Category Archives: machine knitting

Fall knitting – lime green cardigan

Yay, it’s done! Actually, it’s been done for the last few days but I finally managed to take pictures so here goes:

Front view

Front view

I used the measurements from my old Georgie cardigan because I like how it fits. Did you notice that the sleeves are rolled up at the hem? Well, that would be because either the tape measure or the calculator lied. Or something. Anyway, I’m leaving it like that and calling it a cuff.

The yarn is fingering weight Nature Spun from Brown Sheep. It comes on cones. I love it. They named the color Spring Green. It’s bright and happy. Totally makes my day every time I look at it.

Side view

Side view

The front band is 32 rows of garter stitch on 2mm needles (size 0). It will be a while before the memory of knitting a gazillion tiny stitches fades. Suffice it to say that it took less than 7 hours total to knit the back, the fronts, and both sleeves, but the front band alone took more than that.

I was super excited to find out one evening how to make an I-cord on my machine (it’s right there in the manual, how cool is that?) and much to my husband’s chagrin I just had to try it right then. At 11:30pm. Not that he was doing anything important like sleeping, no, he was playing the Playstation. I think I’m excused.

Back view

Back view

I tried to put the arms on the dressform, I really tried, but after about 10 frustrating minutes I gave up. Not sure what happened there but those metal doodads just wouldn’t engage. So, back to the I-cord. Easy-peasy, this one is done on four needles. Next time, I will move the eyelets up an inch and a half so that the cord is at my waist. Now it’s closer to high hip, which is okay, but waist level would be better I think.

I have another machine knitted project in progress, the new SWAP rules have just been announced so there is planning to do, there will be fabric and yarn shopping on our upcoming trip stateside… all sorts of fun.

See you soon!

Good times…

What a fun month this has been. Not much blogging, well, not any blogging. Sorry about that. Let me catch you up.

First, shortly after I made those lime green PJs, I went to spend some time with my parents in Slovakia. It’s a roughly 10-hour trip one way so very much driveable. It was a great visit and I wore those green PJs so my mom would not have to comment about how everything I wear is black 🙂

Lime green sweater

Not to worry, there is more color coming to a closet near me – see? This will soon be a cardigan. Not black.

Then I brought my mom home with me for a couple of weeks and this is where things got busy. My mom spent just one night in our guest bedroom before she started making suggestions. Admittedly, the guest bedroom was very bare – just a platform with a mattress on it, and two dressers. First, mom wanted a chair so we took one from the dining table. Then she didn’t like how the bed was right under the window and “can we turn it the other way?” So I measured, brought out my trusty Super Sliders, and we moved and turned the bed. Now there was room for a night stand, only we didn’t have an extra one, so we bought one on our next Ikea trip a few days later. Oh, and a headboard would be nice. Yes, well, that would have to wait.

Mom had a few sewing projects for me – pants alterations, small fabric sachets to hold dried lavender, and a cover for her future heating pad. When she mentioned something about keeping her shoulders warm, I offered to make her a shrug. It was a quick project on the knitting machine – one piece, knitted sideways. She sewed up the sleeves and I crocheted around the edges. We even got do to some social fun stuff: going to a couple of meetings with my new-found knitting and quilting buddies. Mom was inspired to start knitting again, and we worked together to bind some charity quilts. Good times.

Quilt on the wall

Apologies for the poor photo – I can’t quite get the lighting right. The colors are much more vibrant in real life.

After mom left, I shifted into some serious home dec DIY gear. My new knitting friend has several quilts hanging on walls. Seeing this inspired me to hang my quilt, too. I’ve only made two – one I use on my bed, the other was supposed to be a couch quilt but we haven’t been using it. So on the wall it went. Invisibly, too.

Couch pillows

Next up were the couch pillows. I’ve thought buying new ones because the old ones just were not the right color. Instead, I bought some quilting fabric and made new covers for them. Now they’re washable, too. (Well, the covers are, not the pillows. And I had to make pillow forms for them, too. Would you have guessed that when you take off the outer fabric from a store-bought pillow, there is just stuffing? No plain fabric to keep it contained?)

