Knitting On A Knitting Board
I have read that the use of knitting boards began in the 1500's in Europe but was also adapted from earlier methods in the Middle East. A knitting board can either be a "rake", which is single-sided, or it can be a two-sided "board". A knitting rake is used to make flat panels in single-ply knit stitches. A two-sided board may be used as a single rake as well, but it's big advantage is that by using both sides of the board, a double-knit fabric is created.
Both rakes and boards have pins or nails set at equal distances apart along the edges. The photo at the top of the page is of a 28-inch long two-sided board with pegs on each side. I have boards from the same manufacturer in 6-inch, 18-inch, and 38-inch lengths as well. The company, Authentic Knitting Boards, also has a discussion group dedicated to knitting board knitting. Their website has excellent directions for the basic knit stitches.
Below is a photo of a board set up for rake knitting, with stitches cast on only one side.
And below is again, a two-sided board set up for double-knitting.
In some ways, knitting on a knitting board is similar to round loom knitting. The stitch methods are similar, and flat panels may be created on round looms. Round loom knitting however, does not create double-knit. For information on round loom knitting, my favorite resource is Decor Accents Looms. They make beautiful round and oval looms, and have many patterns available. Isela Phelps of Decor Accents, has literally "written the book" (s) on round loom knitting.
Double-sided knitting. Hmmmm. My mother is an expert needle-knitter, and I am an experienced (but not expert) needle-knitter. I personally prefer very simple patterns or designs that focus on creating a finished, usable or wearable item. When I looked at directions for needle-knit double-knit, I did cringe. :) Using a knitting board changed all that.
The stitch method of knitting on a board is simple - lift one loop over a loop or yarn thread at a time to complete a stitch. As in round loom knitting, stitches may be wrapped and then knit or flat-knitted by holding a yarn thread above the loop and knitting over it. (Also similar to spool knitting). The knit stitch is made when the yarn loop is hooked from the bottom over an upper loop or yarn. A purl stitch is made when the yarn is hooked by reaching through the loop on the pin, grabbing the yarn thread, pulling it up through the "active" loop, moving the "active" loop off the pin, and hooking the new loop onto the pin. Two stitches, very easy to learn.
The aspect of double-knitting comes in by the way the yarn is "woven" onto the two-sided knitting board. A basic cast-on is to use a slip stitch to anchor your yarn to a pin, and then "weave" your yarn back and forth, alternating wrapping on the pins of each of the two board sides, as shown in the photo above.
There are both positive and negative aspects to double-knitting. A negative is the amount of yarn needed when making an item. I can needle-knit a short-length poncho with 12 ounces of worsted-weight yarn. A double-knit poncho of the same length will take 150% more yarn to make. The positive side however, is that the stitches are firmer and the garment has much more structure and strength.
Many people start with a simple project when learning to knit on a knitting board. I am currently working on a scarf or two and will post photos as I have them.
Does pin-count matter? Yes. It's the same as picking out a knitting-needle size as well as deciding how many stitches to use. A "regular-gauge" board with 1/2" or more spacing between pins is best for heavier yarns - and so the stitch count will be less than if a lighter-weight yarn is used. With small-gauge boards, there are more pins per inch, and thus more stitches available. This allows me to use yarns that are lighter in weight than on a regular-gauge board.
I find that all of the small gauge boards will work with a heavier sport-weight (such as hand-spun yarns) or a worsted-weight. Bulky-weight yarns are best on regular-gauge boards. When considering a large project on a regular-gauge board, the higher price of bulky-weight yarn and the fact that you will need more of it for a double-knit project makes the project more expensive than if needle-knit in one layer. Another factor though, is that with a double-knit fabric, whatever the larger project is, an afghan, a poncho, etc. it will be warmer and have more stability in its structure.
Authentic Knitting Boards pin counts (from the boards that I own)
Other boards that I own and pin counts
Projects I am currently working on:
I will also be adding other information to this page in the near future, please check back again.
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