Chenille yarn is soft and machine washable -- the perfect material for knitting baby gifts or cozy scarves for adults. Its thick, bumpy texture knits up quickly and adds oomph without making you sneeze or itch. Chenille is available in natural fibers like cotton, wool and silk as well as synthetic fibers like rayon and acrylic. But, while chenille yarn is ideal for many knitting projects, it can be problematic to work with.
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Problems and Solutions
Familiarize yourself with the problems of knitting with chenille yarn. Most of these challenges stem from how the yarn is made. Rather than being spun like regular, smooth-textured yarns, chenille yarn is made from short tufts of fiber anchored to a central, coiled core.
Learn about worming. Worming occurs when a loop of yarn detaches itself from the knitted fabric. When this happens, the loop will coil back onto itself. Worming is caused by a combination of the twisted nature of the yarn, the yarn’s fabric and how the yarn is knit. Slippery fibers like acrylics and rayon tend to worm more than natural fibers like cotton. The more twist you introduce into the yarn by the way you knit, the more chance of worming.
Knitting on smaller needles to tighten your gauge -- the number of stitches you knit per inch -- can help prevent worming. You can also reduce the amount of twist you add to the yarn by balancing the number of knit stitches with the number of purl stitches in your project, using stitches like the garter stitch and the seed stitch.
Your style of knitting can also have an effect on knitting with chenille yarn. If you are an English, or right-handed style, knitter you may want to switch to the continental, or left-handed knitting style because it doesn’t cause the yarn to twist as much.
Familiarize yourself with biasing. Biasing is when your knitting, which should be rectangular, slants until it is shaped more like a trapezoid. As with worming, biasing is caused by the extra twist in chenille yarn.
There are a few methods you can try to solve the slanting problem. Give your yarn more body by knitting sewing thread along with it – holding the thread and the yarn together.
As with worming, knitting on smaller needles and balancing knitted stitches with purled stitches will also help prevent biasing. You may also get better results if you avoid knitting in the round on circular needles; knit your work flat, then seam it, instead.