Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spinning math

I've been sampling for the gansey.  This Coopworth was beautifully prepped, and it spins like a dream.  It's definitely a coarser fiber (I'm not sure of the micron count, but I wouldn't wear this next to my skin), but it will make a great woolly sweater, I think.  (The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook says that the typical micron count for Coopworth is in the 30-39 micron count range - that seems about right.)

In spite of the fact that ganseys were traditionally knitted in a tightly-spun 5-ply (at something like 7 stitches to the inch, if I remember correctly), I decided that a three-ply was more realistic.  I also rather thought I'd lean towards a less-tightly-spun yarn, given that my very warm husband would like to be able to wear it once in a while, and a coat of woolen armor doesn't work so well down here in SoCal.  That said, I also wanted to be sure that my assumptions were correct, so I decided to start with two samples: a woollen-spun three-ply, and a worsted-spun three ply.

Here's the woollen-spun one.
This was spun using a long backwards draw, keeping my front hand still (managing the twist only slightly), and pulling the fiber back, letting the twist do most of the drafting work.

Here's the worsted-spun yarn.
This was spun using a short forward draw, keeping my back hand (my fiber hand) still, while pulling fiber out of the fiber supply and smoothing the twist into it with my front hand.

Here's my sample card (sorry for the PhotoBooth photo - it was this or nothing).  For each sample, the right-most one is the singles, middle is two-ply, left-most is three-ply; the worsted-spun is on the left, the woollen-spun on the right.
You can really see the difference there between them - the one on the right is much puffier and less compacted than the one on the left.  It also feels better; I think this particular kind of wool wants to be spun with some air in it - the worsted-spun sample feels a bit wire-y to me (any other Coopworth spinners out there who can tell me their experience?).

The numbers are rather interesting, too.  Both of these yarns came out at 13 wpi (wraps per inch), so between a sport-weight and worsted-weight yarn - exactly what I wanted for this sweater.  The stats on the woollen spun yarn (if I did my math right, and if my niddy-noddy really does give me one-yard loops) are as follows.  I spun 56 yards, which weigh 19g or 5/8oz.  That works out to 1424 yards/lb for the grist of this yarn.  The worsted spun yarn came out at 32 yards and 12g or 3/8oz, which works out to 1344 yds/lb. 

I'm planning to knit these each into a little sample before making the final call on spinning type, but at the moment I'm leaning towards the woollen-spun yarn for a couple of reasons.  First, it's lighter (as I mentioned above), so with luck it'll make a more wearable sweater.  Second, it's softer (so again, more wearable).  Third, I spin woollen faster than I spin worsted (which means that I might have a chance at finishing this sweater in this lifetime).  And finally, looking at that yardage/pound calculation, the woollen spun yarn maximizes what I've got.  (It actually just occurred to me this very minute that this gives me a rough estimate of how many yards I should end up with, if I know how much fiber I have by weight! - Yes, I'm slow, hush. - I need to weigh to be sure, but I think I have a titch under two pounds, which puts me at somewhere around, to lowball it, 2500 yards, which should be enough, right?)(Right?)

OK, I couldn't stand it and went to weight it all (I'm home working today with an erstwhile-sick kid), and the verdict is: 39 oz.  That's about 3400 yards, right?  If so, I'm in like Flynn.  (On the other hand, if my math skillz aren't as good as I think they are, it could all be bad.  If one of you sees that I'm math challenged, could you let me down gently?)


Lynne said...

All this spinning talk is doing my head in! I'm sure you'll figure it all out and Eagle Man will have a stunning and wearable sweater.

I hope your daughter is feeling better soon. Tell her your friend in Australia is sending get well wishes (and virtual spring sunshine) her way!

Wool Enough said...

The math looks good to me. And it makes sense that you would get more mileage spinning woolen cuz each yard has more air and less fiber than worsted.

Coopworth was the first fiber I spun on my minispinner, so it's difficult to analyze. I was a total espinner klutz at the time (still am, heh). But I do remember that the fiber insisted on being fluffy yarn. There was just no way it could be spun tight.

Anonymous said...

3-ply and woolen all the way for this gansy! Good job sampling and figuring the maths. Whoo-hoo, you've set out on the gansy journey.
Hope daughter springs back on her feet quickly.

Jane said...

No help at all for the maths, making my brain ache at this time of the morning, but I sure hope you have enough. Get well to your little one

Brandi said...

Your math seems to be correct and I love the woollen spun sample. In my reading I read that woollen is actually warmer than worsted due to the trapped air in the spinning adding insulation. I don't know how true that is but I thought maybe it might come into play when you mentioned that your hubs is hot-natured and you are in SO-CAL. Worsted is denser and bit wirey in coopworth fiber. I have spun it both ways(I love coopworth). I actually did a blog post on this very fiber this week. Check it out if your interested.

Carrie#K said...

The maths work out to about that for me on the oz and yardage so that's a good sign! A specially spun and knit sweater. /sigh

It doesn't get much better than that.

twinsetellen said...

You know me, I love the woolen. The swatches will tell the tale, though. Pick your favorite gansey motif for the swatch - that is the one you want the yarn to play best with.

At that gauge, you are in very good shape with yardage, even for Rick!

Anonymous said...

Curious - did you wash your samples? That can make a pretty dramatic difference in my spinning.

Beverly near Yosemite

EGunn said...

Interesting sampling! I wish I could say I were anything like that thorough when starting out on a project. I liked spinning Coopworth, but I spun it before I had much experience, so I can't say what it should be. Light and airy sounds good to me.

What a difference it makes to spin worsted vs. woolen! It's funny; I use a backward long draw, too, but my yarn tends to lean worsted-like, and definitely dense. I've had to work hard to lighten it up a bit. Or maybe I was just adding too much twist, who knows!

RobinH said...

Brandi's got a good point. Air is a very effective insulator. I've got a poofy cabled sweater that was knit on #7 needles in a light worsted, and I thought it would come out pretty lightweight... which it did. And still so warm I need to wait for colder weather to get it out.

If it helps, my gansey was 6.7 st/in on #2 needles for a 48" chest, and about ten rows to the inch row gauge. I think it took about 2200 yards. So if you really get 3400 yards, you should be in good shape. And that wasn't a terribly dense fabric- I was trying to lighten up the sweater some as well.

Gwen said...

A Grand Project! The sampling and figuring are so much fun.

(can you add a bunch of holes down the sides and call it a seam detail?)

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