My current project is: knitting a purse.

It’s been challenging, because I’m making the pattern as I go.  Always an adventure! 😉

And because the yarn is, well, different.

It’s rayon spun into a lace weight yarn. However, the individual fibers of the yarn slide past each other instead of staying in a twist. Plus, as I knit, they untwist.

Which means the individual fibers tend to separate. Instead of staying twisted and knitting nicely, the individual strands tend to loosen. So I don’t always catch them as I’m knitting the stitch.

When I do find them, it can be several rows later. And involve some frogging!

I am grateful I know how a lace lifeline adds to the knitting instructions.

The direction yarn is spun is is called the twist.  There’s an S-twist and a Z-twist:

"Twist" in spun yarns or ropes is of...

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The S and Z come from the slant of the yarn. S-twist, like the slant in the letter “S” slants from upper left to lower right. Z-twist, like “Z” slants from upper right to lower left.

How do you get an S-twist or a Z-twist? It depends upon whether you spin the yarn clockwise (Z-twist) or counterclockwise (S-twist).

Sometimes yarn will stay twisted if you switch from knitting with holding the yarn in your left hand to holding it your right.  Another reason to learn both ways of knitting! In this case, it doesn’t matter: the rayon yarn still unravels.

Knitter’s Tip: If you find certain yarn untwists as you knit, try knitting it by carrying the yarn in your other hand. has video knitting instructions for the continental method (also known as the German method or pick method) and English method (American method , throw method). If that doesn’t help, sometimes the yarn can be crocheted. Crocheting may use the twist in the opposite direction.

So how important is twist and ply?

  • The direction of the twist can determine if the yarn twist tightens or loosens as you knit. This can make your knitting harder or easier.
  • Plying the yarn makes it thicker and stronger. Plying is taking the single plies and spinning them in the opposite direction. So, a yarn of two S-twist singles is usually plied into a 2-ply Z-twist.

And, yes it can be confusing when you first think about it. It’s second nature to spinners, though. And many knitters do eventually decide to spin their own yarns.

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