My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


True Confessions

I’ve been keeping something from you.

I’ve been knitting on Rose for a while now, see? I’ve got the body done, and I’m purty near done with the first sleeve.

But there’s something I haven’t mentioned: I hate this yarn. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

(Did I mention I hate it?)

The yarn is Louet Sales Gems Pearl merino fingering. It knits up beautifully into an extremely pleasing fabric. So why do I hate it?

Because of this:


What you see pictured there is this @*$#&% yarn twisting on itself. It does this constantly. Con-stant-ly. And always right up near the needle, making it extraordinarily difficult to wrap yarn around needle.

I started out knitting directly from the cone (I bought the yarn on 1/2 pound cones) and it was immediately twist-o-rama. So I wound some of the yarn off the cone into a ball on my ball-winder. Twist-o-rama. So I skeined some of the yarn on my swift. When I held up the skein, no twisting. Cool, I thought. It just wants to be skeined before winding it into a ball. I wound it into a ball. Twist-o-rama.

I’m starting to get peeved, here.

I skeined some of the frigging yarn, washed it, and hung it to dry. Wound it into a ball. Twist-o-rama-lama-ding-dong.

Can you see why it’s taking me so long to knit Rose with this stupid yarn? I have many many times resisted the temptation to throw it against the wall, on the floor, or on the tracks in the path of a train. I have thought evil thoughts about it. I have wept in despair. I have hatred and loathing in my heart. I have one stinking sleeve and one stinking neckband left to knit, then this whole horrible experience will be over.

Okay. I feel better now.



  1. So Wendy, tell us how you REALLY feel.

  2. And what makes the @$%&* yarn twist like that? Especially after washing? I get the feeling Lucy couldn’t care less about the yarn and its twisting or your feelings about it.

  3. After you are completely finished with Rose you must take the leftover yarn to the cemetary at midnight – stand on one foot and swing it over your head. Then burn it.

    This will keep it from mysteriously re-appearing in your stash – a common behaviour for naughty yarn.

    Rose is beautiful though!

  4. Jac Lynn in MS says:

    How about running it through the spinning wheel to untwist it just a bit?

  5. Crazy yarn! And there it is doing exactly what handspun is supposed to do before blocking! When you reblocked the yarn, did you hang some weight on it? Usually that’s not really done for knitting yarn, only for weaving yarn they say, but I usually do it to all my handspun (just in case it wants to do what this Louet yarn is doing to you!)

  6. I think I sometimes add twist to yarn by the way I knit with it. I’m not sure exactly what I do, but I’ve run into this myself. Yes, it sucks.

  7. Lucy looks like she is about to lay the smackdown on that naughty yarn. No one can give the evil eye like a cat. Dogs are just too uncomplicated. hehehe

  8. Major bummer. I have used that yarn without the twist-o-matic effect, but I am getting a serious twistocity with the Berroco Suede. Good luck.

  9. How frustrating.

    Chaos sends sweet kitty kisses to Lucy.

  10. Oh, poor Wendy! I hate twisty yarn. I’ve run into that problem several times – like Janice, I think it must be something about the way I knit. Good for you for sticking with it…I probably would have gone batty and set it on fire by now.

  11. I love it when you post stuff like this. Not because you’re frustrated, but because it helps me feel like I’m not missing some kind of fairy tale knitting life that others have found and I haven’t.

    I’m sorry, though. It looks extremely frustrating. However, the sweater is GORGEOUS!

  12. Alice in Richmond says:

    Sounds like my one and only experience with chenille. Rotten stuff chenille.

    Finish it Wendy, just finish it. Like Lao-tse says, just do what needs to be done. Nothing more. I think he said that any way.

    Lucy: Sylvia says “Hi, I can look like that too.”

  13. Twisting yarn is one of my biggest pet peeves. It seems to happen to me a lot with sock yarn. I have to drop my knitting and let it spin around to get the twists out and then it does it again after a few rounds!
    Very frustrating.

  14. I had a similar experience with the Gems Opal on a pair of socks. I used two skeins, one for each sock- one skein twisted like crazy and the other didin’t. There’s a visible difference in the two socks. I’ve knit with Louet yarns other times and not had the problem at all – I think their spinning is inconsistent.

