Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sonia Rykiel


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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.







Monday, August 22, 2016

Spinner Creed, cont.

A spinner gets stuff spun.

Yarn for another 10-ply "Aran" Sweater:


If stuff is good, you will need more than one.

Those 10 cakes have about 20,000 yards of singles in them.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The spinner's creed

What does a good spinner need to know?

aspirational - be able to name and replicate any natural fiber yarn or thread, including those in suiting, shirting, coating, undergarments, and other fabrics, both archaic and recent.

The core of a spinner's craft is being able to make the particular, and named yarn, that is desired.

A spinner should be able to estimate/ budget materials required to make a particular batch of yarn, the tools required, other resources required, and the total spinning labor.

Things a spinner stands ready to do, include:

  • grade wool as to spin count with a twisty stick / modern tools
  • sort and scour a fleece  ( http://www.infovets.com/books/smrm/A/A988.htm)
  • comb wool
  • card wool
  •  name yarns,  particularly including grist  (http://www.swicofil.com/companyinfo/manualyarnnumbering.html, etc )
  • spin wool at its spin count 
  •  ply and cable yarns
  • care, maintenance, and setup of single lead, and double drive spinning wheels
  • design and specify spinning wheel whorls
  • prep spin camelid fibers finely 
  • prep and spin cotton, both woolen style and worsted style into very fine thread
  • prep and spin flax into fine linen threads 
  • prep and spin hemp into thread
  • and, of course, spin silk finer than frog's hair.
  • prepare fiber and yarns for dye operations
  • dye to desired colorway
Compared with the above, the little bit of history in a "Master's Spinning Course" is trivial and will be picked up along the way. (I figure basic spinning requires about 6,000 hours of practice, and master's level spinning requires about 14,000 hours of practice.) I find skills to be highly transferable between fibers.

Spinning is about spinning, not history.  If you want history, go look at the fabrics depicted on recently discovered Classical Greek sculpture (not Roman copies) showing the very fine yarns/fabrics that were produced in Classical Greek times (phys.org , but I cannot put my finger on it at this time.)  The Classical Greek stuff sets a much higher bar for the "Old School" production of textiles.  

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Alden Amos, revisited

Alden Amos', Big Book of Handspinning (2001) (aka Big Blue Book, BBB) is the best book on hand spinning wool.

At one time, I thought there were as many as 9 glosses in it, but no actual errors.  this puts it far ahead of every other book on hand spinning, which all that contain actual errors.  For somebody wanting to learn to spin ordinary yarns, BBB is the best book,  and every hand spinner should have a copy.

Glosses that I recognize today include:


  • It does not discuss practical mechanisms for differential rotation speed (DRS) flyer/bobbin assemblies.  In truth, 3- gang whorls work very well with 4" bobbins/ 500 m skeins at grists down to 10 m/g,; and, gang whorls are not required for spinning skeins of 500 m weighing 10 grams or less.
  • It dismisses the value of high-ply yarns (e.g., 5-ply, 6-ply, 10-ply).  In contrast to what the BBB says, high-ply yarns have virtues for knitting very warm and/or very durable fabrics with a pleasant hand, drape, and touch.  High-ply yarns knit up faster, and spinning is faster than knitting.  While BBB gives the best directions for basic plying, it does not address producing 5-ply and higher yarns.
  • Double treadle/ fast spinning is more healthy than spinning at a lower level of activity. 
  • It does not discuss how to spin fine threads. I believe that any spinner with a good teacher should be able  spin super-fine threads of 40,000 m/g (44,000 ypp) within a few months of starting spinning.  The elements of learning to spin fine, are knowing it can be done and  having good tools that are properly set-up.  DRS makes fine spinning much easier, starting to spin fine on a ST wheel is an exercise in frustration. that become perfectly easy after some practice on a DRS wheel.  Why?! Because fine singles can be plied into fine yarns with both puns intended.
  • There is limited discussion on the handling/management of very fine singles.
  • It understates how fast a motivated spinner can actually spin. 
  • Limited discussion of accurate use of, and correction factors for, wraps per inch (WPI).
  • Limited discussion of accelerators.

All the glosses are only of interest to advanced spinners, and do not detract from BBB's value for beginning and intermediate spinners.  

Spades

When I came to knitting for warmth, I was told loudly, and firmly by "experienced knitters" that commercial yarns knit on circular needles were the correct program for knitting warm objects. I thought not. (Read as: "Thousands of swatches knit from commercial yarn using circular needles, and tested".)

At first, I thought commercial yarns knit with long needles (per EZ's note in GT ) were THE answer!! Then it was clear the knitting sheaths were very much a part of the solution; and,  I had to make knitting sheaths. Then it was clear that there were multiple distinct knitting skills that had to be learned - - Better to practice on cheaper, mill spun.

Yes, much of my skill is making tools!

However, those tools (or any tools) are worthless without the skills to use them! 

Thus, another part of my expertise is to visualize, develop and refine the skills required to obtain significant benefit from a tool kit.  Without skills, tools are just a pile of junk!!  A tool is not a tool, until one has the skill to use it.  With skill, a simple piece of wire becomes a knitting needle!

I tested commercial yarns for a while for a while, and after a few years, decided that handspun was likely just as warm , and I should test handspun. It took a while to learn to spin. It took a lot of intercomparisons between handspun and commercial to show the various virtues of handspun.  However, my spinning was still slow, and commercial yarns were still the practical approach for knitting the stuff that I wanted.  Yes, I knit a lot of commercial yarns because I did not have a teacher and commercial yarns were a very good practice material.

Working out the mechanics of DRS (spinning) took a long while, which produced better handspun, and it convinced me that high-ply yarns had GREAT advantages, but spinning fine singles was still slow.  So, for my functional gear, I was still knitting mill spun (with long needles and knitting sheaths!)  Then, I had to work out the details of accelerator wheels to sped up my spinning.  (It took 5 generations of prototypes to get it up to current speed.)  Prior to a well working accelerator, high-ply hand spun did not seem very practical.

In fact, today, I can run my Ashford Lace Flyer at over 3,000 rpm - something I did not think was possible even only 5 years ago.  However,  one of my DRS flyers running at the same speed is enormously more productive for ordinary fine plies.  On the other hand, I would be delighted if someone would please show me how to use an ordinary Ashford Lace Flyer to produce worsted spun, 5,600 ypp singles at a hank per hour.  I would love to learn how to do that!

While I was spinning 5-ply sport weight, by the fall of  2006, much of my handspun production went to testing to be sure that it really was as good as commercial for various uses.  And, there was that economic issue of: "Can handspun be reasonably priced?"

