From The Frog Pond: Questions And Answers
There were so many good questions and comments from The Frog Pond post on straightening curly yarn by skeining, soaking, and hanging to dry, that I decided to answer a few of them here.
Bethany H: This is actually the process used to set the twist in hand-spun yarn. So it makes perfect sense that it would work for yarn that's been frogged. 🙂
Sandi: Ha! You caught me. I learned to spin about a dozen years ago from my friend Keena in California. I've discovered that knowing how to make yarn has added immensely to my understanding of how best to knit with all the different yarns, as well as how to care for them before and after knitting. And for this article, I also consulted Liz Gipson, managing editor of Handwoven and former managing editor of Spin-Off, just to make sure I had all the facts straight!
Elizabeth K: My Granmma taught me to steam the yarn by pulling it in through the spout and out through the vent hole in the lid of a boiling teakettle. The water level must be low enough so the yarn doesn't actually get wet. After pulling it through the steam, wind the yarn into a skein to dry well before rolling it into a ball. This has to be done carefully to avoid scalding oneself, but it works!
Sandi: Yes, this is a variation on the the soak-and-hang method. I usually use the steam method for woolly yarns, and the soak-and-hang method for everything else. I actually tried the steam method with the 100% wool yarn used in the tutorial photos, but it did not smooth out all the curlies as much as I wanted; my second try with the soak-and-hang gave me the results I wanted. Sometimes a yarn likes one method better than the other 🙂
Remington4: I took all of the steps that you suggested for reviving curly yarn (even putting a weight on the skein's bottom while drying)—IT STILL ENDED UP BEING VERY CURLY!! I tried using it to knit a scarf, and it looked just awful. Any ideas?
Sandi: This can happen, particularly with a wool yarn with lots of lanolin in it. Try the steam method mentioned above. The particular yarn you are using may require the extra heat to help the moisture "unlock" those curls completely.
Sally H: This is great and doesn't seem too much to ask for lovely fresh straight yarn. My question is, what happens if you don't straighten—I've often had to frog huge chunks of projects and have just reknit them without a problem. Is it a timing thing? I'm wondering if something has been knit up for say less than a week, then it's OK to frog and reknit, but longer term knitted stuff needs the bath and hang treatment?
Sandi: Again: It depends on the fiber content and the properties of the yarn. No two yarns are exactly the same— each has been treated or dyed or spun in a particular way that gives it unique properties; these unique properties combine to give that yarn a certain amount of memory. Some yarns just plain forget the stitches once the knitting is unravelled; other yarns get curly right away. If you like the way the yarn comes off the unravelled project, then go ahead and knit with it. It's your knitting, after all!
Mary B: Since the yarn has memory, why doesn't just reusing the yarn from the ball work? It seems like it would eventually take the shape of the new project?
Sandi: Basically, you'd be piling a new memory on top of an old one. If the old stitches were a different gauge, or different shapes, then you will get the old kinks worked into new shapes and a twice-kinky fabric. Do a gauge swatch. If you like the way the fabric looks, then cast on and go for it. If you think the fabric looks like it has too many old memories, then go ahead and give the yarn a bath.
Korinthe: Just one question…Does this change the GAUGE of the now comfortably relaxed yarn?
Sandi: It depends on the yarn. (I sound like a robot: It. Depends. On. The. Yarn. Beep!) Personally, I would swatch again with the newly-refreshed yarn, just to be sure.
Connie G: The only question I still have is where do I find a frog trained to do the raveling, winding, soaking and hanging of the yarn for me?
Sandi: Ah. Cap'n Frog says that you have to kiss a lot of swatches to find your Fairy GodFrog.
Cap'n Frog appears courtesy of Barbara Naslund.
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? Mwhaaaaa…FOURTEEN UFOS! The pullover for my husband is nearing the armholes, and I am considering the best way to proceed with a certain pair of lace socks. And yes: I wore knitted wings for Halloween.