I love knitting with singles (a “single” is one ply of a yarn… vs a 2-ply, which is 2 strands, or a 3-ply, which is 3 strands… you get the idea!) A single ply of yarn is never balanced, since it is twisted in one direction only, so yes, it will bias slightly when knitted. You can lessen the bias and strengthen the yarn in one easy step– slightly full (the technical term for “felt” when you are “felting” something not-yet knitted) your yarn! It’s simple, and the yarn stays soft and manageable. Here’s how:
To full singles:
- fill a container (big enough for the skein to have some room to move) with hot hot hot water (add some boiling water– you will have to wear gloves for this project) and another container with cold water and some ice cubes. Keep some water on the stove, boiling. Add a good dollop of liquid soap to the hot water– enough so the water feels slippery. Don’t add so much that you get a soapy, bubbly container– you aren’t cleaning the yarn, you are letting the water really enter into the yarn by breaking the surface tension.
- lay the skein on top of the boiling water, and gently press it down into the water. You can gently press, to get some of the air bubbles out. Let it soak for about 5-10 minutes. This process is opening up the scales of the fiber.
- scoop the skein up out of the hot water, and plunge it into the cold water. Squish it around– you are trying to felt it! squish! squish! When the whole skein feels cold, add more boiling water to the hot water container.
- Repeat step 2 and 3. Then dump the cold water out, add fresh water (cold but no ice) and gently swish the skein around to get rid of any leftover soap. you might have to repeat this, depending upon how much soap is in the yarn.
- squish the water out of the yarn. be daring– this is one time you don’t have to treat the yarn with kid gloves because the goal is to felt the yarn!
- Swing it around, thwack the patooties out of it! let it hang unweighted to dry. You might run your fingers down the strands, if any of the strands are felted together.
And there you have it! Singles, fulled for stability. Soft, dreamy– I love knitting with them!