Monday, January 22, 2007

Yarn weights - a question

While working on the Shoulder Shawl in Cherry Leaf Pattern, I have been puzzling over page 176 - yarn weights. How do the determiners determine whether a yarn is superfine - #1, or fine - #2?

The most puzzling is why a hand-dyed 20/2 silk is a #1, while a 20/2 hand-dyed silk is a #2.

I know different fibers weight different amounts, so you can't go entirely by yards per gram, but Alpaca with a Twist Fino is an alpaca/silk blend at 875 yds/100 g. Kidsilk Haze is a mohair/silk blend and has 916 yds/100g. One is classed as a 1, the other as a 2.

I guess it's the mohair blend classifications that are confusing me the most. They look so much smaller than the rest of the #2 yarns, and have more yards per gram than some of the #1 yarns, and it seems like they should be interchangeable without much change in gauge with a #1, especially in openwork like lace. But substituting a #2 sock yarn for Kidsilk Haze just seems plain wrong, weight-wise as well as several other ways.

What are your thoughts on this?


Catherine said...

The halo that mohair yarns have counts in their thickness...those airy fibers will fill in the areas between lace stitches and if you don't take the halo into account to determine thickness, your stitches will be too tight and the lace might not show through. As to most sock yarns I've used, well, they would be more of the "3" in VLT. I know Jojoland (listed as a 2) touts their Melody yarn as a sock yarn, but it's on the thicker end of the 2s listed, and as a sock yarn seems thinner than most. Lastly, I think if you really liked either a 1 or 2 yarn but it was in the "wrong" category, you could easily use it with a needle size change. Just swatch to see you get the fabic you like. These laceweights are close enough to be that versatile! Maybe not as a one-to-one interchange, but with a needle change, no problem. That's why the 20/2 silk works as both a 1 and a 2. Many of the patterns would adapt to much thicker yarns even, by increasing needles size even more, and using fewer repeats so the overall size was OK.

Anni said...

I find yarn classifications confusing. Here in England we have lace or 2ply and 4ply yarns. I've got 2ply lace weight yarns from different manufacturers and they vary so much in thickness.

Beth S. said...

Don't get me started on this question. The whole classification system is flawed and pointless.

Incidentally, I really wish that they had stuck to commercial yarns. I'm a spinner and I can appreciate the value of a gorgeous handspun, but you can't knit an exact replica of half the shawls in this book.

Louisa said...

I think that going by "ply" classifications may have worked when there were only a few yarn manufacturers and they were making yarns of a specific size so that 2-ply or 4-ply had some meaning. These days with all the fancy yarns available from so many companies, it's a lot more difficult to classify them! To me as a spinner, "ply" doesn't mean size but whether there are 2 or however many "plies". This is what in some countries is called "folding" - 2 or more single strands twisted together in the opposite direction to create a heavier yarn. I do like the standardized size/number system that pattern designers are beginning to use, but it's obviously still somewhat subjective. At least it gives you a starting point to start swatching from.

ruthee said...

I agree...thank you for posting this question.

Sande Francis said...

A response to Beth's comment - why would you want to knit an exact replica of anything in any book? Isn't that the whole point of handspinning and handknitting? To make something that is NOT identical to every other thing that everyone else has? As the French say, "Vive la difference!"