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EEW 6.0 Stop Fix

The turning off issue that affects some EEW 6.0s is related to static building up and being stored in the metal spindle. When that gets discharged it can sometimes pull the reset pin on the circuit board low which effectively turns off the EEW 6.0 briefly then it turns if back on. When you turn on the EEW 6.0 it always starts in a stopped state so this reset event stops the EEW 6.0. In my research of this issue I’ve found other spinning wheels have had this issue, but it seems more people are seeing this with the EEW. I believe there are two reasons for this. The first is the nylon case is a better insulator, and the second is the bottom cover’s rubber feet are even better insulators. This is why some people saw the issue improve when they removed the bottom cover. These insulation layers let the static to build up faster than it tends to on other spinning wheels which mostly use wood which is also an insulator, but not as good of one.

There are two things that can help fix this. The first is to ground the spindle. You hide this by drilling a few small holes in your case and running a black wire down the back support arm and under the case (I show this in the video at the end of this post). However, I went for the very easy method here. The method here uses materials most people will have in your house. All you need is tinfoil, tape, and some scissors. What I did was to cut a thin strip of tinfoil and then folded it over twice to give it a little more strength. Then I ran that from the back bearing to the motor and held it in place with tape. I put some photos showing how this was done below. In my testing this completely fixed the problem.

Another solution is to use a female to female breadboard jumper wire (or these on Amazon) to connect pins 1 and 4 on the programming header. This solution pulls the reset line high on the EEW 6.0 and prevents a reset, but the spindle can still build up a static charge similar to how you can shock yourself when touching a metal object after walking on a wool carpet. The image below shows what pins to connect for this fix.

In theory the most robust fix is to do both, but in my testing either one solved the issue. If the physical shocks are bothering you then I would recommend the first grounding one, but I will point out these shocks are no more dangerous than any other static shock you get in dry climates.

Here is a video that goes over those this problem and the fixes. It also includes a way to hide a wire to make the first grounding fix more invisible.

Any black wire would work, but here is some black 26 gauge tin coated copper stranded wire if you aren’t sure what to look for.

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EEW Newsletter – April 2021

Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter by Dreaming Robots LLC

April 02, 2021


The EEW 6.0 is now available in my store!  I’d like to thank the community for all the feedback and suggestions on previous versions which helped make this the best eSpinner I’ve ever made.

I will finish shipping them to Kickstarter backers by Monday and that is when I’ll be shipping out the first batch of orders from my webstore.  So if you or some of your friends were interested in the EEW 6.0, but missed the Kickstarter now is your chance.  If you are curious what goes into unloading them from the truck, I made this video of where I did that exhausting unload.

Yarn Softness

This video covers what fiber micron count is and how it is one factor that affects fiber softness, which is useful information for those buying yarn online. Then I explain two ways to measure micron count yourself at home, and talk about how these results work compared to lab testing your fiber.  I also wrote a blog post that contains related information about this whole process.

Happy spinning!


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account
EEW Discord Server

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Using Micron Count to Find the Softest Yarn

If you enjoy a fiber craft like knitting, spinning, crocheting, or weaving; then this article is for you. The reason measuring micron count matters is because micron count can be a good approximation for softness. A smaller micron count means the fibers are thinner and that often leads to a softer yarn.

If you can’t feel the yarn because you are buying it online, then micron count is a great way to get an estimate of yarn softness. Different people will have different meanings for soft. An online review saying the wool is “super soft” doesn’t help you understand how soft yarn really is. However, if you say the yarn is 15 micron Merino that will help a lot if you have been looking at micron count for awhile. A lot of yarn doesn’t report the micron count, but my hope is with this article will help with that. I’d like to see more people start reporting the micron count in online reviews which will help make more informed yarn purchases.

By the way, I’m certainly not trying to say everyone should buy all their yarn online. If you have a local yarn shop or fiber festival I encourage you to support them. Feeling yarn in person is always better than trying estimate the feel from photos and reviews. However, the reality is a lot of fiber lovers buy some of their yarn/rovings online these days and I’d like to make the process better with this article.

