Saturday, August 3, 2013

Facility - Difficulty

Most of the time my knit designs go from mind’s-eye to reality pretty directly. Of course I tweak, I change, I re-design, I re-do. And I am rarely completely satisfied with a finished project. But usually my pieces come out the way I imagined. This ease, this facility, is one of the reasons I’m pretty sure I’m doing the work I should be doing.

But lately, I’ve had more difficulty than facility. I’ve been working on a series of scarves using respun yarns. I take a commercial yarn and add twist to it by “spinning” it on my spinning wheel, then I knit with this respun yarn. The idea is essentially the same as knitting with “energized singles” (Kathryn Alexander’s term). 

Years back I designed a series of six scarves knitted with energized singles (Spin Off, Spring 2006 ). And I’ve intermittently played with energized singles since then. This year, I revisited the idea using respun commercial yarns instead. And I’ve been investigating how different stitch patterns behave with energized yarns.

I knitted my first swatches from leftover singles that I had on a number of bobbins. Some stitch patterns were boring; others created very exciting three-dimensional patterns. Cool, very cool. I was on to something and I was so looking forward to creating a new series of scarves.

I just assumed that what I was getting with handspun energized singles I could also get with respun energized commercial yarns.

Things haven’t gone smoothly. It seems that needle size, weight of yarn, and the amount of twist have huge effects on how the respun commercial yarns knit up. I’ve knitted several unsuccessful scarves. Not matching up with my mind’s eye. And I’m not used to that in my knitting. This struggle, this difficulty, has caused me to slow down. I’ve been puzzled into near immobility.

It hasn't helped that I’ve been in a funk lately. I miss my dog, Toby. I miss her terribly.

Anyway, yesterday I grabbed a sock yarn from my overflowing sock yarn stash and respun it. And I started a scarf. This is a scarf design that I have great faith in. It has just got to work.

And I think it is working! Finally! I’m not at all sure I completely understand why some yarns don’t work and others do, but I’m getting closer. Here’s a pic of the scarf in progress. The background is the same pattern knitted in a respun yarn that didn’t work. See the difference?


  1. Exciting! Can't wait to see more.

    1. Thanks, Andrea. I'm hoping this one turns out right!

  2. Is the scarf pattern one of yours? Is it available?
    Meg's friend Carol in Ann Arbor

    1. Hi Carol, I'm planning to write an article about my current series of scarves. Available soon.

  3. Love that pattern. I will be waiting for the article. :D