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. :)
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 :)
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
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.