Technically, I shouldn’t be messing around with swatches for February Lady yet, but at some point spinning an endless supply of singles wears on a knitter (If by “wears on” you understand that at some point this morning I thought that I should rather shovel my front walk with my bare left elbow while singing showtunes than spin singles for another moment) and I thought I might break up the tedium by doing a tiny bit of plying and swatching – just so I could at least come back to the single spinning with the shape and promise of things to come firmly in mind. I therefore engaged in the following motivational exercise.

I decided I would ply, set and swatch the four options, the way I saw them. I would make a two ply, a three ply, a four ply and a four ply cabled yarn. First up… two ply.


Nice eh? Looked good in the swatch too…


but I’ve rejected it entirely. It’s pretty as well as nice and bouncy and elastic, but I don’t like the idea of only two colours being present at once… I think it’s going to make the differences between skeins too great as the sweater goes on – and it isn’t anywhere near an aran weight. Light worsted maybe.

Then there’s the cabled yarn. The singles are spun, then plied with extra twist, then that strand is plied against itself.


It’s a seriously sexy yarn. It looks to me almost like it’s beaded, with the colours well mingled, and frankly, I just have a thing for cabled yarns. It too is elastic and charming, but it’s heavier than I was hoping for (nudging towards a chunky, just past aran) and the swatch settled me against it.


Cabled yarns make really smooth stockinette and really, really strong yarn. The bumps on the yarn fit together like interlocking driveway bricks, creating a surface with less diversity than that of yarn plied once, but the February Lady sweater is lace and garter, and you can see from that cast on edge that the bumpiness of garter in cabled yarns is made even bumpier by purl bumps, and I don’t think I like it. I found this yarn to be rather dense as well, which is a peril of cabled yarns – at least in my experience, where the slightest heavy handed moment results in a yarn that is the fibre equivalent of lead. Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use. In addition, the individual colours present in the plies are almost blended too much for me in this project, I think it resembles a heathered yarn. Nope. This yarn got rejected, and it also wiped out the possibility of trying a four ply, unless the three ply really sucked.


The three ply is – as almost all yarns that have more than two plies are, very smooth, consistent looking, round and elastic. This three ply is downright cushy and bouncy. I like that there are three options for colour at a time, which means that there’s a greater chance that the individual skeins will have at least one ply in common now and again, and frankly, I think it’s pretty. Really pretty.


The swatch was pretty too. Nice stitch definition, does nice things with the colours, and darn it if when I measured, I wasn’t getting exactly 18 stitches to 10cm… the stated gauge for the sweater. Not almost 18, not 18 if I fudged, not 18 if I blocked, not 18 if I smooshed it a little against the ruler…. 18. A good, honest 18 that doesn’t have on a low cut shirt, and fake ID in it’s pocket on a Friday night. 18.

It’s settled. I’m doing a three ply. You know, as soon as I finish the singles. (Mostly.)

192 thoughts on “Swatch-o-rama

  1. but now that you have a plan, you can spin some, ply some, and even knit some as you go… like the unspoken-of gansey for a certain someone?
    (am I really first today?)

  2. Congrats on finding THE yarn so quickly! I usually have to go to half a doozen (yes a typo, but it works here) different needle sizes to find THE one.
    It’s gonna be bee-yew-tiful

  3. The idea that a yarn could possibly want to carry a fake ID to entice you to use it at a certain stitch count just carries stash-enabling to a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL. Did yarn need any more excuses to sweet-talk us? We are all doooooomed.
    Congratulations on the exact gauge spinning! ::kneels and bows::

  4. That is a gorgeous colour combo, and it has to be kismet that 3 is your lucky number (ply). Throw down whatever else you are doing and start February now!!!

  5. The colors really jumped up and down waving their arms in the 3-ply, too. I like it. Can’t wait to get my new spinning wheel so I can spin some lighter singles for some 3-ply yarn.

  6. I have to admire your writing…not everyone can make an ancient craft seem as if it was invented yesterday. The February lady sweater is on my wish list too.. but I think I will just head to the nearest yarn shop and pick out a nice colour!

  7. Hi Steph, Just a thank-you for the info in “never not knitting” Especially to-days, I never knew about a “lifeline” but boy could I have used them more than once!

  8. Just wanted to let you know I am planning a little stash cull tomorrow. Thanks for the nudge in the page-a-day calendar.

  9. I like the 3-ply best also. As for the swatch – I see you used my method of: cast on 10 stitches, knit three rows, measure gauge.
    (which, if you are like me will be followed by: begin actual project, halfway thru measure project gauge. Become mystified as to why swatch gauge and project gauge bear no resemblence to each other. Decide I mis-wrote the numbers; or perhaps am reading the wrong tiny-scrap-of-paper-where-I-write-all-important-things. Blithely carry on knitting.)

