Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pragmatism or Paranoia? Or Just Clever Risk Management?

I am contrary in so many ways, as a knitter. (Well, ok, in the rest of my life, too.)

And one of the biggest points of contrariness in my knitting life is on the issue of how to pull the yarn from the ball.

You know: do you pull from the centre or the outside?

Many, many knitters pull from the centre. They've been told - by books, by wise grandmothers, by other knitters - that pulling from the inside is the One True Way. Naturally, I do it differently. I pull from the outside. (Gasp of horror.)

Oh yes, if the ball is perfectly wound, and the yarn is nice and smooth and not too sticky, pulling from the inside is great. The ball doesn't roll around in your bag. It stays compact, and clean and convenient.

All lovely. I can definitely appreciate all of those benefits.

And yet. I pull from the outside.

I like to claim it's pragmatism. I'm beginning to wonder if it's paranoia.

There are things I like doing, and things I don't like doing. Knitting - love it, of course. Writing patterns - yup, love it. Charting, even. Love it.

In the "not so much love" category, however, falls the task of untangling knotted yarns. I would rather undergo dental surgery than untangle a huge hopeless mess of a tangle. One badly tangled ball is too many for me.

Just this week I watched a customer at one of my LYSs spend nearly two hours untangling a mis-wound ball of sticky laceweight yarn that she had tried to pull from the centre.

Sometimes it tangles right at the start. I've watched knitters spend 15 minutes of a 2 hour class fighting with the yarn barf before they can start knitting. (Come on, doesn't the fact that it's called Yarn Barf tell you something?)

Sometimes it tangles partway through, or as you approach the end of the ball.

And most times, it doesn't tangle at all.

But I really really really don't like untangling. So it's all about risk management for me. I am willing to compromise those wonderful benefits so that I don't have to waste a single moment untangling.


Sherri said...

I can (and have) expound on the virtues of working from the outside of a ball.

I am a hybrid myself. I am an outie - however only after I have rewound the yarn in the first place. Even if it is nicely wound into a ball, I always always rewind it with the ball winder. That way I become acquainted the properties before I cast on.

What will it tell me...does it pill, fuzz, stretch. Is it thick and think in parts where it shouldn't be. Is there a knot which is sure to otherwise only show itself when I am half way across a row, thereby planting itself on my boob.

Yes, once all is safely wound onto a yarn cake, I knit happily from the outside in, never inside out. I have had too many yarn cakes collapse and have to be rewound to do it otherwise. Don't even think of inside out for Noro or silk fibres. Trust me on that one.

If you are a crocheter (especially left handed) and you are working with thread or a softly plied yarn, you may want to rewind the ball. Your twisting of the yarn as you crochet can go against the manufacturer's twist. Because your technique is actually untwisting, you could end up with something that will pill or not hold up as well. It doesn't happen often but I have seen it with my own eyes. Suggestion: if it doesn't look right, try working from the other end of the ball and see if it makes a difference.

See I told you I could go on....

Anonymous said...

Funny, just had this conversation at Fibers Through Time. My answer: It depends...

Delusional Knitter said...

Im one of those whackos that doesn't mind untangling yarn - I find it theraputic. Though typically when I do need to untangle its because I left my yarn it the reach of naughty, yarn stealing, cutest, most horrible, smoochie face cat ... so generally its my own fault that its tangled ...

Clea Stagnitti said...

From the outside for sure! And I've had many a discussion at the yarn shop from the yarn mavens appalled that I pull from the outside but I always get the collapse at the end and then right when I'm on fire I have to stop and reorganize the dang yarn. I don't mind it rolling around.

Stephanie said...

I am learning about the glories of knitting from the outside in. I am learning it on a 1000 yard centre-pull ball of cobweb weight silk. : (

curlysheep said...

I like the idea of pulling from the centre because when I start it's so clean and tidy and smooth.....but then, towards the end, I regret having pulled from the middle because the "cake" looks more like a collapsing pile of sludge as the walls loose integrity and my yarn looks very unkept!!

Dana said...

What do you do with the skein? I have some laceweight reeled silk that's hopelessly tangled and want to avoid it with the other skeins.

I'm a hybrid.

Bogie said...

I used to be a hybrid, pulling from the inside unless it was very sticky yarn or lace weight. Now I always pull from the outside. I don't have to deal with a collapsing ball as I work and storing leftovers is a snap--no more rewinding. There is one exception, and that's when I work from the inside and outside at the same time for 2s2c. Other than that, it's outside all the way.