In our last edition of Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 01, we discussed fiber colorfastness and knitting bouclé purls. In this edition, we want to discuss winding fluffy yarns (alpaca, mohair, angora, etc.) as well as carrying two colors of yarn up the edge of a wrap or blanket.
Question 1: How do I wind fluffy yarn without leaving so many fibers on my equipment or floating around in the air?
Answer 1: There are several suggested methods of winding and handling fluffy, fibrous yarns to reduce the amount of loose fibers. One method is to freeze your skein or cake for a few hours prior to handling. The oils in these fibers will solidify just enough to make winding a breeze. Another method is to use a vegetable- or water-based glycerin on your hands. Hands should be soft, and the glycerin should be rubbed in thoroughly, creating easy movement through the hands without creating friction. However, wet hands or hands covered in lotions will only leave a nasty deposit on the yarn. The key is using a vegetable- or water-based glycerin and and using less, not more. Lastly, soak your yarn as though you’re going to block it, blot it within a large towel until almost dry, and then wind it. The fibers will flatten and smooth out thus reducing those loose, floaty fibers.
Question 2: I hate weaving in ends, however, I like knitting with multiple colors and want to do more of it. I’ve heard that some knitters carry multiple strands of yarn without cutting them. How and when can I do this?
Answer 2: When a knitter refers to carrying multiple strands of yarn, they “usually” mean carrying multiple colors up the side of a project. While there are no hard and fast rules to carrying yarn, there are a few best practices.
If you’re using two colors in a striping pattern where you knit in one color from one side of the project and then back (a two row stripe), it’s an easy matter to just knit the first (edge) stitch in Color A only, then knit the second stitch in Colors A&B together. Proceed to the end and back in Color A only for two rows knit. In row three, when there is a color change just knit the first (edge) stitch in Color B only, then knit the second stitch in Colors A&B together. Proceed to the end and back in Color B only for two additional rows knit. This brings up the second color, without your edge stitch being in a different color than the current striped row, for a more seamless knit edge.
While we don’t recommend carrying more than two colors as the edge or seam will become very bulky, there is another way to reduce the number of ends to weave in. When coming to the end of a row where there will be a color change, cut the yarn to twice the length you will need to finish current row. Loop the yarn around the second color and bring it back on itself twisting the yarn to get it as thin as possible, as close to the original untwisted yarn thickness. Complete the row and then twist the second color tightly around on itself as well and begin the next row. Your yarn beginning and yarn end have thus already been knit (or woven) into the fabric and you’ve only left to trim the ends.
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Happy stitching, y’all!