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  • Patty strikes again! (Staying with the sports metaphors…)

  • Patty, this is amazing!! Thank you! I had always thought it was something in the way I held the yarn. Now, I can stop beating myself up over the “barber poles”!

  • I finally see the s and z shapes! Thank you!

  • Thank you Patty! I have always thought it was something I was doing wrong. Great article!

  • In discussions with other spinners I use the terms “z spun” and “‘s plied” or vice versa. In your article you use the term “Z-plied singles, plied together as an S-ply.” Since singles are not plied, wouldn’t it be clearer to use “spun” rather than “plied” for singles?

  • I would at times wonder why my knitting usually looked like barber poles, always thought it might be the way I pick ! Thanks for the explanation !

  • I envy your genius…

    • All this close observation of lovely yarn makes knitting even more of a happy healthy meditation for me! Thank you for adding soothing brain food to the mix!

  • Patty Patty!! Amazing explanation written succinctly, with humor. What can’t you do. I am new here and am officially hooked.(see what I did there). I appreciate you. Thank you.

  • I totally geeked out on this!!!! Thanks!!!!

  • Thank you sooooo much, Patty!!!

  • I too wondered why I get the vertical barber pole effect in my stitches! Throws my eye off when counting gauge. Speaking of counting, does it matter if I count the V’s or the upside down V’s as long as I’m consistent with which one I’m looking at?

  • No wonder It’s hard for me to keep seeing the ‘Vs’ when I’m trying to count for gauge–they keep turning into ‘Vs’ with the legs reversed! Thanks, Patty!

  • I may have to read it a few more times to really understand, but thank you! Like others, I thought it was something in the way I knit that created this, and also like you, I love the “barber pole” effect because as you note, it shows it was handknit. Thank you for your ever helpful explanations, and humor.

  • I finally understand! Also, I turned over one of the pictures to see that an S is an S is an S – whichever end of the strand you start with.

  • Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve been wondering about this very thing for the last several years!!! I now realize it’s them, not me! Thanks for the validation!

  • Bless you! Bless you! A thousand times Bless you! NOW I KNOW WHY MY KNITTING HAS LOOKED LIKE THAT!!!!!!!! And I’m not doing anything wrong! Thank you!!!

  • this is excellent. Can you say something about lopi? I’m using it for the first time and wondering about pilling, strength, etc. I’m loving working with it. It’s sort of like working with cotton candy without the stickiness!

  • What happens when you re-ball your yarn. Does it change the knitted results. I usually rewind my yarn so I get a perfect center pull.

  • Great info and refresher. Do some with machiners in mind. The group is growing.

  • Brilliant article, and funny too. Thank you Patty!

  • Patty you are addressing every bugaboo I have re knitting. (The last most helpful one was how to make more uniform stitches/achieve a more consistent gauge as a continental knitter. That was a big one). You may make a decent knitter out of me yet. (Every now and then something turns out spectacularly, which keeps me going. But mostly not.)

  • Lovely explanations! As a spinner and a knitter I prefer spinning S and plying Z because I’ve noticed my “picker” knit style causes commercially played yarn to untwist.

  • This was terrific!! Thanks so much.

  • Patti, You are wonderful! I love your sense of humor! I’m not sure I will ever keep all of this in my mind but it is interesting to read and to begin to understand. I’m still an advanced beginner or a beginning intermediate but I’m addicted to yarn and knitting. Thank you again and again!

  • Thank you so much for talking about this, I have always assumed it was me!

  • I agree with Patty: I love ‘em all!

  • This was one of the best explanations of the S and Z ply and why the fabric looks different . It explains the barber pole. I can’t recall where I read or watched something about the S and Z ply and how it relates to having the yarn twist more or untwist while knitting. And how that relates to how to wind your skein into a ball, whether to use the center pull or outer part of the ball to prevent this? It’s so annoying to have so much added twist to undo or having it untwist causing the yarn to sometimes split. Hope this made sense! And thanks!

  • Absolutely fascinating! Thank you for this article.

  • Oh!

  • Genius, as always. Just last night I was looking at the ribbing on a hat I was doing and noticing the vast textural difference in the columns of knits and purls.

  • I see clearly now! Great explanation and illustrations. Thank you.

  • Yes!! This!!
    It’s exactly what was happening when I just knit up gobs of stockinette using Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine DK for the first time — the visibly S-plied yarn didn’t “seem” unbalanced, my gauge was accurate, and the fabric wasn’t biased, but my knit stitches uniformly had that wonky barber pole thing going on! Also, the individual plies (also S?!?, plus I swear by my count there are 7…?) seemed to unravel as I was knitting (I’m a continental-style “picker) and then spring back into shape.
    The fabric is nice enough, but my stitches look like backwards N’s rather than the usual, even, V’s. I thought I was nuts, until I switched colors to a different brand of yarn (Anzula Squishy, held double) and everything appeared normal again.
    Very hard to find a discussion of this online until I stumbled upon your wonderful site.
    THANK YOU so much for offering such wonderful clarity to explain my mysterious stitch issue!