Thursday, 25 July 2013
Dan Bergstein may not know how to knit, but he can make a how-to-knit video because he has a videocam and a YouTube account and it's a free country and all that. Check out Knitting 101 for instructions on how to make a scarf the Dan Bergstein way, and for Dan's words of wisdom, which include, "It's okay to pull real hard, cause it's yarn. Yarn can't feel pain," and, "We're not making mistakes; we're making experiences."
Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Franklin Habit, the blogger responsible for The Panopticon and for the 2009 Guys With Yarn calendar, has created a Tumblr for yarnshaming. You know what yarn he'll shame: that yarn that looked nice in the store, but that let you down by immediately pilling horribly, or shrinking, or making you break out in a rash, or collecting every human and pet hair within a block, or being full of splices, or turning out to be a bad dye lot, or having hand-dyed colours that looked so beautiful in the skein but knitted up like some horrible seventies afghan, or that you never bought at all but have because someone gave it to you and the person keeps asking what you're going to do with it.
I remember two yarns in particular I'd like to shame. There was a pale ice green chenille yarn that looked luscious and soft on the ball but that turned out to be basically thread covered in fuzz. I could easily break it with just my hands. I couldn't do any ravelling out of stitches at all without it showing (the fuzz would get wadded up leaving bare segments of thread), and since it broke so easily the things I made with it were soon full of runs. The store where I bought it only stocked it for a short time since no one who tried it would work with it twice. As one of the sales women told me coyly, "The customers who bought it come back in to the store using certain words to describe it." I can't remember the brand name but it doesn't matter as I don't think it's even in production any more.
The other yarn I hated working with was Mary Maxim's Mellowspun. I bought some several years ago to make a sweater for a friend's little boy. I’d never used it before, and was initially impressed with the beautiful shades it came in and how lovely it felt to work with. And it's bargain priced. But damn, did it ever collect HAIR. My hair, my cat Trlby’s hair, my neighbour’s dog hair from three doors down the street. I'd never seen anything like it. I was constantly ripping hairs out of it as I worked on it. I washed it when I was done and still had to pick out more hair after it came out of the dryer. Never again. And I think I'm going to go through my stash soon and weed out any yarn that I really don't like. Life is too short and knitting time too limited to waste on bad yarn.
If you've got any bad yarn stories, feel free to share them in the comments!
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Even the most experienced of us make mistakes in laundering. I have two stories about sweater shrinkage. The Christmas my niece Clementine was five, I gave her a pink angora/mohair sweater I'd knitted for her. Clementine only got to wear it once. I had told my sister-in-law not to put in the dryer, but she did and it shrank several sizes and had to be given to Clementine's two-year-old sister. My sister-in-law reported that "there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth" on Clementine's part, adding to my mother, who lives half an hour's drive from my brother and sister-in-law's farm, "I'm surprised you didn't hear her screaming from here." After that I never gave my sister-in-law's children any items that needed special care. She had three children under six and it just wasn't fair to saddle her with extra work.
Then circa 2003, I, who until that point had never ruined anything in the wash in my life, shrank three sweaters in a six-week stretch. Fortunately they were thrift shop finds rather than handmade, but still. One was completely trashed but the other two shrank down into perfectly proportioned little sweaters, so I gave them to my niece Peaches, who was then about seven. I was told she got lots of wear out of them. And, for the next two or three years, Peaches would occasionally ask me, very hopefully, "Aunt Orange, did you shrink anything else in the wash lately?"
Do you have any horror stories about the time you shrank a hand-knitted item? Feel free to spill them in the comments section. There's nothing like laughing at someone else's hapless shrinkage story to make one feel better about one's own.