The first part of this blog is about knitting sheaths, and their power!  The first posts were about long needles and knitting sheaths, and I still consider knitting sheaths to be the most powerful tool in hand knitting.  Knitting sheaths work just as well with mill spun just as well as with hand spun.  Since I did not have a teacher, and was working everything out as I went, it was cheaper and easier to work with commercial yarn. I have a great deal of very good outdoor gear that I knit from commercial yarn.  It is gear that I would trust to keep me warm in Arctic/polar conditions for weeks or months at a time.  I do not find it durable enough to trust to keep me warm for years under Arctic/polar conditions -- commercial yarns are not durable enough, so that maintenance and upkeep on the objects would be too great.  That is what can make HANDSPUN cost effective! High-ply, handspun yarns can be so much more durable that over the long run, hand spun can be about the some price as mill spun, because as produced today, mill spun is not as durable or as warm for the weight.   And the big cost on outdoor wear is knitting and repair /maintenance.  More durable yarn up front is cheaper than reknitting.   (I am still doing economic analysis from the viewpoint of a 15th century fisherman.)

 Who else is testing sweaters that contain 20,000 yards (18,000 m) of singles?  Such objects have virtues, but you cannot see those virtues, unless you can produce such objects in a practical manner. .  I see those virtues through the window of the tools and skills that I have developed over the last 18 years.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fat

More evidence that 'healthy obesity' may be a myth


The term "healthy obesity" has gained traction over the past 15 years, but scientists have recently questioned its very existence. A study published August 18 in Cell Reports provides further evidence against the notion of a healthy obese state, revealing that white fat tissue samples from obese individuals classified as either metabolically healthy or unhealthy actually show nearly identical, abnormal changes in gene expression in response to insulin stimulation.
"The findings suggest that vigorous health interventions may be necessary for all , even those previously considered to be metabolically healthy," says first author Mikael Rydén of the Karolinska Institutet. "Since obesity is the major driver altering gene expression in , we should continue to focus on preventing obesity."

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-08-evidence-healthy-obesity-myth.html

More information: Cell Reports, Rydén et al.: "The Adipose Transcriptional Response to Insulin Is Determined by Obesity, Not Insulin Sensitivity" http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(16)31014-2 , DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.07.070 

ETA:  My LLMD thinks that Lyme / Borrelia infections may be a direct cause of obesity, which is rarely diagnosed.   I concur strongly.  

Some drink, some ply

I ply.

The results from last night, 4 cakes of 10-ply from hand spun singles, and the bobbins emptied to make the cakes:



I like the yarn for warm, comfortable objects. I knit this 10-ply yarn on US3 needles  (3.2 mm) . When I knit commercial (lo-ply) yarns into Aran weight objects, I used 18" steel needles, and it was fearsome work.  Now, I use 14" steel needles.  Between the lighter needles and more flexible yarn, the knitting  effort is much  less.

If you must deal with cold weather for extended lengths of time (e.g. professional need to be outside, all winter long) and one is a good spinner, then I think 10-ply is well worth the effort.  If you are just going to be outside for a few weeks or recreationally, buy cold weather gear.

Certainly, one can knit 2" by 2" swatches from such yarns into weatherproof fabrics with circular needles is a great deal of effort (said by some one that considers making handspun 10-ply, "reasonable").

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Softer

When I first experimented with "goosewing" knitting sheaths, with short stiff needles, they pivoted on the point of  my hip, and I was so deeply impressed with the beauty of the physics, that I never considered padding them.  Then, by and large, most old knitting sheaths were not padded, or at least the ones that were, did not survive.

However, padding the last generation of knitting sheaths that I made:




with a swatch of  knit fabric makes them much more comfortable, with no loss of  functionality.

Current projects are being knit with long stiff steel needles, and the forces are large.  You all will laugh, but just now this seems like a genius level level advance, and I feel like Mr. Comber this morning..  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Space Cadet

No sooner do I define and bound my world, than I spin off, and abandon it.

Pawing through the stash, I found a bin of worsted singles in the 2,500 to 3,000 ypp range left over from first learning to use DRS.  So, I wondered?

What would happen if I plied them up 10-ply?  The result is a finished 10- yarn in the 250 to 280 ypp range  (0.5 m/g).   On 3.5 mm needles and a (knitting sheath), it knits up at ~ 5 spi by ~ 7 rpi.

Over time, this fabric is warmer than what can be produced from any commercial yarn that I am aware of; and,  is much more durable than any commercial yarn of  similar grist.  The comparable yarn is my 14-ply worsted spun based on 5,600 ypp singles, which is far more durable.

However, at 5 tpi the singles are only half the work to spin as the 10s, and the knitting is only a third the work of 500 ypp 10-ply.  Thus, at this time this yarn/fabric offers much more warmth for less resources and budget than any other yarn/ fabric that I have ever tested.  In terms of more warmth , it far, far out-classes commercial 5-ply, 1,000 ypp  "gansey" yarn.   This is not really a problem, the objects that I have knit from commercial 5-ply "gansey" yarn are well suited to the climate of the greater SF Bay Area.   I need something for expeditions in to colder climates.  At this point, I have to move AA's dismissal of high-ply yarns from a gloss to an error.

Yarns like the MacAusland heavy 3-ply may approach this yarn in initial warmth, but this yarn/fabric far out-classes them for durability, and long-term warmth.  Since spinning is faster than knitting, objects made from this yarn are less expensive than just using MacAusland, and reknitting over a period of years.  Some of my MacAusland sweaters are long past "Used, but good!"



This is a craftsman's compromise between "budget" and "durability" 
made possible by a depth of resources (tools and skills.)

In the the past I have certainly praised commercial 5-ply gansey yarn and MacAusland's for their warmth, however, that was in the galaxy of commercial yarns on the retail market.  Now, we have escaped into the universe of possible yarns.  Here the commercial yarns make a poor showing, most  modern hand spun are pale imitations of the commercial yarns.





.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Craftsmanship

All objects are some compromise of: quality, schedule, available resources, and  budget,

Quality may be "pretty " for personal decoration, then the object  may need to be "warm" when worn outside or "cool" when worn under the lights on a movie set.  Or, quality may be "warm" to protect under Arctic conditions or under sustained cold rain or sustained wind.  Or, quality maybe durability.  Or, quality may be uniqueness or collectability. These are all valid measures of the quality of knit wear.

Schedule is how long the craftsman has to work on the object.  Does it need to be done tonight, in which case quality  and/or budget may suffer.  Or, is it a 30 years project, where quality and available resources may be maximized?

Available resources include all of the skills, tools and materials that are available within the schedule and budget.

Budget is the total cost of the project.  It may be financial as in you do not want to pay that much for some exotic yarn or take the time to learn the required skills; or,  you are knitting for enjoyment and want instant gratification.

Then the job of the craftsman is to produce the best compromise, within the project's constraints and the client's needs.  And, it is very possible that the craftsman is the client.

