Friday, March 23, 2012

Studio Buzzing and Purring

Here's today's purr-er: Annika Sue resting on my studio table, taking in the sun and the intense unseasonal heat amongst piles of wool.

 

It has been a long time since I have knit with any yarn but my very own Julia which is now sadly discontinued. (Just heard that Great Yarns in NC has a large stock of it. Her number is 919-832-3599 if you are looking for any particular colors.)  I have totally lost touch with what is available out there in yarn land. Having your own yarn spoils you, to say the least. I always had colors that I loved and wanted to work with at my fingertips in my favorite worsted weight which is great for two color knitting. I could be lazy and not keep up with the latest new yarns because I had what really interested me. 

Not so now..... Oh well. Change is good, as they say. Now I am on another journey. I've got to produce a large project within a few months time. Deadlines make me tick.....

 

I've been on the phone, calling old trade show buddies, asking for yarn for this project. They still remember my name which is nice.


Last week, a few boxes of yarn arrived and most of them were "put-up" into that lovely handtwisted hank skein. Lovely to look at but not so lovely to deal with when you are in a hurry and want to get knitting. 

 

Luckily, Julia and I visited our friend Cathy last weekend and she had told me ahead of time that she owned a ball winder and a umbrella swift. I brought all my yarn with me and wound and wound it. I know, you probably would think I own these tools, wouldn't you? I did at one time but no more. I left my ball winder in my old office at the yarn company I used to work at and I have not a clue where the swift has disappeared to.  Thank goodness for Cathy. It took me a good two hours but I got it all balled up and I am ready to go.

Here's the question of the day..... What do you think about "hand-twisted hanks?" Do you get seduced by their beauty and buy the yarn even though you have to wind the ball yourself? Do you shy away from them, not wanting the extra work? Or does your LYS wind it for you? Do you only buy easy-to-knit with pull-skeins of yarn? Or does the put-up not really matter to you? 

I'd love to hear what you have to say. 

Good weekend everyone!

48 comments:

phaedra96 said...

I love the look and then hand it to LYS owner to wind! Or the seller at a fiber fair. Failing that, I have several friends with the right equipment. If I am using acrylic or some such as that, I just wind it into center-pull balls by hand. I have become quite capable with that!

carol said...

I always buy what I like regardless of how it comes and hand wind center pull balls.But then.......I'm retired.

Carol

thepaintedsheep said...

put up really makes no difference to me. I bought a ball winder and swift early on when I started to knit, as it seemed like a necessity. winding balls is sort of a nice way to kick off a project.

mkg said...

I buy what I like, regardless--but frankly I'd prefer to wind my own. I prefer the sort of boxy-looking ball that comes off the ball winder.

susanknits@earthlink.net said...

I asked my husband to make me a swift that comes apart after each use so I can easily store it away. He aslo made me a nostepinne that I really enjoy using. My yarn balls stay together until the very end. I would go to the yarn store if I had to power wind like you did for this project but for my projects so far this works really well. My kids like pulling the yarn off the swift rather than having it on their arms. :)

Daisy said...

The hanks look beautiful but I always think twice because winding it is annoying. I have very little spare time to knit, so when I start a project I just want to get going. I try to save my patience for making the swatch :-)

Lee said...

I like to wind but am not very good at it. I know that sounds silly but it is true. Even with the very nice swift and ball winder at my LYS I somestimes make hash of it. But it never stops me. I think yarn (especially hand painted) looks better in the hank.

Cate said...

I don't mind winding my own. I have a pretty, wooden tabletop swift and a Japanese ball winder that I bought for my mother many years ago. I enjoy seeing how the yarn looks different in the ball than it did in the skein. Our LYS will let you wind on their winder and swift if you don't have one. And, I have a friend with one of the big ball winders when I need one.

I also like that I find knots in the yarn while winding instead of in the middle of a row and can separate it at that point.

I consider it all part of the project process.

4catstoo said...

I like the hanks, and I don't have a swift or winder. As crazy as it sounds, I find it relaxing to wind the yarn into balls by hand - I do one skein at a time, so it's not maddening, and always have the next one done when I'm mid-project

Marlaine said...

It doesn't matter to me how the yarn is put up as long as I love the yarn. I actually kind of enjoy winding yarn into balls. It gives me a chance to get to know the yarn better!

Diana said...

I used to think twice about buying hanks, esp. for a big project, but now that I've got a swift and ball winder, winding is a fun part of the project. Hanked handpainted yarns take on a totally different look when they're wound up into a ball, which is fun to see happen before my eyes.

lark said...

Good morning Kristin, What a great question to pose to your readers! I absolutely love to wind hanks into balls myself... by hand! I find it very relaxing, and if I'm lucky I can get my boyfriend to hold the yarn for me (more fun that putting it on my knees or over the back of a chair). Unfortunately our two cats also LOVE it when I wind balls of yarn... so it usually has to wait until kitty nap time. Luckily that is frequently :) If I love the yarn, I will buy it, hank or center pull. I stopped looking at price tags a long time ago too :)

Louisa said...

