Wednesday, February 04, 2004

From Where Does it Originate?

For those of you old enough to have worked on the initial IBM PC's in a DOS environment, it's easy to recognize where some of the conventions in Windows-based computers are derived.

Knitting Origins
Similarly, there are a number of knit-related techniques that I didn't really understand, until I had a little training in machine knitting.

The interesting thing, is that early machine knitters had to use multiple hooked needles to try and replicate what was initially created using knitting pins (or what we now refer to as knitting needles).

Two examples I can think of are:

1. The provisional cast-on
2. The short-row heel

Provisional Cast-On
For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it's basically a technique of starting a piece of knitted cloth with yarn you will end up not using (known as waste yarn). The knitter casts on (or in some cases, crochets a chain) with this waste yarn, and possibly knits a few rows.

Then, with the "real" yarn, the knitter starts to actually knit what will be the finished fabric.

When the knitting is complete, the knitter carefully removes ( should see me do it) the waste yarn at the beginning of the piece, and moves the "live stitches" of the real fabric onto needles to add ribbing, or finish the end of the fabric in some other way.

Clear as mud?...check it out with pictures here. The example only uses one row of waste knitting, but it might help to understand it.

Most machine knitters use this technique on their machines to start the fabric.

Short-Row Heel
When circular knitting machines were developed to imitate knitting on double pointed needles, it wasn't possible for a standard "Dutch Heel" to be worked, so the highly recognized short-row heel was developed.

Dutch Heel

Short-Row Heel

This technique allowed the machine to work only half the circle of the knitting and then knit back and forth on an ever decreasing number of stitches. Once the number of stitches was enough for the width of the heel, the stitches were increased on each row until half of the sock was being knit again.

Then standard circular knitting was done to finish the foot.

If you think that's hard to picture, try to get your brain around the fact that the toe is shaped exactly the same way on most machine made socks.

Knitted Underwear
I made some significant headway (for a school night) on the underwear last night.

Just a few more rows and I'll be up to the crotch on the first side of the pattern. At this pace, I might actually get to wear this garment before Winter is over.

Speaking of Winter
I got this in my e-mail yesterday, and thought you might enjoy it.

It perfectly expresses my thoughts on the season, although I have to admit, this Winter has been much less hard on me both emotionally and physically.

That does NOT mean I am not looking forward to my Cancun vacation in a couple of weeks!

Readers' Questions/Comments
Kathy asks for her own pair of MEN'S underwear, and Marilyn asks me to address publicly why Kathy is always whining for my knitted output.

I have to say, my blog comments wouldn't be the same if I didn't get at least one comment from Kathy requesting a knitted item. Even some baby items Kathy has asked me to make an adult version of. Or at very least, she is telling me to forget the baby stuff and work on something that would fit her.

My assumption on this (since Kathy is way more talented than I will ever be, is that she is doing her best impression of a KnitDweeb. I find it kind of charming and ego-boosting.

Susan asks what pattern I'm using for the kid alpaca bedspread.

I'm using a pattern from one of the Walker Treasuries, and I don't have the name of it with me, but here's the basic pattern:

Cast on in multiple of 10 stitches:

Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2 (RS): *K6, Slip1, K1, PSSO, YO, K2Tog, YO rep from *
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: *K5, Slip1, K1, PSSO, YO, K2Tog, YO, K1, rep from *

Then I just keep reducing the initial Knit stitches at the beginning of each RS row, so the yarn-overs start one stitch earlier on every right side row. It requires some fudging of the first couple of stitches when the increases and decreases get to the edges.