  10. :::picturing the elbow shoveling, and hearing a Merman-esque “You’ll be swell! You’ll be great! gonna have the whole world on a plate!”:::

  11. Very useful exercise and one that I’ll borrow, thank you! Is that your Polworth from Rovings? I’m spinning a similar colorway (brick?) and like my 3-ply as well. I decided for my project the colors can’t mingle, so I chain plied it; therefore didn’t test other options. But you’ve convinced me I should do that in the future.

  12. I like it! That lighter strand stands out better in the 3-ply, and seems to variegate the whole thing up.
    If variegate is indeed a word, that is.

  13. I’m taking bets that you will ply enough 3-ply and start knitting well before you finish spinning. I just think you won’t be able to stay away from that gorgeous 3-ply you made.

  14. So… in spite of the lack of fake ID… do we TRUST this gauge, or do we regard it with suspicion and superstition, as something too good to be true? It certainly LOOKS almost too good to be true.

  15. …why do I now have a deep and abiding fear that you will knit the whole sweater and it will be perfect, then you will wet block it and totally lose gauge. Gahh!
    I want to second your love of cabled yarns, they look like a chain, or stranded beads. Love them!

  16. Thank you so much for the play-by-play. As a new spinner, the breakdown was very helpful!

  17. Are those plastic needles I spy? Or coated aluminum in cahoots with your camera to trick me?

  18. Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for the photos and ply lessons.
    It boggles my mind the many choices there are, and you get to be in on the ground floor (well no sheep grazing in your back yard–are there?) So satisfying for you….I also like the 3-ply, novice that I am. Now I’m guessing that the 5-ply would be a chunkier, heavier yarn, and not the look you are going for with the February Lady sweater…Can’t wait to see the finished sweater, feel as if I was there for the birth!!!
    Happy to hear your ankle is on the mend, may your x-ray be all you “re-imagined” it would be…

  19. “Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use.”
    Ha! I tell my son something similar: always go for the smart girl. Pretty fades, my boy, but dumb is forever.

  20. Woo Hooo you go girl .It is a real treat to actually spin and ply your own yarn and have it come out as nice as this has . Wish I could do that . I’m still playing with a drop spindle and getting thick and thin yarn and as far as plying goes– oyeee haven’t even tried it yet. As far as shovelling–just wait there is more on the way, so “”they”” say

  21. I helped someone destash 3 big cakes of what looks like braided yarn, lovely deep red colour too. She didn’t have the ballband and from what I can tell they’re nearly aran or light worsted. Doyou just knit with them as usual? Woudln’t it add mor etexture to your garment because it’s got that chain look from the braided already?

  22. There’s nothing wrong with beginning the knitting while the spinning is still happening (and you know that, so you don’t need to hear it from me)
    I like the cabled yarn, maybe I’ll try it next time I’m spinning.
    I love the colors in that yarn, I’m interested to see how your FLS comes out!

  23. Two weeks and counting. Lucky for you that you only have to knit an itty bitty sweater.

  24. The 2-ply and cabled yarns are very nice, but the 3-ply? The 3-ply is drop-dead gorgeous! So is the swatch. I can’t wait to see February Lady in this. She’s on my list of things to make, but sadly, she’s in line behind a shawl for a pregnant friend and my 2nd sock, both about half done.

  25. Clearly the use of show tunes for your work chantey came to mind because your subconscious read it as “Original Cast[on]”
    I like Alta’s idea. What other songs would be appropriate for a project you’re itching to start? “Tonight?”

  26. I think the 3 ply is lovely, and I can’t wait to follow your progress on the FLS. Perhaps I will join in. but not with hand spun.

  27. I accept your decision for the three ply. It’s beautiful. BUT- I think that the cabled yarn is the most beautiful thing my eyes have ever seen. So beautiful! Great spinning on all three counts!

  28. Wow you are the first person outside Oz that I know of who likes cabled yarn. Cabled yarn (Paton’s Totem) is the “good” yarn in Oz. Great stitch definition and you never get that funky barley twist look to stocking stitch.
    The three ply looks grand. Dare I ask if it has been washed?

  29. That you could call a yarn seriously sexy and just walk away… Isn’t that a bit of a tease? I mean, I know you found your of-gague perfect option right next door, and it’s all the same fibre really when one gets down to brass tacks, but I just fear the whispers in the stash: [in an exotic Peruvian voice] “Oooh, no! She called you sexy?! Your days are numbered, my friend…”
    Because you know: your stash not only talks to you. It also talks about you when your back is turned.

  30. Oh, this was very interesting, and I think you made the right choice. And just go knit, for cryin’ out loud! You know you want to!

