Blogtober 2021 : Day 11

Have you noticed how much more traffic is on the road again?  As much as I was keen to be out of lockdown, I did like driving on roads that were significantly quieter than usual – especially as it now seems that some people spent their enforced at-home time practicing their driving skills on video games and haven’t realised that you don’t drive like that in real life …!

Anyway, along with the rise in traffic and subsequent queues, I’ve realised that the time has come to replace my Emergency Sock bag in my car.  I always used to have an Emergency Sock on the go – a project that I was in no hurry to finish that I could keep in the car and work on when I was stationery for any length of time.  As a knitter (or crocheter), your views on being stuck in queues tend to change from rage and frustration to “Oh good, nothing’s moving, I’ll get a few more stitches in” and now I almost welcome being held up – although of course it’s always better not to be!

My previous Emergency Sock was one in my Neat Ripple pattern, last seen in this post in 2019 when it got brought into the house for me to work on the toes and … ahem … is still in the bag.  I really must get it out and finish  it – and then make the other sock – because I love the pattern and I don’t like socks to be unfinished (ha!  you should see my pile of WIPs that make a liar of me!).

This time, though, I thought I would go for something simple that didn’t involve any additional pattern or even much thought at all and this lovely skein of Burrow and Soar yarn (Blue-faced Leicester and bamboo blend) in the shade Bower will be perfect for a Basic 4ply Sock.

A skein of yarn in soft pastel colours lying on a wooden table with a short circular needle and two green double pointed needles.

If you’ve never used a skein (or hank in the US) of yarn like this before, you need to wind it before you can knit with it.  Never try to knit straight from the skein or no matter how experienced a knitter you are, disaster potentially awaits and you’re heading for yarn barf which is never a fun way to spend hours of your day.  Sadly, I am speaking from experience and now I wouldn’t dream of trying to do that!  I use a swift and winder these days, although you can just as easily use a chair back or your knees or a handy friend or relative to hold the skein for you as you wind it into a ball yourself.  (Small children who don’t know any better are often a good bet, although you can probably only get them to do it once 🙂 )

A skein of pastel coloured yarn opened up and draped around a wooden umbrella swift. The ribs of the swift hold the yarn safely whilst it turns. The swift is attached to a pine dining table. There are chairs around the table and bookcases in the background.

There are different types of swift which are wooden frames which hold your skein and turn as you wind the yarn off them.  Mine is an “umbrella” swift which has ribs that open up like an umbrella and you can also get tabletop or “Amish” swifts which sit flat on the table whereas the umbrella swift is much taller.  Mine turns as you pull the yarn and it’s ridiculously hard for me to resist the temptation to see if I can turn it fast enough to get sparks!

The yarn is being pulled and the swift is turning.

My ball winder is a cheap and cheerful one and I have to be careful not to go too fast with that either or the top flies off and shoots across the room at great speed, trailing yarn as it goes.  It’s quite fun to watch but it’s a bit of a pain to recover, especially if the top decides to go underneath the table and wrap itself and the chair legs.  (Again, personal experience …)

A red and cream yarn winder attached to a window sill. A piece of wood stops the guide falling over and there is a small amount of yarn wound onto it.

I also have to wedge the yarn guide as that falls over too – you might wonder why I even bother with this thing! – but I’m used to its idiosyncrasies now and we mostly get along just fine.  I love to see the pattern the yarn makes as the cake grows …

A small yarn cake on the winder.

and grows …

A medium-sized yarn cake on the winder.

And then my cake is done!

A large yarn cake is on the winder and all the yarn is used up.

Although not quite.  I don’t know if this happens to everyone who uses this method to wind yarn but I have noticed that sometimes the yarn is pulled a bit tight and that can stretch it before you start to knit.  It’s not ideal so I wind my cake twice.  Look, this is what I mean.

Can you see the yarn across the top of the cake looks a bit thin and stretched in places?

A photo of the pastel coloured yarn cake from above. Some of the yarn looks thinner as it has been pulled tighter across the cake.

And if I measure the cake as it is, it’s 9.5cm across …

The yarn cake sits against a metal ruler and a piece of wood shows where the edge of the cake reaches to - 9.5cm

but look at the size once I re-wind it, holding the yarn much more loosely as I make a second cake.  This time it’s 12 cm across and that’s quite a difference!

The yarn cake sits against a metal ruler and a piece of wood shows where the edge of the cake reaches to - 12 cm

I cast on whilst I was waiting for not so small daughter to come out of school today and now that I’ve started, this sock will live in the car and save my sanity during the coming months when the traffic will surely only get worse as the nights get darker and the weather worsens.  The little bag came with my knitting belt and is just the right size for my cake of yarn.  Brilliant!

The start of a sock cuff is on a short circular needle and the rest of the pastel yarn cake is inside a cream fabric bag with handles. To the top left are car keys with an orange Herdy key ring.

How about you?  Do you have an Emergency Sock or another project that you keep somewhere?

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