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Knitting Techniques

We all think we know what we mean by the term “knitting”. However, there are various ways in which knitting can be viewed. Not only are there differences now but these differences have caused quite a lot of upheaval and resentment in days gone by.

Knitting Techniques and the Ways We Knit

By Melissa Lynn Bailey

If you’re a knitter, you are either a hobby knitter, making a hat or blanket here and there for gifts, or you knit for the challenge of advancing your skills with every new item. The advanced knitters are interested in learning different skills and are always looking for patterns, charts and techniques. They have their patterns, stash of yarn and supplies neatly organized and ready for action. They frequently have two or more works in progress (WIPs) and find it impossible to be monogamous to one project.

Knitters can create items using various techniques, such as those described below. It is not uncommon to combine methods of knitting, such as constructing the body of a sweater on a machine and then applying a fancy rib by hand.

Hand knitting

When most people think of knitting, they think of the traditional way of knitting with two needles and a ball of yarn. This remains a very popular and common way to knit. Ways to hand knit include using the garter stitch for fast and easy items, as well as using intricate cables, lace pattens, textured stitches and color changes to create cherished heirlooms.

The history of hand knitting dates back to before the 1600s, although this only represents the recording of the art of knitting. There is much controversy about descriptions of items found at archeological sites and in literature about whether they were woven or knit. I am reading A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt. The book does a great job of chronicling the art of knitting and goes in to great detail about the earliest writings and samples of knitted items. The first described hand knit items seem to be stockings made of cotton and silk.

Machine Knitting

Industrial knitting machines seem to have been introduced around 1600 for the purpose of making knitted items faster and more efficiently. The machines were not well received initially because it was thought they would harm the livelihood of poor people who depended on the money they received knitting items at home.

In the early stages of machine knitting, it was apparent that hand knitters had the advantage over machine knitters because hand knitting could more easily change designs with fashion changes. Also, hand knitters could work anywhere at any time. Machine knitters were confined to work only during the daylight hours and had to be in the spot where their machine was.

When those of us who knit hear the word “machine knitting” we think of using either a hobby knitting machine such as the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine or a more advanced machine such a Brother or Passap to create knitted items. When discussion of machine knitting versus hand knitting arise, there is always someone who mentions their belief that items knitted on a machine are not hand made. Machine knitters are quick to point out that creating an item with a knitting machine most certainly involves setting up the bed of stitches, manipulating stitches for shaping and finishing the items by hand, thus qualifying their items as hand made.

Loom Knitting

Loom knitting appears to be a newer concept, mostly because of the recent development of brightly colored plastic looms found in craft stores and the versatile patterns available to make with looms. However, loom knitting has been around since before the original knitting machines.

Knitting looms were originally known as peg frames. The earliest mention of the peg frame was in 1535. A peg frame is described as a range of pegs on a fixed base arranged in a row or a ring. Stitches are made by treating each peg as a stitch on the needles. Stitches are knitted by winding the yarn twice around the pegs and lifting the bottom loop over the top loop. Stitches can also be knit on a base with the pegs arranged in rows, also known as a knitting board. This creates a fabric that is double sided.

Knitting has a rich and long history. Knitting is still a very popular craft today with various methods of knitting to match the mood and goals of individual knitters.

Melissa Bailey shares her love of all things knitting at http://essentialdogclothing.com and http://knittedgiftideas.comĀ 

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