  31. thinkin too much. Whatever happened to the seat of your pants? You didn’t want this to actually fit, did you

  32. Thanks for walking us through the decision process. Especially the no-go on the cabled yarn with the hint to look at the cast on edge and envision the garter. I learned a lot!

  33. I agree the last swatch is a winner! I have seen many FLS and the one’s I like the most are done in yarn that looks kettle dyed. The varigated is too busy and the solid is too flat looking. Dream In Color Classy is my favorite from my own FLS, the 3 done in my knitting groun Kint Nutz of West Hartford and thos I saw on Ravelry.

  34. “and darn it if when I measured, I wasn’t getting exactly 18 stitches to 10cm… the stated gauge for the sweater”
    Am i the only person that is terrified by this little snippet!!??
    Much Love,
    One who’s swatch lies frequently

  35. The yarn looks wonderful. This post contains one of my favorite quotes from you.
    “Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use.”
    I may need a shirt that says this.

    I hadn’t ever thought of doing a cabled ply. I have learned a new technique. Thank you so much.
    Also, I totally concur with the three-ply decision. Spin! spin like the wind!

  37. I’ve been working on a February Lady sweater on and off for about a month using Cascade 220 superwash. I LOVE the pattern so much and can’t wait to finish it. Can’t wait to see how yours comes out as well.
    I started spinning last year but being that I’ve been attempting to teach myself from books, I’m nowhere near good enough to spin a sweater’s worth of wool in a consistent thickness. Yours is BEAUTIFUL. The 3-ply is mouth-wateringly beautiful. I’m so jealous… your Feb. Lady will be stunning in that yarn!!

  38. Lovely yarns. I was a spinner 25 years ago. Sold both my wheels 8 years ago. Seeing the nice color and ply combinations makes me somewhat nostalgic.
    I am just pleased there are so many nice yarns out there for those of us that are former spinners. If not for that, I fear I’d be hearing the plaintive call of a homeless spinning wheel.

  39. Wow- fascinating- I’m not a spinner, so it never really lodged in my brain how very different the same wool can look depending on how it’s spun. Or how a different ‘spin’ might be more or less appropriate for a particular project. Thanks so much for the lesson! And the yarn looks just beautiful.

  40. I love that 3-ply! The others were fine, but your final choice is delicious. (I like cabled yarns, too, but I think it killed the character of the fiber on this one.) Can’t wait to see it knitted up!

  41. Yep…I like the 3-ply. More importantly, I got the affirmation that what I do, when I check out how a yarn looks in the swatch, is the “correct” thing to do! ok….I’m of the opinion that when I want to knit something, that two opinions on a dilemma make it the correct opinion. hee hee
    lurvely color.

  42. I am so glad I have somewhere to go when I am feeling frustrated with my knitting and spinning that makes me smile and giggle and happy to go back and pick it all up again. I am not alone in my madness. Thank you.
    BTW, the 3 ply is beautiful.

  43. These are such great posts. You have so much to teach about spinning and the content of yarn. I’ve not tried a 3-ply, but will get around to it eventually, hoping, I’m sure, that they’ll look as nice as yours.

  44. Lovely yarn. This sweater is going to be spectactular.
    Lisa, no, of course the yarn is not trustworthy. Has not Stephanie told us that Swatches Lie? Maybe it has a *really good* fake ID, and though it is very smooth, goodlooking and plausible, it is taking Stephanie for a ride.
    Should be great fun for The Blog to watch!

  45. I was all for the cabled yarn. Nice solid character. A good and beautiful shield against winter. But as I read your post, I recognized that that’s not what you’re looking for. And then the picture of the 3-ply appeared. And my heart was lost. Without even touching and feeling it, I can tell it’s bouncy, resilient, full of the joi de vivre that is l’entemps. (“spring”, n’est ce pas? sorry. really bad French.) Gorgeous gorgeous yarn. Beautiful work. Thank you for sharing!

  46. I wonder how long it would take me to learn to use my spindle, and become good enough to spin yarn as lovely as that!? Looooong time, I think. Seriously gorgeous colours in your swatches. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Ohhhh yeahhhh….that three-ply is sexy. Seriously. The others were ‘meh’ but that one is more ‘wowzers’. It’s gonna turn into a seriously great sweater when it all grows up into three-ply.

  48. I love the walk-through too and really wish I was a spinner after that…
    I loved that cabled 3-ply but you made the right choice. Exactly to gauge??- tipping my hat to you!

  49. I completely concur with your choice, not that that matters in the slightest. You know infinitely more than I about yarn and how it behaves. “…something pretty but dense is of limited use…” Heh!

  50. Given that you (and The Blog, for that matter) already know (in great detail) my stance on swatching (and the results thereof)I have to say that this time (maybe) it might have been a wise idea (until it comes back to bite you).

