Setting Handspun Yarn With Steam

Have you ever wondered if there is a quicker or easier way to set yarn after spinning? I usually get on a spinning tangent and will have several skeins of yarn hanging in my studio before I get around to settingโ€”and then I have several to do at once, which can be time-consuming.

There is a much quicker way, though my preference will always be wet setting for most of my handspun yarn.

Best Choices for Steam Setting

Once in a while, I will have a skein that is a good candidate for setting with steam. Silk is one example of handspun yarn I like to steam set. Art yarn that isn’t going to be used in a garment that would be concerning for shrinking would be another.

Wool is especially prone to shrinking or springing up once the twist is set. The more springy the finished yarn, the more the skein shrank up in the setting process.

In the following short video, I show just how quickly a freshly spun spiral-ply yarn transforms into a beautiful finished product in a matter of minutes. I’ve subtitled the video to make it easier to understand.

If you’d rather read than watch, skip below. I promise the video is not very long. I know I am stretched for time, and I’m sure you are, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the video, I demonstrate the process using freshly spun Targhee wool and silk spiral-ply yarn. The technique is particularly effective for yarns with extra twist. You’ll see just how quickly the yarn relaxes once exposed to steam.

Setting Yarn with a Garment Steamer

I happen to have a garment steamer, but you could also use an iron on the steam setting. I also use my garment steamer to block my knitting. I normally wet-set my yarn but occasionally use steam to set the twist.

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You Should Wet Set Your Yarn

I know this is a post about steam-setting yarn, but I still encourage you to wet-set your yarn. If you soak your handspun with a bit of dish soap or Sythrapol, you’ll be sure to release any excess dirt or oils from the fiber or simply from your hands spinning it. If there is any residual dye, it will also come out in this process.

This also will deal with any shrinkage before you start your knitting project, as some wools will spring up significantly when the twist is set.

I’ll have to make a video on how I wet set my yarn, but for now, back to the steam setting….

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these kinks and extra twists will soon fall away once steamed

This particular yarn is a textured art yarn, so I won’t be using it for a piece of clothing where shrinking would be an issue. Right now, I’m thinking of using it as the weft of a woven scarf, but I may change my mind once I sit down to use it.

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You can see how the extra twists and kinks disappear almost instantly with the steam. I’ll flip the skein so the inside is out and continue steaming.

The Final Product

I’ve thoroughly steamed this yarn inside and out and repeated this process twice just to be sure. Now, here is a closeup of the now-dry yarn. The other bonus of steaming is that it dries much quicker than wet setting. Look at those spirals!

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I adore these spirals

Spiral plying is one of my favorite ways to spin when I want to relax and do something fun (spinning-wise, anyway!). I wasn’t going for an actual thick and thin yarn; I was just letting the fiber do as it pleased while I watched TV.

The thicker ply is a Targhee sheep wool top that started out bright yellow, and I over-dyed grey. I dyed it initially bright yellow for a spinning project, then changed my mind at the last minute and used another roving in my stash instead (this happens a lot, haha!).

I love how the grey toned down the color, making a golden-green color similar to golden pear. Moments like these remind me why I love spinning & dyeing fiber.

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I’ll chat about the construction and inspiration for this yarn in another video. Hopefully, I’ll have decided what to make with it by then. I’m notorious for making yarn but having it sit around due to my indecision on what to make. It’s so soft and squishy that I keep it around to admire for far too long.

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Will you give setting yarn with steam a try? Have you tried it? I love the instant gratification, but for the most part, the best way is not to take shortcuts and wet set handspun yarn.

Until next time,

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Hello, 2024 – January Studio Update

“Any new beginning is forged from the shards of the past, not from the abandonment of the past.”

– Craig D. Lounsbrough

The New Year is off to a Fast Start

I considered skipping this month’s update, as I realize we are at the month’s final days, and I had yet to do one. I (still) don’t have any new products developed. However, I have been inspired to do a bit of experimenting to offer a closer, more in-depth look at the studio behind the scenes. I’m in a great place in my life and finally have a clearer, more expansive view of how to step forward this year.

I am starting 2024 with this overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all areas of my life, and I want to fulfill a goal that I’ve had on my to-do list for many years. That is, to document myself more precisely at work so that you can get a better look at my creative process and, hopefully, inspire YOU to start or expand your creative journey.

This post lets me preview some content I will offer in the coming months. I’m including short snippets of videos I’m working on that will hopefully turn into longer posts. I’m getting more comfortable with the camera, especially speaking (I’ve always hated the sound of my voice!) and some light editing. Although it’s all new to me, putting another possible skill under my belt is rewarding.