I am my own best client in that I make many things for myself.  I am also my own worst customer in that I am very demanding, and I tend to demand that objects get made over and over and until it meets very high quality standards.

Getting to such standards requires development of skills and tools.  If one does not have a teacher development of skills and tools, requires a series of studies.  People laugh at the thousands of swatches I have knit and tested.  The testing of many swatches is the systematic accumulation and organization of information.  It is science. The people who laugh at it,  do not understand science.  And, they do not understand that science is essential to real craftsmanship which relies on the accumulation of resources in the form of skills and tools.

If you assume that craftsmanship can be derived from received conventional wisdom, you miss the point that every communication results in lost information, so to retain a certain level of  craftsmanship, one must refresh, renew, and extend skills and tools.  That takes studies.  That takes science.

 As knitters with any pretension to craftsmanship we need to understand and practice good science.  If we are to be craftspeople, we need to avoid bad science.  We need to avoid studies and reports that cannot repeated.  

We need to call a "spade" a spade, and we need to call yarn by its correct name.  We need better labels and better yarn bands.

My World of Knitting

I have basically moved to knitting handspun.  I want yarns that are not available in the commercial knitting yarn market.  If the yarns I want were on the commercial market, I would buy them rather than spinning them myself.

I also like firm fabrics.  To get them, I use double ended needles with a  knitting sheath. A good knitting sheath is like a mechanic's socket wrench set:





Knitting sheaths offer real power to the knitter under a wide variety of conditions.

In contrast, knitting belts are more like pliers:


 I like pliers, I grew up with a pair of CT pliers in my back pocket.  My Grandfather had a bad hand, so he always had a pair of vice grip pliers that he used as his other hand.  However,  I have been sent 60 miles each way, over to Salina, to get the correct socket to loosen 2 bolts on the Cat RD-4 bulldozer because we needed to have it running tomorrow, and neither pliers nor wrenches could apply the force needed.

Likewise, if you need to knit fabrics such that air carrying heat does not move easily through the fabric, you need a knitting sheath, because knitting sheaths allow you to apply more force to the yarn than a knitting belt.  Now, do not get me wrong here. A knitting belt is a very good tool for 95 % of the kind of knitting done in the modern environment.

The old RD-4 was made to build the ALCAN highway.  Arctic conditions put special stresses on people, clothing, and their tools.  Just as it took a special tool to work on the RD-4, it takes special tools and materials to make knitwear suited to Arctic conditions. Today, most Arctic wear is factory made, so the knitting yarns and knitting sheaths do not commonly appear on the market.  However, their are some people that try to pass off  handknit objects as "magically warm" based on some myth that "hand knit" is warmer.  This comes under the category of unreproducible science.  In fact, it is bad science.

Fabrics that are denser and thicker are warmer.  Objects made from warmer fabrics with limited ventilation are warmer.  To get the fabric dense enough, and thick enough for Arctic conditions, you need a knitting sheath, just as the CT pliers in my back pocket were not going to move that rusted 2.25 inch bolt on the RD-4.

Because knitting sheaths are such powerful tools, I keep trying to improve the design.
I started with the traditional designs, and worked out the techniques that worked. It was clear that the traditional clothing of the period and places, had strongly affected the design of the traditional knitting sheaths, but we have different clothing, and need different designs.   I went on to develop knitting sheaths that fit modern clothing and are more convenient to use in the modern context.

  Today, I like:


Today the needles I use are in the range between 1 mm and 3.25 mm.  Needles for plain fabrics are very blunt, while needles for decreases and bobbles need to be more pointy.  Almost all of my needles are steel or stainless steel.  Thus, to knit a pair of plain socks I sit down with 2 pair of needles One set is used where the stitches are  all knit or purl, and the set of more pointy needles is used for the heels and toes.

My world of knitting yarn

Long wool comes in, and often gets spun  worsted with a firm twist at about 5,600 ypp ( 10s, 11.3 m/g).  Such singles were commonly used for weaving and everybody was accustomed to spinning them. Then, there was loom waste, which could be plied up into various grists of knitting yarn. Standard "10s" were a standard base for knitting yarns.

Then;
(These are not the standard names for these grists)

2-ply is knitting yarn at ~ 2,500 ypp ( 5. m/g) .
3-ply is fingering yarn at ~ 1,700 ypp (3.4 m/g)
4-ply is double knitting yarn at ~ 1260 ypp or ( 2.2 m/g)
5-ply is sport weight at ~1,000 ypp  (e.g., (gansey weight")
6-ply is worsted weight  or triple knitting yarn at ~ 840 ypp  or 1.7 g/m  (heavier than what is normally sold as "Aran" weight yarn.)
8-ply is "8-ply" at ~ 630 ypp or 1.3 m/g
10-ply is Traditional Aran  or 10-ply at ~ 500 ypp or 1 m/gram!

And, I ply heavier yarns as needed. However, my 6-ply yarn is warmer than any commercial knitting yarn on the market today.  That is why I have the kind of lazy kate that I do, and why I learned to use it.   If you want to knit objects as warm or warmer than I do, you will have to spin your own multi-ply yarns.

Medium fine wools 50 -60 count ( 25 micron) are spun worsted, sometimes at 11,200 ypp (25 m/g)

3-ply makes a quicky lace yarn at 3,360 ypp

Then a 6-ply yarn from those singles is the preferred sock yarn at ~ 1,700 ypp or 3.4 m/g


Medium fine wools 40 -60 count ( 25 micron) are spun worsted, sometimes at 30,000 ypp or ~60 m/g
3-ply from this makes a nice lace yarn at ~ 8,000 ypp
6-ply makes a better sock yarn at ~ 4,000 ypp

Fine wools (finer than 60 count) may get spun at their spin count ~ 40,000 ypp or 100 m/g, which can be plied as needed. Or, they may be prepared into woolen spun versions of any of the above.

Note, The post above covers grists that vary by a factor of  8.   In truth, I have no problem spinning thicker yarns, because like a musician, I do my scales on a regular basis and practice spinning different grists of yarn.   On the other hand, I rarely do spin  singles thicker than 1-cut woolen (1,640 ypp).  As 2-ply that yields a yarn about the same grist as my worsted weight, and the worsted weight is much warmer and more durable.  Why waste my knitting time on yarn that produces an inferior product?  I certainly have in the past, and I do not regret any part of it.  However, improvements in my tools and skills over the last few years, allow me to make better yarns at a reasonable investment of resources, so I do.  


Use of AA's spinning oil is highly recommended.I suggest the addition of a few drops of lavender oil.  Also, many olive oils are adulterated with soybean oil.  These will get sticky in storage, and MUST be avoided.  The US and Italy have good, enforced rules on olive oil.  I suggest buying an oil from one of these countries.  You do not need EV or cold pressed. You just need pure olive oil.

