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Wool Lovers' Guide & Caring for Your Yarn

Gemma Dixon

Posted on September 15 2020

Wool Lovers' Guide & Caring for Your Yarn

Wool is beautiful but like all beautiful things, it’s flawed without care and love. Think about how much care you take when knitting the yarn, and care for it after you have finished. Wool will reward you for a long time.

The KNOT problem. Why does it happen?

When ball of yarn is manufactured it will have been made by two different
processing routes. Throughout these processing routes it is necessary to wind the yarn onto various size bobbins and cones. The different bobbins in these stages are not always sized into multiples of one another and this means a knot must be used when winding on to larger bobbins, there is no other way. Processing yarn with 100% continuity would result in enormous costs that would certainly be prohibitive to knitters.

Instead, efforts are made to lessen the number of knots to an absolute minimum by using staff awareness of the problem and also by asking knitters to look for an upcoming knot before they start each row.

We appreciate that bringing the problem of knots to any suppliers attention is through the annoyance of finding a knot that appears in the middle of a row. Where the yarn is checked before each row is knitted and any knot is removed, the subsequent wastage of a metre or so of yarn is by far the better system. There is little point in telling the manufacturer, they know.

Knots are an unavoidable part of yarn manufacturing. There are no two sheep joined together.

The FADING problem. How does it happen?

The warmth of wool is one of the pleasant luxuries of life and in today's market, demand for brighter and whiter is always paramount. The wool too must be made brighter and whiter than nature provides. Many colours other than white need to be bleached so that often soft colours like pale pink must be bleached first.

Unfortunately when wool is bleached it has a tendency to yellow when exposed to ultra violet light or heat and will do so even more readily when in the damp state.

The whiter the bleach the more visible the yellowing appears if drying is not carried out under very careful conditions. The problem is a world wide one and the optical bleaches produced by dyestuff manufacturers and used to obtain very white bleaches on wool have very poor light-fastness. They can retain their whiteness provided that after the garments are washed they are dried away from direct heat and sunlight.

The crucial time from the point of view of yellowing, is during the drying process, i.e. while the garment is damp. That doesn’t mean only after washing. If a person wearing an optical white garment is caught in a shower they must get the garment into shade as quickly as possible.

Also most people are unaware that cloudy or hazy weather conditions with ultra violet rays can yellow garments as equally as on a bright sunny day, you need to be careful at all times.

So if you want your optical garments to stay white, it is better to play safe and dry them indoors away from direct sunlight and not near a heater.

There are no pure white sheep. Just as there are no two sheep joined together.

The PILLING problem. What makes it happen?

The pilling behaviour of a knitted garment during wear is related to many factors and can be influenced as much by the customer as by the manufacturer of the yarn.

We choose types of wool, yarn construction techniques and twists used to make our yarns reasonably resistant to pilling in wear, but always bearing in mind that the product must be acceptable in handle to the customer. The use of very coarse wool and more intensive twisting would reduce the likelihood of pilling, but the yarn would lack appeal to our customers.

The type and fit of the garment, the idiosyncrasies of the wearer and the particular circumstances are important factors over which the yarn manufacturer has no control.

Individuals vary in the severity with which they treat their clothes and this factor alone will give a distribution of pilling behaviour for a given yarn or pattern. The type of activity of the wearer influences pilling and the particular circumstances of wear can have a large effect on the degree of pilling, i.e. the wearing of one fibrous surface on top of another can aggravate pilling.

Domestic washing is also a very important variable and if any felting of the wool fibre is allowed to develop, subsequent pilling is an automatic consequence.

Wool is a natural fibre and will inevitably pill at some stage of it life. Gentle use of a pilling comb generally removes little balls of fluff and helps retain the fabulous look and feel of Wool.

Download our Wool Lovers' Guide for more information on each of these sections.