The Making of a Keepsake Scarf

One of my favourite keepsake projects was this scarf I wove on my cute and straightforward Ashford SampleIt loom. I’m now making a secondary one with the leftover yarn, but smaller in size. In the video below, you will see a preview of the process.

Before Setting Handspun Yarn

The video below is an example of yarn that was spun and plied right away, vs. spinning and plying after some time. I will set these yarns, and we’ll see if there is any noticeable difference in the twist.

The setting and drying of these two yarns will be put together in a longer video.

Finishing Touches (Silent Video)

Here, I am in the middle of packaging a recent stitch marker order. This shows a finishing touch I put on the package before mailing it to the customer. I usually finish my stitch marker orders this way. Along with a handmade notecard, I tie a piece of leftover handspun yarn to make a mini package and attach a couple of extra markers as a small thank-you gift.

I often use older handspun that didn’t turn out so well. It’s perfect for decorative purposes, and I love that it doesn’t go to waste.

Etsy Change – Canada Buyers Only

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I decided to offer shipping to Canadian addresses only for my Etsy shop, at least for now. There are a few reasons for this change. Partly because I want to concentrate more on the local market and partially because the market in the US is already so saturated on Etsy. There have also been some business decisions on the platform that have the potential to make it difficult for me to offer the personalized service I have come to expect in the cottage (handmade) industry. I will consider selling to the US again in the future. I doubt I will go back to selling internationally again. There have been too many lost packages in the past, and the shipping times are so long. It’s not to my level of customer service.

We are Not Amazon

To add a quick reminder, when you are shopping online from an independent business or individual, mainly an Artist or a Maker, we put our heart and soul into what we do. We are not a faceless brand inside a big corporation. There is a person on the other end who wants you to be delighted with your order but would like to be treated fairly as well. We cannot make our items for pennies or compete with the big guys regarding free two-day shipping or no-questions-asked refunds without receiving the item back. That is money out of our pockets and, thus, potentially food out of the mouths of our families. Many of us deeply discount our work to compete with the overseas knockoffs or just out of a passion to have others enjoy our work. (Never mind that much of our work is stolen to be mass-produced – but that is a post for another day.)

I’m mentioning this because I am deeply disturbed by the growing trend of abuse that sellers on platforms such as Etsy seem to be privy to. I’m not active on social media but keep tabs on several selling forums to support my fellow online sellers. Sure, there are scammers pretending to be handmade, but with a little due diligence, it should be pretty easy to spot. We don’t deserve to be treated like we are out to scam you; thus, you get to keep our goods free of charge.

Although I have not experienced this kind of behaviour myself, it makes me suspicious of selling online. Non-realistic delivery requirements, ordering items “by mistake,” not wanting to return the item for a refund, or simply making an excuse to get an item refunded without working it out with the seller makes it harder for us to provide our creations online. And (it goes without saying) abusive language and threats is totally uncalled for.

I have much to say on this topic, and perhaps I will write a separate post about it. Because it seems the public has forgotten that the people behind the goods being sold are your neighbours and peers. For those who are still passionate about handmade and supporting us, THANK YOU. It is appreciated more than you know.

The Natural Intuitive: Nurturing Your Intuitive Soul Course

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Recently, I got the opportunity to give a new course a test drive for another local empath. Laura has created the perfect course for those ready to explore your intuition and nurture your soft side. If you are an empath like me, the world can be incredibly taxing and draining without the proper self-care. This course approaches the subject from a practical psychological point of view, so it’s very relatable to most, easy on the head and not too demanding or intimidating. If you want to hone your intuition or are simply curious, check it out! It’s currently being offered at a huge discount. ๐Ÿ™‚

Vision Statement: Do you have one?

You’ve probably heard of a Mission Statement, but have you heard of a Vision Statement?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.

A Vision Statement, however, is an idealistic, inspirational statement on the emotional future of a group or individual. (I don’t know about the idealistic part – that sounds intimidating! But I guess you plan for perfection and get as close as possible.)

My Vision statement: To Inspire, Empower, Break the Rules, & Honor my Ancestors

To Inspire: My goal has always been to inspire others simply by how I live my life. Set the example and have a positive ripple effect on the world.

To Empower: through my experiences, I encourage and give others the confidence to try or accomplish a new skill or life improvement.

Break the Rules: When finding one’s path, it is not necessary to do things the “right” or expected way. This is so true with creating and crafting!

Honour my Ancestors: The more confident and at ease in my body I become, the more I am made aware of the women in my family tree who came before me. I honour them throughout my creativity and personal growth.

Do you have a Vision Statement for your life, or have you ever considered making one?

