Monday, July 20, 2015

My Knitting Pins

In the last couple of years I have made myself a full set of blunt ended knitting pins.   At this point, I have decided that I do not need the "pointies" any more and have packed them up and  . . . . .

At this juncture, I knit with steel knitting pins that flex and  curved steel "pricks" that rotate in the knitting sheath.  The pricks are better for small objects such as gloves and socks, while the pins are better for large objects.

This is everything that I think I need to knit anything I want to knit from any yarn I want to knit:
 The whole kit

  18 " long Gansey needles in 2 mm and 2.3 mm
(not shown are 8 more in WIP)

A few favorite knitting sheaths and a crochet hook

B--> T; 1.3 mm pins and pricks, 1 mm pins, 1.5 mm pins and swaving pricks

 B--> T; 2 mm swaving pricks & clew, 2 mm pins, 2.3 mm swaving pricks and notions, 2.3 mm pins

Many of these needles/pricks have been used for 300,000 stitches. Prototypes were used here in the house, and prototype needles got trips to the shop until I had needles that worked the way I wanted them to work.  Mostly the pins cost me between $0.10 and $0.60 each to make.  I have the tools and skills to make them quickly and accurately. So I can afford to have what I think is just the right needles for the project.  My knitting tool selection is not limited to what is available at LYS, Stitches, TNNA or even the internet. Thus,  the problem is deciding what IS the right needle or pin.  

The criteria are:
  1. Must work for yarn between 850 and 2,000 ypp.
  2. Must allow fast knitting with minimum stress on hands/wrists.
  3. Must produce very uniform fabric.
  4. Must allow production of dense fabric.
  5. Must be very durable.
The needles and knitting sheaths that I use are the best compromise on the above criteria that I have ever seen, heard about, or read about. It took me about 2 years to switch from circular needles to DPN/ knitting sheaths.  It has taken me about 2 years to switch from pointy needles to blunt pins. When I find something better, I will move to something better.


Gaby M said...

Don't forget that I previously directed you to the 1788 Annals of Agriculture, readily available on Google Books, where it is documented that "One pound could yield 11,520 yards of single yarn." This was certainly spun on a great wheel, as Saxony wheels were typically used for flax in the 18th century. Unless you are spinning on a double-flyer wheel? But these were typically used for flax spinning as well. Great wheels (also known as spindle wheels, walking wheels, jersey wheels, muckle wheels, etc.) were historically the way to spin large quantities of fine thread very fast. Modern spinners do not all follow the historical methods.

Aaron said...

Fine yarn (singles) in 1788 was yarn spun at more than 60 hanks or 33,600 yards per pound. Medium yarn was between 22,400 ypp and 33,600 ypp, coarse yarn was less than 22,400 ypp.

Singles spun at 11,520 ypp were most likely spun for weaving and would be classed as "coarse".

Common singles to be plied into common knitting yarn were often 5,600 ypp while singles to be plied into hosiery yarn were traditionally ~22,400 ypp.

Thus, finished 5-ply common knitting yarn was very close to 1,000 ypp, and 6-ply was about 850 ypp.

My ideal hoisery yarn would be 10 strand 22,400 ypp structured as 5x2-ply. I am not there yet, but I have made a fair amount of 3x2 cabled sock yarn based on 11,000 ypp singles that finishes at ~1,700 ypp. Yes, it is nice for socks, but it also makes a wonderful jersey fabric. I made up a slightly heavier jersey fabric as 4-ply (1,250 ypp) that seems to like 2 mm needles to become a very warm, soft undergarment.

Woolen yarn at 11,520 ypp in 1788 might have been spun on a great wheel, but professional spinners had DRS flyer/bobbin assemblies that were much faster. With the demise of the professional hand spinner, such trade secrets went into the mills, and modern hand spinners have not sought them out.

What you can be sure of is that in 1788 most of the yarn spun was for weaving, and half of that was worsted. All hoisery yarn was worsted spun, and multi-ply. Worsted yarn was spun on DRS flyer/bobbin assembly Saxony wheels.

For worsted yarn, DRS flyer/bobbin assembly wheels are 5 or 6-times faster than great wheels.

That is why I can spin 5-ply worsted gansey yarn, when it is such a chore for all others.

In natural fiber textiles, the competitive advantage is always in the spinning.