Saturday, June 20, 2015

Yarn Migrations in the Wild

Welcome.  Today we study the migratory habits of a non-indigenous coastal yarn species, the Colinette Cadenza.  This yarn originally travelled from Wales to the United States.  Finding a congenial ecosystem, it has proliferated.

This particular sub-species, "Apricot Smoothie," discovered in a sale basket in Tennessee, made its way to the West Coast in a plastic bin.

Some yarns require "binning," as it is known colloquially, longer than others, but eventually they, too, are ready for the long journey from hank or skein to finished object.

Let's take a closer look.

It is late spring, an exciting time for DK and sport weight yarns, as well as fingering and lace.

Here, the DK weight Colinette Cadenza emerges from its cocoon after a long series of winters in the binning phase.

Free now from its protective pouch, the yarn makes its way toward swift and ball winder.

One hank has fastened itself onto the swift, while the others jockey for position below.

The skeins seem eager to be wound.

Tension on the swift?  There should be some, but not too much.

Good news: even though this is Colinette, this hank is not tangled.

Somewhat like the traditions surrounding Groundhog's Day, an easily wound skein is said to predict a good wool harvest and a good shawl design.

But wait!  The ball winder is pulling too hard.  It's the only thing causing the swift to move.  The swift has no momentum on its own.  This light, fluffy yarn is being stretched too tight and thin.

This spells disaster for the life cycle of this yarn species.

Alarmed, the yarn races away from the swift in search of better winding grounds.  Its survival instinct has saved it.  A narrow escape, indeed.

Back to basics:  one adventurous skein has found its way to the portable table swift, which has assembled itself on a nearby coffee table.  The portable swift waits for yarn to come to it, knowing sudden moves can scare off its prey.  This swift's patience has been rewarded.

The ball winder, seeing its opportunity, leaves its perch on the vertical swift.  It now sports a handle instead of a clamp, an evolutionary necessity due to the sensitive nature of the coffee table.

There is some tension and stretching of the yarn here as well--a good reason not to wind one's yarn until one is ready to use it, to minimize stretching time--but at least there is not as much distortion as with the other swift.

And now, yarn wound, it waits.

The gestation of a design can take many months or just a few minutes, or anything in between.  It is impossible to predict.  Many ideas occur in pool or shower, or on long walks.  During such excursions, it is best to leave the yarn at home in a cool, dry location, out of the sun.

Will this particular batch of yarn remain free and ready to knit, or will it be forced to find its way back into a bin, much as a bear returns to its den to hibernate each winter?  Only time will tell.

Next time, join us for "Quilt Gestation:  Why It Takes So Friggin' Long To Quilt One Lousy Quilt."


  1. OMG, I was laughing my way through this one. I loved reading about this yarn's migration and can't wait to see what you do with it. You are truly a gifted writer. You keep the reader in suspense and I love that!!!
    I hope all is well with you out there on the West Coast. I just had another friend move to Seattle. Just a thought, is it me?

    1. It's a sign that you should migrate out here with us!!

  2. Total hoot, my friend! Can't wait for the next installment as it a question that remains for me, why, indeed, goes it take so friggin' long to quilt one quilt!

    1. You mean I'm not the only one having trouble with this? I thought it was just me!

  3. I miss you, captainhook! I enjoyed your documentary on the migratory habits of the Colinette Cadenza. :)

  4. I miss you, captainhook! I enjoyed your documentary on the migratory habits of the Colinette Cadenza. :)

    1. I miss you too, Kendall! Glad you enjoyed the documentary. I always follow your faves on Rav.


I love getting your comments. Thanks for sharing!