Note: After spinning all singles are measured for length, blocked with steam, and weighed.  They may also be dyed. For dying, they must be washed to remove the spinning oil.

All plied yarns must be blocked again.

None of this is any more difficult than turning bobbins from green wood. People tell you it cannot be done, but it is simply a matter of learning the skills and having the tools.

Bad Science, myth, and old wives tales.

I said something about turning bobbins from green wood, and got comments that it could not be done.

Some of the bobbins that I turned from solid blocks of green wood in the last few months.
None of these are cracked or warped.
The shavings were used to mulch the blueberries.

The pale ones are mostly wood from pruning the olive trees, and the darker ones are green redwood scrap that I get from a local fencing contractor.  Along this line, none of the kitchen tools that also made from the olive prunings warped or cracked.



Warped bobbin from green wood


Oh yes, there was a learning curve.  In years past, I turned bobbins from greenwood that cracked, warped and were useless. This year, only 1 in 20 cracked, but even it is  usable.

This is the kind of bad science and myth that I hate from the knitting and spinning community.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Science

The irreproducibility crisis – an opportunity to make science better

August 8, 2016 by Megan Yu, Plos Blogs


Among the 1,576  surveyed in this news feature, 52% noted that reproducibility is a significant crisis in . Physicists and chemists had the greatest confidence in their respective fields while medical professionals and biologists had the least. In addition, the survey found that 24% and 13% of respondents had published successful and unsuccessful replications, respectively, compared to only 12% and 10% of those whose findings were rejected. These findings are similar to previous studies that found that only 16 of 83 articles recommending the effectiveness of various psychiatric treatments were successfully replicated and that only 36% of replication studies among 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals were

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-08-irreproducibility-crisis-opportunity-science.html#jCp

Science is what always works.  If it is not reproducible, it is not science.  Any researcher that publishes things that are not reproducible, should be punished according to the list of crimes in the Mikado,( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NLV24qTnlg ) or (http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.com/1999/06/i-got-little-list-w-s-gilbert.html )

I often pursue small advances in technology, and sometimes it is hard to tell just what small change in the new prototype is responsible for the change.  Thus, sometimes, I have to go back and retest various aspects of the current technology, to see if I missed something along the way.

Circa 1999, I started researching how to knit warmer objects. It was and is a systematic collection and organization of information about how to knit warmer objects  (aka "science".  I systematically tested the conventional wisdom in the knitting community on how to knit warmly, and found that much of it was/is myth.  I consider this to be no different from published research. I mean, knitters have had centuries to work out how to knit warmly, and to get it wrong is unforgivable.  At the very least, they should be required to sing "Koko" every evening,

Some deny that is is possible to knit "weatherproof" fabrics. That is merely a lack of technique on their part.  I knit weatherproof fabrics.   I have been knitting swatches of weatherproof fabric for about 13 years.  As I learned to use knitting sheaths, I was able to knit entire weatherproof objects.

Part of  the denier's  lack of technique is a failure to use yarns that make the process easy.  Weatherproof fabrics can be knit from a variety of yarns, but knitters are bound up in the mythology of using commercial 1,000 ypp "5-ply gansey" yarns, and these are, in fact, very difficult to knit into weatherproof fabrics.

By, 2006  I was very disappointed in the quality of  the commercial yarns available. and began to spin my own.  However, from the early going, I  found hand spinning also bound up in myth and fairy tails.  Spinners denied the virtues of  differential rotation speed (DRS) and accelerators.  There was nobody around to teach me to spin fine and fast. Sure, there were people like Northernlace, but her approach to spinning fine was arduous. Again the folks using supported spindles  for spinning various fibers into lace, seemed to prefer the slower, supported spindles to the wheel technology.  I understand this because, at those grists, supported spindles are easier than Scotch Tension.  On the other hand, DRS is much more productive than Scotch Tension.

DRS makes spinning fine singles much easier than either of the single drive technologies, and yes, I can use single drive, bobbin lead to spin 56 count wool (~25 micron) at its spin count of 31,000 ypp
( 63 m/g) on AA fliers w/ my bobbins.  So, what? I can also spin that fiber to that grist with a stock Ashford Jumbo Flyer using Scotch Tension! (Using a couple of machine screw washers as tension.) It can be done.   And, I can spin the same singles on the Ashford Lace Flyer.  That is a little faster than the Jumbo.  The point is: I can spin.  My love of DRS is because it is more productive.  Only with DRS can I spin 560 yard/hour of 5,600 ypp and have the hanks come out within 5% of the desired weight (45.4 g)

Today, I have to give more credit to my efforts to damp vibration.   It turns out that with the better vibration damping, I could have run the stock Ashford flyer/bobbin assembly a few hundred rpm faster (e.g., ~2,000 rpm).  However, the extra rpm does not really seem to be useful, so on a practical basis, it was/is the DRS (and AA's little fliers) that boost/ed productivity, and allow/ed use of the higher speed that I get with the accelerator.  And, better vibration damping allowed the higher speeds.  This is particularly true for the Ashford Lace Flyer.  Today, I can run my Ashford Lace Flyer (as a result of better vibration damping)  at 3,000 rpm, but it is still not a practical technology for spinning fine singles in the quantities needed for weaving, or making knitting yarns such as 5-ply sport weight or higher numbers of plies for warmer fabrics.

When you understand spinning, then spinning is faster than knitting.

The first thing that I learned is that "weatherproof" fabric, requires knitting denser fabric.  Knitting denser fabric requires using finer needles and it requires more force to form the stitches.  To retain stretch and elasticity of the fabric, the bars between the stitches are not tighter, but each stitch must be more firmly formed.  Using a knitting pouch is a good first step, but the densest fabrics for the  coldest climates require the use of knitting sheaths and double ended needles.

Warmer yarns tend to be thicker. Warmer yarns tend to have more plies but less ply twist.  Thus, at 1,000 ypp, the 5-ply will be warmer than the 2-ply and the 5-ply with less ply twist will be warmer than the high-ply-twist commercial 'gansey ' that produces a "drafty" fabric.

For very cold climates, yarns in the range of 500 ypp with 10-plies  produce the warmest fabrics with reasonable hand and drape.  Any knit objects intended for the coldest climates will likely have to be knit from such yarns. However, such yarns are not common in the modern commercial market place at this time.  In the current market most, yarns called 10-ply are actually only 750 to 800 ypp, which makes them a 50% less warm than the true 500 ypp 10-ply.

Anyone that says otherwise is trying to publish myth, old wives tales, and commercial nonsese as fact.

