Greetings, and welcome to winter! Those of us in North America are pretty excited about finally getting to pile on the knits, but I know my friends at Zealana HQ are happy to be shedding theirs. I’m also excited to say we’re finally getting to some actual knitting in the Principles of Knitting journey!
As you may remember from my last post, I’m working slightly out of order and splicing in (knitting pun INTENDED) information on knitting materials, which is found at the end of the book. Episode #3 marks the start of Part One: Learning and Methods, and I quickly realized that I needed to tackle this in very small chunks, the first being methods where the yarn is held on the RIGHT.
Before we get into that, June points out that all methods produce the same stitches and same fabric, but differ in how yarn and needles are held; these things determine how the yarn is wrapped and what movements are used to form the stitches. Geography may have provided original terms but in so cases they’re inaccurate or interchangeable and might be misnomers. That’s just one of the reasons June prefers to describe exact actions rather than using common terms.
She offers us a bit of encouragement, reminding us that while learning is easy, change is hard, especially when underused muscles are involved. She suggests making a swatch then throwing it away, or using novelty yarns that hide mistakes. Personally, I knit a whole sweater in the round and forced my hands to use the new method exclusively, even though it felt terribly awkward at the beginning.
You can watch the video above to hear and see all of this information, but here is a review:
Tensioning the Yarn: personal to each knitter, must be done smoothly and automatically, must be balanced, even and consistent; certain things an be fixed with blocking but it’s best to try to start with good tension; in the UK ‘gauge’ is called ‘tension’; this makes more sense to me, because a knitter’s tension determines stitch size.
Right-Hand Method: often used when teaching brand new knitters, June calls it the “Cinderella” of methods as it is a bit clumsy and much maligned. Yarn is held and tensioned with the pinching fingers; it’s well suited to beginners as they don’t have the frustration of wrapping and tensioning the yarn supply, but because of this it is not very fast.
Right-Finger Method: with this method, the yarn is wrapped around fingers in such a way that it feeds continuously from the yarn supply; this increases speed and evens out tension.
Knitting Belt or Sheath Method: these are all supported needle methods, highly ergonomic and efficient; developed in 19th century Great Britain/Shetland Isles, the supported needle acts as a fulcrum and the other a shuttle; also known as cottage style, lever style, Irish. It’s mobile! Difficult to find the belts, known as makkins, and the needles, which are long and double-pointed.
Parlor Method or Pencil Method: developed by Victorian women for aesthetic reasons; belts were too utilitarian and under the arm not refined so they held it like a tea cup; it is inefficient and can cause great strain on thumb.
Join me next time when it’s back to yarn talk!