Monday, January 26, 2015

Does Skein Weight Change Over Time?

I don't always remember, but I try to weigh my yarn before I start a project, and then use that number to help me calculate yardage used. I have been surprised by the number of times that a skein of yarn weighs in underweight. I recalled reading somewhere (I think on the madtosh blog) that the reason MadelineTosh does not put a weight on their skeins is that the weight of the yarn changes based on humidity. Well, that makes a certain amount of sense, since I live in a dryer climate and my yarn typically comes in underweight.

So is it true? I've decided to do an experiment to see how the weight of the skein changes over time. I have a skein of MadelineTosh DK that has been wound into a cake and a small weather station that reports humidity. I'm going to weigh my yarn on regular intervals, hopefully every day. I will leave my scale in the same spot so that scale position will not alter the results. I'll record the data (weight & humidity) and see what happens.

So far, my weights seem to be different every day. I've collected data for a month with the following results:

I am measuring the weight of the yarn and comparing it to the humidity in my home. So far I have measured a max weight of 106.9 grams and a minimum weight of 105.1 grams over the one month period.

What are my conclusions? It is looking like humidity is indeed a factor in skein weight. So far I have had a 1.8 gram variance, which is close to 2% of the total yarn weight. From now on, I'll assume I have a 2% plus or minus variance on my numbers.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to collect data and see if the pattern holds over a longer period of time. I'll report back when I have more data.


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

Monday, January 19, 2015

Social Experiment 2014, How did I do?

Overall, the social experiment was successful. However I had a few weaknesses which probably screwed things up. I allowed myself to buy yarn for weaving and classes. I also allowed the purchase of discontinued yarn. I will record all exempted purchases in 2015 to evaluate the situation before I decide on a solution. So where do I stand?

Available Yardage (based on my rules)

KnittedSoldSwapped OutPurchasedStill Available!!
10106.017883.903825.7117231.004584.62

Preemptive Listing of Yarn For Sale

I have listed quite a bit of yarn for sale on Ravelry, but I haven't used any of this yarn to compensate for purchases.
Preemptive ListedPurchased
4584.620

Legal Purchases Not Requiring Compensation

  • 17 skeins sock yarn out of 32 currently available to me.
  • 2 skeins for a gift.
  • Lots of yarn for weaving, but not recorded
  • How did I do? Decent. My real issue is handling my yarns for weaving, so as stated in my goals, I'm now going to record all of my exempted purchases and I'll revisit this issue in the middle of the year.

    Rules Revisited

    These are the rules I am going forward with for 2015.

