Friday, August 24, 2012

Recovering Anhinga

I was staring at my pile 'o balls 'o reclaimed wool yesterday and I decided to knit up a swatch. The good news was I got my expected gauge. The bad news was it looked like absolute dirt. It's very difficult to knit an even, wonk-free fabric when your yarn looks like a pile of ramen noodles. So any attempt to reuse this yarn would need to be either 1) something that was supposed to look grungy/textured or 2) a process which started with a long yarn bath.

I hadn't actually relaxed recycled yarn before--I should have on my Leitmotif cardigan, but that yarn was on its last legs and probably couldn't have taken the stress, plus the example sweater had some textured goodness to it as well. Also I am lazy. This whole thing would have been considered a learning experience if I had bothered to look up any resources, but, like most things I do in life, I figured I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing and if it blew up in my face I could always go look up the right way later.

This life philosophy has had mixed results.

So I got out my umbrella swift and set to work de-caking my three largest balls of salvaged wool. The result was, unsurprisingly, a pile of ramen noodles.

I have a theory that someday, somewhere, someone is going to try to market something like this as a very fetching cowl.
Albeit one with the propensity to snag everything.
From there, I gave it a good, long soak in some cold water. Wool is a fickle mistress, and with the way this yarn looked after I had frogged it (all frizzy), I didn't want to risk felting it to itself. That being said, I'm willing to bet warm water would have been a faster soak.

Pictured: Ramen Noodles
After it was completely saturated, I threw it over a hanger, stuck it in the shower, and then weighted it with a hoodie.
Turns out that hanks with greater circumference dry faster and decrimp better.
After that, it was just a waiting game. We don't have very good airflow in our new apartment and it's been hot and humid lately, so the drying process took a while.
It looks like totally different yarn. I am pleased.
This morning I took them down. They look just lovely. They aren't completely de-crimped, but the yarn is significantly more relaxed and I think it will work up a lot better thank its untreated brethren (which will get a bath later).
Before and After
I call it a success.
I have heard in the past that a steamy shower is usually enough to decrimp yarn, but I'm pretty well sold on this method. Also, it's so hot here that the idea of intentionally taking a steaming hot shower is repulsive.

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