Buying yarn for your hobby can be expensive. Many people enjoy crocheting and knitting, but they cannot afford to buy pricey yarn. Some of them utilize coupons and discounts to make these nice yarns cheaper. Others must resort to another method, and buy the cheaper, acrylic yarns. Red Heart Super Saver (RH SS) yarn is a popular brand of acrylic yarn that is cheap for the amount of yarn you get. In my area, you can RH SS at Walmart for $2.88/skein for 364 yards of yarn, and I have seen it as low as $2.33/skein. Unfortunately, buying cheaper yarn does have its downfalls… When you work up RH SS yarn, it tends to be itchy. How do you get the best of both worlds: cheap yarn that is not itchy? By softening the yarn, of course! This post details how to soften red heart yarn and other acrylic yarn.
White Vinegar (optional)
Access to a Bathtub (or large bucket)
Access to a Washer
Niddy Noddy (or two chairs, or another person)
Yarn Swift & Ball Winder (or just something you can wind yarn around like a paper towl/toilet paper roll)
Red Heart (or Other Acrylic) Yarn you wish to soften
Contrasting Color Yarn
Instructions to Soften Yarn Prior to Crocheting a Project
This is my ‘go to’ way to soften yarn. I prefer softening yarn prior to creating projects out of the yarn. It slides much easier on your crochet hook after it is softened.
1. Gather your materials and itchy acrylic yarn.
2. Make your acrylic yarn into hanks (large loops of yarn). To do this, I use my niddy noddy. Click this link for my tutorial on how to make your own Niddy Noddy for under $5. As a cheaper alternative, you use two chairs. Set the two chairs back to back with some distance between them. My niddy noddy creates a 2 yard hank. Each time you wrap the yarn one time around the niddy noddy, it is equivalent to 2 yards. This is an easy way to count how much yarn you have. I recommend measuring a 2 yard piece of yarn and adjusting the chair distance to match. However, that is not necessary if you do not need to measure out how much yarn you have.
***Pro Tip 1: I split up my RH SS yarn into two hanks. This is so I do not overload my yarn ball winder when winding the yarn back into cakes.***
3. After you make your hank, use your contrasting yarn to tie around short pieces your hank to secure it. I use 8, 6-8″ inch pieces for this along the length of the hank.
4. Prepare your bathtub for use. I advise that you clean your tub prior to using. Mine had all sorts of grime on it. Wouldn’t want that grime to get on your yarn. As stated previously, you may use a large bucket in place of the bathtub. However, I find it easier to use the tub.
5. Fill the tub with enough water to cover your hanks. When the tub is filling, add 1c of vinegar for every skein you made into a hank. Mix the water and vinegar. Add your hanks to the tub and submerge them in the water. Let soak for a minimum of 1 hour.
***Pro Tip 2: Use only one color of yarn at the time. Pro Tip 3: I can fit 3 skeins (6 hanks) of RH SS comfortably in my tub at the same time.***
***NOTE: This step is not entirely necessary. The purpose of this step is to “set” the color of the yarn. I add this into my yarn softening series, because it helps keep yarn from bleeding in the future. Can do this later, after your project is created too.***
6. Empty tub and gently squeeze excess water from hanks. Lay hanks flat in tub. Squirt conditioner onto yarn (see image below for amount). Rub conditioner into yarn. Flip hanks over and repeat on the other side. Let the conditioner sit on the yarn for 15 minutes.
7. Fill the tub with just enough water to cover yarn. Rinse conditioner. Empty water from the tub.
8. Repeat steps 6 once more, for a total of two conditioning cycles.
9. For the second time you rinse the yarn, fill the tub so you can submerge the yarn once again. Add softener to the water as the tub is filling (1 cap full for every skein in the tub). Rinse the conditioner from the yarn and stir the tub to make sure the softener is evenly distributed. Let soak for a minimum of 1 hour.
***Pro Tip 4: The longer you let it soak, the softer it gets. However, for sake of time, I let it soak for 1 hour.***
10. Empty tub of water and gently squeeze out excess water. Put yarn in lingerie bags and wash in the washer according to yarn label instructions. You can wash with a load of laundry or by itself. I hung the yarn up until I got enough to do a load of just yarn.
11. After washing, hang the yarn to dry. Once yarn is completely dry, wind into balls of yarn. This is where you can use your yarns swift and ball winder, or just a paper towl/toilet paper tube. Here is a link to my DIY yarn swift. If you do not have one, you can make your own!
12. You did it! Your itchy acrylic yarn should be softened and ready to work up.
Instructions to Soften Yarn After Creating a Project
1. Make sure project ends are weaved in and everything is secure.
2. Lay out the project in the bathtub. Squirt conditioner evenly over the project. Spread conditioner evenly throughout the project. Flip project over and repeat. Let the conditioner sit for at least 30 minutes.
3. Set project to the side. Fill the bathtub with enough water to cover the project. Add 1 cap of fabric softener per skein of yarn used. Mix softener into the water. Add project to the water and softener. Gently rinse conditioner out. Let project soak for a minimum of 1 hour.
4. Place your project in the washer and change washer settings to match was is acceptable on the yarn label.
5. Add a minimum of 1c of white vinegar (for every skein of yarn used) in the washer with detergent.
6. Hang dry project, or follow drying instructions on the yarn label.
Have any questions on how I soften yarn? Feel free to comment below!