Tuesday, August 09, 2016

My World of Knitting

I have basically moved to knitting handspun.  I want yarns that are not available in the commercial knitting yarn market.  If the yarns I want were on the commercial market, I would buy them rather than spinning them myself.

I also like firm fabrics.  To get them, I use double ended needles with a  knitting sheath. A good knitting sheath is like a mechanic's socket wrench set:

Knitting sheaths offer real power to the knitter under a wide variety of conditions.

In contrast, knitting belts are more like pliers:

 I like pliers, I grew up with a pair of CT pliers in my back pocket.  My Grandfather had a bad hand, so he always had a pair of vice grip pliers that he used as his other hand.  However,  I have been sent 60 miles each way, over to Salina, to get the correct socket to loosen 2 bolts on the Cat RD-4 bulldozer because we needed to have it running tomorrow, and neither pliers nor wrenches could apply the force needed.

Likewise, if you need to knit fabrics such that air carrying heat does not move easily through the fabric, you need a knitting sheath, because knitting sheaths allow you to apply more force to the yarn than a knitting belt.  Now, do not get me wrong here. A knitting belt is a very good tool for 95 % of the kind of knitting done in the modern environment.

The old RD-4 was made to build the ALCAN highway.  Arctic conditions put special stresses on people, clothing, and their tools.  Just as it took a special tool to work on the RD-4, it takes special tools and materials to make knitwear suited to Arctic conditions. Today, most Arctic wear is factory made, so the knitting yarns and knitting sheaths do not commonly appear on the market.  However, their are some people that try to pass off  handknit objects as "magically warm" based on some myth that "hand knit" is warmer.  This comes under the category of unreproducible science.  In fact, it is bad science.

Fabrics that are denser and thicker are warmer.  Objects made from warmer fabrics with limited ventilation are warmer.  To get the fabric dense enough, and thick enough for Arctic conditions, you need a knitting sheath, just as the CT pliers in my back pocket were not going to move that rusted 2.25 inch bolt on the RD-4.

Because knitting sheaths are such powerful tools, I keep trying to improve the design.
I started with the traditional designs, and worked out the techniques that worked. It was clear that the traditional clothing of the period and places, had strongly affected the design of the traditional knitting sheaths, but we have different clothing, and need different designs.   I went on to develop knitting sheaths that fit modern clothing and are more convenient to use in the modern context.

  Today, I like:

Today the needles I use are in the range between 1 mm and 3.25 mm.  Needles for plain fabrics are very blunt, while needles for decreases and bobbles need to be more pointy.  Almost all of my needles are steel or stainless steel.  Thus, to knit a pair of plain socks I sit down with 2 pair of needles One set is used where the stitches are  all knit or purl, and the set of more pointy needles is used for the heels and toes.

No comments: