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A tale of Twisted ply and the kindness of strangers

We recently had a letter from a knitter who was struggling with a singles that kept twisting back on itself. The knitter persisted knitting, despite the work twisting back on itself, and the finished product was skewed. "Do you think blocking will help" she asked, "or is it time to frog it"?

The answer to this query percolated in the back of my brain. I knew the answer was buried in there somewhere, but I'll be darned if I could remember.

An email out to a few more savvy than I and the resolution was soon forthcoming.

"Some years ago now I did a spinning workshop with an American lady who was teaching us to deliberately put extra twist into yarn. We also had to knit samples. She used the overtwisted yarn to make interesting and unusual garments. I think in your case that the twist will remain in the finished garment. However one thing that she showed us to help offset the skewing tendency when knitting was to throw the yarn as you knit in the opposite direction to the way that you normally throw or pass it. The effect of this depends on the direction that the yarn has been spun in originally - if you "throw" in the opposite direction it takes out twist, whereas if you throw in the same direction it adds more twist. I don't know if you know about the terms s and z twist. These are used to signify the direction the yarn has been spun in. It relates to the angle in the middle of each of these letters and the direction of the twist that you can aee in your yarn. It may also relate to the type of yarn and its preparation. ( eg: woollen or worsted.) Plied yarns are spun in one direction and plied in the opposite direction. If you found that the yarn was kinking up as you were knitting then it was probably adding even more twist. Therefore throwing or passing the yarn in the opposite direction as you knit would probably help. You could try it on a little sample and also wash it and see what happens.

Another neat thing that she taught us was to use s and z yarns when knitting heels of socks as these would last longer."

It's not the solving of this dilemma, but the fact that someone took the time to help a stranger. For me, that's the best part of belonging to this Guild.

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