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Photo of Clara Sedgwick's knitting needles There is a story of how knitters in Dent who continued with their knitting during the church service, were rebuked by the parson. In fact, the knitters there were known as the "terrible knitters of Dent" a reputation they acquired not only because of the speed at which they knitted but also because of the curious method they employed of seeming to rock backwards and forwards as they threw the knitted loops off the right side working needle. A distinctive form of knitting developed from the early days. The semi-blunt needles employed by the knitters became bent with usage and were known as "pricks" The knitters wore a belt into which was tucked on the right side, a knitting sheath or stick. These sticks had a hole bored through the centre in which the needle nearest on the right, fitted and was held rigid. Most of the work was done by the left needle. Not only could the knitters work faster this semi rigid way, the tension they produced was tighter and the work more even than by the modern English way of handknitting Often a lad would carve as a betrothal token, a knitting stick for his lass. In the Dales, the favourite type of knitting stick was a shape known as the goose quill, which was curved and elegant.. The yarn was held in a "clue" holder hooked on to the belt. People would walk the long Dales miles visiting relatives in some remote village and knit at the same time. Knitting yielded a poor pittance, but it was the next best thing to starvation.



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(text, © Kathleen Kinder 1997. photos, © Kathleen Kinder/Bill Mitchell 1997 k.kinder@daelnet.co.uk)

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