Have you received a gift or donation of yarn that’s too scratchy? Try one of these tips to soften it
Tell me if this has happened to you: you get a whole bunch of yarn donated to you by a generous benefactor. You’re eager to knit with it, only to discover that it’s terribly scratchy. No frugal knitter wants to get rid of tons of free yarn. But no knitter wants to knit with scratchy yarn, nor does any knitter want to give away a project that won’t be comfortable.
What to do?
It turns out that there are actually quite a few ways you can make scratchy yarn quite delightful again. If the yarn is so scratchy that you can’t stand to knit with it, you can follow this procedure. Super easy and super cheap!
If the yarn doesn’t feel too scratchy to knit with, but the finished project feels scratchy, there are several techniques you can try. Read on!
Softening a Scratchy Knitted Project
There are 3 different products that can be used to soften finished projects: fabric softener, hair conditioner, and vinegar (in order from most to least expensive). You can use whatever you have on hand and/or whatever you’re most comfortable with.
1. Fabric softener: Take your project(s) and run them through the gentle or delicate cycle in your washing machine, and use liquid fabric softener in the rinse cycle. When it’s finished, you can then run your project(s) through the delicate/gentle cycle in your clothes dryer, with or without fabric softener sheets. (Fabric softener often isn’t necessary in the dryer, but it will reduce static.)
2. Hair conditioner: This is something I’ve tried recently, and it works quite nicely. Run some lukewarm water in a basin, and add hair conditioner. Choose some that smells great (I love coconut-scented conditioner!). Swish the project around in the water; work the conditioned water through the project as much as you can. Then squeeze out as much water as you can (be sure not to wring or twist the project) and roll it in a towel or two to pull out even more moisture. You can now either lay it flat to dry (if the fiber calls for it), or else throw it into the dryer on the delicate cycle.
3. Vinegar: You can use vinegar in either of the methods listed above in place of the product suggested. This is a great option for those who prefer completely natural products or who want to use the most frugal product possible. Vinegar is one of the cheapest cleaning products possible! You can also use vinegar along with hair conditioner in this way.
4. Steam: Got a steam iron and an ironing board? Then you can try this trick. Just place your project on the ironing board and hit it with as much steam as you need to make it damp. Let it air dry. When it’s dry, it’ll be a lot softer! (This is a great way to block projects made with acrylic yarn, too.)
Do bear in mind that if you have extremely old acrylic yarn that’s scratchy, the methods listed here might not work. The best thing to do with such yarn is to use it for stuffing. I’ve often used really old acrylic yarn to stuff knitted toys. It works really well for the smaller parts of toys that can be harder to stuff with traditional stuffing.
So don’t throw out that scratchy yarn! You can make it useful again.