  • I can continue with up to two yarn clubs. I am currently a member of Cookie A's Sock club. So far this year I only have one, so I can add one this year if I wish. Yarn that comes to me via the club will now be recorded so I can evaluate the true cost of all of my exemptions.
  • I am already tracking my yarn usage in an attempt to reduce leftovers. I will continue tracking all of my yarn usage in this manner. Yarn used to get rid of leftovers counts 1:1. Yarn used to complete a project counts 2:1. What does this mean? A project is started from a new skein or skeins and counts as 2:1; for every 2 skeins used, I can buy 1 new skein, in yards. A project using the leftover yarn counts 1:1; for every leftover yard used, I can buy 1 yard. My goal here is to encourage removing complete items from my stash. I want to use them up! (Note: if I have a lot of skeins or a lot of yardage, say I have 10 skeins of sock yarn in a certain color. Making a pair of socks using 1 skein does not move the remaining 9 skeins into the 1:1 category. I must get it down to less than 1 skein, and then the remaining can be moved into 1:1 category.)
  • Any yarn sold, gifted or traded allows me to buy new yarn in the ratio of 2:1; 2 yards sold equals 1 yard available for purchase. A sold pre-listed yarn that isn't used to compensate for a yarn purchase gives me a 10% yardage bonus. List that yarn!!!
  • I am allowed to knit with yarn that is up for sale. I must replace it 1:1 by putting another yarn up for sale if the yarn is used to compensate for a purchase. Otherwise, just use the yarn.
  • While I'm hoping to have enough yarn to do any design work that interests me, I'm allowed to buy yarn for the designs, but I must complete the design in 3 months or the yarn counts against me, following the rules state here.
  • I can purchase yarn for new projects, if the yarn is not in my stash. I must put 1:1 yarn up for sale in this case. If I have yardage available for purchase, I can use that yardage for the purchase.
  • Stitches 2015 and other fiber fests. I will allow purchases here, but they will be severely restricted. I will need to set a yarn budget and stick to it. Like usual, I need to focus on yarns I love that aren't locally available as well as purchases from the new kids.
  • The weavers conference is exempt. I have been planning to go to the conference for a while. It will be my first time at this market.
  • Vacation yarn. I'm allowed a couple of skeins for vacation purchases. It really depends on the length of the trip. I'm going to say 1 skein a week and / or 1 skein from shops I have never visited before.
  • Yarn Swap Yarn. Swapped yarn is "sold" yarn if i swap more than I pick up. To calculate the true nature of swapped yarn I have: Yarn I leave at the swap - yarn I take home = either the equivalent of purchased yarn or sold yarn. The rules for this difference are the same as any sale or purchase, with one difference, all swapped yarn must be put up for sale immediately or I must start knitting something with it immediately. These listings are considered listing in advance of a purchase.
  • LYS yarn purchases are allowed under the following circumstances. When a new shipment of sock yarn arrives, I can buy 2 skeins. I want to continue supporting my LYS. I may modify this rule some more because I don't want to cut back on my support too severely. I'm recording the new sock yarn shipments so I can track how many skeins I can buy. I do not want to rush into buying a skein just because I can when a new shipment arrives. So, I'm allowing delayed purchases based on these counts.
  • If someone requests a knitted item or I need to make a knitted gift, I will try to use yarn that I have. If not, I can buy a skein to do the job. The yarn doesn't count against me and can't be counted as a finished project in my counts. I can count yarn leftover from the project as long as its less than a skein.
  • Can I trade yarn? Yes. An equivalent yardage trade doesn't count. If the yardage difference is too great, greater than 25%-35% difference, then the difference counts 2:1.
  • Can I "borrow" yarn? If I need a small amount of a color, then I can borrow what I need. It won't count as long as I return the left over yarn and I can't count the knitted amount in my knitted totals.
  • Yarn purchased before the start date will not count against me. I am keeping this rule here for reference. My official start date is April 1, 2014, so this doesn't really apply anymore.
  • Discontinued Yarns. If a yarn that I use and love is discontinued, I get an exemption to buy several skeins. This must be a yarn I really use and really like to receive the exemption. I will record these yarns this year to evaluate the cost of the exemption.
  • Test knitting. I don't do a lot of test knitting, but when I do, I want to make sure that I use a yarn that highlights the pattern being test knitted. I want the designer to have a finished project listed under their pattern that helps sell their design. For this reason I will allow myself to buy yarn for a test knit. I still must try to use my stash first.
  • Stripes & colorwork. This is a tough one. I need to use up the yarn I have, but i will allow myself to buy a second color to get the correct color combination. Buying a color to match will require me to put something up for sale, 1:1. If I don't start right away, then I must put 2:1 total up for sale.
  • Buying new yarn outside of what I'm granted in above sections requires me to put up yarn for sale in the ratio of 2:1. So 1 yard bought, means 2 yards must be put up for sale. I won't require a match of gauge for this exchange.
  • Individual gift skeins will not count against me. If someone gives me a sweaters worth, then I have to give up yarn, 1:1. This will make sure that I want this sweaters worth of yarn more than something in my stash.
  • Special Purpose Yarn Sets/Kits. Sometimes there really isn't a choice. You have to buy the yarn the designer used. For example, the Sari Shawl by Kieran Foley. This shawl uses multiple color gradient sets to achieve the affect. To get the effect of the shawl, I will need to purchase the yarn. I will exempt this type of purchase. However I can only purchase one set under the exemption and must finish the shawl before I can purchase another set for another project. If I purchase other sets then the yardage must come from my available yardage.
  • Yarn that missed being included in my Ravelry stash doesn't count against me when I add it to my stash. I have found some leftovers that didn't get included, and I may run across other yarn that hasn't been included.
  • I have a bunch of cheap cotton and fun fur that won't make it into my stash. This yarn will not count when I sell it. If i decide to use it in a project, I must add it to my stash. It then is available to me as part of stash yarn that I have used. I must list the project in my projects on Ravelry.
  • Knitting a yarn I haven't knit with yet. How many times have I bought multiple colorways of a yarn I haven't tried? Well, I'm going to give myself a bonus of 10% for using these yarns the first time. If I like the yarn, great. If I don't it immediately goes up for sale. I have found that the extra 10% is quite a motivator and it has the potential of destashing more quickly.
  • Crocheting, weaving, knitting are all valid ways to use up yarn.
  • Buying fiber for weaving won't count. I can imagine needing a specific yarn or fiber to learn a new technique and to get my weaving skills to a satisfactory level. I still need to focus on using my stash first and will need to revisit this item if I start stashing weaving yarns.
  • Can I put yarn for sale in advance? Yes. If I have some yarn I want to put up for sale, I don't need to or want to wait for a purchase to list the yarn. Yarn put up for sale gives me future purchases based on the above criteria. This doesn't mean that I run out immediately and buy yarn, but there really isn't a reason to wait to list the yarn. If its up for sale then it can be sold and moved out of my stash. If I sell a yarn that is prelisted and not used to compensate for a yarn purchase I get an extra 10% bonus. This is to encourage me to list as much yarn as possible as quickly as possible. Once the yarn is used to compensate for a purchase I loose the 10% bonus.
  • Yarn that's already up for sale (prior to April 1, 2014) does not count for or against me. In other words, I cannot count it for future purchases, unless the yarn sells. Once it sells, I follow the selling rule of counting 1:2 the yardage.
  • I can pull yarn out of my sale bins for weaving without additional penalty. If its a yarn I've counted in advance, I'll remove it from my available to purchase totals.
  • I am allowed to carryover totals from year to year. Yarn pre-listed is still pre-listed. Available skeins of LYS sock yarn are still available. Yardage available for purchase is still available. I will add lines to my tables to include a carryover line.
  • Can I change the rules? Yes. Its hard to say what will work and what won't. I may be overly generous in my yarn purchase criteria and its hard to say what I've missed.

  • Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Knitting Stockinette in the Round vs. Flat

    I've always wondered what the difference would be between knitting stockinette in the round and knitting it flat. Since my purls are a little bigger, I've assumed that my Flat gauge would be a little looser than my in-the-round gauge. I've never really had the energy to take a look. Luckily, my Stitches 2015 class homework has me knitting stockinette in the round for one class and stockinette flat for another. So I'm taking this as an opportunity to compare my gauge. I am knitting these swatches using Cascade 220 on US 6 (4.0mm) needles.

    Swatch in the round: Cast on 72 stitches using long-tailed cast on. Knit until swatch reaches 4.5 inches. Bind off using K2tog tbl bind off. Block by laying out to dry -- no stretching, just shaping.

    Flat Swatch: Cast on 42 using long-tailed cast on. Knit until swatch reaches 7 inches. Since I was on a WS row, I used the P2tog bind off. Block by laying out to dry, no stretching.

    Pre-blockPost-block
    24 stitches / 4 inches, 33 rows / 4" 22.5 stitches / 4", 31 rows / 4"
    23.5 stitches/ 4 inches, 30 rows / 4 inches 21.5 stitches / 4"; 30.5 rows / 4"

    As you can see I have a whole stitch difference between my flat stockinette gauge and my in the round stockinette gauge. How does this affect a project? Lets assume I have knit a flat swatch but intend to knit a sweater in the round. Lets assume as well that the circumference I will be knitting is 36". So looking at my flat swatch I will need to cast on 21.5 stitches * 9 or 193.5 stitches. I would round that up to 194 stitches. Now I knit for a while only to discover that my circumference is *not* 36 inches because my in the round gauge is 22.5 stitches / 4" or 5.625 stitches / inch. My actual circumference would be 194 / 5.625 = 34.488 or 34 1/2". I've lost a whole 1 1/2" from the sweater, which would definitely affect fit.

    So what's the lesson? When knitting in the round, make sure your swatch is knit in the round as well.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Goals for 2015

    Yes, I said I shouldn't bother to write up goals, but I'm going to anyway. I enjoy thinking about the things I could to do in the coming year. But I am realistic; I know I won't complete all of my goals this year. So here they are:

  • Continue working on using up sock yarn leftovers: mice, mini-socks, striped socks, weaving, or whatever I can figure out.
  • Put up another 10000 yards of yarn for sale on Ravelry. As I continue organizing my yarn, I should be able to find more yarn to list.
  • Learn 8-shaft weaving.
  • Continue taking other weaving classes. Purlescense has some more advanced weaving classes planned: Intermediate rigid heddle, intermediate 4-shaft, overshot patterns. Hopefully they will have some of these classes this year.
  • Get my big loom!!! I want a floor loom. My current favorite is the Baby Wolf
  • Weave towels or a table runner using cotton.
  • Weave something wider than a scarf!!
  • Dye more yarn. I have most of the supplies. I just need measuring cups, basters and some Magenta dye.
  • Knit something out of my hand dyed yarn
  • Complete sari. We are doing a knit against at GPY.
  • Complete a fancy fingering weigh brioche scarf. I just bought Nancy Marchant's new book, Fresh Brioche. There are some great patterns in there.
  • Get all yarn labeled and location shown on Ravelry. I will keep this goal until I finally complete it.
  • Continue with the social experiment. Even though I plan on exempting yarns for weaving, this year, record all yarns bought for weaving and under exemption so I can see how bad the exemptions are.
  • Complete 2 sweaters, one of which should be Lite by Lori Versaci. The other should be a cardigan.
  • Publish my purse sock pattern, my ankle sock pattern and my mouse pattern. Using my mitt pattern as a base, publish a cabled mitt pattern. I would also like to publish a simple hat pattern and a stranded pattern.
  • Work on my continental stitch tension.
  • Figure out an efficient way to strand on the purl side
  • Hope you all have a Happy New Year and a great 2015!


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .