Thursday, May 1, 2014

"The time had come, so Marvin went."

Farewell, it's been fun.  Until we meet again...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Socks, part deux

Still playing with the knitting machine, and finishing up a WIP.

The second sock went much easier than the first, and now I have a pair.  You'll notice that I didn't bother with trying to make the stripe colors line up exactly the same.  I wasn't sure that I would have enough yarn to do that, and I really don't mind that they are fraternal rather than identical.

To reinforce lessons learned, I immediately cast on another pair.  This pair is also knit from a Regia yarn, but a different fiber blend -- Regia Silk.  It's a 55% wool/25% polyamid/20% silk combination.  I've used it before in its 6-ply incarnation (now sadly discontinued) for long-wearing hand knit socks for the mister, but this is the first time using the lighter weight 4 ply.  And what was today's lesson?  Despite being the same 4 ply weight as the previous socks -- this blend needs to be knit at a slightly tighter tension -- probably due to the inelasticity of the silk.  Still, they are OK fit-wise, and will happily join their friends in the sock drawer.

I have even started a third pair, but I think these won't be so quickly finished.  I think I will do a bunch of socks -- just the machine knitting, not the seaming or hand knit ribbing -- and throw them in a bag for finishing up later.  They are an easy "front of the TV/travelling/etc. project once the machine work is done and it would be good to have some quick to finish projects on hand.  At any rate, that's the plan!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Little bits

Still working through various techniques and patterns with the knitting machines -- this time -- socks.  Well, let's be honest -- sock -- singular.  The pattern is by Ruth Rogers, Single-Bed Machine Knit Socks.  For the non-machine knitters out there -- single bed means no automatic ribbing, or in the round knitting capabilities.  In other words, the sock is knit flat, then seamed.

The seam technique I used is a new one (to me) -- the Bickford seam.  This is a totally flat seam, so I hope it will feel OK when worn.  I don't think it is totally invisible though -- or perhaps I need more practice?  At any rate, it will do for everyday wear for me, although I think that any future gift socks will still be hand knit.  And here is Sock, part 1:

   I'll definitely be making the second one, but it may have to wait just a bit for a spring project.  I did the top ribbing by hand, for a seamless finish, and used an extra stretchy bind off.
Another quick little project was a double layered hat from the book "Mid-Gauge Basics + Much More" by Charlene Shafer.  I think it turned out nice, and took little more than an hour (including seaming it up), which was good, considering the Mister needed a quick replacement for a hand knit cap.

Sometimes speed is a Good Thing! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

And continuing on...

More machine knit sweater goodness, this time an exploration of patterning using the punch card capability of the Silver Reed SK-280.

I used two cones of fingering weight (2/9) Shetland wool from Gardiner of Selkirk, Ltd.  This was a closeout from Webs, many moons ago.  I don't remember the price now, but it was a great bargain.  However, it sat in the stash -- mostly because it wasn't pleasant to hand knit, and it that point I didn't have a machine that would handle that weight of yarn.  Fast forward -- now I do!

The body of the sweater is plain stockinette, the ribbings are hand knit, and the sleeves are knit in a fair isle checkerboard design.  It was my intention to shape all pieces, except the neckline, with full fashioned increases.  However when I started my first sleeve, I saw that the floats from the fair isle pattern, plus the increases gave the edges of the sleeve a somewhat ragged look.  This may be inherent in the type of pattern I was doing, or due to inexperience on my part, but it was not satisfactory.  So, I did a few calculations, and knit up two separate pieces of patterned yardage for the sleeves.  Here you can see the yardage with a pattern drawn on freezer paper and lightly ironed onto the fabric: 
This method does waste a bit of fabric, but as you can see, not too much --

After cutting the side edges of the sleeves (top and bottom of sleeve were left on waste yarn), I ran it through the serger to finish off the edges -- scary, but it seems to have worked just fine.
And here it is all nicely finished --

The patterning on the sleeve portion worked out at a different gauge from the plain body portion -- I believe that is typical for fair isle.  A little more math let me work out separate patterns for the sleeves, and I made it easy on myself by selecting simple drop shouldered shaping. 
All in all, a simple project that turned out to the wearer's satisfaction.  And that is always a good result!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Machining along...

