October 16, 2007
Good things come to those who wait
My new reward yarn is Valley Yarns English Tweed. I'd been seriously loving this limited quantity WEBS yarn since I was there and Steve and Kathy showed me samples of it, and when it showed up on their website and I was still obsessed with it, I decided that it would be my reward for finishing the book. I marked the page and kept a link to it in my bookmarks, and when the going got rough, and I wanted to knit instead of work, I would click over and give it a little virtual pat.
This colour is spmBrown, and I watched the quantities available change every day or two. 80lbs, 70lbs, 60lbs....58,46,42,39...and then, suddenly, one day five days before the book was done, there was 3. Three pounds of this yarn left in the world? Three pounds of my reward yarn? I was on the phone in minutes, and, having discovered that Kathy and Steve weren't in the store, impressed upon the lovely man who answered the phone that I needed him to move like lightning. That I needed him to go into the warehouse, find that yarn - whatever of it was left and get it out of there. Quickly, before it was purchased by anyone else. (I may have suggested that he run.) He did go really fast, and when he got there there wasn't even three pounds left there was about 2. (I would love to know which one of you scooped me while I was on the phone.) Which is totally ok, that's enough to make what I want to make, but dudes.....talk about a close call. I almost ordered a couple pounds of all of the other colours too, just to take the edge off, but then I got a hold of myself and realized I was just responding to a scarcity market. The yarn arrived yesterday and I started to play around with it.
This is yarn that comes on a cone, and coned yarn is not like yarn that comes on skeins or in balls. Coned yarn is at the very least, quite compressed, and usually (I am only saying usually because I hate saying "always", somebody "usually" points out an exception to the rule) still contains the oil from spinning. Commercial mills move fibre a lot faster than we spinners do, and a little very light oil is sprayed on the fibre to reduce static and help things move along. The yarn is spun, then plied, then wound onto cones. Yarn that you and I would usually get then has another step, it's skeined off and washed. Coned yarn has a lot of advantages (like being one long length...no knots, and being generally less expensive) but one of the things you need to know is that what you see is not going to be what you get. The oil needs washing out, and when you do that, the yarn fluffs up. It's a pretty big change. The worlds "big" and "change" when applied to yarn should give you a chill and feel very significant to you, since we are speaking of something that can mess up gauge. Therefore, I've washed some to sort of get a feel for what this yarn is really like.
On the left, the unwashed yarn right off the cone, on the right, same stuff after a bath. I used nice hot water and dish soap, rinsed carefully (being careful not to agitate....I don't want to felt it.) Can you see the big difference? This yarn in it's unwashed state is sort of firm and rough, but after a quick bath it's very soft and pretty.
I think that there is even a very slight difference in the colour.
I'm planning to knit a sweater out of this (this one) and unfortunately, this is one of those times when gauge matters. Since this yarn experienced big change when I washed it (and having been burned by this game before) I decided to knit a swatch, measure my gauge, wash the swatch and remeasure gauge. (Close your mouth, you'll catch flies. I know it's surprising, but I'm anti swatch, not stupid. I want to wear this sweater, and I want it to fit.)
Here's the swatch before.
After it's bath:
Big difference. Huge, actually. Want to see them side by side?
Yeah, me too, but I can't figure out how to do it. I just seriously lost a debate with software. Whoa. Bon is seriously clever and just landed this bad boy in my inbox. In any case, the point is that washing it really changes it. The swatch was knit on 4.5mm needles and in the top picture, has a gauge of 19.5 stitches to 10 cm and looks open and gappy like it was knit on needles too big for it. After it's bath, it has expanded, gotten bigger and now has a gauge of 18 stitches to 10cm (which is exactly what I wanted) and all those holes are filled in and the whole thing really fluffed up. Can you imagine the consequences of basing your gauge decisions on that swatch without a wash? Ayup. Big problem.
Now that I've determined that this yarn on these needles gives me the gauge I want - eventually, if not right away, I can go ahead and knit the sweater, knowing that when I give the thing a good bath after knitting, I'll suddenly and miraculously have the thing I want.
I know some knitters wash up the yarn before knitting it, but the disadvantage would be that I would have to wait for yarn to dry before starting...and I don't know if I'm really capable of delaying gratification like that.
Posted by Stephanie at October 16, 2007 3:04 PM
Does anyone know of an advantage either way?
Tease...the link to the sweater doesn't work.
I can't imagine washing yarn first. I can just imagine dripping lengths of tangling yarn and it puts me right off. Dressing a swatch is much less messy, no?
Ohhh I second the link doesn't work! Pretty, pretty yarn! But dying to know what you are going to knit!!!! (Would you wash prior to seaming or after seaming?? Would this be any difference to the growth rate?)
I think the advantage lies in not washing it. That way you can start knitting now! Let's face any knitting you do while waiting for that yarn to dry if you wash it before hand, will be filled with frustration and be fruitless. Fruitless, I tell you!
I can't help you :-( I don't even knit a swatch!
My husband´s commentary: "Never ever wash the finished garment. Perfect sweater for men!"
I buy alot of cones from colourmart UK (e-bay) and I always wash first, unless it's silk. I learned the hard way once. It really does make a difference. That yarn looks so perfect for a great Canadian winter/fall sweater, can't wait to see what it becomes
Question: when you are knitting yarn that comes in a cone, do you actually knit if off of the cone, or do you wind it off (using whatever toys you want) into balls?
I'm currently knitting yarn off of two cones (Habu super-fine lace-weight), and just put up with the nuisance of not being able to carry the thing around, so any suggestions welcome!
(Oh, and yeah, first time posting; your blog is fantastic, and I had withdrawal symptoms this past weekend when you were out of town!)
The only advantage I could see to washing the yarn first is if the yarn leaves your fingers feeling oily, or will mess up the needles you are using. I wouldn't want to unintentionally oil my new Harmony needles, for instance. That said, I don't know how I would wash the yarn, but you probably already know how to do that.
So beautiful, and so educational! Thanks.
By the way, your bought of finishitis the other week paid off for me. I looked at the "argyle sweater" I had cast on as an Xmas present for the hubby-- cast on several months ago, and never got past the waist band. I frogged it out, knowing I'd *never* knit it. Within 10 days, I had converted it into a snazzy striped vest with a texture stitch that I passionately love. I've already presented it to my sweetie, while singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," so he'd know what it was for. Makes up for last year, when he didn't get his Xmas sweater until New Year.
swatch? I am unfamiliar with this talk of swatch.
