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!