Caring for Handspun

I’m often asked how I care for my handspun. I confess I’m perplexed by the question; however, I understand it. Handspun can feel more precious and special than a commercially spun yarn. I care for it the same way I do all yarn and fiber; this post shares how I store, wash, and wind my handspun yarn.

Storage

I store my handspun the same way I store all yarn, away from the cats. In my studio, that means a 2-layer system. The outer layer of protection is large hard-sided bins. This keeps inquisitive felines from having easy access and helps keep my studio tidy. I have a range of 2×2 expedit (now kallax) storage with lekman boxes. There are also a few free-standing bins.

Plastic Lekman box, pulled out from expedit. Skeins of yarn are in plastic bags.
these are commercial spun yarns, but the concept is the same

If it’s in my expedit, then I also keep the yarn in a zip top plastic bag. While those 9 squares on the front of the lekman boxes act as a handle for humans, felines see them as a puzzle toy and want to know what’s inside. The bag helps to ensure that if a cat gets close, there’s still a layer of protection. Most every bag I use and reuse has chew marks. I’m slowly converting to fabric zip top bags, but it’s been a low priority project, some of the plastic zip top bags I use have been in rotation for over a decade.

In either each bag, or the plastic bin I like to drop either a small bit of cedar or sachet of lavender. It’s a small bit of extra protection.

About twice a year I try to go through and check every skein of yarn and braid of fiber.

Washing

a plastic bowl with sudsy water and some knitting. a post it with "gauge" handwritten, a pen, and a small ruler is in front of the bowl
this is a swatch getting a bath, handspun yarn gets the same treatment

If you need to wash a skein, please treat it kindly. In general, that means wash in cold water with a wool wash and hang to dry. If you need further instruction on using a wool wash, both Eucalan and Soak provide resources on their websites. There are other brands as well on recipes online.

If this is the first wash after spinning, then you’ll want to do things a bit differently; however, that’s a completely different type of wash and not covered in this post.

Winding

small hand wound balls of handspun (& swatches)

This is where things tend to change from commercially spun yarns. I prefer to hand wind my handspun. There’s something extra yummy about that process and I enjoy the extra time it takes, and I like the look of the ball of yarn instead of a cake.

I give the skein a bit of a snap with my hands before I put it on the swift, I’ve found this helps to reduce tangles. If you want to use a ball winder, go slow, and pay attention to the yarn as you go. If it’s an art yarn, meaning for example includes beads or coils, then I strongly urge you to hand wind.


I hope these tips help you feel more confident storing, washing, and winding your handspun yarn.

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