The question that pops up fourth-most in MDK email and orders alike is “Do you wind yarn?” The answer is, alas, no, but it’s not quite for the reason you might think.
My sister used to run this awesome thing called The Yarn Bus and once she dragged me along to a fiber festival to be her “assistant.”
“There’ll be empanadas!” she promised. “Waffle cones full of ice cream!”
Hmph. You know what there really was? Me, alone at a picnic table, winding hundreds of skeins of yarn and blowing out an arm until I practically needed Tommy John surgery (it’s a sports thing; I looked it up!).
While it’s not exactly coal-mining, winding in large quantities is a task that is almost Dickensian in its tedious back-breaking-ness. It’s also incredibly time consuming; MDK would have to employ at least two full-time winders to do it, especially during a free shipping weekend.
The last trip I took before Covid shut the world down was to Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA in early 2020. I bought a single skein of yarn and marched over to get my skein wound by the nice handmade-swift vendor who was set up to wind Stitches-purchased yarn for a few dollars a skein.
“Awesome!,” she said. “Come back in four hours.”
But nope, neither tediousness nor time is quite why we don’t do it. Most of us here at MDK are good old-fashioned hand-winders and we really (really!) believe that it’s the best way to get to know your yarn.
When you hand-wind, you tend to encounter knots or other issues with each skein and you can kind of go ahead and problem-solve and spit-splice or whatever other magic way you have of working around yarn flaws is—it’s harder to catch those things when your umbrella or squirrel swift is spinning around at a thousand miles an hour—so when it’s time to start slinging the yarn around the needles, you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.
We’re not completely anti-winder, though; my immediate family members—who all knit—use a Dad-made squirrel swift with some regularity. One reason we don’t use it even more is that whenever we haul it out, five people start asking questions about the mysterious-looking oak torture-looking device we’re suddenly spinning around and honestly, who has time for that?
About half the yarn we sell here at MDK doesn’t require winding at all—for example, Big Wool, Felted Tweed and Léttlopi come in cast-on-and-knit cakes/balls/amoebas—but we encourage you to embrace the winding if you opt for a yarn that needs it. It’s part of the complete process, like blocking and end-weaving-in. And trust me: your cat vastly prefers a hand-wound ball to a neat little flat-bottomed cake.
Cue the harp again for this prize: Two skeins of heavenly Gleem Lace in Burnished to wind up and make your own Aperture Stole or a pair of Tumbling Block or Rib Lace scarves from Field Guide No. 15: Open (we’ll tuck the Field Guide in there too).
How to enter?
Step 1: Sign up for our weekly newsletter, Snippets, right here. If you’re already subscribed, you’re set.
Step 2: Question: How do you wind your yarn? Leave us your answer in the comments.
Deadline for entries: Sunday, October 10, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw a random winner from the entries. Winner will be notified by email.