Thursday, April 10, 2014

It ain't pretty, but it works... sort of

You may recall I'm pattern-testing a baby pullover.  If you missed that, you can catch up in part 1 and part 2.  You may also recall that I came to knitting kicking and screaming (see my Stop me post).

While I'm getting a lot better, there are a number of things I still have problems with.  One of those is holding the yarn.  Many people (if not most) intertwine the yarn in their fingers which helps guide the yarn and keep a uniform tension.  I've tried that, but it feels contrived to me, and I can't get the yarn to move.

Flipping through yarn catalogs (primarily Knit Picks, because that's the one that comes to the house now), I've seen rings that help keep strands of yarn separate while doing colorwork.  Knit Picks has two versions - a plastic one and a metal one.  When I knit the Choo Choo train hat, I could have used one of those, but at the time I thought it would confuse me more than help me.  I still think that.  I dropped the yarn I wasn't using when I wasn't using it, and somehow I ended up with a hat that looked like the picture.

Back to the baby sweater.  For the most part, I have a rhythm down for knitting but not for purling.  In knitting, the yarn is behind the needle, where most of my fingers are.  In purling, the yarn is in front, where most of my fingers are not.  In general, this wouldn't be a problem, but the vast majority of this sweater is purling.  All the "cool" stuff is knits and cables, but all the non-tree stitches are purls.  That means I'm stitching much slower than I would prefer.

Here's how I hold the yarn in between stitches:

And here's how I end up holding the yarn while stitching:

If I drop the yarn for whatever reason, I (obviously) have to pick it up.  It's really not all that efficient.

When I woke up this morning (well, one of the first times I woke up this morning - I may have mentioned I don't sleep well), I was thinking about this dilemma, and I thought about those rings.  I also thought about my quest to not buy tools if I can make do or just plain make.

Ideas started floating around in my head, and I was unable to go back to sleep until I had a plan.  It started with me making my own ring using wire, then I remembered that I have a large number of adjustable ring blanks from Rings & Things.  I took one of those and a spool of black wire:

twisted loops around so I could put the yarn in and take it out again:

and I have a theoretically functional knitting ring.  No, it ain't pretty, but does it work?

Here it is in action:

Steve wanted to take an aerial shot:

It's not perfect, as I'm still having trouble with tension.  Also, it feels like I'm moving the yarn around just as much as before.  I'm sticking with it and am getting a bit faster, so maybe there's hope.

If this turns out to be a good solution for me, I may make a polymer clay version.   It won't be as pretty as this one on Etsy or work with multiple strands of yarn like this one, but it will suit me just fine.

The third cat (Fe) found her way to my clean desk and was sniffing and rolling around all over it:

I had to move my iPad to give her more room.  Based on her maneuvers in the second picture, I believe this to now be her desk.

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