Today I want to talk about mini skeins because that’s what I’ve been up to for the last two weeks. Making lots and lots of mini skeins. Why, you ask?
Well, I was able to find a great price on Madelinetosh Tosh Sock yarn, which normally retails for $25-27/skein and bought a bunch, with the intent to finish my Linen Stitch scarf that I had begun two years ago in my attempt to use up sock yarn scraps. Who knew that it ate yarn like crazy and who knew that I wouldn’t have enough scraps? Me, the queen of yarn hoarding not have enough yarn? I know, right?
Anyway, I bought something like 18 skeins of all different colors. (yes, I know you’re doing the math in your head and thinking….that’s like $400!) Yes, it was a lot of money to drop on yarn but my plan was to wind off whatever odd amount I needed from each skein and destash the rest of the yarn by making mini skein sets, thereby offsetting the cost a bit.
Little did I realize it was gonna be so much work, not to mention that there is no set amount regarding how big a mini skein is supposed to be. Some people do 5g, some do 15 yds, 40 yards, 50 yards, 10g and so on and so on. I couldn’t decide what would be the most appealing. (mind you, the goal is to get rid of these yarns asap so I could recoup some of the cost) So, I took a poll on Ravelry and the winner was…..25yds. That’s my preferred size too, because it enables those Hexipuff lovers to make 2 Hexipuff with each mini skein since each puff takes approx 10-12yds.
Some folks wrote in to say that they prefer 5g or any of the skeins that go by weight instead of yardage because it’s more accurate than winding on a niddy noddy due to tension issues. That got me thinking…..
Unless one invested in a jeweler’s scale (aka drug dealer scale), most digital scales that we own do not go into decimal points for grams. That means a huge variation as far as yardage is concerned. Anything from 4.55 – 5.45g would show up on the scale as 5 grams. In a fine yarn like fingering weight sock yarns, that’s a difference of 3.6 yards. Yeah, that’s a lot, especially in such a small size skein. We’re talking 18% variation! (that’s like getting a 41g ball when the ball band says 50g. If this happened with a commercially made yarn from a LYS, you can be sure I’d march in there with burning torches)
So, what is this tension issue that was discussed regarding mini skeins sold by yardages? Well, it just means that depending on how tightly the yarn was wound on a niddy noddy (or a chairback), there would be variation in the length because yarn is so stretchy. If you took a yard of yarn, laid it on the floor and measured it, it would be a slightly different length when measured taut. But would this variation be more or less than the 18% (from using the not-so-accurate scale)?
No way to find out unless I tested it out, right?
So I wound up my Tosh Sock 25 times on a 1 yd niddy noddy as tightly as humanly possible. I couldn’t even peel the yarn off from the niddy noddy so I literally had to unwind the whole skein. Normally, I wouldn’t wind any of my yarns this tight but I wanted to see what the difference in yardage would be for a tightly wound skein vs a loosely wound skein.
Next, I took that very same “25 yd” skein and wound it super loosely on the same niddy noddy. This time, the yarn was barely hanging on and was practically slipping off the niddty noddy. Once again, I don’t normally wind this loose but all for science, I tell ya!
What was the difference? Drum roll please…….3.7yds. Hmmm… that’s about the same as the scale!
So, what is the conclusion here? Well, I’d like to think the actual variation from skein to skein when wound on a niddy noddy would be closer to 1.5 yds because I do not wind super tight nor super loose. (i went back and wound the same skein on the same niddy noddy using my normal tension and came within 1.5 yards of the super tight skein.)
As for those people who use the scale to make their mini skeins, can you measure your yarn closest to 5g? Would you know if it was 4.6 or 5.4?
Well, here’s my solution: wind up all the mini skeins into 25 yards and weigh all of them to double check that the weight falls in the 7g range. Double the work, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and it’s a peace of mind knowing none of them are totally off. Now, back to the grind….(or shall I say “wind”?)