Sunday, May 19, 2019

Knitting needles - revisited yet again

I had not been doing much knitting, but looking around I saw that there were a number of WIP, some commercial yarn, and a good bit of hand spun 5-ply/ 1,000 ypp gansey yarn.  My Guernsey/gansey yarn has more twist in the plies and less ply twist, so it is splity to knit, but has much better "fill".  And at 1,000 ypp, it produces a tighter, warmer fabric than the 1,110 or 1,200 ypp commercial yarns. And with more twist in it, it wears better.  Anyway, I have a lot of it and it was time to do some knitting.

I sat down to a WIP, and started knitting. ACK! I did not like the needles, not one bit. I have dozens of needles that I have made over a period of years, and different WIP have different generations of needles in them. These particular needles were made well into my migration toward flat ended needles, but the ends were slightly tapered and rounded. After a couple of hours of knitting, I went out to the shop and squared up the ends of the needles. They are now cylinders with flat ends. Yes, I buffed the burrs off, but they are cylinders with flat ends. 

They are music wire - spring steel. They fit into cylindrical needle adapters (mostly lined with brass).  Yes, at this time, my favorite sock (and hat) needles are 12" long pieces of music wire. (And by using 6 of them, I can knit a gansey for a big guy. However, by using real 18" long gansey needles (with flat ends) I can knit faster than I can with the 12" needles, so sweaters still get knit on the longer needles (now with flat ends). 

I freely admit that flat tipped needles require a knitting sheath! And, I admit that many lace stitches are better done with pointy needles used with a leather  knitting belt. Nevertheless, if you need to hand knit weatherproof garments quickly, then a knitting sheath and needles with flat ends produces the better product, quicker. For some products, the technique of choice is to use "bent" needles with a knitting sheath, rotating the needle into and out of  the stitch. That is a two-handed motion that some call swaving.

I wish someone had taught me all this back when I first asked, "How did sailors keep warm?"  

The rules are:

  1. Rather coarse long wool, spun worsted, dyed blue, with high twist singles, but the yarn plied up with low ply twist. It will be splitty, and the stitches will NOT "pop", but it will be durable and warm.
  2. Knit very tight, and block well.  (I can knit fabrics from Rambouillet fleece,that will pass through the cotton cycles on our washer and dryer without damage or shrinking. That requires high twist yarns that are well blocked, and tight knitting and good blocking. Long coarse wools are easier to stabilize.)
  3. To dye one must scour the wool, so it must be re-oiled.,
  4. Some stitches provided extra warmth (e.g., Lizard) , some provide padding as one gets knocked around the boat, and some provided ventilation (e.g., bobbles) between the sweater and the oil skin. Sweaters intended to be worn under oil skins  do not need to be dyed.

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