It all began with a lovely green hank of Cascade 220. Something about that color, Irelande, drew the eye of a quilter who happened to be in the neighborhood. Later she returned with a resolution to begin crocheting again so she could create a dreamy lap blanket with 14 hanks of the beautiful wool. Winding it into balls was the least I could do to help her get started.
Winding yarn is a somewhat hypnotic—though rarely relaxing—task. As the winder gyrates with each rotation, the yarn is criss-crossed against itself until layer upon layer forms a squishy “cake” from which you can pull working yarn either from the center or the exterior. The effect is beautiful, allowing you to examine all the color and texture of a particular hank of yarn in one glance. Neglecting to monitor the tension or watch for snags, however, can be disastrous.
In this instance, it was even more disastrous than ever before, with the yarn somehow working itself into the crevices of the winder and I blindly working it into a greater tangle as I desperately tugged at it in an effort not to keep my customer waiting any longer than she already had. Murphy’s Law dictates, of course, that all this should happen just when a rush of other customers and vendors entered the shop, all needing my attention. In the end I had to disassemble and reassemble the winder repeatedly until it could form the same criss-cross pattern as before. The upshot is that now I know exactly how a winder is pieced together to produce such a lovely cake; and so if disaster strikes again, I’ll know better what to do.
This process reminded me of working a new technique or intricate pattern, or experimenting with a new yarn. Often when I am trying something new, I make more mistakes than progress. I have found that patience and a willingness to disassemble and reassemble yields not only a beautiful finished object, but also knowledge and a truer understanding of how knitting “works.”
This is my encouragement to those of you who are new to the craft or to a particular project skill you have yet to try, whether it is lace, hats, mittens, socks, or full garments. Yes, mistakes are inevitable—but they can also be invaluable.