Technique Tuesday: Softening Scratchy Wool

I wasn't planning on writing a post until later, but I'm stuck home until it stops storming (I am NOT walking two miles to the library with lightning less than a mile away), so here I am.

Sometimes we fall in love with a yarn, eyes meet from across a crowded LYS. It's beautiful, the colors are so vibrant, the thick/thin texture is so pretty, I want to rub it on my face... OH MY GOD IT FEELS LIKE SANDPAPER. And then it's all you can do to not drop it on the floor and run away screaming.

Ever had that happen to you? Yeah, me too.

Well, all hope is not lost for you and your beautiful stranger. With the right care and a few tricks, you can get her scrubbed up and presentable. It won't turn the roughest of yarns into soft silk, but it will be a huge improvement.

Loop me, Skein Me
How is your yarn put up? If it's already in hanks, you're all set! Skip this step and move on to the next one. If it's in a skein or ball, you've got a little bit of work ahead.

Grab two chairs out of the dining room and place them back to back, about a foot apart. Or use a swift, if you're lucky enough to have one. Wrap the yarn around the chairs in a big loop (not too tight) until you reach the end of the ball. Cut a few pieces of scrap yarn and tie them around the yarn, so it doesn't get tangled and stays in a nice loop shape.

I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of my... Yarn
Now it's time to wash.

There are lots of commercial washing products out there. Soak is one popular example. However, I've found the cheapest and easiest method is conditioner. Yes, the same stuff you use on your hair.

Run a sink (or bathtub if you have a lot of wool) full of cool water. Mix in a few drops of conditioner (I use about two drops per gallon) and swish around to get it all mixed together. Drop in your big yarn loop, and push it under the surface of the water for a moment to get all the air bubbles out.

Pina Colada time!
Take a break and let the wool soak for about half an hour.

When time's up, come back and get your yarn. You may see some of the dye bled into the water, but that's normal and not something to worry about (unless there's so much left that you could dye another 10 skeins). Wrap your yarn up in a towel and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Don't twist or wring it, as this could break the fibers.

Now hang your loop up to dry. The towel bar works well, as does the shower head. Anywhere that it's not going to drip on your rug. It might take some time to dry out completely, but resist the urge to take it down until it's completely dry, or you risk mold. And that's gross, homes.

Final Step
All done! Doesn't it feel much better? Yeah, probably going to be much more pleasant to knit with after this.

Now you can twist it up to make a hank, or just wind into a ball and start knitting straight away. Enjoy!


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