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Twisting Left & Right

Doris and I put "It's Z-twisted!" on our Lotus yarn labels front and center.Isn't it about time I wrote a newsletter on yarn twist? Doris and I were the first to put "It's Z-twisted!" right on the yarn label. Back in 2005 I attended my first yarn industry show. I got quizzical "I don't knows" when I asked company reps why their yarns are twisted the other way (S-twisted). 

Thirteen years into my yarn twist journey I most of all want every crocheter to be aware of the complex dynamic energy twist adds. It's inspiring and offers rich insight.

Each spun yarn (thread, string, etc.) comes to us already packed with a unique twist energy. Subtly blending and managing this energy is a big part of the yarn designer's expertise.

Two Dynamic Forces Interacting

Maybe it seems like we're acting upon an inert material when we start crocheting with a yarn. It may seem like what we like (or don't) about our swatch is the fiber content, or whether we're using a good crochet hook size for it, or a good stitch pattern.

If you overlook twist (the amount and direction of), you might even be tempted to question your own crochet abilities instead. 

As we crochet we contribute a unique new twist energy to the yarn's carefully calibrated one. It's a kinetic relationship. It's these two dynamic forces that blocking often harmonizes.

S- and Z-Twist

Describing twist direction is tricky. It depends on one's vantage point. I like "S" and "Z" instead of left, right, clockwise, and so on. It's how I tend to look at yarn: I hold up a strand so that it hangs from top to bottom. 

Looked at this way, a twisted yarn surface either slants this way \ (like the middle of an "S") or this / (like the middle of a "Z"). 

(Note: keep in mind that spinners tend to describe S and Z in terms of the direction the spinning wheel turns.)

Look at the two photos below. I chose a swatch with yarn strands that are elongated and vertical. The yarn has a strong surface twist texture. Can you see how the yarn texture slants / in the left photo and \ in the other photo?

Moral of this story: it's possible to identify a Z-twisted yarn online, but look for an image of it with its label on (its ball band). You can't be sure whether an image has been flipped (for an advertising layout, perhaps) if there's no text in it.

A Good Spin

Being a twist-savvy crocheter means we get even better at knowing what we like about a yarn. Then we know what to look for to add to our yarn stashes. 

It's newly possible to search for yarns based on their twist properties. It used to be that I had to add my own "ztwist" tag. Now the Yarnsub site produces ztwist search results. Ravelry uses ztwist as a yarn attribute: "Note: yarn attributes are new. So far, only 14% of yarns have been updated to work with this search."

It also means we don't fall for oversimplification. The S or Z option is just part of the story; amount of the twist is another. It's not a simple case of all Z-twist being ideal for all crocheters and all S-twist for all knitters.

A soft (low amount of) Z-twist will likely be an easy win for those who crochet right-handed (this includes lefties who were taught the right-handed way), and knitters who "throw" British or American style. Why? These stitchers add a bit of their own Z-direction twist as they go. (I haven't tested if this is modified much while inverse crocheting, or yarning under instead of over.)

Those who knit Continental, or crochet leftie, are better served by a hard (high amount of) Z-twist. This is because these folks add a small, steady amount of S-twist with each stitch. This unwinds a bit of the yarn's extra Z, and it's not usually noticeable.
I've tested this logic against my own preferences. As a rightie, shouldn't I enjoy a soft to medium amount of Z-twist, and also enjoy hard S-twists? Wouldn't my least favorite yarns be soft S twists and hard Z?

This is indeed the case with one caveat. I love the high S twist of many sock yarns, for example. The worst of the soft S yarns is if they have only two plies. (Is there a lace knitter who doesn't love these?) These tend to be wools blended with silks, and handspuns. Perle cotton threads are also often a soft S.

High-twist Z used to annoy me because they would kink up. These are almost always cotton crochet threads. It stopped being annoying when I learned how protective and strengthening twist is for the fibers. It contributes a luster and heirloom-quality durability. Nowadays I figure the more twist of either direction, the better.

There's so much more to know about yarn twist! I'll let you know when I blog the overflow. Happy crocheting!


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This yarn has a crisp ropy twist. Can you tell by looking at a photo whether a yarn is Z-twisted or S-twisted?
One of 18 crochet tips for beginners I tweeted last year. 


Class Listings!

Watch for registration to open next week.

Learn more about my five class topics. I'm updating this page constantly now as I prepare the class materials.


New crochet pattern in our Lotus yarn

Ring Around the Posies Skirt by Andee Graves is in I Like Crochet, the April 2018 issue.

Andee designed the skirt for five sizes from Small to 2X, so it uses 4 to 6 large balls Satin Grey (or see our 1-lb. cone amount), 1 large ball Emerald Deep, and a snack size ball for the Rose Red, Peachy Sheen, and Sapphire.

✨FREE 🎉 all April: Get 3 Snack balls of any colors free with your purchase of at least 5 large balls (or a 1-lb. cone plus 1 large ball). Just write in the 3 colors you want me to add to your shipment when you order.

Flowerfall Vest is coming together!
I'm in love with my new stitch pattern. Flowerfall will be great for two classes ("Crochet Class in a Vest" blog post).
Missed the previous newsletter? Also see Andee Graves' Shining Day Wrap.She used our Peachy Sheen Lotus color.

Fun Links

Mary Beth Temple's GETTING LOOPY podcast is BACK!! 

Doris Chan on Z-twist
2014: Seriously Twisted
2013: Can I Crochet With This Yarn
Also see her Q&A column about yarn twist in the Winter 2014 issue of Crochet! Magazine.
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