Sunday, May 1, 2022



What is quality?

Most people take the word quality to mean *good* quality, not bad.  But the word 'quality' isn't inherently good or bad.

It's always a good idea to choose a yarn suitable for the purpose of the intended cloth.  Yarn all by itself isn't good or bad - it just has built in characteristics that make it a good or bad choice for what you want to make.

The yarn going into the Leclerc right now is the right hand one in the photo.  It's finer, smoother, stronger than the yarn on the left.  Does that make it a better quality?  Not really.  The difference in the fibres used, how they have been prepared for and spun will make a big difference in how they behave but also?  In the quality of cloth they will make.  Will one be good and the other bad?  No.  They will just be different.  They will each be 'better' AND 'worse' at some things than the other.

Neither of the yarns is 'cheap'.  They are not typically found in most knitting yarn shops because they are not knitting yarns.

They are *weaving* yarns.  That doesn't mean you can't knit with them, just that they have been engineered to be used in a loom.  They have less elasticity than the 'usual' knitting yarn.  They are two ply, not 3, which for many years had been the standard for knitting yarns (not so much lately).  

Each of the above yarns will create a lovely fabric if the weaver works *with* the inherent characteristics, not against them.

So the one on the left was built with the intention that it be fulled.  The one on the right, while it *can* full, was not the primary feature.  The one on the left is loftier, hairier, and weaker than the one on the right.  The one on the left can be used as warp, but the one on the right is a lot stronger.  The one on the left will make a warmer cloth, the one on the right a cooler one - because it has less trapped air to act as insulation.

Learning how to assess the qualities of the yarn and use it appropriately is the focus on my presentation A Good Yarn.  Sign up for School of Sweetgeorgia and catch the live lecture on Wednesday, May 4 or view it later because it will be recorded.

The cloth in the photo above is the left hand quality - Harrisville.  I wrote about it for Handwoven a few years ago.  It can make a nice blanket, shawl or outer garment quality of woolen cloth.  The yarn on the right is GIST's Array, a worsted yarn.  I'm going to start weaving my first sample with it today.  I'm expecting it to make a nice garment type of cloth.  It's finer, more tightly spun, will withstand abrasion better than the Harrisville.  And I think with a good hard press as part of the wet finishing process, it might even feel quite nice against the skin.  But only a sample will tell me that for sure.

1 comment:

agres said...

I am a hand spinner. I spin the yarns that I knit and the yarns that I weave, and they are different. I started spinning because the old English mills producing "gansey yarn" (long wool, worsted spun at ~9 tpi and 5-ply so the final yarn was ~1,000 ypp) were going out of business, and I did not like new gansey yarns. The old yarns and my hand spun could be easily hand knit in to weatherproof garments, that allow one to flop down in the snow and take a nap. I liked spinning so much that I spun extra yarn, so I bought a loom. It turns out that for weaving, I like fine woolen spun yarns S twist warp and Z twist weft. The yarns that I like are easier to spin than to find in retail.

I am older and slower now, so it takes me a week to spin the yarn for a good gansey that will keep me warm when we go sailing, that takes me a couple of weeks to knit.