Tuesday, March 25, 2008
They would not find much on wassit either. Wassit was the inexpensive, tightly spun, indigo dyed, knitting yarn that was ubiquitous on the shores of the English Channel 500 years ago. It was used for knitting everything from underwear and socks to ganseys for the fishermen. Why doesn’t something that important show up on the Internet?
A clew is simply a hook, hung from the belt, on which a ball of yarn is impaled. Many designs work. I simply bent a spiral of wire so that it clipped on to a leather work belt and held a wire claw (from the same root) upwards to hold my yarn.
Very likely some of the hooks on the lower end of knitting sheaths, that museum curators tell me were to hold the knitting, were actually clews to hold yarn. (Since the museums did not have needles for those sheaths, it is unlikely that the curators had actually tried knitting with such an arrangement.) However, as you knit round and round, hooks attached to the knitting get all tangled up. However, used as clews, the hooks hanging from the bottom of the knitting sheath work just fine. And, even when I am working on the second sleeve, I have not had a problem with the gansey touching the floor. So, I see no need or advantage from a hook to hold the knitting.
Clews work with either center-pull or outside in balls. Every so often you will have to reset the ball, and for center pull balls, rewind them, but it is knitting, not rocket science. They are useful if you are camping or knitting while walking or if your hut has a mud floor.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I think it is a matter of yarn twist. Commercial balls of yarn have the correct twist when pulled from the center, regardless of yarn barf or final collapse and tangle issues. If you are winding your own balls, you should preserve the twist in the yarn. When you wind the ball, you should have a plan for whether you are going to use the ball from the inside or the outside. I always wind center pull.
Then, I suggest getting a clew to hold your yarn. I made mine out of a bit of steel wire. It holds either center pull or outside in balls of yarn at your waist, clean, handy, and out of (most) pets way. I think it is better than a pickel jar or even a ziplok bag with its corner cut off.
I can stand, or walk about while kntting. I can move away from my knitting bag without leaving a trail of yarn behind me. Sure I sometimes wind small balls and keep them in a cargo pocket, but the lets me pull a full sized ball right out of the stash and knit on the run.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The flexible plastic risers used for irragation systems make good needle cases for steel needles as they are ligher and can be screwed together to accomodate any length of needls. Again the screw caps are protected with wads of waste yarn.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Now, I have knitting bag that lets me easily carry gansey projects:
Then, I had to revist needle cases. I made a bunch of cloth needle rolls and needle bags for the last trip back East, but after living with them on the road for 3 weeks, I hated them.
The new program is a mix of bamboo cases (which are light) and sections of plastic pipe with screw caps (which are stong) and wads of waste yarn in the ends to protect the needles.
Plastic pipe with screw-on caps protects more delicate needles. Again, the ends are stuffed with waste yarn.
As you can see, I have started a new gansey. My old Cornish Fish is just not up to the stress of a new gansey (even with its new dentures). Thus, this morning, I made another Cornish Fish. It took less than 45 minutes from start to finish. I took a piece of fire wood and split it into a blank. Then, I used a hand saw to cut it to lenth. I used an electric drill to drill a 3/32 hole in one end. I used my hand saw to cut the slot in the other end. Then I used my pocket knife to smooth it and carve the funnel at the needle hole that makes it easy to stick the needle in. I sanded it by hand and smeared some bee's wax finish on it. It is not beautiful. It is not a love token that I have lavished hundreds of hours on. A wood worker with power tools could have made it in 5 minutes. I might have finished it faster if the plums overhead had not been blooming so sweetly. It is a very practical knitting tool that will last for no more than 500 hours of knitting with gansey needles. It does feel good in the hand, and it feels good in the belt. It does not have any sharp edges.
It is about 6" long. Early-on, I had read that such small knitting sheaths must be for children. That was clearly written by somebody that had never made and used their own knitting sheaths. This size works very, very well. I think I will name it, "Albrecht," after the dwarf that forged the Ring from the Rhine gold.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
By the way, use steel sock needles. Wood needles do not like this technique.
Here is a close up of the finger motion. Note it is very similar to that of the standard gansey technique, but it requires a bit of finess so you do not pull the sock needle out of the socket.
When I get back out to California, I will reshoot all these segments (and few more), put them on a DVD and make the DVDs available.
A Natural Born Knitter with keen eyes has noted that the tips of the commercial steel needles were different. They are. I broke their polish by rubbing them with crocus cloth to make them a bit less slippery.
Some Knitting sheath will work with just about any double pointed knitting. Typically I use longer knitting sheaths with sock needles. Sheaths for gansey needles need to be stronger and made from harder materials than knitting sheaths for wooden, bone, or bamboo. The knitting sheath must fit the intended needles and suit the intended technique.
Edited in Jan 2013 to add, this was a work around. Today, I swave such items using bent needles. Swaving is faster and easier. Today, I am sure most gloves, mittens and socks in the old days were swaved. This is one case where I wondered down the wrong path. It worked better than the hand knitting that I was taught, but there are better ways to produce such fabric and objects.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
However, if I had been wearing a synthetic, my arms would have been toast.
I like wool.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Again, this is just a first try at a video clip. I will do this again and again until I get it right.
Again, my hands are all beat up from pruning all morning. Sorry no pretty models.
Here is a shorter clip showing finger and needle movements.
A better view of the finger action is in the following clip:
Note that this was filmed during prunning season and the my hands are beat up from being out in the orchard.
This basic technique can be used for anything from socks, mittens, hats, and baby clothes to ganseys, rugs, and circus tents. It can be used for knitting in the round or back and forth. You can use more needles to knit larger items. This technique is appropriate for fine lace. and, I like a knitting sheath better than a knitting pouch/belt for Fair Isle.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Mamie had learned knitting as a girl, but had been too much of a “tomboy,” to do much kitting. However, she did tell me about some of the knitting traditions she saw as a girl. Her Grandmother’s favored knitting needles were made of deer antler. They were quite long and were used with a knitting sheath. (Thus, apparently there was a tradition in Williamsport of using knitting sheaths as late as ~1900. ) She also told me of using a “circular needle” made of a single piece of cherry wood for knitting Afghans and bedspreads. With these wood circular needles, as the knitting progressed, the knitter would have two young girls hold and support the needle to prevent it from breaking under the weight of the knitting. I am working with the local historical society to find examples of these knitting tools.
Anyway to make a long story short, Mamie admired the socks to much that I just gave them to her. Thus, the second pair of these boot socks that I have made, that have become “house socks.” Mamie does not walk much anymore, so these socks should last her forever. Did you ever see someone smile so much just because you gave them a pair of socks?
Edited to note the Dr. Diggs died this last March, and is much missed.