Jobo Designs

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5. May 2010 11:12
by Jobo

Fulling and Whacking? Using Felting to Your Advantage

5. May 2010 11:12 by Jobo | 3 Comments

every time I think of long color gradients... my mind automatically goes back to the "Cake" song "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"  only of course with a looooong loooooooooong jacket color gradient.


Here is a first peek at my singles off the bobbin.  I am always amazed at the way spun singles seem to kink up at even intervals when you take the skein off of the niddy noddy...  Little loops and twists and flips.  I have one XL bobbin of singles that range from black through to medium green, and I have all of the fiber prepped for the progression of medium green through to pale lemon/lime.  I hope to finish those sometime this week.  (This weekend time was not on my side)


I am finding it very difficult to photograph this yarn for some reason.  The greens just don't show up the right shade, and the Black looks almost blue here, but in person it's more like coal.  I think it might be time for a new camera over here in casa-de-Jobo...  maybe for Christmas next year? 

I forgot to measure the WPI of my singles, but I was aiming for around the size of a complete (2ply) strand of Knit Picks Shadow Lace.  I want to knit something light and lacy from this, similar to the Swallowtail Shawl I made from Polwarth singles last year (click here to see the post about it!)  I love how light and feminine that shawl is, and though it feels thin, it is quite warm.  I am leaning towards the "Shetland Triangle" for this yarn... or maybe a Multnomah?

After skeining the singles... I decided to try "fulling" it - with the goal of semi felting the singles so they would puff up and hold together better.

Fulling - is a process where the spinner uses heat, agitation and moisture to finish yarn.  Basically you are using the wool's feltability to your advantage.  With a single ply yarn, the fibers are twisted around each other which provides some strength to the thread, but basically without the multiple ply advantage, singles can be weak and drift apart.  There is a delicate balance between having a single that has enough twist to hold together, yet not so much twist that it kinks and curls over on itself.  This idea has many advantages, but also has a few drawbacks.

Working out the Kinks!  Sometimes just washing the yarn in warm water can be enough to set the twist... so that the finished yarn has an appropriate balance.  In the case of my singles yarn, I definetly wanted to relax the kinking and twisting.  The yarn bath helped this a lot.  If the yarn remained kinky after it's soak and bath, I had planned on putting a weight at the end of the skein to stretch it out a bit during the drying.  it turns out that I really didn't need to do that this time.  After a yarn has been washed and dried, the fiber puffs up and feels rounder and lighter.  By relaxing a little of the twist, the yarn has a nicer feel and the fiber itself does too!

temperature shock Hot and Cold Water?  Won't this wreck the yarn?  The first thing one learns about wool is that it turns to felt if you treat it the wrong way.  You are never supposed to expose wool to harsh temperature changes.  So why would someone want to dunk and swish yarn in Hot water and then Cold water?  My goal here was to actually promote a little bit of felting in this yarn!  Of course, like anything else, this should be done in moderation.  I chose to fill both sides of my kitchen sink (one hot and one cold) and I soaked and squished the yarn gently moving it back and forth from one side to the other.  I think I went back and forth about 3 times (Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold) and then gently wrapped in a towel and squeezed dry.  I was worried that my yarn would become a useless lump of felted strings, but I think I managed a happy medium and just got a nice felty balance.  One thing I really noticed was the amount of shrinkage in the length of the skein.  After the yarn was dry, I tried to replace it on the niddy noddy just to see if it had shrunk much.  The skein was about an inch too short to go back on comfortably.  I hope this means that my yarn felted and shrank into itself just enough to become stronger and more cohesive.

Agitated?  Says Who?  I Feel Fine...  Another rule of acceptable wool treatment is to avoid agitation and rubbing when it is wet.  Nasty things have happened to wool garments, even in cool water on the gentle cycle of the washing machine.  In the case of fulling, a little agitation can be good!  When the yarn was soaking in both the cool and hot baths, I gently swished around the yarn.  The fibers rubbing up against each other helped to soften and smooth the edges of the single (from a tight twisted feel to a more woolen and rounded feel)  After the yarn was towel dried I also took the opportunity to "Whack" the skein while it was damp to continue this softening process.  For me, whacking is basically holding one end of the skein and hitting the opposite end of it on my smooth wooden bannister a couple dozen times, and then alternating to the other end of the skein and repeating.  My husband generally looks at me funny when I'm doing this (beating the bannister with a skein of wet yarn... honey? are you ok?)  but I find it does help a gentle halo to form, especially when I'm working with angora or mohair.  For Plain wool, you don't really get a halo per se, but the yarn feels more poofy.  Try it, you will see what I mean.


Here is a closeup of the finished, dried, fulled, whacked, exhausted, Singles!  I can't wait to finish the second skein, ball it up, and get knitting :)

Comments (3) -

What beautiful singles - can't wait to see the gradient spinning play out in your shawl-to-be!

Your yarn turned out wonderfully!

looks excellent, hope I can follow your steps and achieve a similar look. thanks

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