As I’m working on more samples for my Rhinebeck classes, I noticed how differently I finish my yarn now. Really, I noticed that I actually think about different ways to finish my yarn. I used to just do a quick soak in warm water and hang my yarn, sometimes it did what I thought, sometimes not. Recently, I’ve been adding more ply twist to my yarns, I like the look and I like the spring that it gives the yarn.
I decided to do some finish sampling – is anyone surprised? All of the yarns are two ply, spun woolen-ish, with extra ply twist. I finished them 5 different ways. There are more ways to finish, weighting, ironing, sizing and I’m sure more that I can’t think of right now. These are the five I do regularly.
This is what my yarn typically looks like when I take it off of the niddy noddy – sproing!
This is what it looks like after it’s been soaked in hot-ish water with some SOAK, rolled in a towel and then hung to dry. It’s still pretty lively, the twist is uneven.
The next sample I soaked in hot water with SOAK, but between rolling in a towel and hanging it, I snapped it. I snap a skein by putting my hands inside the skein, like I’m going to play cat’s cradle, then moving my hands apart quickly, snapping the yarn. Not hard enough to break it, but hard enough to get some water sprayed in your face. I do this about four times, sliding the skein around my hands so a different two points are across the backs of my hands each snap. I love how that little motion evens out the twist. This is the way I finish yarn most of the time.
Then there’s whacking. A favorite of mine when I’m irritated at someone. I soak and roll like the first two, but before I hang it to dry, I beat the snot out of it. I literally hold one end of the skein and whack it against the floor, or counter. This one I whacked on the deck and scared the stupid squirrels who have been systematically stripping my hammock to shreds for their nests. Whacking evens out the twist and makes the yarn bloom. If a fiber or fiber blend is inclined to be fuzzy or puff, whacking will get it there fast. If you want a smooth surfaced yarn, don’t whack.
Fulling is up. For this I use a bowl of water as hot as I can stand to put my hands in and a bowl of ice water. I soak the skein in one, squeeze it, then soak and squeeze in the other. Back and forth between hot and cold, not agitating, just squeezing most of the water out between bowls. This fulls the yarn, a light felting. It’s firms up a little, pulls together a little. It evens out the twist and stabilizes the yarn. This is my favorite finishing for singles.
Last is the full-on menace. Felting your skein. I learned an easy, un-hand-burny, way to do this in a Judith Mackenzie class. Use a sink plunger. I use a bowl of really hot water from my kettle and a bowl of ice water, the skein goes back and forth from hot to cold, but not gently. I menace that skein with the plunger, like a sink backed up after a hair dyeing slumber party. I’ve never taken it to hard felt, but I’ve gone to firm. The whole look and feel of the yarn changes and it resists pilling.
A downside to felting is shrinkage.
Those are my top five ways to finish, what’s your favorite?
Jillian is the author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts.
She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing.
Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com