How To Soften Scratchy Yarn, or Maybe Not
Yarns come in a plethora of color, size, and texture. We pride ourselves in having super unique fibers to inspire and rock the world for all our crafters! Whether young or old, beginner or pro, stuck with the same old fibers or adventuring with all the possibilities, all of us have had fibers that we didn't care for the feel of. Bummer, right?
So what do you do? I have a few thoughts on this and am sure one of my ideas will help you out with your yarn purchasing and scratch factor!
Reap What you Sow (or Knit or Weave or....)
1. You sometimes get what you pay for. Buying large skeins of synthetic, manufactured yarn from a chain is totally your choice. I just want to remind you that yarns of that caliber feel synthetic, cheap, and don't get softer with time. Totally fine but don't anticipate a softening over time.
2. Durability can be a trade off. Here's what I mean-you want to buy a durable product like our Denim Ribbon. Perhaps you are weaving with coarse fibers or want to create a sturdy strap for a handbag; durability matters for some projects I know! You have to also know that with durability comes a density of composition which can mean a roughness. Consider what you need in fiber and if that roughness is okay.
3. And you know, sometimes scratchy is totally what you want-it does add a grainy dimension, a rough and tumble feel, a wandering of fiber content that brings on the personality! Don't avoid scratchy but consider your end game! If you are creating a scarf or socks, something close to the skin, soft does matter! ( A little aside-I recently had my cellar insulated by "Itchy and Scratchy"-LOL!).
4. So, I am saying scratchy may be what you want! For example, if you have the Darn Good Yarn Purist Hemp Puff Kit, you want some abrasiveness in those puffs and the two skeins of hemp are perfect for these puffs! The nice thing with hemp or nettle is they are plant based for our vegan friends and they do soften up with use!
5.Yes, our hemp and nettle fibers are coarse to work with but the results are a strong and durable product. These fibers are natural and become softer with use; in other words, the more your creation is used, the softer this yarn becomes! So try it and know you are going to love the way this fiber morphs over time!
6. Don't be deceived into thinking some yarns are scratchy just by looking at them! Our Banana Fiber Yarn, a little out of the ordinary, is made from the sustainable fibers that are scraped from the bark of a banana tree and handspun by women’s co-ops in India. A multi-use yarn, you need to try this one!
And don’t be scared by the word “fiber,” because there is nothing scratchy about this yarn at all. After harvesting the fibers from the trunk of the banana tree, they are put through a softening process that makes the fiber very similar to silk. Then when it’s spun, it is as soft as silk - soft and strong, full of texture, color, and bio-degradable so it’s completely vegan and eco-friendly!
7.Okay, so Darn Good Yarn has lots of silk yarns and we love that they are recycled and fair traded, too! This is our Gumball Yarn, one of the handspuns, and the awesome thing is that this is darn good and soft (think silk!), and will get softer over time! We do recommend a gentle, hand wash to enhance the softness!
Mrs. Wishy Washy
8. Any one remember that Beatrix Potter title? A favorite of my long-since-grown daughter! The reason I mention it here is that I want you to treat your scritchy, scratchy fibers with love, just like Mrs. Wishy Wasy! Yes, use them, wash them and use them again. This helps immensely with the softening.
Some fibers such as denim are not going to change dramatically with washing so consider that with your project plan. And those that you are not familiar with, treat with gently caution. I always hand wash anything I have made and use a gentle soap like Woolite -why risk it? If you are braver, do a gentle cycle, cool water always in your machine.
Block or set aside to dry. Hanging tends to mis-shape homemade creations. Yep! All this takes time! I agree but it is so worth considering the potential of your yarns, how to care for them, and being able to enjoy them for a long time to come!
Such a Softy!
Darn Good Yarn inventory includes some of the very softest yarns like our sari silk yarn. Think about branching out with your fiber choices, explore coarse, soft, and silky smooth. Life is not always smooth and sometimes, those bumps in the road are what make life interesting!
- Janis Minshull