A few years ago I remember reading this post on Amanda Blake Soule’s ‘Soulemama’ blog. In it, her husband describes the great anticipation followed by excitement surrounding the arrival of a yarn swift. I have to say that, while it obviously stuck it my mind for me to recall it now, at the time I didn’t really get what the fuss was about.
It was probably because the vast majority of my yarn then came in the balls that are more traditional in this country. When I did get a yarn that came in a skein, it was enough of a novelty that I didn’t really mind the process of winding it into a ball myself. It felt quaintly old fashioned to have to persuade my husband to sit patiently with the skein looped around his hands, a link to some Dickensian-style domestic past. There was also the fact that, while not ridiculously expensive, a yarn swift and ball winder would have represented a fairly hefty non-yarn investment in my hobby.
So here we are a few years on and this week I found myself in the same state of excitement, waiting for the post to arrive, trying to calculate “If it’s 2-3 working days to deliver, then it’s first class post, the earliest it could get here would be…” all over a yarn swift and ball-winder.
I’m not sure if the tide is turning in this country with skeins versus balls (I’ve been told that it’s better for yarns to be stored in skeins as the fibre is more relaxed than when wound into balls) or whether it’s just that the kind of yarn I’m using these days has shifted more towards those you buy in skeins- indie dyers, US brands etc. Whatever the reason, I’d found myself winding enough skeins that the novelty had definitely worn off.
Not always able to find a willing pair of hands to hold them, usually the skeins were ending up being wound from round my knees, while I adopted the sort of inelegant, legs akimbo pose best suited to a maternity ward. Inevitably, on most occasions I would end up tangling the yarn, which when dealing with a skein is fatal , and could easily spend an hour cursing and picking out knots.
Now that at least some of the money I bring into the household comes from knitting, I realised that apart from anything else, I could justify a yarn swift because it would free up valuable work time. Furthermore, if I used some of the money I’d earned from designing, it was really investing it back into the business. Finally, after dithering about for far too long (because they’re not that expensive, but still…) I ended up at Loop’s gorgeous website. It’s a tribute to my self control that I only ordered the swift and the winder, as I’m sure when I finally make it to the real-life shop I can see myself going nuts and spending far too much.
Oooh, it was worth the wait! I love my new toy and, as you can see, other members of the family are quite keen too. It must be the first time I’ve had my little boy ask me when I’m going to get some more yarn, as he wants to have another go. With it now taking minutes rather than hours to wind even the 100g skeins of 4ply shown in these pictures into neat, satisfyingly weighty cakes, sanity as well as knitting time has been restored.
As you can see, I’m keeping up my ‘one felt cube per day’ target. Meanwhile, I’ve realised that to hit the next birthday deadline, I’m going to have to put tea-cosies on hold for a bit. Also, as the recipient of said birthday knitting reads this blog I’m not going to be able post work in progress pictures!
Instead, here are some bits and pieces from a few months ago. They are both based on projects in Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home. I’m not going to wax lyrical here about this book, but suffice to say that I love her first book, The Creative Family, and her blog. I was really excited about Handmade Home coming out and I haven’t been disappointed. It’s her fault I’ve got a whole heap of charity shop and worn out clothing fabrics ready for future projects. The mouse-mat pictured was made from a hand-embroidered linen cloth (maybe an antimacassar) found in a charity shop, along with some fabric left over from a dress I made earlier this year. The curtain (much needed as our bathroom doesn’t have frosted glass!) is two unused muslin burp cloths with crochet doilies, again from a charity shop, tacked on. In the book, Amanda used a similar idea to show off vintage handkerchiefs. As she suggests, I’ve been looking around for what we really need in our house so I can decide on future makes. So far… a back door mat (I want to do the braided rag rug), a TV remote control tidy and some nicer bathroom mats. Add them to the to-do list!