I have several balls of unravelled wool which I would like to use for the crochet afghan I have had on the go for a while now. They are years old, are pure wool, were my grandmother’s (my Nan’s), and I have had them in my yarn stash since I was at least 10 years old or possibly younger. They are still crimpy after all this time, and I don’t know why she wound the wool up into balls without straightening it. Perhaps she intended to do that at a later date, but, a young pair of hands started to rummage in the yarn box, and it was a job that never got done.

Unravelling knitwear for my grandmother’s generation was a way of life – the ‘make do and mend’ mentality that was so necessary during the 1940s probably never left her. I had several stripey jumpers knitted by her, re-purposed (to use a more modern phrase) from old knitwear.

Now, years later, I have a use for those crimpey balls of  wool and want to straighten them. There is more than one way to do this:

  • Use steam: apparently you can dekink yarn with steam, using a steam iron.  I don’t have a steam iron to test this out, as I still use a non-steam iron that keeps going and going, with a water spray bottle. I’m not sure whether it would handle wool so set in its ways, but if anyone has successfully done this, I’d be interested to know.
  • Wind the wool into skeins, preferably with a niddy noddy, submerge in water and gently squeeze until just damp, then hang up and weight the skeins; with anything you can tie on. Washed stones are a quick way to make a weight. This works fine for newly hand-spun wool to even out the twist, but my skeins of unravelled wool just didn’t play ball. Perhaps I needed heavier weights.
  • What has worked better, has been to wind the wool into skeins and dampen, as above, but then wind round something convenient like a chair back, or….a cake cooling rack. When needs must, the mind will alight on a suitable object. This is now my method of choice for stubborn crimpey wool.
Unravelled wool drying on a cake cooling rack

I have a crochet blanket that I started when about 10 years of age and never finished. I considered unravelling this to use in my new crochet blanket, but as it’s a convenient size for a chair seat, and my cat likes it, it has found a new home.