This is a post I saved from my older site. I managed to save a few and will be re-posting them as time permits.
There has long been debate over how to finish a skein of yarn – should you weight it after washing or not. I am not going to say you should or not, but what I will do is show you what happens to yarn when allowed to dry without weight.
I just finished a skein of yarn from a sheep named Ocelot. He is 1/2 Merino and his fleece is very similar to merino in crimp and feel, but oh so much easier to clean. After spinning this skein, I decided to take pictures of what happens to the yarn after washing.
Note: This fleece was processed by hand by myself. It was not commercially processed or mill processed. You might and probably will have different results with commercial or mill processed fiber.
So I took a piece of tape and placed it on the wall where the skein was hanging and took a magic marker and marked the length of the skein as soon as I hung it to dry. Here you can see the mark on the wall showing the length when I hung it to dry. This picture was taken after hanging for about 2 hours.
This picture shows the same time, except now I have a ruler showing so you can see the actual shrinkage. There is about 4 inches of shrinkage.
Finally, this picture was taken after skein was dry showing about 5 inches of shrinkage total. It is now a nice fluffy and stretchy yarn.
If the yarn had been weighted, it probably would have shrunk much less if at all. But ask yourself this question – what is going to happen to that hat or sweater you just made when it is washed the first time? My guess is that if you weighted the yarn and then washed the item you made with it, you would probably need to give it to someone much smaller that yourself.
My reason for writing this is not to change your mind about weighted or not weighted, it is to show you what may happen if you weight the yarn, make your item and then wash it. Personally, I would not weight any yarn while drying, especially if you are making an items in a specific size.