Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Feeling Groovy: An Interview with Leslie Charlton of Groovy Mama

I've been on a bit of a quest these days, looking for people in our community who take their yoga out into the world. Simply put, I've been talking to people who make an effort to practice what they preach and who make the world a better place, one small step at a time.

I met Leslie Charlton many years ago when she was a student in the SIAST Weaving Programme in Prince Albert. In her years as a weaver, Leslie was recognized by the Saskatchewan Craft Council for her beautiful woven rugs. Today, Leslie is the owner of Groovy Mama, a boutique store for parents and children. Leslie opened Groovy Mama with a mission, to bring high quality, preferably Canadian made, supplies to parents which would help to reduce consumer waste and promote local products. Recently, I interviewed Leslie in her store. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Leslie: I've been a knitter since I was a kid and a sewer all my life but mostly since Grade 8 Home Ec. when I started.  I made most of my own clothes when I was a teenager and in my twenties and took the weaving programme at SIAST.  I moved to Prince Albert to take that.  It changed my life, for sure. It was a great programme.  It got me collecting onion skins for the rest of my life!  Garbage doesn't look like garbage anymore. Funny how that happens. I was just thinking, too, my Grandma was a big fibre person, big knitter, sewer.  I think I take after her.  I love to make things from garbage. What appeals to me always is to look at the thing that nobody else sees and know that you can turn it into something else. That’s always been what turns me on, my excitement. I’d rather start with a pile of rags than start with beautifully hand spun yarn that somebody else did.  And everybody has her own ways of doing it, but that’s more my thing.  
A friend said to me one time, “It doesn't matter what you knit, as long as you start with gorgeous yarn. It doesn't matter how good you are because it’s going to turn out gorgeous.” I said, “But doesn't that seem like the work is done for you already?"  I love to take something that nobody would see the value in and turn it in to something beautiful, whether it be a fleece or old rags or burlap bags. Whatever. If it’s garbage, you make it into something and divert it from the landfill.  To me, that’s the. . .You’re not buying a product to make another product. Most real fibre people can understand that, I think. (Laughs.) What’s a real fibre person, anyway? 
I knew I wanted to open a business all the way along but when I had my daughter Evelyn, the stage was set that this would be the kind of business that I would open and in 2004, I opened Groovy Mama. My intention was to help mothers get through the hard times of postpartum or pregnancy or whatever, but it’s morphed into other things, too, like more baby products than I originally intended, but it’s good.  Cloth diapers were always something that I absolutely wanted to do and they should have been more accessible than they were at the time.
A lot of people have given their power over to marketing, though, you know. I give away a lot for free.  I see that as a difference, because I see myself as a retailer and maybe a mentor in some ways to customers. To have people buy a product, but leave feeling empowered and leave having learned something would be better than just to make a sales pitch and sell the product. I've insisted that classes remain free, even if it means me paying an instructor to come in to give the class, so it’s not a money-maker for me. 
And just because something sells, I’m not going to sell it. I've dropped many a product because it was made in Canada and then after several years, they decided to go offshore. And I don’t care how popular it is or how much money I make, there are lots of products I've never brought in as I thought that they didn't seem safe or they didn't seem sensible even though I get asked for them every day. 
Dragondancer: Do you get a chance to do your art and craft? 
Well, I don’t get as much of a chance as I thought I would. I remember the ladies at Traditions who originally owned it. They said, “Never open a store. As soon as you open a store, you’ll stop weaving.” And I thought, yeah, right, as if that would happen to me.  I opened the store and I stopped weaving. So I haven’t touched my looms in a while, but I’m building a weaving studio in my backyard.  I think I’m going to turn my office here into sort of a mini-studio that I can work on slow days on a few things. 
