A Making-Yarn Question.

I feel like a horrible liar if you think my previous blog was my absolute first attempt at spinning. To be perfectly honest, I plied about 15 yards of rope in the natural color right before spinning this spindleful. I don't like to consider that as yarn. More like a practice run. But it's there. I like to know how people get to where they are, so I offer you my mistake yarn to show more of this yarn's history.

Now for the question. I have heard about "setting the twist" of the yarn. Is this necessary? What's it do? and how do you set about doing it? You can imagine I'm eager to knit my new yarn up. Also, does anyone have a project suggestion for 86 yards of bulky/super bulky handspun yarn?

I'm including a few more pics of the yarn's story. one's for Albert.
And the last pic is the yarn in question.

Image icon p_00468.jpg557.11 KB
Image icon p_00464.jpg362.92 KB
Image icon p_00462.jpg252.6 KB
Image icon p_00477.jpg222.67 KB


rjcb3's picture

I guess it's not *absolutely* necessary...if you want the politician's answer.

I've knit right off of the spindle before, but, the yarn does twist upon itself and can and will do it three or four times over on itself and can be a real %!+(# to untangle.

So, it's best to set it. Isn't much of a procedure to do, really...all you do is pretty much skein it up, but instead of twisting the wreath into a skein, bind it in several spots, then soak it through and through in water from your hot water tap in a basin or bucket for a good ten, fifteen, twenty, or so minutes, and hang it to dry thoroughly.

The worst part is the anticipation while waiting for it to dry...you're just itching to use it.


WillyG's picture

thanks...you hit the nail on the head in that last statement

Nathanael's picture

My spinning instructor also recommended to add a very small amount of shampoo to the water, since wool is, after all, hair, and that will help remove any oils that may have transferred to the wool during the spinning process. Also, be sure to not agitate the soaking yarn, or you will end up with a felted piece instead of yarn. When you hang it to dry, it is helpful to hang a light-weight item on the bottom of the skein so help set the fibers. Don't get too heavy of a weight, or you risk stretching, breaking, or setting a crease in the yarn.

15 yards before this effort, is still tremendous progress!

rjcb3's picture

I'm assuming you're referring to "people" oil from the fingers.

I wouldn't want to lose any of that beautiful lanolin. If I have any fleece at all, I'll soak the pasture dirt and most of the hay off and spin and soak it to set it, which gets rid of the rest of the dirt and stuff. Some instructors have accused me of spinning dirty wool before.

...but, that extra natural oil in the wool just feels sooooo gooooood to knit with. OMG, it's like knitting heaven -- a good, evenspun, two-ply, heavy wool yarn...and it feels just as good to wear, too. The oil is good for the skin, too...the heavy wool doesn't feel so scratchy on bare skin (like feet with socks or arms with sweaters).

TEHO, I suppose, but, I would much prefer to have well oiled wool.


Tallguy's picture

While technically, you can call any twisted fibres "yarn", we find that you need to ply your yarn to make it functional. There are some people that say you can use singles, and that is technically true, but there are some conditions, and that is for another discussion.

The simplest is a 2-ply yarn. Two singles which have been spun in the same direction are twisted together IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION, as they tend to do naturally, in order to make a stronger yarn that is called "balanced". That is, the energy in the single is balanced by the energy in the ply, and you have a yarn that is well-behaved.

There is much discussion about "setting the twist" on other lists. This will involve processing your yarn with some moisture and allowing to dry. This will create a temporary shape for the yarn, so that it holds this position. However, when the fibres pick up moisture again, they will revert to their own position which may be radically different than what you had first seen.

Singles have a lot of energy in them. After all, you have twisted them into an unnatural position. They will naturally want to go back to their previous state and will un-wind for you, given half a chance. You can force these fibres to take on their new configuration by processing with moisture, either by steaming or misting, or a good soak in hot soapy water. The soap will break down the surface tension of water, and allow the fibres to absorb moisture fully to the interior allowing more repositioning of the bonds that give it its shape. When the yarn is dried, it will stay in that position, much the same as your hair does when you sleep on it damp, or wear a hat for extended period of time, or if you "set" your hair in some way.

You also know that any hairset is temporary -- just wash your hair, or dampen it, and you can change it into something else. The same with yarn. If you were to knit with energized singles, your knitting will bias quite dramatically. Try it and see. If you "set" the yarn, and knit with it, you won't have that bias. But should you ever wash your knitted piece, or get it damp, that energy will be released in the singles and the knitting will be pulled in one direction and distortion will result. This is something we all dread when we complete our knitting -- what will the recipients do with my knitting?

By using a plied yarn, these forces are balanced (not entirely removed, only held in check by opposing forces) and your knitting lays straight, and will stay that way through continued washings.

While a 2-ply is the simplest to create, a 3-ply is nicer with which to knit. It is a rounder yarn, rather than the more flattened shape of a 2-ply. Of course, a 5-ply or more is even better for yarn definition, and better for stitch definition, especially on cables and other patterns. A plied yarn wears better since only a small surface is actually exposed to friction and the yarn as a whole can withstand a lot more wear that way.

When you process a newly spun yarn with moisture, it allows the fibres to "bloom" and create the final finish we admire. Some yarns, such as angora and dog hair or Merino need to be allowed to puff up and create a halo in order for you to see its true beauty. It's not finished until it's had its final bath!

albert's picture

Love the full frontal! As to setting the twist, it all depends on the texture and finish you want in the yarn. The more you block it the more regular it will be. I just soak my newly spun skeins, blot them in a folded towel and then snap them a few times between my wrists and hang them up to dry unweighted. You can wind them on a yarn winder to dry, hang them up with some kind of a weight dangling from them, or hang them unweighted. If you google "yarn blocking" you'll probably find more ideas. (edit): as you'll note from TG's response below, yarn spinning can be a science as well as an art. Some spinners delve into such arcana as twist per inch, angle of twist, micron count of the fleece, relative positions of the planets, etc. For myself, I try to spin a singles yarn (too lazy to ply, and have not experienced singles bias) that's approximately worsted weight, and somewhat "rustic". When I want a really well-finished yarn, I buy millspun.

WillyG's picture

Thanks, guys! I've soaked the yarn and it's been drying...soon it will be set free!!