Tuesday, April 18

The machine knitting gods and the "art" of being thwarted...

TL;DR: A lot of stuff didn't work out this weekend, but I did learn some stuff and come out with some pretty socks!

So, we had a long weekend coming up, Easter weekend. For me that's Good Friday and Easter Monday. A lovely 4 day weekend - and the weather forecast wasn't great, so a perfect opportunity to get some machine knitting done. But alas, it was not to be!

It started well enough. Friday was overcast with a slight mizzle - started the day by getting up with the Cog (who had to go to work) and then going for a nordic walk - and the sun even came out briefly! Decided not to stop for coffee afterwards, the nordic ladies are a lovely lot but they all know each other very well (quite a lot of them are retired) and sometimes I feel somewhat socially inept amongst them. Plus I had things to do! Recycled some dead batteries at my usual supermarket and had a quick look for gf hot cross buns - alas, a shelf position, but empty. Carried on into town and struck gold at Asda - once I'd finally located the "free from" section, which took some doing. Picked up some fruit beers as an Easter gift and bought a takeaway sub in town and came home. So far, so mundane.

I had had a sore throat a bit last week - well, it decided, over the course of my long weekend, to develop into a full on head-cold snot fest. It hadn't shown up Friday night because we cooked chicken in a cherry pan sauce - nice, but sauce not v thick without flour alas! And I never attempt new recipes when ill!

Saturday morning I embarked on swatching for a knitweave cardigan, a lovely Sue Booth pattern. Dug out the AW1 but came a cropper barely 4 rows in - the chunky yarn caught in the spring of the AW1 and stretched it completely out of shape - I know, because some kind folks on Rav posted a picture of what it ought to look like. Mine's toast. Great. So I swatched the other way - which is really slow on a Knitmaster machine, because, with no pre-selection of the pattern, the yarn has to be moved from one side of the carriage to the other for every row! Argh! This is one thing the Brother is better at in my opinion. Despite the manual suggesting you thread the knitweave yarn through the mast and mimic the Knitmaster technique, it's much faster and easier to just lay it over the needles. So I have the wrong machine set up now. Drat. Did a gauge swatch anyway. You never know!

I'd seen a recent technique video posted on Youtube by a Russian lady - how to weave vertically on the knitting machine - and thought it might be the perfect thing to do with my Dream Week Challenge yarn - plus it looked like a lot of fun. I needed to knit a swatch for some black acrylic I bought with the DW in mind anyway. As it turned out it's a great technique, but not for very lumpy yarns, and the DW yarn is a black nylon icord interspersed with coloured squares which are much wider. Difficult to thread them through live stitches. Plus, some of the squares will not sit on the right side. Rats. Great idea but wrong yarn, back to the mental drawing board of my brain I guess. Looking at the swatch, the most effective is the red bit at the top - the Hayfield Illusion is a black and variegated yarn and doesn't show up well.

Ok, so park that - I'll have a go at the Swirl pattern. I printed it off a while ago - a simple rectangle and a short-row ruffle, plus sleeves, and you have a cardigan. Seemed fair enough. It was a bit tricky knitting Grigna at T10 - it's a boucle yarn and very lively at such a loose tension. I got part way around, and then suddenly realised I may have gone wrong. The pattern seems to be written in such a way as to do the short rowing part in two halves, but the first half is smaller because I wasn't resetting the row count. Or am I overthinking it? I parked it, so I could email the designer.

So project number three (getting somewhat annoyed now but trying to keep calm!). I've got quite a collection of sock yarn, so thought I'd have another go at the lace heart socks. The pattern is from a Jenny Deter's book and her version has 3-4 rows of hearts on the ankle, and then they continue down the foot. I chickened out last time, and one of the hearts came out wonky; the ill-fated socks ended up in the circular file when they later got felted in the wash. The patterns in that book use 1x1 rib to isolate the lace motifs - much easier to count stitches when there are a block of 13, not 72. The downside of doing lace with the ribber in place is that you can't see what you did on a previous row, or fix a dropped stitch - the CSM ribber is about 3mm higher than the cylinder and there's just no visibility. And guess what? On the second lace row, I dropped a stitch. So I had to transfer everything to the cylinder in order to get the ribber off, to try and rescue it. And as any knitter will tell you, rescuing a dropped stitch within a lace pattern isn't for the faint-hearted. Got the ribber off and bodged it as best I could - but then couldn't be certain how far I needed to tink back. You see, because of how a CSM works, you can't just take the ribber off, fix something, and put it back. To get the ribber off you have to knit around a bit to release all the ribber needles. At any time, quite a few of the ribber needles are within the cam mechanism - same goes for the cylinder - so the only way to fix a mistake is to knit past it and then tink it back. Tinking lace? Also not funny!