I'm also a spinner and dyer so I've always had a ballwinder and husband-made skeiner/swift. I find winding and unwinding skeins and balls no biggie. Just a normal necessity. What I don't understand is folks getting upset about yet another chance to run lovely yarns through their fingers!

Sally said...

I enjoy that there is variety in the way yarn is put up. Most shops offer to wind the hanks into cakes when you purchase them, but I bought an umbrella swift and ball winder a few years ago, and I actually enjoy doing it myself. I don't usually wind all the yarn for a project at once. I'll start out with a hank or two and then wind as I need them. Can't wait to see what you're up to next Kristin!

sandi said...

I like twisted hanks. I think they give me a better sense of the character of the yarn when I'm shopping, and they are easier to store when I get them home. I also wind my balls by hand, even though I own a ball winder. For me, winding yarn is like foreplay.

Bonnie said...

I was given a ball winder by my mom, and my husband gave me a swift. (He was probably tired of acting as a swift while I used the ball winder. I don't blame him.) I like both of these tools and am really, really glad I bought them.

meppybn said...

Oh, Kristin, who would NOT know you ;);) Hanks don't bother me, even though I don't own a winder/swift - I just turn a chair upside down, hang the hank over the legs and wind it into a ball! It's the yarn that counts!!

Christina said...

I'm new to knitting. I usually buy yarn already wound. But I did buy two shanks of alpaca that I am hoarding that I did not prethink what I would do with it. I guess I will be winding by hand. :)

Kate G said...

I can be seduced by yarn in a tangled pile, so presentation doesn't matter, but my local LYS has a swift and ball winder at the ready and I have a set a home. I wind when I start the project, kind of a ritual that.

Be said...

This might sound odd, but I actually buy yarn in hanks specifically so I can ball it up myself. My boyfriend made me two nostepinne(n?) from his backyard laurel, and I like to think of him when he's not around (long distance relation :-()and I'm preparing my yarn for use.

Yeah, it takes a while, but I enjoy the process, and it's kind of a form of meditation.

Claire said...

I bought myself a swift and a ball winder because I don't mind whether I get skeins or balls but I think skeins look nicer and you get a better idea of how long colour changes are for multi-coloured yarns. Also there is something quite pleasant about sitting there winding the handle on the winder and watching the ball form - mindless work for when you need to relax.

Melissa Plank said...

Before I had my own ball winder and swift, I just had it wound at the shop. But I'm really glad to have my own gear. I kind of prefer a hank vs. a ball, you can really see what you're getting, all the colors, if there are knots. It's so disappointing to start working with a yarn only to find you have a lot of joins to deal with. I'm sorry you don't have your own line of yarn any longer, I was just thinking I should use your yarn to knit a pattern I bought from you so I could have the same great colors!

Anonymous said...

I do have a ball winder and a swift, so I'm not put off by hanks. That being said, I spent a few frustrating hours last night trying to wind some very old hanks given to me by my sister-in-law that she got from her sister who bought them in England somewhere. They must have been on special becuase I'd start winding and find several very short lengths "wound" into the hanks. I'd end up with 3-4 tiny balls...not nice!

Abby said...

I like to hand wind skeins. Gives me a chance to check for splices. Plus it is relaxing.

Chantelle said...

I love hanks and I have no problem winding them, but I don't really mind one way or another how they come just so long as the yarn is amazing. I guess I've always felt that a quality yarn was worth the effort:)

Karen said...

I love fondling the hanks of yarn when they're so nice and squishy! I hang them over the back of a dining room chair when I need to wind the ball by hand. I find it relaxing - but knitting is just an enjoyable past time for me - I can take it slow and easy!

PghCathy said...

Hanks look so lovely hanging, I don't mind winding. But I would like to know what my neighbors think I'm doing...I use the pull out shelves on each side of my desk (in front of the window) & attach my ball winder & swift. It must look quite crazy from outside!

Francie said...

Hank or skein, it doesn't factor into whether I buy yarn, although I love the look of a hank and it seems like it must be nicer yarn but I know that is not true. I have a swift and winder and enjoy winding my own yarn. I use my ball winder more often to rewind partially used skeins too. I love it to be tidy and compact.

Catarina said...

I love the business of winding skeins using my swift and winder. I think a wooden umbrella swift is a beautiful example of industrial design and enjoy the way it pops out when the last of the skein winds off. I can wind a decent ball by hand but typically reserve that for yarn I've frogged -- or one of those dratted Malabrigo sock yarn skeins. And I'd like to learn winding onto my thumb and a nostepinne just because the resulting balls are so beautiful and the skills time-tested. Obviously I find a lot of pleasure in the process. I'm also lucky enough to be able to keep my swift and winder always ready to go.
That said, I imagine a designer has to sacrifice some process joy for production demands, and I know you generally use solid, vat-dyed yarns from larger yarn producers. I would appreciate if such yarns came to me ready to knit. I don't think that's such a reasonable, nor perhaps desirable, thing for very small r kettle-dyed and/or hand-dyed yarn creators.

