Friday, December 01, 2006

Finding Bliss in Tangled Yarn

Bliss can arise from the most unexpected situations. I never suspected that untangling the Ghordian Knot-like mess you see here could be such an absolute mesmerizing pleasure. Unlike Alexander, I am not using force to meet my challenge, but instead discovering how much patience I indeed possess.

Years ago, my friend in Japan sent me several lovely, tidy skeins of indigo dyed cotton yarn that he found in Kyoto, at a family run shop called Aizenkobo. The worsted weight single ply yarn was beautiful and soft, but when I started knitting with it, it turned my fingers blue. I put it aside, planning to wash it, but somehow it made its way to the bottom of a box, and only re-emerged when I moved to the studio.
I felt guilty about neglecting this treasure for so long and, since I was dyeing some other yarn, and had the Synthrapol out anyway, was inspired to give it a wash. I made sure that it was tied securely, and then, not thinking clearly, threw it in the washer. At the end of the cycle, I removed the impossibly snarled mass you see here.

Ooofff. It took three days to dry. I was very disappointed in myself, for not realizing that the single ply might decide to relax back upon itself in the wash - or that the agitation of the machine might not be the best thing for the yarn. I might have just chucked it, if it had not come from such a unique place. I tried stretching the least snarled skein enough to get it on the swift, but it firmly clung to itself. The swift and ball winder were clearly useless.
So I sat down to watch Superman Returns, and decided to busy my hands with winding the yarn into balls. How bad could it be? I gently pulled on the mass, found an end and began to wind. It was immediately apparent that I was dealing with dreadlocks. It took several minutes to tease apart a snarl and wind just an inch or two, before hitting another snarl. But it was also strangely satisfying, and soon the movie was over, and I couldn't put the yarn down. "Just a few more inches!" (Where have we heard that before?)
It would be nice to say that I gained some insight into the world during this process, maybe come up with with a poetic metaphor for the transformation of a hopeless snarl into nice, neat, knittable spheres. But no. However, I may have stumbled upon another relaxing, meditative craft - now I'm not just a spinner, knitter, weaver, but an UNTANGLER as well.
But don't contribute your own snarled skeins just yet. I still have another three hanks to go - which should keep me busy well into January.

1 comment:

  1. Happy to discover some else enjoy untangle. I can do it without even watching or listen something. Kind of meditation i guess.


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