They are as seductive as an ice cream van jingling its song up your street on a hot day. I know my stash is stuffed with colorful superwash yarns of all sizes. Superwash yarns mainly merino, but other superwash yarns, too have properties that make a knitted fabric that is a little different from their non-superwash sisters.
The most common way to create a superwash yarn is to remove the scales and then coat the yarn to smooth it more about this process in an upcoming post. Superwash yarn is extra smooth, and the color is so intense that it looks like a cartoon idea of yarn.
Color is always what always brings me to superwash yarn. Because more dye makes a deeper color, and altering the scales on the fiber allows for increased absorption of dye. It feels dense and squishy. Coating the yarn, like putting pomade on your hair, compresses and smoothes the fibers, making the yarn dense and even. Rarely does fresh superwash yarn look fuzzy. Up to this point, after looking and touching, I am deeply in love with superwash yarn, but what happens in the swatching and knitting is what makes me a cautious superwash lover.
Fiddling with the scales on the fibers in the superwash process affects how the fiber behaves. The scales on fiber are what help yarns hold together when they are spun and plied. Remove and smooth the scales, and the fibers have no natural way to grip each other. They are twisted around each other, but not locked together. The defensive line is not as structurally sound. No one will be surprised that my gauge is different with superwash yarn.
The yarn compresses since some of the structure is missing. I have to go down a needle size to get the same gauge I get with a similar sized non-superwash yarn that knits to the same gauge.
This is why superwash yarns are great for socks. My friend in the photo is holding two damp swatches. The one on the right is knit to the gauge suggested by the ballband 4. When the yarn hits the water all of my beautiful knitting goes limp like a tired toddler asked to pick up toys shrieking, optional.
This tells me not to stray looser than the suggested gauge. Superwash yarns therefore are not candidates for gauge shifting. The hand of the fabric and stitch definition are often the spots where love either blooms or dies on the vine for the knitter considering superwash yarn for projects that are not socks.
If you are a lace knitter, particularly with a penchant for lace shawls, the smooth heaviness of superwash gives your piece swing. The lack of elasticity allows your block to hold all of those YOs open. It brings a languid drape to your shawl, like reading and swinging in a hammock on a summer afternoon. If you are looking for a cable that stands at attention, superwash yarns can be a little, um, flaccid. The cable swatch in the photo is knit with bulky yarn, with many plies, at the gauge suggested by the ballband.
If the yarn were not superwash it would have almost no bend, instead it hangs there like Droopy Dog. That is one flat cable. There is nothing approaching crisp stitch definition unless it is knit tightly. If you do knit tighter, that further compresses the yarn and makes the fabric heavier.
Asking a superwash yarn to have superior stitch definition is like trying to thread cooked angel hair pasta through the eye of a needle. The takeaway: Come for the color and softness, but arm yourself with a little knowledge about how this yarn likes to be knit. Jillian Moreno spins, knits and weaves just so she can touch all of the fibers. Keep up with her exploits at jillianmoreno. Oh, what a enlightening article! Knit a Norwegian sweater for son 2 years ago.
Sleeves and body lengthened by 4! Had NO clue at the time as to why. Knitted gauge according to pattern, but gauge must have looser than called for by the band! If I go inside wearing it, I break out in a sweat immediately — and moisture does not get wicked away like with non-superwash. However if the garment is likely to be machine-washed mainly for babies and children with very busy parents , I use a yarn that will stand up reasonably to the process, either Superwash wool, cotton or a mixture like Baby Bamboo.
Started using super wash wool this past year for baby things and went on to make a crib blanket in it and was generally disappointed. I hope pattern designers make an effort to indicate if super wash is appropriate for a given pattern. Great info! I can now fully absolve myself from blame for the sagging mess of a hooded vest I made years ago.
It would be interesting to include discussion of the chemical process used when creating superwash yarns.