If there was a single great failure in this blog, it was thinking in terms of numbers and blurting it out on the blog.  These days most spinners and knitters, do not think in terms of ypp, and thereby much of the content goes right past them.  I use ypp because it makes the math easy.  Wraps per inch (packed to refusal) squared is ypp. The problem here is that the method of taking WPI has changed so that WPI as measured today has no relation to ypp.  I consider the lack of grist, twist, and ply information on yarn bands to make buying yarn like buying a pig in a poke. Likewise the yarn categories are no use to me.  I need to know the number of plies and whether they are woolen or worsted.  This is important if you are designing for a particular climate.  The appropriate yarn differs between SF, Berkeley and  Orinda.  And,  heading to the Matterhorn or Thunderbolt Peak requires an entirely different basis of engineering textiles and objects.  And, that is just in California.  Parts of Vancouver get 12 or 14 feet  (4+ m)  of rain per year.  Then, in places like Fraser, CO it starts to get cold, and we need to apply our our skill to objects intended to be used there.

If we divide ypp by 560 yards in the hank then we have the spin count of the grist.  Then we can buy wool with that spin count, and we can estimate how many yards per pound that wool will spin into. Then we know the total number of yards came be spun from that lot of wool

Anywool can be spun in to 10s (10 worsted hanks per pound, 5,600 ypp, 12.3 g/m) , and it was a standard grist for weaving inexpensive cloth. 10s were ubiquitous and fungible. Everyone knew how to spin them.  At one time 10s were the basis of a good grade of knitting yarn.  It was ubiquitous and fungible. Mostly it was warm enough for a world without central heating, and durable enough to be worn  all the time.  I like such yarns better than what I see at LYS.


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Aran Knitting

Aran yarns were traditionally 10-ply, 500 ypp worsted spun. This was twice as heavy as modern sport weight, and ~ 70% heavier than worsted (e.g., 6-ply).  Aran was more what we would call weight 5,  "Chunky" or "Bulky", or even Super Bulky.  I know, I know, I have bins of  'Pure Wool Aran' from Yorkshire, that is only 772 ypp, but it is also, only 4-ply.  That is not a yarn that can be knit up into a functional seaman's sweater. I have knit it on finer needles, and never found a point where it became weatherproof.  Some of that 'Pure Wool Aran' does serve very well for baby clothes for a family living in San Francisco's Outer Sunset District.  It was knit by the children's grandmother, who was born, and raised in Siberia/ USSR.

Aran sweaters were used for fishing and whaling, even near the Arctic Sea ice.   Key advantages to producing a thick yarn from many  plies is that it can be knit tighter, without becoming stiff and board like. Thick yarns produced with only a few plies,  such as Peace Roving, Lopi, and  MacAusland, are easier to knit into weatherproof fabrics than yarns such as the modern commercial 5-ply, but weatherproof fabrics from yarns with few plies tend to be stiff and have poor hand and drape.  I put up with such fabrics for a long time, because I could knit them, and my LYS did not carry multi-ply yarns with a soft ply twist.  This is why I had to learn to spin, spin fine, spin fast, and produce better multi-ply yarns.   If you need a very warm fabric, then knitting it from a yarn with many plies produces better hand and drape, greater durability, and better warmth.

In contrast, modern, commercial  5-ply sport weight yarns tend to have so much  ply twist that they have poor fill, and tend to be difficult to knit into weatherproof fabrics.  Knitting weatherproof fabrics from high ply twist yarns such as Frangipani is a high effort endeavor. To the best of my knowledge, it requires a knitting sheath.   It is not always worth the effort.  In fact, for some applications, the stiff fabric can be protective.  Many of the fishermen wearing Arans would have been handlining 100 lb cod from the deck of the boat.  They braced against the rail and as the ship tossed, they would have been tossed against the rail, with great force. The net/ cable pattern typical on a Aran sweaters provided padding. (Do not even think of disagreeing unless you have handlined 100 lb fish on-board in rough weather.)   A stiff sweater can cushion a blow from a spar when sailing in foul weather, or arrest a slide (yard sale / garage sale) on an icy ski slope and thereby avoid a long climb back up the hill (while sore) to gather gear. It can also protect in rock climbing.

The best path for very warm knit fabrics leads to a yarn with many plies and soft ply twist.  I learned this from the old Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, which was easier to knit into very warm fabrics than British Breeds,  Wingham's and etc..


The Lazy Kate set up for 10-ply Aran yarn.

The singles are 5,600 ypp semi worsted (dized off of a drum carder) of Anna Harvey's Rambouillet. Knit on 2.38 mm needles at 6 spi by 8 rpi, it has about the same density as the 14 ply, but is knit on 2.38 mm needles rather than the 3.2 mm needles for the 14-ply.  The difference between this and the 14-ply knitting in the last post is the thickness of the fabric.  The 14-ply in the last post is thicker and about 28% warmer. On the other hand, this fabric, is more than twice as warm as anything I have knit from commercial, ~1,000 ypp 5-ply (even LB FW).  Yes! you read that right! I knit 10-ply, 500 ypp on needles that my Susan Bates "Knit-Chek" assures me are US1. Yes, it is an extraordinary measure, but extraordinary measures are how one stays warm in extraordinary cold.




Aran Swatch from
handspun 10-ply
@ ~ 500 ypp  
 and 
 Swatch of 'Pure Wool Aran'
Commercial @ 772 ypp
both  swatches show 21 stitches on top needle, both knit on US1 needles.
'Pure Wool Aran'  has more stitches per inch, but is best
suited for baby clothes in SF
(Yarns with grists that differ by 272 ypp, knit up up differently, but 
patknitter thinks that yarns that differ by 280 ypp are comparable!)  


The top swatch is a fabric that is ~twice as warm as the fabric that kept me comfortable for 4 hours in minus 10F temps with 40 mph winds (wind chill =>  - 40F). That is kind of wind that makes a parka snap and pop.   For the test, the sweater knit from LB FW  5-ply was my primary upper body garment with mittens and hat from same material. Lower body garments were Patagonia guide pants and medium weight poly-pro base layer.  I also wore one pair of hand knit socks under my plastic boots.  Test conducted at ~10,000 ft altitude.  Just me, sitting on a spare pair of socks, watching life unfold in the valley below.

At less than 50 stitches per inch^2, such a 10-ply Aran sweater can be knit ~60 hours.  (For true polar conditions, the 14-ply knits up even faster.)  With another 30 hours (35 hours for 14-ply)  of spinning to make the yarn, total production time is less than the ~100 hours required to knit a (less warm) sweater from commercial 5-ply.  And the objects from 10-ply/14-ply yarns are much more durable and comfortable than objects of similar warmth knit from yarns with fewer plies (e.g., Peace, Lopi, MacAusland).

