Wednesday, June 11, 2008

yarn crisis! call the wah-mbulance!

Last night I dyed more yarn. This has been the plan since I didn't un-disaster-fy the kitchen after the last dye-fest--I figured I'd just have to set it all up again to dye more, which I definitely needed to do, so why bother. That's all fine and well, except of course there have been all these delays of various sorts, so I didn't get started until around 8:00. I hope to reduce the time it takes me to do this by a lot as time goes on, but for now that's pretty dang late to be starting a dye job. But my husband is getting back into town tomorrow, so it would really be best if the entire house wasn't completely trashed with yarn stuff by then. Also I've taken over his bathroom for the drying station, which will not work when he's here. I decided to just go ahead and do it--I haven't been to bed before 11:30 since I've been on these drugs anyway.
I had a good time dyeing--that went great. I have a decent process going, I just need to streamline it a bit, but I was in the zone and happy. Finished around midnight, very tired but pleased. Then I remembered I'm supposed to take some of the yarn from the first batch and wind it into two separate skeins for the test knitting. I have had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind this whole time that something could go wrong with that process, so even though I was exhausted, I figured I'd better just do it in case something went wrong.
My plan was to wind the double-strand skein into a ball, then from the ball wind one strand onto my skein winder and the other onto the ball winder, and then wind the half-skein on the skein winder into a ball, making sure to get the same end into the middle of both balls. So I went through all the yarns and picked my favorite.

I liked it a lot in skein form, but there in the ball, all shiny and with the colors interweaving like that... the only way to express it is with the Italian expression "ti mangio vivo!" which is literally, "I want to eat you alive!" but, you know, in a good way. There was my magnum opus in all its luscious yarny splendor, full of potential and joy.
Then I tried to execute the plan of winding the yarn from the ball onto the skein winder and ball winder. I'm surprised I didn't wake up the whole planet with my mood crash. The process of winding the yarn into the ball resulted in the two strands being twisted together, and not just a little. The only possible way to execute my plan would be to stand there turning the ball around and around while feeding the yarn off of it, and meanwhile cranking the ball winder (and keeping an even tension to prevent mid-ball meltoff) and turning the skein winder evenly so that it doesn't keep turning around and dropping the yarn back off itself. So picture the scene: it's now 1 am, I haven't slept more than three hours a night in 11 days, and I did four hours of dyeing before starting this task, which would require about six arms to do properly. Yeah. It went that well.
I totally freaked out. Also, I was afraid that the two strands were somehow inherently twisted together and every single skein (all 23!) was like this and it would take all night to wind just one skein, if it could even be done that quickly, so basically it would be quicker and cheaper to actually throw away all 23 skeins, scrap the idea of matching socks, and start over. And of course there is nothing in the world that seemed more important at that moment than getting this yarn to the test knitters this morning, which was 100% gee-golly impossible. But the 23 useless skeins of yarn were what loomed large, especially after having seen how absolutely gorgeous they could be with the colors interacting, as opposed to all lined up as they were dyed.
Well, it did occur to me that the ball winding is where the twist came from, so I tried just laying a skein out on the table and winding off that. But it turns out that doing it that way also introduces twist, only I was too tired to see it. I tried a series of absurd machinations before finally declaring defeat, bursting into tears, wailing loudly, having a total meltdown, and going to bed. Incredibly, I did manage to sleep some, and I had an inspiration.

That's lampshade-as-swift yarn source, with clothespin divisions on the destination skein winder to allow me to wind two parallel skeins while turning only one thing. If I had more clothespins to hold the yarn onto the lampshade, or a bigger lampshade, it might actually have been feasible to do the whole ball this way. I definiitely wouldn't say it works well, but it was enough to prove to myself that this yarn is not ruined and I can wind it just fine if I get a swift or another skein winder. Phew! to the tenth order of magnitude with a cherry on top. Seriously, the one that I wound into a ball, even someone who knits two socks at a time wouldn't want because they'd have to be untwisting the ball all the time. It really was awful.
So, this brings me to my new plan. In the process of winding the 23 skeins I have done so far, I haven't suffered, but I have had to really concentrate to make sure I get the right number of turns of yarn to get the size skein I'm trying to make. That has meant that when anyone called and I was supposed to be winding skeins, all yarn production shut down, which is what caused the lateness of last night's dyeing session. Little Barn carries a skein winder that has a counter, and I considered buying it when I bought the skein winder I have, but at the time I thought it was kind of expensive, and it's not pretty. I went on Etsy and bought one that was smaller, cheaper, and looked pretty on the internet. However, when it arrived, it's actually not all that pretty either, and it really doesn't matter. Well, every time I see it, I want to refinish it, but I doubt I will. And if I do, I'll do the new one while I'm at it! The counting functionality is worth it.


Anonymous said...

Did you know that you can fit a bicycle odometer to your skein winder? I did it, and it works really well, and you can peick up basic odometers really cheaply!
By the way, this is Ingrid from Yarn Workshop.

Sarah said...

Winding the yarn from the LizzieP's skein was quick, easy, and disaster-free. All it took was a swift, two ballwinders, and two people to operate them.

Cara said...

Sarah, I'm so glad to hear that!
Ingrid, a bicycle odometer--what a good idea! How do you connect it?

Anonymous said...

If you look for skein winder on my personal blog, you can see the instructions. There is a little maths, but its pretty easy.