Saturday, May 7, 2022

my game plan...

Not sure if you could read between the lines but this intarsia project had me scared! After the three sleeves, I really wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I’d have to admit defeat! That’s not what I wanted to do so I pondered. Decided to make the back first – just some stripes, really to make sure I wasn’t going to run out of the gray. I’m pretty sure on the internet ad version of this, the back would have been plain, one colour only – didn’t want that, but couldn’t see complicating my life with an intarsia design. Quickly got that done and I was happy with it – remember, I haven’t made a pullover in some time, so making the Back was helping me see the entire garment better, testing out the length  and shape before getting into the intensity of intarsia. I decided to restrict my intarsia knitting  time to 20-row intervals, to maintain calm and not allow myself to get over-tired which leads to mistakes which leads to frustration…

As you can see, I got all the pieces knit! Now, I can enjoy the putting together and getting that collar done! To be honest, I won’t likely be doing another WCD intarsia project for another thirty years!

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 29, 2022

after thoughts...

although I was excited about the prospect of a totally new project – the intarsia thing - there was unfinished business. I had been halfway through number 12, button-front lace hoodie in the remaining denim Yeoman’s Twister with that large lace diamond pattern, Lacy Twin - I couldn’t abandon it midstream – you probably know this, it’s like a death sentence to put something like that aside – so much harder to get it back on the machine later so I was determined to finish it off before allowing myself to get into the new stuff. Got all the knitting and assembly done, the machine parts anyway and then I could toss it aside, saving the darning in and buttons etc. later.

I’m picking it up again, sort of a consolation prize between the intarsia grief!

And here's something I can share about the handwork of finishing. Mostly, it's just tedious but here's my tip to maybe make it a bit easier. For seaming the doubled stockinette bands at the bottom edges and joining the hood band to the tops of the front bands, this is what I do: with long straight pins, thread one through the half outside edge stitch of each piece to uncurl the ends. This allows you to steam them flat before attempting to hand stitch them together.

This steaming defines the edge stitches, making the whole thing easier to handle and see. Then, using the longest tail available from the inside edge, hand stitch from the top/outside, through half stitch from one side, across to corresponding half stitch of adjoining piece, to next half stitch on same piece, across to opposite side, next half stitch, etc. (going into each half stitch or bar only once) to end and thread the tail in the inside of the band. This makes a nice, flat, almost invisible, no bulk join/seam, when done neatly, blends right into the band, making it continuous, both inside and out!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

the zen...

of intarsia knitting quickly disappears when you spot dropped stitches. Add Wool Crepe Deluxe, tiny little stitches in salt and pepper tweed, almost invisible against the steel tones of the needles and sinker posts. And a dropped stitch? When you notice it? It’s like a silver bullet, dropping like a stone! And there’s usually two or three, grouped! Aaaarr-g-g-g-h-hh! What was I thinking? 

You know, funny thing, I keep remembering a conversation, years ago, with a machine knitter who was telling me about her many machines, twelve or more in total. She began itemizing them, had two silver reed standard gauge machines, I asked her why and she blithely said oh well, you know for those times when you have an intarsia project homesteading on one, you can still do a lace carriage project on the other… I’m pretty sure I just walked away, shaking my head. Am I wishing for another machine? No, not really because I’ve never let myself get bogged down with a project, forcing myself to finish one before starting another.

Yeah, so, I made a sleeve (centre, bottom). Relearned intarsia, relearned increases. Because the needles are out in C position, latches open, ready for the laying of the various colours, to increase full-fashioned, with the 3prong tool, move the outside edge stitches back to B, lift them off, bring a new needle to work and move those 3 out the one space. With the single end, pick up the heel stitch of the third stitch, fill in the empty needle and return all 4 needles back to C, making sure you didn’t disturb any of the other latches… that’s the biggest issue! And, should the work be out front? In front of the ribber, which is my standard – I always think you can see the work better and increasing/decreasing is easier…but, I learned (or should I say re-learned) that because the work is behind the latches, having the work out over the ribber creates more issues with the latches closing before you want them! OMG! I obviously wasn’t thinking!

Looking at the finished sleeve, from the right side, thought I’d like the stripes to be more straight-lined, not so random looking but it wouldn’t matter to me that sleeves would be different. Started the second sleeve (left), fully intending to reverse the diagonal of the stripes, got carried away and forgot that until about 40 rows into the patterning. Oh well, finished that one and made a third! No biggie, it’s not like there’s a deadline or anything!