I am familiar with the talk of things that do not fit properly and go through magnificent transformations in the wash.
Can't wait to see the sweater this is destined for...assuming thats what you're planning to knit.
Wow, I didn't know any of that!
I think I's wash the yarn first. That way it reduces the risk of looming disaster... you know, the sweater getting all washed up and not being magically the right size. Because that is what I would get for being impatient lol
I am so glad to have found your blog - because I learn a ton. I am the ignorant type that would have just set the cone on the table and started knitting - no swatch, no washing, and no washing the swatch.
To get both of the pictures side by side, take both of the pictures and copy them into the same Paint (the program) file :p just make them one picture!
Cheap and dirty...but it works.
Also... if i were to hypothetically be doing a Stats project on knitting, might you be willing to participate by asking your wonderful readers to do a small experiment for me? (i'm the one that sent you the excel file full of stats with the stitches per minute thing, not sure if you got it though)
Whoo...with yarn like this, even I would swatch.
I suggest you wash the yarn first, so that as you knit you'll have a better sense of how the size and shaping are developing. I worry when you depend on "suddenly and miraculously." (It might be more entertaining, though.)
Besides, you can work on the gansey while you're waiting for it to dry.
I find cone yarn really hard on my hands if I don't wash it first. If you skein it up and hang in outside on a clothesline to dry, it will dry very quickly. Mine was dry within a few hours.
Also, I did that sweater as a store sample. Would the hems get screwed up if the gague changes?
that yarn looks absolutely yummy and fall-y. lucky lucky you.
Please, please tell us, even if you don't do it this time, HOW you would proceed to wash yarn before it is knit! I'm guessing you would have to unwind it into loose skeins and tie together-----geesh, but that sounds like more work than it's worth!
Wow, that is a huge difference. Maybe the reason why most gauge swatches lie is 'cause they are waiting for their baths?
I have some of the same yarn that I acquired this summer (back off, it's not the same color!! ;)), and it really is pretty scratchy and gross on the cone. I think I'd wash it first, because I know that for me, if it isn't a tactile pleasure to knit, the odds of it getting finished drop precipitously. I am not looking forward to the ginormous skein that will be required... but as we all know, if you don't wash it first, the Knitting Goddess has lots of fun tricks up her sleeve!
OOH I like that pattern! I was just reading some's thoughts on that sweater the other day (I am that good; I can read thoughts) - and due to the nature of the pattern - the row gauge actually counts- I think the front panels - and I would worry that not washing before hand could really screw you on that. Add me to the Wash Prior count.
The second, please! Fuzziness is good. Colors are richer, too.
Re: washing yarn-- wind _loose_ skeins, tie _loosely_ with string, then place in net lingerie washing bag. Presto- no washing/tangling woes.
The only thing wrong with that yarn (besides the fact that WEBS doesn't have that much of it; never did) is that it didn't come in colo(u)rs suited for us non-yellow wearers. You can wear browns and ochres and such; me, I just look yucky in them.
Although, maybe I should just go take another look at it....
Wow, that is a huge change. You have taught me so much! I want to eventually make that same sweater so I'm glad I get to watch you make it and learn from your mistakes (tee hee hee)!
So you are the one who ordered the last of that yarn. I ordered one lbs of that colorweigh only to be told a few days later that it was sold out. I got a lovely toffee color instead. Thank you for the instructions, but I'm a little bitter that you snagged the pretty brown.
I LOVE that pattern - I can't wait to see how that knits up. I may need to move that up in my Ravelry queue....
I always wash coned yarn before I start knitting. It's much more pleasurable to handle, for one thing. And I'd rather be dealing with the closest-to-the-final-state yarn I can.
Plus, seeing how much junk washes out of the yarn is incredibly satisfying. Enough to make up for a slight delay in casting on, even.
Wow, I think you really impressed upon me the need to wash and block swatches this time. Millions of people have told me this before, including you, and I have never listened. Wonders never cease.
Gosh, I'm kind of creeped out. If I actually paid attention and did what I was told, something must be out of alignment somewhere. There could be a rift in the space-time continuum. Or maybe I'm just watching too much Dr. Who.
I always wash coned yarn first because I don't like the way the oily yarn feels on my hands! I do admit, it's a huge pain though, using the swift to make loose skeins, tying them so they don't get tangled, washing them gently in the tub, then hanging them to dry, then winding them into balls...you also lose the advantage of being able to knit straight from the cone (so you have to splice or weave in ends), but you gain portability. So, I guess it's 50/50. If you don't mind knitting with the oily yarn, I'd say go ahead!
When you knit planning on a gauge change after washing, how do you account for pattern instructions like "Knit for 6 inches" or "knit until desired length from underarm to hip"?
You need to be a logged in member of Knitting Daily in order to see the pattern. It's a free sign up though so...
I had no idea that you needed to wash coned yarn! A friend gave me a large box that he'd received from a friend. I took a few looks, and felt some, and then turned up my nose. I returned the yarn. Guess I made a mistake. Huh?
I would just go ahead based on the washed swatch measurements, but make a sleeve. Washing the yarn first would be a pest, and then you'd have ends to either splice or work in. Too much work for me! You could wash and block the sleeve to make sure it was still the right gauge, and ravel if necessary, right?
Now you've inspired me to go home and wash some of that "big cone o'purple" I scrounged up for $3.00 at a thrift store - I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but one doesn't walk away from almost 4 lbs of wool at that price, correct?
Heck, who needs clean laundry anyway? Completely overrated...pshaw!
PS - Loved the t-shirt seen on Abby's blog today!
This is another one of those "I'll ask The Blog" things, isn't it?!
I vote firmly for washing first despite the hassle factor. You don't want that spinning oil on your hands and needles. And I think row gauge could be a problem potentially. Just wind humungo skeins to minimize need for splicing/weaving in ends later.
Come on, you took all the trouble to wash, then swatch, then wash. Might as well take a deep breath and wash it all, to Do The Right Thing.
Lovely green yarn!
Oh, it's not green? I thought it was green, like your Dream In Color Strange Harvest sweater!
