WIPWed #91: A Sock and a Book

The title says it all, folks. All I have to show today is a sock and a book. First, the sock.

Camelot Monkies:


These socks were my one-and-only WIP this past week, after finishing my mom’s gift socks. I appear to be on a sock kick, and since socks are my most numerous WIP category, I’m glad of it. I began this pair a few months ago (ok, actually, half a year ago, yikes!) in December. I knit the first leg and heel (pink!) and then let them sit but am now happily plugging away on the second sock (green!). The pattern is Monkey by Cookie A. and the yarn is from the fun Opposites Attract series of colorways by Barking Dog Yarns. I love me some cleverly coordinating skeins of yarn.

0512152328As for my the book, I’ve finished up Outlander (Why didn’t anyone tell me that the 8th book is not the final book?! It just ends! When will there be more?!) and have re-commenced some soul-searching with Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory. I apologize in advance but it appears that my 30th year will be one of Upheaval and Distress unless I sort some things out, and you’ll likely hear about it here because reading, writing, and research are how I deal. This book is filled with essays written by women who earned their PhD’s from 1970 to now and their experiences balancing their careers with their family life. Work-life balance can be a bit of a taboo subject in science, and there isn’t much guidance to How to Be a Scientist beyond how to work in academia as a professor, which has a dismal hiring rate. (Only 8% of PhD students become tenured professors, yikes!) Alternative job options are basically unspoken of and you really need to do a bunch of digging and take some chances to find things out yourself. This book is a great way to ‘meet’ a bunch of women who managed to find career fulfillment along both traditional and atypical paths in science, and raise some kids, to boot. #mynewheroes

That’s all I have for you this week as I have a major deadline and must get back to writing. Hope all is well! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.


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.


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?)


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.


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.)


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).


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).


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.


  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?

FOFri #28: Kind Of A Big Deal

I’m incredibly proud to share what is — for a scientist — the ultimate Finished Object.

Picture1If you’d like to read the abstract, you can do so here, and if you really want to read the paper in its entirety, let me know and I can send you a copy. This paper began back in 2009 when I first enrolled as a master’s student in the Natural Resources department at UCONN. Since that beginning, I’ve completed 3 years of grad school, worked at 2 different jobs, lived in 4 different apartments in 2 different states, been estranged from and then reunited with family members, nearly lost a loved one through a few different sicknesses, became an aunt, and met and got engaged to the Fiasco. That’s a lot of life to experience during the course of one project.

Fresh-faved Limulus love, circa 2009.

Fresh-faced Limulus love, circa 2009.

Science is a long and strangely anti-climactic process: the first few seasons are the busiest with planning and fieldwork and classes, then the final however-much-time is spent writing everything up and defending, then after that point your life moves on and you’re not always paid for the work you do to try to get the research you’ve done out into the world. After the thesis there are seemingly endless revisions to get the paper in shape for journal submission, then there’s review, sometime more analysis, and then more revision. Finally, the culmination of years of work quietly makes its appearance in print. Let me make this clear: studies that are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are no joke. They’ve been through the wringer: every word, result, and method has been scrutinized and approved by outside experts in the field. While I’m not saying that every word or result published in a journal is law, I am confident in saying that these papers represent the best knowledge we have of the observable world at the time of their writing — and that’s saying something. [End scientific soapbox rant.] All that is to say is that I’m quite proud of this particular FO.
IMG_5958I also finished spinning some yarn! This is 6 oz of Long Island Livestock Company alpaca/firestar fiber spun up into 308 yards of 2-ply yarn, approximately DK weight. (I confess I haven’t measured the wraps per inch, I’m just eyeballing it here.)
IMG_5960As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this spin. The alpaca was a breeze to work with and felt like it spun up in no time (~ 2 weeks). The skein is dense and slinky, I think it will work up into a great openwork crochet project (which is what my mom will likely use it for). The firestar is difficult to see in the photos but it gives a subtle, coppery sheen to the skein. Very nice! Spin the Bin challenge #1 is officially complete.
That’s all I have finished this week. Check out Tamis Amis for more!

WIPWed #47: Progress?

Hello readers, happy Wednesday. I appear to have only knit on thing I can show you this week (some other secret things will have to wait). Due to spending time at an actual, in-person knit night with a couple of my friends over the weekend as well as watching a painful, 2.5 hour debate last night (science vs. creationism… sigh), I’ve covered quite a bit of ground on my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl.


Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Sweatshirt. Click for project page.

Since this is a knitting blog I won’t go off on a whole big rant but I will say that there is a lot of angst knit into that bit of shawl from watching those “debates”. Religion (or any other purely belief-based mode of thinking) has no place in a science classroom. Evolution is the underlying mechanism throughout all of biology and children deserve to be taught the way the majority of the scientific community understands the universe and its laws. ‘Logic’ is not a natural law, ‘viable’ does not mean what Ken Ham seems to think it means, and words and language and their interpretation — no matter what book they are found in — are a human construct. There are differences between assumptions and inferences, hind-casting past events based on current observations is an actual, doable process, and any philosopher of science will tell you that a scientific theory is not a viable or useful theory unless it is based on current observations AND can be used to make predictions about future observations. And I’ll stop there.

To make up for the lack of knitting and profusion of science-y angst, here’s an update on my current spinning projects, as well.

Loop! Bump


Loop! Bullseye Bump. Click for project page.

I’m nearly to the end of this pretty gradient bump of fiber, just the aqua and the grey to finish, but I may have to abandon it for now to do some birthday present spinning for my mom. There’s some sparkly alpaca she requested and darn it, she’s going to get it!



North Light Fibers Quiviut/Alpaca. Click for project page.

This is the most delicate spinning I’ve ever done. Itty bitty fluffy fibers in the softest cloud imaginable form a thin, fuzzy single on my smallest spindle. I’m enjoying every minute of this one, picking it up here and there. The Namaste Skinny Mini case that I picked up at Stitches is the perfect size to carry this spindle and a bit of fluff (just keep in mind it is a very small spindle, weighing about a 1/2 ounce).

Rockin’ Whorl Club Camel/Merino/Silk:


BMFA Camel/Merino/Silk, colorway Spring Dreamin’. Click for project page.

And last but not least is my lovely Rockin’ Whorl Club fiber. All these warm tones are not usually my colors but I’m really loving them during this white, snowy winter. This fiber just makes me happy. I have a BMFA gift certificate I’m debating how to spend and buying some more of their luscious fiber is probably going to happen. The hard part will be deciding which fiber? which colorway? SO MANY CHOICES. That’s part of why I love the club so much, something gorgeous just shows up at my door every other month, no need to debate!

That’s all I have this week. Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.