How do I copy a sweater yarn?

By Amelia © November 8, 2011

I had this comment posted recently:

Just found your blog and hope it's not defunct. I'm a beginning spinner and a wannabe weaver, and I have a question about spinning. I would like to duplicate the weight and structure of Jamieson & Smith jumper-weight yarn to knit a Fair Isle Sweater. I have some of the yarn, so I can figure out TPI, etc., but I was planning on using a Shetlend fleece (being washed now in my bathtub) with app. 4" staple length and thought that combing it was the best way to process it. Is this (worsted style) the best way to try to duplicate J&S or would carding be better? BTW, my husband is laughing at me for deciding my first real objective (as opposed to just spinning yarn with no objective in mind) in spinning involves processing fleece, spinning it and dyeing it to knit a FI sweater. It probably will take me a long time to finish, as I've never knitted a FI sweater, either. But I have many steps before I get to the knitting. Thanks for your help!

There's noing like a question to motivate! It's been a busy summer...running into fall... Of self discovery and personal growth. Coming along nicely, with plans for teaching in 2012 forming (look for email news if you are on my teaching email list, or contact me to be added).

To focus on the question: the best way to determine what works is to sample. I have been copying Paternayan tapestry yarn, and though you'd expect it to be worsted prepared and spun, I get closer to the yards per pound with carded fiber spun woolen. YPP is a good measurement to take because it varies based on fiber prep and spinning style... Combed fiber spins into a denser fiber generally, and worsted style spinning also spins into a denser yarn. So for lighter yarn (more YPP for the same weight of fiber) use carded fiber and woolen spinning.

From what I've seen of J&S lace weight yarn, I would guess that carding might be better than combing, if their jumper-weight looks similar.

The main motivation to copying YPP is that your knit fabric will then have a similar drape, having about the same density. If you'd rather have a lighter sweater, woolen prep and spin; for a heavier one, worsted prep and spin. That said, parts of a sweater see a lot of wear, and worsted prep and spun does wear better (less pilling, typically) than woolen prep... So you might want to not only sample spinning, but also knitting. Let a small knit square live on your keychain for a while to see how it likes being dragged in and out of your purse.

In any case, have fun spinning! There's nothing like calking a big project and working your way through it.


© November 8, 2011 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Glad you blog is not defunct! But I must confess I've not managed many posts myself for some time now.

The more spinning I do, the more I believe in the value of samples! If the person who asked you question is around, then she might need to think about getting another fleece or two: I bought one this summer and it is quite a small fleece. Lovely though, fine and crimpy.