Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You Say Tomato

I was reading through Judith’s spinning book again preparatory to taking it to class tonight. I did find one or two little niggles that I don’t quite agree with including the admonition “You must dye skeins on a rod over the pot.” Ummm…why? If the yarn is particularly tangly (silk, fine highly twisted wool) or there are many skeins, I will sometimes loop them into a loose plastic coated wire (like clothesline wire) and hook it over the edge just so I can find the ends of the skeins and keep them in order. But they are all submersed into the dye bath. The only time I would loop skeins over a rod is if I want one half of the yarn to either be lighter or to later go into another colour. I wonder if that sentence was meant as is or if it was an editing thing?

I truly disclose the fact that saying “you must” to me is like waving a red cape in front of a bull! I take it as a challenge to prove it either wrong or limited. There are many ways to arrive at the same solution. There might be a good reason to do it the way that is stated but there also might be many other reasons to do it another way. Or several other ways. Looping your skeins on a rod over your pot necessitates much rotating to get an even dye. It also makes more opportunities for accidents such as the rod falling into the pot and splashing dye all over or for the ends of a too-long rod melting (plastic) or singeing (wood) over the heat source. Added complications that you really don’t need unless there is some compelling reason for the rod. And then you had better be extra careful.

I do appreciate Judith’s comments on “Why Ply?” A plied yarn is not only stronger than a single but is also more durable and smooth and is less likely to pill. It’s also bigger and lighter after plying than the two singles held together unplied. Excess energy that distorts your knitting can’t lurk in a plied yarn because it’s been neutralized. I always ply at least two singles together. Sometimes I do a Navajo ply which is like a finger-crocheted chain with twist applied. Oddly Judith doesn’t consider this a plied yarn but a chained single that is twisted together. Sounds like a simple semantics exercise on the meaning of the word “ply”. She also says it cannot level the twist. Why is that? I’ve never noticed that tendency and the little linked loop spots and the fact that one of the “plies” is lying in the opposite direction don’t give me any problems. It behaves so darn close to a regular 3-ply that I can’t tell the difference without close-up observation. Maybe it’s because I like to stretch my chains out as far as possible before allowing the twist in? Or is it just a case of differing opinions?

One reason you might opt not to ply a yarn is if you are using it for weaving, particularly in the weft. In many cases it’s a waste of the spinner’s time to ply yarn when a single is just as good. There are some interesting effects you can get with an overtwisted single or even singles with opposing twists. Experience is key here — sample, sample, sample.

And speaking of overtwisted singles, knitters can get some interesting effects as well utilizing the energy inherent in this type of yarn. Stitches can pop and twist in surprising ways. More sampling!

On the sock front, I have 2 repeats of the Tulip pattern on one sock and one on the other. It’s surprisingly intuitive, even with 20 rows. It’s a bit tight on 64 stitches (4 repeats) even though that’s my usual number for plain stockinette socks for me. I disregarded the original pattern’s use of 2.5mm needles on the leg and only switching down to 2mm for the foot thinking that I’ve got fairly skinny calves anyway plus I knit looser than many people. I can get them on ok and it does show off the pattern well:

However for more normal calves or if I was to do them again, I’d go with the bigger needles and/or a slightly heavier yarn than the Mega Boots Stretch. This type of pattern where the increases are separated from the decreases causes stitches to bias which always makes them less elastic. And there’s some rib action too with the purls around the tulips causing them to stand out. The pattern calls for only 2 1/2 pattern repeats before starting the heel flap but I plan to do 3 1/2 instead. I like my sock legs long enough to show above my Blunnie boots. I’m quite enjoying this knitting even if it’s not quite mindless. I did get some reading done without too many knitting corrections.

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