Thursday, 10 September 2009

More on combined knitting.....

Still thinking about this, and still playing around with it as well, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else knitting-related at the moment. I really do like this method.

I've played around with combined knitting before. This started when I made Exchequered - this scarf is double faced, by the way, with the other side a colour-reversed version of the side you can see. I worked this scarf with one colour in each hand, and I found that the only way I could get any speed going at all - (because I do like to work fast, mainly because I have a short attention span and get bored otherwise, ahem) - and also cope with the double knitting, together with the colour changes, was to work the purl stitches made with my left hand in the eastern style. So I ended up working combined style with my left hand, and ordinary Western style with my right hand - a rather strange mixture, which worked surprisingly well.

But I never really used it again, apart from occasional problem solving in the shop with someone who worked that way, and to demonstrate it for people who were interested.

I believe that this may now be going to change.

In the past, I've had a slight problem with rowing out when working with non-wool yarns, particularly when I've been working quickly.

For instance, Rowan Wool Cotton -

I was really pushing to get that top finished for a deadline, and the rowing out is very noticeable.

Rowan All Seasons Cotton -

And Rowan Bamboo Tape -

I'm sure you can see what I mean.

It is nothing too dreadful really, but it is rowing out nevertheless, and I've never liked seeing it. Don't get me wrong - it doesn't bother me unduly - and obviously it's never bothered me enough to make me actually do anything about it, like unravel and rework. But I still don't like it.

What became apparent at Annie's workshop on Tuesday is that if I work combined style, with the yarn in my left hand, then I don't get rowing out. Not at all. I get a good even fabric - much more even than I've ever been able to produce before.

If I work combined style with the yarn in my right hand as I usually hold it, then I don't get this magic result, in fact the rowing out is worse than ever. I've been thinking about this, and I believe I know why it is happening.

When we work combined style, the knit stitches and the purl stitches take exactly the same amount of yarn. When we work Western style, then the purl stitches take fractionally more yan than the knit stitches - so to produce an even fabric I have been automatically tightening each purl stitch just a tiny bit more than each knit stitch. And it works, of course - except that when I'm working fast, it seems that I don't tighten the purl stitches quite as much, and then I get the rowing out.

Anyway, to produce an even fabric with combined style and holding the yarn in my usual way, I need not to do that. Unfortunately, I've spent the last 48 years or so working that way, and it seems to be a bit hard to unlearn. My knit rows come out as they always have, but I can't seem to stop tightening each purl stitch as I've always done - so working that way, the purl rows actually come out tighter than the knit rows. Not an improvement. Sigh....

However if I work with the yarn in my left hand, everything is different.

I don't have to unlearn anything, and I get a nice even fabric. I'm really rather pleased with this. At the moment, it is still quite slow for me, but I'll get faster with practice, I know.


Helen said...

You're the first person I've heard from who thought they would continue Combination Knitting after the class, although they enjoyed the classes. I got my copy of the book out and did a few rows and I certainly felt it changed the fabric, although I wasn't holding the yarn in my left hand so I think I need to go back - with your description balanced on my other knee.

Fiona said...

That does surprise me! - the first person? I really do like this method, and I think it is a very worthwhile thing to know. And I think also that I may find myself going back to straight needles again after all these years. I'd never have thought it! :)

Mad about Craft said...

Sorry, I'm being thick but what do you mean by 'rowing out'?

Linda said...

Really interesting post. I had a rowing out thing a while ago but seem to have solved it now. It hasn't happened to me before!