I always have big plans. I make some of the clothes for the store from old discarded clothes. I sanitize them and make baby shoes and sew things like that and knit baby hats.
D: You've been doing that for a while.
Leslie: Yes, and I can take that anywhere and it’s really simple knitting. The sewing needs a set up a little bit more, but that’s my thought with a little studio here in the back of the store, I can do it a lot more. And not buy anything. Just make it out of discarded items. That’s my thing. I don’t want to buy anything. 
My original intent was to sell something, you know, it was to be the anti-Walmart. It was to buy less. You come and you buy it once and you’re done. Like the whole idea of cloth diapers or a good baby carrier. I said, “I’m never going to sell the brand names.  And I’m never going to. . . .But it catches up to you. And it’s not that I've really bowed to it, but for example, people decided to become collectors of cloth diapers. And now, people are collectors of baby carriers. Consumerism discourages me. I find it really scary. When you've shopped for what you need, you find other things to shop for. And I’m just as much guilty of that as anyone else, but I think about it all the time.
We all do because you can’t get away from it. It’s just what I've seen. I wanted to make a place where you came in and you bought fewer toys because the toys that you bought were good quality. I try as much as I can. I try to say when somebody’s buying a new baby carrier, “ You’ll probably go online and somebody will tell you that you need 6 different carriers for the 6 different walks that you take with your child.” And I say, “It’s not true. You can do a great job with one. So don’t fall into that.” I try to tell people that. So maybe, I've kept a lot of things out of the marketplace and out of the landfill.
I was reading something, the Government of Canada allows something like 1500 new chemicals to be released into our marketplace every year and in the US, it’s about 2500 every year. Brand new chemicals that were never allowed into the marketplace. And I’m thinking, regardless, if I sew something with an old pair, an old set of curtains from Value Village that are 30 years old, it doesn't matter if they’re not organic. There’s not going to be a whole bunch of chemicals and Monsanto-ism in that fabric that would be in the fabric of today that’s not organic, fair trade. It’s good to divert that stuff from the landfill and make something better.
It’s unbelievable. All the new stuff just keeps getting made and made and everything else is just getting, I don’t know, it’s a little mind-boggling.
I can see that I’m headed for something. I’m going to make it a year of just making or buying used, my clothes. That’s my plan. Just to try to get it back. To get creative with it again. Fibre will be my thing again in probably about 5 years, it will be my full time job. It will make me zero money.
 Life is big and complex and there will always be another thing, but, I'm trying to shop a little less, be a little more careful, teach my kids a few good ideas. I tell them not to have as much stuff. So, maybe. . . 
I've become really good friends with all my competitors. There’s no feeling of “How dare they do this?” That’s been my favourite thing, I have to say. It’s just getting to know people and treating it like there’s something bigger, like you can actually still make a living and not make enemies.
And really, if we’re up against Walmart taking over our world, would it not be better to band together and make the experience with small business better for local people?
I think, if I had a civil servant job, I wouldn't take just because I could. I wouldn't go into the store room and take pens home just because they were there for the taking. At my shop, there are other ways that I could be making money and other things I could be selling, but  if it goes against, “Would I buy that for my child or am I just trying to con someone into getting this whether they need it or not, is that any different from just going into the supply room and taking the pens?” At the end of the day, you don’t just do it for the sake of doing it.