Then I cleaned out my bedroom and hung some pictures there. And then I figured out the headboard for the guest bedroom. I’ll tell you all about it in the next post.

Fall sewing – lime green PJs

I washed the cotton for these pajama pants weeks ago. Then it was too hot in the sewing room. Then it was something else. Then I had fifteen million other things on my list. And then… I finally had enough of the procrastination. I ironed the fabric before I went to bed, cut out the pants the next morning and sewed them up that night.

PJs 2

I’m finding the yellow-green range impossible to capture correctly.

The fabric is Kona quilting cotton in Peridot. The pattern is my TNT pants pattern, Burda WOF 8/98 #106. It’s a pattern for wide-leg pleated-front pants with a wide curved waistband. I have made it many times over the years, with and without the pleats, in worsted wools, cottons, even denim, most recently as the black cotton pants in my summer 6-PAC. Two years ago, I turned it into a simple PJ pattern by eliminating the side seam, replacing the waistband with a casing for elastic, and narrowing the hem a bit. I loved the resulting pajama pants and wore them to shreds so of course I dug out that PJ pattern for this project.

PJs 3

The pants are a bright lime green. The “yellow” in the quilt is a much lighter version of the same color.

Between the cutting and sewing sessions, I knitted a couple of swatches in preparation for a cardigan project. First I made a tension swatch to get an idea of the fabric created at different tensions. You can see the holes on the right side of the swatches – the number of holes indicates the tension of the fabric above them.

Lime green swatches

The fabric is too loose at tension 6 and too firm at tension 2. Tensions 3-5 all resulted in nice fabric. I chose tension 4 for this project and made the second swatch – the gauge swatch. It has 34 stitches and 51 rows to 4″ square. I am using the basic shape of the Georgie cardigan, with quite a few modification. I have spent the better part of today making design decisions and calculating the pattern.

Peridot necklace fix

In other news, I did a little bit of necklace surgery last week. The pretty peridot torsade was a little too chunky (and heavy) for me so I cut off three strands of it. The remaining four strands make the perfect medium scale necklace for me.

How are your fall projects coming along? Please talk to me.

Colors!

It seems like I’ve been sewing up a storm in black and white fabrics lately, even though I said I would be adding bright colors. The problem is my stash – about 90% of it is black and dark gray wool suitings, and the other 10% are cotton shirtings and heavier wool doubleknits – not suitable for my current plans.

But I really am adding bright colors to my wardrobe and fabric collection. I have recently bought these lovely cottons (plus a chartreuse one that I’m not sure why it’s not in the picture) at a quilting store.  See how nicely they harmonize with the Bright Winter color fan? These cottons are destined for PJs. I washed them all today so the project is imminent.
PJ fabrics

On the knitting front, I have been practicing edges, hems, and necklines on the knitting machine in preparation for larger projects. These are cut & sew samples. I don’t care for the neckline on the right, which was sewn on the sewing machine – it turned out wonky and I didn’t care much for the process. The other one is better in that it was rehung on the machine after cutting and the neckline trim knitted right onto the piece. My favorite sample is the houndstooth. I love houndstooth! It is such a classic, pretty pattern.
MK practice 1

On Saturday, I found this bright turquoise 100% cotton yarn at our local yarn store. It’s a good weight for knitting on the standard gauge machine. The gauge swatch is drying right now. I envision this as a cardigan but that may still change.
Baby Cotton by Lang Yarns

But wait, there’s more! (sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it?) I also have some bright colored yarns coming in from what was my local yarn store when we lived in Wyoming.

And more still! I had requested samples of charcoal and lime green fabrics from Banksville Fabrics a couple of weeks ago and they came through as always. I placed my order on Friday so there will be more colorful fabrics coming soon.

