Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unkinking yarn before reuse--why it is a good idea

A whole lot of test knitting goes on around chezTECH--for every idea which pans out, there are many (many.many.many) which don't.  As a consequence, a whole lot of yarn gets recycled--unraveled, unkinked and reknit.  TECHknitting blog has already shown HOW to unkink yarn, but I thought these photos might show WHY it's such a good idea.

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A hank of unraveled yarn before unkinking

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Before unkinking, closeup

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The same hank after unkinking

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After, closeup

The final step: the unkinked hank wound into a cake on a mechanical ball-winder:

Unkinked yarn in a cake

I believe you can see that this unkinked yarn will knit up so much better than the "before" ramen-noodle yarn.

Unkinking does add delay to the schedule, to allow the yarn to dry. However, wrapping the wet yarn in a thick towel and stomping on it removes an amazing amount of water. Cunningly spreading the hank on drying rack positioned over a radiator or hot-air heating vent can reduce the delay to an overnight, rather than 24 hours. In the summertime, spreading the hank on a drying rack in the shade on a breezy day has a similar speeding effect. (Don't dry yarn directly in the sun--it can become both coarse and faded.)

Best, TK
You have been reading TECHknitting blog on WHY to unkink yarn before reuse


kmkat said...

I do all my air drying on a rack in the laundry room -- directly under the ceiling fan :) (I should have put your blog on my "10 Things I Would Not Want To Live Without" post today. Darn.)

Laurie said...

Any thoughts on color issues between skeins knit into a garment that haven't had to be unkinked, along with skeins that are fresh from the factory? I'm thinking commercial yarn, same initial dyelot. Tnx!

Lykke said...

Have just discovered your blog. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge :-)

TECHknitter said...

Hi Laurie--the best way I know to determine this is to knit a swatch with 4 rows of the recycled yarn, then 4 rows of the new-from-the-skein yarn, repeating until you get a swatch with alternating 4-row stripes of new/recycled, about 30 or 40 rows high. Now, wash the swatch and block it. Lay it out in the sun, put on your reading glasses or take a magnifying glass in hand. Can you see the stripes or are they invisible? That will give you your answer.

If you CAN see the stripes, you have two choices.

1. You can take the new yarn, wind it into hanks, wash it, dry it and rewind it using a ball winder. This makes the new yarn like the recycled yarn

2. Use whichever you have less of (new or recycled) for bits where the stitch changes, like the ribbings and cuffs and collars. Because of the difference in texture between ribbing and stockinette,the slight slight color/texture change will be disguised

Thanks for writing--TK.

Angeluna said...

OK, OK, you've convince me. I was going to knit a pair of socks from kinky yarn, but you've talked me out of it.

Thanks! Your posts are always such a pleasure.

Marushka C. said...

Once again you are saving me from myself... I have a cardigan yoke to frog so I can start over with that yarn and a new pattern. Now I wish I had frogged it right away instead of putting it in the Knitting Bag of Shame for a few months! I will definitely wash that yarn before my next try. Thanks!

NMjewel said...

Gosh! I have questions. I just posted on the same topic today, and my friend directed me here.
First off, I was unsure if all yarns need the unkinking. I'm using pure cotton.
And second, what's up with the knitters who don't frog their projects but knit them right from the garment?
Thanks for your help!

TECHknitter said...

Hi NMJ--I'm not really sure why folks knit kinked yarn--when it gets washed, the gauge will be quite different than when it is being knit "ramen noodle" style.

As far as which yarns need to be unkinked, the answer is: any yarn which is kinked needs to be unkinked before knitting. Of course, some slick yarns unkink very easily, like mohair (assuming you can get it apart in the first place!) and alpaca--these yarns need only be put up into hanks and hung somewhere for a few days with a little weight on the end of the hank, and they are good to re-wind and go.