One of my goals when I started spinning a decade ago was to be able to produce real 10-ply Aran yarns at a resonable pace.  Along the way, I was told, many times by many different people, "It can't be done!".  Well it certainly can be done.  People who did not know, pretended to know, and told me things that simply are not true.  Likewise, people that have not investigated the virtues of knitting sheaths, pretend to know, and say things that are not true.  They are lucky that Bolgia 10 is warm, not cold.

I have singles on hand (both semi worsted and true worsted) so, with a few hours of  plying, I would be ready to knit polar gear.  Then, the knitting can be done in cars, airports, train stations and quays.  I already have Arctic caliber socks, mittens, hats, and etc. And, I already have sweaters that have been tested at wind chills colder than minus 40.  I could gear up, and be ready to go full Arctic with hand knit clothing, PDQ.  I am not bound to California.

The real trick to staying warm is to make sure your mittens do not blow away if you drop them.  That is how my dad froze his hands on the East Wall at Arapahoe.  As he finished strapping an injured and cold skier into the sled, hand he had to grab it and hold it with his bare hands, even as his mitten blew away.   In the few minutes before we could get off the steeps, and dad could put on a pair of mittens from my pack, he had frostbite on both hands. As a member of the National Ski Patrol, dad skied it all, and I skied with him, from Dawn Patrol to Last Sweep, regardless of the weather.  I grew up in the high country of Colorado and Wyoming.   We did all of the 14,000 foot peaks.  All things considered, it was a good place to learn how to play outside and stay warm and safe.  Later, I did forestry research in the Adirondacks, and spent weeks every year outside in the snow in a climate very similar to that of Wisconsin (with more  snow.)  Along the way, I climbed all the Adirondack High Peaks -  most of them solo.  I have been to the Annapurna Sanctuary.   I have walked from Paradise to Muir Camp  (2,000 feet above snow line)  in flip-flops. Most of my ski trips in California included a night or two of snow camping.  And, I have skied over several of the California passes in the winter, when they were closed because of snow.    All in all, my tendency to play outside in all weather, gave me practical experience in how to stay warm.  I test and compare, and choose what works, not what people say works. Today, the knit objects that I make are much, much warmer than any of the knit objects that we had when we skied the high country and backcountry of Colorado,  Wyoming,  Adirondacks, and Idaho.

It is like spinning - I do what works, and the result is hand spinning that many say is impossible.
 (Who else handspins '500 ypp, 10-ply' in practical quantities?  )   In knitting, I do what works and the result is that I do things that many do not accept as possible.  Their lack of understanding is not my problem.   They should have chosen better teachers.



Aran Yarn
The Classic Yarn for Warmest Woolens

Just over a pound of 
hand spun and plied,
 semi-worsted spun, 500 ypp, 10 ply 
(there are ~ 5,600 yd of singles in the 3-cakes/ ply twist takes up ~10%)
Fiber from Anna Harvey's Rambouillet
www.annagotwool.com 

(If I was planning a season of fishing on the Finnish Sea, I would spin it worsted!)

ETA: 


A couple of cakes of Worsted spun 10-ply Aran.
(The two cakes total ~12 oz, and contain ~4,200 yd of singles.)

Aran Knitting

Aran yarns were traditionally 10-ply, 500 ypp worsted spun. This was twice as heavy as modern sport weight, and ~ 70% heavier than worsted (e.g., 6-ply).  Aran was more what we would call weight 5,  "Chunky" or "Bulky", or even Super Bulky.  I know, I know, I have bins of  'Pure Wool Aran' from Yorkshire, that is only 772 ypp, but it is also, only 4-ply.  That is not a yarn that can be knit up into a functional seaman's sweater. I have knit it on finer needles, and never found a point where it became weatherproof.  Some of that 'Pure Wool Aran' does serve very well for baby clothes for a family living in San Francisco's Outer Sunset District.  It was knit by the children's grandmother, who was born, and raised in Siberia/ USSR.

Aran sweaters were used for fishing and whaling, even near the Arctic Sea ice.   Key advantages to producing a thick yarn from many  plies is that it can be knit tighter, without becoming stiff and board like. Thick yarns produced with only a few plies,  such as Peace Roving, Lopi, and  MacAusland, are easier to knit into weatherproof fabrics than yarns such as the modern commercial 5-ply, but weatherproof fabrics from yarns with few plies tend to be stiff and have poor hand and drape.  I put up with such fabrics for a long time, because I could knit them, and my LYS did not carry multi-ply yarns with a soft ply twist.  This is why I had to learn to spin, spin fine, spin fast, and produce better multi-ply yarns.   If you need a very warm fabric, then knitting it from a yarn with many plies produces better hand and drape, greater durability, and better warmth.

In contrast, modern, commercial  5-ply sport weight yarns tend to have so much  ply twist that they have poor fill, and tend to be difficult to knit into weatherproof fabrics.  Knitting weatherproof fabrics from high ply twist yarns such as Frangipani is a high effort endeavor. To the best of my knowledge, it requires a knitting sheath.   It is not always worth the effort.  In fact, for some applications, the stiff fabric can be protective.  Many of the fishermen wearing Arans would have been handlining 100 lb cod from the deck of the boat.  They braced against the rail and as the ship tossed, they would have been tossed against the rail, with great force. The net/ cable pattern typical on a Aran sweaters provided padding. (Do not even think of disagreeing unless you have handlined 100 lb fish on-board in rough weather.)   A stiff sweater can cushion a blow from a spar when sailing in foul weather, or arrest a slide (yard sale / garage sale) on an icy ski slope and thereby avoid a long climb back up the hill (while sore) to gather gear. It can also protect in rock climbing.

The best path for very warm knit fabrics leads to a yarn with many plies and soft ply twist.  I learned this from the old Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, which was easier to knit into very warm fabrics than British Breeds,  Wingham's and etc..


The Lazy Kate set up for 10-ply Aran yarn.

The singles are 5,600 ypp semi worsted (dized off of a drum carder) of Anna Harvey's Rambouillet. Knit on 2.38 mm needles at 6 spi by 8 rpi, it has about the same density as the 14 ply, but is knit on 2.38 mm needles rather than the 3.2 mm needles for the 14-ply.  The difference between this and the 14-ply knitting in the last post is the thickness of the fabric.  The 14-ply in the last post is thicker and about 28% warmer. On the other hand, this fabric, is more than twice as warm as anything I have knit from commercial, ~1,000 ypp 5-ply (even LB FW).  Yes! you read that right! I knit 10-ply, 500 ypp on needles that my Susan Bates "Knit-Chek" assures me are US1. Yes, it is an extraordinary measure, but extraordinary measures are how one stays warm in extraordinary cold.




