Three things

Even if I am boring…it turns out that Knit Night is always going to bring me blog fodder.

1. Remember how we had all those pregnant knitters? Here’s the latest delivery. (Well, there’s one more, but she was too young. Maybe next week.) Mel (the Mama on the right) brought us Liam, and it’s pretty easy to tell that this is a baby cherished by knitters.


The wee dude is just covered in knitwear. (He appears rather bored right there, but he’ll get used to it.)

2. Hey…Cari? I know you were worried about your friend Anneliese and her moving to Toronto from far away and not knowing anybody. Frankly, we were worried about her too…I mean, you were sending us a non-knitter to play with. How would we relate to her? What would we do with her? What would we talk about?


We figured it out. She’s fine now. No worries.

3. Also at Knit Night last night, we met Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, in town and visiting Village Yarns. She’s lovely, but gave all of us a little bit of a brain melt. She didn’t have any knitting with her (shocking thing the first) and so she picked some nice yarn and some nice needles and cast on for a sock. Well I’ll be darned if we didn’t all turn around and see this:


Just look at the expression on Amy’s face.

She’s got the whole skein just draped over her knees. It’s HOW SHE KNITS. Several knitters just reeling in shock offered, nay, practically insisted that the skein be taken to the ball winder, but Cornelia declined. She doesn’t wind the yarn into a ball because Cornelia thinks that the cakes of yarn that come off a ball winder are ugly. She prefers the aesthetic of a nice hank just draped on her lap. She gracefully unwinds as she goes. We were stunned.

I stared at her like an antelope had just walked into the shop.

I don’t know about you, but in the life I lead, that set up there is a one way ticket to the land of crazyville. It would last about 14 seconds before I had the whole thing canked up into a big whack of maddening tangle. What happens if you take that on the bus? What happens to it in your purse? Cornelia shrugged all of this off. It works for her. Totally works. I mean, she knits, she designs, she owns a freakin’ yarn shop, so obviously it’s not just like she hasn’t hung out with yarn enough to see the peril that she’s in. I thought Denny was going to knock her down and take the skein to the ball winder by force. Rachel H. was practically sweaty on Cornelia’s behalf, and the whole time she was sitting there I think I had a vein standing out on my head as I looked at that skein, just lying there. It was like waiting for a time bomb to go off.

One time, she had to go to the loo, and she just picked up the skein, re-twisted it into a hank, went away, returned and unfurled it on her lap again. Just like that. I asked her if she would do that if it were a thousand metre skein of laceweight, and that time Cornelia looked at me like I was an antelope. “Sure” she said. Just like it was the most normal thing in the world. I asked her what she would do if she was doing colourwork. What if there was two skeins?


In that case, she puts one over each shoulder.

I asked about cats, I asked about children….she had an answer for everything. It made me twitchy as all get out. She seems pretty smart, and she’ s certainly charming, but I’m a little disturbed by this.

I’ve been working all day on acquiring some perspective and an emotional version of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but I can’t quite shake the persistent urge to fly to Sweden, break into her house and wind all her yarn.

I’m not saying that’s right, or legal. Just a persistent urge.

291 thoughts on “Three things

  1. As a person who drops ketchup on her shirt first thing in the morning, *even if no ketchup is present,* I’m pretty sure I’d have a hairball before I picked up my needles.

  2. I’ve been tempted to try doing that in my life, (the knitting like that, not the tackling her and her skein) and never quite had the nerve to try. I think ballwinder balls are ugly too–so I wind them by hand.
    Brave woman there.

  3. Ok . . . that made me sweat just to look at the picture. I would have such a mess so quickly . . . there aren’t even words . . .
    I am simply amazed. And a lot scared!

  4. That is one brave woman. I don’t think I would last longer than about thirty seconds. It’s seriously amazing.
    I think I might need to see some video of that!

  5. Wow. So exposed. So calm. So very much the way we should be able to be in the world.
    And yet, it just looks like danger personified. Amazing.

  6. I did that once back before I knew any better. It wasn’t the mess it could have been, but it didn’t go smoothly either. A case of the knittind muses smiling on the ignorant, I suppose.

  7. Now I’m sitting here, imagining the customs officers in Sweden taking their coffee break.
    “Man, I’ve had the strangest day. Six ladies have come through muttering something about winding yarn into balls. No luggage either. And talk about wild-looking eyes! They were real spookie!”
    “Yeah, me too. And one of ’em started waving pointy little sticks at me and babbling about tangles and lace weight and … ”
    Must stop this train of thought before I spew water all over my keyboard!

  8. I’m coming with you to Sweden. That’s just not right. I had the urge to reach through my screen and wind that hank.
    Can you imagine what Hank would do in her house?

  9. Each and every time I learn what I think is an inviolate knitting rule–“you must never, never, never (fill in the blank)”–darned if somebody doesn’t break it, and break it beautifully. Which just goes to show you–knitting is an ART, with all the personal quirks and idiosyncrasies that art entails. If it works for you, do it. That’s how innovations are born. However, if I were to knit straight from an unwound hank I’d have an embolism.

  10. Quite apart from anything else, I can never sit still for very long, so I would eff it up just by shifting. Forget about the cats!
    She had an answer for cats? What was it, for wool’s sake?

  11. I suggest that her pace of life is slower and that she is not trying to multi-task when she knits. I think you have to be generally calmer to leave your yarn in skeins to knit successfully.

  12. She has got to be out of her ever lovin’ Swedish mind!!!! I would have such a mess before I had the cast on row finished, now where’s my ball winder….

  13. I would be willing to give it a try-oh,except I have cats and small grandchildren(That I try to pass off as my children-it doesn’t usually work but one of these days…)so I bet I would make a mess of it. I even have been known to make a mess of a wound cake ball. The bras just postpone the mess.
    I get to take a class Friday night from Amy Singer!!!!!!! Woohoo!! Come to Lansing Michigan-it’s the happening place this weekend.

  14. Considering I often knit with a 60-lb bulldog on my hip, that wouldn’t work for me. I do have a friend who would put the skein over her head to knit from. She kept her hair tied up and it worked for her. No colorwork, though.

  15. I think for the woman’s own personal safety you must grab that wool and get the yarn swift in gear. Poor soul…what is she thinking??

  16. Boy she’s brave. Too many cats, children, dogs and husbands in this house to try that. To even think about it puts me into a cold sweat.

  17. Oh goodness! That is one cute baby. HE looks like the prince of knit all clad in knitwear like that. I luv me sum kiut babes in cute knits. Thanx for the baby picture fix.

  18. Okay…she must sit still…very still. I can tell you that would never work for me. What happens when she is knitting on a larger project and the project sits in her lap on top of the yarn and then it gets messy and then…Nope, it would never work for me. But can I just say she looks absolutely lovely and serene with her yarn casually draped, as though she doesn’t have a care in the world (or kid or cat or anything else messy!).

  19. lol I don’t think that set up would work for me at all. I have a friend who knits in the round inside out. Every time I see it I want to go up to her and turn it right side out.

  20. If you want her to see the error of her ways, lemme know and I will fly The Bug over to her house. That kid can dismantle a skein, hank or ball (we won’t tell her about that part) in one motion. Yarn guts everywhere. It’s like he disembowels them.
    (I do agree that a skein is more attractive than a yarn cake, though.)
    She almost looks ethereal sitting there. Like she’s on a higher plane than the rest of us. I bet birds and wildlife eat right out of her hand when she walks in the woods.

  21. I hope she’s aware of how many heart attacks she has now caused around the world.
    Holy bat poop Batman.
    I need a lie down.

  22. Dang! she must be from another plane of existance! Where is that plane and how do I get there??!!!
    Cute baby in cute knitting, how cute is that!!!!!!?!!!

  23. I LOVE the cakes and having spent 10+ hours untangling a hank of Mountain Colors sock yarn that exploded on me, I don’t blame you for being all twitchy. I got twitchy just reading it.

