Saturday, February 3, 2007

Kinky yarn

includes a how-to
Recent minor events brought two kinds of kink to mind. No, not THAT kind. I mean the kind that happens when yarn doesn't lay straight as you try to knit it.

FIRST kind of kink--
knitted-in kinks
click picture
As I sat by a friend at a local guild meeting, she noticed a mistake a few rows down. She ripped, then began to knit up again. BUT--the yarn she'd ripped out was kinked. Her project must have sat for at least a couple of days--long enough for the yarn to set up in the loops and shapes of her knitting.

If my friend had kept knitting, her gauge would have suffered. Each stitch knitted with kinked yarn would take a longer, loopier, kinkier path around the needle instead of laying smooth as it should. Knitted-in kinks usually come out with moisture, so once the garment was washed, the kinks would have relaxed. The portion my friend had knitted with the kinked yarn would have been off-gauge--wider and messier than the rest of the fabric. True, that's not too bad for a couple of rows on a child's sleeve or the sole of a sock. But bad gauge on the breast of a woman's sweater might be a different story.

HOW TO relax knitted-in kinks

Method 1: steaming
Make a loose skein of the yarn to be de-kinked and lay it on the ironing board.  Set a steam iron to high and let it heat thoroughly.  If your iron has the "shot of steam" feature, so much the better, but any steam iron will work.

You don't actually iron the yarn, NO! For WOOL (as shown in the you-tube below) you can sorta-almost actually touch the yarn--not ever rest the iron on the yarn, you understand, but get it pretty darn close, just for an instant or two.  For non-wool (especially acrylic) do NOT get as close as shown in the video below, instead, hold the steaming iron an inch or so ABOVE the yarn.





When the yarn is soft and steamy, smooth it gently, then wind it and you can instantly re-knit it.
click picture
how to wind a hankMethod 2: Wetting
  Swish the hank briefly in warmish water. If the kinks persist, add some yarn-friendly soap, swish, then rinse in water of the same temperature. If the kinks come out, good. Roll up the hank in a towel, squish firmly without stretching, then lay to dry on a sweater-dryer or a different (dry) towel. However, if the kinks still don't come out with this amount of washing, AND IF the yarn you're trying to de-kink is only a portion, but not all of the yarn for an already-partly-knitted garment, you might have a problem.

See-most yarn will de-kink if you mash it around long enough. The problem is, the more you pull and twist, the more the de-kinked yarn changes. It might get thicker (felt) it might get thinner (stretch). Whichever way it changes, the de-kinked yarn might knit up differently than the never-kinked yarn in the rest of the garment. So IF you find that you have to seriously smack your yarn around to get the kinks out, AND IF the yarn you're trying to de-kink is only a portion of the yarn for an already-partly-knitted garment, you might want to quick cruise on down to the LYS and see if they have another ball or two in that dye lot...

If you need to de-kink a lot of yarn--enough to make a whole garment OR you need to de-kink some yarn, but the rest of that yarn is not yet knitted, then you have no worries. If you can de-kink the yarn with gentle methods, just de-kink what's kinked. If you need to seriously smack the yarn around to de-kink it, then make up all the yarn, the kinked and the never-kinked, into hanks and wash it all up the same. Feel free to smack and twist your yarn as much as you need to, to get the kinks out. Just be sure to smack around the never-kinked yarn too. Because all the yarn is getting the same treatment, there's no problem of differing gauges between the de-kinked and the never-kinked--it's all getting washed and processed the same. Just be sure to knit the gauge swatch out of yarn that's been through the same washing process.

The bad thing is, sometimes it's not you--it's the yarn. There really is some yarn that never wants to de-kink. With yarn this stubborn, you might try to tame its woolly little kinks with a spray-on fabric-relaxer like Downy Wrinkle Releaser. If that still doesn't work, you'll have to make up your own mind what do with it--I propose potholders.

SECOND kind of kink--
overtwisted yarn

A knitter at my LYS was knitting a sock. The yarn twisted, snaked and kinked as it went onto her needles. Perhaps the yarn was overspun at the mill, perhaps the yarn was center-pulled, then rewound hard to say. What was clear, however, is that the yarn wanted to writhe and kink because it had WAY too much twist.

When this kind of overtwisted kinky yarn is knitted up, the whole garment fights itself. The fabric never lies smooth, it humps and bumps, especially if the extra twist is worked down and corralled onto a short stretch of yarn, and then this extra-twisted portion is knitted up over a few stitches or the entire garment biases (or both).

Twisted kink is actually harder to eliminate than knitted-in kink. The best thing you can do is try to corral the excess twist down to one length of yarn, snap the work together with a rubber band so it doesn't unravel, hold that length of yarn in the air with the work dangling at the bottom for a weight, and let the whole business slowly untwist. Of course, you have to constantly work to corral the excess twist down the yarn, and then untwist every few lengths knit, so progress is S-L-O-W. If you find you have this kind of twisted kink, think about returning the yarn. Or, again--how about a batch of potholders?

Good knitting! --TK

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very informative.

February 4, 2007 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger Vicki Knitorious said...

I have problems with overtwisted yarn more often than not. Seriously. Sometimes it's yarn I've wound from a hank, and I wonder if there's a trick to that (how I should put it on the swift, how it should come off, this, that and the other -- I just want to knit!) and sometimes it's yarn I've purchased and I wonder if I've pulled it from the wrong end. Any hints on preventing this -- or determining whether it's overtwisted before I bring home a sweater's worth?

February 5, 2007 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Vicki. Thanks for your question. The folks at my LYS double wind each ball--once when it comes off the skein and again from the resulting ball into a second ball. Presumably the idea is that the second winding will undo any excess twist imparted by the first winding.

In my experience, a yarn which starts off overtwisted will not be cured by any amount of ball winding. However, with double winding, you're presumably not ADDING any extra twist.

Spinners are the ones who deal with the issue of overtwisted (a.k.a. overspun) yarn the most. They speak of "energetic singles" and other exotica. For a deeper answer to your question, probably tackle one of your spinning friends. Or, browse some spinning blogs?

As a humble non-spinning knitter, I can only say that my approach is to avoid the stuff because the resulting fabric tends to develop a noticable bias or hump itself up in some other direction.

My next post touches on how to scope out the properties of a yarn (and a pattern) you might be thinking about knitting...before you become too deeply committed.

February 5, 2007 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Michal said...

I have a hank of yarn with too much twist. I'm going to wind it into a center-pull ball and then try knitting both ends together. Hopefully, the two strands will automatically twist around each other (like plying) as I knit. We'll see how it works out! I found your blog recently and am enjoying it greatly. I hope you're gearing up into writing a book.

February 28, 2007 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Jessie B. said...

Thank you so much for this exceptionally thorough discussion of reusing yarn. Sadly, I'm about to re-knit a huge section of a sweater, and I was really concerned about what would happen when I washed the finished sweater and the never-washed yarn loosened or tightened differently from the already de-kinked bits. This was exactly what I needed to know!

February 13, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa-Maria said...

i just realized i had read a lace shawl pattern wrong (it's my first attempt at lace and as usual i just dived rigth in ;o) and i decided to frog it all and start over (sigh) - i used a laceweight yarn originally designed for crochet and it came wound on a roll of cardbord. so i rewound the kinked yarn over the not yet knitted yarn and when i next drew a bath, i used the steam from a really hot shower to de-kink it. worked like a charm. thanks for your advice on using steam and de-kinking in general. and thanks for all the great advice on here, you're doing a great job. so, thank you.

greetings from vienna!

March 10, 2008 at 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Linda Brannen said...

I had to frog a sweater, made from Lorna's Bulky, after it had been worn and washed. It was unbelievably hard to frog after washing. I've wound all the yarn back into cakes. It's not pretty.

Any suggestions.

Thanks in advance,

Linda

August 4, 2009 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Thanks. I didn't realise it was a problem before. But I'll unkink the yarn before I reuse it. I'm about to use that on a hat.

January 4, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Ann S. said...

Thanks for explaining about mixing old and new yarns. It looks like I should be able use the new yarn as is. I first learned about how to process the yarn from a 4H demo at the Oregon State Fair in the 80's. The young woman must have done a great demo because it's stuck with me all these years.

January 17, 2011 at 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Russell said...

This is exactly what I needed. Thank you for your blog, and thank you for your clear and concise explanations.

April 12, 2012 at 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Linda G said...

I seem to be buying more over spun yarn these days. I've come up with a low-tech solution that may help some people.
Most yarn is plyed using what is known as 'S' twist. If you hold the cut end of the yarn in your right hand and roll the skein up your lap from your knees toward your hips, you can remove excess S twist as you go. You'll know when you have removed enough twist when a folded piece of the yarn doesn't have any tendency to twist back onto itself.
Because time, body heat, and laundering tend to reset the twist ( this is the reason we need to remove those knitted-in kinks), you don't have to worry about the excess twist somehow returning when you aren't looking. ;-0))

December 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM  

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