Skeins, balls and cakes of yarn that pull from the center are all the rage with some of the people in my knitting group — but not me. The way yarn is commonly sold is in pull skeins (which are tools of the Devil, by the way). People who have never dealt with one before tend to pick the end that’s easy to find — the one on the outside, which is OK for a novice knitter, or people who have one of those fancy yarn spikes that is on a turntable. Pull skeins are actually designed to pull from the center, which you quickly figure out once you are able to knit fast enough to be frustrated with how cumbersome it is to have to stop and unroll more yarn (because if you give the yarn a hard yank, you have to chase the skein when it jumps off onto the floor). However, once you figure that out, you then learn that (a) the inside end is tricky to find and (b) when enough yarn has been pulled out of the skein, the thin outer shell that’s left has a frustrating tendency to implode into yarn barf*.
One of the ladies in my knitting group is a big proponent of hand-winding yarn into a center-pull ball, but that has the same inherent problem as the pull skein. Once you’ve pulled enough out of the center of the ball, again, the outer shell tends to implode into yarn barf. Now, the voice of experience is telling you that if a yarn barf event occurs while you’ve got a knitting project attached to the other end of the ball or pull skein, some serious religion losing will happen. When you’re in the middle of a knitting project, you do not want to have to stop everything and tediously untangle a big pile of yarn barf.
Nope. First thing I do on a knitting project is roll the yarn from the pull skein into a ball that starts at the center and winds outward. You’d think figuring out how to do this would be pretty intuitive. Apparently not. I’ve taught more than one novice knitter how to roll yarn into a ball. Of course, the obvious problem with a ball of yarn is that it rolls. That’s why I put the ball of yarn in a bowl when I’m knitting. Once you do that, the ball unrolls smoothly from the outside-in. Any yarn barf that was going to happen, happened when you were rolling it into a ball in the first place, and it’s already been dealt with.
For a yarn bowl, I recommend something large enough for the ball of yarn you’re using, something with a little weight to it like glass or ceramic or pottery so you won’t pull the bowl over if you give the yarn a little tug as you’re working. One of the yarn bowls I use I got at a thrift store for 50 cents (at right). It’s that indestructible restaurant china from the 1950’s and 1960s. It’s cereal bowl size, and heavy for its size and I carry it in my knitting bag.
The one you see most in my pictures (left) is one of a pair of bowls I got at Pier 1 because I really like the imprinted design on the outside lip of the bowl. It’s heavy glazed pottery. My big ball bowl (below) is a salad serving bowl I got off Wayfair.com, again because it’s ceramic and fairly heavy, and I like the impressed design. (It was also on sale!).
[Topic change without segue warning]
I was making a sandwich the other day, and found myself mentally comparing my technique to the parental unit‘s — When she makes one, you get a smear of mayo on the center of one side, and either mayo or mustard smeared on the other, one slice of lunch meat, maybe a slice of tomato, the bottom half of a lettuce leaf on a couple of slices of the local “Wonder Bread” equivalent — that awful “white bread” that becomes library paste after two chews. When I make one, I “book” the bread — you take two side-by-side slices out of the loaf and lay them open like the covers of a book. Whatever is going to be spread on the bread will completely cover that surface. (Yes, I spike in several places on the OCD spectrum. Why do you ask? ) If the lunch meat is chicken,
ham** or turkey, then it’s mayo spread on both sides. If beef, then it’ll be horseradish sauce on the beef side of the bread and mayo on the other. There won’t be any lettuce (I don’t buy lettuce. I’m not that into salads.) and probably no tomato unless I’m on a cherry tomato kick. There will be cheese on the sandwich; Muenster or Havarti if it’s chicken or turkey, sharp cheddar if it’s beef or ham. The lunch meat will be that thinly sliced “deli” stuff, and there will be three slices of it. The bread will be something with a little more substance to it and a lot more nutritional value — whole grain/multigrain, or ciabatta, or right now there’s this rosemary and olive oil “baked-in-store” bread I’ve been getting that is so yummy. It makes a killer sandwich with chicken, Havarti cheese, and tomatoes. (I did break down and get a couple of Roma tomatoes when I got another loaf of it the other day because sandwiches. . .) Of course, since I slice tomatoes a little thicker than most people (“the knife***” is a paring knife with a serrated blade that has needed to be sharpened for years . . .), I always serve any sandwich that has tomatoes in with a folded-paper-towel “diaper” on it. Nuts. Now I’m hungry.
Ran across this surreally magical video the other day.
Wouldn’t that make a weird accident report? “I was T-boned by a hot air balloon that ran a stop sign . . . ”
*Yarn Barf -- just what the term implies -- a big tangled mess of yarn. **
ham-- has, alas, been removed from the menu -- I've been put on a low-salt diet. Bummer. ***"the knife" A paring knife I've had for over 20 years, with a serrated blade. I use it constantly because it's the only "sharp" knife I have (besides this honking great machete of a bread knife which is probably illegal in any other state except Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming). It lives in the silverware cup of the dish drying rack because after each use, the blade is hand washed clean with a squirt of dish soap and put there, because I use it all the time.