Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When Yarn Winding Goes Bad

Alternate titles for this post:
  • Yarn winding – know when to stop
  • How I know my husband loves me
  • Two hours of my life that I’ll never get back

When yarn is purchased it sometimes comes in nice little balls where the yarn ready to knit as it is pulled from the outside or centre. However, some yarn comes loose, in a skein (or some say a hank.) A loose skein is typically produced by a smaller mill, presumably because it is cheaper to manufacture, or possibly because they look pretty enough to sucker in discerning knitters.

When purchased a skein looks like this beautiful sample of wondrous colour.

When untwisted, the yarn looks like this.

The challenge of this loose yarn is that you must wind it into a ball before you can knit with it (Steph can attest to this.) If you don’t wind it, you will have a bird’s nest knot, in no time. There are different methods to wind the yarn.

  1. You can prop it up on a chair back and patiently hand-wind it into a ball. This method is best suited for those who are frugal and patient.
  2. You can prop it up on a chair back and use a ball winder to speed up the process. This method is even faster if you have a buddy to hold the yarn.
  3. You can invest in a ball winder to wind the yarn and a swift to hold the yarn and the process is quick and efficient.

I’m not patient enough for option 1 and I’m too cheap (or frugal, or stubborn) to spend $60 on the swift required for option 3, so I’m stuck in the middle with option 2. I have a ball winder, so when faced with a skein of yarn I prop the yarn up on a chair (less than ideal), or I request the help of a friend (risky, as Meredith and I almost broke up from a yarn winding incident), or I ask my husband to help me out and raise his hands.

Last night I came home from work and decided to break open my Fleece Artist yarn from the Knitter’s Frolic and start knitting a pair of socks… after the skein was wound into a ball. Sounded simple enough. My husband was near the sewing area so I enlisted his help and he patiently obliged. At first the yarn came off the skein super smoothly and it looked like this skein would be wound up in record time (I thought that, but I didn’t tempt fate by saying it out loud.) After a little bit, the yarn started catching but we patiently endured. A few minutes later there was a minor tangle which I worked out and then we were off and winding again.

I thought about taking a picture of my husband and the yarn for the blog, but I didn’t want to push my luck since all was going smoothly, and then… a super tangle jumped off the skein. Noooo, this is not good. Knowing how bad a super tangle can get (thinking of you Meredith), I immediately stopped everything, gently took the yarn off my husband’s hands and draped it over a chair.

Next up, I started to pick away at the tangle, winding the yarn slowly, one little bit at a time. The tangle began to solidify making it more and more challenging to unwind. Next I had to resort in trying to approach the tangle from the other end of the skein. Since I only have one ball winder, I needed to wind the other end by hand, slowly passing the ball of yarn over and under different loops to work through the tangle.

Finally, after two hours of patient work, I managed to produce this wonderful ball of yarn.

The bonus is that it fits perfectly into my yarn bowl.

Lesson learned – don’t ever count your yarn before it is wound.

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