Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Knitting Sheaths for Swaving

The straight needle techniques that I have worked out for knitting with a knitting sheaths work better when the needle is held more or less securely and does not wiggle or slip out. Wiggle increases wear, thereby enlarging the hole and slipping out is a problem for beginning knitters, and it can result in the knitting needle popping out at an inconvenient time.  The first knitting sheaths that I made were often made of softer woods and wear was a real problem.  Knowing that many old knitting sheaths were made of ceramic, metal, or had brass liners, I tried lining the needle hole with brass, but this allow the needle to slip out easily and was never very satisfactory.  Thus, I put a lot of effort into designing needle holes that simply did not allow needle wiggle, and thus were simply more durable.  These holes hold the needle with friction and do not allow the needle to accidentally slip out.

However for swaving, the needle needs to rotate easily in the needle hole. My holes that grip the needle are not suitable.  However, needle holes lined with metal or ceramic are very suitable.

I think we can go back to P. C. Brears, The Knitting Sheath, and understand that the knitting sheaths made of ceramic and metal, or with metal liners such that the needle could rotate freely in the needle hole, were likely for swaving, although they could also be used for knitting.

These days, I use needle adapters lined with brass for swaving.


Kathe Lewis said...

I hope you will show os pictures and/or video of what this is all about - difficult to understand without illustrations!

=Tamar said...

I'm still fascinated. How tight is too tight - that is, does it take an extra long time to pull out a needle that is held tightly enough for non-swaving gansey knitting? Can the needle turn in the hole and still be held tightly enough?

Aaron said...

I taper the holes of the adapters for straight needle knitting so that the harder the needle is pressed in, the more effort is required to remove it.

As I knit most of the pressure on the needle is from side to side, with little force pushing the needle tighter into the hole. And, in the course of yarn management, I do not pull the needle out of its hole. This was a skill that I had to learn.

Here time is of the essence. If it takes an "extra long time", it is a failure! The grip of the knitting sheath on the needle must not delay needle changes.

Failure of the swaving needles to rotate freely in knitting sheaths designed for straight needle knitting is one of the reasons why my earlier attempts at swaving were so high effort.

A good knitter can use a swaving sheath for straight needle knitting even though the needle is so loosely held that it can rotate freely. A beginner will tend to pull such a loosely fixed needle out of its sheath in the course of each stitch and the result will be dropped stitches and frustration.