This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Yarn Gets Notional

What happens when the gorgeous, expensive, silky-merino yarn you bought for a project (two, actually, scarves for a soon-to-be-married couple) fights you even while you're casting on? I tried casting on this afternoon and couldn't get the right number of stitches, the yarn kept splitting when I tried to knit it, and this was after trying to cast on six different times.

I have heard it said, by knitters who are much more experienced than I, who are, in fact, better knitters than I will ever be (which doesn't mean I don't try to push my limits, but I'm still scared stupid by Estonian lace), who are adamant in their belief that if the yarn doesn't want to be the project you intend for it to be, then it won't happen. And if it does happen, then it will be a long road of sorrowful knitting.

As an atheist, I have a hard time giving agency to yarn (never mind the Universe, so don't let's talk about karma, 'kay?). It's an inanimate object. I bought it to knit up some scarves for my friends, and while I have a pretty limitless stash, I don't have the right colours (purple for him, and red for him) in the same type of yarn. (Yes, I'm making matching scarves: fibre, pattern, number of stitches. Deal with it.) I could buy more yarn, but I'm trying to de-stash, not re-stash. But back to my main point (yes, I do have one). Does the yarn tell us what it wants to be? What if we want it to be one thing, and it wants to be something else? Who wins? I mean, I paid good money for this stuff, and to have it be so recalcitrant is quite unnerving. Can it be balky, and not take the shape we want for it? If I don't knit this stuff up into the scarves I'm planning, then I really won't have any use for it. I have four skeins, two in each colour, and I got the last two of the purple. Returning it is not an option, since one skein of each colour has been wound (and cast on, and cast on, and cast on, and cast. . . well, you get the picture). I want to know just who this yarn thinks it is that it can be so defiant and not knit up into what I picture it to be, nice warm scarves for people I care about. If yarn can get notional about what it wants to be knit up into, what happens when I buy enough of something to make a sweater, and it decides it really wants to be a shawl? Cheeky.

I will admit that I was having a bad day, and while I was knitting with the small group, one of the knitters was being very unsure of her project and kept asking me about yarn choices, pattern choices, needle choices, methods of felting (about which I am no expert, having felted only once, not that she was making a felting project, and besides, she was knitting with a yarn that was 75% acrylic), and I probably should have realised that I was not going to get any of my own work done today and just focused on her questions (which is not my job, I know, but sometimes you just have to suck it up).

So maybe the yarn was not doing what I wanted it to do because I was having a bad day, and I was distracted by the questions of a not-really-newbie knitter who was anxious about her yarn choices (she doesn't understand my dislike (read: disdain) of yarns that are acrylic), and who wanted to talk about patterns while I was trying to count stitches I'd just cast on.

Or maybe the yarn really doesn't want to become a scarf for my friend, and I'm really screwed.

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