A Love Knit Up

Monday, May 15, 2006


I don't generally give advice (as I need it much more often than I can give it!) but here is something I learned today.

Suppose (like me) you at one point did not have a ball winder and swift, and therefore you valiantly rolled balls by hand out of all of the yarn that you used. Suppose, that after a certain period you obtained a ball winder and swift. And, one day, you look at all of your balls of yarn and think "Wouldn't it be nice to wind all of these into center-pull balls? I wouldn't even need to use the swift!"

Let me tell you what you should do at this point. You should go out, buy some embroidery floss, and start an oversized pullover. Or pull out your nails with a pair of pliers. Or maybe just jump down a flight of stairs. Because, all in all, all of this will be less pain than what you would be subjected to if you tried to put your plan into action and wind all of those balls. A ball of yarn that is quickly being unwound (say, by putting its end in a ball winder and turning the crank) jumps around like mad. It jumps as high as four feet in the air, picks up all sorts of dust and dirt, and tangles around any furniture within sight (even if it's several feel away from where you originally put the ball of yarn).

When I saw that this was happening (not that I tried this, of course, this is all a theoretical discussion) I tried putting the ball of yarn into a bag and closing the bag almost all the way (so that I could still pull the yarn out). What happens when you (theoretically) do this is that the ball of yarn jumps up, catches on whatever is holding the bag closed, and sits up there, next to the hole, adamantly refusing to unwind.

Next, I tried putting the ball into an empty garbage can. I figured that the ball won't jump out of it that quickly, and that I don't mind putting in back in occasionally. It turned out, however, that balls of yarn are very very good at climbing up the walls of garbage cans and jumping out. The first time it jumped out was two seconds after I started turning the crank. The second time it jumped out was five seconds after that (the first four being taken up by me finding the ball (where it wedged itself under the armchair across the room) and putting it back in the garbage can. The garbage can tactic was clearly not working.

In the end, I ended up solving the problem by putting the ball back in the bag, and holding the bag closed with my hand, so that I could push the ball back down when it would jump up. Seven balls of wool later, I have a friction burn on my hand, my other hand is really tired from turning the crank on the ball winder and jerking at the yarn when it tangled, and my usually-neat center-pull balls are crazy contraptions with loops of yarn jutting all over the place. I think pulling my nails out would have been easier, faster, and less painful.

But now I can use this damned wool for making felted bowls.


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