Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eastern Cross Stitch Revisited

I like ECS.  The fabric is thicker, with much more cushion and ventilation than plain knitting.  It has a much softer feel than plain knitting knit at the same gauge.  This makes it ideal for socks.  On the other hand, it can never be as weatherproof as plain knitting so it is not as suited for outer wear, where wind is a factor.

ECS wants to be knit with small motions.  Large motions tend to tighten up the fabric and make the next row difficult to knit.  Thus, ECS is easier to knit with a working needle that is stabilized, and more difficult to knit with say circular needles, where both needles are hand held.

I first tried ECS on circular needles and it too much effort to be practical.  Yes, it could be done,  but it was an effort.  Then, I went to  DPN with a knitting sheath.  That was much better. As I discovered that blunt needles work better with knitting sheaths than DPN,  I used knitting sheaths with blunt needles to knit ECS faster. To be frank, knitting ECS with blunt needles is fast, but tricky.

Now, I know that leather (Shetland style) knitting belts are the  support of choice for DPN, and DPN with a knitting belt is the tool kit of choice for knitting Eastern Cross Stitch.  And it is a stitch that allows knitting very tight fabrics, very durable without the extra leverage that a knitting sheath provides.  And, when knit very tight, ECS is much less stiff then plain knitting knit similarly. Plain knitting is the path to a tight firm fabric. ECS is the path to a tight, soft fabric.

ECS is a very nice fabric for socks and undergarments.  I think it is likely the basis of the traditional "Jersey".  It has taken years for me to come to a technology that made knitting such fabrics a reasonable effort.

Why did I not get here earlier? Conventional wisdom did not tell me that a knitting belt could produce such fabrics.  Today, I see knitting belts with pointy needles as the tool of choice for lace and crossed stitch fabrics.

The  other side of this is that a knitting sheath with blunt needles remains easiest and fastest way that I know do plain knitting, garter stitch or Fair Isle.   


Ruth B said...

Very few people know about knitting belts outside of the U.K. I suspect that is because many people here knit continental style, which is not easy to do with a knitting belt. I love my knitting belt, but my friend, who is a super-fast continental knitter, can't use it. I've seen one person who does a hybrid English/continental style who can use a knitting belt, but she's the only one. When only about one in three or one in four knitters in this area (Wisconsin) are English style knitters, it's no wonder they don't know about knitting belts and have no interest in using one.

Aaron said...

Everybody with any interest knows about Shetland Knitting.

My pages about leather knitting belts have gotten a fair amount of traffic, and there are now makers of knitting belts in the US. The groups talking about them on Ravelry also get some traffic.

Mostly, I talk about it because it is a very powerful way to knit. Note that the Bohus knitters used "Shetland" Knitting belts. And, one of the buyers at Nordstrums tells me that her knitters use knitting belts. One of the managers at Saks tells me that she used a knitting belt when she was knitting for the designers in Paris.