  51. Looks good. I can’t believe you getting exact gauge. It’s fate. That yarn is meant to be the FLS.

  52. Is the 3-ply a Navajo 3-ply or three plies coming off 3 bobbins?
    I totally love the reds and browns.

  53. so are your swatches really that teeny? is that enough to tell if 18 is really 18, or just has a really good fake id?

  54. I’m not a spinner. I tried it, and decided the fleece deserved better than me. But I find your creative process fascinating, and as a knitter, I have to say I’d be thrilled to take that cabled yarn off your hands, even though I, too, prefer appearance of the 3 ply. Gorgeous stuff…. great colors, and it all makes me want to touch it and work it.

  55. That’s fascinating…I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about spinning. Can’t wait to see where this thing goes…
    Oh, and the yarn is beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

  56. It’s so nice to see the exact same colors and fibers comingled in such different ply configurations. Much easier to imagine how commercially spun yarn might knit up after seeing a demo like this….

  57. It’s gorgeous; I’d go with the 3-ply too. But be careful!! Wash and block your swatch to make sure the gauge is still honest. Otherwise, when you wash and block your perfect gauge sweater, you may get a horrible surprise….. Besides, you have time to do that- you still have singles to spin.

  58. I really do love the two-ply, but that three-ply is downright wonderful. Great choice. I can’t wait to see the sweater done in this yarn (not that I’m pressuring you here.)

  59. Ooh nice! That swatch would certainly help motivate me to continue spinning/plying, if of course I knew how….

  60. Song suggestion: given the gorgeousness of the three-ply, the spot on gauge check, sweater name, and piggy-backing on Rams’ suggestion, how about “Luck be a Lady Tonight”?

  61. Thanks for those pictures and descriptions of the yarns! I’m a new spinner and didn’t know what this cabled yarn was that I keep hearing about, or why do a 3-ply when you can do just 2 and be done with it. And now I have a crush on your 3-ply.

  62. I know I’m crazy for saying this, but isn’t it more important that it’s 18 when it’s blocked? Not 18 now? Especially since it’s handspun, it might change…cause it’s like that.

  63. Love how the 3-ply turned out. It will make a right pur-tee sweater! I have loved my own FLS and can’t wait to see yours. Best wishes for a nice weekend.

  64. and maybe if you have any extra of that sexy pretty yarn you made, you could give it to tina. heard she’s begging! lol baaaaaaa

  65. I find that when I turned 18, I wore the low cut shirt, but I didn’t have the fake ID. Always good to know that somewhere, there’s going to be a good 18. Somewhere.

  66. I like seeing the different yarn types swatched up and have to say that the cabled yarn looks like it would make a good structural helmet at that gauge! Just the thing for biking or fighting gangs in the streets.

  67. I love the 3 ply! I find it too is my favorite when spinning. Though when I’m plying I have to make sure I have time to finish the bobbin, I can’t just wind off the 3 ply like I can the 2 ply at the drop of a hat.
    Still can’t wait to see the sweater in person!

  68. Neato! Spinning is in my future. Not today or tomorrow but somewhere out there in front of me.

  69. Figured that was the conclusion you would come to about the cabled yarn. It has its moments, but drape isn’t one of them.
    Your 3 looks lovely.
    You know, if you spun a bit finer you could do a 6-ply, or even a twelver. Ever see Maratona?

  70. That is some of the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to see how it transforms into a sweater.

  71. No, no, I think you need to spin a buncha other stuff and make a buncha other swatches and write a buncha other posts about it. No really.
    I’m loving the whole entertainment factor!

  72. I love 3 ply. I’m working on one, too. I guess I’m more a Spinner-knitter than a Knitter-spinner, so thanks for the swatch process pictures, ’cause I never would have bothered, and they are very informative!
    Pretty, but dense….hahahaha!

  73. Now you’ve gone and made me grow up after happily spinning and using one-ply forever! They’re all beautiful, but agree about the three. WOW off to figure out how to do that

  74. Sigh. I am just learning to spin, and all my yarns are chunky weight. I am told “enjoy that beginner yarn now, you’ll never get it again” but I am impatient to get the lovely looking singles you obtain!! Gorgeous!!! If I three plied my stuff it would have to be knit on size 20 needles (if such a size existed, my set only goes up to 17~)

  75. The three ply is perfect. It really shows the colors beautifully. I went stash diving for February Lady earlier this month but without success. You are inspiring me toward my first handspun sweater.

  76. very nice yarn in all 3 versions. but the 3 ply being exactly the right weight is a sign, don’t you think?

  77. As much as I love a good squishy 2 ply that 3 looks gorgeous.
    I’ve not worked with cabled yarn before. Is this something that is available commercially or only with handspun?

