Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

The Perfect Yarn: Narrowing It Down

Dear Kay, and the Perfect Handknit Design Committee,
Such input! Such passion! Such utter lack of snarky backbiting and ridicule! Delighted to see our Future Search off to such a congenial start. Let’s all take a 15-minute break and congratulate ourselves.
[15-minute break]
OK, could you Koigu people in the back quit sniffing the yarn with those rapturous expressions on yer faces? Kymm, please quit dismantling that old sweater–at least until the lunch break, OK?
It’s not quite time to vote on particular yarns, though we’ll get to that very soon. At the moment, we’re going look at the overall themes that have emerged from the 118 co-designers. Right now, all these issues are equal in importance. But after some voting today, we’ll see which issues are most important in determining what constitutes the Perfect Yarn. This will make voting on the exact brand of yarn a bit easier.
A Giant Sheet of Paper!
One of the big activities during a Future Search involves a giant sheet of paper taped to the wall on which the group distills the ideas that have been mentioned. The facilitator gets out six or seven markers and holds them in a distinctive Future Search manner. On the giant sheet of paper, the major themes are written in a graphic manner: a mind map.
To save you guys the agony of watching me write out the mind map, I just did it while listening to Patty Loveless on my iPod. (Nothing like a little hard-bit bluegrass to focus the attention.)
Here’s what our mind map for the Perfect Yarn looks like:
[click on it for a slightly larger version]
Freaky, eh? Looks like my brain. Here are the major issues that have emerged regarding the perfect yarn. For each issue, there are different options–see the branches on the mind map?

Fiber: mohair, linen, angora, alpaca, wool, cashmere, wool/cashmere, wool/silk, wool/cotton, cotton
Cost: economical, luxurious
Stitch Definition
Environmental Impact: Be nice to silkworms, can be used by vegan/veggie knitters, recycle old yarn from thrift shop sweaters
“Feel”: soft/not itchy, stretchy
Wide Range of Colors Available: subtle variation, solids, heathers, handpaints, space dyed, bright, shiny/sheeny, somber
Washability/Practicality: special and precious/handwash, easy to wash
Versatility: can be doubled, feltable
Gauge: chunky, aran/worsted, sport/DK, fingering/2 ply/4 ply, laceweight
Climate Suitability: heavy for cold climate, medium weight=versatile, works in cold OR hot climate, light for warm climate
Appropriateness for Use on Actual Desert Island: thin yarns mean projects take longer, can make fishing net or hammock from it, warm yarns too hot

So. At this point the Future Searchers are supposed to choose the issues that jump out as most important. This is hard for us to do in the yell-out-from-the-seats way it’s usually done. But that’s why God made Blogpoll. Here are a set of polls about these issues. You can’t vote for more than one answer per poll, so if an issue is not important to you, simply don’t vote. If, say, “Fiber” is not something you care about, just skip it. The most important issues will get the most votes.

Yay! You did it! Stay tuned for the results. Now, we’re off to the Perfect Handknits icebreaker party. Don’t forget your name tags . . .
x0x0x0 Ann




  1. I voted no on the last question, but I would like to point out that my one-of-a-kind hank of Koolaid dyed yarn would probably be the best choice–if you didn’t manage to rinse out all the citric acid, you could suck on it to prevent scurvy.
    By the way, I love it when you think radiantly!
    This is fun. xo, c.

  2. Hmm. All those little shoots in the mindmap remind me of something. think.think.think. Oh yes, fiddleheads!

  3. I need to change one of my answers, but now I don’t remember which one. Maybe just maybe that means I couldn’t really decide. Excellent questions!
    This is so much fun; thanks, Ann and Kay, and everybody who is joining in.

  4. Thanks Ann this is really fun! Can’t wait to see what we are going to knit and with what.

  5. Hi! My name is Cara and I think I love you. I just love me the GOOD kind of craziness! I haven’t had enough this summer AT ALL! Thank you!

  6. Woo! This is FUN! and strangly (perhaps sadly), it’s giving my life a sort of meaning: knowing I, with other knit-minded people, are creating the PERFECT handknit. I am part of greatness.
    (also, I really do think I’ll join in and make whatever consensus we come to)

  7. You two are just the coolest. πŸ™‚

  8. Hey Ann, this is so cool, you are a very patient & creative thinker.
    I’m confused though, are we talking desert island or deserted island? I’m picturing tropical & lonely.
    I can readjust though, just say the word. No charts necessary! ( Ok maybe a small one, I really liked the chart.)

  9. I like the way you’re driving this train.

  10. This is so much fun! I’m pretty sure, however, that if I had to do it at work, it would not be fun.
    And by the way, citric acid is not vitamin C and will not prevent scurvy should we become deserted with some kool-aid yarn. It does taste good, though. Citric acid I mean, not the Kool-aid yarn.

  11. Gale Gale GALE! I meant DESSERT island, like a giant Dairy Queen with people all over the place slurping Blizzards and fries.

  12. This is very fun. I love voting for stuff (especially things where the fate of a nation isn’t involved). I’m just a tiny bit distressed that my bedtime knitting, which I’m about to begin, is in Habu Tsumugi Silk laceweight, which I am loving, but that probably means I am Not Nice To Silkworms. Rats. A tiny moral dilemma.
    Eagerly waiting for the next group-think session…

  13. Don’t I get an “I Voted” sticker?
    OK, Ann, don’t hold out on us. Where do we find Dessert Island? Can’t you just picture multitudes of knitters gathering there all decked out in our Platonic Ideal Knitted Garments?

  14. We aren’t going to be forced to play any of those goofy team-building exercises, are we? I don’t want to have to put down my brownie. At least not until it’s time to knit.

