Today I visited the yarn shop in Bethel, A Stitch In Time, where I teach crochet. The owner, Eva, and I had a great time going around the store selecting fibers for me to work class projects up in. One of the fibers selected as Crystal Palace Yarns' "Merino 5" -- a superwash merino wool I'll be using to create a Baby Sweater for a class I'll be offering this fall. (I hope to post the class schedule tomorrow afternoon.)
Upon returning home I decided that the class participants NEED to see, more like FEEL, the difference between pulling the fiber from the middle of the skein, vs. pulling from the outside. So I decided to work up two swatches -- and to include in the swatches the difference between the traditional chain start, and the technique known as the "double base chain." (That's a lesson for another day; we're going to focus on the twist issue for now.)
After working up at least nine rows in each swatch, with the same half-double crochet stitch, and with the same crochet hook, I called over my personal softness consultant, Dee Jr. If there is a softness factor to be determined, he's the one to call in for that second opinion. Having no prior knowledge of which swatch was what, I asked him to feel with both hands both swatches. Then switch the swatches (whew! say that three times fast!) and feel again. He came to the same conclusion as I did...
Quite some time ago, in 2005 in fact, I mentioned about how the twisting factor that occurs in crochet effects our work. You, too, will see this difference if you create two identical swatches as I did -- one swatch WILL be softer than the other! The reason? Depending upon how the skein/ball was wound, and depending upon how the fiber itself was created, we are either twisting the fiber more, making it tighter -- thus creating a "harder" fabric, or we're going against the twist, making the fiber softer -- thus translating to creating a 'softer' fabric. Yes, it is a preference thing, but as I tell my students, if I'm going to be spending the time to create something from my hands, then I'm going to want to invest a little extra time to ensure I get the best possible results!
So for this project, since it will ultimately be a garment for a baby, I'm going to want the softest possible results. This means that for this fiber, I'll be pulling from the inside of the skein/ball. If it were a purse, or hat, I might reconsider and pull from the outside to make a tighter fabric.
So the next time you hear someone state that it doesn't make a difference which end you pull your yarn from, feel free to correct them. Yes, it certainly does make a difference -- in knitting too! (although knitting doesn't have as much of a twisting factor as crochet does.) The proof is in your swatching!