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 Acrylic vs Natural Fibres - the itchiness factor
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ilustren
Warming Up

Canada
79 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  08:20:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit ilustren's Homepage Send ilustren a Private Message
I'm making my second tychus hat. You can see the 'odd' colourway on my blog. I'm wondering what everyone's opinion is about what is comfy to wear on your head. For many of you, you will have plenty of hair to cover ears and protect them from the itch factor of some coarser woollen yarns, but not all of us are so fortunate. My first tychus variation I made with some scrap wool I found in my stash. I'm hoping it was the kind that's 'spun with oil' for weavers and that as soon as I wash it, it'll soften up. The tips of my ears get quite itchy although I love the warm it gives my whole head. I generally dislike the feel of acrylic. I don't like the feel of a toque that has melted snow in the fibres and which eventually feels clammy and colder in winter. My stash is full of non-super wash wool and all of my yarn is 10 years or older so many of the newer blends and superwash options aren't in it. I'm determined to use up my stash before I buy anything else even though the 'drool factor' when I walk into my favourite LYS is almost unbearable.

Charles
Welland, Ontario
Blog: http://jigraknits.livejournal.com/
"God being the original knitter (Psalms 139:13) and humans (she AND he) being made in God's image...I'm equally entitled to enjoy creating through fibre."

mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  09:53:57 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
Donate some of your stash and then go and buy some nice affordable superwash.

For hats I only use wool or wool blends because otherwise, I may as well just buy a readily available inexpensive acrylic hat.

http://www.femiknits.blog-city.com/knitting_for_canadian_troops.htm
http://greenfishoutofwater.blogspot.com
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  09:53:57 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
Donate some of your stash and then go and buy some nice affordable superwash.

For hats I only use wool or wool blends because otherwise, I may as well just buy a readily available inexpensive acrylic hat.

http://www.femiknits.blog-city.com/knitting_for_canadian_troops.htm
http://greenfishoutofwater.blogspot.com
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rather be knitting
Seriously Hooked

USA
954 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  10:19:10 AM  Show Profile Send rather be knitting a Private Message
Really like your Tychus hats -- they look very interesting. And the colors on this new one are fun! Some acrylics soften up when washed, but unfortunately, others stay scratchy. I'm with Mokey on this one (we are all yarn-buying enablers here!). Donate stash to some useful group and get some superwash wool that is soft and you really like to make the next Tychus hat. All your time that goes into such interesting knitting deserves really nice yarn -- and the cost of yarn to make a hat shouldn't be too much ;-) If you can't bear to give away any of the stash, you could use some to make afghan squares. There are groups that take completed squares, others that take entire afghans. Or make one to keep yourself.
Happy knitting -- claire
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rather be knitting
Seriously Hooked

USA
954 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  10:19:10 AM  Show Profile Send rather be knitting a Private Message
Really like your Tychus hats -- they look very interesting. And the colors on this new one are fun! Some acrylics soften up when washed, but unfortunately, others stay scratchy. I'm with Mokey on this one (we are all yarn-buying enablers here!). Donate stash to some useful group and get some superwash wool that is soft and you really like to make the next Tychus hat. All your time that goes into such interesting knitting deserves really nice yarn -- and the cost of yarn to make a hat shouldn't be too much ;-) If you can't bear to give away any of the stash, you could use some to make afghan squares. There are groups that take completed squares, others that take entire afghans. Or make one to keep yourself.
Happy knitting -- claire
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Calamintha
Permanent Resident

USA
2886 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  12:57:05 PM  Show Profile Send Calamintha a Private Message
I like your tychus hat. I made a hat for my husband out of Noro Kureyon which is pretty colorful and he likes it. I won't wear acrylic anymore for the reasons you mentioned. It has a harsh feel to it and it is cold and clammy. I prefer a little itch. Recently I got some Gems Pearl Merino Superwash that is really soft so it shouldn't itch. I think you owe it to yourself to buy yourself some new yarn. You can still use what is in your stash to make items for charity like lap robes or hats.
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Calamintha
Permanent Resident

USA
2886 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  12:57:05 PM  Show Profile Send Calamintha a Private Message
I like your tychus hat. I made a hat for my husband out of Noro Kureyon which is pretty colorful and he likes it. I won't wear acrylic anymore for the reasons you mentioned. It has a harsh feel to it and it is cold and clammy. I prefer a little itch. Recently I got some Gems Pearl Merino Superwash that is really soft so it shouldn't itch. I think you owe it to yourself to buy yourself some new yarn. You can still use what is in your stash to make items for charity like lap robes or hats.
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LittleMousling
Permanent Resident

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  2:02:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit LittleMousling's Homepage Send LittleMousling a Private Message
I'm with the others - using your stash is great, but if it really doesn't work, then it doesn't work! Donate it, or knit it up as blankets or mittens.

