How to Smooth Out Kinked Yarns and When to Do It

In addition to picking up half-finished projects, this year’s OAL is counting projects in need of a do-over as eligible WIPs. Taking apart a failed knitting project and reworking it into something you love is so satisfying, but dealing with the ramen-noodle-yarn phase is the not-so-fun first step.

Yarn that’s been blocked and/or left knit up for ages will set in the pattern it’s kept in. Depending on the fiber blend, the yarn may have little memory and quickly relax, or it may have a lot of memory and keep its kinks. Kinky yarn can cause gauge issues, depending on the memory of the yarn, how well set the kinks are, and the amount of tension the knitter uses. Unfortunately this means freshly frogged kinky yarn can’t always be knit up nicely without any extra work. You can see the annoying end result of knitting with too-kinky yarn below.

If you suspect that your yarn isn’t too kinky to work with, knit a swatch with it. If you’re frogging an older project, you’ll want to do this anyway, because your gauge may have changed over time, even if you’re using the same needles. Your swatch may be a little lumpy and bumpy, but if all is well, once its been washed and blocked, it will have nice, even stitches.

If all doesn’t go well or if you just don’t want to work with kinked yarn, wind your frogged yarn into manageable-sized hanks and tie them with scrap yarn at three or four points to keep them from tangling, like you would see tying up a new hank. Gently wash them in a wash bin with woolwash, making sure not to tangle or agitate. I recommend doing one hank at a time so you can leave them in an obvious ring shape. Use a towel to help press out some excess water, like you would when washing and blocking a sweater. Hang your hanks to drip dry, and the kinks will be almost entirely gone if not completely! Note that hanging wet skeins can cause them to stretch, so once again, you will need to knit a swatch to check your gauge.

Once your yarn has dried, you can ball it up and work with it again! My Hortencia pattern was designed using yarn that had been left as an unsuccessful version of the sweater for several years, and washing the hanks gave me a nice, even gauge for the final version.






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