I have been looking for a while for interesting stitches for an aran jumper and I was captivated by a pullover that I saw in the Knitter’s Almanac book by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It was called ‘Fish Trap’ and I liked it because it didn’t require the use of a cable needle, just travelling stitches, and didn’t appear to be too prominent on the garment ie. it didn’t jut out 3-D wise. Like a new Zimmerman disciple I decided to make a hat rather than a swatch, and for the first time I thought that I would have a go at knitting on a circular needle.
I have knitted in the round before, always on four needles, and have quite enjoyed the thought of limiting the amount of sewn seams to finish a garment but I have to say I did find it a bit peculiar. I am guessing that circular needles are a relatively new invention compared to using four needles:
( Visit of the Angel, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar, 1400-10 (tempera on panel)CreatorMaster Bertram of Minden (c.1345-c.1415)NationalityGermanLocationHamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
This painting is meant to depict Mary of Nazareth knitting in the round. Now, I can’t say whether Mary actually did knit but I think that this painting definitely indicates that this type of knitting took place in Germany during the lifetime of the artist in the 14th-15th Centuries.)
From my own experience I found it difficult initially to work with the shortness of the needles but after about ten to fifteen rounds of the ‘hat’ I was well into the swing of it and now I see no point in using two needles for a hat again. This part was a great success.
The only drawback in the whole project was the ‘fishtrap’ pattern. I found this really disappointing. Due to busy commitments I wasn’t quite able to get a good run at it and I found myself stopping and starting and losing my place in the instructional chart which was extremely small (and at times having no pen or pencil to mark off how far I had reached. )
(This is an example from Google Images of a hat with ‘half fish trap’ pattern)
To make the stitches ‘travel’ without a cable needle was fairly simple particularly when travelling or twisting to the right. It basically went like this:
K2 together, Leave on left needle, K first stitch again, Remove two stitches from the left needle
This was the easy one. The next, twisting to the left, required, as Zimmerman would put it, a ‘dig’.
Knit (read ‘dig’) into the back of the second stitch, knit into the front of the first stitch and remove the 2 stitches from the left needle.
Digging , of course, is the operative word here although, prodding, poking or stabbing would easily suffice. By row 6 or 7 I had had enough of the chart and decided to just enjoy what I was doing and take charge. My efforts look nothing like the beautiful hat in the picture above. At many stages I was considering the ‘abort’ option but I feel that I have mastered the use of the circular needles, I now (eventually) can knit the fish trap pattern and being more relaxed the tension of the stitches has loosened so there is less violence and emotional outbursts required during the left twists! I am now about to start the decreases for the crown of the hat. It will be one that I can wear as I go out to the field on a cold evening. I’m sure the alpacas will love it!