 2-ply yarn, with singles spun clockwise (Z) and plied counterclockwise (S),
  2. Normal 2-ply yarn, with singles spun counterclockwise (S) and plied clockwise (Z),
  3. Opposing ply yarn, with one S single and one Z single plied counterclockwise (S), and
  4. Opposing ply yarn, with one S single and one Z single plied counterclockwise (Z).

For  quick summary of S & Z twist, check this blog post out. Basically, the letters represent the direction of the angle of the twist in the yarn (the middle bits of each letter match the way the yarn spirals) and S twist yarns are the commercial standard. Our objective was to determine if and how the direction in which a yarn is plied affects the way it knits up. For reference, I knit ‘English’ style, where I ‘throw’ the yarn around the needle in a counterclockwise motion (when viewing the needle from the tip).

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Experimental swatches!

I knit each yarn on the same size needles (US 6) in the same pattern: 7 ridges garter stitch, 10 rows stockinette, and little bit of lace ribbing just for fun. There were some rather obvious differences during the knitting itself and a few more that became clear after blocking. I’ll go through each yarn and swatch one by one.

1) Normal 2-ply, with S twist (plied counterclockwise):

IMG_6449This yarn was the least remarkable to knit, which probably makes sense since it’s similar to how most commercial yarns are spun. Nothing in particular stood out about it, honestly. (But as we say in science: zeroes are data, too!) The yarn was around a worsted weight, measuring in at 10 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, somewhere between 10 and 12 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and 700 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 4.6″ wide by 5.5″ tall with a gauge of 4.5 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.5 sts/inch and 7.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric feels both cohesive and fluid at this gauge and the ribbing seems relatively elastic, the yarnovers fairly distinct.

2) Normal 2-ply, with Z twist (plied clockwise):

IMG_6451This swatch doesn’t look much different from the first. However, while knitting, I noticed that the yarn did indeed slightly unply due to the way I wrapped it around the needle (counterclockwise).

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See how for some of the stitches the plies look nearly parallel, rather than twisted?

However, unlike the impression I get from the way twist is talked about, I found this slight unplying to be more pleasant to knit. The first swatch felt kind of ‘meh’ while I was knitting, while this one was decidedly pleasurable. The yarn felt more relaxed to work, which I suppose it was with the untwisting. Like the first 2-ply, this yarn was a worsted weight, measuring in at 11 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, somewhere between 10 and 12 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and 750 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 4.4″ wide by 5.2″ tall with a gauge of 4.3 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.5 sts/inch and 7.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric felt similar to the first swatch, but the yarn was a bit finer and more consistent so the stitches were more even.

3) Opposing ply, with S twist (plied counterclockwise):

IMG_6453I noticed two major differences between the opposing ply and normal 2-ply yarns straightaway: the opposing ply yarns were far more elastic and fluffier/thicker than the normal 2-ply yarns. This, I’m sure, is due to the excess energy that was all wound up in the single originally spun in the ply direction, while the other single was somewhat unspun during plying, allowing those fibers to relax and poof up as their energy was released. The most interesting difference became apparent after blocking: the stockinette portion of the swatch was biased to the left! It would be more obvious if the section were larger but if you look closely you can see how the stitches all lean leftward. This is another artifact of excess energy in the yarn. The S-twisted opposing ply yarn could be classified as a chunky weight, measuring in at 8 wraps per inch on both my wpi tool and spinner’s control card, and around 400 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 5.0″ wide by 6.3″ tall with a gauge of 4.0 sts/in and 9.0 rows/in in garter and 4.0 sts/inch and 6.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric is much thicker and sturdier than the previous swatches, as the yarn was thicker and knit on the same size needles.

4) Opposing ply, with Z twist (plied clockwise):

IMG_6455This yarn had many of the same characteristics as yarn #3 except for one distinct difference: after blocking, the stockinette portion of the Z-twisted yarn biased to the right! This was really exciting because I’d only ever read about energized yarns and how they affect fabric, and never intentionally spun one before to see it happen firsthand.  Like the previous yarn, this one could be classified as a chunky weight, measuring in at 9 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, between 8 and 10 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and around 450 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 5.0″ wide by 5.8″ tall with a gauge of 4.0 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.3 sts/inch and 6.3 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric was much thicker and sturdier than the normal 2-ply swatches, but also seemed much neater and more cohesive than the S-twisted opposing ply swatch.

Conclusions:

  1. Opposing ply yarns are super duper bouncy, elastic, fluffy, and fun. I like them.
  2. Opposing ply yarns will bias either left or right in plain stockinette stitch.
  3. Opposing ply yarns made with the same singles as normal 2-ply yarns will be much thicker than normal 2-ply yarns when finished.
  4. I noticed a slight unplying of Z-plied (clockwise) yarns as I knit them.
  5. I prefer the look of my Z-plied swatches for both normal and opposing ply yarns. My stitches seem neater and the fabric looks smoother and more cohesive.

Interesting note: of the 10 people who commented on how they like to spin their yarns, 7 people plied Z, 2 people plied S, and 1 person plied S for all fibers except linen, for which she switched directions because it is standard practice for linen to be plied Z (which I do remember reading somewhere else but cannot find a reference for it at this time). For the curious, I used the Spinning Daily yarn standards (pdf) to compare wpi to gauge, etc. I also just came across this blog post detailing a different kind of twist-related experiment that I didn’t even touch on here.

Overall, an interesting exercise, no? I’m glad that most of my wheel-spun handspun yarns are plied in the Z direction, now that I think my fabric looks nicer with Z-plied yarns. Although the commercial standard is S-plied and my spindle-spun yarns tend to be S-plied, too. I’ll have to pay  more attention from now on to see if I can spot any real differences while knitting S- or Z-plied yarns in larger projects.

Have you paid attention to how the twist of your yarns affects your knitting?