I had sort of an opposite quantity problem this weekend. I went up to Victoria and hit the Beehive (of course), and picked out three skeins of some Fleece Artist yarn (Mo, I believe) to make a shawl. There were four skeins of the colorway, and the fourth remaining skein looked so, well, lonely by itself on the rack that I bought it too out of pity.
Is "It" making you nervous yet? Mom went with me to Victoria. I had a pair of socks for Dad on the needles that I was working, bought two skeins of sock yarn for my brother, and Mom picked out a skein of sock yarn and wanted to know when she could expect hers. I had to stop myself from saying "Look, I've got 3.5 more pairs of socks to go, not to mention I've got your Christmas poncho on the needles at home, so you can just get in the back of the line, baby." Panic is setting in and it's only October.
I'm on the side of washing it before... only because then as you knit it you know it's the size you want it to be, and also because gauge swatches lie. It's very pretty, and I'm glad you finally got it!
P.S. Washing the yarn beforehand lets you play with yarn even if your not knitting with it, so it's still rewarding now and later. :)
Wow! I'm knitting the same sweater as the Harlot! I could be knocked over with a feather right now.
I knit with coned yarn once, also from webs, but a different yarn. I just knit right off the cone and washed the finished product...But it didn't seem to change my gauge at all, so I guess I'm no help at all.
So that's why you didn't tell us what your reward yarn was. Hoarding the good stuff.
The only advantage I know of to washing before knitting is it makes it easier. You can knit it until the piece measures X inches rather than counting how many rows and then calculating that into the washed measurements.
Oh my Oh my Good thing someone likes to wash their yarn before knitting it. Not me thank you , I wouldn't have the patience for it , so skeins and balls it is for me. Good luck with yours it looks lovely.
Oooo I Love That Sweater! I have the pattern printed off and tucked away in my pattern drawer awaiting the Perfect Yarn. How lovely that you've found yours. Can't wait to see the finished project.
I think I would wash the yarn first. Then you can clearly see what its tricks are without having your potentially gorgeous sweater ambush you once you're finished. Plus the already mentioned advantages of knitting with something soft and not oily.
If you're really anti washing the yarn, then perhaps you might take your washed yarn and knit a swatch from it to see if you get the same gauge as the unwashed knitted swatch that was washed after knitting? (I hope that made sense.)
By the by, am I crazy or do I see *buttonbands* on that sweater? Forgive me for implying that you may be some sort of masochist.
"...I may have suggested that he run..." that nearly made tea shoot out my nose! Too funny, the image I had of that guy, tearing through the officespace to the warehouse...made my day. Thanks for the humor!!!
I would wash the yarn first. Yeah, it sucks, but my gauge swatches always lie to me. I'd rather knit the yarn in its finished state rather than hope that it will shrink exactly as it did in the gauge swatch. I've done that too many times and had it be radically different than expected. Sorry to rain on the parade.
Hmmm, this feels strange - being asked to advise The Yarn Harlot?! Considering that you gave the yarn in question 2 separate baths, one before swatching & one after, I'd go with giving the yarn an initial bath to get the oils off, then knitting up the sections of the sweater, then washing & blocking before assembling. But I need to qualify this by saying that I haven't necessarily followed that advice myself on previous projects (i.e, washing & blocking before assembling), but now you've got me re-thinking how I'll handle future projects. Just sayin'...
As long as you've done your swatches know what to expect from the washed yarn you should be fine to just knit off of the cone.
Think of it like the Rowan Denim yarn - you know it's going to shrink lengthwise so if you're not using a pattern designed for that shrinkage you would compensate for it, not wash the yarn first.
Man, if it were me, in the case of this yarn, I'd aggressively full it prior to knitting, for the sake of predictability in the garment. Make Juno show you that one wool/cashmere she washed a few months back.
This post disappoints me greatly however, due to the total lack of any discussion of sweaty armpits. There is no fun in that at all.
Hey, cool! Thanks for showing us the washed cone yarn. I've been knitting on a Cheryl Oberle shawl that uses Harrisville coned yarn, and I'd read about the oils, and how it'd "full?" when washed, but hadn't tried it myself. Now I can see my shawl will be much fluffier!
As a spinner, washing yarn doesn't scare me. Yeah, you have to wait for it to dry before you knit, but as a knitter, I hate looking down at what I've just knit and finding it ugly and holey and greasy and dirty and stiff. Also, washed yarn is much easier on the hands.
Just checked out the sweater pattern-- My, that's a clever little bot of geometry, isn't it? And they say women aren't good at spatial imagination...
Listen to Presbytera, she is wise, my impatient friend.
I learned a lot from today's post...the only coned yarn I've ever knit with is Habu's paper linen, and that's not oily, so no need to mess with it. As far as side by side pictures--I just laid my head down on the desk and looked at them. Voila! Side by side pictures. :-)
Well, I guess if you were to wash the yarn first that frogging would be more difficult. However, if you washed the yarn after knitting and you wanted to make a change then ripping it out would be impossible.
You are going to go ahead and knit the sweater, knowing that when you give it a good bath, you'll suddenly and miraculously have the thing you want! Are you reading this!!!! Now seriously, if I typed this on my blog, you would be laughing and pointing your finger at the screen. Wash it first, don't tempted the Knitting Goddess.
I had no idea you had to wash cone yarn. Thanks. Now I know I'm anti-cone yarn ;)
here's the washed and unwashed together.
i love coned yarns. i just wish that i liked knitting with oiled yarns. the oiled stuff i have (also from webs) smells bad and feels gross, but washes out to be a lovely fluffy grey shetland.
This looks like a great yarn for the Sunrise Circle Jacket from Interweave Knits. A very gauge demanding project too.
I wonder what it's for?
Wash it first! I would be afraid that the gauge swatch would lie, like they sometimes do. (Well, mine do, anyway.) If you really, really don't want to, I liked the idea someone else posted about doing a sleeve and then washing that, before going any further with the sweater. Frogging a sleeve is better than frogging a back or front!
If you wash before then WYSIWYG (computerese for "what you see is what you get"). If you knit it unwashed, then all the measurements you do while knitting have to be multiplied (or divided, maybe) by Finagle's Constant, so that you knit the unwashed length (width, whatever) that will convert to the actual measurement when washed. Even though I can't quite picture how to do it, I would be washing my little heart out about now.
It is lovely yarn - you must have second sight to be able to tell how nice it would look in its natural state!
I've been wanting to make that sweater for so long, I can't even tell you -- but I've been shopping for subs because I just can't manage the suggested yarn, especially in my size. I will at least get a vicarious thrill from yours. :)
Um, Stephanie....suppose this swatch is lying. No, wouldn't happen, right? Humor me....suppose this swatch IS lying. When will you find out? Not until you've washed finished the sweater and washed it. If you wash FIRST, then you can knit a sleeve, and discover if it really IS what you want when you only have half a sleeve or so done.
I'm sorry, I know you want to cast on NOW. But think of the agony that you, yourself, predict happens 50% of the time with lying swatches, when you wash your finished sweater.....and having asked us????? Those knitting goddess driven winds KNOW you are making this sweater....
Wash your yarn.
I'm knitting from coned yarn for the first time. (I'm making the Cabled Rib Cardigan from Tara Jon Manning's "Men in Knits"). This yarn is another WEBS one, the 2/6 Donegal Tweed mill ends. The spinning oil is so slight as to be unnoticeable, but it's rather scratchy on the hands. I swatched and washed the swatch, and the gauge hardly changed at all (the slight change was to the gauge I wanted, too). So I'm going ahead with knitting straight off the cone. I don't have a niddy-noddy, swift, or ball winder, so that played into my decision.
But I have to say, I am a little bit nervous about it. I'm considering knitting a sleeve and washing it to see what happens.
Thanks, Stephanie, for the tip about coned yarns. I bought a cone from the nearby alpaca farm, not alpaca, but a lovely tweedy natural wool, and it is rough and oily. I made a purse with it, straight from the cone, the pic is on Ravelry, and the rough texture is perfect for that. I'll now swatch and wash some, because I've been wanting to make something else with it but thought it would be too rough. Thanks for the help! samm
Absolutely, wash the yarn first. The tactile pleasure of the fluffy soft yarn all wound up into nice little cakes (you know you love playing with your ball winder) will greatly increase your knitting enjoyment--and dare I say it?--the probability of actually getting the sweater done in some timely fashion. I'm just sayin'.
1. You waited until you finished the book to buy the (rapidly disappearing) yarn but you have trouble with delayed gratification? I'm confused.
2. I'm not usually partial to brown, but that colorway is gorgeous, even more so when washed. I didn't know about the oil on cone yarn, so this was very educational for me.
3. I vote for skeining it with the SOAR method . . .. You'd have a giant skein you could wash, still no knots, and no worries that the real thing will "wash up" at a different gauge than the swatch. Plus, you can have a bunch of friends over, drink Screech, and have a "skeining" party. Do it in the back yard. It might frighten away the squirrels. Two birds with one stone.
You do know that even if you wash the yarn first and then knit it that it will likely change yet again when the knitted fabric is eventually washed. In my experience yarn is rarely as WYSIWYG as we'd hope. Maybe never. However I agree with those who use sleeves as gauge swatches! (Though it kind of defeats the purpose if you knit both sleeves side-by-side at the same time like I do. I'm currently frogging my Katherine Hepburn Cardi sleeves due to a miscalculation! Boo-hoo.)
Sunrise Circle is a great sweater, but I would highly recommend googling the image of it before you start. It looks very different on different body types, and is not knit in such a way that normal alterations work. I'm actually a little afraid of it. May the power be with you!
And, yes, the color pre-post wash looks different on my monitor.
Not nice Steph, showing us lovely yarn and then telling us you bought up the last of it. You might as well dance about and blow raspberries at us with your thumbs in your ears.
I didn't read through all the comments, so this might have already been suggested, but I would wash it before knitting. The oils and roughness to the yarn would dampen my enjoyment of the process a bit. And the excitement to knit would only build as I watch the yarn bloom in it's pre-knitting bath.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I, too, bought some of this yarn (in another color) from Webs at Stitches Midwest with a particular pattern in mind. I did a swatch but got the same results you did. I just haven't had time to go back to it and, though I should have known, didn't think about washing the swatch. Now I know what I'm doing tonight! Beautiful sweater, here I come!!
Pros and Cons of prewashing coned yarn before sitting down to knit an item. Pro: if you prewash the yarn will be so much nicer to knit with, no weird feeling of goo on your fingers or needles. Con: weaving in the ends you create by skeining and washing and waiting for the yarn to dry. Pick your poison according to taste.
Swatches lie. that is probably the only thing I know for sure. I have never worked on coned yarn, but I read all the comments, and it seems that no matter how much you want to jump right in, you must wash the yarn first. Get out your Niddy Noddy my friend, and get to skeining and washing. Who wants to knit with hard scratchy yarn anyway?
I've never used coned yarn before, but had heard you had to wash it first. I never knew why, so thanks for teaching me something new today!
And the whole sweater must fit issue is why I still love the 80's baggy sweater look. I never need to worry about fit. Thankfully, the look's back in.
While I have absolutely no experience with coned yarns, I'm thinking your readers are pointing the direction you must take. For what it's worth, I'm with Linda V - skein it using the SOAR method - isn't tomorrow night Knit Night??? There will be lots of hands to help and it will go so quickly that you'll be washing in no time. Besides - Mistress Denny will be there and having invented that method of skeining will be able to stage manage the whole shebang! You go girl - can't wait to see what the washed yarn looks like - and then the sweater. Chris S.
okay, I promise ot wash my swatches and even knit them first from now on!
If I were making something where gauge wasn't a big issue, I'd leave the yarn on the cone and enjoy not having to deal with more than two ends.
In your shoes, however, I'd be too chicken: I'd want to knit the yarn I was going to end up with so I could obsessively check gauge as I went.
That is truly gorgeous yarn!!!!!
I'm a knit-from-the-cone type of girl, although I can't explain why. I like things to START now. LOL! The yarn's lovely, and what a great reward. :D
Wash. That's a dramatic change, and it might be even more dramatic when not in knitted form, no? Heck, you wash your handspun, this is just a variant. ;) Only I don't suggest the niddy-noddy, although you've probably thought of that. Gack. After the 3rd or 4th 200-yd. skein, your arms get bloody tired! Ask me how I know. [g] I love my niddy-noddy Dad made me, but I use and adore the swift I could finally afford!
