Hello, and HELP! How to work with difficult yarn?

Hi, I’m new new new here, but figured, with a site name like KnittingHelp, that there would be people here who could help me figure out how to deal with a particularly difficult yarn.

(I’m pretty new to anything different than garden variety yarn and crochet thread…)

So, to explain…I’ve been crocheting for years, though not constantly and I can’t say I’m very consistent at it (have not mastered Keeping Stitches The Same Size yet), I am comfortable with it and can do, with some reminder, some reasonably advanced stitches. I’ve made doilies and small, really basic blanket sorts of things. I’m also very very patient when it comes to untangling yarn.

But this yarn I got, sight unseen, is really making me tear my hair out. It’s raw recycled silk, so it’s not all one color and it tends to shed bits. I thought that a silk afghan would be neat to have, and the yarn was not extremely expensive (though it was certainly more than ye olde garden variety), with the proceeds going to a charity. So I have many skeins of this yarn, and I am determined to win the fight. This is where the “uncanny patience for untangling yarn” comes in…

The problem with the yarn is it is fragile, extremely prone to tangles, the twist of the yarn tends to make it want to twist up even more when working with it and even worse, tends to get the yarn to actually merge slightly with other bits of yarn (I have to cut the offending bits that have twisted together apart with a straight razor; this doesn’t harm the yarn really, it’s just frustrating), and the skeins, as they were shipped, I found out the hard way that I had to unwind them completely and drape yarn all over my house before winding them up again into a form that won’t turn into The One Tangle To Rule Them All. The more it gets tangled, the more it unravels, the more it tends to tangle, until it starts to dissolve into an ugly mess of silk bits.

So far, the process of unwinding the skeins has me at 1 victory vs. Evil Yarn, 1 loss vs. Evil Yarn (lost a big chunk of it and what’s left is unraveled enough that I may not use it), and 1 Pyrrhic victory vs. Evil Yarn (the yarn is fragile and while I managed to save all of the yarn, it’s now in 7 pieces instead of one nice long piece…still usable, but grrrr). And I have 9 more skeins to go! I’ve used a little over one skien in my afghan (very simple, virtually all double crochet), and at the moment, if I finish the row I’m on, I could easily use it as a long, thin scarf.

Please, please, tell a newbie yarn wrangler that there is an easier way to completely unwind really difficult twisty yarn other than draping it all over my house and risking tangles while I do so? The skeins are basically big loops, and what I’m doing is, carefully as I can, unlooping it so I can wind it up around something else so it will always come off straight. Please, I beg, tell me how to better unwind the skeins and rewind them into usable form!

The tangly, twisty nature of the yarn doesn’t make it that hard to crochet with–I’m actually surprised this is the case, and it’s pretty smooth to work for all that.

(I don’t know how to knit, but an additional question–does knitting tend to twist yarn the way crochet does? If it doesn’t, I could try learning how to knit…obviously with easier yarn than what I’ve got, but with the intent to eventually come back to this yarn and USE it. I WILL use this yarn! I refuse to let it win! It’s soft and pretty when it’s crocheted!)

Hang the loop over the back of a kitchen/dining type chair, find an end and patiently wind it into a ball - loosely. I’m not sure you should make it a center pull ball, it may tangle or break if you pull it out from the center, but a regular ball should help.

Thank you very much–that helped enormously. The yarn is still quite incredibly twisty, but it didn’t get tangled until the end of winding it (and after the other tangles, that one was nothing), so I call that a rousing success. I ended up with two balls of yarn because the skein, for whatever reason, had two lengths of yarn in it; the last skein did, too, so I wasn’t surprised. Thank you again.

The recycled sari silk comes in several levels of quality. Some is easier to work with than others, but all seem to been spun unevenly, which creates the tight spots and the tendency to tangle.

Wind it into loose balls, knit it slowly, expect it to look uneven and rustic. To me, it looks best knit in garter stitch, which shows off the gorgeous colors. Fancy stitch patterns are a waste of time – they just don’t show up.

Careful about the afghan idea: this stuff can be extremely heavy. I made a vest with it and it’s pretty but it feels as though I’m wearing a weight belt. If you do an afghan, try knitting on the diagonal or doing it in modules to emphasize the striping.

Slap the yarn around a bit. It won’t make it behave any better but might make you feel better

:roflhard: I think it’s self-aware and might not take to being slapped very well.

knitasha, that’s interesting to know…I know nothing about spinning, but I had a thought that the way it was spun had something to do with its love-affair with tangles and tendency to twist up.

I’ve pretty well concluded I don’t have enough to crochet much of an afghan with it–I’ll probably end up with a nice, heavy, small blanket. Does knitting use less yarn to cover the same amount of space as crochet? I’ll probably stick to what I know for this yarn though–it’s a challenge enough on its own without compounding the issue. I’d like to learn to knit, but attempting something new with this yarn (I’d consider knitting ‘new’ until I would at least be able to do basic stitches without thinking about it) sounds like asking for trouble : )

Yes, knitting uses less; I think crochet takes about one third more yardage, and if you knit with larger needles, you can stretch it out even further.

That is a wonderful “Lord of the Rings” parody!

Those comments also fit right in!

I suppose you don’t wish to form a fellowship to return the skeins ([B][U]sounds more like hanks[/U][/B]) to the worms that forged it? :wink:

Welcome to the “fellowship of the yarn!” and good luck Crossed Fingers with the silk yarn.