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