Aran Swatch from
handspun 10-ply
@ ~ 500 ypp  
 and 
 Swatch of 'Pure Wool Aran'
Commercial @ 772 ypp
both  swatches show 21 stitches on top needle, both knit on US1 needles.
'Pure Wool Aran'  has more stitches per inch, but is best
suited for baby clothes in SF
(Yarns with grists that differ by 272 ypp, knit up up differently, but 
patknitter thinks that yarns that differ by 280 ypp are comparable!)  


The top swatch is a fabric that is ~twice as warm as the fabric that kept me comfortable for 4 hours in minus 10F temps with 40 mph winds (wind chill =>  - 40F). That is kind of wind that makes a parka snap and pop.   For the test, the sweater knit from LB FW  5-ply was my primary upper body garment with mittens and hat from same material. Lower body garments were Patagonia guide pants and medium weight poly-pro base layer.  I also wore one pair of hand knit socks under my plastic boots.  Test conducted at ~10,000 ft altitude.  Just me, sitting on a spare pair of socks, watching life unfold in the valley below.

At less than 50 stitches per inch^2, such a 10-ply Aran sweater can be knit ~60 hours.  (For true polar conditions, the 14-ply knits up even faster.)  With another 30 hours (35 hours for 14-ply)  of spinning to make the yarn, total production time is less than the ~100 hours required to knit a (less warm) sweater from commercial 5-ply.  And the objects from 10-ply/14-ply yarns are much more durable and comfortable than objects of similar warmth knit from yarns with fewer plies (e.g., Peace, Lopi, MacAusland).

One of my goals when I started spinning a decade ago was to be able to produce real 10-ply Aran yarns at a resonable pace.  Along the way, I was told, many times by many different people, "It can't be done!".  Well it certainly can be done.  People who did not know, pretended to know, and told me things that simply are not true.  Likewise, people that have not investigated the virtues of knitting sheaths, pretend to know, and say things that are not true.  They are lucky that Bolgia 10 is warm, not cold.

I have singles on hand (both semi worsted and true worsted) so, with a few hours of  plying, I would be ready to knit polar gear.  Then, the knitting can be done in cars, airports, train stations and quays.  I already have Arctic caliber socks, mittens, hats, and etc. And, I already have sweaters that have been tested at wind chills colder than minus 40.  I could gear up, and be ready to go full Arctic with hand knit clothing, PDQ.  I am not bound to California.

The real trick to staying warm is to make sure your mittens do not blow away if you drop them.  That is how my dad froze his hands on the East Wall at Arapahoe.  As he finished strapping an injured and cold skier into the sled, hand he had to grab it and hold it with his bare hands, even as his mitten blew away.   In the few minutes before we could get off the steeps, and dad could put on a pair of mittens from my pack, he had frostbite on both hands. As a member of the National Ski Patrol, dad skied it all, and I skied with him, from Dawn Patrol to Last Sweep, regardless of the weather.  I grew up in the high country of Colorado and Wyoming.   We did all of the 14,000 foot peaks.  All things considered, it was a good place to learn how to play outside and stay warm and safe.  Later, I did forestry research in the Adirondacks, and spent weeks every year outside in the snow in a climate very similar to that of Wisconsin (with more  snow.)  Along the way, I climbed all the Adirondack High Peaks -  most of them solo.  I have been to the Annapurna Sanctuary.   I have walked from Paradise to Muir Camp  (2,000 feet above snow line)  in flip-flops. Most of my ski trips in California included a night or two of snow camping.  And, I have skied over several of the California passes in the winter, when they were closed because of snow.    All in all, my tendency to play outside in all weather, gave me practical experience in how to stay warm.  I test and compare, and choose what works, not what people say works. Today, the knit objects that I make are much, much warmer than any of the knit objects that we had when we skied the high country and backcountry of Colorado,  Wyoming,  Adirondacks, and Idaho.

It is like spinning - I do what works, and the result is hand spinning that many say is impossible.
 (Who else handspins '500 ypp, 10-ply' in practical quantities?  )   In knitting, I do what works and the result is that I do things that many do not accept as possible.  Their lack of understanding is not my problem.   They should have chosen better teachers.



Aran Yarn
The Classic Yarn for Warmest Woolens

Just over a pound of 
hand spun and plied,
 semi-worsted spun, 500 ypp, 10 ply 
(there are ~ 5,600 yd of singles in the 3-cakes/ ply twist takes up ~10%)
Fiber from Anna Harvey's Rambouillet
www.annagotwool.com 

(If I was planning a season of fishing on the Finnish Sea, I would spin it worsted!)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Aaron Knits

First make some nice 14-ply, worsted spun, wool yarn.  It is easy with a tension box type Lazy Kate:



 to get:

Craftsmen need to deeply understand their materials.

 It's grist is about 360 ypp, which means that it is ~ 25% lighter than the Super Bulky LB Wool Ease  (LB WE, 288 ypp). The 14-ply yarn is much denser than the SB LB WE, and thus is easier to knit into very warm fabrics.  Another advantage is that it is more elastic, allowing skin tight garments to move with the body, and still be perfectly comfortable.  In addition, skin tight garments are inherent warmer. Thus, this is an excellent yarn for gear used for extreme conditions. (Sometimes, California has wickedly extreme weather,)

Thus high-ply yarns can be used to knit warmer fabrics that can be thinner and more flattering than objects of similar warmth knit from 2 and 3 ply yarns.  This is a serious advantage for for the fashion conscious in cold climates  Multi-ply yarns are also enormously more durable.  Over the years, not having to reknit/repair objects, saves much knitting,  If your knit objects last more than a few years without repair, then you are not active enough.  I have hand spun, hand knit objects from Nepal that are pristine.  They are pristine, because they are crap! They sit in a drawer. They were made for foreign climbers that only spent a few weeks in Nepal, and then left.  Hand spun, hand knit is NO guarantee of quality or warmth.  My  aunt got a bunch of my early  hand knit objects.   One those hats I know was worn almost every day for 7 years.  When she died, it was almost pristine. She was very frail, and treated it very gently.  I put that much wear on a hat in  one winter of sailing, skiing, and etc, - even when I have Lyme Disease with coinfections.

With such a multi-ply yarn, it is trivial to knit a fabric that is lighter, thinner, more weatherproof, and more durable than what can be knit with from a yarn with only 2 or 3 plies, or from a 5-ply yarn constructed with high ply-twist.

Modern  commercial 1,000 ypp 5-ply and 1,120 ypp 5-ply yarns are designed and spun to produce fabrics that are not weatherproof! "Experienced" knitters recited the myth that commercial 5-ply yarns produced the warmest fabrics to me, and  I believed it -- until I did my own testing. Weatherproof fabrics can be produced from such yarns, but it is a significant effort. I had to learn to knit such fabrics so I could measure the effort.  Those "Experienced" knitters were telling me the harder way to knit such fabrics, not the easy way.