  15. Oh – man I HATE that. Anything that slows me down I hate but I really hate twisting yarn. Thanks for the heads up!

  16. Fiberella says:

    What’s the twist, Z or S? You may be using yarn spun specifically for weaving, particularly if it’s coned. And because it’s Louet, I wouldn’t be at all surprised, even though they sell to knitters.

    If your work is not biasing, you’re damned lucky.

  17. Wendy – my sympathies, I have a sore shoulder from holding some Noro yarn straight out after *every* row to untwist it- grrrrr. The yarn you have sounds overplyed, I’ve dealt with this before by untwisting it on my spinning wheel – a bit of trial and error here to get it right. If you’re a right-handed thrower (as I am) this adds to the problem if you have a yarn that’s right on the edge. Anyhoo, its not anything *you* are doing and there’s nothing you can do but untwist it in some way – not washing, not blocking, etc. I hope you eventually enjoy the sweater, its gorgeous!

  18. Wendy, are both colors twisting like that? Does it seem to be making the sweater skewed at all? And I hate to ask this question, but did you happen to wash a swatch before you started? (I probably wouldn’t have, so I’m not pointing fingers.) I’m wondering if that amount of extra twist is enough to cause problems in the finished garment. I’m also wondering if color work would tend to skew as much as single-strand knitting.

    Just remember- the end of a bad thing is always much better than the end of a good one.

  19. I’d hate that. I’ve had that happen when knitting (though not with crocheting for some reason).

  20. A rant is as good as a rest?

  21. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve been reading things about how to spin, and . . . does that mean that when the yarn was spun, the twist was set in such a way as to unbalance the yarn? Or am I just spouting out words that don’t mean what I think they mean? :p

  22. I knitted Dale Frogner from this yarn and didn’t hate the knitting but am disappointed with the result: a lot of work for a flabby, ill-behaved sweater.

    It’s even worse after washing.

    Yes, I swatched.

  23. I’ve had that happen too. Most annoying. I remember knitting a shrug with that organic cotton from Elann, what was it? Oh yeah, Pakachu(sp?) twisted like a b****H. Well, at least you’re almost done.

  24. Yep- Gems can be known for extreme overspinning. I’ve experienced it too. It’s remarkably inconsistent. Another blogger posted about this months ago- Louet replaced it for her.

  25. Crap crap crap. Bastardy dancing yarn.

    At least Lucy understands.

  26. I hate twisty yarn, too. Still, Rose is gorgeous! Lucy looks like she’s gonna kill the yarn for making Mommy suffer.

  27. Yes, I was going to suggest running it through the wheel. Or, turning your knitting around in the opposite direction every now and again to work some of the coming-up-the-pike twist?

    And, I’m sorry, I must have missed it. Did you mention whether you like this yarn??

  28. Definately a ceremony after all completed… not keep any remaining yarn!……..and personally will avoid that yarn…….figure it’s my time & money (which is valued if only by me), so I expect quality….and tales such as this place the yarn co. on the “do not bother” list…..same goes for patterns: be clear…..

    Re blog / cliques: well….writing is a way of knowing someone and you are definately a keeper: human, humane, funny, and real……if there is a contest then spare me the narcissist blow hards: that you can get in the media, esp tv…….

    Now let’s all plan that ceremony……..maybe a prize for the best one?

  29. The Supreme Being hates that yarn too! Sup created that yarn solely to test your patience.

  30. I learned this twisty yarn trick from a friend and it might help you get through this project. Place the ball or cone into a plastic bag that has a slide closure. When the yarn is twisted simply trap the strand into the zipper thing and hold your knitting up to untwist. Then unzip and continue knitting. It has helped me get through a couple of things without tossing the projects, needles and all, into the trash can.

  31. At Christmas I made two different scarves with the same yarn but it was two different colors. The first scarf took two balls of yarn and they both twisted like that! I swear it took twice as long as necessary to knit that stupid scarf because of the freakin twisted yarn. I was really dreading the second scarf. Thank GOD that color (same yarn weight, brand, everything – just a different color) never twisted. Not once. I decided it had to be the processing. I can’t imagine it being anything else because the two scarves were nearly identical patterns so it couldn’t have been my knitting or the stitch patterns I was using.

