Working the Frames
Duration 3 minutes 26 seconds
Q: I also want to ask about the knitting again. Can... what are your feet actually doing and what are your hands doing? When you're knitting, is that, is...
PC: Er, getting tangled up sometimes. Well, there are two handgrips and two thumb presses which you use to pull the loop forward onto the bearded needle, and then... oh do you know, I've forgotten what you do now, ain't it funny - I get on there and just do it automatically, now you've asked me the question and I don't know. Er, you take the old, you press, you bring the loops forward onto the beard, and then you take, you depress and take it back and lock it up, as it's called, then you remove your thumbs and that is locked up. And then your feet come into operation - no, they've already come into operation - the right foot works the three pedals which traverses the yarn from left to right across the beds of the needles, depending on which foot it is, and your left foot operates the down pedal which forms the loops. You've got to come and see it, it's, I can't describe it, and then the middle pedal, it's a different pressure, which closes - it's like a cheese cutter - the pressbar comes down closing all the points of the beards into the shank of the needle, retaining the new loop underneath, and then you pull forward with the hand, the hand and the thumb presses, and the old loop drops, so it's exactly - well, not exactly - the same as knitting with two pins. The loop on one, needle through, yarn over, slip it off. The knitting principle hasn't changed since 2000 years BC.
Q: What's the 'beard', you just said 'the beard'?
PC: The beard is part of the needle, er, the needle is, er, about, a couple of inches long, and then it's bent over, and comes back this way, and that's called the beard - it's a bearded needle, not a latch needle like a rug making needle, and the press... and what happens, it retains the loop underneath and the pressbar comes down pressing the points of the beard into the shank of the needle - there is a groove in there - and then the old loop is pulled forward in one of the last (eight?) operations and knocks it over sort of thing.
Q: When we recorded the sound it sort of clunk clicks and there's a 'schschschsch'...
Q: What's that?
PC: That is when the 'slur' is going across, which trips the 'jacks'. See, to make the loops there is a jack which drops down between each needle forcing the yarn down, and that is operated by the slur going across, which is a spring loaded, er, I'm not technical enough to know, I shall have to get my friend to tell me all this, but when it goes across it just trips the jacks and they drop one after another all the way across, and that is the 'schschschsch'. We use pure wool in this place which is very very coarse, very very thick ply; Nottingham, they use cotton, further north it was silk, and they are, we are operating on 14 needles to the inch, or 16 needles, they were possible operating on 32, 38 needles, so they are finer, and it is quite a .. most.. I mean, at Ruddington it's a 'zzzzzzzzz' , very very quiet, but you see we're heavy gauge, a lot heavier, and this is where you get the noise from - the jacks are a lot heavier sort of thing.
Source: East Midlands Oral History Archive (Accession Number 0900 Collection Number EM/028)