Wednesday, 20 February 2008


I've written before about reusing swatches; ripping them out, rewashing the yarn and winding it up to use again. It stems partly from growing up with a mother born during the rationing of post-war England, and partly my own squirrelly instinct. It's also a matter of making this sybaritic hobby of mine go a little further, feeling that I can just about justify buying luxurious yarn if I spin it out to the very last inch. And, of course, it's due to my timorous insistence on swatching for absolutely everything.

When I was knitting D's Welsh Hiking Scarf last summer I thought about how much time I spent swatching, unravelling, reskeining, washing and finally winding the yarn again, and took photos as I went along, thinking about writing it up at some point. I worked out that the whole process - from first stitch to rewound ball of yarn - took me about two hours.

Now, thanks to these...

... turning these

... into these

took me less than ten minutes.

For Christmas, one of my best friends gave me a ball-winder. It is a funny, ugly little thing that looks like so much plastic - and yet.

It means that the half hour I wanted to spend curled up on the sofa knitting, I can actually spend knitting, instead of coiling part of a skein around a tubular object. It means that instead of planning projects around when I can be in with time to wind up yarn, I can choose something at a moment's notice and be out of the house with the right needles and a brand new ball of yarn in twenty minutes. It means rather than winding yarn being a task to fit in somewhere, sometime, it becomes the start of an exciting new project.

Thank you, Anna, for that inexpressibly precious and seemingly ungiveable of gifts: time.


minifig said...

New word learnt today: sybaritic. Thanks!

Ashley said...

Hands down the most brilliant knitting invention ever, no?

Julia said...

I love ball winders! I still have to drive to the nearest shop, wherever I am, if I want to wind a skein. Last time I wound one up, and now I realize I want the other color instead, so I have to go back! I should invest in a winder.

Anna said...

Aw - my pleasure, my dear! xx

Anonymous said...

This is a nice reminder of what a luxury it can be to have afforded a ball winder, and how important it is to have an extra few minutes in life. I tend to wind skeins by hand or on lap-with-ballwinder, in part because I am always putting the swift away and in part because the swift is not very good.

Kate said...

I've had a lovely wooden swift forever but once I had a ball winder and the ball winder went down a black hole.

Recently, years later,I acquired a new ball winder but I don't love it for the saving of time - I love it for the neatness.

I turn the handle very slowly, I feed the yarn through my fingers, I enjoy every slow second of the formation of the perfect "cake" of yarn.

Do you think there's something wrong with me?

the daily purl said...

I love the photos in this post - beautiful light and composition.