Don’t worry—I’m not talking about the election, my opinions, or the opinions of anybody else.
I’m talking about my scarf.
It’s got a slant to it, I tell you. It started out a rectangle and quickly began to list like a wiped-out mother. The reason for the slant? I’m using a single-ply yarn: the gorgeous, woolly, earnest Rifton that we can’t seem to hush up about.
For those of you who know your plies and twists and whatnot, just move along and go cast on a blanket or something. Anybody wondering what would make a perfectly straight-looking piece of yarn end up as a trapezoidal scarf instead of a rectangle? Pull up a barcalounger.
We turn now to Hymn Number 23 from The Knitter’s Book of Wool, where St. Clara of Parkes explains it all for us:
In Section 3, “Ply Me a River,” Clara writes: “The main issue with singles is balance. The twisted fibers are like a leaning person. They need something to lean on—normally another ply. Without that ply, the excess twist may work itself out by pulling your knitted fabric in a diagonal direction—just as our leaning person may end up tipping over. When you hear people talk about a fabric bias, this is what they mean.”
There’s a lot of talk about avoiding bias. I get it, if we’re talking about being fair and kind to other people. But with single-ply yarns, bias is simply a moment when the yarn is being itself. A single-ply yarn does this sometimes. But the benefits of a single-ply yarn are many: it tends to be tender, and loose, and a celebration of the fiber at hand. It feels recently made, rare somehow.
If I’d gone with a knit-purl stitch pattern, it wouldn’t slant. The push and pull of the stitches would even out the twist. But this Belinda Wrap ladder stitch is basically a variety of stockinette, sort of. So it leans.
It may be that I’m susceptible right now to anything that seems genuine, authentic, and honest. That’s what this yarn is to me: it’s still got bits of vegetable matter in it. The colors—Skies over the Cumberland and Central Park Bench—warble a tiny bit. This scarf is going to warm somebody’s neck, and it’s going to be loaded up with love from Jill Draper in the Hudson River Valley and the Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont. The undeniable bias made manifest in this scarf is the natural twist of a natural yarn, made by good people who are trying hard to make something real.
Here’s to more bias!