Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I seem to have fooled myself

Last fall I started a series of boot socks as we were out and about. The yarn is a wool, 3x2 mill spun cable at 840 ypp.  I fell into the habit of throwing a ball of the yarn and a tube of 8" bullet-point,  tubular stainless steel needles, into a bag and starting another boot sock cuff with every little adventure.

Thus, now there is a bin of boot sock cuffs that need to be finished. I sat down to finish these socks on the same needles I started them.  But in my knitting chair at home, those needles felt very slow.

I was fooling myself into thinking  8" bullet-point,  tubular stainless steel needles were the needles of choice.  No! they are the needles of choice for knitting on the go.  For REAL knitting, I want my spring steel needles with a real knitting sheath.

The spring steel needles in a knitting sheath have a higher spring constant, and spring back much faster, allowing faster knitting and producing a more uniform fabric.   The finer tips are more likely to split the yarn, but in a stable chair with good light, and a crochet hook handy, splits can be detected and fixed.

The current generation of sock needles are 12" long, 2.38 mm (3/32") with long tapers to flat tips. I use a 6"  long wooden knitting sheath threaded onto a 1.5" wide leather belt worn low over the hips.  This puts the needle tips about a foot in front of my nose.  Using the palm of the right hand as it is pushed forward, the working needle is flexed  flexed about 10 mm, and the right needle is pulled in to trap the flexed right  needle in the working stitch.  As the right hand pulls back the yarn is looped,  The  right needle moved out, releasing the working needle to finish the stitch and carry it off the left needle. All motions are substantially linear, and the knitting is very rhythmic and can be very fast.        All of the power for the knitting comes from the upper arms, so there is very little stress on the hands.  The process produces a firm, uniform fabric.  The tension of the fabric is determined by the spring constant of the flexed needle.

 Since many modern knitters seek a very soft fabric, it is not likely to become a very popular knitting technique.

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