It had been an hour or two since the knitweaving, so I thought I'd measure my swatch. The stitches weren't far off, but the row count is out by a factor of 0.67, in other words I'd have to multiply by 1.3 to recalculate the pattern. It's sideways knit, so that would mean recalculating the neck and any armhole shapings. By this point I was losing the will to continue - I decided to go downstairs and slob out on the sofa, and do some more crochet on the blanket. Even I couldn't mess that up!

Sunday I was so full of cold I couldn't face anything too technical, so pretty much hung out on the sofa. Monday I frogged the Grigna (NOT easy!) - I've had some emails from the designer but I'm no clearer, I may have to call her. I also decided to snap the yarn on the lace sock (yeah, the CSM's feed is a closed system, breaking the yarn is quickest!) and start again. The original plan had been to knit the socks as per pattern - but again, I dropped a stitch and bottled out (although at least this time I managed to fudge it and pick it up again). Trust me, lace on a CSM is not for the faint of heart - though if you spot the note in Jenny's book, she does say it's a good idea to remove the weights whilst doing the transfers, but you must remember to put them back on again. I found a quicker way - grab the knitting above the weights and take its weight with your non-dominant hand whilst doing the transfers. Gives you a bit of insurance if the stitch does slip off your hooking tool. So at least I learnt something this weekend, even if again, the socks weren't as fancy as intended. That's a LOT of work! But so pretty!

Buoyed up by one mostly-successful pair of socks, and keen to get them off to graft, I started another pair of simple tube socks, in a lovely yarn I picked up at Kegworth (WYS Signature). It's knitting in really cool stripes, and unlike Knitpics Felici, isn't limited edition. Is it sad to admit I was really chuffed about that? Well, these self-striping yarns, you can never tell how they'll knit up until you do it - and the tension and width of your knitting can make quite a bit of difference, too. What looks great in the ball / skein can look very busy when knitted. Decided I'd do an ordinary short-row this time as the last pair still look nipple-like, despite washing!

It was getting way past teatime at this point, so the second sock is yet to be knitted. The cold is gradually easing off - yesterday, bending down for more than a few seconds gave me an instant splitting headache. Today, the cough is probably the most annoying thing.

Trying vertical weaving on a knitting machine - DW challenge yarn is bottom left.

Lace sock - smartphone picture and dreadful lighting, sorry! It was gone ten pm so no daylight to be found and I was too tired to do much else!

Stripey sock one - yes, my craft room is a mess, I know!

Current mood: okay

Sunday, April 9

Busy weekend

On Saturday, I had an impromptu visit to Brandon Marsh with my good friend M, a nature reserve just down the road from me that I've never gotten around to visiting. Got to play with my new longer lens and got some OK shots, these are all at the maximum zoom of the lens, I am not anywhere near as close as it might appear! There's lots of romantic wildlife activity going on at the moment but it's surprisingly hard to catch on camera unless you can spend all day there. The weather was lovely this weekend.





Sunday was the annual Nottingham show...


Bill King not visible past all the interested visitors!

Lots of wonderful yarn and buttons and patterns to be had (I may have come home with some. Oops!)

More Nottingham pictures here. I do hope the show runs next year, alas the "voting" system was signing a sheet on your way out (not well signposted, either) which was only instigated mid afternoon, so may have missed the early birds.

The Cog is back home from his third snowboarding trip this year, sans snowboard, helmet and googles. Yes, some lowlife lifted his gear from outside a shop, so he's looking at £800 odd to replace it all. Not a happy bunny.

Current mood: exhausted

Tuesday, April 4

Randomly on a Tuesday

Yes, I recently had a birthday (end of last month). Let's just say I'm firmly in the land of the forty-somethings and leave it at that.