    At least you know that not every yarn is going to do this to you. Do you think that a different lot# of this yarn might behave differently? I would hope so.

  32. Did you try turning the ballwinder the *other* way when you wound it? I’ve had this happen with various yarns before, so I generally turn the ballwinder handle *against* the twist of the yarn – for an s-twist yarn I turn the ballwinder handle counterclockwise. This seems to do the trick for me.

    Of course, you’ve probably already done this.

  33. I’m a bit concerned that your knitting is going to bias horribly after you wash it, with all that live twist in the yarn.

  34. Kimmen, that was probably me who posted on my blog about mine being terribly overspun. I lost those posts when I accidently deleted my blog, but Louet has changed to a different spinner and dyer now, replaced all my yarn and it’s perfect. Send it back but email them first. They treated me very well.

  35. One more word to the wise. If you knit with overspun yarn, it WILL bias and no amount of blocking will take that out.

  36. I am with you on this… a real downer when trying to move forward only to have twisting-up yarn pull you back. Great descriptions.

  37. This suggestion is akin to the “winding the ballwinder the other way” post above, which I have not tried, but it sounds like a good idea. This has occasionally worked for me: If you are pulling the yarn out of the center of the ball from the top, try threading the working end through the hole in the middle of the ball to the bottom, so that it comes out the other side. If the twist was increased by the way it was wound on the ball, reversing the field this way sometimes counters the extra twist. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does!

  38. Wendy, something about the way I knit makes my yarn twist every time. Always. I just smooth the twist way, way down my thread and keep knitting. Just keep a really long thread going, and keep the twist a couple of feet away. Every time you pull off the ball, smooth the twist down to the ball. It’s fine, all good. The twist disappears whe you get to the end of the ball.

  39. Sounds awful…but looks great! I have no suggestions for you, just encouragement. It really is beautiful. Hang in there!

  40. I agree with you … nearly nothing as bad as twisty yarn…

  41. Glad to know I’m not the only one with bad yarn karma.

  42. Completely off topic, Wendy, but how are the knitting lessons with the papa-to-be progressing?

    Rose will be done soon! Knit on and you will be done with that bugger yarn.

  43. I know that there is disagreement about whether Gems Merino is the base yarn used in Koigu – but I have to say that I always have that experience when knitting with Koigu too… If Koigu also gets better now that Louet has a new spinner, well then…

  44. I think that Rose is the most beautiful hand-knit I’ve ever seen. I love it graphically, and I’ll bet it’s soft.

    I need help with something, and I wonder if you or any of your readers have seen this pattern I’m searching for. I’ve seen (I would almost SWEAR that I’ve seen) a free pattern online for a little boy’s hat in kind of a hunter’s-ear-flap-hat style. It was from the 40s or 50s. I have been googling the heck out of it, and nothing. Can you help me? I need to knit a hat for a friend’s child, and this is EXACTLY what he needs. Thank you so much in advance, and apologies if you don’t do this kind of thing. Thank you!


  45. So frustrating. I’m not as patient as you – I would have tossed it aside at the beginning, cursing the yarn (and probably myself).

    For Sarah: try
    It has free patterns found throughtout the web. Maybe you’ll find the hat pattern you’re looking for.

  46. I am so sorry for your pain and anguish, but I have to admit…I began laughing hysterically when I got to the bottom of the post and saw Lucy’s photo. (You know how I love to invent what she thinks.) The look on her face says, “Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, I’ve listened to you bitch for weeks, and you’re STILL bitching. Get over it already.” Bad about the yarn, but her expression is really priceless. (She needs one of those thought bubbles like in the comics.)

  47. Lucy looks impressively disgusted also. Or maybe she’s just sleepy and your ranting is keeping her awake. At any rate, Rose is GAWWWWJUSSS and it’ll all be over soon. I have the same twisty problem with KP WOTA…I’m doing Rogue right now and it’s making me batty. Happy Knitting!