Stay tuned for more info on superwash than could fit in this article, which focuses on how these yarns behave. Yes…more please on what superwashed yarns are treated in the US with healthier chemicals. Is that a misnomer!!! My next sweater is going to have colorwork and all three skeins are superwash. Trying to decide if that is a big mistake. Plastic is now believed to be in our water cycle.
Plastic washes out of fabrics right into our waste water that we will eventually drink. No more superwash for me! Thanks Jillian. I struggle with deciding to knit with superwash. Thank you so much for sharing this, Lucia. Your stash room is beautiful! I actually have that pretty round basket you have on your desk but it actually fits about half my stash in… I need to invest in more yarn. I love your room, Lucia! I could happily lose myself for days in there.
It looks so cosy and comfortable, yet pretty and inspiring. How wonderful to have all your stash on display in one place. Enjoy your space. That couch! Enjoy your lovely space. For the first row, you will need to create 16 stitches. Take your first slip knot and reach some of your fingers through it to grab the working yarn and create a loop a stitch.
Please try not to make the stitches too tight. If you see the chain I created in the last images, I feel now that I made them a tiny bit too tight. Feel free to create them a little bit more loose.
Then, take the chain and flip it over vertically so its back side is facing up. Short video demonstration available in this step as well. In the last step, you flipped the chain over vertically so the backside would be facing up. You will see on the far right side that there is a loop from the chain you created. Just take that loop and angle it upwards, before you begin making the first row. Now, look for the little bump in the middle.
You will put your finger underneath that bump and reach for the working yarn, pulling it through and creating a loop. Try to make the loop lay flat and continue on with the rest of them, until you reach the end. You will see that the bottom of the piece is braided when you create it this way. It creates a beautiful effect. You will do all of the following rows in this same way.
There is just one important step to remember. Always skip the first stitch in each row. It doesn't matter if the stitch direction is going left-to-right or right-to-left.
If you are on a brand new row, skip the first stitch and begin working in the 2nd loop. By doing this, you will be creating a beautiful braided affect along the edges. For each stitch, you just put your hand through a loop, grab the working yarn and pull it into the loop to create another loop. These loops can be quite loose or tight. It is up to you. I made mine a bit loose, and this created a blanket a bit larger than the standard measurement of 30 x 50 inches.
I only used 3 skeins of yarn to make it. I recommend trying to keep the loops on the side, tighter rather than looser. Otherwise the braided edges will look a bit sloppy or possibly a little too loose. Keep working row by row until you have the desired length. It takes very little time to create this blanket. I will share some tips in the next step, about how to tie onto a piece of yarn with a new piece of yarn.
There are a few ways to go about attaching or joining with new yarn. You will use at least 3 skeins of yarn, and will need to attach new yarn to the piece as you go along. For me personally, I did a lot of research and tried to learn from some experts in this field. I found two recommended methods. The way I attached a new piece, was very simple. When I got close to running out of yarn, I pulled out a new ball of yarn and took the end of it to the end of the working piece I was running out of.
I then tied those two together into a very basic knot - kind of like tying your shoes, but into a knot. I tightened it as much as possible, then trimmed the ends off. With using chenille yarn, this is very unnoticeable when all is finished. If you want to be extra careful, you could then take out a needle and thread of similar color to your yarn and create several stitches through that very knot. If I were to make these blankets to sell them, I would most definitely do that.
I would never want it to accidentally come apart, especially if someone purchased it or I gave it as a gift. If that happens to you and you made your own blanket without the thread reinforcement, you should just be able to use some excess yarn as long as it wasn't super tightly knitted and re-knot it where the knot came out. It should be totally fine. Want to let your boyfriend know that he's on your mind first thing in the morning?
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Sending a good night SMS is one of the most simple, yet moving ways to let that special someone know that they're on your mind.The cable swatch in the photo is knit with bulky yarn, with many plies, at the gauge suggested by the ballband. If the yarn were not superwash it would have almost no bend, instead it hangs there like Droopy Dog. That is one flat cable. There is nothing approaching crisp stitch .