  24. Unwound skeins are lovely, but I don’t think I’d knit off one.
    The baby is adorable! Now we know why you had to knit so many baby sweaters a few months ago.

  25. ROFL!!! You made my afternoon with that one! Before I read this, things were looking ugly.
    Don’t pass out or anything, but I’m with her on this one. If I could do what she does without getting the yarn dirty, mangled, tangled and linted, I’d do it too.
    I’ve been knitting a poncho, crocheting a bathroom set and working on a scarf for the past 3 weeks, and I’m sick to death of the balls and skeins getting away and rolling on the floor.

  26. I actually started knitting that way. I knit like that ALL through my pregnancy. Heck I wasn’t really moving much anyway. and then…. well there was this nursing squirming baby on my lap. on the yarn. who grew into a little person who threw things. anything. with relish. and the beautiful cascade and glory of throwing yarn in AMAZING!!! I bought a ball winder. hte glory being that after I woundthe ball they would be so distracted by the shiny spinning thing they would temporarily forget about the yarn. Woot! score 1 for the Mommy!

  27. wow! I’m so inspired. Maybe I don’t need to wind yarn all up all the time. I’m tempted to give this knitting off the skein a try.
    I’ve got no kids, my pet doesn’t bother my knitting.
    What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll just get a knot and have to break and re-attach? (if that happens, I’ll break down and wind it…)
    I’m all up for trying something new πŸ™‚

  28. I think we all need to just move to Sweden.
    She looks so calm and relaxed it must be a wonderful place.
    Perhaps the secret to her madness is that when you knit like this you would have the excuse ‘don’t bother me I have a yarn bomb in my lap and it could explode any moment’. Think of the things you could avoid using her method.
    Maybe that’s the secret.

  29. Ahhhh! I STILL feel sick to my stomach after reading that reading all the comments. Doesn’t the world have enough chaos in it already? I mean, I think trash cans are ugly, but I still use one! Duh. Balls of yarn reduce chaos, of course. How can some people be that coordinated and go through the world alongside of me? I am so NOT. I’d be on that plane to Sweden right away. Let me just get my balls of yarn.

  30. I think I’d end up with a messy pile of yarn if I did that. Just looking at the pictures makes me queasy. But if you can do it, then so be it. I’ll avoid it at all costs, thank you.

  31. I’m sure I’d have been wide-eyed, mouth agape, too. I can’t decide whether it’s refined — because she, herself, seems so very — or more primitive in nature. I am almost tempted to try it and see how I feel.

  32. I know I can now officially call myself a knitter because I knew what was wrong with that picture before I read the caption!

  33. I am really intrigued as to what her answer about having kids around was. I mean….my kids just look at a skein (unwound or balled even) and they can tangle the yarn with the power of their wicked little minds. Tricksy they are.

  34. I think that’s a reasonable urge. I’ve got an urge to knit like that. I’d look graceful. However, the urge is overridden by the desire to not have all of my yarn destroyed by doing something out of my comfortability zone.

  35. Well, that’s just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure what I think about it yet, it’s just so crazy.

  36. Some people just love to tempt fate . Not me, boys oh boys ,I’m also sweating just looking at the pictures. Lordy don’t show Hank this posting, he may not want to wind any more of your yarn

  37. I can’t even use a pull skein without having it knot up and attack me! Awesome (unearthly, but awesome)!

  38. Wow. totally not doable on my part…I can just see myself on the subway with yarn around my neck, trying to subway surf, knit, and unknot all at once. SO not a pretty picture.

  39. I can cure her of this in a heartbeat. Send her to New York, she can try knitting on the subway with a hank spread out luxuriously on her knees, or alternatively try to figure out what to do with a 2 hour mass transit commute if she can’t knit.

  40. Obviously, she does not have young children or cats! If I tried knitting like that, one cat would jump right into the middle of my lap and the other would try to snag a dangling loop or three with her paw. Bad enough they try that when I wind my yarn into cakes, and I make my husband lock the cats in the bathroom. Once the yarn is wound, and when I am knitting, they leave it alone. They just can’t resist an opened skein …

  41. Yarn cakes aren’t ugly to me, they’re made of YARN, how could they be ugly? Doesn’t compute, doesn’t compute – meltdown imminent – emergency emergency Will Robinson.
    Precious baby draped in knits! Too cute, I love the baby yawns.

  42. I have had some hanks that were just great big knotted nightmares to begin with which took me HOURS to wind up. How does she knit with a hank of yarn like that? Hmmm? It boggles the mind, to be sure.

  43. Okay – I am in total shock. I have her books, I have knit her patterns – and I have wound each and every skein that I knit said pattern with. I fear she is making all the knitting community look incompetent – egads. No winding??? EVER????
    I am practically rendered speechless!

  44. I think I could cure CTH of that and convert her to yarn cakes: Chaos and Mayhem. Particularly Mayhem with her snickity-snick teeth and taste (literally) for yarn.

  45. I too must know: what was her answer for cats? and kids? Even yarncakes are not safe from toddlers in my world, so I need to know this secret. Adorable baby in head to toe knits. (at least, I assume someone knit him some socks, too.)

  46. I love Liam’s little Jayne hat! So cute.
    I absolutely feel that you should take Hank to Sweden with you. You should have an experienced ball winder on side, in case you sprain your wrist or something.

  47. My Mom knit from the skein all the time growing up!
    One plus side to knitting from the skein, if you are cold it can help keep your lap cozy πŸ™‚

  48. having just acquired a new stove (which, no doesn’t work yet) this has totally blown a few brain cells. i knot everything without even looking at it. i’m waiting for the yarn stores to ban me, calling me a “jonah(ette)” or something because when i walk out all the yarn is knotty. [sorry, term came up in a book i’m reading and i’ve wanted to use it all day]

  49. Wow! And I spent all of Saturday warning my newly-knitting friend to wind the skein into a ball before she started unless she wanted knots and tears. I guess it can be done. Astounding.

  50. Gack! That’s just… freaky. And strangely compelling. Viewing the swift and ballwinder as extraneous gadgets rather than necessary tools. Hmmm.

  51. I have no cats, and no kids, and a non-messing-with-things husband, and that still boggles my mind. The gremlins would tangle it overnight even if I wound it back up to a hank. Hell, they’d probably attack it with glee on my bathroom break. I mean I love the way it looks, but those gremlins would get me.

  52. I am in complete awe of Ms. Hamilton. Part of me wants to aspire to be like her when I grow up, but most of me is cringing trying not to imagine the chaos that would ensue if I even tried to knit from the skein like that. I do not yet have a ball winder, but I do make a pretty darned good ball by hand and even while winding from the skein I manage at least 2 or 3 (and more likely 8 or 10) tangles, knots, or other messy moments. I’m sure those numbers will only be going up now that I have a cat who believes (unlike the older resident cat) that yarn is a toy.

  53. I do that. I’ve never seen anyone else do it. I have so little knitting time that I refuse the spend it winding the balls (I also don’t have enough money for a ball winder so I have to wind the balls by hand). I like to knit with fine yarn, and winding the balls takes a painfully long time. So I drape. I also like to drape over the edge of a chair, if it has a little finial to hold the yarn on. I have no cats, and my daughter isn’t quite mobile yet, so I’ll get back to you on kid thing. I did do this with laceweight when I was knitting the Tina Shawl.

  54. See how she relishes in the fact that she can knit with an unwound skien. It’s that cat-caught-the-canary look!!! I’m envious and green all over. I can just look at a hank wrong and it be a mass of tangles!
    How still would you have to sit to keep the yarn balanced on your knees?? You would need the perfectly angled shoulders to just keep the yarn up there. Mine are so sloped that the yarn would be around my elbows in no time flat! Kids and cats I cannot even consider.
    I think she knits in a coma.

  55. That loud clunk you heard was the collective sound of the thousands of blog-morph jaws hitting the floor at first the photo of Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton & then the text. I think Amy’s face says it all!

  56. A word from the minority view – I knit from skeins too, if that’s how the wool comes. (Couldn’t be bothered turning balls into skeins…) Particularly lace-weight – far fewer issues with tangling than you might think, and helpful for maintaining accurate tension. I just unwind a few rounds at a time while knitting, and twist the skein back into a hank when putting it aside. (Generally I lay it flat on a table rather than on my lap – works better for me as I have less lap than Cornelia.) Swedes do seem to be more relaxed in many ways – having visited my daughter (and Swedish son-in-law) in Sweden I could easily be tempted to live there. (I grew up in USA but have spent most of my adult life in Australia.) Until recently I had a cat (she died of old age, by the way) who knew better than to get anywhere near my knitting! I wouldn’t have tried this when my children were small. Unwise to tempt them… You might find this relaxing if you try it under favourable circumstances – how simple to just pick up the yarn and knit – no need to get out any equipment other than needles and pattern (if required). Bliss!

  57. When I was a newbie knitter, I did that many times. I didn’t know what a sin I was committing. ^_^ Then again, I have neither children nor cats, so the fact that it worked for me is not as surprising.
    Also – baby in a Jayne hat?? Children of geeks make me so happy. I’m teaching my nephew to be a true geek (well, not the circus sort that are tattooed all over and eat live animals – that’s too geeky even for ME – but, you know, the more acceptable knows-about-interesting-things type of geek).

  58. Jayne hat! Jayne hat caught in the wild!
    Turn on some “Firefly” for that baby, he’ll perk right up.

  59. The baby is beyond adorable in all his knitware. Makes me want to have a baby just for a bit to knit it something just as cute. lol. Then again it will be just as much fun knitting for someone elses baby. lol.
    If it were possible to knit from the skein like that here I would!! I do not have a ball winder, and do it by hand. But if I did not have yarn in nice neat balls then my husban, not the kid, dog or cat, the husban would have it all in knots tossing it out of his way. Not understanding that its artwork in progress. lol. Or worse yet I do not sit still for any longer than 15-20 min. All that putting yarn on ones lap, takeing yarn off lap setting yarn on couch, coffee table or kitchen table then put yarn back on lap. It will be a nice tangled mess in less than an hour.
    Mabe in Sweeden people sit still for longer periods of time. More time to knit up a skein before it get a chance to tangle.

  60. I’ve taken to winding my yarn by hand, at least when I feel protective of it, as I think the ball winder pulls on it too much. That’s how I hold it when I’m winding — or occasionally I’ll put it on the back of a chair. I suppose I could put it on a swift, since I do have one, but for some reason I like it over my knees, and that way it doesn’t get stretched out over the swift or between the swift and my hands either. (I feel protective of yarn that’s very pretty or expensive or fragile or that I spun/dyed myself. If you break into my house and try to wind it, you will have me to deal with.)

  61. gosh, just think of all the time you could save – if it didn’t get tangled, i mean. but it would, wouldn’t it? or perhaps not. hmm.

  62. “You know, I bet she gets her Martha Stewart cookie recipes to come out right too.
    Posted by: Mellanie at November 8, 2007 4:26 PM”
    That line right there cracked me up so bad I woke the baby…

  63. I love this story, and I’d probably have the same persistent urge as you. What a wonderful story to share…I’m still laughing.

  64. There’s a rebel in every crowd. For some it’s a motorcycle…for others it’s knitting with a hank…
    Then there’s knitting with Hank, but that version is probably far less nerve wracking.

  65. I actually don’t wind my hanks into balls, either. I started that way because I don’t own a ball winder (hope to get one for christmas), then I found out that I like doing it that way. It definitely beats winding balls by hand and the danger is fairly smalls since my husband and I have no children and only one (very well behaved) dog. I’m just very careful πŸ™‚

  66. Oooo, that makes me very nervous. Just winding from hanks to balls is stressful enough…and it only takes a few minutes. My goodness, the restraint you all exhibited (after needling the poor woman a little) was nothing short of a wonder! From the 80+ comments so far, she is in the minority!

  67. What did she say about knitting around kids? It’s hard enough to knit in front of my toddler with a ball of yarn–I don’t think the skein would survive for long. Much too tempting.

  68. Having spent more time this morning than I thought it should take to hand wind a skein of uncooperative yarn, all I can say after seeing the lap and shoulder holster version of knitting from the skein is Wow! and I wouldn’t try it in a million years!

  69. My meditation teacher would approve — she’s sitting there calm, serene — if it was me, I’d be swinging a leg, bouncing in the chair, and that hank would be tangled. Seriously. My teacher calls me ‘fidget’ when addressing his students.

  70. Bold and adventurous! Just what I love πŸ™‚
    Hope you don’t mind – I’ve mentioned this on my blog…
    Bye, Sanne

  71. When I am knitting, our chocolate lab (Ajax) likes to lay across my ottoman with his head in my lap. I can just imagine the battle if I had my skein of yarn spread out like that.

  72. I’m in love with the baby Jayne hat.
    I must agree hat the yarn cakes are rather ugly but I can barely get the skein home from the shop and onto the swift without a big tangled mess let alone knit with it.

  73. In the words of Charlie Brown, “I can’t stand it, I just can’t stand it!”
    Just looking at that skein makes me want to snatch it away and wind it on my ball winder – which is my very best friend in knitting next to you stitch markers!

  74. Comment the first (obviously not the actual first comment): I love the little baby with the Jayne hat on. Just too precious!
    As for the hank. I’ve done it. I have done it on the bus and the train, though I don’t tend to do it in the middle of rush hour. It’s great for knitting on the subway over the weekend. But I think the yarn cakes are cute, so I wind yarn into cakes when I have access to a ball winder. I’m too lazy to do it by hand most of the time.

  75. Wow, it reminds me of the time I saw someone in a drawing class dressed entirely in white. The tutor told me she dressed like that every week and never, ever got a single mark on herself. As someone who can get stains on my clothing in an empty room, I was seriously impressed.
    Also, cute baby.

  76. Ok, if I just look at a hank of yarn like that it would get tangled. Are you sure she’s not an alien life form? I don’t know which is funnier, your post, or the comments!

  77. Heh, I came over from Ravelry to admire the baby in the Jayne hat, and got bowled over by the brave knitter. Although in her defense, I twice crocheted projects using hanks like this, only I looped them around my neck like a necklace and worked from there. No problems with snarls, fortunately. If I don’t get a swift and ball-winder soon, I may well try doing it this way again, because having to wind balls by hand with the hanks of yarn looped around the handles of the exercise bike is a major pita.

  78. Well, that is one of the cutest baby pictures ever! What a cutie-pie! As far as the yarn winding goes, I have always appreciated how everyone has a different and new way of doing things in regards to knitting, and I think if I saw that, as a surprise like you did, I would have just laughed – why not, if it works for her? It reminds me of people who say we can only cast on one way, hold the yarn one way, must knit both sleeves at the same time, etc. Just do what works! However, I do like the little ball-winder yarn-cakes, I also think they are cute.

  79. i will write to my self no–no
    you will not get up at 2:30 am
    and try to knit that way please
    do not nag at me 3 or 4 am either
    i enjoy the baby knits in all the
    many colour ways thank you
    does she also play drums with her
    feet and blow a kazoo no doubt

  80. Just when you think you have seen it all…
    I can only imagine what would happen to a set up like that in my house. Heck, I bought a spare part for my swift the other day that disappeared before I could install it. Then again, maybe being stuck with a limping swift is a cosmic hint of some kind.
    But as they often say in the knit world, do what ever works.
    I personally like the little flying saucers of yarn that come off of the winder – especially the deceptively tiny ones of lace weight yarn.
    Chaqun son goΓ»t…

  81. Dude… I wanna try it. I’m not twitching at all. I’m starting to think I’m definitely weird or something.

  82. I thought I was the only one who had ever just knitted from the skein like that. Wow and to see a professional do it. For me it is not a political statement as much as the desire to start a swatch immediately when I don’t have time to make a ball. So I have to deal with the guilt that I am doing something “wicked.” And then I just want to start knitting and tell myself that very soon I will wind it into a normal ball. Alas I am not as gifted as Cornelia because about half the time this works and the other half I get a tangled half skein that takes hours to untangle. I will aspire to follow her lead and give up feeling guilty about it. Perhaps I only tangle it when i start to feel anxious about being seen by the knitting police. Maybe it takes a zen calm to make this work. I also prefer yarn lying on my lap instead of trapped into a ball—or alternatively I drape it around my neck if I am not too hot.

  83. I’ll admit I’ve done that, in the seclusion of my house. But take it out, or *shudder* do colorwork? No way.

  84. As a person who has a cat, I have to ask: What was her answer regarding the cat and the not-in-a-ball skein? (My cat tries to eat any yarn she sees.)

  85. Ohmigod. That is the only thing to say about CTH’s yarn-handling skills. Well, not the only thing, but this is a family forum, and babies are present. That baby Liam is wearing one Cunning Hat.

  86. Here’s what you need to know about Cornelia: she has knit like this for as long as I’ve known her, which is 23 years. she was my first roomate in manhattan and she had two cats who were very lively but never bothered the yarn. She grew up in New York, is of German descent, and yes, would drape her yarn like that even on the subway back in the 80’s when that sort of thing could get you either cut or covered in graffiti. she went on a trip to sweden and fell in love with a native. She has two children who are teenagers and I believe that when they were small she didn’t knit as much as she probably wanted to because she was home with them by herself most of the time. She does have that serenity to her, but she is also a friend of chaos. She’s a magnificent knitter, it’s as though her hands were created to do that and nothing else. truly, you were in company of a knitting goddess. i have a very intricate cable knit coat that she made for me and she ended up getting tendonitis from the weight of the yarn. it is the most beautiful sweater i’ve ever seen. cables like shafts of wheat. glorious. i don’t knit. she tried to teach me, but can you imagine learning from someone who makes it look that easy? complete failure.
    likewise on the cookie recipe. you can’t always trust martha.

  87. Oh man. I can’t even look at that without getting nervous. Especially considering I’ve got two – not one, but *two* – snarled hanks of yarn that I’ve been working on for weeks. I looked at them the wrong way or something.
    The fact that she can do that without ending up with a similar evil tangle is nothing short of a miracle. Or some sort of blessing from the knitting deities.

  88. My god! I have 300 yards of silk sitting in my basket waiting to be untangled just from winding it into a ball to wind it into a skein to dye. (It started out as 900 yards).
    I could never actually… KNIT… with it… I can’t even wind it into a ball by hand!

  89. Whoa! Brave lady! Does she do the same thing with Slippery Silk?? I don’t have a ball-winder (though I think they produce lovely balls of yarn that rather resemble hay bales)…I use the legs of a chair turned upside down, and get softballs out of each hank. πŸ™‚
    As for Liam, I didn’t realize he was bored. I thought he was singing the praises of his Coat (and hat) of Many Colours!

  90. Oh man…in my house, that would last about 30 seconds tops with my overly “helpful” cats…yarn’s only chance at survival is in twisted hanks, balls or finished objects…gah. Obviously this woman does not live with Oriental Shorthairs LOL

  91. I started knitting a sweater sleeve this way because I have no ball winder. I have had a couple of troubles with tangles, but this post may have solved that by giving me the hint of TWISTING the hank back up. Cool. Anyway, I’ve found the following two things:
    First, the yarn isn’t coming off the hank twisted, as has always happened to me with balls. No holding up the project to let it untwist.
    Second, my cat is less likely to mess with it in this configuration than she is when a whole ball is moving around.
    I do like simplicity, so that may be another part of the appeal. It removes a whole step from the process.

  92. *boggle!*
    But… but…
    Okay, as someone who hides her yarn as much as possible, and who winds it up into nice little cakes religiously, and who puts her knitting away every time she sets it down? Thanks to the presence of 3-year-old twins, I STILL have 7-8 balls of yarn which are nigh-irretrievably tangled. Three of those balls are tangled TOGETHER. (I think I’m going to save those for a rainy day when the kids are 6 or so, and then go, “Hey kids! You know what’s fun? Untangling yarn! Let’s each choose a skein!” and when they complain, I will point out that THEY are the ones who tangled it, so we can make it a game or we can make it a punishment, it’s up to them.)
    But seriously… that’s… seriously, that is the most dangerous thing I have seen in… well, okay, in a day or two, since Henry somehow discovered the little saw for carving pumpkins and went to stick it in his mouth.
    Okay, and I love that last picture of her. It’s so perfect, it’s the ultimate expression of, “Duh!”

  93. I bought a ball of Seasilk at Stitches Midwest 2006, attempted to wind it off my’s still in a hopeless knot. No way would I attempt that, but it’s fascinating.

  94. Please, what’s the answer for dealing with the cats and yarn? Having spent 2 hours salvaging a 440 yd hank of (black!) laceweight that Ms. SneakThief discovered, I’d love to know.

  95. I don’t have a ballwinder either and have no problem knitting from skeins (either on lap or on shoulder or around neck). I also have no animals or little kids. Works fine and saves wear and tear on the yarn. Nice to see that a designer does it also! I now feel better, rather than just cheap and lazy!

  96. I have a confession from the other end of the spectrum. I’m more like your nephew Hank. I love the winding thing.
    I wind yarn by hand. I use a swift, but no ball winder. There are some days I am just not sharp enough upstairs to knit anything, but yearn for rhythm and fiber, so I wind skeins to cakes or balls, and feel better.
    Not having a raw skein in the house makes me almost as nervous as running low on coffee, or not having a take-along project ready to go.
    I have some Malabrigo laceweight waiting patiently for my next foggy-brain day :-}

  97. tried it once – only because I didn’t know better – good thing my husband is patient, he got the unknotting job! me, I would have thrown it in the closest trash heap. Some people are just wired differently, I am such a klutz I am still amazed I can knit.
    that baby was totally swaddled in knitware – cute

  98. I’ve been sorely tempted to knit right from the hank, myself. I had no idea that other knitters might have a hypertensive crisis over it! If I do it in public, I’ll hand out blood pressure medication, LOL!

  99. Actually, ignore what people say who know Cornelia. She is actually an alien from another planet cleverly disguised as a calm, focused knitter. The only clue she’s an alien is that pesky, un-balled, loose skein. Personally,
    I don’t trust her and neither should you…..

  100. My mouth is still hanging open. I can’t believe she can knit like that. The first time I bought yarn from a ‘real’ yarn store, apparently I faked knowing what I was doing well enough that they didn’t tell me how impossible it is to knit from a hank or offer to wind it for me. So I just took it home, untwisted it, and started knitting. DISASTER. It was such a mess, I still to this day haven’t finished the project. It just sits there, sad. (Luckily, the yarn is blue…hand-dyed, sigh…so sad works for it…)
    Come to think of it, maybe they did offer. I was in such utter shock over the cost of ‘real’ yarn, that they probably could have told me Elvis and Princess Di were eating lunch in the back of the store and I wouldn’t have blinked.
    Oh well. =) That baby is super cute!!! =)

  101. Cornelia is indeed a Knitting Goddess and she has my admiration. Plus, it’s her skein/hank (can never tell the difference) and she can do with it whatever she likes. Thanks to the link to her site too, but Din Gar…Gom back to you, I simply can’t understand a word. Unless, there’s a translation feature somewhere and I missed it.
    Congrats on getting Cari’s friend so mesmerized there. Love little Liam too with his knits. I’m a grandma…I love babies more than ever before.

