Saturday, April 20, 2013

Impossible Yarn and the Shame Drawer of One Skein Wonders

We have all been it's victim.  We have all paid to be it's victim.  What is this horror of which I speak?  That yarn.  That one stunningly beautiful yarn.  That skein you had to have.  That skein of gloriously colorful defiance.  That teasing ball of temptation that absolutely refuses to look even a third as glorious knit.  No pattern fulfills it's potential.  You know.  You've tried. them. all.  You noticed that something about it was different when you wound it into a ball.  Something changed.  An amazing colorway was suddenly transformed into noise.  The colors were suddenly too busy and the repeats too short/too long/too something you just can't put your finger on that makes every project you attempt a failed web of pooling or muddled dullness despite the skeined glory it once was.  And so it sits.  It's in your stash.  You might have even re-skeined it back to its original beautiful state in hopes of fooling yourself into believing it still has potential.  Have you noticed?  Your stash has a shame drawer.  It's most likely full of these One Skein Wonders.

One Skein Wonders refers to a couple of different yarns actually.  It refers to "I wonder why I only bought one skein" as well as "I wonder what the hell I was thinking planning on doing with that?!?" and of course, the topic of this article, the "I wonder if I'll ever be able to make something wonderful enough to fulfill this skein's potential".

I know people who adamantly refuse to stash for just this reason.  They don't want to acquire a drawer of shame.  On the other end of the spectrum, I know people who avidly build stashes of nothing but one skein wonders.  They are, of course, wildly talented color/texture visionaries who make amazing garments of the broadest spectrum of un-repeatable yarn collections attainable only by pack-rats and artists of their caliber   The rest of us fall in the middle.  Some of us gift-away these troublesome fibers.  Some of us dedicate huge blocks of time to finding that perfect project. I'm of the mind that these skeins are actually produced in cooperation with papermills hell-bent on forcing me to buy reams of paper onto which I print downloaded patterns doomed to fail these skeins and guide me one step closer to a home-office inferno.

And here I pause for one of life's great insight and observation moments...

Have you ever noticed that if someone presents you with a plight, a problem, a ridiculously impossibly seemingly simple problem like getting a square peg to fit into a round hole that you suddenly have 5,000 solutions for them.  And then, have you noticed, as you swagger away with coupons of life-indebtedness in your clever little paws, that you had the answer you needed for your monster dilemma all along?  That in removing the splinter from your friend's eye, you removed the timber from your own?

Yup.  Last Wednesday in fact.  A new knit friend showed me her one skein wonder.  I recognized it for what it was immediately.  Vibrant colors in short repeats on lace weight - the impossible skein.  Gorgeous in skein format, a muddied ball, and a pooling lace with little exuberance remaining.  And then I said the words: "Oh, carry it along with a thicker black so that it runs as a colored highlight.  Frame the center spine lace chart by doing a column of slipped stitches on either side, carrying the colored lace weight in the back so that only black is worked.  It'll give it a neon / stained glass effect."  A moment of brilliance.  A textbook technique for handling a "novel" fiber.  Regurgitated. Revered. Pause for effect. Head smack. Epiphany.

Maggie - thank you for waking me the hell up.  You handed me the prompt I needed to find that tree in my forest.  Smooches Babe, and a High Five!

And now I call YOU out.  What other techniques have you used or heard of for handling One Skein Wonders (as defined above and in no way referencing the book by similar title)?