27 January, 2010


Sampling. It is kind of like the dreaded gauge swatch in knitting. On the surface, a spinner should be fine with it, it is, after all, spinning. And we all enjoy that, right?

So, why does it seem so tedious? I'm not doing anything differently than what I would normally be doing if I were already spinning for the sweater, right? I don't understand this phenomenon, but there it is and no spinner or knitter can deny it

Usually, my sampling consists of a half hearted effort, kind of like my attempts at gauge swatches in knitting. I spin a bit, pull out a length, let it ply back, check the wpi, tinker with the wheel a bit, then lather, rinse, repeat until I get the results I want. Then, I tape that sample to an index card along with a sample of the single. If I'm not planning on spinning, say, a 3-ply or a cabled yarn, I'll also do a sample length of 2-ply for quick ply-back checks on the fly.

This time, however, I'm planning on making a lot of yarn. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 lbs of it. And then turning said yarn into a sweater. So, I'm going to do it right. To that end, I'm spinning a sample that is actually going to be substantial enough to knit a swatch with. Then, I'm going do all of those things you are supposed to do in the spinning and knitting process when you are "doing it right." I'm going to set the twist, knit a swatch (or maybe a few swatches), wash and block that (or those), and then I'm going to wear it around for a few days to make sure I've made a durable yarn that will make a good sweater. And, if that doesn't go well, I'm going to start the process all over again. I won't like it. But I will do it.

And yet somehow, I know there will still be problems. Just like the knitting swatch, spinning samples can LIE.


  1. Swatching does seem like a waste of time, especially when the little voices in your head are saying things like, "the swatch will lie" or "there won't be any noticable differences anyway". But when you do the knitted or crocheted swatches, and see that there is a difference then you start thinking, "Well what happens if I do it this way?". Suddenly the process becomes its own project, and lots more fun.

  2. Very true. And I look at the process completely differently when I am doing it solely for the process, such as when seeking to learn or improve on a technique. But when there is an end product in mind from the start, the sampling and swatching can mentally be a little bit more difficult!