  102. Do you read ALL of your comments? Just wondering. :o) You know I would kill to have a shop with shelves filled with yarn like that anywhere within driving distance of where I live. We just don’t do yarn shops here in Australia like you guys do in the Northern Hemisphere. The skein knitter…she’s the earth mother of knitting. Makes perfect sense to me. But I have to say, she obviously doesn’t have toddlers.

  103. The first time I bought yarn in a skein, I knitted without winding it. I didn’t know I was supposed to wind it. Who sells yarn that can’t be knitted? Within the hour, I was a sobbing, swearing, ranting mess, and the yarn wasn’t much better. Needless to say, I now wind my yarn into nice little cakes before knitting. I even stack them into pretty yarn castles and admire how beautiful and perfect they are. Ugly, indeed!

  104. Last week I frogged one nearly whole sock from a single hank. I wrapped it around a large book, making a 1/2 hank, soaked it, hung it, and once dry pondered for a couple of days what to do. I didn’t want knots in my finished socks, so I ended up winding a traditional ball around half a cake of yarn. Oh, if I only had the courage to just start knitting!!!

  105. I am moving to Toronto, making a baby and joining your knit night. They are some lucky babies right there.
    As for the yarn, what the hell? Really, she just knits like that? Some one would be dead in the yarn before I even got it on the needles in our house. That is just plain crazy. I think there needs to be an intervention before things go very, very wrong.

  106. But…but…but…DOES she knit on the bus? When it’s crowded? There’s no way I would have any room to spread anything out on my lap on the bus — it’s why I don’t even try to knit sweaters on the bus. It’s strictly sock knitting time, and the yarn stays in the backpack. I just pull out what I need as I’m knitting.

  107. That picture gives me the shivers. I mean, how can she, what the, OH MY GOD.
    She must have very well behaved children and pets because that would last about five seconds in my house. Heck, I got my husband to buy me a swift by asking him to hold a skank while I wound. Usually I just put it over chair legs. Takes a bit more time, but it works. He freaked out when the yarn got the slightest bit tangled and, instead of just standing still, he dropped the whole thing. I made him untangle it (resulting in him finding me a new skein of yarn as well) and swift appeared the next day.

  108. As I don’t own a ball winder, I have to wind by hand. That takes precious time away from knitting so I am going to try this craziness. This could be a bigger discovery than when I realized people thought my house was clean because I had accidentally left a bucket of dirty Pine-sol water in the basement. Scent is so powerful that the piney freshness blinded my guests to the little balls of cat hair. Try it. It works.

  109. I cannot believe she has children or grandchildren. Does she always have such presence of mind to wind up the hank before swiftly reaching to grab a child’s tipping glass of milk?
    She must know about nostepinnes, right? They make a beautiful egg shaped ball.
    BTW–Did you see the full page Knit Picks ad in the Interweave Holiday Issue? Mr Squirrel, himself, is featured top right. Are you secretly his agent?

  110. you made me laugh OUT LOUD! What a funny post!
    I have been studying all day for a big exam that I have to take tomorrow. Decided to take a little break and check my favorite blogs and read yours…I feel much lighter now
    Also loved the picture of the little baby swaddled in knitwear!

  111. Knitting like that holds as much appeal to me as skydiving. Not to say that knitters aren’t adventurous or even a little wild. But this equates to Russian Roullette in the world of yarn. Love the Tulip sweater and hat, that is one well-loved baby.

  112. When I’m knitting the Math Whiz socks (ok it’s been awhile) I just wore the yarn like a gorgeous necklace and knit that way —- mostly because I was too lazy to wind (and I think cakes of yarn are ugly too) and because I had stored the yarn with handmade licorice soap and it smelled divine, was soft and just seemed right.
    I get it. It’s not illegal. It’s innovative.

  113. I thought about the skein on the lap….it would behoove one to just sit and knit until the whole skein is gone. Kind of like the skein was tying you to your chair and the only way to get up was to knit yourself out of it. That’s one way to get rid of UFO’s.

  114. *sniff*
    I’m moving to Toronto. Everything seems so much cooler there than D.C.
    Thank you for the laugh…I always wondered if gracefully draping the hank over my shoulder would work. It looks fabulous, doesn’t it?

  115. Oh man, I am getting the major heebie jeebies just thinking about the unwound skein. I cannot look at this one stash of Donegal Tweed I have (long rewound), that I cannot look at without sweating!

  116. Is that adorable little baby wearing Jayne’s “cunnin’ hat” from Firefly? How cool!

  117. I just cannot envision the “one over each shoulder” thing…how do you unwind the next needed loop of each colour? With a coordinated “wing flap” move?
    Just. Don’t. Get it….
    She sure looks relaxed, though. Peaceful, even.
    Could she be insane?
    (Just asking.)

  118. I’m going to have a heart attack! What was her answer about children?!? Did you ask her about multiple children? Multiple children and dinner cooking? And the phone ringing? What about cats? Oh I must lie down.

  119. At the risk of being skewered with dpns, I think it looks like a great idea. I don’t own a ball winder, I do it by hand sometimes able to rope(no pun intended) one of the kids into helping. Wow I am thinking it is worth a shot πŸ˜‰

  120. Words fail and the mind reels.
    I still recall with pain the 8+ hours I spent untangling a hank of Cherry Tree Hill ribbon yarn. I can’t even look at the resulting scarf without thinking about that agony.

  121. Amazing. I am just amazed. You asked all of the question I had when I first saw the picture. Those questions answered all I can think is….amazing!

  122. I’ve gone gray just looking at that.
    and also.
    I’ve died and gone to knitting/firefly heaven.

  123. I always wind balls by hand—which seemed to mystify the knit shop lady. It’s something about needing to bond with the yarn. A while back, I needed to wind a skein of Helen’s Lace and decided to start while waiting for my son to get off his lifeguard shift. I was sitting in the car (SUV) and draped it up and over the rear-view mirror. People seemed to walk by almost like they weren’t going to look, but they thought something weird was going on…. I’ve knit out of both ends of skeins and other odd things, but to have it loose like that. Ye gads, that gives me the shivers!

  124. I’ve knit straight from the hank for bulky yarns. My ballwinder doesn’t make very good balls for bulky weight and I’ve had no problem with tangles. But I always wind any yarn less than bulky weight into balls.

  125. to have a beautiful ball or lap skein from which to work is part of the joy. those block-shaped things off the winders just don’t have the same appeal. everyone should have a nostepine. i don’t leave home without it.

  126. I’ve done that, when I was knitting in bed and watching a West Wing DVD on the laptop and was absolutely NOT going to set up the ball winder at that hour of the night, and was also absolutely NOT going to not knit for the rest of the show. Then once I started, I kept at it for many subsequent nights, until I got to the end of that skein.
    I have to admit that it was uneventful, despite the presence of both cats and a child (all sleeping though).
    I still wind balls though.

  127. Yes, sure, yarn shops and cats and children, I get it.
    I’d like to see her try it in your back yard.

  128. OMG!! I tangle the yarn when it is already in balls/cakes!! The thought of knitting “commando” is more than I can handle! I am in awe and admiration.

  129. I am in awe. I am in the middle of knitting Klaralund, and it would be so cool to meet the designer. Especially since she has super-human knitting skills.

  130. Cutest. Baby. Ever. Seriously, ever.
    She looks so peaceful knitting off the skein. I knit in bed a lot, and I guess it would work then, or at least be the least likely to not work. But for on-the-go knitting? That’s one brave lady. I do agree with her about not liking yarn cakes so much. The yarn never feels as soft when it’s all wound up as it does in a skein.