First sweater from the new machine - Silver Reed SK 280, a single bed, standard gauge,  punchcard machine.  My usual model has a shoulder injury, so it's a hanger shot today.

Details:  yarn was from ancient stash (15+ years?) Michell & Cie 10/3 alpaca -- I believe it may have been labeled as fingering weight when I purchased it, but it seems much lighter to me.  Which explains why such nice alpaca languished in stash for so long -- it was always meant for a husbandly sweater, but there was no way I was going to hand knit that.  Machine knit plain stockinette body, hand knit K2P2 ribbing.  Body sides and set in sleeve shaping done full fashioned -- neckline was 'cut and sew'.  Very scary cutting into that fine gauge alpaca, but I think it worked well -- two rows of machine sewn zig zag stitching held everything in place.  Neckline ribbing was knit double length, then sewn down on inside in order to cover cut edge.

I was pleased with how well the machine performed, and look forward to trying out some of its other features. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

FIFC January Cowl

After dealing with the oil soaked Kauni yarn, it was a real pleasure to knit with a lovely wool/silk blend yarn "Luminous" from Sincere Sheep -- a hand-dyed, DK weight  85% Polwarth Wool, 15% Silk.  Color is a pretty turquoise 'Hathor's Gem'.

The cowl is a pattern from the Knitspot Fall in Full Color (FIFC) 2013 yarn club.  I've enjoyed the opportunity to knit with yarns I might otherwise miss, and Anne Hanson's designs have been interesting, yet small enough to be easily finished.  Who doesn't like little knitting surprises?

As an added bonus, this month's selection (final of the series) contained some lovely hand crafted buttons from Moving Mud.  Just beautiful; I regret my photo does not do them justice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kauni Kardigan

My new obsession appears to be machine knitting.  I have dabbled with a plastic, hobby machine (Studio LK-150) in the past, but lately I've been working on a metal, double-bed machine -- Artisan 70D.  I bought it a few years ago, mostly based on its price, ribbing capabilities and it came with a nice, sturdy stand.  It's a machine that is still being made (in China) and does not have the cachet of the beautiful, but no longer in production, Swiss or Japanese machines.  Still, you don't know what you're missing if you've never even seen those machines, much less used one, and so far it's worked very nicely for me.

I decided to finally use some of the Kauni Effekt yarn in the stash, and thought an over-sized cardigan might serve to showcase the gradual color changes of the yarn, plus be suitable to use on the Artisan (a mid-gauge machine).  I wanted the stripe effect to run vertically on most of the sweater, so I divided the back and front pieces into two parts each and knit the 'skirt' portion of each piece from side to side.  The 'yoke' portion of the pieces was knit conventionally -- bottom up.  The bottom edges are finished with a hand knit garter stitch, likewise the shawl collar is done in garter.  The front edges, however, are done in a K2P2 rib.  This was done because a garter stitch edging on this part was flaring out too much on the stockinette, sideways knit, skirt piece.  Both the front edges and the shawl collar are finished off with an I-cord bind off.

The yoke pieces are attached to the skirt pieces with a (hand done) three needle bind off with the 'seam' to the outside of the garment.  Likewise the sides are connected this way, as can possibly be seen where I've flipped the front over a bit in the photo. 

To give the skirt portion some flare towards the bottom hem, I inserted short-row shaping.  I 'borrowed' the shaping of the garter stitch shawl collar from a hand knitting pattern that I have done before -- Tokyo by Hanne Falkenberg.  Rate of decreasing for the vee neckline was done using Sweater Wizard -- the rest of the shaping was figured with pencil, paper and a handy calculator. 

I was hoping for a cozy, over-sized cardigan that would keep away the winter chill, and I think that's what I got --

 I don't normally make unfitted, drop-shouldered garments for myself, but I think the slow color changes of this yarn demanded larger pieces. 

I found that the Kauni yarn knit very well on the machine.  I was not as pleased with it when knitting by hand.  It is heavily oiled and is harsh going through the hands.  A nice warm bath takes care of that, and it is quite pleasant to wear (although not next-to-skin soft!), but I almost wanted to pre-wash the yarn I was using to hand knit the edges before using it.  All in all, the yarn is fine, and I will be using it again, but most likely with much less hand knitting.

My next machine challenge is trying "cut and sew" technique on the neckline of a sweater I am making for the mister.  Fingers crossed!