Learning the Hank (part 2)


From Hank to Skein with Blue Heron Yarn

ScannedImage(Continued from April 19, 2013 post)…. So I finally understood the concept of a “hank” of yarn, it was intimidating me anymore, so I would simply open it up and roll it into a ball. Needless to say I had nothing but a tangled mess. After freeing the large loop of yarn so that I could unravel it from its loop, I learned that it might want to hold on to its neighboring thread and pull it ever so slightly with it, moving the neighboring thread from where it sat and growing into a mess. It took me hours, and even then I needed to cut places and work out knots that I had made, it was a head ache.  But this time I was not discouraged. I would find a process.


Let the loops hang smooth, note the yarn that ties to loop together, keeping the yarn in place


Usually you can fond the end of the yarn tied to a securing yarn, that holds the loops in place

After playing with some hanks I learned that before I even attempt “freeing” the yarn from its loop, I need to make sure the loop in smooth, not twisted, that it hangs nicely, this will definitely help. Then I need to place it somewhere that will keep it taunt, maybe over the back of a dining room chair, but I found that I use my knees (not very lady like but effective for me), I have learned that some people use a swift…it reminds my somewhat of an umbrella, but without the fabric. This expands to the size of the loop and will spin as you pull the yarn). Then I can make it into a ball, if I want to pull it from the center I can wrap the yarn around an empty toilet paper tube (open finishing wrapping it up, I can pull out the tube and use the middle yarn, as pulling from  the center means that the yarn will not be rolling around that floor as I use), or there is a little tool called a ball winder that you place your yarn end in and crank its little handle and it spins it onto a tube, to make a pull from the center skein.

So why is yarn placed in hanks? Is it just to give you a little more of a work out, or to look fancy? Actually it does have a reason; it places less stress on the yarn. By being in that “loop” it helps the yarn to relax, where putting it into a skein or ball, the yarn in the center is under more pressure than the yarn on the outer edges. This may be a subtle thing, but it can make a difference in some processes and designs, especially if the fiber has been sitting in this more pressured state of a long while. If you think about it you have seen this with a basic skein of yarn, when you pull out the beginning end, it is often bent of twisted, where by the end of the skein it is smooth. So if you want to use a hank of yarn, only wind it into a ball when you feel you are ready to use it. It will help the yarn stay consistent.


Notice the hank lets you view the length of the color change, whereas the skein it is less obvious

One of the benefits I have found with a hank, it a purely visible one, I can open a hank to a loop, and see how long the color changes are for a variegated yarn. This is something that I have difficulty seeing in a skein.

I have found that I am not alone in my understanding of this “yarn hank”, so I hope my experience will help you take the step to attempt a yarn you may not have used because of the way it is presented. (And I have since learned, that most of these Local Yarn Stores, will in fact wind the hank into a skein for you at purchase, you just have to ask). Take the plunge and explore the world of fiber!

So Now I’m Making Fabric- and Losing Labels

Making fabric sounds like a high tech industrial trade, big machines and fine threads, but really I do it daily. Crochet is simply creating fabric. When I finally made this realization it opened up a world of possibilities. I’ll admit it; I crocheted for nearly 25 years (maybe even 30) before I tackled anything resembling a sweater or garment, it was just too intimidating.

My first afghan

My first afghan

I made afghans galore, many different color combinations, styles and stitch patterns, but to make a sweater or cardigan that just seemed like too much. I had seen knitters following grids and using stitch markers so I assumed that crocheting a sweater would be much the same. But I took the plunge as a challenge to myself to use a gift certificate at a local yarn store, and make something nice for myself.

So I found a cardigan sweater that had a stitch pattern that looked enjoyable, and then I found some really nice yarn. I carefully read through the pattern and then jumped it, it was at this time I heard somewhere that I was making fabric, and it opened my mind to look at this pattern differently. If I was thinking I was making a sweater I felt intimidated, but when I looked at it was making fabric that I was shaping to fit a sewing pattern, it removed the point of intimidation. I could make crochet in any shape. So I concentrated on making these shapes and then put them together.

My first garment.

My first garment.

My first garment made. Crossing this threshold inadvertently caused me to begin designing (even though I didn’t realize it at the time), as I took sewing patterns and crocheted fabric to fit the pieces in stitches that I like and put them together. I have never looked back.  This has taught me that removing the label I place on things and giving them a different name has helped me to look at it in a different light and add something new to my life, this includes my role as a mom, a wife, a friend. I never realized that I had definitions in my words that dictated how and what I did, but changing the view as increased life’s possibilities.

Who would guess that crochet could have taught me that.