  131. well… there oughta be a law (grin).. just sayin’
    and she appears to be so durned sweet and normal – right? (another grin)
    it would make most of us twitchy

  132. I HAVE a ball winder and am considering trying it. It looks beautiful. I have a small skein of soft worsted handspun wool that I received as a gift but haven’t been able to bear balling up. I was considering setting up the swift to wind it from, but I think I’ll try it like this instead!

  133. She could knit it in a house, she could knit it with a mouse. She could knit it with a fox, she could knit it in a box. She could knit it with a goat, she could knit it on a boat. She could knit it here or there, she could knit it anywhere!

  134. I knit my first sweater in 15 years from skeins of Malabigio 2 years ago ( I think that makes sense) It was great I just walked around the house with my skein all day knitting. Of course then I bought a ball winder and haven’t done it since πŸ˜‰

  135. I wind my skeins only because the child loves to help me knit if I don’t. It really is easier to knit off the skein though. One less step to worry about before casting on.
    Just let it go. Breathe and say it’s all good. Just like knitting “wrong”. It’s all good.

  136. Um. I knit and crochet like that. I have never seen the virtue of wasting time unwinding yarn so you can rewind it so you can unwind it (albeit from the middle) yet again to knit/crochet with it.
    So I loop my hanks around whatever’s available. My knee, my arm, a pillow. Yes, even on the NYC subway, I just sling it over my shoulder and continue on my way–run for the bus, sit on the train–it’s well-behaved and sits obediently on my shoulder.
    Occasionally it does get into a tangle, but overall, I think I’ve saved a lot of time. After all, I’d rather actually be knitting (not preparing to knit). πŸ™‚

  137. Hm. I’ve knit from the skein on more than one occasion. I didn’t have a ball winder for years and years, and would get tired of up balls around a TP core. But mostly it was only when: 1) It wasn’t slippery yarn that’d slither around; 2) It wasn’t yarn that would stick to itself; 3) It wasn’t fine gauge. I never got any major tangles that I can remember, but once I got a ball winder, I never looked back. Aside from the convenience and portability…like Marin up there in first place, I’m *guaranteed* to spill stuff on it if it’s draped around like that!
    LOL – I love Amy’s expression, though. And Liam looks wonderful in his knits! (How do you keep getting all these baby pix I get googly over when I’m not a googly-baby-person? Must be some superpower… [g])

  138. I have a ball winder phobia, (balls fling themselves off ball winders, everytime) maybe she has the same phobia and disguises it with cleverness? It is clever! Rock on!

  139. Haven’t gotten past the first photo on your post, and I already have to comment — That’s one cunning Jane hat on the wee babe. Ok, back to your post… Sue

  140. Baby adorable, Cari’s friend is in excellent company of course!

  141. That’s pretty cool! Brilliant really… I can totally see that. But I can’t do the over the shoulder thing since I do move around a lot, but the lap thing is definitely doable.

  142. Michael Pearson’s book on Traditional Knitting has a picture of four Shetland knitters on page 118. One is knitting with three skeins over one arm. Don’t look if you’re of a nervous disposition πŸ˜‰

  143. You should go to Sweden, and you should take Hank with you, and you should both have a blast winding all the yarn. And then you and Hank can blame each other.

  144. Ooooo. I’m impressed. I reckon I might try that sometime. I have no ball winder, and a husband who gets bored and moans when asked to assist winding skeins. In fact, after the Colinette Lasso incident, of which we will not speak Ever Again, he generally avoids skeins in all forms. (Something to do with the three days it took to sort out the mess…)
    That’s a mighty cunning hat the little one has there. Hat like that, people know you’re not afraid of anything.
    Y’know, I’m being stalked by Firefly at the moment. Not that this is a bad thing in any way.

  145. After you have come here and wound all of Cornelia’s skeins can you please do one of your talks and booksignings?

  146. Holy Cow! I get tangles in my yarn when it’s in a ball! I can’t imagine never winding it. All I would have to do is move and it would be messed up! She has some serious Yarn Mojo going on there. Pretty amazing. I think that her yarn Zen is way ahead of mere knitting slugs like myself and we should all sit at her feet and soak up some of the excess. I have to confess, I think it would be hard not to take part in the “We need to wind the yarn for her” trip to her house. Your group is a bunch of very brave knitters. I can’t imagine sitting there for a couple of hours watching her knit, always thinking that any wrong move will result in disaster. How distracting and how very unsettling! As my son would say, “That ain’t right!”

  147. OMG. Oh. My. Freakin’. God.
    Don’t let any of the new knitters see this. It’s indecent.
    I think I’m going to spend my weekend off winding EVERY skein of yarn in my house into balls just to try to get over this post.
    I’m having a little trouble breathing.

  148. Wow. As for me, wound balls in ziplock bags keep me sane. And allow me to tote my knitting with me just about anywhere. I’m glad that works for her – but I can’t imagine trying to work it in my life!

  149. I am sure I am not the first to say this – BUT….AMY SINGER IS IN YOUR KNIT NIGHT?!?! Talk about a Brain Trust there! Where is Cat Bordhi hiding? Does Eunny Jang fly in when she gets a chance? Or does she only come when she sees a Knit sign in the sky? (like Batmans)(ok now I am just talking crazy.)
    Looks like great fun anyways!
    I have a “Crafty Lady Day” tomorrow with a bunch of my knitting muggle friends…I will be prepared with extra needles and yarn just in case….insert evil laugh here…

  150. Wow. My first experience with a tangled skein was the last I ever want to have. And she does colorwork that way? What on earth was her answer for cats? Not having any? *boggles*
    Adorable baby in a Jayne hat to boot! Awww…

  151. Wait…two of the coolest knitters on the web attend the same knit night? How did I not know this? Amy and Stephanie? Wow.
    btw, yarn cakes ARE ugly. Useful maybe, but ugly. I wind by hand when I can.

  152. I love her name – Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton. With a name like that she can knit any ole’ way she likes! This morning I (and 90 other like minded souls) are off to Lenox, MA for the annual Knitters Review Retreat. I’m jumpin’ for joy!

  153. um, I knit like that! *ducks* and I have a 19-mo old–I just hide the knitting when I’m done. I just wrap the hank around my knitting bag and knit away. Haven’t gotten around to getting swift and ballwinder . . . yet. Oh, and I’m part Swedish.

  154. There are no knitting police- but as a MOM I’m just plain worried about her! I wonder if it actually SOLVES any problems…..???
    ps- my sons thought it was cool- tou could wear two crossed over the shoulders like Bandoliers….a knitting warrior.
    Boys. Everything becomes a weapon. sheesh.

  155. Loved the post. Loved the knitted top she was wearing — only one other knitter commented on it. It looked like some Noro silk garden or kuryeon and a solid — maybe a stash buster!!!
    Come on, describe the top for us more in detail, please.

  156. Um.. I can’t even go from unwound skein to nice pretty ball without a tangle. Let alone going from unwound skein to… knitting?! I might not have believed it if there weren’t photographic proof.

  157. Duh dudes — she’s Swedish! Swedes do the oddest things… πŸ™‚ (Just kidding! FYI: I’m of Norwegian descent. Always wind up the yarn.)

  158. There seems to be a theme here: fearlessness. Liam of course is showing the world that he’s not afraid of anything (will this ward him through childhood? Cuz that’s cunning) and knitting from the hank is definitely not for the faint of heart. I did it for a while (though I think cakes look awesome and display them in my house), but never tried again after I made a blanket from Lush, the grabbiest yarn in the world. You look at that yarn wrong and the strands felt together. Cakes were safer.

  159. Yay Jayne hat on a baby!!!
    Btw… Do you actually know what a Jayne hat is, dear Harlot? Or are we nerds confusing you? πŸ™‚

  160. First of all – those comments about the two coolest knitters in the universe at one night night? So true, and so sad that I am too intimidated to go. I should get a grip.
    Knitting off the skein had me in stitches (ha ha). With two boys under five and an obnoxious cat, the nightmare ending is very predictable. She looks so serene, though. Plus I just got a ballwinder and ADORE it (I feel like Hank) and the oh-so-symmetrical balls it produces. It satisfies my need for order without having to do housework.