  78. Love the three-ply (also the way you managed to take a break from those singles without shovelling the drive), and the comment on all things pretty and dense. Once more, knitting and life come together like a venn diagram…

  79. I like the choices, and I like your final choice too–I was excitedly swatching today too and started a great sweater! I think my swatch may become a secret inside pocket.

  80. Wow! Not very artistic or articulate of me…but wow is what came to mind. I love the three ply and it will make an amazing February Lady. But I have to admit I like the two ply almost as much (ok colors are a little more me). Great work and one day I will join the spinning ranks!!

  81. What fibercrone said – are you planning to do a Navajo ply or work from 3 separate bobbins? Navajo plying is one of my all-time favorite things to do; so relaxing and meditative. And it makes the yarn look so good.

  82. Stephanie, I love all the different yarns. I am really interested in the cabled yarn. I have looked on you-tube to see it demonstrated but no luck. I am wondering how you ply it against itself. You can’t over twist the whole bobbin and start in the middle, so it must be something like Navajo plying. Could you explain? Thanks Ruth

  83. Thanks so much for the plying and the pictures. I got some Polworth from Rovings for Christmas and have been spinning, and spinning and ah spinning and your right that bag is not getting emptier. Now it’s narrowed down to 2-ply or 3-ply but if I Navajo plyed I could keep the stripes better Yep narrowed down the choices.

  84. Thanks for weaving us through all those subtleties of color and texture, drapery and more, with you. Who knew? [what decisions a spinner makes, not being one – yet.] And what a nice carrot for those of us on the fence.

  85. No matter how you slice, dice, chop, cut, or any other weird metaphor all those yarns were gorgeous. I think you are going to have a beautiful sweater.

  86. Very informative for the non-spinning knitter. Helps me understand some of the yarns I’m knitting better. Will now pay more attention.
    Ummm, so how much of the February Lady have you knit? Umm, just askin’….

  87. Wow…that cabled yarn is sexy indeed! 3 ply looks really good too! Wish I had your spinning skills (well, actually, I wish ANY spinning skills really lol).

  88. not about the yarn so much
    it is lovely-i have been on you tube
    funny funny bright lady are you

  89. Ooh, you are right, I love how each of the three different colors sort of comes in and out of the stitches. Very nice, it’s so nice to see such a lovely well rounded 18 these days.

  90. The cabled yarn looks almost like rope to me, but in the right bulky knit pattern, it would be great. I agree with the 3 ply, but don’t skip the step of washing and blocking before confirming the gauge. Or not!

  91. That final three ply is truly lovely. I am also a spinner, and still consider myself a new spinner, though I’ve been at it two years. I struggle with how to make the right yarn for a particular project. Usually I spin the yarn and stash it, and the project comes later. I’m impressed at your ability to do it the other way. That takes talent, and determination. Do you have one of those gizmos that measure your yarn and tell you WPI. It’s clear plastic and it’s great for maintaining consistancy.

  92. “Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use.”
    Best line EVER.

  93. I love the three ply.
    Reading your post was just what I needed tonight. I just spent 14 hours teaching high school kids, then working a basketball game. “low cut shirt, and fake ID in it’s pocket”, and “pretty but dense” made me laugh out loud!

  94. I don’t spin and didn’t wade through the comments. Does the 3-ply allow you to start knitting before you finish the spinning and still have a consistant result? Or should I expect to see you knitting on this in the lobby/bar at Madrona?
    Of course, my Madrona sweater’s not finished and I started in November, plus planned two. I hope to only be knitting the second in the lobby.

  95. The cabled yarn has me very interested. I am surprised that you find it elastic, but I can believe it doesn’t have much drape. What would be a good use for it? I can only think of a box-shaped jacket, but obviously I don’t really have a clue.
    I have knitted Patons Totem (my second jersey about 36 years ago) I didn’t realise it was ‘cabled’, I seem to remember it quite differently.

  96. I seriously just saw Greg Kinnear talk about you on Conan, while reading your blog. Awesome!

  97. Oooh! I think all your yarns are lovely, and what a great color! I have to agree with you that Cabled yarns are too cool, but can be heavy. I tend to find that mine aren’t usually very elastic. I can certainly see why you picked out the 3-ply though. I can’t believe you got gauge the very first try on that yarn! I never get gauge! I do have to confess that I really like the 2 ply. I love the random bits of standout color, but I’m a sick woman that doesn’t mind pooling either so there you go. Happy spinning!

  98. To tell you the truth, a yarn (and as a swatch) I love the cabled yarn the most.It would make a gorgeous stockinett sweater. But then again you are right it would be just too busy for the lace pattern on the FLS… I can’t wait to see how the knitting will go…
    I heard from many sources it is a fast knitting, but then when I did a kid version (size xxs on DK yarn and 3mm needles) it seemed like a never-ending project.

