Friday, February 02, 2007

Fabric Anatomy I

Fabric Anatomy I: In which we skip the basics and cut straight to 'Knitting like a Wild Finn.'

EDITED TO ADD: Ha! Heard from Susanna and I'm WRONG. Creative, but wrong. Oh, well. I still think my theory is interesting enough to me to leave up here.

I'm totally fascinated by fabric anatomy. I think this may be part of a series of posts on it, but I'll cut to the chase.

So I read this Yarn Harlot post yesterday and got all worked up about the totally crazy new colorwork she's got going from Susanna and Lene. My wheels were spinning so fast I nearly popped a wheelie just looking at it all because I think I know what's going on with that stuff! And it's awesome! And I totally have to share! I think it's a hybridization of regular knitting and this other crazy kind of knitting that's done industrially that is so unusual for handwork that it took serious studying in Finland (good job Susanna and Lene!) to figure out. I also might be totally wrong about all that I think I'm understanding about it, but I herewith consider the caution thrown to the wind, the gauntlet laid down. Stephanie, I hope you'll let me know, but I also hope you'll be gentle if I'm wrong.

The great big disclaimer and caveat and homage to the knitters who have explored this territory before me: This is NOT a how-to. It's a conceptual overview of loops, a 'what a neat-o concept.' I do not know the techniques by which the yarn would be manipulated into the acrobatics I think it is engaged in. I could probably sit down and try to make my needles pull the yarn this way, but I think I would find that Susanna and Lene and the marvelous Finns have refined the tactics and I encourage you all to travel to Finland or Madrona and learn from the masters.

In the usual style of knitting, the yarn travels in a horizontal line - you pull a loop through the loop below it and then go to the stitch NEXT to it, horizontally, and pull a loop through that loop, then go NEXT to that one and so on.

In the Rovaniemi mittens (aka The Wild Finn Method), the yarn is moving vertically. You're really pulling a loop through the stitch below and then you just move up and pull another loop through the loop you just made and so on and so on. Basically, a crochet chain. But we all know that several crochet chains lined up next to each other do not a fabric make, because they aren't attached to each other. So, every row or two or six or whatever, you zig or zag the yarn over to the next row of vertical stitches, or two rows over, so that the yarn is attaching to a new vertical string of loops. Speaking of crochet... is this also sort of what "tapestry crochet" is all about? I think it is, and this is a bit like a tapestry crochet panel in the middle of the knitting. And also mixed in with the knitting, to carry the main color across.

Examples from your closet:
Your undershirt: "Jersey." Plain Stockinette.
Your polo shirt: "Tricot." Ever notice that this is "knit" material but doesn't unravel in that same, normal, knitting way? Yes, I know "tricot" is the French word for "knitting." In American-Textile-Industry-ese, "tricot" is the word for "stuff knitted as though the machine were a Wild and Amazing Finn."

I find it fascinating to see this in hand-knitting, and of course it would appear as a colorwork panel - it would be true insanity to do an entire garment this way. As per the above, each column of stitches requires its own ball of yarn. Imagine doing even a hat where each cast on stitch requires its own ball of yarn. A ball of yarn that has a beginning and an end and each one has to be woven in.

And also: what's the history of the development of "tricot?" Crochet --> Knit? Knit --> Knit? 'I could build a machine that loops this way' --> how will I make that into fabric?

Philosophizing from Evelyn: (from Stephanie's comments, with permission from Evelyn)
"In your amazing wristlet each color can shift only one stitch to the left or right in the next row, right? The same is true of the bells in change ringing. Each ringer hauls on the rope in turn (probably I'm not using the proper lingo), so you might hear A B C D E F G, and in the next round of clangs there can be a different order... such as A C B E D F G.
But because of the design of the rope and the bell, the ringer can slow down the next clang or speed it up by only a small amount. That bell is going to ring, and it's a huge heavy bell. So the bell can shift forward or backward in the sequence of bells by only one place each round.
The bell ringers (just as addicted and loyal as knitters are to knitting) are actually doing this Finnish knitting, and the knitters are doing bell ringing.
In either case, there is a very real danger of strangulation. Be careful out there."

Okay. These are SCRIBBLED. These are HORRIBLE. But I already told you above I'm laying it all out there with this one, so if you're not sleeping yet, and your head doesn't hurt yet, here they are.

Regular Knitting:
Regular Knitting

Crochet Chains Next To Each Other:
Crochet Chains

Crochet Chains Crossing Over Each Other:
Crochet Chains Cross


Anonymous Ellen in Conn said...

Have you tried to knit the Rovaniemi yet? By reading a few posts and squinting at a few pictures, I found it's not too hard to figure out (yeah right, but I won't try cables!) Do a little experiential archaeology and see what you get! "Intarsia-in-the-round" is a good description.

2/04/2007 9:23 PM  
Blogger futuregirl said...

I think your drawings are very clear. I love the technique and I love the fabric it produces. But needing a ball for each column is quite a hurdle.

2/05/2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evelyn here.

I think that the analogy with bells might be wrong.
Sometimes the knitting has the same color three stitches in a row, and the bells can't ring that way.

But perhaps knitters would enjoy using the patterns that bell ringers have to study to learn their parts. I haven't yet found a good web site to show you what I mean.


2/08/2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger Carson said...

Haven't caught up with your blog for a while.
Love the texta diagram drawings! And the chair...and as for the babka..YUM-O

2/09/2007 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Dorothy said...

You aren't the only one attempting to take up the gauntlet. I saw that and thought, phht, I can figure that out. now, I am in the middle of drawing out a chart and planning my colours.

Wanna have a make-a-mess-of-perfectly-good-knitting-along?

2/09/2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger toastedtoads said...

I just found this post looking for diagrams of knitting to use as a possible tattoo. Any chance you'd mind letting me use the stockinette picture? I think it's charming and I love the fabric developed by knitting as a tattoo rather than the usual yarn ball and needles.

10/04/2011 8:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home