  161. My neighbor knits like that too. I think she can get away with it ’cause she has a mild mannered sedentary girl, not three raukus ones like I have. My loosly draped skeins would be tangled in the first body slam from my toddler.

  162. Actually? I think you most resembled an antelope to Cornelia when you were explaining the finer points of ‘arse’ as a verb to her.

  163. C.T.H. was very sweet, but I did want to grab that yarn and wind it up.
    Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve man handled yarn/people. After awhile your just like.O.K. (you’ll see).
    Can if you like.

  164. That’s just crazy! I’d like to hear her answer to the “what about children?” question. Maybe I could learn something

  165. OH, my gosh, that baby is so darn cute. I just finished a tulip sweater for a soon to be niece. Fun knit!
    OK, the skein of yarn just laying on the lap? Would be such a disaster in my house. I have an 8 month old Basset Hound whose idea of a good time is to run as fast as he can towards me and then hurl himself into my lap. The skein would be tangled up in his long ears, short legs and my sanity. And there’s no coming back from that.

  166. Clearly, neither kids nor cats have any place in the life of that knitter. Ball winders are my life saver!! Used to wind balls by hand till the kitties turned my nice round ball to string art around the struts of my computer chair. Kids grow up and leave just when they get to be great company. But what’s life without cats?

  167. Erm….. Have you ever tried to wind viscose or something similarly slippery on the ball winder? You get an awful tangled mess. When you wind it to a nice tight absolutely not center-pull ball, you get an awful mess that has a tendency to tangle.
    When I knit some slippery crap (I use it mostly as carryalong only), I keep it nicely skeined and put it over my head. As a necklace. I’m a knitting freak:D

  168. You know, I think she might just be freaking brilliant! I can actually see a couple of times when this would have come in handy, but it just never crossed my mind. I mean, I wind warp from the hank, but not knit and there’s no particularly permanent reason why not. (Obviously it’s not the technique for the project I knit while trudging along on the treadmill to lose weight, but no reason in the world why it can’t be my couch knitting technique.) Bloody brilliant!
    However, I can SEE Denny having to exert huge amounts of self-control to keep herself from simply mugging the woman and winding her yarn. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

  169. HAH! Can if you like? Denny’s channeling Judith! (And my favorite Judith quote, to boot.) Love it.

  170. there’s usually so much going on at my house i can barely think about complicated patterns!! you go, Cornelia Knievel!

  171. With all the Jayne hat love around here, I am once again mystified at Firefly’s cancellation. I mean, it sounds like half the world’s knitters watched it – are we not a desirable demographic or something?

  172. Oh my good gracious. Can I fly there with you? It’ll take less time to wind it up if there are two of us. I’ll bring a spare swift and winder with me.

  173. Hate to say it but I usually knit with skeins the same way. I drape them over my knee and have never found it a problem. I actually have more issues winding them into balls then leaving them loose.
    Other than that – is anyone else have sporadic issues accessing the blog and its comments this week?

  174. Aw man, the things you miss when you’re down with a cold! Babies in cute knitwear and feats of yarn madness, all in one shop. (I’m totally with you on that urge to wind up her yarn — how can one possibly find yarn cakes unpleasing??)

  175. wow. i’d like to see her come to my house and knit with my darling maine coon cats, harry and hermione. if anything would change her mind, it would be those two little whirling dervishes who can mash up yarn more cunningly than anything i’ve ever seen. she’s one brave chick. i’ll give her that!

  176. Just goes to show. We can do just about any knitting thing with a fearless approach and bit of practice. Seeing your fun knit nights makes me wish I still lived in Toronto. (which I kind of wish anyway.)

  177. I am with you, working with yarn in that state is a recipe for a disaster.. I have issues sometime with a ballwinder and a swift, i get tangles that take work to get out… I would have had to leave the shop and have a beer. Jane

  178. Good grief. It reminds me of the time my mom wanted help winding a hank and i waited too long and it took us over an hour to sort out the mess. No way I could do that.
    Besides, I like the way yarn from a ball winder looks. Not sure why, maybe becuase it makes me feel like “Yes, I am a real knitter. As proof you can tell by my yarn that I have invested in my own ball winder.”
    Besides, my two youngest are as entertained by a ball winder as Hank is.

  179. Lovvve the Jayne hat. Really amused me to open the page and see that. πŸ˜€
    Also, I agree with Anne (wayyyyy up there…): *ahem* I think I want to try it. I don’t normally end up with TOO much trouble with loose skeins.

  180. I must confess – I am another non-winder. I don’t do it often, but on occasion…like right now. There is a lovely shawl on the make for my grandmother and the yarn is draped over the arm of my chair, waiting for me to come home πŸ™‚ Its not so bad – not portable, true, but not entirely crazy!

  181. I know I keep saying this but. . . .What a cute baby!!!! (I can’t help it. . .you keep putting pictures up of all these super-cute babies). I really love that Rocketry sweater but have been unable to find it kitted up in the states. I think my little guy would be cute in it.

  182. I love people who totally fly in the face of convention and do their own thing. Look how beautiful and organic it looks just hanging off her shoulder like that. I mean yeah, she’s nuts, but I gotta give her a 10 for style! I wholeheartedly agree that ball winder balls are not aesthetically pleasing. I only wind by hand for the same reason.
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–totally jealous of your LYS. Awesome people, awesome vibe. I hope you realize how lucky you are!

  183. Hm. It does look pretty draped over her lap like that, but as someone who does most of her knitting on the subway I don’t think I’ll be trying it any time soon. I have heard tell of folks knitting directly from their swifts, which brings to mind a huge roomfull of swifts for fair isle projects, just waiting for a modern-day Don Quixote to conquer them. But hey, if it works for her I say go, Cornelia, go! We’ll give the Harlot some Screech to calm her down.

  184. Shauna at 1:13
    Yes, I have trouble sometimes when I try to access the site. It will send me to some “live search” thing where there will be a link to the site, and sometimes it works and sometimes it will say the page cannot be displayed.
    I thought it was just me.

  185. Oh my, she is the just the most perfect woman! I can’t look at a hank without tangles! I think I have a girl crush!

  186. As I tell the attendees in writing workshops I teach,”Do what works for you.”
    That said, it sure as shootin’ wouldn’t work for me! I have tangles in balls I have wound with extreme care on my much-beloved ball winder, then placed, with equal care, in yarn bras. I have tangles in yarn that came on cones, for Pete’s sake! Clearly, my karma is nowhere near as pure as hers!
    Julie (Undoing yet another tangle)

  187. The serenity she shows is what I feel while knitting although I sure can’t do the hank thing! and I loved her sweater…

  188. I do something similar though I drap it over the arm of my chair and unwind a bunch of loops onto the floor to flow smoothly as I knit. Granted it’s not portable, but I’ve already got portable projects so having a stationary one doesn’t bother me. I keep the rug-rats out of it by not allowing them into my knitting room.
    I’ll admit, though, that I look forward to when I have a “swift setup” since that’ll mean less floor-pooling.

  189. I think yarn cakes are pretty! I love how the layers overlap and you can see into the depth of the yarn. Yarn cakes all the way in my house!

  190. My golly – I somehow manage to tangle hanks while winding them into balls. I am in awe, because if I tried knitting like that, it would be a sure-fire disaster!

  191. As a woman who ‘canks it up’ even with help of the swift and the ball winder, I’m just totally amazed…

  192. Really, I can tangle caked yarn. But the baby? Is the most perfectly outfitted baby I have ever seen.

  193. Perhaps she may not have ever used yarn that was skeined for commercial use (that’s the kind that is cross-wound so even a swift doesn’t help much).
    I’ve used a very large bobbin (think spool) to hold slippery yarn that won’t stay in any kind of ball.
    There’s a woodcut of a 17th century professional knitter who has a sort of double spool, a board with two axles for the balls of yarn to spin on, and a top piece to hold them in place. No twisted yarn for him. I’m considering making one.

