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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Stitches in time - and space

Others besides Lucy are into knitting. At Christmas these three mice won't be carolling round the astrolabe. There's a brazier and a hand lantern yet to be fashioned. I simply drove VR to the craft emporium to buy the wool. Once VR might have knitted such items from leftover scraps. This time there was a concept and random colours weren’t acceptable
      
From following Lucy's blog and watching VR I am encouraged to put in my two pennorth.
      
TECHNOID Once knitting begins, the knitter ceases to have access to either end of the wool. One end is tied into the baseline, the other is buried in the ball. This means conventional knotting (with its inherent security) is impossible. Instead loops are pulled through loops and the resultant material exists in a state of impermanence until it is finally tied off. This impermanence - the possibility of ending up with nought but a length of disentangled wool - always left me nervous, reducing my output to a single baby's sock.
      
WRONG WAY? US knitters, and possibly those on the Continong, use their needles back to front or upside-down. VR who knits like a detached humanoid machine may have opined, I’m not entirely sure, that this approach ultimately limits speed. I have no view on this.
      
GIANT KNOBBLY Preggers with our first daughter in 1962 VR took her knitting with her to the obstetrics ward, aiming to create a giant knobbly pullover for me. And I mean giant – requiring 40 oz of wool. It filled a whole suitcase when I took it home. Later I wore it in the USA.
      
SOCK TUBES Does anyone knit adult socks these days? My mother and grandmother did. Three (was it four?) needles, without terminal knobs, allowed continuous circular action. Oh, and endless chat.

4 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

I know nothing of knitting, but have a dread that I may be forced to take it up if my knee problems deteriorate further.

Climbing ropes and long electrical cables are more familiar.

Both are prone to kinking, especially when being coiled. Each end must be free, and the whole length pulled through with one hand whilst the other grips fairly tightly to “push” out, or force each kinking tendency right to the other end. You will then have a better chance of coiling everything neatly without that familiar kinking which seems to indicate possession of some life force or mysterious power generation within the article itself.

Lucy said...

Ooooh, wonderful knitted mice! Ooooh a knitting post on TD! My cup runneth over! VR is so clever! When I finally run out of people to knit for including myself, an event I do not foresee ever happening, she and I could go yarn bombing! You can tell how overwhelmed I am by the fact I've completely lost my cool and smothered you with exclamation marks.

I have currently in semi-hibernation a scarf, in which both ends of the ball of wool are buried in the knitting at the same time, each being the beginning of a stripe, so when the wool runs out it does so in a loop, not an end. It's quite simple but not so easy to explain, I shall at some point write about and illustrate it.

The 'live' nature of multiple stitches in knitting are something of a worry, crochet is a much more stable medium from that point of view. Tunisian crochet is a weird hybrid of the two. I have never really understood about continental knitting, but then I don't think I knit properly anyway, as I wind the wool round in the wrong direction, and refuse to change my ways.

Of course people knit adult socks, you know they do. It has a cult following: whole ranges of wool - ombré, self-striping, self-patterning - exist specifically for the purpose. I stick beads on the end of my double pointed needles, and bamboo ones are stickier than metal so the stitches don't slide off so easily.

Have you a photo of you in your giant knobbly sweater? What colour was it?

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Oh gosh, it was as if I'd interposed my body between those of Sebastian Vettel (today became Formula One world champ for the fourth time in succession) and Stirling Moss (best English racing driver never to have been F1 world champ) as the three of us stood on the podium enjoying a gentle rain of exclamation marks. World-class knitters you and VR, I'm honoured to have lived through the same era.

More on Giant Knobbly. The colour was a mix of very dark green (I thought it was black) and a lighter shade of green, the type of wool was designated Chunky and, according to VR, "it was knitted when Fisherman's Rib was very popular". I seem to remember VR using two roughly planed-down telephone poles for the job. Alas about pictorial evidence. We were very lax about taking photos in the US throughout the whole of our six-year stay. I have found one but it is so bad I cannot say for certain it is GK. I was very attached to the pullover and wore it for a long time.

Socks. The reason I asked is because machine-knit socks cost next to nothing, can be knit on much finer wool than most leisure knitters seem inclined to use, and are (according to VR) more hard-wearing. I particularly liked the sense of a relay-race this form of knitting engenders: the triangular tube is mounted on three needles, one starts up with a free needle which gradually grows into the tube while another needle frees itself. At which point, as I recall, the knitter sort of changes hands.

I'm glad you picked up my attempt to describe the act of knitting in terms of "permanence" but then you have often flattered me by being the only commenter to decode my more obscure blogutterances. I am also fascinated by the suggestion that you don't think you knit properly. As a lay observer I can only say that there seems to be very little room for varying the method and you are to be deeply complimented for this - in the same way I would compliment Paul Lewis (very much admired for good and bad reasons by VR) if he were to play the Waldstein in a completely different key.

I am glad you imagine you will always have a ready supply of knittees. VR ran out several years ago (kids wearing school logo-ed sweat shirts was one reason) and the creation of the mice has been a sudden and lonely impulse.

Finally my compliments on the single-minded way you have brought knitting into the blogging foreground. Many intellectuals might have been reticent about admitting to an activity which doesn't get an awful lot of coverage in the New Statesman, the Spectator or the Economist. By being trenchant (possibly the wrong word but I wanted to use it anyway) you have accorded it a must-know status. There may be a gong in this.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Sorry, you're out of position. You missed out garden hose another kinky bastard. There is no doubt that a kinking tendency is itself a life force. It would be worth a Nobel prize, and more, if some scientist were able to generate energy from this otherwise pointless form of intuitive behaviour.