Leslie in Groovy Mama.  Stop by and say, "Hello!"


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Not MIA, Just Busy

Psst.  No time to post because I'm busy.  Weaving.  Tapestry.  Have a look:

I'll tell you more about this later.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

49 Reasons Not to Meditate (With Thanks to CS&N)

49 reasons, all in a line.
All of them good ones, all of them lies. (49 Bye-Byes, Stephen Stills) 

Over the years, I've heard many reasons why people don't meditate.  Here are some of them, with brief counter-arguments:

  1. Meditation is weird. (It's more common than you think. Most cultures do it in some form.)
  2. I don't have time. (Yes, you do. You're alive, aren't you?)
  3. I don't have space. (You can learn to meditate anywhere.)
  4. It's against my religion. (Most, if not all religions integrate meditation into their philosophies.)
  5. It's too religious. (There are secular meditation practices.)
  6. I can't sit still. (Sitting, standing, walking, lying down: these are the times to meditate.)
  7. I meditate when I knit and spin (or whatever). (You probably are relaxing; it's not the same.)
  8. I'm too lazy. (Are you breathing?)
  9. Meditation is for slackers. (Meditation is simple, but not as easy as you may believe.)
  10. I don't like zoning out. (Meditation is zoning in.)
  11. I like zoning out. (You can relax and meditate, perhaps just not at the same time.)
  12. I'm too tired. (Meditation can improve your energy levels.)
  13. I'm too young and inexperienced. (No time like the present.)
  14. I'm too old. (No time like the present.)
  15. My body is too stiff. (You can meditate lying down.)
  16. I'm too sick. (Meditation has been clinically shown to improve health and well-being.)
  17. My kids won't let me. (Have them join you.)
  18. My cat/dog won't let me. (Close the door. Or meditate on the cat/dog experience.)
  19. My partner doesn't like it. (He/she doesn't have to approve.  How do you know this?)
  20. It's boring. (Is breathing boring? Do you like chocolate?)
  21. I forget to do it. (There are apps for that.)
  22. I don't know how to get started. (Find a teacher, a book, an app.  Or just try sitting still.)
  23. I'm afraid. (Like any new thing, meditation can feel strange at first.)
  24. I don't like stealing from other cultures. (See #1.)
  25. Meditation is for spoiled, rich people. (Meditation is accessible to everyone.)
  26. Meditation is another way to oppress the poor. (Have you heard of Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi?)
  27. I don't like to chant. (I don't either.)
  28. I'd rather sleep. (Meditation has been shown to improve sleep patterns.)
  29. There's too much going on in the mornings. (Practice before you get out of bed.)
  30. When I get home, I just want to eat, relax and go to bed. (You can meditate during the day.)
  31. I'm in too much physical pain. (Meditation can alleviate pain and suffering.)
  32. I'm in too much emotional pain. (Proceed with caution, but see #31.)
  33. Meditation is a cult practice. (Which cult is that, again, please?)
  34. I'm afraid I'll disappear. (It's true: your ego may soften and you may become more open.)
  35. If I meditate, I won't be able to act normally. (Meditation helps you act more naturally.)
  36. I can't meditate alone. (Find a group.  Or start one.)
  37. I can't meditate with other people. (You can practice by yourself.)
  38. Meditation is for losers. (Meditation can help anyone. Even you.)
  39. I'm not enlightened enough. (Are you ever too dirty to wash?)
  40. I'll lose my job. (Really?  Perhaps you need to find another job?)
  41. I'll lose my friends. (I hope not, but see #40.)
  42. I don't like change. (Change happens constantly, whether you like it or not.)
  43. I prefer social action. (Meditation helps you engage with the world. See #26.)
  44. I'd rather spin, knit, run, whatever. (You can turn these actions into meditation practices.)
  45. I don't like feeling high. (You probably won't, unless you're very experienced or very lucky.)
  46. I don't want to add to my "to do" list. (Practice meditation as a hobby, not a chore.)
  47. Meditation has nothing to do with real life. (Meditation is about experiencing life as it is.)
  48. What's the point? (To learn to live Now not relive the past or anticipate the future.)
  49. I don't need to meditate. (Yes, yes, you do.  Whether you will or not is up to you.)
Congratulations!  If you've made it through this list, you've just completed a meditation practice.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Time of the Season: Deep in the Emerald Green Forest (That's a Wrap)

I love autumn weather. It's not officially fall, yet, but I can feel the crisp chill in the air in the evenings as the dew comes down. The moist air hangs heavy on the rooftops and grass when I haul myself out of bed to feed the animals after the sun comes up, which happens a wee bit later each day. Autumn is the time when I pack up my dye tools, finish summer projects and scout about for new things to explore when winter sets in and the snow is deep.

I finished my Emerald Green Forest Shawl yesterday.  The high twist in the spinning and plying made for very firm knitting and a very shriveled piece of work (Remember, you can click on the photos for a closer view):

My decision to fractal spin the tops for this shawl was a good one; the stripes show nicely here. The unblocked measurements of this shawl were 17 inches x 41 inches. I gave it a good soak in hot water and Eucalan and then pinned it out to its maximum size to block.  On the board, it measured 28 inches x 60 inches.  The relaxed measurement is 25 inches x 60 inches:

Here's a detail of the simple short row lace patterns:

It's been a productive summer.  I dyed many kilos of fleece, yarn and fabric and finished 3 wraps (2 from scratch in the past few months and the dyeing of the cashmere shawl). 

