Unkinking Yarn

26 Oct

Now there’s an interesting title, huh?  When you unravel a sweater, the yarn is super kinky from when it was knitted. Wool holds its shape and it needs to relax a bit before you can reknit it.  So what’s the best way to get those kinks out?  I don’t know. So yesterday I tried a number of things on the same sweater yarn – 100% merino fiber –  to see which method would look best.

Here’s the original yarn after I took it off the sweater and put it in balls/cakes.


I transfer the yarn from this cake form to my yarn swift.


I do this for two reasons. You need the yarn in a large loop so that the water can soak into it properly. Also I want to know the yardage of what I have here because I think I might have enough for a sweater.  Most of the time I use my yarn for a lot of accessories so I don’t care about yardage. But this one might work for a sweater.  To calculate yardage I count the number of revolutions around the yarn swift on this given ball/hank.  I tie the yarn in four places.  Then slip the yarn off the swift.  Then I do the math.  I didn’t save the scratch piece of paper that I did the math on but basically I take the number of total revolutions X the number of inches around the yarn swift / 36.  That tells me how many yards are there.  Where I had the yarn swift set, there are 59 inches around one pass.  40 passes around = 2360 inches / 36 = 65.5 yards for however many grams this particular yarn weighed.  Since I didn’t save my numbers, I don’t know how many grams but I will pretend it was 66 grams.  Now you need to figure out how many yards are in ONE gram.  So in my simple example (where I’ve rigged the numbers), 1g = 1 yard.  In reality I’ve got my real numbers saved with the bag of yarn.

????????So 19 grams = 100 yards and I weighed the entire bag after I unraveled the sweater.  There are 303g of yarn caked so that comes to approximately 1595 yards total.  That is enough for a sweater!  🙂

Okay – back to unkinking…

????????Here’s the yarn straight off the yarn swift.  Now that’s kinky yarn.  I probably shouldn’t use that word since the search engines are going to have a field day pointing less than desirable surfers to my blog.

Okay – so here’s what I did with each hank of yarn.

  1. I soaked one in wool wash and lukewarm water for 1 hour.
  2. I soaked one in wool wash and lukewarm water for 6 hours.
  3. I soaked one in Dawn dishsoap (just a little – I didn’t want to take out the lanolin) for one hour.
  4. I soaked one in hair conditioner for a couple hours.
  5. I cooked one over the stove.  I started out with lukewarm water and the yarn in the water. I brought the temperature up gradually to just below boiling.  Then I let it cool naturally. I didn’t want felting to happen.

So what are the results?

????????The far right is the original and the rest look pretty much the same.

????????????????Significantly relaxed but not straight. Why not? I don’t know.  I’ve had mixed success with getting some yarn to straighten.  Some people say it’s the fiber content. Some say it depends on if the original garment was dry cleaned. It might take 2-3 soakings to get the dry cleaning chemicals out of the yarn.

I’m going to knit a swatch with one of these and see what the result is. If I can’t tell after I wash the swatch that there’s a kink, then I’ll leave it. If I can tell, then I’ll try soaking the yarn again after it’s rested.


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