Saturday, 19 July 2014

Singles, love them or hate them.........

By singles I am not talking about people without partners, or the record single of the 1960s, or even the one to one game in tennis, nor the film or the singing group - but of the single stranded knitting yarn..........

A singles yarn, often called a single is what you end up with when yarn is spun and before it has been plied with another singles to make a plied yarn. Often called a 'one-ply yarn'  but that isn't really accurate because there are no multiple plies in this type of yarn.  Because of this singles yarns are not balanced yarns.  

If you look at a plied yarn you can see that the individual ply has been spun in one direction, and then multiple plies added and spun in the opposite direction to make what is known as a balanced yarn. Plied yarns generally do not lean to the left or to the right, and they do not curl.  Singles yarns will curl.  In fact, they are guaranteed to curl...............  This where the love hate thing comes in!

Several of my knitting friends are totally in love with single yarns, so much so that they seldom knit with anything else!  Because they love them so much I was asked if I would custom dye  a sweater quantity and naturally I said yes!

Didn't think that there would be any problems and since I acquired 'Baby' (my Baby Burco water boiler) I can easily dye 500 grams at a time!  The undyed singles bought I set to work sampling

 The aim was to get as close to the yarn on the card as possible - the far right sample is almost bang on - so onto the 400 grams of singles! 

Simples, or so I thought!

What a disappointment - uneven coverage and lots of places with no colour at all!  Not at all what I expected and I couldn't understand what had happened until..

About a week later, by mistake I skeined up some singles for samples rather than the superwash merino that I normally use and I got similar results to the whole skeins!

I'm not sure that it is clear from the photo but these samples are patchy, lots of undyed yarn, not like my normal samples with an even saturation of colour.

It was then that the light bulb moment happened - singles are slightly felted so that the fibres stay together - felt sheds water - so the answer is that the yarn wasn't getting wetted right though and dry yarn doesn't absorb dye like wet yarn does!

So here is a sweater quantity of singles, no undyed bits and a good even coverage....................... 

So the dyeing problem is solved!  But do I like singles as a knitting yarn - well I am sitting on the fence on this one, will see how much I like the sweater I am knitting with singles when it finished and blocked.


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