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How to soften coarse woolen yarn?
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Apr 4, 2011 11:15:07   #
DorisT
 
I was given two skeins of what I'm sure was expensive woolen yarn from a company in Maine. It is much too scratchy for a scarf or hat as it is. Do you think it's feasible to wash it in Woolite before I use it, or wait until the item is knitted or crocheted and then wash it, hoping it will soften?
 
Apr 4, 2011 11:25:48   #
courier770
 
Woolite is merely a detergent and will not offer any "softening". Since wool is hair, you could try hair conditioner, though I'm not sure if it would really help all that much. Worth a try I suppose.

Generally the higher priced wool yarns are not scratchy. It might be a good yarn to use for felting though.
Apr 4, 2011 12:09:50   #
e.ridenh
 
((((((((( I'd be tempted to work it up first into a non-wearable item then hand wash the item/s as you would your own hair but use Woolite (or an equivalent), run it through another handwash using hair conditioner or even on the first go add hair conditioner.

I would not wash a skein as is = hard to dry and no doubt would get tangled. Thus, K or C something out of it first.

It's good that you have no more than two skeins, eh? ((:

Good luck & HAND!!!
~~~~~~~
DorisT wrote:
I was given two skeins of what I'm sure was expensive woolen yarn from a company in Maine. It is much too scratchy for a scarf or hat as it is. Do you think it's feasible to wash it in Woolite before I use it, or wait until the item is knitted or crocheted and then wash it, hoping it will soften?
Apr 4, 2011 13:00:56   #
Naughty Knitter (a regular here)
 
I was told that soaking a garment in fabric softener (like Downy) softens rough wool. I have not tried it yet but since I knit for charity and was given some very rough baby yarn recently, I was planning on making a large swatch to see if it worked. If it softened the swatch, I was planning on rewashing it without the softener and see if the softening held. Due to my schedule, I will not be doing this before the end of June.
If you do the testing before then, will you let us know?
Good Luck!
Apr 4, 2011 13:21:57   #
courier770
 
I never use Woolite. After speaking to the owner of the largest wool yarn mill in the US, I use "wool shampoo". In a pinch, people shampoo will do.
Apr 4, 2011 14:44:31   #
memere
 
something i never new
 
Apr 4, 2011 16:08:00   #
DorisT
 
courier770 wrote:
Woolite is merely a detergent and will not offer any "softening". Since wool is hair, you could try hair conditioner, though I'm not sure if it would really help all that much. Worth a try I suppose.

Generally the higher priced wool yarns are not scratchy. It might be a good yarn to use for felting though.


I googled for the price of the yarn and found out it is $6.50 per 4 oz. so I wouldn't exactly call it "cheap" yarn. The website also stated that is "not" suitable for felting.

Since it is in hanks, think I'll soak one of them in conditioner, rinse it well, roll it in a towel to get out the excess water, then let it air dry. If it will shrink, I'd rathr it shrinks before I knit something out of it. I love the colors - one hank is blueberry, and the other is evening primrose, a soft yellow.
Apr 4, 2011 16:25:26   #
courier770
 
You are right that isn't a super cheap yarn so the scratch factor is a little confusing.Though I have paid both more and less and not had that issue. I'm curious as to why it is described as not suitable for felting.

It you wash it by hand in cool water without "agitation" shrinkage should not be an issue. The colors sound lovely though.
Apr 4, 2011 16:39:02   #
Gramma2many
 
I have a yarn, several hanks, that is rather coarse. I knit hats from it. The people who wear them report that it softens with wear. I have also rinsed it with hair conditioner with success.
I am also a charity knitter, hoping to help build a church in Tanzania.
Apr 4, 2011 17:40:26   #
DorisT
 
courier770 wrote:
You are right that isn't a super cheap yarn so the scratch factor is a little confusing.Though I have paid both more and less and not had that issue. I'm curious as to why it is described as not suitable for felting.

It you wash it by hand in cool water without "agitation" shrinkage should not be an issue. The colors sound lovely though.


Giving y'all a blow by blow description! I washed the blueberry hank, first with shampoo, it didn't feel very soft, so I used Pantene shampoo w/conditioner, rinsed it well until there were no more suds, then rolled it in two towels that were each folded so there were 4 layers of toweling. I have it drying on a dry towel on the sun porch. Wonder of wonders, it already feels softer! I'll move it this evening when the sun goes down. Right now the porch is shady so I don't have to worry about fading.

This yarn is from the Christopher sheep farm in Maine. I think the reason it may not feel soft is because it's not processed with chemicals, etc., like so many of the finer yarns.

Anyway, I've been wondering what to with it and I think I'll make a hat and scarf for my 6-year-old greatgrandson who has beautiful blue eyes; the blueberry should look good on him.
Apr 4, 2011 17:59:27   #
courier770
 
Glad to hear it's working out. There's a woman here locally that raises sheep and spins yarn, then sells it at our local farmers market (no chemicals)...her yarn is pretty soft. Perhaps the breed of sheep may have an influence.
 
Apr 5, 2011 07:50:11   #
evesch
 
I know of two reasons that a wool is considered not suitable for felting. One is the breed of sheep that it comes from and the other is that it has been treated to be washable which removes the feltability of the wool in the processing of it.
I would question the source of the wool. Most of the breeds of sheep that produce non felting wool are courser wools, suffolk, dorset, cheviot. These are very good for outer garments and socks.
Unless the wool was processed by hand at home by the people there were chemicals involved. Also most yarns commercially produced have a coating on the wool to make things move through the machinery without jamming things up. Some yarns are coated with things to make them easier to use, such as yarns for knitting machines and will change in texture with a wash.
I raise sheep, wash, comb and spin my own yarns. $6.50 for a skein is cheap for what I do. A skein of yarn from sheep to finished yarn can take a good 8 hours to produce. I will not take that tiny of an amount for my 8 hours of work. I never make what it is worth but definitely do not sell it for that little. So High End expensive is also debatable.
Apr 5, 2011 08:06:32   #
DorisT
 
evesch wrote:
I know of two reasons that a wool is considered not suitable for felting. One is the breed of sheep that it comes from and the other is that it has been treated to be washable which removes the feltability of the wool in the processing of it.
I would question the source of the wool. Most of the breeds of sheep that produce non felting wool are courser wools, suffolk, dorset, cheviot. These are very good for outer garments and socks.
Unless the wool was processed by hand at home by the people there were chemicals involved. Also most yarns commercially produced have a coating on the wool to make things move through the machinery without jamming things up. Some yarns are coated with things to make them easier to use, such as yarns for knitting machines and will change in texture with a wash.
I raise sheep, wash, comb and spin my own yarns. $6.50 for a skein is cheap for what I do. A skein of yarn from sheep to finished yarn can take a good 8 hours to produce. I will not take that tiny of an amount for my 8 hours of work. I never make what it is worth but definitely do not sell it for that little. So High End expensive is also debatable.
I know of two reasons that a wool is considered no... (show quote)


Wow! Thanks for your reply. I'm getting quite an education on woolen yarn. But now that brings up another question. How can Christopher Sheep Farm produce their yarn for only $6.50 per skein?
Apr 5, 2011 09:14:41   #
N.Y.kntwit
 
I was told by a lady who spins to rinse the hank in a combination shampoo/conditioner such as Pert. I have tried it after knitting a hat and it really works.
Apr 5, 2011 10:14:22   #
StitchDesigner
 
There is another reason for scratchy wool: Fiber length. Short fiber yarn has more ends. It's those ends that scratch and make you itchy. I have purchased expensive Japanese wool and found it quite scratchy. I have purchased wool from KnitPicks (inexpensive) and found it very soft (plain wool). There's no rhyme or reason to it. Conditioner does help.

The LYS I worked at has a standing rule: Never wash wool in Woolite. It can cause shrinking, color bleeding, and it leaves a residue in the wool.
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