Sunday, April 10, 2011

History of a knitting sheath

In the last post, there is a photo of some knitting sheaths and the top one is an open twist design - and one of the prettiest knitting sheaths that I ever made. The open twist design was an effort to reduce the weight of the knitting stick.

It gets tucked into apron strings or a waistband. There are needle holes in both ends.

Originally it was used with 6",  #1 needles.  However, it has been rebored and now fits #2 and #3 sock needles.   It gets used with wooden or bamboo needles.

The open twist was not turned, it was just whittled with a knife from a piece of black walnut firewood, some years ago.  In those days, people were telling me that knitting sheaths were not used in the old days because knitting sheaths were too  much trouble to make.  Thus, I did a long series of knitting sheaths to compare how much labor it took to make a good knitting sheath to how much labor could be saved by using a knitting sheath.

While knitting sheaths/sticks do allow knitting dramatically faster so that the time required to make a knitting sheath becomes trivial -- the real advantage of a knitting sheath/stick is that it allows the production of fabrics that cannot be produced with hand held needles.  Modern knitters, not only cannot produce such fabrics, they have forgotten that such fabrics can be produced.  When I tell or write of the fabrics I knit with a knitting sheath, other knitters do not believe such knitting is possible.

Knitting sticks with spiral designs want an "S" twist.  "Z" twist designs tend to slip out, or slide down. This is a Z twist, and it tends to slide down. There is crack on in it where I had a belt threaded through it, trying to keep it from sliding out of my apron strings.   It is not one of my more  functional designs.

Note, that many old Dutch style knitting sticks had a "X" twist.  This works even better than an S twist, but is harder to generate by hand.  There is a special tool for generating these patterns on a lathe.


Above is much more functional knitting stick.  It is not as pretty. It is  not as traditional, but much more functional. It was rapidly produced on a wood lathe from cherry and maple.

However, it really is possible to whittle a very good knitting sheath from firewood in a matter of a few hours.  If you do not have a drill, you can heat a bit of steel wire to burn the needle holes.

No comments: