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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24 Responses

  1. Nathalie Brice says:

    I have just discovered your Blogtober and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all 11 days at once!
    It has made me want to cook, garden and knit socks all at the same time, thank you!

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for the tip about rewinding the yarn, that is such a good idea! Loving the daily blogs by the way.

  3. Kath says:

    I used to love holding the skein of yarn while my Nana wound it into a ball. It might be my age, but all wool seemed to come in skeins in the 50’s! I have a beautiful, Victorian, floor-standing, mahogany wool winder. It sits, looking gorgeous, in my dining room and very occasionally gets used. I rarely buy skeins, but that one does look tempting! xx

    • winwickmum says:

      I don’t remember my Nan using skeins but I do remember her using yarn on cones so maybe it depends on where the yarn came from if you didn’t buy it in balls. Your wool winder sounds amazing! xx

  4. Ann Devine says:

    Many years ago my sweet hubby got an umbrella swift as my birthday present. So useful, but I have to laugh at the name of this Japanese product: Almighty Wool Winder. I feel something may have been lost in translation…

  5. Susan McDade says:

    I remember holding the wool for my mother on my outstretched hands while she rolled it into a ball. However we never used the term “skein”. In our part of Scotland they were always “hanks”.

    • winwickmum says:

      I didn’t know that “hanks” was used here, I thought it was just in the US – and your mother obviously knew all about getting small people to help! 🙂 xx

  6. I have a swift and ball winder, pretty much the same set up. It does go fast, but I have to stand to use the set up. I also wrap yarns by hand with a nostepinne or a pencil with the skein on my lap, which usually ends up with some tangling. I figure it is an extreme form of meditation, where you really have to think calming thoughts when it is really in a tangle. lol

    • winwickmum says:

      I have to stand up to use mine as well, as it’s between the table and the windowsill – it doesn’t take too long and at least if I’m already standing I can dive after the winder if the top pings off! 🙂 I am impressed that you use a nostepinne; I watched a video on it once but decided that I preferred the sparks on my swift and winder 🙂 xx

  7. Lyanne says:

    I’ve got a bag which should live in the car for waiting times that is ‘dolls’ clothes for work’. Currently that’s a dolls’ jacket. But the car has been used for a couple of dump runs recently & had it’s MOT yesterday, so the bag isn’t back in yet.

    & I’ve got another bag that goes to appointments with crochet granny squares in it. As I get 4 made, they get blocked & ends worked in & sewn into a bigger square, so it will eventually be a blanket.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ooh, don’t forget to put your bag back in the car – that’s bound to be the time you’ll get stuck in a queue without it! It’s a good idea to join your blanket squares as you go, it can be such a big job if you leave them all till the end! xx

  8. I love your yarn Christine. I wind mine the same as you but was having a bit of trouble at the weekend with winding. After investigation by hubby, it seems that when I last got a bit tangled up underneath where the cake sits (winding too quickly I think!!) then a whole load of yarn had gone into the mechanism and was causing problems with winding. But with tweezers and lots of patience we fixed it all up ready to use again. Look forward to seeing your socks growing, Lynne x

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh I’ve done that before now, you end up in a right mess with it all twisted around the winder, don’t you? I’m glad you managed to get everything working again! xx

  9. Ruth says:

    I don’t have a car, but I have a travel project, a sock ready in a project bag, which I take on trains and buses and sometimes ferries.

  10. knitforhire says:

    What type of needle are you using! I usually use magic loop. Your short needle is intriguing! Thank you for your blog.

  11. Karen says:

    What a great idea to have an ‘emergency’ project to keep in the car, I think I may just have to copy you. For me I think it’ll be little leftover balls of yarn that I crochet into small squares for future blankets. I do have a small bag that I have taken to medical appointments but it never occurred to me to leave it in the car though, lol!

  12. Barbara says:

    Living in Lancashire in the USA (that’s the Uther Side of Accrington!) but working in Rochdale, I followed a colleague’s example of having an emergency blanket in the car for winter which was a never-ending granny square,any old yarn and a suitable crochet hook. Then, if stuck in a snowdrift or similar disaster I could keep warm and busy…

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