The Yarn Whisperer

I’m a knitter and a crocheter.  So what?  Well, this means I work with yarn.  And over recent years I have been noticing an interesting, and sometimes frustrating, phenomenon with the yarn I work with.  (Admittedly, it may seem less interesting to those of you who don’t work with yarn)

Now I don’t know if it’s because the yarn is in too close a proximity to a shaman, or if it’s because, with my penchant for working with natural fibres, the yarn still remembers being part of a sheep , or if it’s some other reason (I’m open to suggestions – other than getting rid of the yarn), but my yarn seems to be developing  a mind of it’s own.

And not a passive, excessively obliging mind either – dammit!  No, my yarn is proving to be as stubborn, bloody-minded, persistant and difficult as the woman who buys it – go figure!  Only more patient – because it is becoming plain that some of this yarn is willing to wait years for the right project to come along, and it doesn’t care how many times I try to use it before then (the worst case is up to at least 5 ripping outs – I’ve lost the will to keep counting) nor how hard my other crafty friends laugh at me for trying to use it again and again (“Ohhhhh, you’re working on THAT yarn again?  What’s it’s going to be THIS time?”)

I first noticed this with a couple of different project lots of yarn.  Whatever I knitted just would not work out:  I’d run out of yarn, the garment would “go peculiar” or I’d lose interest  – even when knitting my favourite yarn in my favourite colour and a pattern I really, really liked, which made my deeply suspicious.  Especially when it keep happening, and the pile of projects that weren’t working kept growing.

[Actually, when I stop and think, I may be onto something with the sheep theory.  Because wool yarn figures prominently amongst my hardest to knit yarns, and adding mohair (from goats) seems to make it worse.  We won’t discuss the camel yarn which I haven’t been allowed to even swatch yet.  Although I was allowed to roll it into a ball – a year ago!  Yet the cotton or bamboo blends are usually much more obliging.  Don’t ask about the silk, though.]

So, I am slowly learning to be a Yarn Whisperer (like a Horse Whisperer – only weirder).

Yes, I have started talking to my yarn, and perhaps more importantly, I’m learning to listen to it (with my guts and my soul, rather than my ears though).  And I’m learning:

  • to touch,  hold and listen (and only then buy)
  • to swatch, hold and listen (and only then start the project)
  • to work, hold and listen (and keep listening as I go, just in case it changes its mind – again!)

And I am learning that if I listen closely and all is well, the yarn will be gently purring…

Slowly but surely, I am learning and remembering that learning.  And as I do, my knitting and crochet slowly but surely improves, as does the satisfaction I get both from the process of production and from the finished items.

And I have had some successes.  For example:

Taj wears the knitted Neo-Victorian collar; Pingu wears the handspun crochet neck-warmer

The collar Taj the tiger is modelling worked on the first go – after much discussion with the base yarn (a lovely place neutral wool/cashmere blend which you can see around Taj’s shoulders).  Although I did have to agree to let it choose the contrast yarn and buttons.  *sigh*

Pingu’s neck warmer was a bit harder – I had to design as I went, which can take a bit longer as it does tend to involve more ripping back and re-doing.  But it’s lovely now it’s done!  (The yarn wasn’t spun by me, but by a good friend).

Currently on my needles is yarn that I have tried to crochet three times before now.  But it has finally decided to become knitted lace – I hope!   I’ll let you know how it goes…


Author: verdant1

belly dancer, mother, student, public servant, shaman, knitter, sister, feminist, gardener and a lot more...

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