Speaking of itchy acrylic, I've started noticing something recently: some of my socks make my ankles itch for a while after I first put them on. This worried me, greatly (a wool allergy would NOT be OK!) until I realized that the all-wool socks didn't - just the ones with nylon. From now on, Lorna's Laces aside (because it's the One True Sock Yarn) I'm sticking to all wool.

-Molly, obsessive but not exclusive socknitter
Stash photos, WIPs and some FOs
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LittleMousling
Permanent Resident

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  2:02:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit LittleMousling's Homepage Send LittleMousling a Private Message
I'm with the others - using your stash is great, but if it really doesn't work, then it doesn't work! Donate it, or knit it up as blankets or mittens.

Speaking of itchy acrylic, I've started noticing something recently: some of my socks make my ankles itch for a while after I first put them on. This worried me, greatly (a wool allergy would NOT be OK!) until I realized that the all-wool socks didn't - just the ones with nylon. From now on, Lorna's Laces aside (because it's the One True Sock Yarn) I'm sticking to all wool.

-Molly, obsessive but not exclusive socknitter
Stash photos, WIPs and some FOs
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Mama Bear
Gabber Extraordinaire

417 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  3:58:46 PM  Show Profile Send Mama Bear a Private Message
You can also felt with the older wool, make booga bags etc.

Then get some merino wool for the hats! It doesn't have the same itch factor.

Some people say you can soak wool in hair conditioner to take away some of the itch. Not sure of the details, I know it's a LONG soak (like overnight) and I don't know how much. You might try that on the Tychus you already made.

Mama Bear

[img]http://beartoes.com/images/bearbutton.jpg[/img]
My Blog:www.beartoes.com
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Mama Bear
Gabber Extraordinaire

417 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  3:58:46 PM  Show Profile Send Mama Bear a Private Message
You can also felt with the older wool, make booga bags etc.

Then get some merino wool for the hats! It doesn't have the same itch factor.

Some people say you can soak wool in hair conditioner to take away some of the itch. Not sure of the details, I know it's a LONG soak (like overnight) and I don't know how much. You might try that on the Tychus you already made.

Mama Bear

[img]http://beartoes.com/images/bearbutton.jpg[/img]
My Blog:www.beartoes.com
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Momma78239
Permanent Resident

USA
4859 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  4:25:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit Momma78239's Homepage  Send Momma78239 a Yahoo! Message Send Momma78239 a Private Message
If you're in love with a certain warm, but itchy wool, you could always line the edge of the cap (where it touches ears and forehead) with a piece of thin, knitted cotton fabric.

-WendyM[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v632/Momma78239/smallspindlepic.gif[/IMG]
And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. Exodus 35:25
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Momma78239
Permanent Resident

USA
4859 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  4:25:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit Momma78239's Homepage  Send Momma78239 a Yahoo! Message Send Momma78239 a Private Message
If you're in love with a certain warm, but itchy wool, you could always line the edge of the cap (where it touches ears and forehead) with a piece of thin, knitted cotton fabric.

-WendyM[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v632/Momma78239/smallspindlepic.gif[/IMG]
And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. Exodus 35:25
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Mickey
Permanent Resident

USA
1670 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  12:19:25 AM  Show Profile Send Mickey a Private Message
Itchy wool often softens considerably after applying hair conditioner. Wash it with mild shampoo and condition afterwards just like you would human hair.
P.S. I love your red/grey toque!
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Mickey
Permanent Resident

USA
1670 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  12:19:25 AM  Show Profile Send Mickey a Private Message
Itchy wool often softens considerably after applying hair conditioner. Wash it with mild shampoo and condition afterwards just like you would human hair.
P.S. I love your red/grey toque!
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Expat2
Gabber Extraordinaire

Canada
459 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  11:28:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit Expat2's Homepage Send Expat2 a Private Message
Firstly, thanks for posting the link to the hat on your blog. Have to make that one!

Secondly, the itch factor. I don't know what it is about my head but every hat makes my head itch. This includes baseball caps, shop bought hats and hand made. This is a pain (literally) when walking in the winter. I have one hat that I can wear for longer periods that I crocheted with - dare I say it - Lion Brand Homespun.
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Expat2
Gabber Extraordinaire

Canada
459 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  11:28:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit Expat2's Homepage Send Expat2 a Private Message
Firstly, thanks for posting the link to the hat on your blog. Have to make that one!

