Thursday, January 29, 2009

Battle of the sexes...

Summer is coming (sometime, I guess - but it’s been so freaking cold here - if Clinton can use that word so can I!!). It’s rather hard to get my head around cool knitwear - that might be my new oxymoron - you know, I just realized that ‘advanced beginner’ is an oxymoron...gonna have to change that - any ideas???
Okay, so back to planning my summer issue. I do like thread lace and Mar Heck’s Dragonfly shawl pattern and article in No 48 (it's in the mail!!) inspired me to make a new stitch pattern from of a leaf design I’ve been tinkering with. I want something light, airy, cool and suitable for my hot friends in hot places. In going over Mar's article (she does all her knitting on Brother and I do the majority of mine on my Silver Reeds) she had me convinced that knitting thread lace on the Brother was going to work better than on my Silver Reed. You might ask why? Because the machines knit differently. In particular, on the Brother in thread lace, the ‘selected’ needles -the ones brought out - knit only the finer yarn and the non-selected needles knit both threads, so it is possible to get a better edge on Brother, by using the non-selected end needles feature and, if the end needles are selected because of the pattern, you can push them back before knitting the row, resulting in a better edge. On the Silver Reed, in order to make sure the finer yarn knits properly, the end needles are brought out at the beginning of the row, with hold set on one way. This means the end stitches are knit only every second row, with the finer yarn only, making a rather wimpy edge that can be difficult to seam, depending on yarn choice. Even if it knits without bringing out the end needles, moving the point cams still won't make the edge stitches knit with both yarns, in fact the opposite. So, like I said, Mar had me convinced I should use the Brother for this new project. I go to my Brother 970 - I do know how to operate it, but... excuses, excuses...
I have tried out my stitch pattern on the Silver Reed, making a swatch with the yarn I intend to use, a slub rayon (putty) and a very fine cotton rayon yarn in the same light shade. Happy with it! Now, move to the Brother 970. I have planned my shape, drawing it to scale on graph paper in preparation for making notes from which I will write and grade sizes for the pattern for the magazine. It will be a cardy with drapy fronts, and 3/4 sleeve, so the front pieces are asymmetrical. Normally I would draw the shape on mylar for my KR11 knit radar which links to any of my Silver Reeds. I attempt putting the shape into the CB1, something I have not done for quite a long time, but with instruction manual in hand, I get the back shape in, relatively quickly. I entered it as a symmetrical shape, not realizing until after the fact I cannot just alter it to make the fronts and I did not make detailed notes of the places where the program takes over. I have a few choice phrases for the poor CB1 box, decide I will deal with the fronts later, just continue as if only to make the back. I fiddle a few moments, trying to get the ‘box’ to accept my shape file - I begin to feel empathy for poor Steve in the cereal commercial when his wife asks, what else does box say? Box says, shut up, Steve!
The box wants the swatch information and I haven’t made it yet!!! okay, scrap that idea, I’ll put that in later. Download my leaf thread lace into the box, which means, take the box, remembering to take converter and power cord with me, up to my desktop computer which has DesignaKnit and the cord that goes to the box. Do the do, take the box back down, put it on the 970, plug it in, turn the machine on and proceed to make the swatch. Cast on with waste yarn. Knit a row of disposable ravel cord - the only one handy is a light brownish mercerised cotton and, knowing I’ll likely regret this, do it anyway. Remove waste yarn and thread up my 2 yarns - I have 2 tension assemblies on the Silver Reed, so can have waste yarn always threaded up. Knit 16 rows of graded tension hem and sure enough, as I pick up the first row, berate myself for using that beige ravel cord. Half way across, break down and go in search of my work-station bi-focals and florescent lamp. Get to the end of the row, pull out the ravel cord, check all is well with hem. Use next row to join hem and read/select for first row of pattern by setting the carriage to KCll, congratulating myself for making sure I’m outside the turn mark.
Back on the right side, strangely, all needles are selected, instead of the every other I was expecting. Fiddle with the box, make sure I have not inadvertently locked the pattern or something dumb like that - one of those silly little omissions... I push back all the needles and confidently depress both part buttons to get a free pass to re-select and be back on the same side as the this several times with same results, before remembering ‘the box’ sometimes doesn’t know it is really attached to the machine - turn off machine, unhook cable, rehook, turn on again and pass carriage across.
What the?? my hem is dangling in mid air - oh yeah, I forgot, on this fifth time, to push the selected needles back!! Holy hell! another oxymoron, emphasis on the MORON!! The needles are selected for my pattern, though!! But just wait!! Against everything I’ve ever taught and preached and know in my heart, instead of breaking it off and remaking the hem, I decide to rehang it. Why does it amaze me when, at the end of this agonizing row I see I’ve missed the second strand on 10 or 12 stitches??? Still calm though, I fix them, taking pride in the fact I shall use this swatch in a teaching demo some day.
Everything back on, re-select without incident, rethread, set to thread lace and knit several rows. Hummmmm - long floats. Why? check both the centre buttons are properly depressed as per thread lace, click them out and in a couple of times, knit a few more rows. Set it to fairisle, top button only to see what happens. Yeah, it’s different, so the thread lace was working. It dawns on me the wrong needles are being selected. Guess I forgot to check the main and contrast in my DAK pattern before I downloaded it - that screws me over all the time!! Okay, I go to the box, find the variation screen, change it to select the opposite needles, go back to my pattern and knit again. Same thing. Oh, maybe I need to be outside the turn again. Do that. Nope. Still the same. Okay, go back to the variation screen, pick up the manual and see that I need to actually click the solid or #2 key to lock the variation negative ON. (Note to self, oh yeah, back on the knit screen, it will have a (v) to indicate there is a variation working!!!) Fix that, go back to the knit screen, re-select, outside the turn just in case. Humph! it works, thread lace knitting as it is meant to be.
What I’ve learned?? I think the Silver Reed is a female machine and the Brother is a male machine!!


Mar said...

Mary Anne, I have to thank you for giving me a "shout out" ---as they say--- on your blog. I was so pleasantly surprised. Whenever I have a knitting day with 6 false starts, 4 insanely stupid mistakes, 5 wrong machine settings, and I've hooked my shirt on the needles, I always think, "Geeze, Mary Anne would never do such stupid things." I always think of you as knitting flawlessly and effortlessly, never having to re-do or re-calculate. I think your humorous description will give people courage and they will not be DIScouraged with their mistakes. Persevere through thick and thin! That's our battle cry, right?

Cindy said...

So sorry you had a day like I do sometimes.

I love Dragonfly and am sad I don't have DAK or a 970, but I'm thinking you could maybe chart a 24 stitch pattern somehow by hand, right?

Anonymous said...

Ha! You just made my "bad" knitting day seem like a piece of cake! Thanks for sharing .. I feel lots better (and my latest sweater will be coming back out of the trash ... in the morning)
Sue J

Lea-Ann said...

Love the new issue and thanks so much for sharing your knitting day! My sock knitting has been a real "scream" . . . maybe tomorrow! I can't even think about trying out thread lace yet. Lea-Ann