Wednesday, May 26, 2010

how many sleeves does it take to make a sweater?

yikes...I’m knitting and knitting and getting nowhere fast...yesterday I swatched and swatched and swatched and because I’m working with cotton, I had to make a couple of swatches of my final stitch arrangement at different stitch sizes to compensate for the shrinkage factor. I do keep really good notes of my practises because if you don’t know what you did and what stitch size was used, there’s not much point in swatching - you may as well go for the ‘whoever it fits’ theory.

Okay, so everything was washed and dried and I made my choice of the final stitch and needle arrangement, ready to get knitting on the real thing this morning. I sat down and rather quickly knocked off the first sleeve - I did have to stop and make notes, because I’m going to be using all of this for the hands-on ribber class that I’m teaching at Lea-Ann’s do in Indiana at the end of July - check out if you want more details - she's having some beginner classes running at teh same time as my 2 days and then finishing up with Susan Guagliumi  doind 2 days of her hand manupulated stitches, hands-on too!- so, an hour for a double bed tuck rib sleeve, that’s not bad. Do the final cast-off and take it off the machine - hummm...feels a little stiff...(4LW) I used the wrong tension!! I wanted T8/6, not T7/5. Oh well, what’s an hour...

I did make what I think is an important break-through. As I said, I’m doing a tuck rib, where I have all needles in work on the main bed and a tuck stitch happening and I made up an irregular needle arrangement on the rib bed that breaks up the tuck to add vertical lines on the front of the fabric with the ribber stitches. Oh, and yes, I started with the sleeve because I find that it’s a smaller piece, goes more quickly and if things go wrong while you’re getting used to new techniques, it’s not as bad as making the entire back and then finding out that you went wrong....also, on the sleeve you can work out all the details of increasing and then decreasing and shaping for the sleeve cap.

Getting the correct needle arrangement on the rib bed is key here - screw it up and it won’t look right and it has to correspond with the tuck pattern on the main bed and each piece needs to be the same. On the first sleeve, it’s only 50 stitches wide, so after the hem, I took the time to look at the tuck pattern and figure out the ribber arrangement, but another problem occurs as you’re increasing to make sure that you’re continuing the proper sequence - I had a brainwave and got a piece of card stock, held it up to the existing needle arrangement and marked two repeats (this one is a 15 st repeat) so I could simply move the card along to match up with the next 15 needles to see what would next be brought into work. You could use this idea for anything requiring an odd needle arrangement, like tuck lace...

So, now, I double check my notes and get going with the right tension this time. Finish up and as I’m casting off, look down and see this solid line running up the centre...(several 4LW’s!!) I can see where, on the first row of patterning, I didn’t bother to re-check and an empty needle came up into work, spoiling my pattern....

I hope I haven’t scared you off if you were thinking of taking the ribber class - I’ll have ironed out all the kinks by then! And we’ll use an easier stitch pattern.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Knitting machine = LSD?

I was at a concert last weekend and while waiting for the performance to begin, I couldn’t help listening to the conversation between two men seated behind me. When I heard the one guy say something like ‘I love LSD!’, my ears perked right up! Turns out he was a car guy and was describing ‘stuff’ in his garage that he called LSD - ‘labour saving devices’... it works for me!

Sitting in MSP airport recently, wearing ‘Tumbleweed’ from No 53, with 3 hours to kill between flights, I was stitching in ends on two ‘take an old bag shopping’ bags that I was finishing up to give as hostess gifts (my bag count since the pattern came out in No 44 is up to 29!). Anyway, this gal came rushing over to me to see what I was doing, all enthused to find a fellow knitter. She gushed over my cardigan and was particularly interested in the edging I’d used on the hem and cuffs - she couldn’t identify it. I admitted that I’d made the sweater and it was my own design. She picked up my finished bag, marvelling over the evenness of the stitches. She began asking me questions about where I got my yarn - she said she was from Winnipeg - I admitted to being a fellow Canadian and we shop-talked the Winnipeg knitting scene. She even exclaimed over my use of the thread cutter on my letter opener that I was trimming the ends with so I didn’t have to worry about them taking away scissors. When she asked me what size needles I used for my cardigan, our relationship was over... as soon as I said ‘knitting machine’, I may as well have used bad language in public. She dropped me like a stone, just when I thought I had her hooked! I had put off using the ‘M’ word as long as possible but sadly she was one of those purist-snobs who believe that stitches should only be made the old-fashioned way. As she flounced off, I wanted to yell, ‘yeah, liked me okay at first, before you thought I was a cheater.’
(oh, quick comeback, MA!)
Now that I got that off my chest, back to, knitting with my LSD!