Let’s first ask the question of why one would want to clone a commercial yarn? The most common answer is that they want to make something that was done in a specific yarn and they like that specific look. Or you are trying to match a yarn to a pattern. I had to clone both a 2 ply and a 3 ply commercial yarn for class.
The 2 ply was not to bad, In fact I was able to find two different commercial two ply yarns in my dwindling personal stash. The one I chose to use was I think Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran. It looks right and that is what is on my Ravelry page But I am surprised to find I was knitting with something with cashmere in it way back when I would have used this yarn. So we can say it’s that or something VERY similar to that. Since I did not have the ball band anymore, I had to gather my facts from the yarn itself. I took the yarn’s TPI (twists per inch) and WPI (wraps per inch). I used Corridale Roving and Silk noil to clone this yarn. It was relatively simple. My target numbers from the commercial yarn were, 4TPI & 8WPI. The yarn was also squishy and had some thick thin parts that scream woolen to me, so I decided that my clone would be spun woolen. I used a commercially prepared Corridale top and blended it with silk noils into rolags to recreate the speckles in the original yarn. The rolags were spun long draw on my Louet. My finished yarn is the same 4 TPI and 8 WPI as the original. Here is a pic of them together.
On to the three ply yarn. First let me say that finding a true three ply was a bit of a challenge. I kept looking through my very limited stash and found cabled yarns, and 4 ply yarns. Finally I found a 3 ply from knit picks. Yay…. or so I thought. It is a fingering weight yarn, with a TPI of 3. I am not certain how they were able to keep the yarn together at such a low TPI. So then I raided some friends stashes and found two other contenders. One was a much thicker yarn, the other was another fingering weight sock yarn. I decided to start with the fingering weight yarn. I was pretty sure I was going to end up cloning the other. Ha. I got it right the first time. The yarn I cloned was Pattons Kroy. It is a 3 ply fingering weight wool/nylon blend. I decided to skip the nylon, as I don’t have any and I figured that it was not so important. This can be argued at a later time. The Pattons has a 5TPI and 12WPI. That is still a very low number on the TPI for a fingering weight yarn. I was not sure I could make that happen with a fine wool, so I again opted for some Corridale top. I struggled to spin my singles the correct TPI so that I could get a 5 tpi yarn. I really thought my yarn would ended up with a far larger grist there by giving it a smaller WPI. I ended up with a finished 3 ply with a TPI of 5 an a WPI of 12. What I will say is that my yarn is WAY more dense than the Kroy. The Patons yarn feels under plied compared to my clone.
I am still left pondering what the final criteria is for successfully cloning a yarn. Is it getting the numbers correct? Or at the end of the day is it getting a yarn that works in your pattern in the same manner that the original yarn did? My money is on the second. Hand spinning can be very technical, but it is still art. While I want to be able to spin yarn for all the amazing knitwear patterns out there. I am not highly concerned that I can make a yarn exactly like a commercial yarn.