Secondly, the itch factor. I don't know what it is about my head but every hat makes my head itch. This includes baseball caps, shop bought hats and hand made. This is a pain (literally) when walking in the winter. I have one hat that I can wear for longer periods that I crocheted with - dare I say it - Lion Brand Homespun.
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pieheart
Permanent Resident

1872 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  1:28:28 PM  Show Profile Send pieheart a Private Message
Another option is to double knit the hat with a softer yarn. I have used the technique in this pattern for hats made with itchier yarns: http://secure.elann.com/ShowFreePattern.asp?Id=6024

I don't know how that would do for the tychus, but it might work.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday----Dale Carnegie
blog: http://museknits.blogspot.com/
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pieheart
Permanent Resident

1872 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  1:28:28 PM  Show Profile Send pieheart a Private Message
Another option is to double knit the hat with a softer yarn. I have used the technique in this pattern for hats made with itchier yarns: http://secure.elann.com/ShowFreePattern.asp?Id=6024

I don't know how that would do for the tychus, but it might work.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday----Dale Carnegie
blog: http://museknits.blogspot.com/
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llinn
honorary angel

USA
1650 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  10:20:32 PM  Show Profile Send llinn a Private Message
I have a trick memory. I can remember vast quantities of useless information. Things that might actually be useful--they're gone with the effing wind.

Somewhere close by I just posted a big long thing on how to "full" wool as opposed to felting it. I was taught by a seriously talented weaver long time back. According to her, and it do make sense, fulling is not felting. Fulling is opening the scales on the wool fiber, "blooming" the yarn so it becomes thicker and feels MUCH softer without any or very little shrinkage.

http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=64169&SearchTerms=,fulling

If I did that right, that link will take you to my long post on how to full wool. If I screwed it up, it was on 9/13 random knitting related stuff--non-itchy wool for scarf.

Now, wool is designed by mother nature to be dripping in lovely lanolin. And you know what happens when you mess with mother nature (or you do if you're old enough to remember the commercials).

No seriously, lanolin makes wool FEEL softer and way less prickly. Scouring and dying yarn removes all the lovely grease. It also removes the distinct barnyard odor that comes with a fleece. Raw wool smells like sheep and sheep smell a lot like the inside of a moldy rope locker on a sailboat (at least according to my dad).Other people notice a certain resemblance to pigs. OVerall, it ain't Chanel 5.

Once it has been de-skunked, lanolin is fine--odorless and wonderful for your skin and for your sweaters, gloves, hats and scarves. Go buy some lanolin at the drugstore since all the hand lotion people switched to cheaper stuff, put an inch in the bottom of a spray bottle, add a wee pinch of salt and warm water to fill. Now shake it up like an italian vinaigrette. The salt will help the lanolin emulsify and form tiny globules. Now spritz the finished sweater, hat whatever. Mist like you were planning to iron the garment dry, put it in a plastic bag and stick it someplace warm (top of the fridge or a heater vent) for a day or two. Repeat as needed until the wool has the amount of grease you prefer.
Lanolin provides good water resistance to wool (which normally loves to soak it up) so sweaters for boatmen are routinely heavily greased. Lots of Aran wools are advertised as "spun in th grease". I know they lie. No sheep ever smelled that good. They wash their wool and regrease just like I do.

Last winter i rebuilt a 58 year old sweater. My best friends mother passed5 years ago. Her dad still had, wore and loved the first thing she ever made him--2 or 3 years before 56 year old Anne was born. Plain, boatneck pullover in doubled dK weight burgundy wool--knit very tightly on about #5 KN, the cuffs had been a bit long and mostly turned baack. The turn on the cuffs was holy and worn, where the rib met the body on the waist and the neck was the same and there were 2 spots on the body that were beginning to ravel. She had done a truly brilliant job of hiding the ends when she sewed it together. It took about a week and the generous use of my coal mining helmet (a headset magnifying set up that looks really goofy). Eventually I picked out all the ribbings, only to discover the yarn itself was loosing it's integrity. It was so friable, it would break with just a few pounds of tension. I split the salvaged yarn back down, matched it to a modern 8s/2 wool in a close shade of burgundy and reknit all the "edges" of the sweater with the two yarns held together.

The color was close enough that an informal survey of 7 women said they couldn't tell the difference. I don't ask any of the males anymore--they just look at me and go "What?""Yeah, that looks fine" Now they would say that if I trimmed it in purple fun fur because they don't care if it's not for them. But the color thing worked really well and the new wool added enough strength that I feel confident the sweater will last as long as her dad.

