Thursday, 28 July 2016

Cast On x 3

I’m having a great time translating my machine knit saddle-shoulder prototype into a hand knit garment. I started out thinking I would just knit a plain, one colour cardigan. Within 4 rows I was a little bored. I could put in a stitch pattern in here and that would be fun. Break yarn. Throw out swatch #1.

I had a stitch pattern in mind. It was an old swatch I had made many years ago and thought this would be the perfect project for it. And yes, it was even already charted. No sweat. Just pop it in and I’m ready to go. Cast On again. Six rows later, it’s not working. I had charted it right out of the stitch dictionary and it had you introduce a change in the pattern on a wrong side row, actually on several wrong side rows. I don’t like that. So got out my trusty pencil and eraser and recharted it with all the pattern changes on the right side. Break yarn and throw away swatch#2.
Cast On again. I’m sure I’ve got it sorted this time. All major problems solved. You may have guessed it, the small things surface now. It doesn’t have a rhythm. No flow. I have to keep looking at the chart. Time to contemplate. What’s wrong? Break yarn and throw out Swatch#3.

I don’t know what you do but believe it or not, I sing the rhythm. I do this as I knit the pattern too. Works for me. So I took out a couple of columns of stitches, put them back in, took out a column somewhere else, ended up putting in two stitches where there was one, eventually I have this: Da, bing, da, bing, da, boo, da, da, boo, boo, da, da, boo, da, bing, da, bing, da. Emphasis on the “bing”, which are stitches knit through the back loops. Seems to work now. Cast On again. 

IT’S WORKING. I now have a stitch pattern with rhythm (at least for me), a chart I rarely have to look at (admittedly I have had 3 cracks at it already and am very, very familiar with it). On the wrong side rows all I have to do is knit the knits and purl the purls. That’s another goal I worked on in the finished chart. It’s so relaxing if you don’t have to continue to check the chart on the wrong side rows even though they are patterned.

I’m moving ahead with the charts I have now. It’s going well.

Today is the day of mistakes. After getting several inches done yesterday, I realized that the shoulders of the Front were too wide due to the width of the stitch pattern. Back to the drawing board. Then I cast on the wrong number of stitches, cast on again correctly and forgot the first shoulder increase. Cast On again and decided that today would be a good day to read a book. So I did just that.

Progress. New narrower Front stitch pattern is working out well. I think I’m on a roll.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Arggh, I'm in a muddle. I'm leaving on the weekend for 2 weeks at the cabin. And, unfortunately I started packing last week. Unfortunate because now I have packed:

9 books:  2 non-fiction, 4 light reading but longish, 3 more heavy duty reading

A couple of knitting projects, none of them started yet:
1 hemp sleeveless top
1 DK saddle shoulder cardigan
1 DK cabled saddle shoulder cardigan
1 aran V-neck
1 cowl

5 audio books to listen to as I knit at a frantic pace

about 17 extra balls of yarn just in case I have a wonderful idea

This is all reasonable, right? I have one more day to contemplate this idiocy and try to pare it down a bit, or not! You might wonder how I am going to pack all this, since weeks at a cabin might include clothes and food and one bundle of shingles which are going on the outhouse. I have another set of "camp" clothes there so all I have to throw in a bag is 1 set of clean clothes to come home in. We have a small store (one room) which started as a vegetable stand years ago and is 2 km away (1.25miles) and is my walk every other day so no food necessary either. This is good and bad. Bad because I know I have plenty of room to pack anything I want. Oh and I need to put a guitar in too since I'm learning to play. I obviously won't have a spare moment. Can't wait.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Mknit saddle shoulder

What do you do on your holidays? I still knit. Hobby and work are all combined for me. Sometimes it seems I can never get away from it but most of the time I wonder why I would want to.

To make a change, this summer I'm working on machine knitting. It's a totally different breed of knitting. The only cross-over is some comfort with the yarn. Everything else seems quite different. 

I wanted to work a saddle shouldered sweater from the top down. This is my mock-up on the machine.
I knit it quite differently than I will when I handknit this sweater.

1. I knit it bottom-up, which screws with my head since I'm not used to working this way any more. That was kind of fun. I drew it like I would handknit it from the top and then worked out the rows from the bottom. I did it bottom up because it seemed easier to decrease every row. When I handknit this I want to work a double increase every second row. Now I have to figure out what double increase would work best.

2. I worked it in two colours so I could really see the seamline between the saddle and the sleeve.
I'm so happy this worked out. Now I'm going to get started on a handknit.
P.S. Thanks t_a and Sharon for your comments on your experiences with machine knitting. It is very different isn't it!? It does do stockinette stitch very well and I'm having fun knitting with fingering weight cotton at a much looser than I would by hand.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Machine Knitting in the wild

Written last week and posted today:
I am currently at my cabin for a week or so. No internet, no email, no radio, no TV, no distractions at all. It's very, very quiet. Just the sound of the waves and the rustle of chipmunks in the bushes.

To my knitting/designing friends, I have often bemoaned the fact that sometimes my bright ideas for changing the Top Down construction don't work. Imagine my surprise! My machine knitting friend Monika tells me that I could be trying sweater construction ideas out on a machine to see if they work before I dedicate 40 or 60 hours to knitting a sweater by hand and then finding out my idea didn’t really work like I wanted it to. I've finally stopped to listen to this advice.

In the summer I like to experiment and try new things. This year is the summer of the Knitting Machine. I’ve had one for a long time and not mastered it. I am told you do have to get it out of the box and use it more often than one week every 4 years or so. 

So here I am Mknitting in the wild.
I have made every mistake all my handknitting beginner knitters make. I’ve not read to the end of instructions and wondered why it didn’t work. I thought I knew what to do the second day when I cast on because I’m a pro after one day, Not. I knew this would happen and so am laughing at myself for being so cocky. I thought I started my short rows incorrectly, took it all out and then re-read the instructions to find that I had done it right the whole time. OK, wasn’t laughing so much over that one. Then worked my short rows and forgot all the wraps. Laughing again. You may have caught the theme here. It's actually good to be a beginner again. I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

I have a wearable garment! I’m so excited. This is in Saucon Fingering, a cotton/acrylic usually knit at 28 sts = 4". I knit this sweater at 22 sts = 4". It's a fairly open weave. Should be really cool to wear.
I made a drop shoulder garment since I thought it would be the easiest construction to get started. Although I did do some inexplicable things. I can’t figure out where my head was at. I decided to work it with a seam up the front and back, and the sides too?! What was I thinking? I also decided somewhere along the line that I needed 10” of ease around my hips. I don’t know what happened there. So then it was too short for all that extra hip width. The next day I added an extra 3-4” inches to the bottom and now I’m very proud of my first Mknit garment of the summer.

I worked short rows into the sleeves. Even on a drop shoulder garment, the short rows make the sleeves hang much better.
I added A-line shaping (with lots and lots and lots of increases for the hip, for some strange reason). And yes, I did mattress stitch all those seams.

Next week the experimentation begins. I can't wait to get back to the cabin to get started. I have lots of ideas. I hope I haven't forgotten everything I learned last week.