That’s all I got for now, friends. Until next time,

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Busy, Tired, Happy: My week at a glance

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“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

My week at glance, at least the creative projects I’ve tackled this week anyway! It’s getting close to the Christmas holidays and thus my “me” time is limited. Still, I have made the commitment to invest in myself more. That means more time for my personal projects and goals. Including, listening more to my intuition, trusting in myself and slowing down to hone my gifts, both physically and spiritually.

Some of the current knitting projects I have on the go. Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes to work at more than one project at a time!

Most Satisfying Moment this week

My most accomplished moment this week, was getting my yarn backlog sorted, tagged and listed. It is always a job getting my handspun weighed, measured and priced, not to mention photographed! Descriptions are also hard. I really wish there was a way you could touch and experience my yarns with all your senses. I am quite confident that you would be intrigued and excited to work with my fiber creations.

You can view all my yarns offered in the handspun yarn section. I also have most of my yarn available for sale on etsy, but the full compliment is available on this website.

The – to sort, price and list rack, before it was prepped for sale. It is now clear all but 3 skeins that I am not sure what I want to do with yet.

Some of the New Yarns at a Glace

Yarn Revamp

One reason why I love working with fiber, is that it is incredibly versatile. Not just for the items that can be made with it, but for the fact you can revamp it if you are unsatisfied with the finished project. Like this handspun superwash merino & tencel.

Tencel is a cellulose based fiber, so it’s very much like bamboo or cotton fiber. I blended tencel and merino together and spun it, I assume for socks but I really can’t remember why now. Sometimes I just want to experience spinning blended fibers.

After spinning I dyed the yarn. Tencel being a plant based fiber will not dye with acid dyes, so my thought at the time was to leave the tencel showing as little bits through the wool. In the end, I didn’t like the effect and shelved the project.

The wool and tencel mix was dyed with acid dyes, that dyed the animal fibers but not the tencel, a plant based fiber. This left the bits of tencel throughout the yarn as little white bits, which I thought I would like but was not happy with the finished product.

So I decided to re-skein the 2 balls and have them take a bath in MX Fiber Reactive dyes. This dye will work on the tencel but leave the merino wool unchanged. I did a mix of slate and grey, and set the yarn to dye overnight. You can read my post on dyeing cotton yarn for more info on dyeing plant based fibers.

I love the final effect with the tencel now dyed. It adds grey-blue bits throughout the yarn which i prefer over the undyed.

After the yarn was rinsed and dried, I loved the grey-blue bits of tencel showing through.

A note on tencel: although tencel is cellulose based (derived from wood pulp) it is technically a man-made fiber, so not exactly “natural” as bamboo, cotton or wool would be.

Experimenting With Setting Yarn with Steam

Two skeins of yarn from the same spin: the one on the left has not been steamed, the one on the right after steaming.

A few years ago, I saw a video either on a blog or social media where the spinner set their yarns using steam from an iron, rather than going the whole soak and dry route. I was really intrigued by this, esp. by how you could watch the plies of the yarn align simply by the steam.

I really enjoy washing and setting my yarns in the sunshine – something about them being charged in the sun adds to all the good energy I put in when I spin them…not to mention how much I enjoy giving them a good thwack on the side of the house! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But now that it is winter setting yarns indoors becomes a bit of a pain.

The other day it occured to me that I could use my garment steamer to set my yarns. It is an under used tool (I bought it to steam my wedding dress back in 2006 thinking I would use it often after that, but it’s pretty much been sitting in one closet or another over the years). The results were great and very satisfying to watch. I now want to try setting my knitted items with steam, so I may do a separate post on the entire process.

Why My Creations Make Great Gifts

An order this week that especially touched me. Personalized gold-filled letter charm necklace, manually engraved

I adore all my orders but the special gifts really excite me the most. It is my calling to uplift others, support them and be there when their loved ones can’t. So when I am asked to send a special Christmas gift to a fellow Maritimer from someone thinking of them on the west coast, I am more than happy to oblige. I also made a simple note card for their gift message. I really hope they like their new necklace!

Larger projects

Making progress on my third knitted sweater, with a combination of my handspun. I think it works quite well together. Now on to the sleeves!

It’s no joke that I love to spin, and in order to get good at something, you have to put the time in. Needless to say after hundreds of hours spinning over the past 10 years I have amassed a lot of yarn. I do sell some of it, but much of it is here to be used, mostly because I feel it’s simply not up to par to sell.

It was time to do some larger projects, because hats, socks and mitts were not making a big enough dent. I started making sweaters over the summer and this is my 3rd one, I’ll have to do a separate post on the pattern and tutorial I bought to kick start my sweater knitting.

Mr. Peanut is the keeper of the fiber – and he says, goodnight! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s getting late and my bed is calling…until next time,

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