Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Singled Out

I recently spoke with a spinner who told me of her sad plight of having too many single plies. You know the single-ply yarn you make...
My yarn "Bad Fruit" as a single.
 ...before plying with another single to make a two- or multiple-plied yarn.

"Bad Fruit" as a two-ply yarn.
This spinner was frustrated because, as she stated: "Singles are only for weaving and crocheting and I can't do either."

Instantly, I whipped my head around 360 degrees to see who she was talking to...surely not to me. Singles, only for crochet and weaving??? Hogwash! I said to her: "My dear, there are rules and then there are rules. Some rules you should never break and some rules you should always break."

Examples of rules that you should NOT break:

Never keep a pair of sharp, pointy scissors near your warped loom. (Vicky Tardy, my extraordinary weaving teacher, llama breeder, and nationally known weaving instructor.)

Limit yourself to one glass of wine while working on a knitting pattern or you will have plenty to rip out in the morning. (Fontelle Jones, my knitting teacher and owner of Great Yarns in Everett, Washington.)

If your yarn breaks while spinning, ALWAYS find the end of the yarn on your bobbin before continuing or you will have a bloody mess when winding off. (Janette Ryan-Busch, my spinning teacher, Angora goat dealer, basil peddler, and owner of Fae Ridge Farm.)

Now, an example of a rule to be broken!!

Singles are only meant for crochet and weaving.

Whomever made that silly rule was, well, silly! Singles are wonderful in knitting and, in fact, there are oodles of books and patterns about singles.

Can you say Twisted Sister? If you don't have The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook by Lynn Vogel in your fiber book library than we really need to talk! (Call me and I will set you straight.) This is an absolutely "must have" book with beautiful photographs of socks made from handspun yarns.

Socks made from "energized" singles.
Yes, it is a book about socks; however, even if you don't knit socks, you must read this book. There is information on dyeing, different types of plying (ie., Navajo plying), and patterns for single yarns. It also features information on spinning with a drop spindle, which, sadly, I know nothing about.

If fiber books are not in your budget, because you are saving every penny for more fiber, then check them out from the library. Uh, er, except for Welcoming Home Baby the Handcrafted Way by Tricia Drake. I keep checking, renewing, and rechecking this book out from the library, so unfortunately, you can't have it.


I don't even have a baby; however, that is not the point. The point is that Ms. Drake's book features numerous patterns using singles.

I love this book because the singles are big, bulky, and ultra colorful and her baby hat patterns are quick and easy. If you are an advanced (or fearless) knitter, you can even adapt these patterns to fit an adult-sized head.

The single yarns featured in this book are simply out of this world. Some are from major designers/companies. We're talking Debbie Bliss, Malabrigo, Alsan Trends, and Blue Sky Alpacas to name a few. (If not even one of these names is familiar to you, we really do need to talk, because you have to get out more.)

In closing, I say to my friend who is burdened with so many singles: "Rejoice!" It is okay to knit with singles and there are many times I intentionally spin yarn to be used as a single. Call me crazy.

My handspun yarn "Desiree" designed to be a "thick & thin" single yarn.
Still not convinced about single yarns? Or, perhaps you are a non-spinner, who is now dyeing (typo intended) to buy some single yarns? Well, after leaving a fabulous comment on my blog, go directly to http://www.etsy.com/. Select "Handmade" and do search for single yarn. You will find listing after listing of fabulous singles! (And while you're there, don't forget to stop by the Farm Genevieve Etsy shop!

Now go and have a fiber-filled day!

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