Cotton comes in two quite different types--mercerized (shiny) and unmercerized (dull, matte finish). The mercerized can sometimes be hung like mohair and alpaca, sometimes it has to be washed to unkink it. In my experience, the plain unmercerized cotton has to be made up into a hank and washed before re-use.

Thanks for writing. TK

Jinky said...

nice one!, what I did to unkink my yarn (after soaking it) hang it with a weight like a wooden hanger just to pull it down a little.

gayle said...

I've knit with kinked yarn in the past, and noticed that the stitches tended to be very uneven. (I'm a continental knitter, so my tension is a little bit looser.) So now I do go to the trouble of washing and relaxing the yarn when I have to rip.

azureus said...

A Ravelry member posted yesterday in the long-running felting thread about how she used her food dehydrator to dry a project in a few hours. I think that it's a great idea, and that it would work especially well to dry hanks of yarn.

KristiinaS said...

Just two days ago I washed my kinked yarn to be re-used for socks, and now you write about this important matter. I could not even imagine to knit kinked yarn, oh-no.
I think that your TECHknitting blog is one of the best places to get very good info, tips and answers. Thank you for this and I wish You a happy new year.

ValSew said...

Here's one to pair with the ceiling fan hint from kmkat. I purchased a plastic ceiling light grid panel to use for blocking. It allows air to flow through the blocked piece and the grid (while not in 1" squares, DARN!) is convenient to see if a scarf, cowl, etc. is lined up straight. Best of all, it makes the blocked items easy to move. I've even basted pieces to the grid when high humidity means it will take several days for items to dry and I know I will need to move them from room to room! The grid also fits over the bathtub nicely. Eventually (when I advance to making a sweater) I will try the 1-inch non-woven pattern grid fabric over the plastic grid to see if that will make garnment blocking more accurate.
ValSew on Ravelry

Dawn said...

Instead of washing, I steam the hanks by holding them over the steam jet from a teakettle. This avoids tangling and speeds drying time, since the yarn doesn't get soaking wet. I have only tried it with pure wool and mohair, but I've had no issues with the yarn afterward. Plus, it's strangely enjoyable to watch the yarn unkinking as I go.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Dawn--sounds interesting. I'll try it soon. Thanks for writing, TK

Barbara said...

Your post sounds such good sense - and I have gone back to your earlier piost on how to unkink yarn too. I shall try your advice next time I have kinked yarn. And I have a whole jumper I am planning to unravel to reuse th eyarn, so I shall defintely do it then. Wish I had a neat ball-winder though.

Evelyn said...

That is an interesting testament to the memory that wool has! The same trait that creates all those kinks will also allow your garment to maintain its shape!

kewpiedoll99 said...

Another way to remove most of the water from yarn that has been rinsed or washed to unkink it is putting it in the washing machine just for the spin cycle. I "discovered" this not too long ago and now I use it whenever I can to reduce the drying time. I also dye fiber and it helps reduce drying time there as well.

Carrie#K said...

Ah, so that's why it's a good idea. I use a salad spinner to spin out the excess water - slightly time consuming but no electricity needed.

Kath Youell said...

Thanks to this (and the 2/2007 post) on kinky yarn, and Dawn's teakettle comment I'm now rewinding my swatch gauges and getting ready to knit the actual shawl. I'd like to add that the judicious use of chopsticks kept my hands from being burned by my electric kettle and that I wish I'd kept the yarn on the chopsticks. I've got quite a mess that I'm rewinding. Next time I'll know better!

Coralaisly Alstadt said...

Being a hairdresser has its perks. When I unkink my yarn, after soaking it, I put it in what's normally the hood of my stand-up dryer (think old ladies with rollers in their hair. I have one of those in my guest room). When it's not in use, the hood creates a very ventilated bowl. I just throw it in there, turn it on cold, flip it over, run it back through, and usually by then it's dry. If I put it in a room with a celling fan and an open window, after it's done, the room doesn't even smell like wet livestock. Everybody wins haha.