Monday, October 15, 2012

Cool knitting tools: the Grant One-Needle Looper

My life is happily punctuated by the Awesome Spring Sale and the Awesome Fall Sale, both held at the church a couple of blocks away.  Guess which one was on Friday?

These rummage sales are attended in a very big way, with a lineup out the door well before it opens at 3pm.  I usually go around 5 and look for for vintage kids' books I might have missed during my original childhood, vintage cloths of all kinds, 1930s to 50s dishware... and of course, craft stuff.  I have never yet come away without a great find, and sometimes a pretty great cookie or three to boot.  (the other times, it's just because I resisted.)

This season's bounty:

A never-opened box containing a Grant One-Needle Looper.

I'd never heard of this tool for faster knitting, and that may be because the marketing phase for them in North America appears to have lasted from around 1969 to 1971 (but don't quote me!)  The technique is apparently very similar to naalbinding, a one-needle fabric-producing technique thought to predate both knitting and crochet, and about which I had also never heard, at least under that name.  (After looking at the lobster claw socks that illustrate the Wikipedia page I just linked there, I kinda wish I still hadn't.  horror movie feet, anyone?)

The Looper came complete with instructions, a stitch dictionary, and a booklet of patterns:

Note the fold I couldn't press out.  This thing truly never saw the light of day till I dropped $1.50 on it.

The tool was also marketed as the K-Tel Knitter.  Does anybody else remember K-Tel?  Man, I sat through more K-Tel commercials as a kid, to say nothing of the K-Tel records I listened to as a teenager.  Here is K-Tel's commercial for its Knitter:

I'm not sure why this is more appealing than knitting or crochet.  I guess it wasn't for a lot of people or it would have taken off, although - thanks to the internet - I know there are some who love doing this and have even made their own tools to supplement the size range and replace lost or broken ones.

Now, every so often somebody rather younger than me who didn't live through the 70s will exhibit some fondness for that decade, and/or surprise that it was not my favourite.  Well kids, here is why I do not regard it with boundless affection, my beloved bright orange polyester shorts notwithstanding:

That poor woman. 

Now the tool itself is pretty interesting.  I was distracted by the clothes and didn't notice right away how the whole thing works.

Basically, you have yarn running through the hole in the end of the stick, and you tie a slip knot, and you make loops.  (selling feature: you can cut into the finished garment anywhere and the hole won't run; each loop stands alone.)

Let's think about that for a minute.

And maybe look at the tool.

I know I can probably cart a set of supersharp double pointed needles and a sock on a plane to Italy without causing a stir but still.... I can't help thinking the risk of anybody feeling threatened by this thing is less than zero. Plus, it did pretty much fall into my hands at just the right time for me to learn to use it.  Fate?

Or maybe I should just learn how to do naalbinding, because that's something I can do with a cheap plastic superblunt darning needle that packs even lighter.  H'mmmm.

Updated, one year later:

As GrammaJeannie points out, the video above cuts short just at the interesting bit.  Fortunately, an incredibly skilled gentleman has uploaded some videos explaining it all.

Part 1

Part 2

Have fun guys!!


Trish said...

My only excuse for missing that tool (I was at the sale about an hour and a half ahead of you)is that I was there with the kids, and, oddly enough, they weren't that keen on spending time inspecting the craft section. I had to do a very fast walk through. Cool find!

Anonymous said...

I bought one of these when I was in highschool (after seeing it advertised on TV and being..."hooked" by the fact that you could cut the material), but I was sorely disappointed in it, and didn't do more than a couple of trial swatches. I've still got it somewhere, though, complete with that very booklet that you reference here, LOL! Maybe I should try it again, now that I've had an additional 42 years of experience knitting and crocheting in the normal way (plus 21 years of knitting machine practice). ;)

Bettie said...

I have been looking for one of these for years! My sister had one in 1970. I have never found one referenced online until now and I am so excited. I want one!

Anonymous said...

Well. That makes me sad. I find this - watch the video - wondering, "OK - now just what are you going to do with this chain?" I find this quite interesting, but at the end of the video - it just..... stops! Where can I find the next video? jeanniecarle @ AKA GrammaJeannie

Anonymous said...

I made my own with wooden chopsticks....drilled a hole in the end...bought electrical connectors with a metallic ring hole and a variety of plastic or rubber like washers. I have a huge kneedle made from a wooden food stick bought at an oriental food store. My original. Ktel needles were lost in my youth.

Mary Keenan said...

That is so resourceful!! I know Helena made sock DPNS out of bamboo skewers, too... Love how we can repurpose other things to our textile making schemes :^)

Anonymous said...

This is not nalbinding at all. Nalbinding doesn't have any open loops, and you pull the needle all the way through the stitches. You can't unravel nalbinding. This is crochet, just approached from the other side. It has live loops, at least temporarily, and can be unraveled easily. Superficial similarity between the tools has no relation to the structure of the fabric, and it's the structure of the fabric that defines the craft.

Mary Keenan said...

Thanks for the clarification, Anon!