Monday, January 30, 2017

confessions of a waste yarnaholic...

I know you’re going to think I’m totally weird. After all, I’ve been beating you up about not wasting waste yarn for years. I’ve been at hands-on workshops where people were spending more time re-winding waste yarn than they were actually getting any knitting done. I harassed you about it, I admit - it just seemed so unproductive, time-consuming and increased the probability of things going wrong.
I used to purchase a couple of cones of Bramwell fine 4 ply (100% acrylic in a nice T6-8 weight that works well for almost anything, great yardage, lasts a long time) per year to use specifically for waste yarn and of course, toss it! Because that’s what waste yarn was for – to waste! In fact, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, I was overheard by a member of the Bramwell family - when asked my opinion of that yarn in a workshop, I proudly stated it made great waste yarn – I still turn red thinking about that! No regrets though, it was my honest opinion! They didn’t call me the natural fibre princess for nothing!  
a bed of worms!
And, it still does – make great waste yarn, I mean, but I have succumbed to the necessity of re-using it. Oh, you can think badly of me, I don’t mind! But I have found a way to make it easy to re-use, without the necessity of re-winding it.

rehanging stitches from waste yarn
remove ravel cord to make worm
Make a worm: start off with the weaving cast-on for single bed knitting. Select every other needle, put the weaving brushes down, place one of those clippy things on the tail (it will look after the end, freeing up your hand), lay that end over the selected needles and then thread the other side up into the yarn feeder in the carriage. Knit several rows as you would for that cast-on. Gradually tighten the tension/stitch size so that the last 2-3 rows are at one number lower than the main tension for your project. This will make the stitches of your first row that you will be picking up pop out and be easier to manage. Now knit a row of disposable ravel cord. I have this cone of a hard-twist rayon yarn in white, that is quite strong and slippery. I knit a row of that and cut it off so I have about 6 inches at each end, for easy removal. Now begin the main yarn, whether it is a fixed edge cast-on or just working off the open stitches already there. Get your piece knit. After you rehang the piece and join it to something else or whatever, pull out the ravel cord to release your waste yarn worm.

holding worm up so it unravels
using worm for weaving cast-on
Use a worm: Set up for the weaving cast-on again as above. Now holding the ‘waste-yarn-worm’ in one hand, use the other hand to move the carriage across, and lift the worm with your other hand, holding it above the carriage so it doesn’t get caught up or tangled and it will unravel as it is needed. Adjust the tension, gradually tightening it so your last two (or so) rows are one number tighter than your main tension will be. When you almost run out of yarn from the worm, that’s the end of your waste yarn rows – don’t trim the tail. Now to re-use it, it’s quite easy to see which end was the weaving cast-on – take the other end because it will unravel freely and repeat the above. I have several worms, for full-width cast-ons, like the back of the garment and some smaller ones that can be half the front or a cuff – you want to make sure you have 8 to 10 rows of waste yarn, but more is better and when re-using them they are more versatile with a few more rows rather than less…
At the end of a piece, normally I would just knit the waste yarn because it unravels from the top but then you'd have to re-wind it - to make a worm, knit a row of ravel cord before the waste yarn and then the ravel cord can be pulled out, resulting in a new worm! ;-) I'm not trying to squirm out of this...

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