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A Knotty Problem

Posted by Chris on 21st Feb 2018

Wouldn't knitting be so much easier if you never found a knot in your yarn?

Knots can be the bane of a knitter's life. At Wise Badger we aim to bring you the best quality products and we are very selective about the yarns and wools we sell, only the highest quality products from the leading manufacturers, and rest assured – we do not sell ‘seconds’, or any kind of substandard yarn. We know these companies all work very hard to minimise the occurrence of knots in their yarns, but despite their best efforts none of the yarn manufacturers would claim that their yarns are knot free.

So – why does your yarn sometimes have knots in it?

Well, the truth of the matter is that some yarns are more prone to it than others, particularly those with higher proportions of natural fibres. And it has little to do with how good any manufacturer's quality control team is. A certain amount of knotting is inevitable in the production of any yarn, and although most balls don't contain any knots, by the law of averages some will have more than one.

I'm not going to go in to the science of fibre production (mostly because I'm not that clever, but there are a couple of links below that may be of interest) but you can see when you look at any yarn how the fibres are twisted together, the tighter the twist (generally speaking) – the stronger the yarn. Untwist that yarn and it immediately gets weaker. You sometimes see this if you use the ‘thumb method’ to cast on, your yarn will untwist and, if you’re not very careful, break.

If your yarn has a lot of man-made fibres in it, it will still be quite strong but if it is largely a natural fibre you will see that your yarn is not only weaker but doesn't even look much like knitting yarn anymore, and it can be pulled apart with very little effort. This property goes a long way to explaining why it seems that paying a lot for your yarn is no guarantee that you won't have knots.

So, should you only use man-made fibres then?

Well, obviously, the yarn you choose is very much a personal choice. My own favourites are all high in silk, cotton, alpaca and linen – I always think that if I'm going to all the trouble of producing a garment I want then I want it to be in a fabric that I like. The fortunate thing is that the actual knitting of these fibres further strengthens them so there is no danger of your jumper disintegrating like your piece of yarn did. But knitting with them sometimes does require a little extra care.

If you want a better idea of how your yarn is made, there is a video on YouTube called 'How it's made Cotton Yarn' that you might find interesting. or ‘How Wool is Made’

I was fascinated to see these as, many years ago, I worked for a little while in a Lancashire Cotton Mill as a winder. This involved running up and down replacing the bobbins as fast as I could as they were wound on to a cone, and then joining them together with a hand held knotting machine. It was very hard work and very noisy!

I will write some more next week, on what to do if you find a knot in your yarn and how to join them in seamlessly, and wasting as little as possible.

However, the most important thing for us is - if you're not happy with something you've bought from Wise Badger please contact us, we want you to be completely satisfied with your order. If you feel that you have been unlucky and the number of knots is excessive, then we can discuss returning your order for replacement or refund.