Spin Along Week 3 - Swatching Time and Grist

Spin Along Week 3 - Swatching Time and Grist

Posted by Annie on Jul 8th 2021

Here we are in Week 3 of the Spin Along! Everyone has given such amazing input and I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate it! The amount of participation has really blown us away. So we want to give you a huge THANK YOU!

This week we are focusing on getting our different swatches done, either knitting, weaving or both! The main goal of working on swatches is to emphasize the importance of testing before committing to a large project, so that you can be confident that what you get out of the finished project will be exactly what you want! So much time and effort (and money!) goes into our projects, we want to make sure they come out right!

First step in making your woven swatches is to create your cardboard looms. These looms are not meant to last forever, just long enough to get through the next 5 weeks! I do want to put a spotlight on one of our Facebook community members for their great idea when creating the swatches: Ama Art, who made their loom slightly different than in the video we made and I think it works great! Here are some images:

The difference in construction is that Ama made holes a bit lower than the cuts for the dents on the edge of the cardboard. This gives more space to work with and makes the dents a bit larger and more structurally sound while still achieving the correct EPI. I loved that idea, mainly because I struggled making the 12 DPI carboard loom and the dents where flimsy and very close together. Thank you Ama!

The swatching we are doing, either weaving or knitting, really shows how accurate we are getting to the yarn weight we wanted. I had my “fingering" weight Shetland, which I found the hardest fiber to keep consistent, and I casted on 25 stitches using a number US3 knitting needle. Well this was supposed to achieve a 4”x4” swatch, but it turned out to by 2.5”x2.5”, so I definitely did not have the accurate gauge!

Now we are changing gears: let's talk about grist. We have mentioned it some, but I wanted to talk about how to figure out your Grist with a digital scale. Grist is the density of a yarn; the concept factors in both the circumference and weight in a length of yarn. Spinners and weavers talk about grist with the acronym YPP or yards per pound. What affects grist? All the things - the type of fiber in your yarn, whether it is woolen- or worsted-spun, and the number of plies in the yarn.

There are two tools you can use to figure out grist or yards/lb of your yarn, and the conventional method for a long time was a Yarn Balance. Now, this was invented before modern digital scales were so readily available and affordable. Most people own a digital scale these days, so we are going to walk you through how to use yours to find your grist.

So I started with some handspun yarn and measured out 10 yds. Using a digital scale, I just measured and weighed it in ounces. I divide the yardage by the weight, and presto: I have the number of yards in one ounce of that yarn. (10 divided by .3 is 33.3). The grist for my yarn is 33.3 yards per ounce.

The yarn in my mini skein is 33.3 yards per ounce, so multiply 33.3 x 16 (ounces in a lb) and your grist is 533.33 yds/lb Taking the time to check your yarn’s grist as part of the tracking your handspun can save you time and a possible heartbreak! Spinners and weavers figure out the grist of a yarn by measuring and math. Knitters have it easy: all the info is right there on the ballband, no measuring needed. When I work with knitting yarns, I check my grist with yards per ounce. So, depending on if you are weaving or knitting, grist is still very important for your project!