Thursday, September 19, 2019

shoulda, coulda, woulda...

You know me, I almost always have a back-up plan! When I decided to make one of these fairisle blankets out of cotton, my first thought was, ’the kid won’t be dragging this around very far, it’ll weigh a ton!’ Before the yarn even arrived, I was thinking about maybe lining it with flannelette. That was Plan B.
I weighed the first cat top. It was 375g alone. To put off pursuing plan B, I kept on knitting fronts. After the fourth one (more on that later!), I began to add up the reasons not to sew on a backing. The biggest issue was that the blanket top needs to be washed to shrink it before sewing…all those long floats! What to do?
Since there was still a ton of the bright coloured yarn left, I knit the lining for the first dog one and then the liner for the second cat one.
So what if the thing was going to be so heavy the kid wouldn’t be able to move under it? It would be like that X-ray blanket they put on you in the dentist office - that might be a good thing!
I did the I-cord binding on the dog one, with 4 stitches, playing with the stitch size. I found that T5 worked nicely for the width/stitches edge and T8 for every other row of the length sides. Finished it up, looked nice, but needs to be washed before giving it out. It weighed 650g. I’m not sure what the acrylic blanket weighed.
Now was my chance to commit to plan B. A trip to the fabric store brought me up short. Crikey! Have you seen the price of flannelette? I was expecting five to six dollars per metre. Ouch! the really cute printed ones were like $20 plus! One of the nicer sales clerks told me some of them were going to be on sale on the weekend for like 40% off – not the really cute ones, of course, but there was a plain navy with a stripe that would run me about $12 total for what I needed. In the meantime, I came up with a plan for washing the single-layer cats. Folded in half, it fit nicely in a pillowcase. Using safety pins to secure the corners of the blanket into the corners of the pillowcase and a couple in the middle so it wouldn’t all ball up, I put it and the finished doggy one in the washer and then the dryer. Wow! that worked well. Laundered the piece of flannelette with some jeans – I didn’t want to put it in with the knitted pieces in case it shed a bunch and caused some pilling.
With still an abundance of the bright yarn remaining, I made a fourth front, dogs again using ivory as the background – curious to see how much of a difference the dark backdrop really does. I’ll admit, this was purely avoidance.
I started finishing the second cats with a 5-stitch I-cord, just for comparison, using the same tensions – this looks good!
Okay, grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak, today is the day. Do it or get off the pot! Got it done. Even though I do consider myself a decent seamstress, this was not an easy job. Lots of pinning and re-pinning and straightening and re-
stitching. It is done. Likely most people would think it acceptable. Timewise it was a little less than the totally knitted project. Finished weight, 510g.
Was it worth the anxiety or time?
No, and I’ll likely just keep this around for when my brother comes to visit with his dog and see if Jersey will sleep on it…

Thursday, September 12, 2019

bet ya didn't know...

one of the problems when knitting fairisle with long floats, it’s hard to get it perfect,
bad cats, sad cats!
especially with Silver Reed machines. The second colour that isn’t knitting, over more than eight needles, begins to feel left out and wants to jump in on the backside of the second colour, especially predominant when there are a few bent needles. Not even seriously bent, just latches that are maybe a little sticky! On the first cat blank, I had sort of forgotten this – you don’t really see it while you’re knitting unless you’re aware and really looking  for it but when the thing comes off you can see a few places where it makes a vertical line on the front of the fabric. I’m hoping it’ll wash out. Ha! ha! We know that never happens! Anyway, it’s not serious enough to rip out or abandon the whole thing - other people, a.k.a non-knitters, won’t even notice.

good cats on left
2nd cats after needles changed
Toward the top of the piece, I did spot these vague lines and made note of the needle numbers. Swapped out ten or so needles and did a little work on the stitch pattern to eliminate some of the larger solid colour areas. The second bunch of cats came out much better. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t toss the needles – there was nothing really wrong with them and, even though I’ve been to your house and see that you put the bent needles back in at the end of the bed and I’ve made fun of you for that, I just put these aside and they will be my backup stash – no point in putting them at the ends as I’m using the full width of the needle bed!
Oh yeah, and if you’re going to be knitting 200 stitches wide by 350 rows at T9 fairisle, you should stop halfway through and check the clamps. At about row 250, fortunately the carriage was almost to the end of the row when the right-hand side clamp let go! I was quick enough to realize what was happening, grabbed the ribber, held it up and got the carriage to the end without dropping anything! Thanked the machine-knitting gods, re-adjusted and re-tightened everything and continued! Repeated this between each fairisle piece!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

it's raining...

cats and dogs! And there’s a baby ‘xplosion  going around here! My niece Karen, just had her second baby - I had no intention of knitting but she was over for a family gathering recently and specifically told me how much big sister Bryar loves that Edu-Taining Dog blankie I made for her in 2017…she drags it around everywhere! Rats! If you want to read the back story, here’s the link to three past posts about this project:[]

Feeling sort of obligated, I promised to get one made for the new boy but I would go with the cat theme and use cotton this time (which they had originally requested, unbeknownst to me…)!
The front of the blanket is knit in fairisle and needs a substantial weight, knit at T9, so, CottonTale 8 it is. Whoa! I’m in for $160 for a baby blanket? Need five bright colours and one dark background, taxes and shipping! I justify it by saying I can make a couple, three or four, maybe…my sister’s granddaughter is having a boy – her first great grandchild! That should rate a pretty nice blanket.  And a couple of close friends are expecting first grandchilds…
And, have been meaning to knit a big project where I need to use DesignaKnit and knit-from-screen. Earlier this year, I had issues and Mike Becker came to my rescue, saving me from having to purchase a new expensive cable []
Wanted to give it a good workout and I think this will do that and prove that it works well!
It does!!! Mike, you're the best! More later!