  99. Your handspun is beautiful in all three versions. I think spinning is a near miracle anyway…. The February Lady will be gorgeous in the three-ply!
    However, there is another project I have been faithfully following (for years). How is Joe’s gansey coming along?

  100. The three-ply is beautiful and I think it’s a great choice. I have only ever done Navajo ply and two-ply yarns but you’ve inspired me to try a three-ply yarn next time.

  101. I do so LOVE how you think and write !!
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud every day !
    And helping me survive my teenage daughters !!
    And yes always something to learn here !!!
    Knitters Rule…. especially you Stephanie !!

  102. “pretty, but dense” … if there were a Nobel Prize for tersely accurate linguistics, you’d be a sure-fire top contender for this one. Thank you from the bottom of my language-loving heart!
    And my commendations for your thorough experimenting. As a fellow handspinner who takes the craft seriously, it’s hats off all round. Beautiful 3-ply, btw :o)

  103. I totally spit coffee on my monitor in response to your insightful statement:
    “Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use.”
    So true, so true.
    That 3-ply is truly lovely, and how awesome that you ended up with exactly the gauge you wanted. That sweater is going to be fantastic.
    So did the swatching help you have renewed vigor for making more (and more and more) singles?

  104. I agree, the 3-ply is just lovely. I’m not a big fan of two ply and though the cabled is nice it’s almost too busy but that 3-ply just ZINGS! (an elegant zing, but still).
    Beautiful work!

  105. Thanks so much for the laugh – your characterizations of a good, honest “18” are priceless and wholly quotable. Off topic: just finished a sock and cast on for second. I begin to realize the the charm of sockness. I may be hooked . . . .

  106. Should you be shoveling snow? You need to heal so you can skip from one place to another at Madrona. The three ply is definately the prettiest when swatched. The colors of the roving/yarn are fabulous. I cable-ply my middle daughter’s hair before she goes out to play sometimes. This style holds better than braids, which tend to slip out of her fine locks. Enjoy your weekend.

  107. Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone is willing to bet on how long you will be able to hold off on starting to knit the February Lady? I give you 24 hours before you cave. Maybe not even.
    It’s a great pattern and a fun knit. Heathered yarn is perfect for it. Seeing your yarn makes me want to knit a second.

  108. These posts give a fascinating look at the wool-to-sweater process–if you have time, it would be really instructive at the end to be able to see pictures (side by side) of the roving, the singles, the plied yarn, and the sweater. I’d love to see exactly how the colors from the roving play out in the sweater.
    How are you spinning the singles? (from rolags, straight from the roving…? short draw, long draw?)
    Such beautiful stuff!

  109. I saw on the twitter comments that you are doing a 2010 page a day calendar again. How can you possibly think of another 365 things to say about knitting???

  110. The sweet husband comes to the door and speaks his usual: “You’re making a lot of noise in here.” Of course, he sees that I am at the keyboard, whooping and clapping at the monitor and realizes …oh, the Yarn Harlot. Stephanie, you continually amaze and entertain me with your writing, all the while tutoring. Thank you again for the lesson.
    Also, I agree with the Kismet of Three. Fly with it.

  111. I just got net back and came to look at all you’ve done since I’ve been gone.
    I saw your beautiful peacock feathers. I had that pattern for quite awhile before I got the nerve to try it. But once I started it, it went surprisingly fast. I didn’t get to use the yarn I wanted to, but I settled for something that came out nice.
    If you would like to see my version it’s here:
    And here is the blocking:

  112. I agree with the 3-ply…it really is beautiful! I also appreciate the lesson (with pictures) of what plying is. Before when you talked about, I told my oh-so-uninterested husband, that “I must not be much of a knitter if I had no idea what she was talking about”. Now I can speak of ply with a bit more knowledge. I am still struggling to figure out the difference between weights though.

  113. Huh? I am just trying to get my swatches done for Madrona…with the yarn that was *sent to me* for my Catherine Lowe class. !!! Spinning yarn and knitting a sweater for Madrona is right out.

  114. “Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use.” Hee, hee, ho, ho! You crack me up!

  115. Oh, man – I am *in love* with that cabled yarn you made, but you are right: 3-ply it is. It’s gorgeous and just perfect for what you need it for. Thanks so much for sharing your sampling with us! You’ve inspired me (for which I also thank you). I’ve decided I *can* spin up enough yarn for a sweater for myself (and I NEVER wear ’em, but I can’t resist any longer – I’m going to start wearing sweaters, really, truly.), so I guess I’d better get my carder cranking. I’m lucky in the height/weight dept., too: 4’10” and 108 lbs, so hopefully I won’t need to spin up so much that I get discouraged by how long it takes ::fingers crossed::

  116. gorgeous. and I think it makes perfect sense to figure out how you want to make what you want to make before you make it..