We never could figure out why the wool was so fragile. She thought her mother had dry cleaned the sweaters 3-5 times a year. Her dad thought it had never been cleaned. So we suspect she just never told him she was dry cleaning it. He doesn't remember her ever hand washing anything.

We wonder if dry cleaning for 50 years would eat wool. I knew I didn't like it, but I never thought it made your wool disintigrate.

We greased it 3 times and sent it up to her dad. His other daughter reported he wouldn't take it off until March. And he made her spray his other wool sweaters with lanolin. Said it made all the prickles go away.

Llinn
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llinn
honorary angel

USA
1650 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  10:20:32 PM  Show Profile Send llinn a Private Message
I have a trick memory. I can remember vast quantities of useless information. Things that might actually be useful--they're gone with the effing wind.

Somewhere close by I just posted a big long thing on how to "full" wool as opposed to felting it. I was taught by a seriously talented weaver long time back. According to her, and it do make sense, fulling is not felting. Fulling is opening the scales on the wool fiber, "blooming" the yarn so it becomes thicker and feels MUCH softer without any or very little shrinkage.

http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=64169&SearchTerms=,fulling

If I did that right, that link will take you to my long post on how to full wool. If I screwed it up, it was on 9/13 random knitting related stuff--non-itchy wool for scarf.

Now, wool is designed by mother nature to be dripping in lovely lanolin. And you know what happens when you mess with mother nature (or you do if you're old enough to remember the commercials).

No seriously, lanolin makes wool FEEL softer and way less prickly. Scouring and dying yarn removes all the lovely grease. It also removes the distinct barnyard odor that comes with a fleece. Raw wool smells like sheep and sheep smell a lot like the inside of a moldy rope locker on a sailboat (at least according to my dad).Other people notice a certain resemblance to pigs. OVerall, it ain't Chanel 5.

Once it has been de-skunked, lanolin is fine--odorless and wonderful for your skin and for your sweaters, gloves, hats and scarves. Go buy some lanolin at the drugstore since all the hand lotion people switched to cheaper stuff, put an inch in the bottom of a spray bottle, add a wee pinch of salt and warm water to fill. Now shake it up like an italian vinaigrette. The salt will help the lanolin emulsify and form tiny globules. Now spritz the finished sweater, hat whatever. Mist like you were planning to iron the garment dry, put it in a plastic bag and stick it someplace warm (top of the fridge or a heater vent) for a day or two. Repeat as needed until the wool has the amount of grease you prefer.
Lanolin provides good water resistance to wool (which normally loves to soak it up) so sweaters for boatmen are routinely heavily greased. Lots of Aran wools are advertised as "spun in th grease". I know they lie. No sheep ever smelled that good. They wash their wool and regrease just like I do.

Last winter i rebuilt a 58 year old sweater. My best friends mother passed5 years ago. Her dad still had, wore and loved the first thing she ever made him--2 or 3 years before 56 year old Anne was born. Plain, boatneck pullover in doubled dK weight burgundy wool--knit very tightly on about #5 KN, the cuffs had been a bit long and mostly turned baack. The turn on the cuffs was holy and worn, where the rib met the body on the waist and the neck was the same and there were 2 spots on the body that were beginning to ravel. She had done a truly brilliant job of hiding the ends when she sewed it together. It took about a week and the generous use of my coal mining helmet (a headset magnifying set up that looks really goofy). Eventually I picked out all the ribbings, only to discover the yarn itself was loosing it's integrity. It was so friable, it would break with just a few pounds of tension. I split the salvaged yarn back down, matched it to a modern 8s/2 wool in a close shade of burgundy and reknit all the "edges" of the sweater with the two yarns held together.

The color was close enough that an informal survey of 7 women said they couldn't tell the difference. I don't ask any of the males anymore--they just look at me and go "What?""Yeah, that looks fine" Now they would say that if I trimmed it in purple fun fur because they don't care if it's not for them. But the color thing worked really well and the new wool added enough strength that I feel confident the sweater will last as long as her dad.

We never could figure out why the wool was so fragile. She thought her mother had dry cleaned the sweaters 3-5 times a year. Her dad thought it had never been cleaned. So we suspect she just never told him she was dry cleaning it. He doesn't remember her ever hand washing anything.

We wonder if dry cleaning for 50 years would eat wool. I knew I didn't like it, but I never thought it made your wool disintigrate.

We greased it 3 times and sent it up to her dad. His other daughter reported he wouldn't take it off until March. And he made her spray his other wool sweaters with lanolin. Said it made all the prickles go away.

Llinn
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