Friday, November 18, 2011

Textile Friday: Speed Knitting Handmade

Today we're going to talk about something I love: handmade knits. Even in the age of machine knitting, a good handmade sweater stands in its own category as a piece of quality art. Sadly not all knitters are created equal. I'm an average knitter at best after several years of lunch and evening groups and my sweaters are NOT works of art YET. This weeks post is dedicated to helping normal knitters like myself get faster. If you want to see someone really fast check out Hazel Tindall, the world's fastest knitter. This week I ran across a lovely blog called "A Fisherman's Knits". It's a fab blog for better tools to knit faster, not be super human. Most of my tricks/tips come out of hitting a wall while my friends would go "Oh, I knit a sweater last weekend." The girl friends you love and hate at the same time. :-) Love you guys.

1. The first easy answer is to make your movements as small as possible and relax. Check-out this great video by Lisa Stockebrand on continental knitting and wasted movement. If you hear nothing else about what I say, hear me...CONTINENTAL KNITTING. I also included a video by former knitting champ showing her tutorial on continental speed knitting. Great video, but she's so fast it's hard for me to follow.

Knitting Faster from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

2. Belt Sheath- These can either be wood or leather, but having one of your needles fixed and most of your weight going into your waist takes the weight off your hands. You can see this in the first video where Hazel is wearing one. A typical belt will run you $20-40, but is so worth it in terms of saving your hands. Some people knit one-handed with a knitting belt. These are what the professional knitters of Ireland and Scotland used to use supply the British navy, etc. a hundred years ago. Great stuff. You can get a leather one at JourneyMan Leather or make one yourself. The wood ones you can turn yourself or find on ebay for roughly $30-150. Like antiques, there's a wide variety in price, mostly it seems based on the story behind the piece. You can also cheat if you can't spring for this and take your belt and slide it to the side then rest your knitting needles in one of the holes. It's not nearly as good, but it will give you an idea of what to expect.

3. Good needles- I will save you the debate between wood and metal. Both are good. Wood seems to work much better for me. I find ebony a favorite, but the major gift of wood for me is that my stitches don't slide around as much. I knit twice as fast with wood as opposed to metal needles. Some people add texturing to the wood in x, y, or z formations. However, it seems as if the really fast knitters use metal needles, especially long ones out of the leather belt that they bend forward from the waist so wood is probably a crutch in some ways for an intermediate knitter such as myself. I'm still looking for a pair of lignum vitae needles (yum self-lubricating wood), but until I can afford a pair....a girl has got to dream.

4. Large Stitches- Obviously larger stitches knit faster. However, I hate to mention this because with the right equipment investment you can actually knit faster even with smaller stitch sizes.

Ok, I think that's everything. So people, watch the videos, check out the blog and enjoy! Good knitting is amazing and the quality makes unforgettable gifts. Happy Holidays and have a great weekend.

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