Monday, January 04, 2016

Seam Stitches

There are old stories of knitting in the round using only 3 needles.

This is not done much any more.  Mary Thomas brings it up but does discuss any details.  It does not work very well using pointy needles and the "Weldon's" knitting techniques that become popular in the late Victorian period.  For real speed it requires a knitting sheath and blunt tipped needles.

However, it works very well, and has real advantages when working with blunt DPN.  First it is faster because there are only 2 needle changes per round of knitting. And, the needles are not flailing around like a pile of amorous porcupines.  

My desire to learn to knit on 2+1 needles was in part driven by curiosity about seam stitches - why did the old sweaters have them?  The reasons put forth by modern knitting instructors did not ring true.

I suggest that the old seam stitches were a way of preventing possible laddering when changing needles.  It is possible to knit stockinette on 2+1 needles without laddering and without seam stitches, but it is easier and faster to avoid ladders if the last stitch a needle is a purl and the first stitch on the next needle is a knit.  Or, even better, use a crossed purl stitch.

Knitting in the round on 2+1 needles is not for every project or even every phase of the projects where it is appropriate.  Nevertheless is another technique for getting a lot of knitting done, and it gives us a real reason for "seam stitches".

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