Posts Tagged ‘needles’

Plane Knitting

Hubby and I are about to hop on a plane to visit his sister for a few days, and I’m feeling a little paranoid. There’s the usual “but what if I run out of knitting?” fear I have every time I travel, but also? Every project I have going right now (3!!!) is on dpns. I know the TSA website says knitting needles of all kinds are fine, and I’ve literally never had trouble over it before, but I feel like if they’re going to take exception to any type of knitting needle, it’s pointy little dpns.


The thought of losing my needles this far into a sock this intricate makes me a little panicky, but I’ve discovered it makes me less panicky than the thought of not having anything to knit in the airport. So I’m risking it.


At least, I’m risking it with two of the projects. The third is going in my checked baggage, along with some spare yarn and needles. I’m not that brave.


Knitting My (German) Heritage

In my last Knitting History post, we talked about the history and culture of knitting in Ireland. In addition to my Irish heritage, I can claim a similar proportion of ancestry from Germany. So what’s the deal with knitting in Germany?

visit angels

The Visit of the Angels, Master Bertram von Minden

Bavaria was one of the first places to use 4-5 needles (dpns) for knitting in the round rather than seaming. This painting from Munich, circa 1400, shows the Madonna doing what a fairly typical housewife of the time would be doing – knitting a shirt on dpns. Circular needles, of course, are a much more recent invention.

Plauen lace

Plauen lace-making, 1980

By the early 1500s Germans (and specifically Plauens), like many people of the era, had developed a distinctive style of lace knitting. What started primarily as a luxury for clerical robes and the linens of nobility became available to the masses with the help of German engineering and early knitting machines in the late 19th century. Lace manufacturing continues to be  a significant source of income today in Plauen, Germany.

continental knitting

Continental Knitting

In the early 1800s, Germans revolutionized knitting again with the new German, or Continental, style of knitting. For those of you who are not Continental knitters, this style is accomplished by carrying the yarn in the left hand, and “picking”, rather than “throwing” the yarn. Some claim that the smaller movements of Continental knitting are better for avoiding Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) and enable faster knitting.

During WWII, Continental knitting fell out of fashion in the Allied nations. Elizabeth Zimmermann, the English wife of a German,  is credited with restoring its popularity in the English-speaking world after immigrating to Wisconsin, USA in the 1950s.

In the next Knitting My Heritage post, we travel to Eastern Europe, to see the history of my Czech and Slovenian ancestors.

Traveling Loop

So, I’m lazy. Sometimes I’m on a knitting roll, and I just don’t feel like stopping to get up and dig through my mess of a stash to find out if I have dpns in the same size as the needles currently in my sweater, or if I have a second circular needle for Magic Loop (I usually don’t). So if I need to knit a sleeve or neckline or something else with a smaller diameter, I use something I’ve heard referred to as Traveling Loop:

Step 1

Step 1

When I get to the point where I have few enough stitches to make them feel stretched and tight around the cable (this is a totally arbitrary, changeable point) I smoosh the stitches down some on the right needle and pull a length of cable loose.

Step 2

Step 2

Then I bend the nice, flexible cable into a little loop so that I can continue knitting with the end of the needle as normal. This loop will come together between two stitches.

Step 3

Step 3

As you can see, the loop stays between the same two stitches, so as the stitches travel closer to your left hand, so does the loop.

Step 4

Step 4

Eventually, the loop will travel all the way to the end of the left needle, at which point it stops being a loop and you’re left with a bunch of extra cable on the left. Simply pull on the right needle until all the extra cable is gone from the left side, and start again with Step 1.


Alternate Option

Alternatively, you may decide at any point in the round that the stitches are being annoying and tight again, and simply pull the right needle free to move your loop back to the start mid-round.

This is not a method for everyone. If you have a large collection of dpns in all sizes, or lots of redundant circular needles, those methods can be a lot less fiddly. However, if you’re trying to avoid buying another set of needles (or are just too lazy to go find them!), this can be a great workaround.

Need a project to practice on? Try my Potomac.

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