The Wedding Shawl – Part 2

Ninnawe:  I am ready to begin the shawl.

My paternal grandmother, who managed a yarn store for years, taught me to knit.   She always admonished me to wind my own skeins and she was a big believer in feeling every inch of the yarn. She warned me that just the time you take a short-cut and start knitting off the skein or ball as it is, you will find a knot or imperfection at an inopportune place in your project.

So, my habit is to open the hank of yarn, hang it around my neck, and start unlooping it as I rewind it into a loose, quishy ball. (Yarns like Opal and Regia that come already wound into a skein get the same rewinding treatment — sometimes twice, depending on the stripe pattern.)

I hear Grandma in my brain:

  • “Lay the yarn down loosely.”
  • “Let gravity do the work.”
  • “Tight winding is death to wool.”

Grandma didn’t have a swift or a ball winder to my knowledge.  My winding method, developed over the years, takes more time than using a swift and a ball winder, but I get to feel every inch of the yarn. Whenever I wind, I wonder if there are others out there like me … who need to feel the yarn first. No matter. I do it because it works for me.

I pour myself a Diet Coke, ease into my knitting chair, turn on an episode of The First 48 or Hoarders on my DVR, hang the hank of yarn around my neck and begin the winding process. The rhythm of it all is nice … unwind 8 to 10 loops, then run the yarn through my fingers as I rewind into a ball. I can pay attention to the TV, yet get a feel for the yarn. Ninety-nine percent of the time, all goes well. It takes me just about one episode to wind 400 yards of yarn (running the commercials in fast forward).

Alas, something goes horribly wrong with the skein of Heritage Silk. Evidently I have pulled more than one loop of yarn over my head at a time, and now the darned thing is hopelessly tangled.  Every time I try to reloop or figure out the tangle, it gets worse.  All knitters know how this turns out. There is no other choice but to settle in and untangle as I go. Two hours later I have my nice squishy ball of ivory yarn.

The next day, though, I return to my LYS store to have them wind the second skein of ivory yarn. Habits, schmabits. If I do need to use that second skein, I will just pay extra attention as I am knitting. No need to be anal about this touching-winding stuff.

My pattern? Spring Thaw Shawl from Ravelry

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