I ended up doing lots of research for my series on yarn ply. The more I read, the more I realized how many holes there are in my knowledge. I also noticed yarn companies don't really supply a great deal of information and that is reflected in the Ravelry database. I have knitting friends who either love or hate Superwash yarns but that feature is not yet reflected in the search parameters. Update: Good news just came through on this, Ravelry has added more yarn attributes, one which is about the source of fiber including where it was scoured, milled and dyed. Another deals with sustainability; fair-trade, organic or recycled. This is great news I suspect we will see even more in the future.
I am seeing more yarn labeled with source info about specific breeds and I suspect that's a marketing tool but definitely one I'd like to see more of. I plan to do more reading and I'll share anything I feel is pertinent as I do so.
It's not surprising that we get unexpected results when we substitute yarns, as we knitters don't have access to all of the information regarding fibre and spinning methods. I also realized we have some problems with terminology, words morph in their meaning over time. Think about worsted as a weight and as a spinning method or the confusion between felting and fulling.
I'd like to give a shout out to yarnsub.com, the search parameters there are very flexible. Check out the tips here on how to use the database. You can exclude features such as Superwash by using the word not.
don't think it's up to yarn companies to educate us. That's something
we have to do for ourselves if we are so inclined. I've already heard
from a number of readers how much they enjoyed these posts. As I continued to do the research I realized I wanted to write about topics other than ply so once I get to the end I'll put links into the topic index under the heading of Yarn Characteristics .