Wednesday, January 02, 2013

"disingenuous" - rebutted.

Some people knit because they like the process. I knit because I want particular objects. I want those knit objects as soon as possible. Thus, I look for techniques that allow me to knit particular fabrics.  And, I look for techniques that allow me to knit those fabrics as fast as possible.   Come on, am I the only knitter that wants to get stuff finished?  I do enjoy knitting, but I have a lot of stuff that I want to knit, and a limited amount of time to knit.

Swaving seems like an approach that allows me to produce fabrics that I like, at a very rapid rate. For that it is worth a lot of effort. On the other hand, swaving turns out to have a very long and very steep learning curve.  I admit that I am still at the bottom of that learning curve.  We could climb the curve faster if other people would make swaving tools, and tell us what tools work and what tools do not.  It would be nice if other people would work out the technique.

However, people seem prone to just carping that my swaving technique is not as good as it could be. I know that.  Why am I the only one posting on this topic?  Why do they not post better tools and techniques?

We have no extant tools known to be used for swaving rather then knitting, so I was making tools from the example of one glover's needle (because it was different) and some rather general descriptions. There were problems with the proportions of the first needles that I made. The result was they produced beautiful fabric, but the process was very high effort, and not ergonomic. Still, I think that working out the motions of swaving was very ingenuous.

Last summer, I worked out some the problems with the proportions of the pricks, and the process become much easier and more ergonomic. I started exploring what the process could do.  The video (a few posts back) is 6-ply yarn being knit on US1pricks to produce a very tight fabric that is even tighter than anything I could produce with gansey needles. In its own extreme knitting way, it is kinda neat. My wife took a video of some of that work, and it got posted.

As I do, what I call "swaving", the prick rotates in the knitting sheath. That is different. On the other hand, if you are not looking for it, it is very hard to see in video. (My wife also says it is hard to see in real life, and she has very sharp eyes.)  I can see it because I know the physics of the process and know what is going on.  I do see the needle rotating in the knitting sheath. I see the pressure applied with the side of my hand to the shaft of the prick that causes the prick to  rotate.  Since most knitter's needles do not rotate when slight pressure is applied to the shaft of the needle, most knitters do not recognize that a rotational force is being applied to the working prick. The needle is not wiggling back and forth, it is not flexing, the knitting sheath is not moving, rather the prick is rotating in the knitting sheath. As it rotates, the tip of the needle describes an arc.  An arc that takes the tip of the prick into, and out of, the stitch -- driven with one linear motion of the side of my hand.  Like it or not, that is different from other all other knitting techniques.  It is is proper swaving.

Now, I know the yarn can be carried with either the right or left hand. I consider both swaving because in both cases the prick rotates in the knitting sheath. Knitting when carrying the yarn in the left hand may be a bit faster.  And I have figured out how to purl - much easier when carrying the yarn in the right hand.

The surprise is knitting fine yarn with very fine (1.5 mm)  pricks into firm fabric.  I like this fabric for socks and gloves.  Today, swaving is the easiest way I know to get this done.  For now, it seems to me that socks, mitttens, and gloves from fine yarns are the tasks where swaving truly excels.  (Now, it is worth spinning finer yarns.)

Failure for knitters to recognize the rotation of the prick, makes me wonder if Rutt actually saw swaving and failed to recognize why it was different than knitting.  Really, unless one is looking for the rotation of the prick, it just looks like "knitting".


=Tamar said...

I think I get it now. The tip of the bent needle goes into the stitch aiming downward (more or less), then _because of the curve_, the continuing pressure causes the needle to turn so that the tip now curves up as it pulls the old stitch off the left needle. I'm not quite sure what makes the needle continue to turn so the tip is repositioned for the next stitch; is it the release of pressure, or another factor?
How close to the tip of the needle should the curve be?

=Tamar said...

I wonder if even the people who called it swaving recognized what was really going on. People did keep trade secrets, and if someone learned they could knit even faster by using the bent needles in a special way, would they have told their competitors? The obvious moving of the whole body may have simply been a way of relieving stress, with nothing to do with the actual knitting.

Aaron said...

The leg of the stitch through which the yarn is being pulled to make the next stitch acts as the fulcrum. this provides huge leverage and it acts to level the tension in the previous row of stitches to give a more uniform fabric.

The needle is rotated back to face the next stitch to worked by the tension of the knitting. The whole process uses the tension of the knit fabric. The first 3 rows are hell.

Where the curve in the needle should be and whether it should be a kink or a gentile curve are high on my list of things to investigate. Perhaps I could swave my socks while you work it out?

Kathe Lewis said...

Now I am slooooowly beginning to understand what it's all about - I think it would be a lot easier sitting beside you to work it out.
But so to speak you rotate the prick like a crank handle, using the legs of the working stitch and the back of your hands as the two steady points, right? The way I see it, you need the bend to be in your palm, whereever you find it most comfortable, and soft or sharp bend as you like.
But the angle of the bend will determine how much the tip of the needle will move, right?
I got to find something I can use as a needleshaft and bend some of my old needles to have a go at this.
Where should we post pictures?
BTW, I am investigating knitting methods as I have bad hands, and would like to continue knitting by finding ways that involves least stress to the hands.
Unfortunately the nature of knitting, doing small but repeated movements, makes it a challenge in any way.

Kathe, Denmark

Aaron said...

With the needles that had too much bend, it was very hard on my hands. with these needles (6" needle just fits inside 1/2" pipe) the stress is less - for the tightness less than sock needles in a Danish style knitting stick.

We could move this to Ravelry knitting sheath group. For various reasons I tend not to post to [Historicknit].

Aaron said...

While it is less effort, at this point, it is not as fast as standard knitting on straight DPN, but that produces a much looser fabric (same yarn and diameter needle) so it is not really apples to apples.