Monday, April 11, 2022

mickey mouse...

Not! Did I mention intarsia? Gosh, it’s been a while since I did intarsia on the standard gauge! In fact, seems like a thousand years! I still have this top that is from, as near as I can figure, ’92! I remember knitting it. I had been on a trip to Scotland and brought back a T-shirt with this on the front – bought it for me but when my then teenage son saw it, he wanted it. Mickey Mouse with his hand around your throat! Being the softee I was, I gave it to him but before I let him have it, I photocopied the picture – back then, I had this big ole copier that would reduce and print so I set it to 50%, copied it in sections, pasted them together to get the picture in half-scale and then traced it on my KR7 paper, knit-from-screen the old-fashioned way! It was made with a white and a black 3 ply cotton, the red was Bramwell’s Artistic, over 300 rows at T5 – no wonder I remember it!

Over the last 30 years, I’ve reserved intarsia for the mid gauge machine – much easier to see, larger gauge, less work, you know what I mean.

Natural Fibres Princess!’ from Knitwords No.3, Winter ’97, was a raglan tunic made on the LK150 using 8 colours to form the interlocking dogtooth pattern – that one cured me for a while too! A couple of other small bits, in the links below if you’re interested!

Did some practise swatches, testing out colour choices, stitch size and angles. The first swatch is at T7 with the gray (tweed WCD called marble), ivory/winter white, and black. Actually, made swatches because the intarsia carriage is a slightly different gauge from the main knit carriage and figured I better try it out small before committing to a big project like this. Normally with WCD for a top, I would use T6 stockinette with the  main carriage but I wanted to try T7 to see where it was in relation to the main carriage knitting and, because I want this to be sort of drapey and soft, went with T7. Also, the lazy person that I am, thinking that a larger stitch size equals less rows, less work? Measured it (30 sts and 39 rows), washed and dried it, ending up with 32 sts and 42 rows. Left it and tossed it around the room, looking at it and it seemed to be a little wonky every time I moved it, like it was biasing. Hmmmm…too loose, probably. Made another on at T6, added in the red (don’t really like, but good to know), tried some different angles (on the arrow, the bottom side, I moved the colours one stitch every row, then on the top side, knit two rows for each).

Feeling good about this, drew out my shapes on full width, half scale paper and penciled in a few lines, similar to that photo from last post. Nothing is written in stone, but I think the MAO plan of making a sleeve or two first is a smart way to go. Keep watching this space for results!

Here's a link to the pdf of my intarsia article from KW#3

Friday, April 1, 2022

what goes around...

comes around! 
The other day while scrolling through something, this photo ad appeared. You know, those insidious ads - hate 'em! But I was so taken with this! 
Was it the collar? Kind of like one I've done a few times many years ago. As you can see, I dug out evidence of past designs, this one from 1995! It was published in Canada’s Fashion Machine #54, done on the LK150, combining a simple intarsia design with V-neck. Here, the collar was a rectangle of stripes of knit and purl (6 rows of each colour) with RTRs (Remove, Turn, Rehang) between colours to add texture and then attached to the vee opening.

The shadow pleat version made it to my neckline booklet, The Neck’s Best Thing – #7, Shadow Pleat Band in shallow V-neck. Here again the collar is a rectangle, the pleats are formed using a thinner yarn for the second stripe, ridges forming automatically, using the purl side of the fabric as the outside.

The ‘new’ tunic itself was like $29 so you know it’s going to be junk when you get it, if you order it.  
Maybe it was that gray/white/black thing that always appeals to me and I've been obsessing about this design for the past week...think I may have to knit it out of my system...You know it’s been a while since I made a pullover top, so maybe it’s time. Dare I think of intarsia in Wool Crepe Deluxe?

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

number ten...

And eleven! Yeah, I’ve been knitting away, kind of ignoring you and just getting on with my lace projects, feeling bad for leaving you hanging! Been meaning to give you my run-down on the front bands, buttons and holes – how, how many and stuff like that, so here goes.

On that last bunch, the three Bonita cotton ones, I really paid close attention to the spacing of the buttons and my conclusion: 8 - 19 mm buttons, spaced 8 cm apart (from centre of button) works best for the length of this garment – the front band is about 65-68 cm\25.5-27 inches in length, 21mm\7/8 inch wide. On the blue one, I had 6 - 23cm buttons, spaced 11 cm between and there’s a little bit of stretching, gaping between when buttoned which can be sort of unattractive – trying to avoid that! On the red mesh, used 8 – 19mm buttons and it’s perfect (did the rose one the same but the buttons were slightly larger, not a big deal but optimally if you had all the right options available, go with the 19mm size.

Tip: When making the buttonhole band, instead of having to count needles to the next hole, use the straight side of the needle selector and measure 7 cm (to get 8 cm centred) between first and last needles of prospective buttonhole – see photo at right. Start the top buttonhole needles from neck end of band, 4 needles for hole, 7 cm to start of next hole,  4 ns, etc down and leave any excess/extra at bottom end, eliminating the need to have evenly spaced holes right to the bottom.

Just finishing up another laced, button-front hoodie in ‘thistle’, Forsell’s Pure New 4 ply wool for sister Janet – her birthday last week and she really does love that gold one I sent her last fall, so I’m happy to make another for her. The stitch pattern is from Gossamer, from Serial Stuff 3, and the hem is from Tumbleweed, KW No 53.

Number 11, in the light blue Bonita cotton, is for my next-door neighbour, Susan, just because she’s a great girl, hope she likes the colour! The stitch pattern is from Lacy Twin, way back, cover of KW No.20  – I had remade the twinset for myself in black WCD – totally classic!

My year of lace carriage is just about complete…in my mind anyway - never really started out to spend the whole year on this but it kind of became a bit of an obsession - you know how I get…and it’s not like I really have to stop lace carriaging, like, you’re not the boss of me! I can do what I want and truly, I still love that thing. In fact, I have been toying with the idea of a lace, button-front hoodie in wool crepe deluxe (be still my heart! – am I ready for it?) and I still have that green CannelĂ© cotton…

Saturday, March 12, 2022

the elephant in the room...

The sponge bar, a.k.a. needle retainer bar, is a touchy subject. It’s not mentioned in any techniques books or resource manuals that I’ve ever seen. And hearsay, yikes! So much, do this, don’t do that…and I have, in the past, given little hints here and there but I thought I’d put it all together here. First, for the beginners out there, almost all flat bed machines have a needle retainer system which is some sort of foam strip that holds the needles down in the channel. You need to have the correct one for your specific model. I admit much of my knowledge is with the Silver/Studio/Singer genre but have had experience with Brother/KnitKing and I think the basics are the same. The weather/climate and how your machine is housed plays a large part in how long the foam strip will last. If you’re in a warm climate, no air-conditioning, the heat will play a part in how fast that bar will retain elasticity , same as a home with forced air heating in the winter – no set rules in how long it will last, but…

How to know if it needs to be replaced? In certain pattern stitches, like tuck, maybe the tucks are not knitting off properly. Maybe the stitches are not actually tucking when they should. Mistakes in patterning will show up. Sometimes, if the foam strip is really bad, it will even show up on plain stockinette where the stitch doesn’t knit off properly, making a tuck where it’s not wanted. When hand transferring, like cabling, manual lace, or increasing and decreasing, if the needles are moving up and down as you attempt to fit the three-prong or a multi-prong tool onto a group, causing more work than it should be, these are indications that the sponge bar is loosing it’s holding power. I generally notice when the hook part is elevated above the flat bed when the needles are in A or B position.

When a brand-new strip is inserted properly, the front of the needle in A or B position should be sitting firmly down on the metal.

My guidelines for the sponge bar (and lace carriage work - the touchiest one): Swap it out between pieces. I always have at least 3 bars. A brand new one (never use for lace knitting – it will be too firm and the needles won’t transfer properly, not enough give!). Save this one and break it in on a stockinette project. Mark the date on it with a felt pen when it’s first inserted. The other two, (both somewhat used, at least one or two projects on each) use to swap out, if necessary – if it’s working and lacing properly, keep going – this is only when problems occur! - for each new piece, giving the second one a day of rest between pieces.

Check the give on the needles – Bring needles to B and press down – if there is a quite noticeable distance, consider replacing.

Try to complete one full piece per sitting. The bar won’t suddenly collapse and if it’s working well, go with the flow!

May all your lace transfers transfer!

P.S. I don’t like the idea of taking the bar out of the machine while you’re away – you may forget how it went in…I once had a customer who put it in upside down and then called for help…yikes!