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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blue Waffles With a Side of Yarn Comparisons

bluewafflesdone

I finished my blue waffle socks! Oh, and for everyone who was wondering where I got my sock blockers the other day, I got them from The Loopy Ewe. Aren't they cute? These socks are made from my 3 ply GCNI/Mohair blend that I handdyed and then handspun. I knit them on US 2's (2.75mm) using the stitch pattern from the Blueberry Waffle Socks, but adjusted it to my gauge. As you can see, I did the foot of the sock in stockinette because I didn't want to have the dreaded Waffle Foot Disease (I'm really hoping that this disease doesn't exist and that no one has lost a loved one to it right about now).

One of the things I wanted to do with this yarn was compare it to some 2 ply yarn I spun from the same batch of roving. Here is a close up of the sock knit from the 2 ply - I've tried to photograph the stockinette area for comparison:

2 ply stockinette


And here is a close up of the stockinette area from the blue waffles:

3 ply stockinette


As far as yarn sizes go, both the 2 ply and the 3 ply yarns average 14 wpi. This surprised me but when you measure wpi, you don't overlap your wraps and while the 3 ply is a firm, round yarn, the 2 ply is fluffier. Despite being the same size yarns, I knit the 2 ply on US 1's (2.25 mm) and got 8 stitches per inch and I knit the 3 ply on US 2's (2.75 mm) and got 7 spi. I think part of this is due to the fluffier nature of the 2 ply, but the main reason can be seen when you look at the close ups of the stitches.

In both pictures, the toe of the socks are up near the top of the picture, so when you look at the stitches, the V's they form are right side up. If you look at the V's the stitches make in the 2 ply (the pinker sock), the arms of the V pull apart some. To compensate for this I had to use a smaller needle, but you can still see that the individual stitches tend to open up. When you look at the V's of the stitches in the 3 ply sock, the V's pull in towards the center of each stitch, filling in that space better. Just by looking at it with your eye, it's not a hugely obvious difference, but as far as the socks go, it meant the difference of 0.5 mm needle size (in needles this small, that's a big jump) and getting one fewer stitch per inch in the 3 ply. This meant that while there isn't a big difference in the thickness of the socks (remember, the yarns are essentially the same size), the 3 ply sock used less yardage and took less time for me to knit.

Now some of you will argue that it took longer to spin, but I don't think that's necessarily true. You have to spin all your singles before you can ply. If you have 6 ounces of fiber, spinning 2 bobbins of singles isn't going to take less time than spinning 3 bobbins of singles, assuming you spin the singles the same weight. I was spinning for socks so I spun my singles the same weight. Plying a 3 ply yarn will actually take less time than plying a 2 ply because your yardage is going to be slightly less. And as the socks prove, the 3 ply yarn makes a substantial fabric on larger needles, resulting in fewer stitches per inch in the finished knitting.

So, my conclusions are that the "experts" aren't making it up when they say that your stitches look fuller and you need less yarn for knitting with a 3 ply than you do in a 2 ply. And just in case your eyes haven't glazed over yet and you haven't curled up under your desk in the fetal position, I'll throw one more thing at you - 2 ply, because it does open up within the stitch, is exactly what you want to knit lace with. 2 ply is also supposed to be great for weaving because it isn't perfectly round and the yarns can lock together in the woven fabric better.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Vanessa said...

Very Interesting! I love all the details and explanations you bring forth - comparisons and all. So much to learn. I do not think we will ever know everything about knitting - constantly a learning and evolving experience! Thanks Melanie :)

8:08 AM  
Blogger Gammy aka Peggy said...

Thanks for testing out the 2 ply/3 ply thing. As a relatively new spinner I am amazed that anyone is able to spin thin enough to make a 3 ply sock yarn period. Hopefully, I'll get there.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

You really do dye the most beautiful colors. Nice job, and thanks for the quick tutorial!

9:02 AM  
Blogger pacalaga said...

Thanks, that was interesting! I'm not up to spinning sock-weight yarn yet (I'm still at the oh-I-meant-to-spin-novelty-yarn stage) but I'm filing all these things away for future reference!

9:42 AM  
Blogger PurlingPirate said...

Wow! Quite and impressive comparison. I'll say this much, you dye and spin me some yarn, I'll take it! Or better yet, just send me the finished socks. They're beautiful!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Connie Peterson said...

Your spinning is amazing! I have been spinning for 34 years and have yet to make a good, consistant 'sock' yarn! I'm working on it, though. Perhaps someday I can sort-of catch up to your skill! (My skill is TEACHING and watching others out class me!)

I am able to watch the amazing Mystery Stole some more this week - Joy is here at MY house (but picking apples right now!)

Blessings

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing these details about the 2-ply vs 3-ply yarn and spinning and sock and lace. I love learning all of this.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Annalea said...

One other thing that really appeals to me about a 3-ply vs a 2-ply: with a 3 play, you can navajo ply and use up every last bit of singles. ;o)

Those are lovely socks, and lovely yarn!

2:02 PM  

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