See? My fabric collection is about to get very colorful. And then my wardrobe too. It’s exciting! These colors make me feel so happy that I just want to spread the joy. So stay tuned!

Georgie cardigan – finished

I am back in Germany for a little while, just until we make the big move to North Dakota in January.

I’d been busy arranging all sorts of things prior to leaving Florida but that did not stop me from knitting. Even the knitting injury that made me take a break from hand-knitting couldn’t stop me from knitting on the machine. And so, here is my Georgie cardigan, adapted from Kim Hargreaves’ book Breeze.

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The yarn is Brown Sheep Co.’s Nature Spun in sport weight; the color is Evergreen – a much more vibrant shade of emerald than these pictures would lead you to believe. I love how evenly this yarn works up on the machine.

Side views, belted and unbelted (I will be wearing this belted because I like the waist definition the belt adds and also because then no other closure will be needed):

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I adjusted the fronts for a slightly smaller overlap because I wanted to knit the hood in one piece, which limited it to no more than 200 needles. (I used them all.) I’d left the neckline stitches live to hang back on the machine after blocking the pieces and grafting the shoulder seams. The decreases at the center back of the hood were a royal pain because I was working without a garter bar or my 9-prong transfer tool, which meant transferring close to 200 stitches toward the center three stitches at a time. Let’s just say that the hood took longer to knit than the rest of the sweater combined.

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I started with 2″ deep hung hems and continued in stockinette all the way up. I had originally planned to make a 1×1 ribbed band at the center front, then changed my mind after blocking the first front piece. This necessitated re-knitting that piece and coming up with a different edge treatment. I decided on crab stitch but after multiple unsatisfactory attempts I changed it to a simple row of half-double crochet stitches all around the front edges.

This was a really straight-forward project. I will wear the cardigan for a while before making another one because I want to see how I like the overlap. I’m thinking smaller overlap next time but I want to make sure.

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 4

Here’s the latest installment of my sampler project – the knitweave (or knit weave) sampler. In this technique, the resulting patterns look very similar to the fairisle sampler, but in knitweave the pattern is actually formed on the purl side. This is a rather involved technique because it requires the machine operator to move the contrast yarn from one side of the carriage to the other after each row. No zip-zip like some of the other techniques.

Knitweave sampler

From left to right: cards # 1-4, 7-9, 11, 14, and 20.
Not all cards are suitable for knitweave. Long floats are bad enough on the inside (as in fairisle) where they can be protected with lining. On the outside of the garment, they’re a disaster waiting to happen. Even some of these cards produced floats that are not acceptable to me, although yarn thickness is probably a factor here.

I’m guessing that if I were to use a main color yarn closer to the higher end of the thickness spectrum that the machine can handle, the floats would be shorter in the end product. I’ve been knitting the Wool Crepe on tension 5 so the fabric is quite stretched on the machine. The contrast yarn has to cover the whole distance between the end needles during knitting so when the fabric comes off the machine and relaxes into its natural narrower state, there is extra contrast yarn length in each row. This is a problem when the floats are three stitches or longer. Any knitweave projects will require samples not just for gauge but for the resulting texture as well.

I really like #1 and 7. They would produce a lovely tweedy looking fabric suitable for jackets. I’m thinking a solid main color and a variegated contrast yarn. Or a nice boucle yarn that would be a PITA to knit (but easy to knitweave because it just lays over the needles as it’s woven into the fabric).
I also like #8, the herrigbone. I love herringbone – it’s such a classic pattern. With the right combination of yarns, it could be quite spectacular.

A while ago, Kat asked “Okay, okay now! 🙂 What machine is this and where did you get it?”
So, let me introduce the wonderful Singer 700 Memo-Matic.
Knitting machine

It’s a standard gauge (4.5 mm) machine that knits yarns from fingering to about sport-weight. I got it in probably 2001 or 2002, from a lady in Canada whose ad I found online. It was not working well in the beginning and it took a few years to find someone who knew anything about knitting machines. It turned out that it needed a new sponge bar, a part that is not mentioned anywhere in the manual. After that, it worked like a charm.

