Adventures in Twist, Pt. 2

Posted in knitting, planning, spinning by tchemgrrl on April 11, 2010

So! Last time I talked about this wacky idea I had to minimize as many variables as possible and try to isolate the effect of twist on a knitted fabric. Here I’ll start to talk about my results. Before I get into the individual swatches I thought I’d make some general comments that applied to all of the yarns.

The first thing I’d noticed, before I even started knitting the samples, was the incredible effect that a little hot water had on all the yarns. I was spinning some of these samples at a weekly Wednesday night knitting group that some other spinners also attend. When I wound the overplied, high-twist singles off into a mini skein, we all had a good laugh at just how ridiculous the yarn was–there were kinks within kinks, and left to its own devices, the small skein looped up on itself in a knotted snarl. I got a cup of hot water from the sink and dropped the skein into it for a few minutes, and once I squeezed out the water the change was immediately obvious, to the point where one of the knitters thought it was a different skein. Left to its own devices, the skein flopped slightly into a half-twist, but nothing close to its previous bad behavior.

(I had an interesting conversation with someone at our spinning guild who’d taken a class with Kathryn Alexander, a spinner known for her work with energized singles. In this class, Kathryn made it clear that singles should not be washed if you want to take advantage of the unique biasing effects that energized singles can yield. I can certainly see why! Washing allows for a ton of that twist energy to sit in the yarn without misbehaving.

The other interesting result: No biasing of the knitted fabric in any of the overplied yarns! I’m sure it’s possible to put in enough twist to cause biasing, but these yarns, which again included samples that made experienced spinners *laugh out loud* just to look at, came out just fine. I found this fascinating. I’ve been spending how-many-years trying to make nicely balanced singles, and apparently all that work was, eh. Not that big of a deal, at least in terms of biasing. It did make quite a difference in the final fabric, though, and once again the results surprised me. I’ll talk about that in the next installment.


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