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Stupidity is a ball of yarn in the mouth of a wee dog.

by Brenda Dayne on August 27, 2010

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about my knitting is that, as experienced a knitter as I consider myself to be, I am, even after all these years, still capable of churning out the occasional turkey. This morning, as I tried for the third time to fold neatly and put away my recently finished and blocked toe-up socks, I realized it had happened again. I have managed to knit not one, but two unwearable objects.

With a new puppy in the house it may come as some surprise that I have found time to knit at all. In fact, the increased activity level in the in the household of late has, paradoxically, increased my daily knitting allotment. It has also made me appreciate the small, brief moments of quiet that do come, every day.

Like right now.

The only sounds in my world at this moment are the steady drone of farm equipment off in the distance, and the equally steady snoring of dogs beneath my desk. It’s afternoon nap time, and if I weren’t sitting here writing, I’d be on the sofa, with the dogs, and my knitting. They sleep, and I knit and listen to Radio 4 – a daily win-win for everyone. This should explain why I’ve been cranking out socks like there’s nothing else I can do because, for a couple of hours every day, there isn’t.

Socks, as you know, are my go-to mindless knitting project. I’ve finished three pairs since Truman came to live with us, and am about to turn the heel on the second sock of my fourth pair. I’ve been so productive with the pointy sticks that, incredibly, I have considered using my daily requirement of puppy-sofa-time to get the jump on Festivus knitting. I know. Normally, I wouldn’t even think Festivus until after Halloween.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending upon your point of view) this morning’s WTF? sock folding moment quashed any hopes of embarking on early Festivus projects. I may have the time, but I clearly don’t have the metal capacity for even the most mindless of knitting projects, let alone those requiring, you know, skills. Skills such as counting. Or looking at what you are actually knitting. It was the third recently finished pair of toe-up socks, the ones I tried to fold this morning, that alerted me to the problem. Here are the socks.


You don’t need to look very closely to see that the stitches of these socks slant and spiral around the foot and ankle. The fabric is biased. This is why I had trouble folding them this morning.

Here you can clearly see the columns of stitches arcing away from vertical on both sides of the mitered heel. The short heel flap of the combination heel is on the right of the picture. The sole of the sock is on the left.


When the toe miters line up, the rest of the socks don’t. When the heels are laying flat, the rest of the sock isn’t.

What is the problem with these socks? The short answer is: stupidity.

The long answer is in the yarn. Specifically, in the winding of the yarn, from skein to ball. As near as I can figure, when I wound the skein into a ball using a standard ball-winder I must have added twist to the yarn. As I know from spinning, when you knit with yarn that has too much twist, the stitches slant and you get biased knitting.

This problem was compounded by an energetic puppy, for whom my knitting basket proved too tempting to ignore. While I was working on this project, Truman slyly snatched the ball of yarn from the basket, and ran around the room with it, shaking it like a dead rat. It took an hour to untangle the mess, and I ended up breaking off the yarn to rewind the ball again, and then splicing to continue with the project.

Did I rewind the yarn in the same direction as I had the first time, thus adding yet more twist? Probably. I remember the yarn sort of twisting back on itself and kinking up as I pulled it from the center of the ball. It just didn’t register as a potential problem. One that I made even worse by rewinding the ball for a third time, in the same direction. Yes. Truman discovered my knitting AGAIN, with nearly the same results. The only thing different the second time was that he managed to extract one of the bamboo needles and snap it in two with his sharp little teeth, and I managed to learn to keep my knitting in zippered project bags. Frankly, given how sleep deprived and exhausted I’ve been feeling lately, I’m surprised it took just two episodes of puppy yarn theft to drive the lesson home.

I have read a lot of books on dog training and behavior. Nowhere do they warn that puppies make you knit stupid, but its 100% true. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you a puppy.

That said, their joy is utterly contagious. Watch the video of Truman in action and I’m sure you’ll agree, he’s more than worth a couple of unwearable socks.

1 BeckyinVT August 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Any chance you can convince yourself the extra twist will make them more dense and thus more resistant to hole formation? Or does the twist make them impossible to put on as well as impossible to fold?

2 Wendelene August 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I have a new kitten and have spent the last 3 weeks teaching her that yarn is not a toy. So far only one slip. She found my current sock in progress, grabbed and went streaking all over the house with the needles in her mouth and the ball of yarn left behind in the workbasket. And nothing runs faster than a kitten that knows it’s doing something bad!

If I hadn’t been laughing so hard, I would have been furious

3 LoriAngela August 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm

So far knitting socks does not come anywhere near the intersection of mindless knitting for me. Thank goodness I have lots of babies to knit for. Thanks for shots of Truman. My big black lab only ever chewed one tooth off the zipper of my vest. Still, that made it useless.

4 Caroline B August 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

My dog used to select the ball of yarn to destroy, usually the most expensive and prized ball in my stash…usually as a punishment for me daring to leave him in the house alone for more than five minutes. I learnt fairly fast to put all yarn in secure bags and boxes and behind a barricade..sigh…

5 Lise August 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I’ve just been showing this video to my cat, but he’s resolutely ignoring it. Can’t imagine why!

Truman, as expected, is a natural showman (dog).

6 October August 28, 2010 at 1:11 am

He is absolutely adorable!

7 GinkgoKnits August 28, 2010 at 1:53 am

I think puppies make one stupid in general. They’re both charming and exhausting but that’s just part of raising with a baby anything that doesn’t know what the world’s about yet. My dog loves stealing socks out of the laundry — the handknits get a separate bin — and his joy at having the socks is so great I might give them to him if he wasn’t always pulling out my favorite ones.

8 Kate August 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm

When I got the kitten, he lay in my knitting basket and I’d knit knit knit – then nothing. He had chewed through the yarn as it snaked past him. When I got the Rottweiler, one day out of nowhere she grabbed a skein of Ballybrae (my most loved yarn, so of course it’s now discontinued) and ran out the back door which she could open btw and ran around the rose bushes with it – till all I could do was cut what was left in the skein and cry over the rest. Most recent dog: just this week dragged 3 skeins of Rowan Kid Silk around the basement and managed to wind them into a fan which stopped dead is now in the trash. Moral of story: Pets and Yarn are a disaster looking for a place to happen.

9 Barb August 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm

What is going on with Ruby???? 🙁

10 Tabitha August 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Oddly, I actually like how the socks look. They are a cool one-of-a-kind swirl pair! You should name them DeeTee socks (Darn Truman!).

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