Friday, August 28, 2015

My Elaborate Yarn Tools

  My latest W.I.P. almost gave me a heart attack when I came close to running out of yarn in the last post. I've got my eye on another scrap ball to start the next color, but this one will be even closer! Before I try to finish a round with this smaller scrap, I'll do a bit of measuring. Deep down I'm hopeful, but in reality, I'm pretty sure this (horribly wound) ball won't make it one round.

  The very first thing to do is unwind that (horribly wound) ball! No, it's not because the sloppiness is bugging me, it's so I can measure how much is there. And then rewind it into a prettier ball. (That happened, by the way, when my center-pull ball collapsed after using this yarn for a test. I then wound the unraveled yarn around the collapsed mess, creating an even-bigger mess. I have more like this. Sloppy. But I bet a couple of you have done it before, right?)

  Anyways... When measuring my yarn, I measure by the yard. If you're measuring precisely for a project, then you'll want to use something that measures... Well, precisely. Besides a tape measure or yard stick, yarn can be measured with a yardage counter - a little device that can range for about $10 for a simple one, to over $1,000 for a commercial grade model!

  If you're also a spinner, then chances are you might have a Niddy Noddy or an umbrella swift to measure your homespun goodies. I'm a poor spinner and don't have any of these toys. "Poor" can be taken two ways: I'm always broke, and I'm bad at spinning... Let's say you could call my attempts with a drop spindle "half-fast". Get it? Maybe some day I'll be better on a wheel. But I don't need to measure a whole skein for this project, I just need to measure some scraps! And especially, I need to figure out how much of that scrap will be used in my project. Enter my tools of the trade: My hands, my arms, and these:

  Yup, there's by big, expensive, elaborate yarn tools. A couple of clothespins. When I'm measuring just for me, no rulers or special measuring devices come out. I know that I can hold the yarn with my arms stretched wide to measure about a yard. If you want me to be (a little more) precise, then I know that all-the-way-wide is more than a yard, but shoulder width is less than a yard. So I need to meet somewhere in the middle to make my measurement.

  -On a side note: If you are working from a pattern that is already written, your gauge matches, and you do know the exact yardage you need, don't use this method. Please do not measure out almost-yards by hand and then complain that you didn't have enough yarn, even though you measured. Measuring by hand isn't exact. But it does work to gauge your material in a project like this. Let's continue...

 So, the way my method works is pretty simple. First, measure the yarn you have in stretches. One stretch = your "yard". You don't need any tools for this other than your memory - as in: Try not to get interrupted in the process of counting, try to keep your "yards" the same, and write the number down when you're done. When you know the number of "yards" you have, then it's time to start stitching. I start with a few stitches so I have a base, then measure out a few "yards". I mark each yard with my clothespins.

  And then I start stitching. For this project, I'm working in a classic granny pattern, using sets of three double crochet. Instead of counting each individual stitch, I just count the sets.

  To get an average (if not acurate) measurement, I'll work through a few of my "yards".

  I could use more clothespins to measure out more yarn at one time, but I only go a few at a time in case of mistakes. It became clear after working through more of my "yards" that I had measured the first yard incorrectly. 

  That happens sometimes when I catch the yarn on my finger or something and don't realize that I didn't make a full stretch. So I measured more, and worked a few more sets. 

  When the amount of sets worked matched the number of yards measured, I knew I could sit down and start doing math. Yeah, math! It's pretty simple math, depending on how you work it:

  I ended up with 28 "yards" of my yarn, and I know there's 4 yards in eight 3-dc sets. I divided 28 (amount of yarn/yards) by 4 (yardage per set). I take my number (7) and multiply it by the number of sets in my measurement. (I'm using '4 yards/per 8 sets' to work the math since 4 conveniently divides 28 evenly. You could simplify your math by just dividing by yards per each set.) My result is 56. That means I can get 56 sets out of this yarn, and it takes almost 50 sets just to make it up one side of the project... 

  Do you hear that darn frog again? "Rip it, rip it, rip it"... Oh well. I was prepared for it this time. I really didn't think I'd have enough yarn, but I misjudged the last scrap, so I wanted to double-check. All that was lost was a bit of time, and a (slightly) educational post was gained. I had to go climb into the stash to find something else, and I made it out alive. Now, on to the next color!


Happy Crocheting!

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