Friday, January 11, 2008

Untwisting the twined knitting yarns

So .... when you twine-knit the yarns get twisted, very twisted. And there is a very good reason that twined knitting is done from a single center pull ball, even though you need two yarns. I have even read that to knit twined in two colours wind the first colour onto a center pull ball knot on the second colour and wind it onto the same ball. There is a reason for that - it makes life easier if you do that. Today - I've got that video showing how to easily untwist the yarns when twined knitting, a new project report, a 99.99999% finished report on the Garter ribbed sweater for Bear, and some new stash.

First more Twined knitting info*. Last post I showed twined knitting and promised to show how to easily untwist the yarns. Because the two yarns are always being twisted the same way around each other to achieve the flat twined even appearance, they end up twisted, every stitch. So in a glove or mitten thats twisted around each other 50 or more times a round. For my sweater - thats 230 stitches, so 230 twists per round. To make untwisting easy - those clever knitting ancestors of ours decided to knit from the inside and the outside of a single ball of yarn. So if you secure the yarn around the ball, with two half hitch knots around a dpn (or the ball itself if you are very clever - I'm not), it is easy to pick the ball of yarn up and let it untwist all by its self .... see? Knitting Linguist pointed out the similarity between Twined knitting and the twisted braid edges used on Latvian mittens. In twined knitting usually only a single colour is used, and the emphasis seems to be on the textural effects achieved with twisting the two yarns, rather than colour work. There are a whole lot more effects possible than this simple example here - and I will explore them in time. Diantee asked if it was thicker than ribbing, its about the same, maybe slightly thinner, with less stretch, and not quite the same amount of pulling in perhaps.

And a close up shot of my pair of half hitch knots securing the yarn to the dpn.

I am making good progress on The Possum Merino sweater for Toby. This yarn has a high proportion of Possum, 50%, which makes it higher than many similar yarns I've seen available, they seem to range from 20-40% Possum fur. And its really Opossum, from the New Zealand wild opossum. An exotic animal imported from Australia and now out of control, spreading disease, wreaking native forests, and the habitat of native birds and lizards, and 'gifting' TB to a range of expensive farm animals like deer and cattle. It is not Possum fur from the US - apparently that would not be soft at all. I've finished the hem and well onto the body, easy knitting now I am on the stocking stitch sections. This is being knit on 3.75mm needles, to fit a tall lanky 8 yo boy.

And the garter ribbed sweater really is 99.9999999% finished. Chris ordered these rope knot clasps from Camilla Valley Farm. I've just got to sew them on (tonight), and its all done.

And last Thursday 3 of us 'knit nighters' drove down to the Milton Woolen Mill 'again' to see what they had. Best thing about a factory shop is the ever changing mass of stuff in stock depending on production. The other two knitters had not been before, which was fun to watch. P brought a shopping list of what she wanted to knit this year, and made off with a good haul of yarn averaging $2 a ball. M investigated the luxury end of the cones stock - with a view to the perfect luxury sock yarn. Me - well it was the 3rd trip in as many months so I was very selective - only two cones went in my bag. Both yarns bloom beautifully when washed and look like string on the cone.

The first a grey/green/blue with hints of pink, a 1kg (2 lb) cone for $NZ8.50. Enough for an entire sweater for an adult male, or two small children, or myself and a child. This was on the sale table - unlabeled, so a mystery purchase, but far to good to leave behind. At knit night the consensus was after washing a small test skein that is it super soft and the spinners in the room pronounced it 'from a down type breed of sheep'. I learn new things every day.

The second cone is a luxury blend of 40% Opposum, 50% Merino and 10% silk. This was half price and a very good buy. I love the colour and the hint of a sheen in the washed sample of this yarn. I know before nylon was added to sock yarn silk was recommended. We three knitters all wondered if 10% silk would make for a good sock yarn, and if silk was as good as nylon. If we are going to hand knit, we want them to last. If not - then it will make a beautifully soft scarf or shawl yarn.

I've still got the video of the chain surface twined knitting stitch to post - next time perhaps? And really need to do an update on the not merino lace socks which are still growing slowly.
Take care

* Edited Jan 2009 to clarify that this post about untwisting is about Twinned or Two ended or Tvåändsstickning knitting not about the more common method of stranded colour work. In this style of knitting the yarns are deliberately twisted together in the same direction producing a fabric that is stable, thick, durable and has a unique flat appearance. The tradition goes back hundreds of years and there is quite a following online.


Windyridge said...

This is lovely and the claps go perfectly with it.

Angelika said...

Gosh, I'm jealous about your nice cone yarn. I wish I had a mill around where I live, but we don't even have good yarn store within one hour driving distance.

KathyR said...

Your selection from Milton is yummy! Especially the cranberry coloured cone. Must get down there one day and see what I can find. I recently bought a kg of Hampshire Down fleece (a real challenge for me as the staples are really short - 5 cm!) and it is not particularly soft at all. Maybe other Down breeds are softer?

Knitting Linguist said...

The sweater looks wonderful! And the clasps are just right. It sounds like you all had a wonderful trip to the yarn store; I love that silk blend in particular, what a gorgeous color! I, too, have heard that silk is a good blending fiber for sock yarns, so I'd say to go for it (can you imagine how soft and warm those would be on the feet?). On the other hand, it's hard not to want something that pretty to be out in a more public form... Decisions, decisions...

Absinthe said...

Lovely sweater! I've never heard of possum yarn, but it looks luscious. I have to find some.

A note about the yarn getting twisted when stranded knitting; it doesn't need to do that if you change your technique a bit. Stranded knitting (without twisting) uses the same technique as two-handed Fair Isle, as described in a truly excellent book by the Philospher's Wool Company:

With their method, you can knit stranded knitting with one ball on your left and the other on your right, and they will never get twisted. Eezy Peezy Lemon Squeezy!

Stell said...

Thanks for that Absinthe .. I'm familiar with the techniques shown in the Philosphers Wool video, with one yarn held in the right and one yarn held in the left had whilst knitting. I prefer when working non-twined stranded work to hold both yarns in the left - personal preference.
My post was about Twinned knitting, a specialized traditional Scandinavian technique where the yarns are deliberately twisted in the same direction each time, producing a wonderfully thick and flat and durable knit fabric. There is a huge tradition of Two-ended knitting, and it is very different to the more common stranded knitting.
Thanks anyway - I wish you had left a link so I could make contact direct - but a comment will have to do.