Tuesday, January 19, 2010

August 09 Program: Weaving Techniques by Polly Sonifer

Most knitting machines allow you the ability to experiment with the weaving technique. In machine knitting, weaving yarns are secondary yarns which are not technically "knit", but rather travel behind, in front of, or around stitches in your work to decorate your fabric. In stockinette knitting, it is up to you which side of the work to make the "public" side. In weaving, the purl side of the fabric becomes the "public" side, as the inlay yarn (weaving yarn) shows on the knit side of the fabric.

Top image is the knit side of fabric, while bottom image is the purl side of fabric, where you can see the weaving pattern very clearly. You will note that weaving does create a slight shadow or "grin through" on the knit side of the fabric.

Weaving presents an excellent opportunity to experiment with different yarn combinations and using them in unusual and/or experimental ways. After some experimentation, you will find that a wide variety of yarns can be used for weaving. Because the yarn itself does not need to fit into the hooks on the machine, you can use much heavier yarns. Anything from thick to thin, and do be aware that using fine thin yarns may lead to delicate floats which may easily snag. In this case, it may be best to pay attention to your float distance, minimizing then to 1 or 2 or 3 needle widths. That said, weaving patterns can be varied greatly by hooking them up on needles every few rows.

Knit on a standard gauge machine, a sport weight variegated yarn is used for the background, while a worsted weight solid yellow is used for weaving.

Spend some time with your manual to determine the appropriate settings for your machine. You'll want to be sure to have your weaving brushes engaged, as they help prevent the floated yarn from jumping off the needles. You will find that weaving yarns can be worked horizontally, as well as vertically.

Polly in her fabulous woven coat. She does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of the fabric.

Weaving yields a very stable fabric with great reversibility. This fabric will also not unravel easily and is very suitable for cut and sew techniques. Weaving can also be used selectively to create decorative edges and fringes. Susan Guagliumi's book Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters presents an excellent chapter on weaving techniques to get you started.

Here, the colorful side is the woven side (purl side) of the fabric.

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