Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Dassenplank Fix

Years ago, when in the class of the irascible Mrs. Pamay, 5th grade teacher extraordinaire, we used a device to knit ski hats for our class ski trip. It was a square of thick cardboard about a foot square, with a head-sized hole cut in the center of it. Then, dowel pegs were inserted and glued all around the inner edge of the hole. We would wind the yarn around the pegs and then flip the yarn from the prior row over the new one. We’d end up with these tubes that we would gather at the end, and then tie on a yarn pom-pom we made on another device that had two nails hammered into a brick of wood.

Mrs. Pamay was one of those teachers that just makes an impression that will linger on for the rest of your life. She was really creative, and did projects like this with us all the time. Applied learning. She was great.

Two decades later, my sister, who is a fiber arts maven; sheep-raising, wool shearing, carding, lanolin adoring, wheel spinning, dying, knitting queen of the world gave me a Dassenplank for Christmas of 2000. It is the same principle as the hat circle from 5th grade, except it’s long and rectangular. It is also known as a knitting loom.

This particular one is a fine wooden device with pretty pegs topped with wooden knobs. It was made by the husband of a woman called Pamela from “Pamela’s Homespun”; a fiber-arts. She had a website at some point, but I can’t find it anymore. My sister got both of them at the Black Sheep Gathering—a mecca event for the fiber-obsessed.

My sister had taught me how to knit in 2002, but I always revert to the dassenplank. With this thing, you can churn out blankets and scarves and all other items in record time. When I was present for the birth of my Godson, during my friend’s arduous labour, I sat in her room, knitting away, I started with two inches of product, and when the child finally arrived I had about five feet. No kidding. It’s much, much faster than traditional knitting.

The Dassenplank is now readily available at Michaels in variety packs, made of plastic with a nice groove in each peg for your hook. I haven’t gotten those yet, but they are there for the taking. They are sized for hats, socks and so much more. They are great to have if you really want to knit something but are too daunted by the needle method. There are lots of creative ways to use the dassenplank, and to modify your knit and patterns.

I’m working on a new sofa throw. I have six colours of a similarly styled yarn, I’m just knitting simple panels of three colours, which I will bind together when they are done for a nice lap blanket to keep me cozy when I’m watching a movie or television.

I’d put the project down for a few months, but picked it up a few days ago. I just have one and a half balls of yarn to do now. I’m excited to finish it.

A Youtube Movie of Knitting Loom/Dassenplank basics (they wouldn't allow embedding)

This video is an HGTV segment:

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