Sunday, January 1, 2012

Yarn Barf

To celebrate the New Year, I cast on two new knitting projects: the first, Argylefest: my first attempt at the lovely Scottish tartan-inspired socks using the intarsia technique, much avoided by modern knitters.  I'm using Knit Picks yarn for those in 4 different colors and have to manipulate the bobbins carefully to keep them from tangling.  Because I knew it would probably be slow-moving and frustrating, I also chose for the first of a possible 12-in-12 shawls challenge The Age of Brass and Steam, a very simple shawl pattern, mostly stockinette stitch with a few yarn overs and occasional garter stitch, in quite possibly my favorite yarn of all time, Madeline Tosh Merino Light (colorway "nutmeg").  I anticipated a nice, relaxing knit.

So guess which project I'm ready to throw across the room right now?
The argyles are progressing slowly but neatly.  Knit Picks yarn doesn't tangle very easily, and the little baking pan is keeping the bobbins from running away too far.  The ToshMerinoLight, on the other hand, because of its single strand construction and the grabbiness of the merino wool, seems to be very prone to the phenomenon known to knitters as "yarn barf."  (For some reason, this is not a common phrase among non-knitters.  I had to repeat it multiple times this afternoon to uncomprehending stares).  You see an excellent (if incredibly frustrating) example on the right of the picture above.  It happens when the unsuspecting knitter pulls the yarn from the center of a center-pull ball (specially wound yesterday) and the working end of the yarn catches onto a strand from somewhere in the very middle of the skein, and hauls it out of its neat packaging way too early, thus creating a very bad tangle which will take most of an afternoon to undo.  During that time, of course, no knitting can take place.

So now you know what yarn barf is.  I seem to get it a lot; I can usually work through it and untangle it, but I think from now on if I get any more TML, I'll unwind it from the outside of the ball, not the center.

Sometimes yarn barf happens when your daughter left a ball of yarn in her coat pocket and that gets thrown in the washer and dryer along with big brother's clothes (and he forgot his wallet, too!)
In that case, the yarn was Red Heart acrylic and I just cut the yarn off the jeans and threw it away.  I cannot do that with Tosh Merino Light.  I did give the wallet back to Primigenitus.  This reminded me of my poem, the one I published here for "Poem in my pocket day."

Happy New Year, everyone, and may you weather the inevitable frustrations of life this year!


Joyce said...

Kathy - the yarn barf is conquered! But just to keep me humble, my own beautiful new skein of Malabrigo Rios wouldn't wind, and created a similar pile of barf, which took most of yesterday evening to untangle...

Kathy said...

Joyce -- thank you so much! Joyce helped talk me off the ledge Sunday evening and even took the whole mess home with her to finish untangling. She says she finds it soothing, or something. I would never have made it!