Sunday, May 01, 2016

Better Knitting sheaths

The usefulness of a knitting sheath depends on many things, what one is knitting, the chosen technique, and what one is wearing.  It also depends on the posture; sitting (lounging) in my  yellow leather chair in front of the TV offers a different posture than sitting in a straight backed chair, or the seats in my wife's car, or in the kitchen chairs.  A specialist, who knits in one chair, wearing business clothing, can have one specialized knitting sheath.  I have spent much of the last couple of years lounging in that big yellow chair wearing a sweat suit, leather apron, with a wide leather belt and a knitting sheath - and it was good knitting but it was never just right.  The knitting sheaths wanted a more upright posture - like the one in the kitchen chairs.

Then, recently we visited friends at Textures in Santa Monica.  My knitting perch there is a bar stool that enforces proper posture.  For that travel project, I had summer boot socks from a 6-strand cabled, worsted weight yarn, knit on 2 mm needles to produce a 7 spi by 9 rpi fabric, and I really wanted a better knitting sheath.

Even with a knitting sheath, it is a significant effort to produce that density of fabric with 6" or even 9" sock needles.  Oh, it can be done, but it is an effort. However, with 12" needles, it becomes routine knitting.

Thus, I needed a knitting sheath that allowed use of 12" needles, when traveling - when wearing jeans or Dockers, and the belt holding my knitting sheath goes through the belt loops.  This brings me back to my often repeated statement the the hardest part of using a knitting sheath is learning how to keep it in place.  I needed a knitting sheath that would always in the right place when used with a belt at the height of jeans belt loops.

There were a lot of prototypes and mis-steps:
In baby steps, I got to:
These thread onto the belt, so they are not lost in transit, and the 6" can be flipped to work with 6" sock needles or 12" "gansey needles" or 6" swaving needles.  The 4" version works with 6" sock or swaving needles and with the needle adapter at the bottom, works with 8" to 10"  DPN.

With the needle adapter angled out a bit, this style of knitting sheath provides the same spring effect knitting as 18" gansey needles with the knitting sheath over the right buttock.  Knitting while sitting on a bench, the long needles are still faster, but in with most modern seating, having the knitting sheath under the right elbow provides better access, and hence is faster.

The parts are fairly simple once one thinks it though :

However, this is not the end.

We can change the form-factors a bit so that needle adapters work as as tightening knobs:
This knitting sheath now works very well for either 2 mm or 2.25 mm needles in either 12"  or 6" lengths, including swaving pricks, I think one knitting sheath that works well with 6 different kinds of needles is neat.  If you remember, when I first worked with goose wings, I was very impressed  with the power of the knitting technique where the goose wing rocked on the tip of the hip.  A very similar technique emerges from this knitting sheath by loosening the tightening knob so the shaft holding the needle adapter can rotate, providing a rotating fulcrum for the needle.  Thus, this knitting sheath can support swaving, spring needle techniques, and rotating fulcrum techniques.  Using a softer belt or loosenting the belt slightly, the Dutch knitting stick techniques can be used.  I never had one knitting sheath that could do all that, as well as these do.

These knitting sheaths are smaller and less bulky than a knitting belt.  In the context of a casual belt through the belt loops of  jeans or Dockers, they are much less noticeable than a leather knitting belt. And, while a knitting  belt is less likely to damage wooden or tubular needles, it will never provide the speed and power of a knitting sheath. Leather and horse hair simply does not withstand the force of  steel needles used as springs. And, knitting belts do not support swaving.

Four knitting sheaths set up for swaving socks. The two traditional designs (goose wing and Durham)  on the left, are fine for sitting and working, but are a nuisance if one is out and about.  Note that  the current design is less bulky, but just as stable or even a bit more so than the traditional designs.

Notwithstanding all of the above, today is May Day, and I am wearing shorts with their belt loops in slightly different locations than jeans or Dockers.  Knitting in the garden, on the straight backed patio chairs, the best knitting sheath I can find for 12" by 2 mm needles is the new style short knitting sheath.  This for blunt needles being used with a spring technique, for a fine gansey fabric of  140 stitches per square inch.

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