Monday, November 26, 2012

more Swaving

The key to ergonomic swaving is the correct needles.  When I first made up swaving needles, I was working from a sample of  a glove needle, and I tried to scale it up to 6" and 8" needles.  It does not work.  The longer needles were not ergonomic  :  (  As I found out!

The sample glove needle had a 90 degree bend in the middle, so as it rotates in the knitting sheath, the tip describes a circle with a radius of 2".  Turns out that is about right for my hands/style.  If I take a 6" sock needle and put a 90 degree bend in the middle, then the tip describes a circle with a radius of 3". That does not work as well for me.

Now, I bend the 6" and 8" needles much more gently so that as they rotate in the knitting sheath their tips describe a circle with a radius of ~ 2" or less -- yes-- the gentile curve that we see in old needles.  About the gentile curve that we see in well used wooden or bamboo needles.

However, swaving needles have a ball tip, with essentially no taper. My swaving needles started as sock needles, but now the tips have been ground round, because that works much better. Note that it is much easier to grind the tips before bending.  : (  My needles are hard to bend. Addis are much easier, but they are plated, so you do not want to go grinding Addi tips.  Some steel DPN are made from tubing, which is likely to crumple when bent.

The needle is "popped" into the stitch, yarn looped, then both hands push down and out in a short, brief, powerful motion. In my style,as the hands are pushed down, the palm or ball of the thumb pushes the upper end of the knitting sheath down about 3/8" of an inch, the knitting sheath pivots, and the working needle levers the yarn through the stitch using the leg of the last stitch as a fulcrum, while at the same time pushing the working stitch open to allow the loop of yarn to come through. This happens suddenly!  The needle with its loop of  yarn pops through, and the small (3/8") motion of the left hand slides the stitch off the needle.

The system allows very large forces to be applied to the knitting. And the system works better when the firmness of the fabric can add to the "spring" that pops the stitch.  At this time, I actually do not know if the system will produce the soft fabrics produced by CYC ( recommendations. I have been knitting medium (4) yarn on 2.38 mm needles at 7 spi (28 s/4").  I like the fabric. I do have some finer needles, and someday, I will move on to finer yarns.

Swaving is very good for crossed stitches, and it is very good for garter stitch.

/Edited on 7/27/2013  Here I was knitting crossed garter stitch.  Eastern Crossed stitch at a firm gauge is not possible with blunt pricks./

 Likely, one of the reasons for the popularity of crossed stitch fabrics in the old days was that crossed stitched garter results in fabric that has a minimum number of stitches per area, and thus was fast (cheap) to knit.

The process works with firm and very firm fabrics.  The produced fabric is more like high quality machine knit sock fabric than like most modern "hand-knit" fabric. (This may just be me as I like this fabric.)

Stitches tend to lay along the curve of the needles right down to the tip.  Dropping stitches is a much larger problem, but ladders and even tension is less of a problem.

On can knit/purl with swaving needles, but swaving does not happen with straight needles.  One can use the same knitting sheath, but the needles are not really interchangeable for production work.   For me at least, ordinary knitting/purling with a knitting sheath and curved needles is much slower than ordinary knitting/purling with a knitting sheath.  On the other hand knitting/purling with a knitting sheath is much faster than knitting/purling without a knitting sheath.

I have not figured out how to purl with a swaving motion. I have to just purl.

/Edited on 7/27/2013 - I have gotten very good at purling using the swaving motion.  It just took a lot of practice./


Chingachgook said...

Fascinating. This is the first glimmer I've had into understanding swaving. Eventually, I'll reread and attempt myself. Meanwhile, thanks for sharing your insight!

Andrea said...

Hi-- this sounds very interesting, but I am having a little trouble picturing what you're doing. Any chance you'd be able to post a video?

Aaron said...

I will do a video when I am sure I have it correct.