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25 January 2007 @ 11:53 am
Question about yarn characteristics  
After a random comment I read on another group, I wondered if there is anything that spinning techniques can do to either promote (bad) or prevent (good) pilling in the finished yarn. Is it a woolen vs worsted thing or does it have more to do with the quality of the initial fiber? Does the degree of twist cause or prevent pilling? How about how it's knitted/crocheted/woven?

It was just a random curiosity I came up with after reading a comment that a certain luxury yarn pills horribly, and looking at my own lovely handspun alpaca/merino and wondering if the cushy winter hat that I'm knitting out of it is going to be a pilled mess in a year. Thought it would make an interesting discussion.
Emmaemmacrew on January 25th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Generally, more softly/loosely spun yarns will pill sooner. Singles yarns are more likely to pill than plied yarns. Shorter fibers, too, or a mix of fiber lengths. It's a real balancing act between softness and durability. And the baby is waking up so I gotta cut this short here.
Abby Franquemonthuaman on January 30th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, what she said. Really, the only way to be 100% sure is to sample and then beat up the sample.

The thing is, a lot of the time, people shoot for a yarn that, when the yarn is yarn, feels like they want the finished object to feel. If you do that, you can be relatively sure in most cases that your finished object will be looser/floppier/somewhat more pill-prone, than you probably expected. Your yarn will loosen up as you work it, and then the finished object will loosen and soften when you finish that, as well. Trouble is, of course, from a yarn vendor's perspective, since a lot of the yarn-buying market doesn't really understand this, you can't sell as much yarn that's made for wear characteristics vs. looks-good-in-a-skein, not to mention that since you don't know the exact use planned you can't tailor a yarn exactly to that.

Now of course, a handspinner is free of such constraints, able to produce yarn specifically for a given project, and be in total control from start to finish. ;-)

You also have to consider the object. Socks and scarves are subject to different kinds of wear. What works great in a scarf might fall apart in socks when put to real-world use.

Generally speaking, the tighter something's worked, the more pill-resistant it will be; if you knit a loosely spun yarn really really tight you'll be in sort of the same place as if you knit a really tight yarn super loose. ;-) You want maximum wear, spin hard and firm and worsted, then weave super-tight.You want maximum soft and loft, spin a gently twisted woolen and knit it loose. Anything else is... in between those extremes.

Midnightsky Fibers Blogmnsfibers on March 12th, 2007 07:31 am (UTC)
A woolen spun yarn for me pills more than worsted, but I prefer the cushiness factor of woolen spun yarns, even in socks. I compromise by spinning a woolen yarn with a bit more twist added and knitting it tighter for socks.

I have yet to wear holes in any of my woolen spun and plied (2-3 ply) socks. I DID shrink a pair of single ply worsted spun socks though- from playing around with energized singles. I'm sure its only a matter of time until I shrink some of my woolen spun socks, since the yarn felts much faster then worsted spun for me.