  15. Ooh, this is fun. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to see what this will be. πŸ™‚
    By the way, I like to think I’m original, but still I notice that my answers were always the same as the majority (or perhaps #2 in the multiple questions). Does this mean knitters are soul sisters, or is it just that I’m a sheep? πŸ˜‰

  16. Can I vote for economical cashmere? What if we need to find a *scratchy* cashmere?? Oooh, I’m glad it’s not me tabulating these results. Even though both my kids are now off at school, I don’t think I’d have the time!

  17. OMG, I’ve ARRIVED! Mentioned by name on the nation’s leading bi-regional knitting blog! You like me! You really like me!

  18. This is totally cracking me up. I can’t wait for the next installment….
    Oh, and I must learn how to hold my pens like that!

  19. That was fun !

  20. fantastic quiz- I’m hanging out for the results…

  21. This is really fun. And, definitely way more fun than the futures stuff we do at library conferences! Anyway, can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  22. I find that the only questions that mattered enough for me to vote on were gauge of yarn and the “real desert island” question. As to the rest of them — I like soft and also scratchy; stitch definition and also poofy; handwash and also easy care.
    I guess I’m just “easy” when it comes to yarn. Who’d’a thunk? *giggle*

  23. I also vote for dessert island. Peppermint stick trees, gumdrop islands, whipped cream snow. mmmmmmmmmm

  24. You know Ann, I took a deal structure chart to a client meeting yesterday that was only slightly more complicated (and far less colorful) than your mind map.
    Actually, the mind map reminds me of Paris! Really, doesn’t it look like the RER map?

  25. 1) Will there be festive drinks served at the Perfect Handknits icebreaker party?
    2) Will the Perfect Handknit pattern get published (even if published means “posted on the blog at the end of the process”)? Ooh, that would be fun!!

  26. This is a hoot!

  27. that was WAY fun – can you help me do my real job now? i think a mind map might help πŸ˜‰ my mind is always thinking ‘yarn’ when it’s supposed to be thinking ‘code’ – something wrong there!

  28. I second/third/fourth/fifth what others have said, that this is hugely fun!

  29. what a great, fun post. can’t wait to see the results.

  30. Merino? Merino? Merino? (Bueller?) Fiber is important, but “wool” describes both Merino and Icelandic wool, and there is a big difference!
    By the way, you may have missed your calling as a lawyer, Ms. Able to Parse Yarn Elements With Impressive Obsessive Compulsiveness!

  31. Can’t wait for the next meeting. Oh, and I think we SHOULD have stupid team-building exercises! Can’t have a real conference without them, can we?

  32. Wait, do I actually have to KNIT something at the end of this? I can’t keep up with the fiddlehead sweater, dude. I’m thrilled I can even knit a sock…
    Sheesh…I guess I’m going to have to learn how to graft now – after all, there is that sweater languishing in pieces in my stash somewhere….

  33. I just want to second what Julia said. There’s wool, then there’s merino…

  34. Oh My and LOL all over the place. Just days ago our church FUTURE SEARCH had the same kind of chart in the Fireside Room……….markers and all!You have captured it perfectly! LOLLOLLOL!

  35. Wow. I mean… wow. This is going to be fun.

  36. I’m without a computer for a few days, and you turn the joint into a think tank!
    At the start I was predicting that I would never be interested in knitting a project designed by committee. But there’s so much agreement here!
    Also, have you noticed how people are rilly HONEST on blogpoll? ‘No, I actually don’t lose much sleep over silk worms, but this is an anonymous poll, right?’
    Brother-in-law should be fixing my computer tonight, so it’ll be back to pix of my kids before you know it! xoxox Kay

  37. The excitement is building!!
    How are we going to stand it?????!!!!!!

  38. oooh! What fun and excitement!
    Can’t wait to see where this goes.
    Love the mind map, btw. And in multicolor too! hoorah!

  39. I have a luscious recipe for molten chocolate cake I can bring to the Dessert Island. And, if our island is indeed tropical, I make a mean margarita and I have a bucket of “cosmo slurpees” in my freezer.
    And I forgot to add Rowan Summer Tweed to my ideal yarn list yesterday. Mmmm. Handles cables like wool but it’s not!

  40. It looks like a lot of fun, voting, but Blogpoll wouldn’t let me cast mine :(. It said I’d already voted, although I promise I hadn’t (unless the husband is sneaking votes in when I’m not looking).

  41. Can I make a motion that we call the perfect handknit “The Noumenon”? This will make us sound so smart.
    Any deviation from the Noumenon can be called a Phenomenon.

  42. Very fun! But under “easy to wash” I would like to submit that superwash yarn has been known (by me) to streeeeeetch in the wash and not shrink back to its proper size. How much monkeying with gauge swatches (measure, wash, measure, recalculate, etc., etc.) is supportable?

  43. I just came back from our all campus retreat where we did lots of ice-breakers and future searching. This was waaaay more fun! Can’t wait to see what we collectively create.
    Rock on Ann!

  44. This is the best poll I’ve seen in a while. I can’t wait to see what we come up with here in the Perfect Handknits blog conference.

  45. Yeah for the poll!! As a frequent lurker and never a commenter it was fun to put my 2 cents worth in. Can’t wait to see the results.

  46. I used to use mind maps with my class at school!! I love them, and I think it is great you are using one!!! I am waiting impatiently for the results, and I love voting too!!( and !!!!!!s)
    Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey and
    Peri Naughty the Golden Labradors

  47. Do we have to do one of those 30second, witty introductions things as we all convene with the dessert?

  48. Ann, this is so great, I think you might be able to graduate to a dry erase board before the end of the whole thing. And if you keep your eye on the prize, maybe even PowerPoint someday. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


A bit of news from us, every now and again.

(Your email is safe with us.)