It was in assessing the summer's work that I came to an understanding of why I might be so obsessed with twist in yarn this past while. Although they are all protein fibres, the yarns in these shawls are very different in terms of twist, which affects their wearability and durability. The cashmere wrap on the left is made of a low twist hand spun singles-it has a luxurious hand, is the most comfortable to wear and has the most "street appeal;" this is the piece that people will touch and ooooh and aww over.  It is also the most delicate.  I'll have to warn people to be careful of their jewelry when they handle it and I'll have to be mindful of zippers and my earrings.  Any snag might break a thread.  

The middle wrap is knitted from a 2 ply hand spun Merino with more twist than the cashmere yarn. The Merino is still soft, but the addition of a ply and firmer twist means the shawl won't snag as easily or pill as badly as the cashmere will, although it is still quite fragile. Changing those factors means that this wrap will not be as luxuriously soft as the first one. 

Then we come to the Emerald Green Forest shawl. I spun Blue-faced Leicester tops for this yarn and I put a lot of twist in both the spinning and plying. I wanted to find the twist maximum in this piece, i.e., the point where I could add the most twist to the yarn, yet not have it be unwearable. I wanted to knit a wrap that will travel, something I could toss in a bag and not worry about having it pill or catch or, if it did snag, the yarn wouldn't break.  I wanted a shawl that, in theory, could survive a trip through the washing machine and the dryer without being destroyed, which would happen to the other two pieces if they had such an unfortunate adventure.  I think I've done just that-the shawl has a very firm hand, but it's not scratchy.  While it's visually appealing, people who touch it will get a surprise, because they'll expect it to be softer.  If I intended to sell my work, the Emerald Green Forest wrap would be the one languishing on the sale table, because people would think it too harsh. On the other hand the shawl will do exactly what I expect it to do and that's the point of all this testing for twist business, is it not?

You can see the shifts in yarn twist in this closeup of the wraps  It's a nice bit of serendipity that the three together remind me of the lovely fall colours soon to come:

If the last few posts about why I approach spinning and fibre arts in the way I do were confusing for you, perhaps this post and the accompanying photos explain my thought processes better.  When I make an effort to keep an open mind about the yarns I make and the ways in which I use them, I avoid being caught in expectations such as "Shawls, or lace knitting should be this or that." From a yoga perspective, practicing with an open mind and an open heart to all possibilities in the small things in life helps us to develop open minds and hearts to larger matters.  

I'm nowhere near that larger acceptance in most of my life, but I'm working on it.  When I pay attention, I sometimes get a glimpse of what the Dine/Naabeeho people mean when they speak of "Walking in Beauty." 

In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk
Through the returning seasons may I walk
Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds, 
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk
With dew about my feet may I walk
With beauty may I walk
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty. (Navajo Prayer)

There is much joy in this.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Way We Do Those Things We Do: Moving Towards a Yoga of Fibre Work (Why I Blather on About All This Stuff)

I've had a number of responses and questions about my last post on twist and measuring yarns.  Some of them make me wonder if I'm simply trying to set straw men/women/spinners on fire because it seems that other spinners haven't experienced situations where twist and yarn measurements haven't been clearly explained nor has it been suggested that the way we measure twist in yarns is set in stone. To those people, I say most sincerely, "Wonderful!  Glad to hear it! May you always have such positive experiences." People have asked me why we don't generally list TPI as a range; others say that people most often do just that.  (I've asked for examples.) Others don't understand my math. (I don't either, sometimes.) It's been suggested that I may have misunderstood writers like Peter Teal because his later work argues in favour of using TPI. (I haven't checked this out. There is so much material on measuring yarns out there that I've only reviewed a tiny bit of it. If I've misinterpreted someone's results or intent, I apologize and stand corrected.) I'm going back and forth on common yarn measuring systems with my very knowledgeable Master Spinner fellow spinning geek, Coleen. Every comment, contradiction and unanswered question means that I need and want to explore spinning further. I will continue to do this, but for now, I've decided to change directions and lead you back to the path I was walking when I first began this blog.