This machine has all the bells and whistles that a mechanical machine can have – a 24-stitch punchcard reader for patterns, knit radar for knitting shapes from sewing patterns (rather than row by row counts), and a built-in row counter. I also have a lace carriage for this machine; it comes with its own set of punchcards for lovely lace patterns. And I have a ribber, which is another long bed of needles that can be mounted in the front at an angle – together the two beds can produce ribbing patterns and other things that I have yet to explore.

Mary said “Very nice…makes me want to get a knitting machine now, but where would I put it?” Hmm… let’s see, mine is in what’s supposed to be the dining area. (We don’t have a dining table; we eat at the kitchen counter bar.) But then, we don’t have a traditional living room either because I needed the space for my sewing studio. It’s all a matter of priorities, right?

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 3

Posted by Alexandra at Studio Alexandra

Well, the tuck stitch sampler was hard to photograph to show its texture but the slip stitch sampler really takes the cake. The texture is so subtle it’s hard to see with a naked eye, let alone in a photograph. But here it is, in all its (barely visible) glory:

Slip stitch cards 8, 7, 4, 3, 2
Left to right: cards # 8, 7, 4, 3, and 2.

Slip stitch cards 9-12 & 14
Left to right: cards #9, 10, 11, 12, and 14.

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 2

Posted by Alexandra at Studio Alexandra

I never realized how difficult it is to photograph texture in solid color. It’s has taken me several days, many photos, and learning how to increase contrast without making the picture look grainy/funny. And now, I present to you, the tuck stitch sampler:

Tuck stitch sampler

Tuck stitch is a technique in which the machine knits stockinette on some needles and hangs loops of yarn on others (without knitting the stitches that are on them). At regular intervals dictated by the punchcard, these loops and the original stitch get knitted together, resulting in a textured fabric. The purl side is the right side with this technique.

As you can see, the swatches are much shorter than on the fairisle sampler. I used the same number of rows (40) per card. From left to right, card numbers are 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 4, 3, and 1. Most of them are fairly recognizable when compared to the fairisle sampler, but card #3 was a total surprise. It looks like honeycomb, very pretty, but not what I was expecting at all. I am loving the herringbone in the middle. Can you just see it on a shrug knitted side-to-side?

Coming up tomorrow is the slip stitch sampler – another textured solid.

2009 #1 Machine knitting sampler – part 1

One of my goals this year is to master the knitting machine. I figured the best way to familiarize myself with all it has to offer would be by making samples. I started with fairisle because all punchcards that come with the machine are suitable for fairisle. Here’s how it turned out:

Cards 1-4
Fairisle: cards 1-4

Cards 7-10
Fairisle: cards 7-10

Cards 11-14 (love the houndstooth – such a classic)
Fairisle: cards 11-14

Cards 15-17
Fairisle: cards 15-17

Cards 18-20
Fairisle: cards 18-20

As you can see, I skipped cards #5-6. That’s because card #5 is a large flower not suited for all-over patterning and card #6 is a row of smaller flowers that look like a late 80’s/early 90’s throwback. Seriously, does anybody remember the huge sweater with a large floral motif smack-dab in the middle of the front? Once was enough!

As the card numbers get higher, there is a definite progression from simple 1-2 row patterns to more complex multi-row repeat patterns. For the swatches, I knitted 40 rows of the pattern, followed by 8 rows of plain color. Starting with card #15, several required a longer swatch to show the full effect. Note: card #19 leaves very long floats that will have to be protected by lining or fusible interfacing.

The whole sampler is over 2 1/2 yds long and had to be blocked in sections. It will soon be joined by samplers of other techniques, such as tuck stitch and weaving. Not all cards are suitable for these techniques so these other samplers should be considerably shorter.

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