The seed of truth in that myth is that the older multi-ply yarns with less ply twist, were the best path to warm weatherproof fabrics.  Modern 5-ply,  high-ply twist yarns are designed to so that decorative stitches "pop".   Yarns, that can be more easily knit into very warm fabrics can be hand spun using less ply twist.  Experienced knitters had not understood that there was a real difference between high-ply twist and low ply twist yarns.  Lower ply twist gives the yarn more "fill", which is the easy route to warmer fabrics.  Likewise yarns with cable construction tend to be stiff, and difficult to knit into weatherproof fabrics.  Such cables yarns are good for summer socks that must be durable and cool.  Again, knitting cables yarns into weatherproof fabrics can be done using  long gansey needles and a knitting sheath, but it is slow, hard work.   I know this by testing and comparing yarns, and the fabrics knit from them.  The bottom line here is that the best handspun 1,000, ypp 5-ply can produce yarns that knit into warmer fabrics than modern commercial 1,000, ypp 5-ply tend to produce.  And yes, 1,000, ypp 5-ply can produce warmer fabrics than 1,120 ypp, 5-ply,  When both are knit on the same needles, the difference in warmth will be on the order of 25%, but if the finer yarn is knit on finer needles, then the difference is likely only  11%.  (You cannot get there using US3 needles! Alert knitters keep a journal, and know this.)  Using fine needles, hand spun 1,120 ypp, 5-ply with  low ply twist can easily be knit into fabrics that are much warmer than fabrics commonly knit from commercial 1,000 ypp, 5-ply yarns with high ply twist.

Thus, as we consider the warmth of  fabrics knit from the above 360 ypp, 14 ply, it needs to be compared to modern commercial 1,000 ypp, 5-ply, and best handspun 1,000 ypp, 5-ply.  The 360 ypp 14 ply above knits into fabrics that are about 50% warmer than best handspun 1,000 ypp 5-ply spun for warmth, and about 3 times warmer than the fabric produced by knitting 1,000 ypp, 5-ply, (commercial Guernsey yarns)  on the typical modern  2.25 mm (circular) needles.

Fabrics knit from the above 360 ypp, 14 ply are only very slightly warmer than fabrics knit from LB WE, (or MacAusland's heavy 3-ply) but the fabrics knit form 360 ypp, 14 ply, will be much lighter in weight, have much better hand and drape, have more stretch and elasticity, and be more durable.  In total, they are altogether more comfortable to wear in cold conditions.

  Swatch from best 360 ypp, 14 ply worsted spun yarn
knit on US 3 long needles




In short, factors that affect the warmth of knit fabrics include:

  • fiber - fine or coarse
  • spin - woolen or worsted
  • grist of singles
  • twist per inch of  singles
  • number of plies/ total grist of yarn
  • ply twist
  • needle size
  • how needle is used, e.g., hand held, knitting belt, or knitting sheath
  • tension of yarn as it is knit
  • stitch used in the knitting
Factors affecting warmth of objects include:
  • yarn used
  • stitch used
  • needle size
  • how needle is used
  • fit/ wearing ease 
  • waist opening 
  • size and shape of neck opening
  • sleeve construction
  • total area of body covered (e.g., a hoodie is warmer than a  sweater and hat, but a sweater, comforter, and balaclava is likely to be warmer still) 
Factors affecting over-all body warmth include:
  • weather/ wind, cold, wet, and etc.
  • base layers
  • over layers
  • warmth of knit objects
Much heat is lost through the feet, hands, and head! If your sweater is not keeping you warm, the fast and easy way to knit what will keep you warm is likely to knit socks, gloves, hats (balaclava),   and such. My wife laughs at me because most of my knitting is socks, gloves/mittens, and such. However, having such objects is essential to staying warm and being comfortable in cold, and very cold conditions.  And, gloves/mittens and socks are subject to a lot of wear.  They need to be regularly repaired/replaced.  I expect a sweater to outlast a couple of hats, several pairs of gloves/mittens and many pairs of socks.  


Yes, I spin such yarns, and knit such fabrics right here in Warm Sunny California, because these days, this is where the technical skills are. Remember, the knit objects that protected Shackleton's men on the Antarctic ice were knit in Balmy England, because that is where the technical skills were. When I was a kid, the best technical skills for down clothing were in Boulder, Colorado - a place where Native Americas had wintered, because it had pleasant winter weather.  North Face clothing was founded in San Francisco and grew based on experience gained by going to places with wicked weather.  Patagonia came out of Southern California, by way of experience gained in other places.    Even REI was founded in a place with fabulous year-round weather (Kent, Washington).  And, the great knit objects that allowed British seamen to navigate the cold and stormy Southern Ocean, were knit in tropical Hong Kong circa  1790 1830.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rushen Knitting

There has been some discussion here about how to knit for cold weather.  : )

Here is my "Rushen" solution.

For patknitter, it is done with US 3 knitting needles.
For purplespirit1, it is warm enough for snow camping in the Gulag.





 The yarn is Wool-Ease thick and quick by Lion brand. Suggested gauge is 9 stitches per 4 inches and 12 rows, using 9 mm needles. My gauge using US 3 (3 mm)   is 18 s per 4 inch by 26 r per 4 inches.

It weatherproof, and it is fast to knit.  An object knit from this yarn and at this gauge is well suited for a movie set, as it is warm enough for Siberia.  However, it is not durable enough for a serious tour of the Gulag.  In the long term, knitting real 10-ply saves knitting time.  Aside from swatches such as above, I do not knit objects from such yarns, because it is too fragile.  On the other hand I think you will find that purplespirit1 and patknitter have trouble knitting even such little swatches.  They do not have the right tools.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Exceptional points

'Exceptional points' give rise to counterintuitive physical effects


No matter whether it is acoustic waves, quantum matter waves or optical waves of a laser—all kinds of waves can be in different states of oscillation, corresponding to different frequencies. Calculating these frequencies is part of the tools of the trade in theoretical physics. Recently, however, a special class of systems has caught the attention of the scientific community, forcing physicists to abandon well-established rules.

When waves are able to absorb or release energy, so-called "exceptional points" occur, around which the waves show quite peculiar behaviour: lasers switch on, even though energy is taken away from them, light is being emitted only in one particular direction, and waves which are strongly jumbled emerge from the muddle in an orderly, well-defined state. Rather than just approaching such an exceptional point, a team of researchers at TU Wien (Vienna, Austria) together with colleagues in Brazil, France, and Israel now managed to steer a system around this point, with remarkable results that have now been published in the journal Nature.


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-07-exceptional-counterintuitive-physical-effects.html#jCp

Spinning wheel drive bands (and other drive belts) absorb and release energy, and thus can be expected to have exceptional points, which goes far in explaining issues in drive belt design problems.