Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Knitting sheaths and knitting pouches revisted

For most of the last couple of years, I put aside my knitting sheaths and gansey needles in favor of  my leather knitting pouch and various other needles.

I like the knitting pouch with light, flexible needles  (stainless steel tubular) needles for lace. Certainly, cable needles offer some convenience, but for fast, low effort knitting the pouch wins over cable needles for lace.  The the pouch is very nice for soft fabrics knit from soft woolen yarns with needles in the range of 3 or 4 mm. (I no longer use needles larger than 4 mm, and thus am not speaking to their use.)

However, for fine, worsted spun yarns, nothing beats solid, spring steel used with a knitting sheath for fast low effort knitting. Above about 2.5 mm solid steel needles get very heavy, and then you are better off with tubular or wooden/bamboo needles and a knitting pouch.  At sizes below 1.75 mm the steel needles do not have enough spring force and  it does not matter whether  the needles are used with knitting sheath or a pouch. (However, a knitting sheath will always tend to damage tubular needles.) Thus, the virtue of the knitting sheath / spring steel needle is most apparent with needles in the size range of 1.75 mm -> 2.5 mm.

At this point, I design my yarns to be knit on needles in this range. My 5-ply sport weight is not as tightly plied as the commercial gansey yarns, so it is more splitty to knit.  Thus, my needles have gotten blunter, my stitches have less "pop", and things like bobbles are harder to knit.  However, the fine plies spread, and produce a more weatherproof fabric. These days, I knit hand spun, worsted 5-ply sport weight on rather blunt 2 mm spring steel DPN held in wooden knitting sheaths. Cast on for a snug fitting gansey to be worn against the skin is more than 400 stitches.

Gloves and boot socks get swaved using short curved needles that are rotated into the stitch using the same yarn.

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