DO THE TWIST – HOW YARNS ARE TWISTED

In this instalment we will talk about how knitting fibers are being spun. You would be surprised how many possibilities there are. To start with, all animal and all synthetic fibers require to be spun so they can become a yarn.

SINGLE YARNS

In preparation for the spinning process the fibers will be cleaned and combed to be as parallel as possible. The spindle on a spinning wheel or a spinning machine will do the same process, twisting the fibers in one direction and creating a yarn. The fibers can be twisted in two different directions: clockwise or counterclockwise. The industry calls this an S-twist or a Z-twist.

The result is a single Z-yarn or S-yarn. It can be twisted tight or loose. This graphic shows its structure:

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To knit with a single yarn can be tricky. If the yarn is spun too tight it will make “piggy tails” and the knitted piece always wants to take on a diagonal shape. Sometimes this can be fixed by washing or blocking the piece.

SKEINO’s Paola Yarn is a single Z-yarn and it is perfectly twisted to be a great yarn with the most softness.

SKEINO’s Paola Yarn is a Z-single yarn

2-PLY YARNS

However most yarns in the industry are plied yarns, mainly 2-ply yarns. Two single S-yarns or Z-yarns are twisted together in the other direction to become a 2-ply S-yarn or 2-ply-Z-yarn.

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The second twist always releases the “first yarn making twist” and this yarn will never piggy tail or give you any problems shaping a piece.

SKEINO’s Bianca, Gina, Sophia and Violeta yarns are 2-ply S-yarns and they are perfectly twisted to become a wonderful Lace, Sock, Fingering or DK yarn with the most softness.

Fingering 2-ply

SKEINO’s Bianca, Gina, Sophia and Violeta yarn are 2-ply S-yarns

BIANCA (800x800)

SKEINO Bianca Yarn knitted up

SOPHIA2

SKEINO Sophia Yarn knitted up

VIOLETTA (800x800)

SKEINO Violetta Yarn knitted up

SPECIAL YARNS

Special yarns can be twisted several times. Usually they are twisted “back and forth” to create a cord-like or pearl-like look. These yarns are heavier in weight and knitting up worsted and thicker.

This “yarn tree” is the symbol of a multi twist yarn sample. Two single S-yarns are twisted into a 2-ply Z-yarn. Three of these yarns are twisted together into a 3-ply S-yarn.

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SKEINO’s Francesca, Monica and Donna yarn are multi ply yarn’s and they are perfectly twisted to become a wonderful Worsted, Bulky and Super Bulky – Yarn with the most softness.

SKEINO Donna Yarn knitted up

SKEINO Donna Yarn knitted up

SKEINO Francesca Yarn knitted up

SKEINO Francesca Yarn knitted up

SKEINO Monica Yarn knitted up

SKEINO Monica Yarn knitted up

I hope you enjoyed this little explanation and that it was not too technical. For me as a designer this is what I work with every day and I love to do it. The way fibers are spun also determines by a great deal what we can do with them and that is what makes it so extremely important. As a designer you have to know your stuff in order to create pieces that are both beautiful and technically flawless.

Which is your favourite fiber to knit with? Do you prefer the singles, 2-plies or the special yarns? Let me know in the comment section!

…And as always: HAPPY KNITTING !!

Bjorn

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THE KNITTING INDUSTRY’S SECRET YARN TECHNIQUES

As a yarn company you have to buy your raw yarn from somewhere. Ever since we started we have been looking for the best yarn we could find and I’m glad that we found some providers who can deliver exactly what we want for our SKEINO customers. The yarn we look for has to be of superior quality for many reasons. We want to support local businesses in Europe and the US since they have so much tradition in yarn spinning. Especially for the smaller businesses though, it has become harder and harder to survive. So why not preserve traditional businesses with our SKEINO orders?

Now as you know, even an industry as traditional as yarn making is innovating constantly. I thought that this might be an interesting subject so it will be our topic today. But how to start? For a hand knitter many of the machines and techniques used in the industry are hard to understand, even though they hold the results in their hands every time when they grab their needles and start to knit. Therefore I’ll begin from a hand knitter’s perspective and then we’ll move forward to the industry.

So we’ll start with the I-cord. I was looking for a long time to find out what the “I” is standing for and the only explanation I found was that it’s I as in “Idiot”. Hmm, that doesn’t sound very convincing…

i-cord2

So what is the I-cord? Well that can be explained rather quickly: Maybe as a child you tried to make a cord using a wooden spool with four nails. You might have wound the cord in a circle to create a coaster or a potholder. Today’s knitter uses knitting needles to knit a cord. This takes forever and it’s a tedious process. If you have ever tried to knit a yard or more that way you’ll know what I mean. If you want to be quicker you might want to consider buying a little mechanical hand tool to be faster. An interesting alternative is to use a cord as an edge on the side or a Bind Off Cord at a sweaters neck opening.

SourBall_icord2

This is not cheating! A mechanical hand tool makes it a lot easier to knit an I-cord.

