A New Twist on Crochet: Spinning the Ideal Yarn for Crochet

Jul 1, 2010
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I consider myself a novice spinner, having taken one class five years ago. I spin a few skeins a year when I get the hankering for it (and when my toddler lets me), but I still have a lot to learn in the making-my-own-yarn department. Fortunately,
Spin-Off editor Amy Clarke Moore is just a few steps away, and she agreed to give us a little sneak peek into an upcoming article in the Fall issue of Spin-Off.
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Amy Clarke Moore, Spin Off Editor .
Have you ever considered spinning your own yarn for crochet? People start spinning for a whole host of reasons: they are seduced by the fiber; they love the tools; they saw someone spinning at a festival and now have the bug; or they are just compelled to spin and don't know why. Another reason they get started is because they want a particular yarn and just can't find it.


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Handspun yarn crochet bag
This bag made with yarns spun S and plied Z will be featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Spin-Off.
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Crochet yarn is perfect for spinning because there is a long-held belief that yarns designed for knitting don't always behave the same way when they are crocheted. And there is a good reason for that.

When you knit or crochet with yarn, you add or subtract little bits of twist as you're working; it is just part of the process, something that happens whether you're aware of it or not. That little bit of added or subtracted twist will change the character of the yarn.

In an article in the upcoming Fall issue of
Spin-Off, (on newsstands in September), expert spinner Maggie Casey and crochet designer Margaret Tullis take a really close look at the twist added while spinning and how it affects crocheted fabric specifically. They try out several handspun yarns, crochet them into samples, and make a couple of projects to show how the yarn behaves. They then draw conclusions about how to best spin yarn for crochet.

While we don't cover crochet in every issue of Spin-Off, we do talk a lot about the qualities of fiber, how to make great yarn, and what to do with it. Fun stuff. Come over and check us out—
subscribe to Spin-Off—you might find that we have what you've been looking for.
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Crocheted swatches, handspun yarn . Maggie spun two nearly identical yarns—one that was spun counterclockwise (called an S-twist) and plied clockwise (a Z-twist), and another that was spun in the opposite direction (Z then S). Margaret crocheted coasters from the yarns to test the effects of twist in crochet. The yarn and coaster on the left are spun S and plied Z, and the yarn and coaster on the right are spun Z and plied S. The difference is fairly minute in the finished coasters, but the S/Z yarn is a little more cohesive, while the Z/S yarn is a little more open. Given a choice, I'd spin S/Z for crochet yarns because of the firm, beautiful hand of the fabric.
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Of course, commercial yarns will continue standard spinning practices, and I will continue to love them more than I can afford, but it is good to know that I have the perfect excuse to sit down at my wheel soon and produce some yarn ideally suited to crochet.

Until next time,

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Comments

Kris wrote
on Jul 1, 2010 2:16 PM

This is so true. I've been spinning for crochet for years and started spinning S/Z based on a Spin Off article a few years back. It really makes a difference. I've grown so accustomed to it that way that when I use commercially spun yarn, I often notice how it doesn't "work" as well.

HennieL wrote
on Jul 1, 2010 3:19 PM

I'll bet the direction of the spin makes a difference whether one is right-handed or left-handed too.

Or if one holds the yarn in the left hand or right hand (picking or throwing) when knitting as well.