Sunday, May 30, 2010

iSpin Toolkit ~ Let's Check Out This App!

Hi. I thought it would be fun to really explore iSpin Toolkit together. Here's my latest skein of handspun, so let's use it as our model. I'll go step by step through the tools offered by the application so you can see and decide for yourself if this is an app for you!

The first screen you see when you open iSpin is Twist Angle. Whether your final yarn is a Z or an S twist (spun clockwise or counterclockwise), you can measure the angle of that twist. You line your yarn up parallel to the center line and then drag your finger across the screen to adjust the angle lines. The angle of my yarn seems to be right about 16.3 degrees.

I have to say that I mostly spin for my own enjoyment. I don't enter my yarns into competition nor do I embark on a project thinking about the exact angle I want for my twist. However, let's say I use this yarn for a larger project and I need to spin a second skein. Knowing the angle of my twist gives me a detail of information that will help me produce a second skein that is as similar to the first as possible.

Moving along the bottom bar, next we come to a WPI (Wraps Per Inch) Gauge. You can scroll down to discover stripes and find the one that best matches the width of your yarn. It gives you instructions to help you find the right one.

My yarn seems to be about 13 WPI. If I don't trust this guage, I can go ahead and wrap my yarn around say, this Sharpie, and then hold it up to a ruler and count my wraps. Do I have to go hunting for a ruler? No, I can just click on More in my iSpin App and there is a ruler right there for my convenience. How about that?

So now we know our WPI. What can we do with this information? If we move on to the next button, we can pull up a whole list of calculators. Second on the list is WPI to Grist. Grist refers to the length of your yarn per unit mass.

When I enter my yarn's WPI, 13, I receive an approximation of how many yards per pound or per ounce I have. It also indicates meters per kilo or gram if you use the metric system.

Uh oh, wait a minute. I know I have more yards than that calculation would indicate. Hmm...

I need to pause at the moment to say that I am writing this in real time and taking pictures as I go. So I feel I've hit a snag.

I weigh my yarn and I have 2.4 oz. If I believe my 13 WPI calculation, that would mean that this skein is only 25.344 yards and I just know that isn't true.

Next I take out my yarn meter and run the skein through. It shows 335 feet so that's 111 yards. Then I wrap my yarn around a 2 yard niddy noddy and I count 64 wraps so that's 128 yards. The difference between the yarn meter and the niddy noddy make sense to me because there is more tension involved in wrapping the niddy noddy, whereas the yarn is barely stretched at all going through the yarn meter.

Ok, so I must be way off on my WPI. The WPI gauge does say to hold my yarn "taut, but not stretched" which I really didn't do the first time around because I was taking pictures. So I went back and held the yarn taut between my fingers. The difference was significant. I now estimate my yarn at 27 WPI which would give me a grist of approx 45.56 yards per ounce which works out to 109.344 yards which seems to be a much more accurate approximation. I would, however, have to squish my yarn pretty tightly together around my Sharpie to have 27 wraps squeeze into an inch. This leaves me a bit ambivalent about this particular gauge.

So the lesson here is that you definitely have to hold your yarn taut when gauging your WPI. I would take it farther and say that the first few times you use this tool, you should double check your numbers. I think that once you get used to the gauge, you could feel comfortable with the accuracy of the calculations. Just remember they are approximations.

I've digressed, but maybe I've saved you from the same hiccup. That would be nice. No one likes the hiccups.

Moving on, there is a simple one inch square that you can use to measure your twists per inch. Next to that I have a picture of a calculator that I find fascinating, but I warn you, I haven't tested. This calculator estimates the number of treadles needed to create your desired TPI (twists per inch) taking into consideration your wheel ratio and your draft zone. That's almost too much information!

Finally I took a picture of a little chart I always find useful, defining yarn weights. I didn't notice this at first and then I scrolled all the way to the bottom of the WPI Gauge and there it was. This was a happy discovery.

I haven't covered everything. There are quite a few calculators and I kind of need to move on with my day. I guess we'll have to call this an overview. All in all, I'm still a fan of iSpin Toolkit even after my little WPI adventure.
I'm sure I will find myself using some features of this app more than others, but I'm alright with that. Part of me is just excited that someone would think to create such a tool just for us spinners. That is a unique and special event!

1 comment:

courtney said...

we need another app like we need a hole in the head... but...
ya, i'm downloading this one!
:D thanks for sharing!