Saturday, 7 August 2010

It will all come out in the wash

Years ago, I read in one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's writings, that she used to think that all the knitters in the past produced wonderfully even work. Then she noticed that with time and washing, all knitting gets to look splendidly regular, no matter how uneven the work was straight off the needles.
She was of course referring to hand knitting, but the effect of time and washing is even more critical to machine knitting. Most times I don't consider machine knitting finished until the pieces have been given a good tug, and washed, to settle the stitches into the shape they will hold ever after. How many times have I known someone hanker after a bigger gauge machine because they don't like the way the stitches form on every other needle on a standard gauge machine? Someone bought around a few well washed swatches of machine knitted industrial cashmere. The most satisfactory swatch, with the most perfectly shaped stitches, had been knitted on every other needle. That tell tale small stitch, big gap, EON stitch shape had transformed in the wash so that you would never pick it for every other needle knitting

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