Un-ravelling yarn and saying goodbye to kinky curls….

three balls blue

Recently I took part in a rather brilliant knitalong over at The Caithness Craft Collective Podcast group on Ravelry….the kal (or un-kal) was split into 3 parts/divisions…..and included ripping out/frogging/un-ravelling something that wasn’t being loved, knitting something you really wanted to knit and finally, just leaving something that you’d half forgotten about but had intentions to finish it…..I ended up doing something for all 3 divisions as I had projects  that I either wanted to make or wanted to finish.

For division 3 I decided to un-ravel a jaunty blue scarf I’d crocheted a few years ago using some beautiful Shilasdair 4ply, it wasn’t being worn half as much as it deserved as I’d made it far too skinny so the sides rolled in on themselves, and it stretched so much it ended up looking like something a glam-rocker from the seventies would have worn while being on Top of the Pops.  If it wasn’t for the un-kal then it would have found it’s way into the charity shop pile which would have been a shame as the yarn* is really nice and holds happy memories of a brilliant day out in London with my friend Debbie.

kinky skein of shlasdair

The scarf was a right devil to un-ravel though, I’d been very thorough in sewing in my woolly ends, also I’d washed and blocked the scarf a couple of time so the fibres of the yarn were starting to snuggle up to each other quite happily…..lots of cups of tea and more than a few colourful words ….but finally I ended up with an assortment of balls of different size yarn….because the yarn is a blend of natural fibres* I was able to spit and splice the ends together no problem however the frogged yarn was extremely curled and kinked.  I knew knitting with it straight away would cause problems with tension but I was a bit un-sure about what to do next, so it just got put to one side until I had time to sort it out.

kinki skein of alpaca and silk

For Division 2 of the knitalong I’d made a blue shawl which in my head was amazing but if truth be told it wasn’t making my heart skip like I thought it would….I love colour, and like to use lots of combinations together, but this didn’t come out like I’d hoped, perhaps it was more to do with the different textures of the finished shawl….the yarn was a blend of aplaca and silk (artesano) and the woolly pips were vintage tapestry wool….I was wearing the shawl but not as much as I had hoped….but then I listened to the Alpaca Love episode on the Shinybees podcast and thought about un-ravelling it to give the yarn a second chance…..

I know that un-ravelling something that has taken hours to make seems a bit daft but the time I spent making it was also time I spent learning so I’m not un-ravelling what I learnt or the experience I’ve gained from knitting/crocheting either item, it’s just the yarn will now be getting the chance to become something that will more suitable.

Jo at Shinybees was very kind to explain in an email the best way to un-kink the yarn and so I spent a few hours frogging and winding the yarns into balls which I then wound into skeins using the upturned legs of one of our dining chairs (I don’t have a swift but found the chair legs to work fine in a pinch)….while I was skeining up the aplaca silk yarn, I also wound the balls of Shilasdair yarn into skeins at the same time.

washed skeins of aplaca and silk

The skeins were tied off in 4 points around the circumference and  was placed into a sink of tepid warm water with a small capful of Eucalan wool wash…I left the yarn to soak and relax in the water for around 15/20 minutes, held the yarn against the side of the sink while the water drained out, gently pressing the yarn against the sink to ease out a bit more water, carefully lifted the wet skeins out of the sink and laid them out flat on to a couple of old towels, rolled one towel with the skein inside up into a sausage and squeezed firmly as I rolled…this helps remove as much water as possible.  Finally, I just left the skeins on blocking mats to dry.

Each day I’d gently shake the skein before turning it on itself so the inside of the skein had a chance to dry as well……

washed skeins of shilasdair

I used the same method for the Shilasdair yarn as well and think the results for both yarns are pretty amazing……the Shilasdair has probably come out the best, but there’s not much in it….there’s just the fainest ripple left in the alpaca/silk but nothing to fret over.

Both yarns look quite transformed and almost as good as new.

a makeshift nostepinne

And while I’m waiting to buy a swift I’m also thinkng to buy a nostepinne, I’ve seen some really beautiful ones that are made in Wales that have set my heart a racing, however in the mean time I’ve cobbled together something that is very make do but which serves it purpose fine……

Not the most attractive bit of kit in my knitting bag I’ll agree but I’ve found it very useful. I’ve made my “nostepinne” from the cardboard roll that is in the middle of kitchen paper towel.  I cut open one edge of the roll lengthwise so I could roll it up a bit tigher, and also made a couple of notches along the bottom so it would hold the yarn securely…..the yarn being wound around it holds int nice and secure so no sellotape or glue is needed…..it really is the most simplest of makes.

One of the best videos I found for how to use a nostepinne is just here (her accent is just lovely)…..

centre pull ball of yarn

It’s not as fast as a ball winder but still makes for a nice central pull ball of yarn……some of the shop bought balls of yarn I’ve bought have been really tangly and delighted the cat far too much as masses of yarn would spew forth each time I tugged the yarn out from the middle, so I’ve re-wound a couple of them using the nostepinne and have found the yarn much more manageable (much to the cat’s disappointment).

I’ve also wound up a couple of shop bought skeins which I had to hold open around my feet while they were balanced on piles of cushions (the skeins were too large for the chair legs)….not ideal but it did the job.

 

*My Shilasdair yarn is a blend of cashmere,angora, baby camel and merino lambswool.  The new blend has replaced the cashmere with alpaca.

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4 thoughts on “Un-ravelling yarn and saying goodbye to kinky curls….

  1. I can’t quite believe you have frogged your Moonraker but totally understand. I am nearly finished the Quicksilver shawl I started when we arrived in Canada and right from the start I knew it wasn’t right but persevered. Now I shall frog it without any guilt 🙂 I love your cardboard nostepinne! What a clever idea. What are your plans for your yarn now?

    1. Yeah, I can’t really believe what I’ve done myself, however it’s as I wrote in the post it’s just the yarn being un-ravelled, not what I’ve learnt from knitting it. The alpaca/silk looks much nicer knitted in stocking stitch so I think I’ll use it in another shawl, something that is just the one solid colour ….Helen Stewart (Curious Handmade) is doing a really nice Spindrift shawl kal so I might use the yarn for that…..

      http://curioushandmade.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=0432992546ec94d3e74cde368&id=b72db97073

      I thnik it’s all about listening to that inner voice when somethng isn’t working and having the confidence to say “this isn’t working” rather than just keep carrying on.
      The cardboard nostepinne works really nicely and I’m a bit addicted now to winding any yarn on it.

  2. Oooh I have the Pebble Beach shawl saved on Ravelry but I think I’ll give the Spindrift a go. Thanks for the link. I bought a skein of locally hand dyed merino when we arrived here that would be perfect for it. As for my Quicksilver, I shall try that another day with different yarn, what I frogged has already been lined up for socks, hat and mittens. Everyone tells us the winters here are ‘mild’ but I don’t think they mean mild like we do!!

    1. The follow up emails that Hele sends out are reallly helpful and are full of handy hints/tips.
      Yeah I’m thinking a Canadian Winter is going to be a bit more pippy than a British one…one man’s “mild” is another’s “seriously, you expect me to go outside”….but that’s even more reason you need to start knitting that Ramona now so it’s all ready for Autumn morning walks to the pancake shop xx

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