Background Information

One of the important measurements when looking at wool and other fibers is it’s micron count. Micron (or micrometer) is the measurement for measuring the diameter of a single fiber. For example Merino fleece will contain fibers with diameters as low as 10 microns or thicker fibers of maybe 25 micron diameter. A micron is one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter.

Certified fiber labs can accurately measure samples when you want official micron counts. There are two reasons a lab typically does this measurement. First the tools they use to analyze the fiber require some training to use properly and if not used properly you’ll get the wrong results. Secondly, the tools they use are expensive. One of the typical tools is the OFDA2000  which typically costs around $60,000-$75,000. A newer tool called a FiberLux costs a little over $2,000. My general understanding from what I’ve read is the OFDA2000 is basically the standard way of measuring fiber and the verdict is still out if the newer FiberLux is accurate enough to replace it in some use cases (this was written in early 2021). Here is an article with more options if you are interested in more details about various ways micron counts are measured.

Measuring Yarn Micron Count Yourself

Before these automated machines people would look under microscopes to manually measure fiber. This is interesting option, but requires a lot of a lot of time and training to learn how to measure fibers consistently and accurately under a microscope. I did some research and found a common way to measure human fiber (we call it hair) is using laser diffraction and interference. This sounds complicated, but is actually pretty straight forward. You basically shine a laser pointer at a hair and then due to the how light works it will create a pattern of bright and dark wave pattern on the wall. You know the distance from the hair to the wall, the distance between these light/dark pattern on the wall, and the wavelength of your laser pointer so you can calculate the diameter of the hair with this equation.

Note for those not wanting to do the math I added a calculator below on this page that does it for you.

hair_diameter = (wavelength of laser) / (distance_between_light_dark_pattern / distace_to_wall)

For example when I measured one of my hairs, I was using a red laser with a wavelength of 650nm. The distance to the wall was 651 cm. The distance between the light/dark pattern was 4.8 cm. Using the equation above gave me a hair diameter of 88,000 nm, or 88 micrometers. If your laser pointer doesn’t list its wavelength you can use 650nm for red lasers and 532nm for green lasers.

Another simpler method is is to use a Micrometer. That link is the one I used which has a 0.001mm resolution which is a 1 micrometer resolution. I did a lot of testing with it and it was quite consistent, but it was consistently less than the light diffraction method above. I think the reason for this is using a Micrometer can squish the yarn. So to get accurate measurements you should either use the light diffraction method or practice with the micrometer on known fibers until you get a good feel for how much pressure to use without squishing the fiber. I talk about this more in the video below.

So those are the two methods I used to get fiber diameter and each one cost me under $40. I created the video below that goes into more detail on these two methods of measuring a fiber’s micron count.

Primitive breeds tend to be far less consistent in micron count, both between animals and even within an individual fleece, so for those it’s especially important to take measurements from several areas if you want a decent average, or to grade the fleece well. Modern wool sheep are bred for fiber consistency, so for them it’s less of a big deal, though you’ll likely still find a bit of difference between the neck (finer) and the britch (coarser).

Fiber Micron Calculator

Wavelength of Laser (units must be nm [red=650, green=532])
Distance to wall (inches or cm)
Distance between light/dark pattern (inches or cm, but units must match above)
Press submit to get results.

Measuring Fiber at a Wool Testing Lab

I did some searching with some labs that test fiber samples. The best two options I found were New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) and Montana Wool Lab. The online documentation for NZWTA is much better so if you want to do more research online I’d recommend their website. That said I have contacted the Montana Wool Lab because shipping them samples is easier for me since they are located in the USA. Contacting the Montana Wool Lab by email (mtwool@montana.edu) and phone (406-994-2100) worked for me.

When I emailed Montana Wool Lab they gave me this submission form and this document that explains report you get on your fiber samples. You can see their prices as of March 2021 on the submission form linked above, and they seemed very reasonable to me. Example each wool sample I want tested would cost me only $3.

