Friday, May 30, 2008

Current knitting

My current knitting situation in a pile on the patio. The blue socks are the infamous $200 hiking socks after their final fit and before all ends are woven in. These are socks that are precious, not for their beauty, but for their performance in hiking boots on rough trails.

The brown gansey on 16" #1 DPN is for me. It is from MacAuslands 2-ply fine (worsted weight), and at 5+spi and 4X2 rib will be not quite as warm as the gardening gansey. The needles are some of the first that I made and were very sharp, hence the leather welder's apron to protect my legs.

I had been working with somewhat more rounded needle points for the MacAusland's med wools and the Merino 2000. As a result I was careless, and managed to use the sharp needle tips to slice open my left index finger tip and put 4 good puncture wounds in my hands. Learn from my mistakes, and when you move to sharper needles, be careful.

Here are two closer views of the hiking socks.

My LYS owner shudders when she touches them, but then just bringing up the topic of snow camping makes her shiver. She would never deliberately walk (uphill) toward snow.

(Her knitting is much prettier than mine!)

Ugly, but strong as a bag of mustard seed!

When socks are knit this tight, you must get the fit just right. There is not much stretch in this fabric, and any excess fabric is going to be a real problem in the boot.

Finaly, here is the crux of this post, my new knitting sheath. It is my best ever for gansey needles. And it is designed with a thin slot to fit on a belt made of nylon webbing.

Again, it is made to be a functional tool rather than a thing of beauty. It was made with only hand tools in less than half an hour. The wood is from my firewood bin.

Its final dimensions are 3 inches high, ¾ “ thick, and 1 ¼” wide. It has a simple beeswax and lemon oil finish, and it feels like a good tool in the hand. Mostly, on its nylon belt, it provided the right support for gansey needles.

Mostly though, this wonderful little knitting sheath makes me furious at archeologists. Early on in my studies on knitting sheaths, I read an archeologist’s report on an old knitting sheath, and they said that because it was only 6 inches long, it must have been a child’s toy. So, I made all of my early knitting sheaths longer than 6 inches, because I was an adult.

Now, I know that the length of a knitting sheath is a function of the knitting technique. Some techniques work better with long knitting sheaths, and some knitting techniques work much better with shorter knitting sheaths. Now, I know that the archeologists that wrote that report, did not know their business.

Spring is Sprung

It was late season and my buddy was getting a last day of skiing in.

Me? I was just testing hiking socks. The blue gansey kept me warm. Real ganseys are very different from ordinary hand knitting. The gloves were just to protect my hands from the ice if I fell.

The hiking socks are good. They are much warmer than any of the commercial socks, and far superior to samples of socks hand knit by others.

These are "bombproof" socks that you can put on at the trail head and not take off untill you get back to the trail head, even if if the trail is long and hard.

My buddy, was wearing a pair of ski socks that I gave him for Christmans. He liked the hiking socks, and offered me $200 for a pair. (We had a final fitting last night.)

I am standing on a little ledge here, so the photo does not convey how steep it was.

Lets, put it this way. If you fall wearing nylon outer wear, you will slide to the bottom. The result is a "yard sale" and gear recovery is always an issue. If you fall wearing wool, The wool stops the slide, and gear recovery is much easier.

The socks were knit with MacAusland Woolen Mills 2-ply medium natural yarn knit on 2.3 mm steel needles with a knitting sheath. More on this latter.