Sunday, November 18, 2012

The right tool for the job

Given all the sweaters I unravel, I really needed a yarn swift. The expanding metal ones left me cold, as did the wooden ones. All I could picture was them collapsing in the middle of the job, leaving a tangled mess of yarn.

A friend of mine, George, is a carpenter, so I approached him about making a swift for me. My specs were that I had to be able to wind two-yard skeins and that I had to be able to use it both horizontally and vertically.

Last weekend I picked up George's masterpiece. Here it is set up horizontally.
And here it is set up vertically.
Obviously I can't use it in the vertical orientation as shown here. I just took the picture to show that it can be done.

This is my model for this photoshoot, a lovely lavender sweater of silk, angora, and nylon.

The first thing you do is attach the end of the yarn to one of the pegs.

This is my preferred unraveling position: fabric clamped between my knees so that I can pull the yarn alternating between my left and right hand ... like a maniac.
I unravel several yards of yarn and just let it fall where it will. I'm not fussy about it. The leaves are easy to pick out, and I'll be washing the skeined yarn once I'm done anyway.
The only caveat I can give is that you don't want to get too excited and have, like, 20 yards of yarn sitting in a heap. Since you'll be winding on by pulling from the bottom of that heap, the more yardage you have lying there, the more likely you'll create a tangled mess. As always, your mileage may vary; however, I've learned my lesson. :o)

As I wind the yarn on, if I come to an end, I just tie on a new end, being sure to leave a noticeable tail to make it easier to spot when I'm knitting.
As I go, I push the yarn down to the bottom of the pegs to keep the loops exactly where they need to be: on the peg.
Once I've wound enough on or have finished a piece of fabric, I tie the skein in four places using the scrap yarn I've saved from the reclaiming process.
I use a figure eight and knot loosely. If I find that the two ends of the yarn are close enough that I can use them to tie the skein, I do it, but I finish by putting them in a bow. That way I know not to just cut the knot willy nilly when I'm ready to turn the skein into a ball.
Once it's tied off, I pull off my beautiful skein, ready to be washed.
Is it any wonder that I unravel sweaters? For just $3.75 at my local Goodwill, I can magically produce a sweater's worth (natch!) of yarn. All I have to put into it is a bit of work -- totally worth the effort!

And if I come across, say, a cashmere sweater that fits me ... that baby's coming home with me!

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