Washing Yarn

As our shareholders know, the share yarn is delightfully “farmy” when it first arrives. Although the wool has been scoured and washed at the mill prior to spinning, there is still lanolin that remains, which can make the wool feel sticky when knitting. We recommend that you give your yarn a bath before knitting with it. This will fluff up your yarn (which can considerably alter gauge) as well as soften it up. It’s very easy, but in case you’re feeling a little nervous, here’s a pictorial for you to follow:

All four yarns from 2013: Cormo DK weight, Cormo Worsted weight, Colored Flock, The Shepherd & The Shearer (Ignore the purple yarn. It was to help me keep track of which yarn was which.)

WashYarn20

Remove your tags and untwist your hanks. This allows the water to fully saturate all parts of the yarn. Your hanks are already tied off in a couple places. So long as you’re gentle with the yarn, this should be fine. If you’ve removed the ties, you’ll want to replace them, though, to decrease the risk of tangling.

WashYarn01

Fill your sink or a large bowl with lukewarm water about 3/4 of the way¬† – you don’t want to get the water too hot as it increases the risk of felting the yarn, but the warmth helps the lanolin melt away. Add some wool wash like Eucalan or Soak, following the directions on the bottle. (Or just pour a good glug in there.) DO NOT USE WOOLITE. It actually is not gentle on the wool and can break it down. If you don’t have Eucalan or Soak or your yarn feels particularly greasy, you can use Dawn dish soap. It’s what they use on animals when they’re in oil spills, so it will degrease your wool. Swish the cleanser around to make sure it’s mixed in the water.

Gently place the loops of yarn into your cleaning vessel. It will not sink into the water immediately. That’s okay, just place them all on top of the water. Once you’ve set them, try not to move them to prevent tangling, so do try to cover as much surface area as possible.

WashYarn02

WashYarn03

Now, gently squish the yarn into the water. No need to act like a plunger, a gentle downward motion will do the trick beautifully.

WashYarn04
Make sure all the wool is covered with water.

WashYarn05

Wait about a half hour to make sure that it’s fully saturated. You can wait longer if you’d like – do this just before bed and leave it overnight if you’d prefer.

WashYarn06

Carefully find a top of a loop and remove the hank. It’s best to pick up one hank in a bundle, which helps support the weight of the wool, as wool absorbs a tremendous amount of water. Squeeze, but do not wring, the water out. Set aside in another bowl while you work, or transfer to a colander in the sink if convenient. (I like to repeat the process with water and a couple glugs of vinegar. The vinegar helps close the scales again and makes the yarn smoother. If you use Dawn, I highly recommend it, as you should rinse the dawn out of your yarn, anyway.)

WashYarn07

Once all your yarn is removed from the water, you’ll notice that the water is a bit cloudy – like watered down skim milk. That’s the lanolin and probably some dirt.

WashYarn08

If you’re really lucky, you’ll have a “The Laundry Alternative,” which is like a tiny washing machine spin cycle only. I was able to dump my yarn in there, and spin out all the excess water.

WashYarn09

WashYarn10

Otherwise, you could spin it out in your washing machine using the spin cycle. Be careful to balance the load and ONLY select the spin cycle. You might want to wait with your washing machine to make sure you don’t actually wash it. Or you could use a salad spinner and spin out a hank or two at a time. Perhaps outdoors. Maybe that’s a good project for your kids. Or you can squeeze the water out of the yarn while it’s in a colander .

If there is still a significant amount of water in the yarn, spread a towel out on the floor and place your open hank on it.

WashYarn11

Fold/roll the yarn up until it’s a long tube.

WashYarn12

WashYarn13

WashYarn14

Then walk on the towel, which will squeeze the water out of the yarn and into the towel. Rotate the towel a quarter turn and repeat. Do this until you’ve walked on each side.

WashYarn15

WashYarn16

Put your hands inside the loop and briskly pull your hands apart to align the fibers back into a loop. Repeat a couple of times until it looks nice.

WashYarn17

Lay the yarn out to dry. WashYarn18

Voila! You have gorgeous fluffy yarn. Washed yarn on the left, unwashed yarn on the right. You can see how it’s fluffed up.

WashYarn19

You might find some vegetable matter (VM) aka hay in your yarn. Pick it out as you knit, as it’s more difficult to remove from a finished item. Much of it will fall out as you wind the yarn and handle it in general. I think it adds to the farm-fresh feeling.

6 Comments

  1. This is very helpful! Thank you.

  2. Wow. I wish I’d known to do this with the yarn I found at a small VA farmers market… I’ve wound it into a ball, but now I know it needs to be washed as it’s exactly as described… earthy, lanolin-rich (sticky), and with a bit of VM :-D

    Guess I’ll put it back into a hank and give it a bath before I knit anything with it!

    Great description and helpful photos!!

  3. Patti "oldgoatwoman"

    September 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Being a spinner, I will twirl the hank of yarn around my head to release excess water – be outside – and watch the water fly! I do have fun with my yarn! I love the smell and feel of lanolin and put up with the stickiness when knitting on some projects. However, with these special patterns, I will be washing each hank for a more accurate swatch. One of my excuses for not swatching is that I don’t have enough yarn – sounds like I won’t have that excuse this time since a large swatch is recommended!

  4. Jane from Maryland

    September 30, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Since I am trying to exercise some self discipline and finish some UFOs before I cast on The Shepherd project, this is a wonderful way to get my hands on the yarn NOW.
    Glorious!

  5. What a fantastic pictorial! I will admit to having a small bit of angst about washing my past yarn shares which has kept me from diving in and playing with them. Thank you for taking the mystery out of it!

  6. Thank you so much for this very informative tutorial. I was wondering if I should wash before playing with the yarn, and now I have the answer. I will say that it does smell quite wonderful & fresh. This is very helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2014 Juniper Moon Farm

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