Sunday, September 11, 2011

How it was done

I look at  old knitting sheaths, and I ask, why did they do it like that?

For example look at this photo of  various knitting sheaths ( and note that a number of the knitting sheaths on the right hand side were made of two pieces of wood.  One carved, the other one turned and inserted into the carved piece with tenon joint.

Certainly many of the older "love toke" knitting sheaths were carved from single piece of wood.  Many of my early sheaths were carved from a single piece of wood and I went to a lot of effort to turn the needle adapter.

However,  last week, my wife had a new red wood fence put around the back yard and the work men left me a lot of little pieces of red wood.  It is a nice light weight, attractive wood, that is very easy to work. So I made some knitting sheaths.

They are both designed to tuck into the elastic waist band of sweat pants or shorts. They work very well with 7.5 inch #1 DPN.  The soft wood is strong enough when the tenon joint is glued.  If you use a friction joint so that that needle adapters are interchangeable, then the softer wood tends to crack at the joint.

Mostly, I have been using 9" needles with spring action for sock knitting for the year or so,  but these little knitting sheaths do not provide enough resistance to support the spring action, so these little knitting sheaths need a different motion. That is OK, the motion is driven by the shoulder muscles, and there is still no stress on the hand. It is almost as fast as the spring action. Made from red wood, the knitting sheaths are light and handy, and the shorter needles are better for knitting bags and travel. I find it worth while to keep this technique in practice.

When you are making knitting sheaths, this is a concept that you may want to consider as the soft wood makes fabrication fast and easy, and they seem to last.  The needle adapter in the top photo was turned from a bit of ash limb that I had to prune off to make way for the fence.   Turning green wood, can be a very fast and easy process.

The bobbins that I make are not as robust as the plywood bobbins that I get from Ashford.  Mine show a disconcerting attraction to concrete floors. Thus, I have had  several opportunities to think about making bobbins. 

These are DD spinning bobbins, that provide a 40:1 ratio on my Ashford Traditional, with a DRS of ~1.01, and a core diameter of 0.625" they are optimized for spinning 16 hanks per pound. The singles on those bobbins is a Shetland - Jacob blend spun to ~9,000 ypp.

I have moved to making the cores and whorls from one piece of black walnut stock. As you can see, there have been trials along the way.

I make the end disks from cherry. And, I like bronze bearing insets better than the Ashford Delrin bearing insets.  The Delrin is far and away the better bearing material and they are lighter.  However, the Ashford bearing inserts have little spacing collars, and with my small core diameter and small whorls, I just do not have enough clearance for the spacing collars on the Delrin bearings.  

My current process for making a spinning bobbin is to bore a straight hole through the core blank.  I use the ends of that hole center the blank as I turn the core/whorl.  The bobbin core blank needs to be straight and smooth to fit the holes that will be bored in bobbin-end blanks.

I scribe a ~3" circle on some 3/4" cherry stock, drill a 1/16" hole through the center of the circle and cut the blank on the band saw.  I use a spur drive on the wood lathe to turn the blank round and part it into 2 pieces.  Each bobbin end piece goes into the lath chuck and I bore the center of the blank to fit the bobbin core blank.  I glue the bobbin ends on to the core.  I turn the final shape of the bobbin ends and the whorl on the wood lathe. The bronze bearings are held in place with a dab of  E 6000 industrial adhesive.

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