And Nina at 3:13 PM wanted to know if you knit straight off the cone, or wind it off, etc. If it's something that doesn't need washing, simply depends on if you mind ends to weave in/splice or not, Nina. But if you're knitting straight off the cone, you may want to rig up some arrangement where you have the cone stuck on an old straight needle or something, lying sideways with the ends of the needle resting in notches cut into a sturdy box - like a roll of toilet paper. [g] The idea being that the cone can rotate, which means you don't add or subtract additional twist to the yarn as you pull it up off the cone. Me, I've never noticed that bothering me all that much, but I can see where in some yarns twist could be a problem...
To wash or not to wash--that is the question. Or was the question how to avoid waiting for the yarn to dry?
I bought some coned merino/cashmere yarn from WEBS for a sweater. A great buy that allowed me to afford thousands of yards to make Veronik Avery's Threepenny Pullover.
I swatched and washed 4 or 5 times to get the right guage and decided to knit straight off the cones.
What I found was that knitting with the oiled yarn was not a pleasant experience. That coupled with how unwieldy the project was (the yarn was doubled, so I had to carry around 2 cones) made the knitting go very slowly.
When the pieces were finally finished, I washed and blocked. Amazingly, the guage I targeted was the guage I got. It was a miracle considering I banished the project to a box for months on more than one occasion. Luckily I stored the notebook, pattern, and needles with the sweater and took detailed notes, otherwise I would have never been able to figure out where i was. But how did my knitting guage not screw me up after so long? It was a knitting miracle, I tell you.
Last month I finished the sweater. It was almost 3 years to the day. *whew!* To be fair, a lot of the time was spent not-sewing as the finishing was tricky for a knit-picker like me.
In hindsight would I opt to wash the yarn before knitting with it? Surprisingly, I don't think I would. For one, the yarn was much stronger before washing. I believe it's a finer guage yarn than what you're using, but my yarn after washing could be broken by hand with much less force than other yarns. I don't think I would have been snapping the yarn at every turn, but I was very careful whe I was using it to sew seams.
Also--just a guess--but I might have gotten a more uniform result with the oiled yarn. Again, I'm not sure since I didn't do a comparison with pre-washed yarn, but the entire sweater is uniform in guage and stitch pattern. How did that happen over the span of 3 years? Maybe knitting off the cone had something to do with it.
Wow. I've surprised myself with my answer. Anyway, I don't know if I've helped you at all, but it was the right choice for my project.
Here's the finished sweater. I wish it felt like merino/cashmere, but I'm confident it will soften with each wash as I get rid of the residual oil.
I just finished the Sunrise Circle Jacket and after much ripping out and reknitting, it turned out beautifully. Just be sure you get the row gauge as well as the stitch gauge. Not always an easy thing to do.
my shift key is broken, so no punctuation beyond a period and no smiles.
just a head's up on that sweater... row gauge is more important than stitch gauge - insert exclamation point here -
i took fell to the lure of the sunrise circle. and as i got stitch gauge, off i went. after miles - and miles - and miles of stockinette stitching, i started the raglan decreases. two decreases in, i thought to hold it up and see my masterpiece in action.
and the waist shaping hugged my thighs quite nicely, thank you.
just a note - smiley face here.
For me, it entirely depends on how the coned, pre-washed yarn feels and acts. If it's rough on my hands, or feels oily at all, I want to wash it first (tedious though that is). If it's pleasant to work with and not leaving an oil slick, I'll knit first, wash later . . . but it all depends on the yarn!
The yarn is lovely. Awhile ago, I bought some mill ends of donegal tweed from Webs. I was puzzled when the yarn arrived and it felt more like twine than yarn. I asked the lovely folks on a yahoo knit list I belong to and they explained what I needed to know. I did the same thing you did (knit swatch, bathed in hot water and dish soap) and my swatch is now a soft and beautiful thing. I have a huge amount of this beautiful yarn in two colors and plan to make a couple of sweaters eventually. I'm intrigued with the idea that once washed, it will be so soft.
I'll be looking forward to the pics of your sweater.
Wow! That's a huge difference! I usually wash my swatches and it's never caused any significant change in the yarn, probably because I've never knit from a cone. That's a good piece of information that I hope I can remember! =)
I don't think I could knit with the stress of not knowing for sure what's gonna happen in the wash... but then, a question: how do you wash such a large quantity of yarn? i've had to wash a skein that had taken an unfortunate dip in orange juice (don't ask) and, well, that was quite an experience despite all the precautions I took to avoir tangling the yarn. I'm very curious... if you could explain the experienced Knitter (with a capital K) process in a future post, it'd be a great learning opportunity for the likes of me! thanks.
I tinker so much with size and shaping while I knit that I'd want the yarn washed first. That's one reason I've never bought coned yarn for knitting.
I did just take a course in hand dyeing, so I expect I'll soon have the equipment to make a large skein easily.
Anyway, close one on the yarn. That does look like a very Stephanie yarn and sweater combo. Enjoy your reward.
Wow - this is some beautiful yarn! I love how the colors show up even more after you've washed the swatch. And yes - the yarns do have different colors in your first before and after shots (of the little bundles of yarn). It's really quite beautiful! The sweater/jacket will be totally adorable!
Weavers work with unwashed (coned) yarns all the time, but they count on wet finishing and the "bloom" as part of the process. Knitters have usually worked with washed yarns, because of the WYSIWYG effect, and because what we're all about is the tactile pleasure in doing it, something one doesn't quite have at the loom. As a spinner, knitter, and weaver, I say WASH FIRST. You know gauge swatches lie; it's the size that's involved; not "statistically significant".
Woo hoo! I have *that* yarn in my yarn refrigerator to make *that* sweater. Let's pretend to have a KAL ('cuz I got some Inca print for my birthday, and it's first!)
Wow. That is a dilemna. I would want to knit with the loftier, gauge matching yarn. I would freak out trusting that a sweater is going to fit later after a bath.
However, I would be too impatient to wait for the yarn to dry so I would probably just stare at the yarn forever and do nothing.
I am easily stumped.
I've wanted to make the Sunrise Circle jacket but haven't because of all the gauge issues others have had due to the way it is constructed. Row gauge is critical. So, I think you have to wash the yarn ahead of time or knit a different sweater with it.
Well... What you might want to do is swatch with some of the washed-before-knitting yarn and see if you get gauge with that. If you do, and can stand waiting for it to dry... (You could spin out the excess water in Mr. Washie, which might make the wait for it to dry more bearable?)
