Saturday, May 16, 2015

The screamers

I said flat ended needles work, and work faster, and are easier to make.

A bunch of folk screamed!

Did any of them get out their knitting sheaths and knit a few objects with gansey yarn and flat ended needles before they screamed?  Are the screamers folks that have made and used many knitting sheaths?  Are the screamers folks that have made many of their own needles?  Are the screamers folks that can knit a very serviceable seaman's kit (hat, socks, sweater, mittens) in 6 weeks?

Anybody that has made steel needles by hand, knows that the description of making a needle in Rural England is problematic. It takes a while to grind a nice taper point on a whet stone. Grind stones are faster, but he was using a stone in the walk.  On the other side, that description works very well if he was grinding a flat end on a needle.

And, flat ended wooden needles work so much better with a knitting sheath that flat ended needles might very well revise my views toward wooden needles   I have not tried it yet, but I suspect that flat ended needles would resolve some of my objections toward bone knitting needles.

In any case, flat ended needles are faster and easier to make with hand tools than tapered tip needles. What is required is a knitting sheath and a different technique. And that different knitting technique requires less flex of the needles making it more practical for bronze and brass needles.   

Visualize:  you have the flat end of the needle against the shaft of the needle, and slide the edge of the end of the needle into the working stitch. It works and it is fast.

Thus, if you know about knitting sheaths; and, if you need to knit fast;  you use flat ended needles. They knew about knitting sheaths and  they had a need to knit fast. The only people that would object are folks that do not understand knitting sheath techniques.

The other thing it means is that any dowel or rod in the archaeological record may have been a knitting needle (depending on wear marks) and not only those with neat tapered tips.


Mooneybeams said...

Oh my lord you do make up a load of rubbish. Shetland knitters used knitting belts and sheaths and knit very, very fast. Did they use flat ended needles? Did they bollocks. And they still don't today.

If you decide to use flat ended needles because you haven't the technique to knit using normal ones, that's your lookout. But to decide that everyone historically did (despite the fact that there is no evidence to support this whatsoever) is absurd.

Aaron said...

The angels with a knitting belt are different than the angels with a knitting sheath. And, the physics of knitting with a Shetland knitting belt are different.

I have use pointy needles with my Shetland knitting belt to knit rather fast. I have not tried flat tipped needles and do not know if that would work or not, my guess is NOT! And, if you notice, I made a point of not discussing flat needles in the context of a Shetland knitting belt.

I am very competent with pointy needles and knitting sheaths. I made and used hundreds of knitting sheaths and thousands of needles. I used 18" pointed gansey needles to knit large number of objects including several ganseys. These days, I am the only person that I know of that can knit a weatherproof gansey for a large man in about 9 days. Many knit faster, but they do not knit as tight.

Now, have you tried flat ended needles with your knitting sheath? Why not? It was very much in the tradition of good knitters to make their own knitting sheaths and needles.

The motions are smaller and faster. For me, it takes about 10% - 15% off the time to knit a good sock - even after fussing with pointy needles in two or 3 places.

I have likely knit 100,000 stitches over the last year testing this concept. (Twice that amount if you count comparison knitting on pointy needles.) When was the last time you knit that many stitches testing a kind of needle?

I think Shetland knitting pouches are best for knitting lace and woolen yarns. For knitting Fair Isle, the Shetland knitting pouch has no equal. However, a knitting sheath is superior for fine, tight, fabrics knit from worsted yarns.

I Was very surprised when short (12") flat ended needles allowed me to get the speed that I had previously only been able to get with 18" long (pointy) gansey needles. This was a game changer for knitting in public. Suddenly, I do not have to take very long pointy needles in order to knit very fast. And, I do not have to take my big leather knitting bag to keep the needles from poking through.

Now, I find 18" flat tipped gansey needles the fastest way to knit fine fabrics from worsted spun yarns. With pointy needles, I thought the 2.38 mm needle provided the fastest and easiest knitting with 5-ply, while the 2 mm needles had too soft a spring action to do the job. With flat tips, I find the 2 mm needle to be the fast and easy needle for 5-ply.

Aaron said...

Damn spell change, angles not angels!