Apart from attempting to understand the practical applications of spinning theories, my main goal in my explorations in fibre is to contribute to a clearer language for those of us interested in discussing our passions.  I'm not a big fan of dichotomies; I don't tend to believe much in "I am right and you are wrong." (Except when I am convinced that I am right, of course.  I am exquisitely human and very capable of spouting off while standing on my favourite soapbox, which usually means that I will get knocked off of it. Sometimes, that means a hard and very public fall.) My biggest pet peeve is that people tend to accept what they are told without investigating things for themselves, which might not mean much in the fibre world, but which can lead to a world of hurt in larger perspectives. (I've witnessed a few epic battles in the fibre world, too.) My second largest pet peeve is with those who undermine (which is not the same as questioning and challenging) other people's work or beliefs or experiences without recognizing how their personal biases, actions and make up might influence their own conclusions.  As I noted in the post on twist, it's not always a case of right and wrong.

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, there are passages which discuss Right Knowledge and Wrong Knowledge.  (I'm stating this very simply here.  The study of yoga is complex and just as open to debate as spinning, if not more so.) Right Knowledge means that we know things which can be verified through various systems:

1.7 Of these five, there are three ways of gaining correct knowledge (pramana): 1) perception, 2) inference, and 3) testimony or verbal communication from others who have knowledge. 
(pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani) 

Wrong Knowledge involves working with false perceptions:

1.8 Incorrect knowledge or illusion (viparyaya) is false knowledge formed by perceiving a thing as being other than what it really is.(viparyayah mithya jnanam atad rupa pratistham) 

We come to Knowledge in various ways (Click here for one explanation of these systems.), but the best way to attain Right Knowledge is to practice direct experience, reasoning and then validation from authority. These 3 paths must converge in order to attain Right Knowledge.  Wrong Knowledge arises from, among other things, shifting perceptions, relationships with other people and entrenchment in beliefs. If we cling to what we are told or think is true, we are likely on the path of Wrong Knowledge.  Testing one's assumptions is a first step in moving back to walking towards Right Knowledge.

Here's a visual example.  The first photo shows a section of one of my small tapestries:

Pretty simple and easy to understand, no?  It's likely that you see some kind of floral image. Now, suppose that I begin shifting the framework and filtering the original image, like so:

Although you can still get some idea of my original weaving, the layers I've added distort the image so that we may no longer agree as to exactly what is shown here.  The more layers I add, the more our perceptions of the original image will shift.  You may believe that you prefer one image to the other. The original weaving remains the same but our experiences of that weaving diverge as soon as I photograph it, and increase with each filter I add.  Well, life is exactly like that: we have an experience, but instead of appreciating that experience, we begin to add layers of meaning and filters which we've acquired through the stories we tell ourselves. Those filters are there whether we are examining yarn or discussing politics. Having filters isn't wrong, but our refusal to acknowledge them can make it very difficult to find, let alone walk on, common ground. (A very heated public battle over a local barbershop and its practices comes to mind as a prime example of how filters affect our perceptions.)

If this discussion is getting pretty weird for you, you have my sympathies. If it bores you to tears, I get that, too. It's not often that a fibre person works to unite yoga with spinning. (If you're out there, please let me know. I'd love to chat. For everyone else, well, I do warn you what this blog is about in its title!) It's important for me to apply my yoga/meditation practice to my life; yoga, after all, seeks to unite, not divide.  If yoga doesn't have practical applications in even the smallest areas of life, it is simply another way to exercise (to quote Sarah, my teacher).

