Have you ever bought yarn wrapped on a cone before? It's a little funkier and involves more prep than other types of yarn like skeins or balls. Because it's so special, coned yarn also requires special care, including washing the yarn and preparing it for being worked with.
Why coned yarn is awesome
When you buy coned yarn, you'll notice there's a lot of yarn on there. This is good news for anyone who hates weaving in ends because it's like having several balls of yarn in one skein. Coned yarn is also awesome because unlike skeins, there aren't any tangles or knots when you start to unwind it. (You'll see why in just a moment.)
Why you need to wash coned yarn
You're probably saying to yourself, I've never washed any of my other yarns before knitting and they always turn out just fine. What's the deal with coned yarn? Coned yarn is manufactured a little differently than other types of yarn. Before coned yarn goes through the machine, manufacturers apply a wax to it to help it move through more smoothly. This makes the yarn lay flatter than it normally would.
Besides laying flatter, the yarn is also wrapped very tightly around the cone. Did you see our post on how to store yarn, where we discussed how winding yarn into a ball and leaving it for a long period of time can stretch the yarn? That stretching is at work with cones, too.
Once you wash your coned yarn, you'll see a distinct difference. Washing coned yarn makes it fluffier and might even change the gauge a bit. It also gets rid of the wax that was applied to the yarn during manufacturing.
How to wind coned yarn into hanks
Before you wash your coned yarn, you must first wind it into hanks. If you've wound hanks into balls before, you know what a hank looks like. Here's how to wind your yarn into a hank:
Begin to wind the yarn around a chair or other stable object so that the circle you're creating will not tangle.
Wind the yarn in a circle until you've reached the desired amount. This could be the entire cone, or it could just be a portion of it depending on what you're working on.
Tie the circle of yarn in a few places, distributing the ties evenly. This will keep everything in place. Now your yarn is ready for a bath!
How to wash your coned yarn
Now take that hank and wash it as you would any other knitted project, using a mild soap. I use my handy little bucket, but you can use a sink if you'd like.
Lay the yarn flat on a towel to dry. Notice anything yet? Once your yarn dries, the change will be totally obvious. Your yarn will be noticeably fluffier, softer. You won't feel any of that wax stuff on the yarn. You're now ready to knit or crochet with your coned yarn! I decided to be fancy and bundle mine just like the yarn in the store -- and it will stay that way until I'm ready to knit or crochet with it!