Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Miracle Cure

Like many knitters I’m a big fan of the Yarn Harlot. I too read the article about the Valley Yarns English Tweed that, with a leap of faith and a whole lotta washing, turned into the most wonderous of yarns. A soft tweedy glorious yarn that, upon washing, would bloom into a thing of beauty that all would envy.

I got an advertisement from WEBS at the end of the year that eventually linked me to a coned Highlands Tweed yarn – and I jumped on it, thinking that this was the very same yarn that had
Stephanie swooning. I’ve since lost the receipt, so I can’t be sure that this was the same yarn, but in any event, it was a whopping $7.00/lb so with a what-the-hell attitude I ordered two pounds of Silver Tweed. This set me back a grand total of $23.00, including shipping.

I have to say, the yarn is really very pretty, appearance wise. As I expected, it had a fair amount of spinning oil so I dutifully washed it. Twice. And for good measure, gave it a nice Eucalan bath. It did indeed bloom in a quite amazing way - this is a "before" (on the left) and an "after" on the right. You'll have to forgive the photo - I had a hard time with the flash and the closeup thing all coming together.

Then I made a swatch.

In my mind this was destined to become a Central Park Hoodie in a lovely goes-with-anything grey tweed. In reality this was a pretty rough yarn. I did the bra test, the back-of-the-neck test, the I’m wearing a tee-shirt test… and I hated it. So scratchy that my hates-wool-itch skin found it unwearable.

I took the swatch to my Tuesday evening SnB - and everyone remarked about how nice it looked but when it came to touching it… well… not so much. Diane tried to console me by saying it’d make great felted bags. All two pounds of it. (sigh)... I resigned myself to storing this yarn into the same novelty-yarn box purgatory where it would eventually be given away.

However – today while cruising Ravelry I spotted a posting about how to soften

Kauni yarn. Another Raveler commented on the overall scratchiness of Kauni in general – and wanted to know if there was any way to soften it up. One or two others piped up with the dollop of hair conditioner trick which I was thinking of trying with my scratchy tweed. Then another person added a post about hair conditioner being a very bad idea and instead suggested using vinegar to soften the yarn, and this caught my eye. She wasn’t clear on the terminology about how the vinegar actually worked, but what I got from it was that the vinegar somehow made the scales of the individual wool fibers flatten down somehow – and those very scales were what made the wool scratchy. Again, with a what-the-hell attitude I put my swatch in a bowl of water and added a generous glub of vinegar. To my utter astonishment it has been transformed. Yeah, it smells like a salad and I’d still want a tee-shirt, but I could wear this stuff – wow, what a difference. Now I know why Manos and Malabrigo reek of vinegar. I love Ravelry.


Lisa W. said...

i have about 3lbs of coned lavender tweed that was the same way for me. Thanks for the tip!..your silver/grey is a gorgeous color by the way...and your laciness from last post..swoon. have a great week.

junior_goddess said...

Ah! Very good. Just like old school hair rinse!

I bought some too, but since it was ALWAYS gonna be just a cardigan, it wasn't such a big deal.

Joan said...

That is a great idea! Love your grey.