Friday, January 18, 2013

Dragging my feet

These Fishbone Gansey Socks (pattern by Anne Hanson) are coming along soooooooooo slowly. I like them, but I’m starting to wonder if I’ll wear them this season. IMG_0746Why are they progressing so slowly? The yarn. This yarn is plied with a Z-twist rather than the usual S-twist, which means I untwist the plies a bit with every stitch. Take a closer look – the yarn on the right is Toots LeBlanc Jacob/Alpaca/Mohair 3-ply, and the yarn on the left is a very standard 4-ply sock yarn (Regia, so it’s 75% wool 25% nylon):IMG_0755Do you see that the twist is opposite? If you crochet, you may experience what I’m experiencing, since most knitting yarn is plied with S-twist and the hooking motion untwists the plies. If you spin your own yarn and crochet, you would CHOOSE to create it by spinning the singles S and plying Z. I always do the opposite when I spin yarn for myself.

It never occurs to me to look at twist direction when I buy yarn. Maybe I should look more carefully, especially at small, local producers. I often look at twist ANGLE (tighter twist generally makes sproingier yarn) but never at twist DIRECTION.

This yarn is also slightly fatter than standard sock yarn, but not a lot. I’m still knitting on my usual 2.0 mm needles.


You may also be able to tell that the Toots yarn is livelier than the Regia. I love this – it makes the resulting fabric so different (it reminds me of Leaflet, actually) – but it can be taxing to knit. The Regia yarn is flaccid by comparison.

I know these socks will be warm. S1’s new gloves, which are knit from Julia (50% wool 25% alpaca 25% mohair), are so warm that her hands sweat if she keeps them in her pockets on a cold day. I am looking forward to WEARING these socks, but man, the knitting is slow.IMG_0748It’s also very hard to see the stitches. I’m not sure I’ve ever used such a dark yarn before. I had a devil of a time picking up the gusset stitches. You can’t see the pattern stitches very well, either, which makes me wonder if I should have gone with an even more simple sock, but so be it.

I’m slightly concerned that without nylon, these socks may not wear well (especially after my Hedgerow Socks, made of another small mill 50/50 wool/mohair blend, popped holes after just a few wearings). One of the main reasons to ply yarn is to strengthen it. If I weaken the yarn in the process of knitting it, I may have problems later. But there’s nothing to do but go forward and find out.

If these fail, at least Steven will know to do something different with his ball of the same yarn.

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