On softness of the yarn and how to improve it
Elena yarn is not the softest of yarns. Is that a problem? I think not. Not if you look at the yarn (any yarn) keeping in mind its characteristics, and deciding on the best project that would suit it. Sweaters, cardigans, vests – these are all garments that are not worn directly on the skin and can be wonderful projects for Elena yarn. Household items – blankets, pillow cases, are other possibilities.
But let’s assume that you still have that sensitive skin and you are afraid that, even though that sweater will not be worn on the skin, it will still feel itchy. Can you do something to improve the softness of Elena yarn?
The answer is: yes - pre-washing the yarn before knitting will considerably improve softness. I will detail here a method that I use and that has been tested by several knitters who all reported that it worked successfully for them. As a side note, I use the same method when washing my woolly garments.
So what do you need: the Elena yarn in skeins, warm water (at 40 degrees C), a neutral pH detergent (I use an eco-friendly dishwashing liquid with no color, fragrance or other “extras” added), a wash bowl and a centrifuge (I use the spinning program of my washing machine, just spinning, no drying!).
Step 1. Skeins should be secured with several tie points. I usually use 3 or 4 tie points - this will prevent tangling because believe me, you really do not want that to happen! (Because we wash the yarn after we receive it from the fiber mill, the skeins are already secured)
Step 2. Prepare the washing bath with water at 40 degrees and washing agent. Elena is pretty resilient and if you throw it in this hot bath it will not felt or get offended. Do not rub, but press and lift the yarn in and out of the soap water a few times. Leave it to stay for around 30 minutes (you can also put a cover on the washing bowl to prevent the water to get cold). Afterwards, get the yarn out of the water, and if you like, repeat this step a couple of times.
You will notice that the washing water is pretty dark. Remember that Elena still has a lot of lanolin on it and lanolin acts as a magnet for dust!
Step 3. Rinse the yarn with warm water. Alternatively, in the last rinsing water you can add a bit of white vinegar. Press the yarn (do not twist) in order to get some of the water out.
Step 4. If you like, insert the yarn in a washing mesh bag but you can also put the yarn directly into the centrifuge. Just be careful to put one skein at a time, folded in two, in order to prevent tangling. Start the spinning program (no hot air!) and leave it to work for about 5 minutes. That would be enough to get most of the water out and leave your yarn soft and fluffy!
Get the yarn out of the centrifuge, and carefully stretching the fibers (they will be quite curly). Leave to dry. Enjoy the softer version of the Elena yarn!