Made a Survey and Did Some Spinning

I moved into primary research while continuing to practice. Plus, some thoughts on yarn math.

Photo by Surene Palvie from Pexels

After our group meeting with Elizabeth last week I decided to start thinking about research questions. I had thought about doing interviews with knitters and pattern designers since September but I hadn’t really made a move to create a question set. I made a base set to go over this week and continued my practice.

I tried to spin some of my wool samples on a drop spindle, and it’s very hard to stay coordinated.

A big step was trying to embed the thread in one of my wool samples. I quickly realized that I was going to need more conductive thread for a larger sample to create a continuous line of electricity, but I press on with a 30ft spool I had from Adafruit and made a small sample of yarn that only measures about 5 yards.

This is enough to try to embed next to non-conductive yarn and see if it will turn on a light, but it illuminated some problems I suspected I would have with the equipment I used.

Small sample of yarn with a conductive core with some close ups.

For this sample, I used a tool known as a drop spindle, which is a wooden device that has a long dowel and a whirl at the top. You’re meant to use your own gravity to twist the fibers around itself. It takes practice to produce yarn at a consistent width with this method when you aren’t trying to embed anything into it so I knew going in that coordination could be difficult.

The resulting yarn that I made from my experiment has an embedded core but other parts that look like I was attempting thread-plying. While this isn’t what I was going for, it’s not a failure either since I do consider this yarn usable, it’s just not going to be able to be used for a series of continuous stitches. I do, however, suspect, that it will provide a stable enough structure to carry an electrical current without having to worry about ends touching and shorting.

The cut ends from a shawl I finished and a new shawl I started. Both are going to be gifts this holiday season.

I also kicked my knitting production into high gear for the holiday season.

After winding a lot of yarn a couple of weekends ago, I started knitting several projects at once to try to get them all done by the holiday season. This process took me back to a time when I used to play knitting games that were Harry Potter themed. There’s actually a good read on this phenomenon in a book called Harry Potter and Convergence Culture : Essays on Fandom and the Expanding Potterverse by Amanda Firestone and Leisa A. Clark.

This was a group of online people who were sorted into Hogwarts houses and who would do “classwork” to earn points. So there were classes like potions, arithmacy, transfiguration, and it was equal parts storytelling as it was just knitting and finishing a thing.

I was in Slytherin house where we were fiercely competitive. Not only did we do as many classes as possible but we also tracked the yardage we used and had an internal competition amongst my snake nest in the Slytherin dungeon. (Now, to make this whole thing even clearer, all of these things are forums.)

Anyway, around this time I was insanely productive with knitting to the point where it was my entire personality. The deadlines gave me a reason to get things done and so I knit just about every spare moment. This was great, but it was also a culture of constantly trying to make and produce new things to keep up with a community and that industrious streak eventually led to me burning out.

Looking back on project I’ve logged on Ravelry, it’s clear that while I didn’t do any knitting challenges, I did still make things. It just went from a few dozen things a year to like five or six things a year.

The start of my 9-page Ravelry queue as it stands.

But where this got really interesting for me this week was thinking about yarn and getting into this mode of making.

Because as I made things I was also bringing in yarn for new things over this period of time to the point where I was basically never running out of yarn.

Given the it’s the holidays, there were yarn sales, and I generally just got curious about a world that I hadn’t ventured into — seriously, I’d unsubscribed from a lot of yarn-related newsletters — there is now approximately 25 skeins of yarn coming to my house.

This is in contrast to the 12-ish skeins of yarn that will hopefully be consumed in Christmas knitting.

So, I have a surplus of yarn. This typically would not bother me, and honestly it doesn’t, because yarn gives me hours of enjoyment and will likely keep my brain sharp as I age.

However, there is a part of me that thinks, you just bought yourself 25 more things to possibly move in 7 months even though about half those “things” will probably be consumed by then, plus a bunch of the other yarn that’s been hanging around.

There’s a lot to unpack here and it exists somewhere at the intersection of gender and guilt and consumerism surrounding hobbies, but that’s a post for another day.

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A place for thoughts, musings, notations, and synthesis of ideas for my thesis research.

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Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser

Grad Student at NYU Tandon. Associate Editor for Tell-Tale TV. Pop Culture enthusiast. Writer with a dog. Knits.

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