Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More on knitting tight to avoid shrinking

I am well aware of the differences in felting character between different breeds. The style of the yarn also makes a difference, how the yarn was blocked/fulled and how the finished object was blocked/fulled makes a large difference. The point of  the last post was that firmness of knitting also makes a larger difference than most modern knitters recognize - simply because most knitters never get around to knitting tight.  I routinely knit hiking/ski/fishing gear from 880 ypp (worsted weight) yarns at 36 stitches per 4" with a favorite cable 6-strand/ 840 ypp coming in at 32 stitches / 4".  Objects knit from gansay yarn (1,000 ypp) are knit on finer needles and have more stitches per inch.

Most of the yarns in this test were commercial mill spun from the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and/ or British mill spun gansey yarns. A good chunk of the test objects were knit from MacAusland yarns that are widely used in commercial rug hooking. MacAusland is not a fragile yarn.

Three boot socks knit from "worsted weight" yarns. The white sock was knit from MacAusland Natural 2-ply (880 yyp) the green sock was knit from a 3x2 strand cabled yarn at 840 ypp, and the green and gray sock was knit from MacAusland Natural 2-ply (880 yyp, gray) and the 3x2 strand cabled yarn at 840 ypp. The stripes on the green and gray sock make it easy to count the 8 stitches per inch. G/G sock was designed for snow shoeing, the others for hiking.

The gansey swatch is hand spun, with a low ply twist so it has excellent fill, and while only 1,000 ypp and 32 s/4" is nearly weather proof.  So yes, fiber, yarn construction, knit technique, and finishing technique all contribute to the virtues of the finished object.

What ever I learned about spinning last year, the other thing that I learned is that I like the speed, and fabrics produced by using spring steel needles and a good knitting sheath.  When I am knitting well, I tend to finish projects. When I am not knitting well , I start things and they end up in the WIP bin.

Now, I have a big bin of WIP, mostly started on tubular stainless steel DPN using a leather knitting pouch last fall.

This is pretty much the tool kit that I intend to use to finish them.  It works.  Last night, there were 6 pair of finished socks by my chair at the end of Dowton Abby.  Socks are done on 12" spring steel DPN, using a traditional knitting fish, threaded onto a heavy leather belt. The spring steel needles are faster, and produce a more consistent fabric.   Gusset stitches are picked up on finer needles. Sweaters are done on 18" spring steel needles using a wooden knitting sheath screwed onto a very heavy leather belt. The long needles shown are 2 mm.

The trick to using the the 12" needles is to get the knitting fish and leather belt to work with the needle to provide the right spring constant at the tip.  At home, and knitting seriously, I often wear the belt over a leather apron

1 comment:

Holin Kennen said...

Yes, Aaron. Some of us like a firmer fabric and knit more tightly than others. I am one of those people. I don't like holes in my hats because the wind blows through and makes my ears cold. So I use a smaller needle and check my gauge. This is not new, however, nor a revelation to many of us, though I'm pleased you have discovered it for yourself. Yes, if you are not going to have the advantage of modern heating, you will need different fabrics. The point being that most modern knitters DO have modern heating, so fabrics knit for pre-industrial cultures are too warm for them. There is no fault with modern knitters. They are knitting fabrics to suit their environment. I guarantee you that if their environment changes, their knitting will also change, as it has always done for centuries. We ladies know how to adapt our skills to meet the needs of our families. Have a little faith in us. We can figure it out.