Friday, March 01, 2013

Mystery Solved.

There are a couple of companies in England that sell "gansey knitting kits".  They include pattern, yarn, and long needles.  They do not like me saying there is an easier way to knit a gansey.  It seems that my sales have cut into their sales, or they are afraid that I will cut into their sales.  That is ridiculous.

I do not sell patterns.  I do not sell yarn.  And, my needles are much more expensive (plus shipping) than their needles.We are not competitors.  On the other hand, a lot of my customers are in the UK.

I do not sell gansey knitting kits.  I sell ways to knit better fabrics.  I sell ways to knit faster.  I sell ways to knit with less fatigue.  I do not care if you buy the tools that I make, or if you make the tools yourself.  I just want people to knit better, faster, and easier.  I would be very happy if those English companies sold knitting sheaths - either ones that I make, or if they do a good job - knitting sheaths that they make.

If they would take over the making / selling of knitting sheaths, then I could go do something else.  But they likely want to make money, and there is not much money in knitting sheaths so they would likely abandon the market - again.  Selling knitting sheaths (and the idea of knitting sheaths) is important, so somebody needs to do it, but it does not have to be me.


Kathe Lewis said...

Hi Aaron
I have had a look at some of the UK shops selling gansey knitting kits, as well as handknit ganseys. It strikes me that no-one mentions the actual knitting (nor spinning) technique needed to make the gansey hardwearing and weatherproof! Is it that todays "ganseys" are merely look-alike? I found a closeup photo of 5-ply gansey yarn, and wondered how the real handspun differs from the mill spun?
I would like to try the technique, also swaving, but I'm afraid I still don't quite understand what it is you do differently, I need to see it up close...but I am in Denmark.
I would like to have a go at making a knitting sheath, but am not sure about the hole - how deep and how well should it fit the needle?

Anonymous said...

They should be glad you teach people to knit faster. Then people will need to buy more kits!

=Tamar said...

I wonder whether they are upset that you are now proving that it is possible to spin gansey yarn at home. Logically they should want people to use sheath techniques since (if I have this right) sheath knitting uses more yarn per square inch, so they could sell more yarn than they do now.

Holin Kennen said...

How could you knit a gansey on long needles without a knitting sheath or pouch? It seems to me that the needles would be all over the place, and the tension wouldn't be right. Is there something I'm missing here?

Aaron said...

One can use long needles in a hand held mode. (In which case it is much better to just use circular needles. Really!!)

One can gain some advantage by bracing the right needle against the right forearm. It can be done, and some big name knitters do just that. And, one can hold the working needle under one's right arm (pit knitting. This is common in Spain and Belgium. It is better than any of the above.

Then, there is leather knitting pouches. These have been in continuous use in Shetland and the Bohus knitters used them. Everyone in the industry should know about them. They do work very well with the long stiff needles sold as "gansey needles." Since the spring comes from the knitting pouch rather than the needles, the pouches produce a slightly softer fabric. However, knitting pouches do a good job of taming gansey needles.

However, those two companies selling gansey kits did not sell knitting pouches.

No, you have not missed a thing, and I have holes in the sofa and lectures from my wife to prove it.

Aaron said...

I did not mean to threaten them, I thought I was helping them.

Aaron said...

The modern gansey yarns are spun of finer wool than old yarns, so the modern yarns are not as durable, but the are much friendlier. Hand spun differs because it can be spun from anything you want. You can go coarser and more durable, or you can go much finer and softer.

If you are working with hand spun, you can go with 4-ply or 6-ply to meet your own needs.

My best guess is that the fishermen's garments of 1820 from mill spun were - rather unpleasant garments. They were warm, durable, light weight, and that was about the extent of their virtues.

Are you having trouble with the gansey knitting (long needles) or the swaving technique?

Aaron said...

The depth of the needle hold depends on what kind of knitting you are doing. For gansey where you are really flexing the needle and putting a lot of stress on the system, the hole needs to be deeper and have a snugger fit. for my long spring steel needles I use holes ~1.5 inches deep. For knitting sticks where I will be using short needles, 0.5" or 0.8' is fine. For swaving, the curved needles need to rotate freely, so the needles will be almost "loose" in their holes. With some practice you can use those loose knitting sheaths with straight needles.

Anonymous said...

You need to get out more.