I found their fiber report document very informative. It explains they don’t just measure the one fiber, or a few fibers. They measure the diameter of many fibers and provide you with an average fiber diameter plus a standard deviation from that average value. With that information you’ll know a lot more about the fiber than measuring just a few fibers like my DIY approaches in the previous section. They also include a comfort factor which is the percentage of fibers that are 30 microns in diameter or less because this has been found to be a diameter that can cause skin irritation.

Judith MacKenzie says that a mix of high and low micron counts in a yarn is what causes the itchy feeling, more than simply high micron fibers alone. I haven’t verified this myself, but Judith is well known in this field so I want to share this.

I’m planning to send in some samples and get some reports from Montana Wool Lab in the future. I haven’t done it yet, but will report back when I have results from them.

Help spread the word about micron count and share this post with a friend.

I’d like to thank Vampy who reviewed an early draft of this blog post and provided some great feedback.

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EEW Newsletter – March 2021

Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter by Dreaming Robots LLC

Hello fiber lovers!  I’m back this month to give you an update on all the most important EEW news.  Enjoy.

Should We do an EEW Nano Update?

I’ve started thinking about what to do for the next batch of EEW Nanos.  The reason I mention this is because I need to decide soon if I want to just order more of the 1.1 version that I’m currently shipping, or spend time making a new version.  I’d like to hear back from the community on what you’d like to see improved.  I am somewhat limited in what I can do because I’d want to keep the price around the current $110 so I obviously can’t put all the improvements that you’d get with the EEW 6.0.  That said I have several ideas on things that wouldn’t change the price much, but would improve the quality quite a bit.  I know a lot of spinners love the small form factor of the EEW Nano and a lot of others who enjoy it’s price so I do want to keep those about the same.  I’d love to hear from the community if they think I should spend time on improvements to a new version of the Nano for next year or focus on some of the other projects I’ve been talking about in these updates.  If you want to help you can either fill out this survey.  Thanks!

EEW 6.0 Update

This month there is some great news to announce with the EEW 6.0.  The manufacturing is complete and they are now on a boat headed towards Boston.  Once they get to my warehouse, I will do a final inspection and should be able to ship out all the orders by the end of April.

In addition to making the best eSpinner with the EEW 6.0, I wanted to have the best documentation.  To that goal I partnered with Vampy and we created a video series to help more people learn to spin yarn so they can enjoy this wonderful craft. This series goes into much more depth than your quick spinning tutorial. After watching all the episodes you’ll understand not just how to spin, but you’ll know about several options for each stage of the spinning process and how to make the yarn you want. It covers everything from picking your first fibers to finishing the yarn.  I’m super happy with these videos and think most of them are useful to a wide range of spinners.  Check out the series here.

Happy spinning!


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account
EEW Discord Server

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eSpinners for Beginners

This video series was created to help more people learn to spin yarn so that they can enjoy this wonderful hobby. It goes into more depth than your quick spinning tutorial. After watching this series you’ll understand not just how to spin, but you’ll often know about several options for each stage of the spinning process. You will know the fundamentals so you can choose the right options for the yarn you want to spin. I’m super happy with these videos and think most of them are useful to a wide range of spinners.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 1 – EEW 6.0 Setup and Controls

This is more specific to the EEW 6.0 of all these videos. It goes into a lot more depth about setting up the EEW 6.0 and how all the controls worked than the Quick Start guide did. While I think all the other videos are useful to people using other eSpinner or even treadle wheels, this video is probably best to watch only if you plan to get the EEW 6.0.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 2 – Practice Spinning, Fiber Selection, and Understanding Twist

This one isn’t really eSpinner specific so even if you use a treadle spinning wheel everything in this video will be helpful. The video really focuses on how to get started spinning by using practice yarn, which helps you get the feel for spinning without having to worry about drafting. Then it goes into how to pick the right fiber for you and explains how twisting fiber makes yarn. It really gives a solid background so you understand the core principles of spinning.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 3 – Ergonomics, Short Draw, and Long Draw

The ability to position eSpinners anywhere gives them a big ergonomics advantage over treadle spinning wheels and this video explains how to setup your espinner comfortably. It then covers details of how you do short draw and long draw spinning. It goes into detail about the differences in the yarn based many different factors you can control while spinning.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 4 – Plying

This video uses an eSpinner, but everything in this video applies to treadle spinners too. This video shows you how to ply consistent yarn and explains what parameters to watch to help you get the yarn that you want.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 5 – Finishing Yarn

This video goes through all the different finishing processes used to lock in yarn twist. It explains both the how and the why. Most of the video is about the various stages of wet finishing.

eSpinners for Beginners Part 6 – Examples of Finished Projects and Yarn Consistency Tips

This video concludes the series by giving you examples of several finished knitted projects, and explains the yarn decisions that went into each project. There are also several tips to help keep your yarn’s diameter and twist consistent.

If you are interested in learning more about our spinning wheels visit our store.

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Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter – February 2021

Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter by Dreaming Robots LLC

February 01, 2021


This past month I have been mostly focus on getting everything in place so I can start shipping the EEW 6.0 eSpinners out as soon as possible.  More about this below.  Other than that I’ve been making good progress on the Yarn Counter and Cone Winder projects.  While I am planning to work on the CSM (circular sock knitting machine) in the future it isn’t a priority right now and I won’t be making progress for awhile.  I will update you all when I start working on it again, but I just have too many projects that are being working on so one had to get put on the back burner and it is the CSM.  Sorry for those of you who had that as the project as your most anticipated, but I didn’t want to leave you all in a limbo where you didn’t know what was happening with it.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before I have time get back to working on the CSM.

EEW 6.0 Update

Previously I had been estimating the EEW 6.0 would be available in March on my store.  This past month I pushed that back to April due to some logistic delays caused by Covid19.  The good news is that assemble of the EEW 6.0 has finished and I now have a plan to get them shipped to my warehouse in Massachusetts where I’ll do final testing and shipping.  So overall the EEW 6.0 is making great progress and if you missed the pre-order campaign on Kickstarter you will be able to start placing orders on my store in April.  I have a high level of confidence there will be more than enough EEW 6.0s available since I ordered a bunch extra for this first batch so there is no need to worry about me running out of stock.

If you want to learn more I have started putting together this page about the EEW 6.0, and will continue adding more information and videos.  I am super happy with that page so far.  I’m now confident that the EEW 6.0 won’t just be the best eSpinner in it’s class, but it will also have the best documentation both for new spinners and those wanting to look at some of the more advanced techniques like supercoils.

EEW Cone Winder

In this video, I discuss the new improvements to the cone winder and then show how it works with yarn skeins on a swift. (Spoiler – It works great with a swift.)

Happy spinning!


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account
EEW Discord Server

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Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter – January 2021

Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter by Dreaming Robots LLC

Happy new year, and welcome to 2021! I hope this is a great year for all of you in the EEW community.

If you have any interest in writing, I offer up the very biased opinion that you should write about the EEW. It could be an article you want to write for a magazine, posting to your blog, or a video for youtube.  If you ever have any questions for me, want some photos, or need anything else from me just ask.  I’ll do my best to help. I released a video answering a bunch of questions people have asked recently, which you could incorporate into your own article if you want. In the video, I am transparent about how my businessis doing during the pandemic, what future products I’m planning, and I answer those and many other questions.

EEW Yarn Counter

This video explains the major improvements since the last prototype video like a new clamp, louder buzzer, flip screen, and a lot more. I also give a rough time frame estimate for the Kickstarter for this at the end of the video. 

Happy spinning!


