It is summer, and that means my competitive streak comes out—in knitting. Every year I participate in the Tour-de-Sock. Think Tour de France, but we knit socks instead of ride bicycles. Every 10 days or so, we can download a new sock pattern and knit furiously, trying to be the fastest to complete a pair of socks. The patterns are not for beginners, so what initially looks like an easy pattern generally has a twist in it that forces you to look up a new technique on the internet. The competition is worldwide, and I’ve learned that no matter how much I practice, I won’t beat the knitters in Finland. I will, however, place in the top 5 (usually the top 1 or 2) in the United States, if I can clear my schedule.
The Tour means that I need to visit the yarn store to buy more yarn. Sock yarn usually is sold in skeins wound like small, heavy ropes. Before you can use the yarn, you need to wind the skein into a ball-like structure, which we call a cake. If you do this by hand, you can use the back of a chair or a helpful friend to help with the process. The best way to wind a cake, however, is to have a swift and a ball winder. The skein fits neatly around the swift, and the ball winder makes short work of winding. A 440-yard skein takes 5 minutes or so to wind, and you’re good to go.
Occasionally, though, the skein tangles on the swift. Sometimes it’s operator error, but I’ve done this long enough to realize that some companies just don’t tie the skeins properly; their yarn has built-in tangles. The yarn won’t come off the swift smoothly, and the only way to get the yarn into a usable form is to hand-wind it. Sock yarn is expensive. No matter how tempting it might be to just cut out the tangled part (or toss the whole skein), it’s worth the trouble to take the time to wind it properly, turning a mess into a nice ball that soon become a beautiful pair of socks for some lucky person.
The untangling process goes a little quicker if you leave the tangled skein on the support of the swift. Winding won’t be quick, but skeins taken off the swift and laid on a table quickly become hopelessly tangled, and winding is a frustrating process indeed. If the yarn is on the swift, winding won’t be quick, but it’s not likely to induce cursing either.
Lots of things in life get tangled. Maybe it’s a personal problem, a clogged sink, a piece of music you can’t play correctly—doesn’t matter. Tangles happen. But no matter what the tangle, a little support can go a long way toward putting things right. In music, you have the support of technique or perhaps a teacher. Sinks get unclogged with the support of YouTube or a plumber. Personal problems? Sometimes you need the support of a friend.
My friend to call on is Jesus. His Word generally has the correct advice to untangle the knot. Jesus is the one support I can count on to always point to the right way. I might be able to solve the problem on my own, but chances are the situation will get worse before it gets better. Relying on Jesus may still require patience and humility, but the tangle will be smoothed out before you know it.
Here’s to untangled yarn—and lives!