Knitter’s Notebook: How the Needles Hug the Wool

July 19, 2019

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66 Comments
  • Love this article/story! I have a sad sweater in a similar situation and have been considering this option. Your shared story may be just the push i need to begin surgery!

    • Good luck with your sweater surgery! It’s a great feeling to turn a sad sweater into a happy one. Onward!

  • Lovely. Thank you for this gem, Yarn is green.

    • Thank you, Sara! Onward, revive your green yarn dreams.

  • Beautiful piece. Thanks for the thing if beauty this morning! Hope you’re enjoying your new, red journey.

    • Thank you, Ingrid! I am loving my new journey, first sleeve is almost done. It should be ready by the time the weather breaks.

  • Thank you for this gorgeous poem-like word picture! Moving to Siberia, ha ha! I am hoping for a next installment (or three) that allow us to follow along as the brave and plucky wavy red wool is recrafted into a beautiful new garment worthy of its soft red splendor. Please?!?!?

    • Thanks for the idea! I used to have trouble understanding how people could talk to trees, relate to them as more than trees. I think I get it now, though, because sometimes Wool/yarn takes on a whole new dimension for me, especially if it’s red.

  • I read “…Mrs Goldman” I will check out the other titles. I’ve enjoyed Michelle Edwards stories when ever I find them. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Betty, your words of support mean a lot to me. Thank you.

  • Just love the analogy and the sharing of the poem in this article. It was the sprinkles clinging to my soft ice cream cone!

    • I have not thought about sprinkles in such a long time! When my daughters were young I had jars of them that I would use to make certain foods a little more attractive to them. I told them it was fairy dust.

  • I had a deep red 100% linen vest that turned into a dress! While not as pleasant to knit, the linen fabric was gorgeous and drapey but after the unfortunate growth, I wasn’t wearing it. It was the first thing I frogged and I can totally relate to all the little balls of yarn. That slightly crinkly linen rose from the ashes in the form of another vest (yarn more carefully swatched) and I can’t wear it often enough in the summer. 🙂

    • I adore linen, but I am sure it was a challenge to frog. I bet your vest is beautiful. Onward!

  • Michelle I would love to see a before and after !
    Tinking is half my knitting!

    • For all the reasons stated in the story, I don’t have a good photo of Cardigan X. Knit on, Elizabeth!

  • What a wonderful thought! Thank you.

    • Knit on!

  • Awesome loved the story as my daughter an Avid knitter did the very same thing

    • Thanks, Barbara!

  • What a lovely post! Thank you!

    • Nice to hear from you, Julie!

  • I’ve done this with several sweaters that once finished either didn’t fit right or I didn’t like the sweater. Right now I’m reknitting (Is that a word?) a Fair Isle sweater that I started years ago when I took a class on Fair Isle knitting. The size was huge even at the smallest size and I knew I’d never wear even if I finished it. So even though I was down to knitting the last sleeve, I finally decided to unravel it and figure out how to downsize it. After a couple of false starts, I’m about halfway done with the body.

    • Doesn’t it feel great to finally get it right. Kind of like the Shaker song A Gift to be Simple — to come down where you ought to be.

  • Thank you so much for affirming I am not The Only One! There is nothing more satisfying to me about yarn than the ability to “Do Over”, unlike most of the other regrets in life.

    • Chaotick, Thank you for sharing that insight—How forgiving our knitting can be.

  • i, too, take encouragement from Esther Hautzig frequently. I read her book as a twelve-year-old in the late seventies and it forever impacted me. i’ve actually never met anyone else who has read this amazing account.

    • I’m another who read The Endless Steppe back then. That knitting story always haunted me as well.

      • I requested endless steppe after reading the post.

      • Yes, that and the incredible spunk and courage of the young Esther to date greatly with her knitting.

    • Loved that book. I bought it at a book fair at school and have read it oodles of times. Wonderful survival story, and also a growing up story. I think I still have it in the attic…..