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account
EEW Discord Server

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Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter – December 2020

Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter by Dreaming Robots LLC

December, 1, 2020


I’ve made a special discount code for you. You can save 10% on any products in my store by using the coupon code “end2020special” during checkout.  Use this code to get someone else a gift or to get yourself something.  Anyone can use this code so if you want to share it with your friends or online that is fine.  This code will expire on January 1, 2021.

Circular Sock Knitting Machine

In this video I showed some prototype circular sock machines I’ve made and mention some critical decisions I need to make going forward. I’ve already started working on a new prototype to incorporate some of the great feedback I received, but I’m always looking for more feedback.

Cone Winder

Here is a new Cone Winder video update. It has a lot of improvements since the last update three months ago.

EEW 6.0 Bobbin Winder Accessory

While the EEW 6.0 hasn’t shipped yet, I decided to make an accessory for it that will help wind bobbins.  It doesn’t do level winding like the Cone Winder that I mentioned above, but I give away the plans to make this kind of bobbin winder for the EEW 6.0 for those who want to try this.  This video explains the EEW 6.0 bobbin winder accessory and the description of the video has a parts list.

Spinning Instructors

I generate this list of spin instructors for those who want some one on one help. Also if you would like to get added to this list feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to put you on this list.

Discord Server

Discord is a website/platform that allows for chatting. It supports text, voice, and video chatting. I decided to setup an EEW discord server.

If you are a discord user or want to check it out here’s the link to my server.


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account
EEW Discord Server

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Electric Eel Wheel Newsletter – November 2020

November 2, 2020


This year due to the pandemic our town recommended not going out for traditional Halloween trick or treat. Instead we decided to have a small party at our house with my five year old daughter and the two other families we have podded with since this the beginning of the pandemic. I spent a lot of time planning about a dozen different games for the kids. I think the results were more fun than a traditional Halloween. This great experience has removed my worry about the other upcoming holidays being disappointments. I now feel excited to try and come up with alternative pandemic friendly twists on the holidays and will hopefully make some great memories just like we did for this Halloween. Below was one of our favorite games called donuts on a string, proving my daughter really will do just about anything for a donut.

Warmest Yarn

I did some testing to find the warmest yarn and was shocked with my test results since my testing found very different results than what you would find by searching for it online. I posted a video about it and made a blog post with a few more details. I got a lot of great feedback from this popular video and have already started thinking about ways to expand on this experiment.

EEW 6.0

I posted a video that shows what will come in the box of the EEW 6.0 in a Kickstarter update. It’s great to see how excited the community is for me to start shipping the EEW 6.0.  If you missed the Kickstarter the best option is to signup for an email notification so you will be one of the first to know when it’s in stock and ready for order (estimated to be around February).  I will of course announce this in the newsletter when the EEW 6.0 is in stock so if you don’t mind waiting for an extra few weeks this newsletter will work too.


– Maurice Ribble
(Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)

www.dreamingrobots.com
EEW Facebook Group
EEW Ravelry Group
EEW Youtube Channel
EEW Instagram Account

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The Warmest Yarn is Not Qiviut – Shocking Test Results!

Hello fiber lovers!  We have all wondered what is the warmest yarn to spin and knit.  If you ask the internet what is the warmest natural fiber the consensus says Qiviut. While researching this, I couldn’t find a site that explains how this was tested so I decided to test it myself.  I went into this expecting to see Qiviut was the warmest fiber and I just wanted to see by how much was it the warmest. My testing results were shocking!

I also made a video covering this topic. If you prefer the video format you can see it here.

Results

I’m not one to build suspense so the results are directly below. These results show how well different knitted test swatches insulate compared to no insulation. The testing methods section at the end of this post goes into the full details of how the testing was done.

These are not the results I was expecting. I collected results multiple times just to make sure the results were consistent and they were. All the test swatches are as close to the same density and thickness as I could get. I did some measurements on the thickness and they are all between 4 and 4.7mm. Even if I adjust for the slight difference in thickness it doesn’t make a difference in the rankings here.

From my testing this is how I’d rank these different yarns from warmest to coolest.

