Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let's Twist Again

When I started my cabled cardigan with my newly delivered Bendigo Classic 8ply, I realised very quickly that knitting with this yarn was going to be a challenge. I noticed in passing while I was casting on (using the long-tail method) that the yarn wasn't untwisting as much as I normally notice with cast-ons but that was a bonus so it didn't really warrant further attention. It wasn't until I began the first knit row that I started to have problems. The yarn was untwisting badly with each stitch I made, so much so that if I didn't watch closely, I was splitting quite a lot of my stitches.

To start off with, I thought it was something new that I was doing, some bad habit l had picked up along the way, as l couldn't find any evidence online of anyone else having a problem with this yarn - in fact it seemed to be well-loved. The knitter l am now would have stopped right there, put it aside and found some other nice yarn for this project and saved my sanity a bit. Unfortunately, the knitter I was then decided to persevere - after all, I didn't want to waste all that yarn. So l kept on persevering along, which became a bit of a nightmare when I reached the cables. This was my first cable project, and the combined difficulty of not only learning how to make a cable but also dealing with all those split stitches and (horrors) split stitches in the cables! made me want to discard the project more than once.

Then, courtesy of a couple of other projects I worked on while the poor cardy languished in a pile in the corner, I realised that the other yarns I was using weren't untwisting. So it wasn't me, wasn't something strange with the way I was forming the stitches.

I looked closer at the yarns and worked out that the culprit was the direction of twist of the yarns. The other yarns I was using, which untwisted when l was casting on, but not when I knitted, were twisted in a different direction to the Bendigo Classic, which untwisted when I knitted but was fine when I cast on. A little bit of internet research made it clearer. The Bendigo Classic is a cabled yarn made from three (four? I haven't got any in front of me so I'm not sure) S-twisted plies plied together, resulting in an overall Z-twist to the yarn. The other yarns I was used to were all S-twist, so the twist of the yarn is in the opposite direction. There is a good explanation of twist and how it relates to yarn construction in the fall 05 issue of Knitty.

Since I couldn't find anyone else online commenting on how they can’t knit with Bendigo Classic, I assume that my action when I knit serves to put more of a clockwise twist to the yarn than most people, thus increasing the twist of the S-twist yarns and decreasing the twist or the Z-twist yarns, or untwisting them. So I’ve decided that it’s a good idea for me to avoid Z-twist yarns.
If only I'd remembered that the other day when snapped up 10 balls of Moda Vera Mousse on special at Spotlight. It’s a beautiful yarn – soft and smooshy with a slight sheen, but it’s a single. And like most singles, it’s a Z-twist. I swatched, and it is untwisting really really badly. The extra problem with an untwisted single is not only split stitches but the risk that it will pull apart.

Anyone want some yarn?

And in other news that is only related to yarn if you're interested in continuing to be able to afford to buy it, our Reserve Bank put up interest Rates today. Only by 25 basis points, or 0.25% but the cynic In me expects that my Mortgage company will use it as an excuse to put rates up by more than that - I would expect 0.4 to 0.5%


  1. Hi - I am using this yarn (Bendigo Classic) at the moment but I am crocheting with it and having no problems.
    Maybe you can try crocheting with it?

  2. Thanks, Maria,
    I've heard that crocheters tend to twist the yarn in the opposite direction to knitters (at least knitters who throw, like I do). I don't crochet much but my Sister does so maybe she can give it a go.

  3. Hi
    I love your blog, I stumbled across it trying to find Moda Vera Mousse yarn in Lavender! I am 2 balls short for the cardie I am knitting for my 3 year old, I see what you mean about it pulling apart a bit but I'm coping with it and its the first cardie I have knitted so want to perservere with it. Went to spotlight today but they are sold out, had a big sale to make way for Christmas decorations.
    Anyway I noticed you have Crohns, me too! I'm 30 and was diagnosed at 21 but likely had it since I was a few months old (undiagnosed symptoms that they thought was dairy intolerance but continued when swapped to soy formula). I have had a 20cm resection of the ilial and 3 fistula repairs. I have also just been diagnosed with PCOS.
    I'm relatively new to knitting I am a quilter, sewer by trade but love having knitting for my spare time and have found it immensely soothing and calming (I have a few issues with anxiety and its been a trying few months, lol). I've been taking this cardie in the car with me and on a boat trip last week and to the library with my daughter and to the cafe at the mall with the indoor playground, any excuse to sit a knit, soooo soothing the click clack and repetition of the stitch. Anyway thanks for the blog and I would love to know what happened when you saw your doctor about your colonoscopy!