So on I go, searching and searching for Right Knowledge in every space in my Universe. Sometimes, this makes life difficult and I get a practical lesson as to why Colin, another teacher, warns people to be careful in starting down the yoga road at all. On the other hand, the more I apply a yogic system of seeking knowledge in my life, the more I discover that opposing viewpoints are simply matters of perception, not actual conflicts.  Working within this perspective means there are fewer schisms among people.  You may be right; I may be wrong or vice versa.  We may also both be wrong or both right.  By accepting these possibilities, maybe we can begin to understand why we do those things we do in the way we do them.  If we start small, with our hobbies, vocations and passions, perhaps we can expand such shifts in perspectives and apply them to the larger world.  Think of the possibilities.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Twisting the Night Away: Myths and Secrets of Measuring Yarn Twist (Or How a Fibre Geek Enjoys Her Long Weekend)

I've been spinning and ciphering, measuring and mulling over metres of yarn the past few days.  It began with a question and then some comments on a fibre internet site and a discovery on my part that not all spinners measured their yarns in the same way.  I realized that for all the time I've been spinning, I'm still making assumptions about yarn and its properties which I have not tested for myself.  This will not do.

So, out came the reference materials, stacks of books and magazines back to the late l970's and '80's.  I read about twist and twist calculations, thought about theories and mathematical formulae by such spinning luminaries as Alden Amos, Rita Buchanan, Allen Fannin, Anne Field, Mabel Ross, and Peter Teal.  I looked up practices by contemporary spinners such as Jacey Boggs and Jillian Moreno. Since I'd always been told that the formulae for calculating twists per inch in hand spun yarn were based on industrial standards, I looked those up, too.  (Yikes, by the way!  If you're a math geek, which I'm not, you'll love clicking to this site.  Me, not so much.) I spun some yarn, measured it, finished it, then set up a laboratory of yarn measuring tools on the kitchen table and measured again. I checked and rechecked my calculations. I called in a consultant-Mr. DD, who knows very little about yarn twist, but who does know a lot about tools-and I asked him to do some yarn measurements based on the instructions given with a particular tool.

These are the yarns I spun, using generic wool roving in black and white.  From left to right, there is a skein of white singles, with a black tracer yarn, a black singles with a white tracer, a 2 ply spun with equal amounts of spinning and plying twist, a 2 ply with twice as much plying twist as spinning twist and a 2 ply with half as much plying twist as spinning twist.  All yarns were spun Z and the plied yarns were plied S.  While I didn't spin to a standard, I did measure my drafting length (12 inches), and my treadle count (4 per drafting length for a theoretical twists per inch of 3 (4 treadles x 9 turns per treadle) divided by 12 inches = 3 twists per inch of yarn).  I used a short backward draw (my default) on a Lendrum Single Treadle with a 9:1 whorl.  I spun a basic beginner/intermediate yarn, the kind of yarn a spinner might make during a session of casual spinning, after which she decides she likes what she's done and would like to make more for a project.

This is my sample sheet. If you click on the photo, you should be able to read my calculations, so I won't relist them. In general, I aimed for 3 Twists Per Inch (TPI) in my yarns; in most cases, I was out by .25 to less than .5 turns per inch in the finished yarns. I used Mabel Ross's formulae for calculating TPI in yarns, because hers is the most common way to measure TPI in spinning programmes and literature.  Mabel's theories make sense on paper, but what I discovered was a bit of a surprise-although I'm an experienced spinner and do a lot of calculations on hand spun yarn, no matter how carefully I worked, my results did not always line up with the given equations.  They were closer when I was spinning a more or less balanced yarn, but when I began playing with the amount of twist, all bets were off, even using Ms. Ross's calculations for fancy yarns.  Not only that, TPI, like so many other things in spinning, was affected by finishing (in this case, a hot soapy wash and hot rinses), shifting the TPI from .25 to .75 turns per inch. While a .25 variation in TPI might not be noticeable in a yarn with more twist, it's certainly noticeable in such low twist yarns; a .75 variation in TPI is a large difference in these types of yarns.

Hmm.  Using TPI as a measurement system was not working out well for me, which could be for several reasons: a) I wasn't careful enough when spinning and measuring (I did my best and measured each yarn 4 times in 4 different sections); b) I don't know how to measure yarns (I read the books and practiced, practiced, practiced.); c) TPI measurements work in theory, but may not work as well in real life.

Next came Wraps per Inch (WPI).  In the upper left hand corner of the above photograph, you can see my standard method for measuring WPI-I wind the yarn around the one inch segment of an embroidery thread holder.  (Actually, I wind the card to wrap the yarn in order to maintain twist consistency.)  I measured the yarns again, using a Spinner's Control Card and the iSpinToolkit on my iPad.  (That's a tricky one: much as I love this app, if you load it onto an iPad mini instead of an iPod or iPhone, the scale changes.  The TPI gauge becomes a 2 inch x 2 inch square, rather than a 1 X 1, so you have to divide everything by 2.  Not only that, the instructions for calculating TPI from your measurements are incorrect, or at least, open to interpretation.  Most spinners will catch the shift in scale, but may not catch it on the WPI gauge where the WPI count at least doubles, i.e., the 7 WPI I wound on a card became a 14 WPI using the app, which would be a major problem if you didn't know or didn't catch the change. Just to throw a bigger wrench into the system, the Angle of Twist calculator on the app is accurate.)  The WPI count between the cards and the Spinner's Control tool were very close for the balanced yarns, but way off for the overplied sample, with my wrapping giving me a count of 8 WPI and the tool a count of 12 WPI.  (Mr. DD points out that holding the yarns "taut" as instructed in the control kit is open to interpretation, because he tended to stretch the yarns out more firmly than I did, which would affect a lively, overtwisted yarn more than a balanced yarn.) So, I either improved my accuracy in measuring yarns with WPI or measuring WPI is a more consistent way to measure yarn size, although it doesn't help for measuring how much twist is in a given yarn, which calculating TPI is designed to do.

For my second attempt at measuring yarn twist, I turned to Angle of Twist (AofT). The theory here is simple: if you line those yarns up against a protractor or an angle guide so that the angle in the plies (or the tracers in the singles) align with the angle on your guide, you'll have the AofT which tells you how much twist you have in a given yarn.  You can't compare yarn size with this measurement, because yarns of varying sizes can have the same AofT, but you can judge relative firmness or softness in your yarns. I used a clear plastic protractor and the Angle of Twist guide on my iSpin app.

This calculation is where my measurement skills truly shone.  Either that, or measuring AofT is an accurate guide to yarn twist, because I was just about bang on every time I measured my samples.  My measurements using the protractor were off by between .1 and .4 of a degree compared to the measurements on the app.  (Mr. DD's yarn measurements using these tools were dead on.)  Yay, me. All this ciphering had done me some good.

Well, perhaps.  Perhaps several decades of calculating yarn measurements had been improved by a day's worth of careful calculations.  What I suspect is more likely-I'm open to debate on this one and will do further testing-is that TPI, which is used so much in the spinning world to compare yarns, in reality, may not be a very reliable method of measuring yarn twist.  It has its uses; like WPI, your practiced TPI counts are likely highly accurate when measuring your own yarns; however, if you or I are measuring and comparing one another's yarns, our calculations may vary widely and not necessarily because one of us doesn't know how to do math. The theory behind it is great and is useful when you are spinning your yarns, but as a system of measuring those yarns, a combination of WPI and AofT calculations might allow us to compare our yarns more accurately.

Spinners look for a common language to compare our yarns so that we can better understand how other spinners (and commercial mills) design and spin their yarns and how we can control and improve our our work. It may not be that one spinner is correct and the other is wrong in the way we measure yarns.  Like language, there are nuances, subtle differences in how an individual speaks about the yarns she makes. The language of yarn and the differences among us are affected by simple things such as the way we hold our wrists when spinning, how hard we push on the treadles, the tiny shifts in drafting length we make as we spin and spin and spin.  Our yarn measurements may change with the degree of pressure in our winding or the way we lay our yarns under a tool or even with what we expect to find as we do those measurements. This doesn't mean that we should abandon our calculations and our measuring tools.  It may just mean that we need to learn to sing and dance with our yarns differently.