  1. Alaskan Malamute
  2. Merino
  3. Alpaca
  4. Silk
  5. Angora
  6. Qiviut
  7. Rose

Paper Towel (Control)

This was included to give a control to compare against. Obviously a single sheet of paper towel isn’t a great insulator, but it is significantly better than not having any insulator. It took 3.2 times as long to heat through a paper towel than it took to heat the water with no insulator between the hot plate and the water.

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a dog that was bred to haul heavy freight as a sled dog. So it should be no surprise that the their hair when turned into yarn is extremely warm. It was my warmest sample I tested by a significant margin. The yarn only uses the dog’s soft undercoat so in addition to being very warm it is extremely soft. The sample was probably the softest of any of the samples I had and it had a beautiful halo.

The problem with this sample is this isn’t a common type of fiber which makes it hard to get and really expensive. The good news is the next warmest fiber on my list is much easier to get so let’s look at that one.

Photo by SCMW – CC BY 3.0

Merino

This is the type of wool people say to use when you want a warm sweater, and it didn’t disappoint. It suprised me that it was the second warmest yarn in my tests. I expected some of the other exotic yarns to do much better, but after rerunning the tests several times I’m convinced in my testing with my samples it is the second warmest yarn. An added bonus is this is a fairly easy to get yarn and less expensive than most of the other yarns on this list.

Photo by Fir0002 – GNU 1.2

Alpaca

Alpaca’s performed well in this test. It turns out it isn’t quite as warm as Marino, but it did get third place in my testing. Alpaca’s are native to cold environments in the Andes Mountains and their fiber is an excellent insulator. I did some looking online to see how arm Alpaca is and it was certainly classified as a warm fiber. like that my testing shows how it compares to others.

Photo by Lesbardd- CC BA-SA 4.0

Silk

I wasn’t sure how silk would perform with insulating since it is from a silk worm that uses the silk to form a cocoon to protect themselves during metamorphosis, where as wool is there to keep sheep warm. That said, silk did a good job in my tests. It took around 5 times as long for heat to permeate the silk test swatch as compared to having no isolator. Silk is also a light weight and soft fiber.

Photo by Fastily – CC BY-SA 3.0

Angora

Angora fiber is the undercoat of Angora rabbits. When I searched for the warmest natural fibers it was usually Angora and Qiviut at the top of the list. So it was a shock that this fiber came in fifth place. To be fair the fibers that placed third through fifth were all very close so you could argue that Angora was basically tied for third. Still based on what I read online I was expecting this to do better than Merino wool, but it is well behind that. On the plus side this fiber was extremely soft and had a great halo.

Photo by Ross Little – CC BY-SA 2.0

Qiviut

The internet says this fiber from a musk-ox is warmest fiber. Many places say it is eight times warmer than wool. This is where my testing completely disagrees with those statements. I found Qiviut was not even close to as warm as Merino wool or a bunch of other fibers. The sample I purchase, which is the most expensive yarn I’ve ever purchased by the ounce, was from what seems like a reputable Qiviut fiber dealer and it was very soft.

I’m still a bit in shock that that Qiviut tested so poorly in my testing. I have verified my test swatch is similar in thickness to my other samples. I would like to test another sample of Qiviut someday, but I just can’t justify that expense for this blog post right now. That said even if I find a sample that is much warmer, it would still be difficult to beat some of the other fibers tested here.

Photo by Quartl – CC BY-SA 3.0

Rose

This knitted test swatch was the worst insulator of the knitted test swatches I tested. There are certainly times where you want a beautiful knitted garment, but you don’t want it to be too warm. Maybe it’s a warm summer night, but you want to wear that shawl on the beach. In those cases Rose yarn would be a good option.

This is fiber made from rose plants and turned into yarn. It is a cellulose fiber so I didn’t expect it to be a good insulating fiber. While I didn’t test it, bamboo would probably have similar properties and is more commonly found in yarn.

