GADGET – WPI TOOL; PARROT SWEATER

Private eMails brought three questions yesterday, which I answer in turn.

What’s "parrot-color"?

The easiest way to explain the parrot thing is to show you this pullover:

It’s a flash sweater knit from Rainbow Mills Matisse.Their "Navajo Panted Sky"kit included six 4-ounce skeins of Matisse, and produced a one-size-fits-many sweater that’s about 48 inches around.Mine is about as big as the materials provided allow, and I wear a tall 18. Note that thewidth of the piece isfixed so that thecolor repeats flash. Smaller peoplecan make thebody and sleevesshorter, but end up with a baggier fit than I get.

I foundthis10+-year oldkit for buried in a stack of other things at my local yarn store three years ago. Although I’ve seen Matisse listed on a couple of on-line sources lately, and know some of their other kits are still around, I hadn’t seenthis particular packagefor quite a while.I lusted after the thing because I’ve got a magpie’s taste in color, and because I’d done a couple of flash-type pieces before: the one worn by The Tiny One in yesterday’s post (Grandma’s Little Darling,a Rainbow Mills kit of unfortunate name), Flash (my own noodling); and my Typeset Tee (a modified flash piece, also original).

I enjoyed this piece immensely. At this giant gauge (well, giant for me, anyway) it went very quickly. I finished it in about a week. The single-ply construction Aran weightMerino is particularly soft. Even though I rarely wear even the softest of wools next to my skin I am comfortablewith only a cami or tee underneath. Of course the tradeoff for having such a soft wool spun as a single is a certain amount of pilling, but it’s actually quite moderate compared to the pilling I’ve experienced off of Manos.

What’s a WPI Tool?

I know that lots of people – especially spinners and weavers – employ the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) system to describe yarn thickness/weight. I’ve had people recommend that I include fields for it in the yarn review collection. I’ve held off doing so because of an experiment I conducted a while back.

Over the course of a week I took several yarns and a ruler into my local yarn store and asked about fifty people to determine the WPI count for each. I asked most participants to do the test twice. I used a fingering, a sport, a worsted and a bulky yarn. The results were quite disappointing. There was very little consistency among the readings with large variations from person to person, and in some cases from attempt to attempt. Bad data is worse than no data, so based on this lack of consistency and the limited familiarity of the knitting public with the WPI measurement, I decided not to include it in my standard data set. I did however continue to play with the system myself, trying to train my bumbling fingers in The Right Way.

I had absolutely no success at consistent WPI measurement until I found the WPI Tool put out by Nancy’s Knit Knacks. I bought mine within this past month. It’s shown in yesterday’s post – the little stick thing with the notched end. It also is marked off in 1-inch increments and comes with a laminated card that lists the WPI count for various yarn types. It provides a smooth, calibrated surface which is twirled to accumulate the wraps, in contrast toan edged ruler around which the yarn is wound (and apparently, stretched). Using this tool I can finally get consistent, accurate WPI measurements. I still don’t plan on adding WPI as a permanent field in the yarn review collection, but I’m going to add that figure to all future write-ups as part of what I write aboutin the yarn review Comments sections.

So what’s with the endorsements?

For the person who wrote toask if I’d been paid off to post thegadget articles here, please note that I maintain my full independence. On beyond the "no affiliation" disclaimer, I can say that I’veforked overfull retail for every item I’ve described, and have received no compensation or consideration from any pattern writer, yarn or gadget maker, retailer, or wholesaler in connection with anything I have ever said or published about a particular product.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have written patterns that I have sold to publishers including KnitNet, Schaefer Yarns, and Classic Elite, butI have recused myself from reviewing any yarn connected with those sales, and (with theexception of remindingpeople not to bug me for the Seesaw Socks)do not provide references or links to retailers selling them.

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