Friday, August 24, 2007

Yarn and the Psychology of Avoidance

I need a swift. My avoidance has reached epic, ridiculous levels. Let us start at the beginning, shall we?

I found this neat resource last night, which is theoretically not knitting related, but has charted patterns of medieval and renaissance decorative motifs. (no, keep reading, we'll get to the bit about the swift) In any case, the simpler 2 and 3 color patterns would be great for simple texture patterning, how complicated the method depending on your degree of commitment or boredom. I'm inspired by this page especially.

I want to put that twining leaf pattern around the hem of a tunic sweater or put the others in a sampler-like series of stripes on a nice long winter scarf. Or maybe even work one or more as a lace motif in some lovely long stockings...

Anyway, I found the perfect yarn in my stash for starting a nice scarf (not enough to make a sweater, and I want to spend some time charting for the lace stockings, really), but there's this catch. It's attractively skeined. I don't have a swift. I do have a very athletic and curious 14 month old. He's also tall, as in he's in the 98th percentile for height for his age.

He is irresistibly attracted to me when I am apparently tied up in yarn, and now he's so big, I can't hide from him on the couch anymore. It makes knitting hard, even when I'm dealing with neatly wound center-pull balls hidden inside a bag, set on the inaccessible table behind the couch. I've figured out how to knit with my arms over my head, but it seems to be leading to some kind of tendinitis ... and a lot of errors.

Okay, back to why I need a swift.

Before now, I've faked it using chairs or my knees or my husband. A swift seemed like a luxury item, an unnecessary but highly desirable convenience. Now - I find myself actively avoiding using perfectly lovely yarn simply because it's in a skein and I'd have to fight Giant Baby every step of the way to get it wound.

That's what I caught myself doing last night. I picked out a completely inappropriate yarn for my swatch because it was already wound into a ball. I even cast on for it, knit a few rows and started the pattern before I realized that I had made this avoidance so habitual that I didn't see my error before I wasted lots of precious knitting time.

Time to at least attempt to make a swift. I'm crafty, I have power tools, and I can certainly cut up a few sicks and dowels to make a decent homebuilt swift. I even have the DIY yardstick swift how-to from the Fall 2000 Spin-Off.

Of course, now I just have to find someone to watch Mr Giant Baby while I work on it.


  1. I've made two of the first type that you linked. Easy enough, with a drill press and a very sharp chisel. I use shaker pegs for the pegs, which I think holds the yarn down better instead of straight dowels.

  2. Actually, tell ya what. Since I just bought a commercially made umbrella swift (I was feeling flush last month, LOL), I can send the better of the two wooden ones I built. Let me know! email addy is username at username dot com. :)

  3. You won't believe how your life will change with a swift! Okay maybe that's a bit of exaggeration, but it really is great. Fun for all ages!

  4. Good luck with the swift building. I have a rickety old one but I would never part with it!

  5. you do need a swift - really you do, good luck on the building one, i had plans to do that, and had the wood all bought, and ready to cut when my Bear arrived home asking if i wanted an antique one in a shop he walked buy on the way to work or 'was it to old to be of use'!
    sounds like you have some good advice from the other comenters, i saw a make shift one made from wire coat hangers a wine bottle and lots of duct tape on a blog or knitters review forum recently (but can't find it now), we knitters get desprite when yarn comes in beautiful silky skeins,

  6. I do exactly the same thing, and I don't even have a Giant Baby excuse! I'm told that buying a swift changes your entire relationship with yarn. Some knitters have even said it makes balling up yarn *fun*, but I think that's probably just crazy talk.


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