Sunday, August 21, 2016

FAQ Part 3

FAQ - Part 3

What kind of yarn should I use? Cotton or acrylic? Wool or man-made? All kinds of yarn have their uses! Acrylic yarn is fine for most purposes. I use it for afghans a lot. I also use blends of wool and other fibers. Some people are allergic to wool, but if they are not, wool is perfect for warm afghans. If you’re working from a pattern, it will usually tell you what type will work best.
How can I tell if my yarn is wool or acrylic? You wouldn’t want to shrink or felt it in washing or use it in a product you’re making for someone with a wool allergy.

There are at least two ways of telling if your yarn is wool or acrylic.
1) Take a tiny snip of yarn, light it with a match. If it smells like burning hair, it’s wool. If it smells like plastic, it’s acrylic.
2) Put a few inches of yarn in a small jar of chlorine bleach. If it’s wool it will dissolve. If it is acrylic it won’t. If it is a blend, it will look like part of it has dissolved.
Where’s the center pull? I like a center pull, but manufacturers don’t ask me what I like, more’s the pity and sometimes skeins/hanks don’t have one. Even if they do have one, sometimes it’s hard to find that center thread in a skein of yarn. Of course, it’s good if you DO find it as it makes your tension smoother as you crochet. If you absolutely can’t find the center pull thread in a skein that should have one, you have options.
You can find the ending strand and rewind the yarn into a ball which would make it easier to unwind for crocheting. A yarn winder is a nice tool to have in your crochet arsenal for these instances. Be sure to wind loosely so you don’t stretch the yarn. If you don’t have a ball winder or just don’t want to do that, you could use the end thread as you work. Be sure to unwind enough for several stitches to keep your tension even. I have heard that if you use the ending thread you are using the thread in the opposite direction from which it was wound and thus not as it was intended to be used. Whether this will cause any problems, I don’t know.
If you are using a variegated yarn and you use one strand from the center pull and another from the end, in a continuous piece like an afghan, your colors may be backwards on one end. It’s good to check variegated yarn anyway as I’ve had some that were apparently wound in the opposite direction as my colors were in a different order on different skeins.
Before you pull your center thread out, look on the other side for a thread that is tucked into the skein. That is the ending thread. If you pull it out, when you grab your center pull you should have little trouble. If you forget to do that or it’s not obvious which is the ending thread, when you pull on the center thread it may be tight. If that is the case, as you pull on your center pull thread, look to see if a thread tightens at the opposite end. That would be the end tail which got caught around your center pull thread. If you can pull it out then, great. If not, just clip the yarn at the OPPOSITE end (not your center pull thread) just where it tightens. Be careful not to clip anything else. If you clip it, when you pull on your center thread, that small piece will come out. Just untangle it from your center pull thread and throw it away or use it for your magic ball. I don’t recall reading this suggestion anywhere before, but it happens to me all the time and I’m sure others must know this too.
On skeins that don’t have a center pull, I will sometimes dig in there and find it. I’m told this is not the best thing to do, but I do it anyway. I do like my center pull.
Should I wind all my yarn into balls? If you have a ball winder and it only takes you a few minutes, and you really want to, go ahead and wind all your skeins into balls (be sure to do it loosely not to stretch the yarn). Then put them into a paper bag or one of those gift bags, on the floor by your feet, as you work or use a yarn bowl. They now make yarn bowls in many sizes and materials. Yarn will roll around in the container and you won’t have to go chasing it around the room.

I use the center pull on my skeins whenever possible. I do ball the leftovers when finished with a project and I also ball yarn when I am frogging (ripping) a project. I will often put my skein in a plastic Ziploc bag as I find this helps with the end-of-skein mess you sometimes get. When I put the skein in a bag I have very little trouble.
Can I substitute one yarn for another? Short answer: Maybe. The best way to determine that is to make a gauge swatch. Not all yarns of any particular kind are equal, so whether your yarn will make a good substitute needs more consideration. Sometimes you can tell just by looking at the two yarns side by side. If size of your finished project is not a consideration - say it’s a scarf and it doesn’t matter if it’s a little off in size - then yes you can substitute any worsted weight yarn for any other worsted weight yarn; just know that the size may be slightly off what is noted in the pattern. If size IS a consideration, make a swatch and see if you get the gauge listed in the pattern.
Can I use cotton or acrylic yarn instead of thread? That perfect pattern is made with thread and I don’t have any. Yes, you can substitute cotton or acrylic yarn, but the size won’t be the same. Thread is thinner than yarn, much thinner. The item will be significantly larger in yarn than in thread, but not necessarily awful looking. Some items look nice large or small. If it is clothing you definitely want to use the suggested size thread or yarn or it will not fit correctly.

I don’t have enough yarn from the same dye lot to complete my project. What do I do? You can try buying a skein that looks similar, but if the yarns are placed side by side in a project, you may be able to tell where the new yarn was joined. Another option is to go with a contrasting or complementary color to complete your project, if that is possible.
Sometimes store personnel will call around and try to find more of your yarn in the same dye lot, if they are a chain and have more than one store in the area, and the salesperson is a sweetheart. You could always ask. Even the “no dye lot” skeins do have a slight color variation in skeins purchased at different times. This won’t matter if you’re not using it on the same project, but if you put two even slightly off color skeins next to one another on the same project, you will be able to see the difference. This is true of variegated yarns as well as solid color.
When working on a large project, it is sometimes difficult to find enough yarn in one store to complete your project. In this case, you can order a sufficient quantity of yarn from a catalog or online store. This way you can order as many skeins of one color as you need, and they should all be from the same dye lot. Of course, you take a chance if you don’t know specifically the name/number color of your yarn. I have purchased some in the past, judging by the picture on the web site and was disappointed in the color. However, if the color is not critical or you know the actual name or number you want, this is a way to go.
Also, when using variegated yarn, when you start a new skein, check to be sure your colors are appearing in the same order as previously. Sometimes they wind the yarn backwards, though I’m not sure how that happens. I just learned a neat trick to keep the variegated yarn from making a "pattern" in your work (color flashing and color pooling). You can use two skeins, changing skeins from one row to the next, but don’t cut the yarn. Just carry it up the side as I show in my tutorial on joining new colors.
Extra hint: Buy MORE than you think you need. You can always use extra, but can’t always get the same yarn if you run out. And you can probably return the unused portion if you keep your receipt and do it within a reasonable time frame.
How can I clean a skein of yarn before using it? Jean Felton told me to place a skein of yarn in an old stocking, tie the ends securely, and throw it in the washer. Now you can see if that “stain” comes out before you spend a lot of time making something from it. Another lady (sorry I can’t remember who it was) said that if your completed project has a smoky smell, put it outside in the rain. I did have some preemie afghans with a strong smoke odor. I washed them in Tide and used a Cling Free dryer sheet and the smell seemed to come out though I’m told it is only temporary fix and it comes back. I can’t give a definitive answer to that one. You could also try hanging them outdoors after washing (or even before) if you have a clothes line.
Deborah in Arizona sent me still another washing hint: wash using cold water and one half cup of white vinegar in the wash cycle to set all dyes and remove all preservatives used in the yarns.
Are these two yarns the same weight? Weight is generally listed on the yarn label. If you don’t have the label you can try doing a yarn wrap of each yarn. For example, wrap each yarn around a ruler one inch. If they take the same number of wraps per inch, they are probably good to combine in one project. Make sure you are using the same tension when wrapping to get an accurate idea.

Happy crocheting!

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