Yarncromancy

Purple and grey knit fabric

I think I’ve found my calling in life. Forget the PhD, the CV, the traits that, depending on who you ask, make me either a wonderful employee or not nearly sociopathic enough an employee (I’m looking at you, civil service screening tests). Nah. Stuff that. My calling is now that of the yarncromancer.

But Cia, what the hell is a yarncromancer?

Well, random reader, I’m glad you asked. We’re all familiar with necromancy, yes? The magical practice of raising the dead (found in fantasy settings, I’m not talking actual…oh nevermind) Well think that, think your friendly neighbourhood Grave domain Cleric, only for yarn.

Or, in layperson’s terms, on Friday morning in a coffee-induced haze of madness, I took a pair of scissors to a sweater and over the course of the day, unravelled it so that I could turn the yarn into something better. I raised the yarn from its grave of the sweater I hadn’t worn 12 months so that it could live again as something new. Necromancy, but for yarn. You’re welcome (I had contemplated Knitcromancer but it excluded crochet, so consider yourselves doubly welcome that I went with the grand title of Yarncromancer).

The stranded underside of some purple colourwork knitting as it is being unraveled

In all seriousness though, the sweater in question was one I loved. Until it turned out the designer wasn’t that fantastic a person and I felt that, ultimately, I didn’t want to wear what was essentially that person’s ideas and values on my body*. So the beautiful yarn used to make that sweater sat in a box, unloved and unworn. Yes, I suppose I could have gifted it or donated it to a charity shop. But, in my mind, that was simply shifting the problem and my feelings of discomfort elsewhere. Plus I really liked that yarn (and how I looked wearing it!) So out came the scissors. As an aside, I would be interested to know what others have done with projects designed by problematic designers. Do you still wear/use them? Donate/gift them? Unravel them? Equally, if you’re unsure what to do, I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

First cut is the…hardest?

It took me a while to work up the courage to make the first cut. The sweater did sit in a box for months before this moment arrived. But, once I started unraveling strand after strand of now-crimped yarn, I rapidly became drunk on my own power. It turns out there’s something weirdly invigorating about unraveling (and kinda destroying) 6 weeks’ worth of hard work. I can understand why some would balk at the idea of rapidly undoing something they’d worked on for such great periods of time.

Purple and grey speckled handknit fabric

However, I’d counter that with the fact that something beautiful has since gone unused and unloved. And in my case, the annoyance that I’d used some darn fine yarn to make something by someone with some pretty shitty values combined with the knowledge that the yarn could still be repurposed far outweighed any feelings of fear or potential for regret. Key thing here: the sweater was gone, but the yarn was not. This wasn’t an act of total destruction; only partial. That lovely 4ply yarn was freed to be raised from its knit-up, sweater-shaped grave and given a new and better life. Yarncromancy, y’all.

Several hand-wound balls of purple, and purple and grey speckled yarn on a wooden background

All in all, I advocate being honest with ourselves when it comes to our finished objects and the happiness they bring us. If life is too short for [insert thing here], why is it any different for handknits (or crocheted items) that don’t satisfy us or make us feel anything close to the brilliant beings we are? Having done it once, I’m certainly less afraid of hitting Level 2 Yarncromancy and doing it again to another knitted item that doesn’t bring me joy. Have courage and raise that yarn.

*I am not naming the designer or sweater. They do not need or deserve what essentially boils down to free advertising by me mentioning them here and y’all going to check out their spaces online.

Images copyright Cia Jackson 2020

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