  117. colors are gorgeous and all of that stuff but this…”A good, honest 18 that doesn’t have on a low cut shirt, and fake ID in it’s pocket on a Friday night. 18….a masterpiece. You should write a book.

  118. Diane at 11:15’s got your number kid. There’s nothing left to say about knitting. That well’s gone dry, that fruit’s a shrunken husk, it’s all dust and ashes. We’ve all been humoring you here, but the cat’s out of the bag. The presses are grinding down, the computer screen is blank. Too bad, but there it is. Move along. Nothing to see. Kaput. Zilch. Zip.

  119. Yeah, Rams, you’re right. It’s only our comments keeping the whole thing going anyway, right?

  120. Rams and Presbytera, you guys crack me up!
    Stephanie, this post is one great example of why you just got voted best blog in Canada. Educational, informative, making what might seem to be a dull subject not just interesting but downright fascinating, and a few good belly laughs thrown in for good measure.
    You are a genuinely gifted writer! And a good spinner, too. A good spinner who, by her skill, is an excellent missionary for the craft. It’s my next hobby, I promise, for when (a) I win the lottery so I can afford it, and (b) I win the lottery so I don’t have to work any more so I have the time. Or so I keep telling myself. Because I hear the siren song of the beautiful fiber when I see handspun as gorgeous as yours!

  121. Okay I must be a little slow… but can someone tell me what the heck a gansey is? I have never heard of one before. Please help this poor muddled Aussie gal have a clue.

  122. GORGEOUS!!!! yet one more example why you do what you do!!!! I am almost ashamed to admit that my Feb. Lady Sweater is being knit in Woolease… of course, that makes it 100% washable which in my world, right now w/ little daughter and another child on the way… a necessity!

  123. Late last night, I finally finished the ever so enjoyable ‘task’ of reading this entire blog. (I started from the beginning, as I hate to come in ‘in the middle’). I was really surprised to realize that I can comment now, and not be three (or more) years too late!! Thank you for a spectacular blog, one which has made me laugh out loud on many occasions (my roommate thinks I’m bananas).
    Quick question that’s been bothering me for a while: Is SSK the same as K2tog tbl? I can’t see any difference in them, but I just want to check…

  124. I’m so glad to see you giving examples of experimentation. So many people are afraid to launch out and give it a go, just to see what it might look like a different way. Good for you! I like your 3 ply best as well.

  125. yo my chica Stephie, i would love it if you could direct us to a video or show us how to cable ply, because that is some sexiness right there yo

  126. Oh, isn’t it nice to have a clear vision of where you are going! So much better for finishing the work needed to get to the knitting. It will be a truly lovely sweater. I hope to be able to see it at Madrona.

  127. You totally rock Stephanie! Your sweater will be beautiful!
    I am still (since Summer) put off blocking and seaming up the pieces of my first sweater – since I didn’t truly find out about gauge and blocking until after I’d finished the knitting the pieces.
    I will use you as an inspiration to plan ahead for next time. ๐Ÿ˜€

  128. Long time reader, first time commentor. First I’d like to thank you for my new joyful habit: checking your blog daily. I’m a knitter from Egypt who was touched by the magic stick of yarn and got ever since addicted. Re your FLS, I loved all three samples of yarn up here (I never tried spinning and don’t know how to). But personally I prefer the 2 ply cuz with the lace and garter I’d find 3 colors a bit – I don’t know, noisy? I mean there will be enough going on with the sweater in terms of pattern. It’s only my opnion and I hope I am not intruding or anything. I realize this is YOUR living room after all ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love Love Love every single thing you write Ms. Stephanie.

  129. “something pretty but dense is of limited use.” May I please use that phrase when giving my daughter advice on how to choose her boyfriends? ๐Ÿ™‚

  130. I’m glad you chose the three-ply – it’s far and away my favorite. And the colours are just gorgeous together. (I put that “u” in there since it seemed only polite to spell in Canadian when commenting on a Canadian blog….) (bloug?)

  131. BSG : my theory is that everyone is a Cylon. There’s no other explaination for it. How can the final five be born, grow up, grow old, possibly die & re-do it again in a human society? How could the humans never know? We know they can reproduce now. Earth had no humans. So, my theory is there are different models of cylons. Everyone is one. Starbuck? Rest my case ;-)Oh and buckle in, I think they will kill the admiral.
    You’ve inspired me to knit socks for my show, Lost. Thanks!
    Also, I plan on spinning my FLS. I had already settled on a 3 ply as well. BFL that I’ll spin then dye (color undetermined). What wool or blend are you using?
    Keep sane,

  132. I’m so ignorant about yarn technicalities (I’m the sort that just chooses by colors most of the times) that I serioulsy like this kind of explanations. Thank you!