Update – There is some controversy about whether rose fiber is from rose bushes. Check out this article for another point of view.

Photo by JLPC – CC BY-SA 3.0

Does Human Body Warm Impact These Results?

Testing how warm people perceive different fibers is a completely different test. I’m including this section because it’s going to be a common question and I want to try and address it.

The human body is constantly generating heat at some point the insulating properties of the clothing you are wearing keeps enough of the heat on your body comfortably warm. So while the percentages above can help you see the relative insulating properties of different fibers, you shouldn’t take these numbers to be how warm they keep you in all cases. The human body is constantly adapting and switching from warming to cooling states so there is fairly wide range of temperatures you can be comfortable. Because of that even though some fibers might be better insulators, you might not even notice a difference in many situations.

From talking with many spinners and knitters, I believe softness of a fiber likely impacts how warm people think a fiber is. The mind is powerful, and just as sugar pill placebos can help reduce certain ailments I’m pretty sure people’s perception of what a warm fiber is will help keep you a little warmer. This isn’t going to keep you warm in really harsh conditions, but if you are comparing two different sweaters on a cool fall evening perception your mindset could well make a difference. I don’t have any papers directly addressing this this type of behavior so feel free to treat this point with some skepticism if you require that kind of proof.

Some fibers keep you warmer when wet. This page does a good job of explaining why wool has this property. In certain conditions this effect will affect how warm clothing feels.

Thickness is going to matter. If you have two scarves made from the same type of yarn, but one is knitted so the scarf is thicker then it will feel warmer. Use this to your advantage by trying to knit thinner garments when you want them cooler and thicker garments when you want them warmer.

So taking all this into account if you really wanted to figure out what knitting clothing feels the warmest, a scientific way to do that would be to create simliar thinkness/gage mitten out of several different yarns. Then have a lot of people try it on and put their hand in a cold box. You shouldn’t let them see the mitten or know which one it is. Ideally you would even put some extra covering over their hand so they couldn’t feel the fiber so that perception had minimal impact on this test. Then ask them to rate the warmth of the different mittens on a scale of 1 to 10. While I’d be interested in this kind of test it was beyond the scope of this post.

Testing Methods

I want to explain how I am testing this for a few reasons. The first is I couldn’t find anyone explaining this and as I mentioned in the introduction it’s important. Another reason I’m explaining my testing method is because it isn’t a standard method. The best way to do this testing would be to use thermal conductivity meter, but these chambers seem to cost over $10K USD which is way beyond my budget. I am using a modified version of the guarded hot plate method which is one of the most commonly used methods for measuring the thermal conductivity of insulation materials. Chapter 2.1 in this document explains this method. My version is modified because I only cared about a the relative difference in the insulation properties and thus didn’t need the much more complex Poensgen apparatus described in this paper.

Here are the tools I use in my method:

  • Thermometer (I’m using a Fluke DMM with a temperature probe)
  • Scale (I use this to measure 50 grams of water)
  • Stopwatch
  • Hotplate (I’m using a solder reflow plate because it’s accurate and has a controllable temperature)

The basic procedure is I put 50 grams of room temperature water into a small beaker. Then I put the insulator (a knitted test swatch) on the hot plate set to 120 degrees Celsius. Then I put the beaker of water on the insulator and measure the time it takes to raise the water by 10 degrees Celsius while using a 3d printed cover for the beaker to hold the thermometer in a consistent position. The longer it takes to heat the water the better the knitted test swatch insulates the beaker from the hot plate.

The main issue with this test is I don’t have it calibrated to give an output of thermal conductivity in the standard units of watts per meter-kelvin. It would be nice to have that, but a system that does that is more complex and beyond the scope of this project. Instead my measurements are only useful to compare them again each other. My testing methods work because I want to find the warmest yarn and my test will tell me which of the yarns I’ve tested is the warmest relative to the other yarns.

I want to give a huge thanks to Kathryn, who goes by the the alias CraftMeHappy on Ravelry for donating many of these test swatches.