Thursday, February 10, 2005

Musings on Tvåändsstickning



My first two-end mitten is finished. It should probably come as no surprise to you that I didn’t knit the mitten by following Nancy’s pattern exactly. Nancy’s pattern is very comprehensive and she designed the cuff to include all the most-common elements of two-end knitting. I made only minor changes. I knit the cuff in a needle .5 mm smaller than the needle I used for the hand. This made a nice, tight cuff that I prefer. I also did the thumb decreases differently.

Here’s the outside:



And here’s the inside:



See the way the stitches are twisted on the wrong side. This is the result of knitting alternately from the two strands. Each time, you bring the yarn over the stitch you just worked, causing the two strands to twist. The up side of this technique is that you get a knitted fabric that’s extremely warm and durable. The down side, is that the working yarn twists and tangles as you work with it. To minimize the tangling, two-end knitting is more easily accomplished with yarn that has a “Z” ply. Instead of the plies twisting tighter and tighter as you knit, the ply of Z-plied yarn untwists. Nancy Bush carries a Z-ply yarn called Mora in her e-tail store. I’ll forewarn you that the yarn has a very sheepy smell, which didn’t really bother me all that much but which bothered my cat greatly. I haven’t washed or blocked my mitten yet, but I’m hoping the smell fades after a Eucalan bath since I’m not enamoured with the thought of my hands continuing to smell like sheep after I take the mittens off.

I’ve only knit the one mitten using the two-end technique, but have some random thoughts about it. First, Nancy advised against knitting with two separate balls of yarn (i.e., by using one strand from each ball) because it would result in the balls getting tangled together. I assume, though, that such a problem could be solved by placing the two balls in a yarn bra. Further, if two separate balls are used, I wonder if it’s more feasible to use a yarn with an “S” ply since it would be possible to physically separate the two balls and untwist each individually as the plying began to get unbearable tight. It’s impossible to do this when the two strands are coming from the same ball. Has anyone tried that??

My other thought is that my two-ball theory may work better with a single-ply yarn. I just happen to have some single-ply sock yarn in my stash that I bought from a wonderful seller in Canada. It’s called Duraspun and looks like an energized single. Once I dig myself out from under my mountain of WIPs, I think I’ll try knitting a two-end swatch with the Duraspun. My theory is that it will be much less fidgety to untangle a single-ply than a two-ply yarn. We'll see.

Finally, I assume it would be possible to avoid the twisting altogether by simply knitting the two strands as you would any two-color stranded pattern, i.e., by holding one strand in your left hand and knitting it Continental and holding the other strand in your right hand and knitting it English. The resulting fabric would be denser than regular knitted fabric, but I suspect not quite as sturdy as "proper" two-end knitting. It clearly would not be true to the technique, and is more like a "dumbed down" version. But . . . after spending two days untwisting yarn, it doesn't sound so dumb to me.


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Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.