So now you know what the I-cord for a hand knitter is. Now let’s move back to the knitting industry: You would think that all yarns are spun but nothing could be further from the truth. Many yarns are actually knitted instead of being spun. The mills actually use the very same I-cord technique when producing some of their yarns: Instead of spinning the fibers, a machine is used, carrying several knitting heads that are lined up where the yarn is being knitted. Usually a mill will use yarn that is already spun to knit the cord. I’m sure you have seen yarns like that, mainly bulky yarns for a fast project. I couldn’t find any pictures of these knitting heads and I’m sure they are top-secret so I’ll leave that to your imagination at this point.

One result of the I-cord technique is that these knitted yarns are very strong. In the past at SKEINO we carried a 100% silk yarn. It was DK-weight and very elegant. You were not able to break the yarn with your fingers. Here’s a picture of what the yarn looked like when it came from the mill. Note the structure, you can clearly see that the yarn is knitted. Since the fibers kind of look like a chain and because it was so strong we called the yarn “Silk Chainette”.

SKEINO Silk Chainette yarn

SKEINO Silk Chainette yarn

Even though the I-cord technique is quite popular within the knitting industry, there are other knitted yarns out there that are using different techniques. For example the cord can also be knitted from very thin and strong Nylon and additional fibers are being fed into it during the knitting process. This helps to achieve different characteristics for the yarn such as durability and/or softness. Here is an example:

At SKEINO we are currently offering a yarn called the VENICE YARN. The cord is knitted from Lurex yarn and Baby Alpaca. Usually a “metal” yarn like Lurex will be super scratchy because of the sharp edges of the cut foil (what lurex is). However thanks to its unique knitting technique the Venice is not scratchy at all. The fibers surrounding the “glitter center” are made from Baby Alpaca acting as a shield. This prevents the yarn from being scratchy, making it very elegant, while being soft and lightweight.

SKENO Venice Yarn in Gold

SKENO Venice Yarn in Gold

SKENO Venice Yarn in Charcoal

SKENO Venice Yarn in Charcoal

One 4 oz. skein of Venice contains 300 yards. It knits up Bulky for scarves and shawls or Worsted for garments. We just started to add more colors to our section and there are more to come. The yarn is great for scarves and shawls and it’s a great beginners yarn. Venice does not need a complicated pattern: its elegant fibers speak for themselves.

What do you think about knitted yarn? Do you even have an explanation what the “I” in I-cord stands for that is more substantial then the one I found? Let us know in the comments. And as always: HAPPY KNITTING!

Love,

Bjorn

3 TIPS ON FINISHING YOUR KNITTING PROJECT

SKEINO Finish

Today we’ll talk about how to finish your work on a knitting project. This is always a very special moment and giving your piece the excellent finishing it deserves makes knitting all the more satisfying.

Surely you know the feeling when after a piece is completed it’s still not finished yet. There’s still a lot more to do such as seaming parts together, weaving in ends, creating edges, washing and eventually blocking. Note: As you might know I’m not a big fan of blocking. In this post you can read why.

But let’s come back to finishing your work. All to the above mentioned tasks need to be done and they may take some amount of time. Here are 3 small things that can help to decrease this amount of work:

  1. Connecting yarn as you knit

When you run out of yarn or if you found a knot in your yarn, you’ll need to connect the ends. Here’s my top-tip: Instead of having the ends hanging out on the side to be stitched in later, you can also connect them right away. There are several ways to do this, I prefer the invisible “split splicing” method. Stacy from verypink.com explains this perfectly in this video:

  1. Creating edges as you knit

Our “Holiday Shawl” includes this feature: This top-down knitted shawl creates a Garter Stitch edge as a part of the pattern. Through increases at the beginning, the center and the end of every front row, the shawl keeps on growing until it finally reaches its final size. The first and the last three stitches of every row are added to create the edge. After the shawl is completed the edges will form the long side of the shawl. This is the side where the wear is and the edge will keep the shawl from not growing endlessly.

SKEINO holiday shawl

The long side of our Holiday Shawl is created by the edges as you knit along.

  1. Stabilizing buttonholes as you knit

Unfinished buttonholes always look bad. Stabilizing them later is a lot of work and you’ll have to weave in the two ends of the yarn you’re using to do so. I like to finish my buttonholes right away. It doesn’t matter if they are horizontal or vertical. Here’s how you do it:

After finishing the buttonhole you knit another row and then stop at the beginning of one hole. Take the last stitch you knitted from your right needle and put it onto a crochet hook (you’ll need to try the right size to do a tight job). Take your work yarn and crochet around the hole until you reach the beginning where you started. Put the stitch back onto your knitting needle and keep on knitting. Your first buttonhole may require a little practice but do not give up. You´ll love the stabilizing, appearance and easiness.

I hope you enjoyed the read and you have discovered some new tips & tricks. These are just some of the many small things you can do to avoid a lot of finishing work. Let’s talk about this some more next time!

Do you agree with my list? What is your favorite technique to finish your knitting project? Let me know in the comments below!

…and as always:

HAPPY KNITTING!

Love,

Bjorn