  133. Wow! Stephanie, that 3-ply is stellar. I can’t wait to see how it knits up. I’ll be at Madrona, too, I hope to get a glimpse of it in person. All of this is really making me want to learn to spin.

  134. I really like the 3ply too. The question I have is: Are you sure you have enough to make a 3 ply?

  135. Do you ever use a blending hackle to create a more heathered yarn? I like the 3-ply as well…very much actually. But sometimes as a spinner I do not want a 3-ply but 2-ply yarn. Hence, I’ve gotten into using my drumcarder and blending hackle to create heathered rovings (not so stripey but still richly textural when spun). Cheers to you!

  136. I have this hazy memory of an example of how to count stitches in a swatch that involved a full 4″, cast off, washed, pinned out … I’m delighted to see that your real life swatches are exactly the same size as my own. ๐Ÿ™‚ That wine deep maroon merle you’re coming up with is my favorite color. Sadly, for me, I’m 5’10 and certainly not an xxs so I guess your February Lady will be safe from my thieving, wine-colored-coveting hands.

  137. I was away teaching at a knitting retreat very close to Rhinebeck over the weekend, and I am just now checking to see what you wrote.
    Love the 3 ply!!!
    By now you probably have abandoned spinning the singles, and finished the yoke of the sweater. Am I right? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Friday was also my birthday, and I want to thank you again for linking to me. What a thrill. It was a really nice birthday present.

  138. What lovely yarns. Even the ones you don’t want to use on the sweater look as if they would be wonderful in a different project.
    Um, yesterday you started describing aran, and worsted, and so on, on the “old” system. Would it be possible for you to explain that some more? I mean, it sounds as if yarns changed designations every couple of stitches. Did they change plies, as well? Or “hardness”? I don’t know- I mean, I read nice books talking about “worsted” versus ” low- twist” single ply fine, versus single ply coarse. They assume a much greater knowledge of yarn than I’ve got.
    I mean, my “native” yarn is four- ply acrylic from the seventies. It is native! My great- grandmother used it for afghans, my cousin used it for doll-topped dresses for toilet paper- which I thought were beautiful- pink and ruffly long, tiered dresses, and accessorized with little sunhats. Fancy ones had fake pearls knitted in.
    It was the biggest leap of faith to spend $12 on real wool for two hats for the boys.

  139. “as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use”
    This statement is most definitely full of WIN!!!
    Made my day ๐Ÿ™‚
    nice 3-ply btw. First time I’ve seen chain plying close up too. Purty.

  140. Stephanie, I love your play-by-play of the processes that you go through to decide color, and thickness of the yarns that you make and the clothes you make from the yarn. I so wish I had the time to learn how to spin and create my own garments – maybe it is something I can shoot for when I retire. Regardless, thanks for sharing the process with us. Oh, and the 3-ply is georgeous!

  141. How come your swatch is picture 2 is only 9 stitches? Did it still measure 10cm?
    I’ve always been told that a swatch needs to be at least 4 x4 inchs (10cm) to get an accurate measurment. Admittedly, I only really swatched for the one sweater I’ve ever made (for my mom), but if I could do smaller swatches, I probably would knit more of them for most of my projects.

  142. How come your swatch is picture 2 is only 9 stitches? Did it still measure 10cm?
    I’ve always been told that a swatch needs to be at least 4 x4 inchs (10cm) to get an accurate measurment. Admittedly, I only really swatched for the one sweater I’ve ever made (for my mom), but if I could do smaller swatches, I probably would knit more of them.

  143. SORRY!!! I completely blame the computer for posting 4 times! Bad computer, bad computer!!

  144. They are all gorgeous…but I agree with the three ply; it is very, very nice. I can’t wait to see the rest of the yarn, after the singles are finished of course!

  145. Just saying, but this is an awful lot like my starting to clean a room in my house instead of grading papers. Avoiding one thing by doing something else of value doesn’t get the avoided activity out of the way!

  146. This very interesting post reveals how those plys become beautiful, usable yarn. The three ply was clearly the best of the bunch.
    Thank you from a non-spinner for a peak into the workings of creating yarn.

  147. I have no idea if you read your comments past No. 200, but in case you do, curiousity is making me ask: How did you spin the Rovings roving? Did you section the colors and spin a bobbin of mostly one color? Did you spin randomly? We spinners want to know! TIA! :o)

  148. The 3 ply is beautiful! You had me crying while I was reading the yarn pick up lines. Laughing. So. Hard. It. Hurts.

  149. All of it is beautiful! I think I’d want to start knitting immediately! how do you hold yourself back? (or is that the reward for finishing all the singles?)

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