OK, I can’t resist a groan-inducing pun, but if you’ve ever found yourself converting skeins to balls, then you know what I mean. Skeins can tangle. They require a 2nd pair of hands (or a chair back / ironing board / door handle) for holding. Plus, winding balls of yarn is… not very mentally engaging.
In all honesty, I kind of like doing it. (It is meditative when you do it on your own and a good excuse for a chat if borrowing hands.) Despite this admission, it’s also fact of life that I suffer from “skein resistance”, where skeins build up in the yarn stash, unused, because I can’t be bothered dealing with them.
So, I finally did something useful with a discount voucher I had lying around and invested in a ball winder.
*Insert emphatic sigh of relief.*
A day of hanging skeins off the ironing board and winding them into tidy balls of yarn-y goodness has removed all skeins! And it was so simple. If only I’d known earlier (should have listened to my mum… she suggested it ages ago).
Best of all, I can now plan a project using some hand-spun yarn that I picked up at the local agricultural show last year. It’s unique in my stash and I’m excited to see how it weaves. Mind you, I did my wraps, pull test and weighed it etc, only to discover it’s a 10-12 ply, not suitable for warp and I have nearly 600m of it… so it’s going to go a loooong way!
I might have mentioned there was a yarn audit going on recently. Turns out I have 160 different types of yarn comprised of 200 untouched balls/skeins and around 50 “too big to be called thrums” leftovers from previous projects.
It feels about the right size for me. Enough that I won’t have to run out to get matching colours for the weft-only yarns, and enough that I can’t possibly get bored!
The funny, and maybe a little sad, thing was discovering just how many of my stash yarns have been discontinued. Now, some companies keep things fresh with short-run fancies etc and that makes perfect sense, but I was surprised at the range that have passed into stash-history over the 2.5 years I’ve been weaving!
I often buy a single ball of a yarn, but maybe I should buy more in future? Maybe not…the upside of just one ball is I mix yarns a lot more and have to be creative in their use! Which of course suits me perfectly.
The plan now is to never have to audit my yarn again (it took days!) and just update my trusty spreadsheet as I use yarn and, well, buy more, because we all know that’ll happen!!
Another strange discovery in this process was that some yarn stores are bad at recording what they’ve sold you. I appear to have 2 balls of a very expensive yarn for free (!) and there were other cases where I was charged for the wrong thing though the price was close enough. I should probably stop making small talk with the staff while they ring-up my purchases…
I think it was inevitable. The moment I decided to re-acquaint myself with all the weaving info I accrued in the first crazy months of my passion (obsession?), I fell head-first into what a weaver friend of mine calls wanting to weave ALL THE THINGS.
This is true: About 5 minutes into remembering why I have separate folders for ‘patterns’, ‘drafts’, ‘ideas’ and ‘techniques’ I was already planning about seven scarves. Then, of course it’s xmas and everything is on sale, so I bought yarn.
I have cupboards full of yarn. I did not need any more yarn. But… I didn’t feel I had the right yarn for the first thing I believe I’m going to weave just as soon as I give the craftroom a really, really thorough vacuuming. Yes well.
Good thing was (aside from getting 20% off) that I only bought two skeins and that’ll do for this new project. Of course it does mean that I now absolutely have to weave this project first, to justify buying the new yarn. Hmm… Have to love the way the brain works, don’t you?
Anyway, the yarn is Manos del Uruguay, Clasica 12 ply in a lovely blue and mauve vari and a natural cream/white.
And what will be the fate of this lovely yarn? You’ll have to wait and see. It’s a bit of an experiment, so it could all go very badly, but I suspect it’ll be an attractive ruin even if it does!
A final note for this post… when I went back through the stack of documents I collected (mostly from the internet) about weaving back at the start, I found a post I’d saved which at the time meant nothing to me. I liked the example cloth in the pics but it might have well been written in Venusian. This time I opened it, read it and at the end when ‘aaah, that’s how you do that’ *grin*
As I mentioned at the very start of this blog I’m a long-time knitter, but I got tired of how long knitting took. Not because I don’t love knitting, but because I was mostly weaving for charities, my inability to wear wool limiting the scope of knitting for myself.
This meant I did have a small stash of yarn when I started weaving. What I hadn’t realised is that I had quite a few more stash balls hiding in a bag next to my couch! Well, it’s mostly part-balls and mostly 12ply, but there were some lovely red mohair leftovers and unused balls of a nice blue cotton too. Oh, and some ribbon yarn.
I possibly shouldn’t be quite so excited, but they are such different yarns to my more recently accrued stash there are new possibilities for trying things. That mohair is already on my mind…
I’ve never met a yarn-crafter who doesn’t have a slightly obsessive relationship with buying yarn. Most of us practice abstinence (i.e. yarn shop avoidance) as the only cure to this problem, to varying degrees of success.
This was something I was discussing recently with a friend who isn’t a yarn-crafter at all and she put it in a way that I thought was kind of lovely. She said that buying lovely yarn was like buying little balls of hope. That hope is that we will achieve happiness through owning/working with the yarn.
I think that’s true. Most yarn-obsessives I know take pleasure in both the actual yarn (colour/texure) and in the ideas for what to make from it. As long as you don’t fall into true hoarder territory where the yarn starts to take over your life, I think that’s probably fine!
It is well known to those yarn-ologists who study the secret habits of yarn, that balls of any kind of yarn like to roll. If they can roll off a table and onto a floor so much the better! Since I began weaving I have to say that dressing a loom and winding shuttles just seem to encourage the cheeky blighters.
So, how to tame balls of yarn?
Based on a suggestion by a friend to try capturing them in a plastic bag, I decided to take a cloth bag and one of those coat-hangers with the strap holders, to create a magical hanging enclosure. By putting each of the cloth bag’s handles onto a strap holder, you get an ever open – but not too wide – yarn trap.
It allows for easy hanging on door knobs and chair backs, with relocation as simple as can be. The balls of yarn can’t jump high enough to escape (and I think maybe the dark interior calms them).
There is one downside to this taming method… the balls of yarn are so calm and quiet that you tend to forget they’re in there. Twice balls have gone “missing” in my house only for me to later realise I’d left them in the bag! (Yarn’s revenge, maybe?)