Thursday, February 11, 2016

From Double Points to Circulars

Knitting in the round, 1400-1410
Knitting in the round with double pointed needles is easy for small garments such as socks and hats, but using long double pointed needed for larger projects becomes cumbersome.

But cumbersome or not, for centuries that was the only option.  The picture at the right is one of a series of altar paintings done by Meister Bertram in Germany between 1400 and 1410.  It shows the Virgin Mary diligently doing her daily work; she hasn't yet noticed that angels have come to visit her.  It is the first known image of knitting in the round.  We don't have any way of knowing if Mary actually was a knitter, but the painting proves that in the year 1400 knitting in the round was commonplace.

Mary's work is an almost-finished shirt.  (Click here for the Wikimedia Commons image, which can be enlarged to show detail).  The back of the neck is already bound off and she is finishing the rest of the neckline.  The shirt appears to be seamless and entirely knit stitch (no purls), and she is using two strands of yarn, one pink and one white or tan.  There is also a green ball of yarn in her basket, but it doesn't appear that her current project has any green in it - perhaps she has the green yarn ready for her next project?  It is especially interesting to note that the picture is intended to show Mary as the ideal, perfect woman of 1400 - and she is a knitter!  I agree that knitting women are a cut above the rest!

Denise Interchangeable Set, 1970s
Circular knitting needles were patented 500 years later - in 1918.  But even then they weren't very common.  Early circular needles used steel wire cable with rigid ends crimped on.  The wire cable was stiff and sometimes broke (horrors!), and the wire-to-needle connection clamp often snagged the yarn.  The circular knitting needle wasn't perfected until the 1930s when needle company Boye improved the design, and the first plastic interchangeable needles were made by Denise in the 1970s. 

Now (2016) yet another improvement!  The new ChiaoGoo Adapters make your interchangeables even more interchangeable.  The ChiaoGoo interchangeables have always been amazingly versatile.  You can already switch between the Twist (red) cables or the Spin (clear) cables with the Twist (stainless steel) or Spin (bamboo) needle tips, and you can already use the cable connectors to create your own unique and extra-long cable lengths.

ChiaoGoo Adapter
But you were still limited by the cable join size.  Needle tips size 2 to 8 attach to the cable with a small join, and needle tips size 9 to 15 attach with a large join.  Period.  End of discussion.  There was just no mixing between the two.

Until now . . . . .  A tiny adapter the size of a Tic Tac candy allows you to use your large join needle tips with small join cables.  This means you can start a new project on large needles even if you already have your cables with a large join busy on another project.  Just use the adapter with your large needles and small cables.

Does anyone ever knit just one project at a time?  Of course not!  So why be limited by the join size of your cables.  You should have the freedom to have oodles of different projects being knitted at the same time! 

Umm, are you spelling that correctly?  Does adapter end with an ER or an OR?  Actually, both spellings are correct.  The ER ending is more common, and that's how ChiaoGoo spells it so that's how we've been spelling it, too.

Happy Knitting . . . . Scout

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