Friday, March 20, 2009

Turkish socks: Central Asian/Mediterranean (aka "Portuguese knitting") stranded techniques

I am not a prolific blogger unfortunately, but I decided to post today in order to record some knitting information as much for myself as for anyone else that may happen upon it and find it useful.

Ever since I bought myself a copy of PGR's Ethnic Socks and Stockings, I have been obsessed by something she wrote in there about colour stranding techniques used in old Central asian socks. She says:

The use of many colours is common throughout this region of the world. Tensioning the yarn around the neck and working on the purl side in the traditional manner greatly simplified the use of multiple colors. This old technique has been largely abandoned in favor of 'modern' Western technique.
There are now three video sources for information about this form of knitting, which makes it easier to learn. My favourite videos are the series by chuanavit on youtube. They are free, and are a really great way to learn from scratch. There are also some other videos which are commercial and are produced by Andrea Wong. I have bought her sock video but was severly disappointed that the "Fair Isle" sock she detailed was basically just a sock with a band of 2-colour knitting at the cuff - no details about weaving or intasia or the use of more than 2 colours, but still useful for showing the possibilities for how to hold the yarn when knitting. Of more value to stranded knitters who want to see stranded techniques in the old way, is a video by Janet Willoughby called "Peruvian Knitted Hats". This isn't hugely useful unless you have patience and a good dvd player where you are able to hit slo-mo repeatedly to see what the hell is going on, but it is a droolworthy and breathtaking dvd just to see the stranded knitting using this old style of knitting.

It seems to have become the norm to refer to this style of knitting as "Portuguese knitting" (I suspect because of Chuanavit and Andrea's videos), but since this form of knitting in used in Central Asia, parts of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Peru, I am going to avoid calling it "Portuguese" because I'm an Asperger that way. ;-)

Because I love eastern socks, I have finally gotten around to trying my hand at knitting a pair of stranded eastern-style socks using this old method of "knitting around the neck".

All the yarns used in these socks are handspun. The black is spindle-spun from Ouessant wool, and the remaining colours spindle-spun from Clun Forest wool.

After a bit of experimentation, I worked out how to trap/weave the colours. The videos below (and maybe more in the coming days as I get to the intarsia) document what I work out.




Vivian said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtfully done videos. I appreciate how slowly you move your fingers and how carefully you describe their actions, and that your stitches are visible. Thanks, again.

The swamp knitter said...

Thanks for the comments Vivian. I am glad that the videos helped, and sorry again for my late response.