I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.


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The funny thing

Posted at 18 Jul 2010 01:36:02 PM

The funny thing about spinning is that it seems to make me a better knitter (or crocheter, as the case may be, but it often isn't).

To wit: When I first re-started knitting, I scorned the idea of swatching. "Hah!" I said. "Swatching takes too much time. It can't turn out too badly!"

Then, I learned about garment fitting, gauge, math and How To Make Your Knitting Exactly What You Want. See also: baggy socks. And then I was almost afraid to not swatch ...but I still didn't wash the swatch.

And then I started spinning. With that came (rudimentary) knowledge of singles twist, plying twist, active twist, relaxed twist, what happens when you weight your yarn after washing versus not weighing it, and all the odd things that can happen to a perfectly nice-looking skein of yarn once it hits good old H20. Armed with better information than multiple forum posts of the "because I said so" type, I'm now afraid to not wash the swatch!

And you know, it's interesting to pick up knowledge this way: in stripes, or layers. Drawing purely from my own experience, when you only knit, you think "yay, yarn!" and you'll probably recognize that there's a difference between wool and not-wool. But unless you're very observant and your yarn purveyors label their wares extremely well, you might not see a difference between the different breeds of sheep/goat/camelids/etc, different plying methods and different amounts of twist. With that comes the realization that the yarn you're holding, even though it's clearly a three-ply fingering weight with 60 stitch color repeats, it is going to be make lousy socks that wear thorough at the heels in a matter of weeks.

Even though I'm very very new to this whole spinning thing, it now seems not at all implausible to have entire conversations about staple length, breeding conditions, shearing methods and how-was-it-prepped? Heavens only know what will happen to me once I discover spinning from locks, prepping my own fiber and whole entire fleeces. See also: spinning wheel.

All of this is also a very slippery slope toward sheep herding, but let's not mention that for the time being.

(D, don't fret. The shepherding thing (while picturesque) is is very unlikely, given that one of the things I like best about all this activity is that I don't have to go outside where it's hot. I sort of doubt that sheep would enjoy existing in the living room...)

On 15 Jul 2010 11:02:36 AM, Ali said...

{insert wicked cackle here}

I've had those conversations about staple length and breed and whether the sheep wore a coat to keep the vegetable matter out, and how the fibre reacts when you spin off the fold or from the end... You're well down the rabbit hole now Alice.

Spinning from locks you prepped is a whole other level of "ooh, look what I made!" I have only one swatch from hand-prepped Polwarth, but I love it to bits. I did carry it around in my knitting bag for a while. It's a radically different feel to the Wensleydale swatch, or the Gotland hat, or the Jacob hat, or the alpaca skein. I almost want to examine the different fibres under a microscope.

Down fibres (camel, yak, quiviut) are a learning experience, and not just in new and inventive curses.