I saw that sweater knit up at the Toronto Film Festival. Its a winner.
I am a little scared with the idea of knitting the sweater and then washing it (is that what you mean?) You will have to knit it too small, right, so that it will be larger, to fit, after you wash it? I think I would feel more comfortable knitting it up in it's finished state. I would have to feel very brave to do it otherwise. Then again, I was reading some of the posts above and Milissa said something about the wool's oily-ness - that could be a problem. Also, as you say, having all that wet wool around and waiting for it to dry - that could take awhile! So I am being of no help. No help at all. Oh well...it is nice yarn!
An advantage of not washing it would be it takes up significantly less space in the knitting bag if you don't!! :)
I would definitely wash first. I'm in the midst of Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan off coned yarn from the stash I inherited from Gramma (yes, I'm a SABLE beneficiary) and it's just so much more pleasant to knit with. And I can try it on as I go, which will give me sufficient confidence to keep it from becoming a long term UFO. The time I spend darning ends is way shorter than the time I'd otherwise spend knitting with icky yarn. Skein some up and wash it now - it'll be dry in the morning and you'll be much happier in the long term, I promise. And do let us know if you get row gauge - looks like it would be so important to this particular pattern!
I've not used coned yarn, but based on everything I just read, I'd wash. HOWEVER...do not hang it outside to dry. If the squirrel likes fleece, there's no telling what the cute little rodent would do with a color that fabulous. Imagine him bringing it home to the Missus: "Look what I scored today off that human!"
Did I say I'd wash the yarn? (hint...instant gratification = delayed tears)
I am knitting a sweater for my DH with coned yarn I bought off e-bay. I swatched and washed the swatch too and I was amazed at the difference. I had never used coned yarn before but I think I am liking it.I am knitting the Cobblestone sweater by Jared Flood in navy tweed.
Wash it. Definitely. You have waited this long for your reward, you can wait a few more hours while continuing your theme of "finishing". I can't be the only one that hates the feeling of rough, oily cone yarn, especially for a large project like a cardigan. Your poor hands will hurt... think about it. You are a strong woman. ;)
With the Sunrise Circle jacket, row gauge is very important. Did you measure the before and after row gauge? If they are different then you will need to either wash the yarn before knitting or do a whole bunch of math. I have run into this problem when working with oiled yarn. My garment was the right size width-wise but it grew way too long because I didn't check the row gauge. My problem was the pattern would say knit for X inches. But I would be measuring that based on the pre-wash gauge. What I should have done was calculate the number of rows needed (using the post-wash gauge) to get X inches and knit that many rows. Does that make sense?
Faced with a situation like this I would bend my thoughts towards W.W.J.D.
What Would Judith Do?
You need a skein winder. Yup, different than a swift and yes a bit pricey but worth it. I always wash coned yarns first and even some other ones where the twist isn't quite set. And it makes it easier on the hands too. That said, swatches lie their heads off so half the time I cast on, knit a few inches and have to start again, but my yarn is soft and clean :-)I hang my hanks in front of a big fan and they dry in a day. A day isn't THAT long!
I'd wash a length of yarn and knit a swatch when it had dried -- your gauge may be different than the knit-then-wash swatch.
See which feels better. See which gauge you like better.
I'm a new reader and I love your blog! You're wise AND funny - a killer combo. I've tried knitting and have completed a couple of things, however, my yarns and needles have been relegated to the dreaded craft trunk. Your blog may just be the inspiration I need to pull them out again. I'll be dropping by to 'visit' again soon!
That is vry pretty yarn. Of course, if you wait to wash it, you get to knot right away!
who says you can't knit with damp yarn. I do it all the time. Just knit fast.
OK, I know that another swatch is not what you want - but how about skeining off 20 meters or so, washing that, then knitting a new swatch with the pre-washed yarn.
Compare that to your "knit then washed" swatch to see what difference it makes. Hopefully no difference, because then you won't have to wash it ALL first. :-)
WASH wash WaSh wAsH
wash wash WASH wash wash WASH
waSH WAsh wASh WasH
W A S H w a s h W A S H w a s h
You know what to do.
Clearly the majority say wash it, so don't be a contrarian. Make a party of it. Do what Denny did to unravel as described in yesterday's post, except you won't unravel, you'll skein and wash preparatory to raveling , or knitting. Place a couple of semi-trustworthy people a skein apart and race around with the cone, tossing the cone to the next non-sober but decently ambulatory passer-by, until some poor bloke falls off the end of the earth carrying the empty cone with him/her.
Wish I could be there.
Oooh! Beautiful. I'm on a yarn purchasing hiatus in prep for Rhinebeck, but that WEBS yarn had my finger hovering over the "buy" button...
Knowing my luck these days, I'd wash it first too. But that's me. As someone said, not washing it could make things more interesting...!
I get the feeling you'll be a-washing that yarn...
beautiful colours, by the way!
Also that sweater pattern is lovely...for me, something with a "four skein" rating for difficulty is like an article of clothing with a size tag containing the letter "S"...probably not in this lifetime!
Have fun, Yarn Harlot!
By the way, when you were impressing the need for speed on the fellow at Webs, did you say, "I am the Harlot"? Just curious ;)
Y'know how sometimes gauge in the large and generous swatch is NOT like gauge in the sweater? [Yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Jane Sweater Kit].
And how sometimes patterns (even very clever patterns) don't really match your body and you should have changed them as you went along??? [again, Jane... just shut up and get back in the bag in which I hid you]
Well, if you washed the yarn before, you would be able to account for stuff like that. Plus you'd get the pretty-gratification all the way along. Gauge frightens me, so I'm paranoid.
Funny, Sunrise Circle is on my need-list too -- was petting yarn for it today -- as soon as I finish Cardi for Arwen.
While I am 100% with you on diving right in, I just finished a Sunrise Circle with Classic Elite Skye Tweed and I'd like to offer you a few suggestions. First, you needn't be too finicky about stitch gauge at this point (unless you want the jacket a very precise length) but as you know, row gauge is key.
As Kate Gilbert suggests, knit the fronts first and then knit the back to match. Because the front and raglan shaping happen simultaneously, I would suggest a provisional cast on where raglan shaping begins, knit the raglan cap and front, then pick up the sleeve stitches and knit down for the sleeve. I say this because many knitters have had trouble with sleeves that were too long. I thought I had licked the pattern with all of my math, careful measurements and calculations. In the end, I found myself ripping and re-knitting the sleeves a bit shorter.