  194. I’m there with you…I’ll bring the alcohol, you bring the breaking-in skills, together we’ll make the world a little safer for those of us who knit in a tangled world.
    And that is one very loved baby–I can just see it!

  195. That adorable little dude is wearing a baby-sized Jayne hat! How shiny is *that*? :o)

  196. Oy vey.. I got yarn tangled up when I put it on my lap like that last night. And I was just trying to WIND it. And I have load and loads of experience in winding yarn. I’m as twitchy as you are. Tell you what.. you name the time, I’ll be there. And I’ll bring cookies.

  197. You know, I’m alway disappointed when my lovely,lush hank of hand dyed wool becomes a tight little ball. It’s just not the same. From now on I will follow Cornelia’s example and throw the hank over my shoulder and knit on.

  198. Having captured the look on Amy’s face, I think you are now qualified to be an Action News Photographer!!!!
    Did anyone get a picure of you watching?

  199. I’m in the “That’s Scary” and “I love my Swift” school; I’m in the “little cakies of yarn are lovely” school; I’m in the “clumsy with two cats” school…I think she looks lovely, serene, placid…and I’ll bring the crochet hook to help you break in. It’s lovely, but that’s just WRONG.

  200. Well, as you said, she wasn’t traveling with any knitting. Maybe that’s the reason she wasn’t traveling with any. That would be hard to work with on an airplane.

  201. Nah, she was just showing off. I’ll bet she wound it right up into a ball as soon as she got home.
    Her method would solve the problem of the endless fascination that my cats seem to have with the swift and ball winder. They mostly leave the yarn alone, but that spinning swift? Uh-oh.

  202. I like Cornelia. She looks like someone who would be fun to know. I’m definitely going to try this. I have some beautiful Briggs Little sock wool in hanks, and me without a ballwinder. balling that stuff by hand takes forever.

  203. I love that look on Amy’s face. hehe
    That’s a really interesting way to knit. Radical yes but really tempting. I think I’m going to try it.
    Mind you my cat may find it interesting as well.

  204. My mouth is just hangin’ open!!! I can’t even IMAGINE knitting off an unwound skein! I have to step away from my computer, now!

  205. Scandinavians are a breed apart. I know, I’m married to a 1/2 one. His dad may have been born here but the Scandinavian genes totally won out.
    I think it’s the being married to a half one that is making it tempting to try that myself. If my new ballwinder hadn’t arrived yesterday I think I’d be trying it right this very minute.

  206. ummm…(very tiny voice)I knit like that! Well, I hang it around my neck so it doesn’t tangle. Sometimes I wind balls, but I kinda like knitting straight from the hank better. But it isn’t the best public transport knitting! For that a ball in a purse and circular needles all the way!

  207. Rock on, Cornelia. I hate yarn cakes too. Ugly. But I’m sure if I knit straight from a hank I end up with a snaggle-toothed mess. I hand-wind into a ball. A pretty, round, lovely ball from my pretty, wooden swift from Belgium. It’s cathartic πŸ™‚

  208. I had no idea that my knitting from the hank was even an issue that evening! You all sure kept poker faces… Is that a Canadian thing?? Well done, ladies… And the pictures? When did they happen? Guess I was too busy repeatedly asking the yarn harlot for reassurance that I had enough stitches on my dpn’s for a sock to notice. She was probably about ready to sock me after the fourth time I asked. After reading the comments it sounds like some explaining might be helpful…So here goes…
    Nationality: Not a Swede – American, Yankee… Possibly part extra-terrestrial though…
    Cats (and the dogs too): One at a time on lap. Head facing away from you. Then you drape the hank over them… my animals have always seemed to love it. Yarn twisted and out of reach when not knitting.
    Kids: Was not a problem as I recall… you can always stand up and put the hank around your shoulder. Again, yarn out of reach when not knitting.
    Color Work: Have never done anything with more than 4 colors – one hank on left arm of chair, one on right, one over right knee, one over left knee. Sure you have to “untangle” once in a while due to yarn crossing, but it always seemed worth it.
    Knitting While Moving Around: That’s when the hank around the shoulder really works well…
    Knitting in Public: Have never done it… read instead.
    Ballwinders: Quick route to wrist/arm/shoulder trouble. Lost all interest in it while doing limited production on my knitting machine… Have had as much trouble with tangling balls as hanks anyway.
    Sweater I am Wearing: Found in my new Noro book that is hot off the press and should be in your local yarn shop very soon!!
    Thanks, Amy, for the bio in the comments… brought tears to my eyes that you remember so much!!!
    Had a great time that evening at Lettuce… thanks! I’ll be back. That’s a promise!!!
    PS. I’m not nearly as serene as I might appear…

  209. You would SO end up on a terror watch list if you flew to Sweden to wind someone’s yarn! Then you’d have to take the bus to all those bookstore gigs.

  210. I must admit to doing the very same thing. In a room with four children under the age of two running around. It worked surprisingly well. Disaster only ensued one time and it was the very end of the skein, so it wasn’t too hard to remedy. I did finally break down and get a swift and ball winder for my birthday in september but I have to use them at night when everyone is in bed. Those are the real kid magnets (as Hank so wonderfully illustrates!)

  211. Wow. I wish I’d known about knitting from hanks before my two disastrous attempts at hand wound center pull balls! The potential mess couldn’t have been any worse.

  212. Well, I’m sure this makes me certifiable, but now I feel compelled to try knitting like that – even with the cat. Yep, pretty sure that means I’m completely loony. Oh well.

  213. I guess I’m weird, but I never wind my hanks into skeins either.. Like Cornelia, if I need to go somewhere with my yarn, I twist it back into a hank and the unfurl it when I have some place to sit. I love winding balls by hand, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered. πŸ˜‰
    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had it tangle (badly) before. But that wasn’t even due to having it draped over my knees, it was while unfurling the twisted hank to begin with – I split the yarn wrong, and hell ensued. One skein actually sat for almost a year before I untangled it and wound it into a ball… I cried. πŸ˜› I admit it. And there was definite harsh cursing to be heard too!
    But I’ll still keep my hanks draped over my knees! You can start knitting right away! πŸ˜‰

  214. i’m know I’m late to the party on this post but those pictures make me nauseous! Its very hard to look at and not wonder about emotional instability, what meds can be taken to correct it, and taking up a donation to fly you to Sweden to wind all her yarn into neat little cakes.

  215. Your Dricore install can be done with a Hilti gun rented from Home Depot. It is a gas powered nail gun that will put a nail through anything. Sorry I read your page, and said i have to tell her because I was laughing so hard about the Tapcon screw rant. I miss my grandmother who used to knit everything for me….Have a nice day πŸ™‚

  216. I’ve actually knit that way before, but it was very sticky angora that really didn’t want to be wound into a ball. (Also because I had no idea what a swift or ball winder were at that point. When I opened the hank, that’s what it looked like, so I cast on.) The ‘scarf’ (getting closer to shawl size at this point) is half finished in a basket somewhere, with the remaining part of the skein in hank form.

  217. Serene, unworried, lovely. She makes me ill. I wish I was her! I tried knitting like that once – it lasted about 25 seconds. Then I wound the yarn myself, since I was no longer at the store (& too cheap to buy my own winder). I have two cats who love my lap, no matter what else is on it – nope, not for me. But more power to her!

  218. I’ve been knitting from skeins (over knees and shoulders, spread out on beds and desks, hung around protruding bits of furniture, and carted around in backpacks) for the past two years– with a yarn-enamoured cat– and never knew it would horrify Knitters so. Snarling hasn’t really been a problem, and the few tangles I’ve had looked rather worse than they were.

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