      • Lisa, it holds up every time I read it. I was recently in Villa, Esther’s hometown, and thought about her every day I was there.

    • Marcia, I love Endless Steppe and reread it every few years. Indirectly, Esther Hautzig was responsible for my first break into children’s books. I got to meet her shortly after. She was an amazing woman.

  • Nice! Thanks!

    • So kind of you to write and tell me.

  • Lovely story! Here’s how I frogged a sweater that I made for my husband that was WAY too big, and turned it into a big scarf for his 6′ tall daughter. Use a big shopping bag with handles (not a grocery bag, but one that you’d get from a nice store, rectangular). As you pull the yarn, let it go into the bag, and when you come to the end, tie that carefully to one handle at the bottom. Next piece, into the bag, tie the end to the handle next to the first one. Continue that way, carefully tying the ends to the handles in order and not disturbing the yarn at all. When you are done frogging, wind the yarn into balls starting with the last piece you frogged, and work your way back. This way, the yarn is more or less layered in the bag, and it won’t get tangled.

    • Judy, that’s an amazing system you developed. I will give it a try next time. Thanks!

  • I too can relate to this tale of a yarn so beautiful and a finished object not worthy of it. Too big and droopy that it’s uncomfortable to wear. But yarn so exquisite that it deserves to be knit into something else that I would be proud to wear.

    • Courage, Karen! See Judy’s comment above for an efficient system of tangle free frogging. Onward!

  • What a beautifully written article. I can understand not wanting to part with RED yarn.

    • Thank you. Red does have a regal pull.

  • I knitted and frogged and knitted and frogged 5 times before the chemo cap I was making for my sister-in-law was just right. Thanks for reminding me that it happens… to all of us!

    • Oh, yes, it does happen to all of us. Fit and feel are crucial in a chemo cap. Good that you took the time to get it right.

  • Beautifully written. Yes. Yarn speaks. And yells at you for attention when you walk past it in the yarn shop. Funny how hours of work can be unraveled in minutes.

    • Thank you, Isabel! Sometimes yarn whispers, too.

  • beautiful!

    • Thank you!

  • Inspirational- now I must act on those garments from early trials in knitting to give them a second chance! Thank you.

    • Onward, Mary!

  • Love your drawings and books, happy to see your piece here this morning. There is nothing better than the perfect red yarn!

    • Thank you, Grace!

  • I love this story. It warmed me.

    • Thank you, Gloria!

  • An essay as beautiful (and inspirational!) as that red yarn. Michelle, I hope you are considering publishing a new book of your knitting essays. And Mason Dixon, thank you for such quality reading.

    • Nothing in the works right now, but thank you for the suggestion! Great to hear from you! Knit on!

  • I believe that yarn has a “happy place”, where the gauge is optimal and the pattern suits it perfectly. I have actually seen yarn “pout” when it’s been forced into something it doesn’t want to be…like a teenager! I have unraveled many sweaters 2, even 3 times before it becomes happy yarn.

    • I ADORE the image of pouting yarn, and I do believe I have seen a skein pout about its unhappy state. Thanks for writing!

  • Just fun…..deb

    • Thanks, Deb!

  • Wonderful, Michele, as always.

    • Thanks, Sharon! Great to hear from you.

  • So wonderful to see you back.

    • Thank you, Jan. It’s great to be back.

  • Heck, I’ve unknit clunkers many times. It’s one of the reasons I only buy good quality yarn: it’s got to hold up to my abuses. I’ve never regretted frogging entire coats to reuse the yarn in more suitable garments, and the process always informs my knitting decisions going forward. Do I love having to do it? Of course not. But I view it as an opportunity to make a gratifying correction.

    • What a charming story. Thank you!

  • Oh, how I love this essay! We have all been there, with a well-loved yarn that we do not do justice. I love her courage, unraveling her hard work and starting over. Having Knitting Faith, for sure!