  48. Wendy, I’m so glad you’re talking about this yarn. I’ve been wondering what you’re knitting Rose in cuz it looks so good. I’ve been printing every photo you’ve put up so as to figure out the pattern and knit it myself some day (unless you spare us all the trouble and sell a pattern?). ANYwho, it’s truly lovely and helpful to know what NOT to knit it in. Good luck making it through to the end. You’re almost there! Good knitting weekend! Sending good un-twisty vibes…

  49. wendy, the fearless pedestrian says:

    i had a similar problem with philosopher’s wool. i just reversed the direction of my wraps and all was well. maybe try combination knitting?

  50. I can’t tell you how comforting it is for a novice like me to hear that you get aggravated with your knitting too.

    Sorry, but thanks.

  51. Kudos to you for sticking with it. If it was me, that yarn would definitely be under a train by now.

    Maybe once Rose is done, the memory of how aggravating it this yarn was will be totally obliterated by how beautiful the finished product is. (Kind of like childbirth.)

  52. Lucy is giving you the “oh my god mom… get a grip” look.

    Rose is not taking you long at all. I’d still be only about 3 inches into the body if I were you!

  53. Wendy! I just have to let you know that I am DONE with the Bohus. I just have to find buttons and hopefully that will happen this weekend.

    Thanks for all your encouragement!

  54. Damn… you did all that and you’re still so fast! I have come across yarns like that. I wonder what makes it twist?

  55. Aargh, I’m sorry to hear that! I have some of this yarn waiting in my stash for a pair of socks (from Interweave Knits), kind of a footie, with a double knitted sole. Sounds like they have the potential to be a great lot of fun (NOT). Feh!

  56. I too remember another blogger having this problem with the Gems yarn being overspun Louet they replaced the yarn. Now if I could just remember who…sigh. Of course that is small consolation when you have an almost completed sweater.

  57. AHA! Joan of Joanknits had this problem. I believe she lost some blog archives, so may not be able to find the exact post(s). It’s a little disconcerting if this is a regular occurrence with this yarn.

  58. How frustrating! Thanks for sharing your frustration with us. Even you experiece it, but you keep going. That encouraged me a lot.

    By the way, let me confess this. I recently ma
    de Lucy my PC “wallcovering” at work. I picked up her photo from your website. Off cource, no further circulation at all, only for my own PC. Hope you allow me to do this…. Did I tell you we used to have the same kind of cat who was with us for 18 years ? Lucy reminds me of our cat.

    I hope you make something downloadable about Lucy: Lucy screen saver, Lucy calener, Lucy letter head, post cards, and etc.


  59. i’m a long-time knitter and newbie spinner, so the first thing that i thought when i saw the picture of your twisty yarn was ‘OMG UNBALANCED PLY!’ as i have experienced this many times with my own handspun. but, if that’s what it is, why doesn’t it knit up slanted? (as i’m sure you know, yarn that is not ‘balanced’ tends to slant to one side when knit up in stockinette stitch)

  60. Wendy,
    Sometimes I can reduce the twist-o-rama by switching the hand I’m using to knit. If you’re knitting both yarns with left, try the right. If you’re knitting one left and one right and still twisting — I hope the agony comes to an end soon! Those last few inches are the most frustrating of all when you have to stop every few minutes and let the ball untwist.
    P.S. I’ve also tried twisting the yarn up in the opposite direction when untwisting so I have twice as long before the yarn twist gets out of hand again.

  61. So Wendy…….

    The owner of my yarn shoppe, (Susan, of the Famous “Susan’s Fiber Shoppe”) outside of Madison wisconsin, has told me, that most yarn that’s sold on cones, hasn’t had the twist set, so that what you’re experiencing, is the result of that last stage of processing it, rather than the yarn itself. They wash and set the twist on hanks, and cones don’t get this step. If you were to wind off a hank onto a niddy nody and set the twist, I bet you’d be ok. Now, you might be SOL for this sweater because setting the twist might change your texture a bit, and you might want to avoid it, but if I had to say, that’s my prediction

    I’m making a stranded sweater using Gems Opal (the sport weight) which I bought on hanks), and I don’t have this problem at all. The yarn is very firm, and that’s not ideal, but there is no simptoms of overtwist. I’ve been working on this sweater for a week, and have 8.5 inches done on the body, and am pretty pleased with the results…