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Malabrigo Junkies FAQ: General Frequently Asked Questions


FAQ: General Frequently Asked Questions

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Malabrigo bases and their relative weights

Malabrigo Bases and their relative weights:
lace - lace weight, single
Silkpaca - lace weight, plied
Sock - light fingering, plied
Mora - fingering, plied (100% silk)
Mechita - fingering, single
Finito - fingering, plied
Arroyo - Sport, plied
Silky Merino - DK, single
Rastita - DK, single
Rios - Worsted, plied (can be worked a DK gauge)
Worsted - Aran, single
Twist - Aran, plied
Chunky - Bulky, plied
Mecha - Bulky, single
Caracol - Bulky/Thick-Thin, criss-crossed with binder
Rasta - Super Bulky, single
Nube - Merino spinning fiber

Aquarella - discontinued, bulky thick-thin, single
Gruesa - Discontinued, bulky thick-thin
Dos - DK, plied, intermittent availability

Why wash/block your swatch?

If you never ever think you will get your knit item dirty, then feel free to ignore blocking. Blocking is important so that you know what will happen when you care for your garment. Always block a swatch in the manner you intend to wash the item/garment. This way you won’t have any surprises.

But my swatch lied?

Swatches lie when you get all tense and knit differently than you knit the garment. Also your mood (ie happy vs angry, ect) will giving you varying different gauges.

What is the best way to wash Malabrigo?

Handwashing is not as hard as you might think. It only is a few simple steps.

  1. Fill sink completely with tepid water. If your item is heavily soiled, you probably want to use warm water (it allows the wool to open its pores and release the dirt), but be sure to fill the sink before submerging your item and don’t agitate it.

  2. Add wool wash/soap of your choice. SOAK is a no-rinse option (making this an easy process!), but you may prefer Euclan or another product.

  3. Place garment in sink. Either push it down or place a plate or something heavy on it.

  4. Leave for at least 20 minutes until the wool has soaked up as much water as possible.

  5. Drain sink

  6. Gently lift out the item onto an open towel.

  7. Spread out item and roll in towel.

  8. Squish water out of towel.

  9. You may repeat steps 6-8 with a new towel or skip to 10

  10. Lay sweater out in the finished dimensions that you prefer on your preferred drying surface, which could be rubber kids play mats, an unused bed, a dry towel on the floor, etc.

  11. Place fan to speed drying time.

Will the size of my item change after blocking?

Most people experience growth with Malabrigo, but every person’s knitting style is different and there is a tiny fraction of people that experience shrinkage. To know what to expect with your knitting, swatch and block it.

Help! My Yarn is Bleeding!

You knit or crochet a lovely item, and set it to soak for blocking… and there’s color in the water! What do you do?

Bleed is usually caused by one of two things: excess dye, which is more typical of dark, saturated colors where a lot of dye is needed, or dye not being set properly.

It’s better to catch an issue BEFORE you put the work into it. Before you start a project, while the yarn is still in the skein, pull off about a half-yard or so and soak it in lukewarm water with your preferred wool wash. Let it soak at least 30 minutes. Pull it out and lay it on a piece of white paper towel, tissue, toilet paper, etc. You may not see color in the water, but it might show up on the white paper.

Why you use wool wash in this test: even though yarn may rinse clear after dyeing, some wool wash additives may cause some color release, and it’s not a welcome surprise.

If you do see color: while the yarn is still in the skein, with skein ties intact… fill a large bowl or sink with lukewarm water, and add a “glug” (or 1/4-1/3 cup) plain white vinegar. Soak the yarn until thoroughly wetted… at least 30 min to an hour. Pull it out, gently squeeze, and soak it in a rinse bath with water at the same temperature. Do one or two rinse baths, then gently squeeze out the excess water and hang the skein somewhere until it is dry.

If it won’t rinse clear after that: There may be excess dye. Try a few more rinses and see if that works. If not…

GAH. Now what? The dye may not have been set properly. Do another vinegar soak as in step 1. While that’s happening, set your oven to 200F… no higher. After the yarn has soaked for 15-30 min., pull it out and squeeze some of the water out. Wrap it up well in plastic wrap - Saran, Handi, what have you. Make sure it’s all sealed up in a nice yarn burrito - because you are going to steam it. Put the yarn burrito in a pan, and put it in the 200F oven for 30-45 minutes. Turn the oven off, let it sit another 15 min, then pull the pan out. Open the wrap and let the yarn COOL COMPLETELY. (If you aren’t using superwash yarn, you run the risk of felting it right in the skein if you mess with it while it’s warm.) When it is cool, do another lukewarm plain water soak. If there’s still dye in the water, the fiber has taken up all the dye it can, and it will just need to be rinsed out at this point. Sorry.

But it’s already knit up…: That’s OK. As long as the project only used one color of yarn, you can still try the steps above. After that last step, or at whatever point the water runs clear, roll the FO in a towel to remove excess water, and block as planned.

But… it’s a two-color project, and now the white yarn isn’t white any more! Yeah, that’s a bigger problem. It may not ever go back to white. But do NOT do the vinegar or heat thing, as you’ll just be setting unwanted color into the yarn. As a last-ditch effort, get yourself some Shout color-catcher sheets. Check the laundry aisle at the store. Do a lukewarm soak with one of the sheets. After 30-45 min, switch the item to a new plain-water bath with a new color-catcher sheet. Do that as often as it pulls color out, and/or until the soak water is clear. But… that white may never be white again. Option: talk a dyer into doing an overdye for you, or … love it for what it is. It may not be what you originally envisioned, but chances are it’s still a lovely item.

Moral of the story: Catch any yarn-bleed problems while the yarn is still in the skein, especially for color-work projects.

I'm having problems with tangled skeins. Help!

Here are some tips:

  • Lay the skein out in an oval on something flat. Inspect it, and make sure the skein ties go all the way around all the yarn strands. If you ever find a yarn strand on the outside of the skein ties, try to figure out how it got there. It may have been looped back, or been pulled out a bit during the dyeing process.

  • Put your hands inside each end of the skein, and lightly “snap” your hands away from each other. This stretches the skein out, and helps realign all those yarn strands.

  • Once you make sure everything is in order, put the skein on the swift. Never cut the skein ties until the skein is on the swift, and under tension.

  • After you cut the ties, spread the skein out as much as you can to make sure it’s ‘open’ and easier to wind. Pull one end out for a few revolutions, to make sure the end wasn’t also woven in as part of a skein tie, and looped over other strands. If it is, straighten it out, or try the other loose end.

  • Turn the skein on the swift so that the yarn pulls off the outside of the skein. Make sure this is the case all the way around.

  • If it does have issues (and they can even come from the processing plant already tied with ends doubled-back… it happens), you can wind the yarn back on the swift and then wind by hand into a ball. By doing this, if the strands are crossed, you can pass the ball under/over/around as needed. Once it’s in a ball, if you want it in cake form, put the ball in a Mason jar or small ziploc bag (with the zip-part mostly closed), and wind on to your ball-winder that way. Turn the ball-winder with one hand, and keep the yarn under constant tension with your other.

Winding laceweight?

Its best to wind laceweight with a swift when possible because it can tangle easily.

What is Kettle-dyed yarn and how does it affect the color?

Kettle-Dyeing is the process in which everything needed for the dyeing process is put into one single pot and manipulated to produce certain colors, schemes or blends on the fiber of your choice.

Basically the yarn is placed into the kettle and the dye is poured over the top of it. Skeins on top might get a more concentrated color at the point of color addition while those below are more cohesive.

This creates lovely gentle variation. It’s best to alternate skeins when knitting larger projects so you can avoid obvious lines where you switched skeins.

How do I alternate skeins?

In the round:

Let’s say you knit to hem ribbing in one skein then as you start the stockinette or the main body in the second skein and plan on alternating every round between the 2 skeins for the rest of the sweater. Add in the new skein and knit a round when you come back to the point you started the second skein (most likely the end of round marker), make sure your skeins are untwisted (the twisting enhances the pucker) and pick up the 1st skein from below the 2nd (important to not go over the 2nd skein but rather stay under) and knit the next round. Once you are back at the EOR marker, you pick up the 2nd from below the 1st making sure not to twist or cross. It will form a seamless spiral tube.

This part of the explanation Picture 2 & 3 are the best visual explanation. This is the from a larger tutorial, which can be found here.

Its best to alternate every round because the alternating becomes invisible on the inside and no seam appears.

So knit one round in Skein A, once you come back to your change point (most likely the stitch marker or a few stitches before or after), drop yarn A, pick up yarn B, *knit one round, drop yarn at change point and pick up yarn A from underneath and in front of yarn B, knit a round, drop yarn at change point and pick up yarn B from underneath and in front of yarn A*, repeat between stars.

Flat alternating, every 2 rows:

The easiest way is to slip the first stitch purlwise, then knit the next stitch with the carried up yarn. (This assumes you’re always slipping your edge stitches.) You do have to watch your tension… you may be more even if you go by feel more than by look -- sometimes the alternating edge looks loose, but it really isn’t.

Other alternating tips:
In a large project (more than 2 skeins), use part of skein 1 before adding in skein 2. That way, both skeins won’t run out at the same time, and you’ll have a better chance of everything blending. If your project starts with some ribbing, it usually works well to do the ribbing with the first skein, then introduce the second skein when you switch to the body.

Does Malabrigo pill? and What do I do to control the pilling?

Yes it does and here is a wiki-how on different ways to remove pilling. Use these suggestions at your own risk! It’s written from the point of view of a garment-owner… not necessarily a garment MAKER, so they can tend to be a little more cavalier about these things. Suffice to say there are several tools specifically for removing pills on wool garments, all work in one way or another.

You can view the original page in Ravelry here.