30 August 2011

churchill on knitting (...sort of)

Lesson learnt: don't make a man help you with something that he really doesn't want to do. Even if he is the most patient man on earth, and he once took an oath to do everything you say (that's what those vows were mostly about, right?) he can still find a way of turning into a grumpy teenager.

I will never ask my husband to hold hanks of yarn while I wind knitting balls again. Almost immediately his arms drooped and his fingers curled into claws that made it virtually impossible. For a painful three quarters of an hour, the only phrases uttered were:
[me] "can you hold it taut please"
[me] "no, not that tight, I do need to be able to get it off"
[him] "I'm only doing exactly what you said"
[me] "I can do this over the back of a chair you know, I just thought you might be more effective because you are an actual person and everything".

And yes, we're still talking about wool here.

I suspect the dialogue was similar 25 years ago when Mum used to hoodwink me into the same chore. Bottom line, winding wool is just not fun. But all the best stuff comes in hanks, so it's a necessary evil. I'm hopeless at it so if you have any hints, please, do tell.

Anyway, all that super fancy yarn is for another Different lines shawl. (Pattern by Veera Valimaki, you can find it on Ravelry. I LOVE this pattern. I may never make anything else.) I've finished the first effort, a practice run in cheap dk yarn (that I started in this post). It's turned out with the size, heft and drape of a small blanket rather than a scarf. But I have a lovely, shabby, grey tweed armchair back home in Scotland, and this will look great one day, artfully draped over the back of it (amateurishly modelled here by a nasty, beige, polyester rented armchair).

So now I'm on to the real deal scarf, in beautiful fingering weight yarn (as per the pattern) and it is going to be amazeballs. Viola superwash merino, hand dyed in Canada, in colours called raven (dark navy/grey) and radioactive (chartreuse/lime). I'm toying with the idea of picking out one of the stripes in hot pink (it clashes quite nicely in that top photo), perhaps the third largest stripe?

I found a quote in my current bedside-table book, Mimi and Toutou go forth, from Churchill on the monotony of a sea voyage. I think it could equally apply to the repetitive meditation that is knitting.
For a time we drop out of the larger world, with its interests and its obligations, and become the independent citizens of a tiny state... / ...Here during a period which is too long while it lasts, too short when it is over, we may placidly reflect on the busy world that lies behind and the tumult that is before us.
I bet Churchill would have been good at holding hanks for the missus.

Linking in with the lovely people at Small things' Yarn Along.


  1. That scarf/blanket is gorgeous! I love it! I may have to make one now.

    I couldn't even try to convince my husband to help with anything yarn-related. He just sorta tunes out until I start talking about dinner again.

  2. maybe you can get a marriage saving yarn swift? i love to hand wind balls but sometimes it's just a lot more convienient to wind it up with a swift and winder!

    i love your veera shawl,i have the pattern also, i'm looking forward to making it!

  3. Thanks Katy and Lori Ann, I must say, I'm quite pleased with how the blanket turned out. And it's so easy to make.

    And hey, Katy, you're my 5th follower in my short blogging experience - welcome along! We've almost got a little team going on here now (and a very multicultural one at that!). Check out the blogs by the others (when the gadget is working, which doesn't seem to be that often) they're really great.

  4. I am laughing because I can totally relate, I asked my husband to help me wind yarn once and haven't asked for his help ever since..

  5. help with yarn winding that is lol..

  6. The scarf/blanket is really pretty, I've never seen that pattern before but I like it.

    I've used boyfriend for yarn winding purposes before, but even though he is perfectly good at it, he gets so panicky that he'll screw it up that it's easier to do it over my knees instead!

  7. That is funny. I just downloaded Veera's shawl last week to put on my to-do list. It is beautiful looking. As for winding, you could use a swift. But then again, sometimes I use a swift and certain yarns get stuck and I have to rewind everything by hand into a ball. I've use chairs and knees before.

  8. Beautiful knitting, I'm looking forward to seeing the next finished one!
    I am super lucky to have married an expert yarn winder, but it's hard without one! :)

  9. Your knitting is beautiful..I love the colors you used for your blanket.


    A Knitters Notebook

  10. I always employ two kitchen chairs back to back to hold my yarn while I ball it up. Just makes life a little easier. Lovely shawl!!

  11. That blanket is gorgeous. I just love it.

    I think I like your writing a bit more, though. Will you be my friend? (grin)

  12. Fam; that's funny! I like your post-script a lot ;0)

    Pinkundine; he worries about getting it wrong?! Wow - you have him well trained.

    Ellen; That's just it, I reckon I'd be hopeless with a ball winding gadgety thing - I'd get in even more of a tangle! Kitchen chairs backed togather is going to have to do for now, a la Swanski.

    Renee; thanks for the lovely comment.

    Swanski; thanks for becoming a follower ;0) I know I've said it before but I just LOVE the name of your blog. Gorgeous.

    And Gretchen; H-E-L-L-O! Best comment of my short blogging life so far! I've been checking out your blog already today. Feel welcome to c'mon over here any time!

  13. I've used chairs when I've had hanks to deal with. Knit Picks had Italian made swifts on sale for $50--still a bit out of our price range for a non-essential right now.

    The little lap blanket is wonderfully funky! I love its shape!

  14. You post made me laugh. Been there, done that. Finally broke down and bought myself a swift and yarn ball winder.

  15. i bet you are right. he would have been. with an understanding like that! lol. good luck on the scarf for wear, i can't wait to see it!


  16. Two words: yarn swift.

    I finally broke down and bought one (on sale at almost half off the price) because my husband was similarly grumpy & the arms of the chair just aren't as flexible as I wanted them to be.

    I love the colors in your top photo... xo

  17. Oh your chat with your husband had me giggling. I second a yarn swift.

  18. Thanks for all the lovely comments Stitch'n'Purl, both Jens, Meghann & Elizabeth! I've just spent an indulgent hour browsing all your lovely writings (see that "Audience: Singapore" on your blogstats? At least one of them is me. Hello!)

    Because of that I am still in my fitness gear but I'm sitting on my rear drinking tea and have yet to break a sweat. Proof that blogging may be bad for your health.


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