Enjoy the tweed! I've been coveting the dark olive since it came out!!
That sweater is going to be beautiful! I can't wait to see your finished pictures. It looks like a felted jacket, is it?
I can only point you to some advice I read in a book only this afternoon: ...knitting is a gamble. It is possible that you can knit a swatch, wash and measure it, carefully calculate your gauge, absolutely study a pattern, execute it with patience and perfection...and still end up with something unexpected. (At Knit's End, page 182)
I just rediscovered that sweater on Ravelry and I really want to make it too. Can't wait to see how yours comes out.
I didn't know that about cone yarn! Thanks for the info on it. I will remember that if I buy any cone yarn. I hope your sweater works out :)
I'd wash the yarn first. You may delay your gratification, but the gratification will be greater. You won't have all that nasty machine oil (not lovely olive oil or lanolin; nasty, harsh, kill -your-skin machine oil) all over your hands, needles, knitting bag, pants, etc.
So basically you've just announced to the world that you have knit a teensy swatch and now, like a magic talisman against all evil, it will protect you from all future mishaps with gauge as you knit this sweater.
Umm, Stephanie, you know those films where it is a dark and stormy night and a serial killer is on the loose and the perky blonde girl says something along the line of "Oh, what's that noise? I'll just go out to the barn all alone and defenceless and see what is causing that horrible grinding sound"...
You don't need to wash it first. You have friends in all size ranges who'll need Christmas presents, right?
I am kinda laughing because first I thought your way of testing and swatching made perfect sense and the suggestion of washing it all first brought out a rousing "no flippin' way" from me. I stand by that. Then reading so many "wash first" responses...wow...people do that?! And wind it all back up?! No. Not me. Your test is perfect as far as I think!
Can't wait to see the sweater!
No yucky oil on your hands if you wash it first, plus it'll feel nicer maybe as you knit. That's half the pleasure for me! mmm... alpaca...and malabrigo... and cashmere...
I made my SCJ out of coned WEBS yarn too, but their cashmere merino blend. I knit straight from the cone, trusting my swatch, and it came out really well. Really really well. Best-fitting thing I've ever made that wasn't a pair of socks. Gauge swatches lie and all that, but I think the knitting gremlins reward us for the leap of swatch faith required for coned yarns.
Hmmm - I've knitted a SCJ (hey wow - I jumped on the bandwagon before Yarn Harlot - go me!) and there isn't really any 'measure it to see how long you want it' going on - have a read of the KAL blog (http://www.sunriseknitalong.blogspot.com/) especially Kate's notes on sizing. She recommends knitting the sleeves first. So long as you know how the unwashed dimensions get converted to washed dimensions (remember, swatches lie!) you should be OK - but I would wash first.
Smarty! And how would you wash a cone of yarn anyway? Really.
What does the reward yarn feel like, Stephanie?
That is absolutely the most gorgeous yarn. I love tweeds. Unfortunately, that is not a color I could wear. Or perhaps fortunately, since they don't have any more. I'm going to check the other colors, but they've probably been harlotted
(2 t's?)already. . . .
Hi! I recently disovered your blog and everything wonderful about it, and now have your books on my Wishlist.
Anyway, I have a post in my blog that may help out with the wash before/don't wash before conundrum. http://michelleknits-durham.blogspot.com/2007/10/jennys-fetching.html
Yes, it's handspun, but it changed just as much in the washing process as the gorgeous yarn you have there.
Just as a seamstress or quilter will pre-wash her fabric before making a garment or quilt, so should we knitters pre-wash our yarn before we knit so we don't have surprizes later.
One thing I noticed about yarn that had been pre-washed, and washed really hard so that it was a little fulled beforehand: It doesn't have as much of a problem with shrinkage from washing afterwards. The fibers are already locked to each other when you full the yarn and while it does force you to wait while it dries, it's nice knowing that you'll not need to worry much about your lovely sweater meeting a felted edge.
Oh, I guess a disadvantage to pre-washing is that you'll need to do another swatch with the new yarn, given how much it changes.
Cheers, and thanks for such a great blog!
I've only glanced at a few of the comments, because I was really anxious to get my advice up, because it was the first thought I had this morning when I woke up! Yes, Stephanie, you're always on my mind! And yes, I scare myself sometimes. Anywho, since you're even entertaining the thought of washing yarn before knitting it (and have already done a bit) I think that more swatching is in order; sorry 'bout that. I think you need to wash some of the yarn, knit a swatch, measure that as your 'before' swatch and then WASH that swatch and measure your 'after' swatch. This way you will have all the variables right in front of you and then be in a better place to make your decision.
Oh, and by the way, please stop choosing all the sweaters and stoles and things to knit that I want to knit and completing them before I do; it's freaking me out!
Have fun swatching! Hehehe.
The advantage of washing the yarn first, is that when you knit a pattern that says "Complete shaping. Knit until piece measures 24 inches"), you don't have to do the extra math to figure out what 24-inches-after-washing will be before washing.
But knitters are good at math!
Beyond the longer continuous length & lack of knots, I had no idea about the difference between coned yarn & skeined yarn. I don't buy coned yarn very often, but I'll remember to wash it first from now on. Thanks!
Ha Ha! There she goes, swatching again. The Harlot's a kidder, she is. Right funny.
Me? I'm a gambler. I like to do have it out with Lady Luck. Have I ever lost? Sure. But, as in love, if you don't loose a few fights with guage, your life is a little dimmer...a little less vivid. I like to live on the wild side.
Gotta go...kettle's on for a propper cuppa and Ellen Degeneres is about to come on...
Ooh. So much for "I like to live on the wild side"
I usually leave the yarn on the cone and knit it in it's pre-washed state. I don't have an allergy to the spinning oil and it doesn't make me itch or anything. This way I save the labor of a)winding it off the cone, b)washing it, c)drying it, d)winding it into something else. And I get to keep that nice long continuous length of yarn, fewer joins make me happy.
Your yarn looks lovely and the sweater you're making...It's one of my favorites! I love mine; it's fun to knit and cute to wear. Good Luck!
Given your affinity with mathematics, I would think even you would see the sense in minimizing the amount of complicated math you would have to do. Wash vs math? No contest.
(not that I've ever knit a swatch in my life, or washed my coned yarn, though I might do THAT now.)