Kathleen C. said...

Interesting... lots of hank lovers in the comments. Count me as one also. I have a swift and winder, and I don't mind the time... it's really not that long unless I have a ton of skeins (if I can I'll only do a couple ata time).
And as was mentioned above I get a better sense of the yarn when it's in a hank and like to see the quality as I wind (making sure there are no knots).

Robin Allen said...

I used to buy only cakes/skeins until I purchased a ball winder and swift. Now that I know how easy (and satisfying) it is to wind a hank into a cake, I love doing it. I'll either cake them at my LYS or wait until I get home.

Kathy said...

I really enjoy winding the yarn on my winder. It's fun to see how the colors look different in a variegated hank to a yarn wound ball. I like being able to center pull, too. I love the touch and feel of a hand twisted skein rather than a store bought skein. I try to buy local when I can, and I know the folks that spin and dye the yarn can't always professionally wind it. I find it all part of the process.

debbieamy said...

I will buy yarn that I like and want no matter how it comes. I do not own a swift or winder but wind yarn into balls by hand. Even the best yarn occasionally has a knot or flaw in it, and I would rather discover it before I start than in the middle of a 500 stitch row of lace on a shawl or in the middle of the back of a stockinette stitch sweater. I just think of it as part of the project.

Anonymous said...

I buy whatever yarn appeals. But if it is in a hank I always wind it myself. That way I can check for knots or other problems. Plus, I find that the yarn shops usually wind the yarn so tight that it stretches the yarn.
I even rewind yarn that is already in a ball. Good way to check it, especially if it is a long varigation.

skeindalous said...

I love the hanks of yarn. I think the balls/cakes never show the fiber half as well as the skeins. Also, there is no tension on the yarn, stretching it and fatiguing it. Far more liely to buy a skein that I can feel in the soft, loose form. I wind my own balls and enjoy the process.

sally said...

I enjoy seeing yarn in all its different stages, so I'm okay with balls or hanks. My sweet husband of 47 years just surprised me with a gift swift because my online search showed up on his Amazon "recommended" list. What a guy! I have been dyeing and spinning some of my yarn and the swift sure comes in handy. I find winding just another excuse to handle the lovely stuff.

Anonymous said...

I like being able to see more of the color length of the color changes. I like the hanks.

Mary Kate said...

IF I love the yarn, I don't let the hank deter me. My wonderful husband gave me a handmade umbrella swift from a Wisconsin LYS, Sutter's Golden Fleece. Liz runs a wonderful store and her husband makes the swifts in the shop next door!
Mary Kate Witry

AllisonInPhilly said...

Hi Kristin, I just bought 20+ balls of Julia from Webs. They have abot a dozen colorways. It must be tough to see it be discontinued. I've just loved it.

sheepyhollow said...

I think displaying hand-dyed in hanks is so yummy! But, I like a 'good' yarn any which way... no matter. Most yarn shops will wind a ball for you, no problem.

wlknknit said...

It doesn't matter to me - I enjoy winding the skein into a ball if its needed - it can really be relaxing. It might be different of course if I had a lot of yarn to do quickly - I don't have a ball winder or swift!

Karen at Struan Farm said...

I love the look and fondle of hanks, but when I start to tackle a project get really annoyed with having to wind them. Think it's basically yarn cos passing cost and time onto knitters. I guess they're trying to save us money but not time.

Susanne said...

The way the yarn comes doesn't matter to me. I have both a yarn winder and a swift however occasionally I hand wind into a ball. It depends entirely on the project and perhaps my mood!! :)

bookagent said...

I buy what I like and so far have let my LYS wind it. But recently I've decided that I would like to wind my own when necessary. I bought a ball winder now just neew a tabletop swift!

Cindy in (un) Happy Valley said...

Hanks are so much easier to store, and then I wind them myself as needed. I love yarn, hanks center pull balls - doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

I completely respond to color, especially beautiful hand-dyed saturated, layered color. So usually I am winding those lovelies into center-pull cakes once I am ready to start a project. It is a luxury when the seller offers. A couple of years ago my dear husband gave me a swift and ball winder for Christmas. Although he doesn't knit, he totally understands obsessions and the tools that go with them! The cats like to watch the winding, so everyone benefits. Claudia Horner

elliemae said...

I have a ball winder and a swift. So I am not put off from buying hand twisted hanks. And then most of the yarn shops will ask if I want it wound.

Bonnie said...

That is good to know. I am in North Carolina and will find where in 919 area code that shop is. Thanks!