Anyway, I had some Amazon vouchers for my birthday, and the first one got this:


Two books - one on overlocking, and one on sewing feet, plus a tailor's ham and a sleeve roll. Yeah, the yarn was on sale at the wonderful Wool Warehouse, nothing to do with Amazon in fact! The jiffy bag contains bandages, refills for my home first aid kit. It's considerably cheaper buying bandages online at Amazon than it is elsewhere, and they seem impossible to buy in person!

Because I never got around to taking a picture of it, the blanket kit I bought at Kegworth:


...and the blanket in progress:


I snapped this in the changing rooms at C and A - love it!


And finally, because I had a tumultous night's sleep and need something restful to look at, a view over the Minnewater in Brugge. Not bad for a smartphone picture!


Current mood: awake

Thursday, March 30

Brugge again - a birthday treat!

Not much knitting to report, I'm afraid - I only managed two rounds of the cabled sock, and I didn't take the crochet as, being a blanket, it's too bulky to take on holiday when one is on foot!

Had some fun taking some pics anyway - lots of lovely sunshine, good food, good beer and my sweetheart as excellent company. Best birthday present ever! :)

Brugge 2017

Wednesday, March 29

Easy Peasy Poppy Pattern - machine knit

Reproduced with kind permission of Alison L aka Monadelphus on Ravelry. Originally posted on Ravelry.

Pattern below is for a chunky machine:

Needed a very quick and easy make for an upcoming knitting show. Using DK yarns, and 9mm machine, bring into work 20 needles. Make a weaving brush cast-on with black yarn, then k1r. Change to red yarn, starting at either end, bring into H 3rd and ev. foll. 5th needle. Set carriage to hold, and K4rs. Cancel hold, and at largest stitch size, k1r. Break off yarn and make a latch tool cast off. When off machine, pull up black cast-on yarn, use red tail end join into circle. Tidy ends.

Std version (my conversion):

Weaving cast on over 40 needles in black 4ply yarn. K2 rows. Change to red yarn, hold every 10th needle. Set carriage to hold and knit 8 rows. Cancel hold, k1R at largest stitch size. Latch tool cast off and finish as above.

Sunday, March 19

FO: Heel-less CSM sock


Marytheknit taught her heelless sock class last weekend - although I couldn't attend (as I was teaching myself at the time) she showed me an example so I thought I'd give it a go. I thought she was teaching yoga socks, literally heel-less and toe-less - so I'm glad I asked what she meant! I think the Americans would call it a tube sock, in that there is no heel shaping at all - so one size fits all. The toe is hand-knitted and decreased over 8 points. It's not obvious from the picture, but the toe ended up quite pointy and nipple-like - especially since these are hot pink in colour! They were comfortable enough to wear all day at the NEC show but I think the next pair might have an amended toe shaping. This pair are 20 rnds 1x1 rib and 140 rnds 5x1 rib. The advantage of this sock is it's quicker to switch back to 1x1 rib from 5x1 rib for the second sock.

Did pick up some yarn at the NEC show (from that famous "Black Sheep Yarn" stand - I defy any knitter to resist a jumper's worth of yarn for £24!) and a necklace kit but otherwise managed to resist. Almost bought some batik fat quarters (because I need more fabric stash, not!). Last year I ended up buying a £249 coat, if you recall. Well, it was/is gorgeous!

Feeling somewhat apathetic at the moment as himself is off snowboarding again and the weather continues grey and grim, apart from the odd flash of spring sunshine (by flash I mean, about 60 seconds!). Took Mum for an early Mother's Day meal at Loch Fyne yesterday, followed by a quick walk around Abbey Fields - it really wasn't the weather for hanging about much though!

Current mood: apathetic

Thursday, March 16

Photo update

Finally, the argyle sock sample - great for a one-legged person. Edit: I uploaded my notes here, if anyone wants them.



The oversize shirt - pinned, but awaiting finishing and donation to charity I think:

"Festival" blanket I started from a kit purchased from the Wool Wagon on Saturday:

Loving the Drops yarn it uses - I've used Drops Fabel and Drops Delight for sock knitting in the past, but never crocheted with it. Loving the colour changes!

Current mood: impressed