I would wash just so I know what I'm getting while I knit. Also, depending on your row gauge difference between washed and unwashed, you may have to make an adjustment each time the pattern says "Knit until piece measures 6 inches." You'll actually want to knit 5.5 inches there or whatever the difference is. Can you really trust a 4 inch swatch to tell you what you need to know about row gauge?
I haven't checked out the construction of the garment, but if it's really done as a circle, it may be that there aren't really choices to make anyway... and the worst that happens is that the sleeves are a bit long or short... in that case, throw caution to the wind and cast on.
I don't much like the feel of unwashed yarn, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go to the trouble of skeining, washing, and winding it before starting--not to mention the waiting time.
the sunrise circle jacket was my first ever sweater and i love it so much that i just voted for it to be the reader favorite over at the IK website. it's so much fun- i am so glad you'll be making it!
ROW GAUGE!!!!!!!!!! I find that I knit slightly faster with unwashed yarn (and it definatly frogs faster). I'm also laboring under the delusion that when the yarn blooms into its' final shape and size after it has been knit, the stitches stabalize by locking into the others around them. That said row gauge becomes much more important than if you a useing a finished yarn. (Unless you like playing roulette with the finished leingth of your garment)
I also did a swatch of the tweed for my secret surprise sweater for my sister in law's birthday. I think it may be the first swatch I've ever actually done. :) I just had an eerie feeling when I started to cast on for the sweater and the thought occurred to me that I should really swatch this time. What a difference. I wouldn't want to wash the whole cone either. Too impatient. Love the yarn though. Can't wait to see what you do with it. :)
Thanks for the informative post!
You know what's going to happen now, don't you? The few cones of this tweed that were still on the WEBS warrehouse shelves last weekend, which I lingered near, then changed my mind about, are probably gone, gone, gone now...
Gorgeous. It reminds me of the Classic Elite tweed I'm using for Rogue. There's just something wonderful about brown tweed. I'm anal enough that I'd wash it first, but that's just because I'm weird. The jacket will be gorgeous in that yarn.
a WHAT>> wassat?? you a swatch.. oh man.. the world is coming to and end!! look out!!!
I wash a bit and swatch and then wash the finished sweater at the end. I'm impatient, like the idea of no ends, and all the work that skeining and washing entails (and potential disasters with me and yarn winding which is a personal problem I have).
So far, it's worked for me.
Your reward is lovely, it'll make a beautiful Sunrise Circle jacket.
Oooh... Very pretty! And what a cool transformation, although I am quite leery of "sudden and miraculous transformations," so I would advise washing it BEFORE knitting.
Also, to those of you who don't look well in yellows/ochre/browns, I just went on WEBS and looked at the other colors of this yarn, and I saw they have three very lovely shades of green -- Olive, Lichen, and Sage.
I am not going to give you a definitive answer, just that we wouldn't want to temp the knitting fates would we? Those hussies are always looking for an opportunity to screw us over.
Holy cow! I didn't even thing about the difference in washed and unwashed. I recently made the Cobblestone Pullover and kept wondering why the Skye Tweed felt funny as i was working with it. I wonder if is has some of that oil you were talking about. Hmm, Now I have to go wash this sweater and see what happens.
Thanks for the info
Washing the coned yarn first can make your knitting process a nicer experience. Many times the oil leaves residue on your needles and hands, and the yarn is not as lovely to knit with. Since you have already dealt with the gauge issue, whether you wash first or not is more of a personal preference. You could start by washing a smaller portion so that you can get started knitting faster than if you washed all the yarn at once.
Gorgeous! Love the socks and the yarn!
I'm with the folks who wanted to know why you weren't worried about felting. What factors make yarn at more risk for felting?
Also- any chance the tour dates page will be updated? (Last date on it was Sept.) I'm totally kicking myself for missing your talk in Burlington, MA a few months ago, and am hoping you'll be back in the area again.
Fear not the cones!
In the past with particularly machine-greasy cones I have washed them before knitting. Make skeins, soak in hot water in bathtub full of eucalan, cool, drain, remove yarn, fill tub again with hot water and eucalan, add yarn and soak again, drain, stick in washer on "spin only" and hang skeins to dry. It made things nicer for my hands.
My Rogue which I adore was a cone of shetland from the warehouse at Webs, $15 a lb I think on a 2 lb cone, although Steve would probably know exactly what it was and how much it cost me. From the look of it on the cone you'd never have thought I'd get what I got out of that yarn. What was skinny, greasy flat yarn bloomed into an amazingly luscious oatmeal-y delight. Serious.
Just a note from the weaving world...coned yarn is actually put up for weavers.
So when it's on the cone, the spinning oil is left in because it make the yarn (a) stronger to withstand the rigors of being warp and (b) smoother so it doesn't catch on the heddles, reed, or other strands of yarn during weaving.
All cloth comes off the loom a bit "tense" because of the tension it undergoes during the weaving process. When it's washed the first time it changes, often dramatically as the yarn relaxes and whatever spinning oil or sizing was on the yarn washes out.
This "blooming" of the fabric is one of the magical parts of weaving. It's a lot like blocking lace, only in reverse. :>
Coned yarns are great for knitters because they are often cheap and put up in larger amounts. (Buy a 3-pound cone of yarn and knit a sweater with no end to weave in!) But as you noted it would be a good idea to either prewash the yarn, or prewash your swatch and adjust the knitting based on the amount of change in the guage.
The lovely man that answered the phone at WEBS is my friend Mike, who is a very nice man indeed. ;)
Mrs. Harlot didn't mention that she is the namesake of SPM Brown!!
I loooove that pattern - just haven't gotten around to knitting it yet.
Maybe I was waiting for your take on the pattern?
Go for it,
I bought two cones of a similar yarn off webs a while ago and went through the entire skeining/washing/winding process (which took fooooorever in my tiny studio apartment) only to find out I should have used a soap of some kind. Whoever it was who told me how to wash it told me that just water would suffice. So I've held off knitting with it because I refuse to go through the entire washing process again and yet I'm scared I didn't get enough oil out of it the first time.
I really hate that you mentioned this yarn on your blog. I was waiting till the beginning of the month to get it; I'm retired on disability and money is tight. You mentioned it and now they are sold out of the color(s) I wanted. You may have gotten yours but you made sure I won't get any.