Thursday, January 29

Free pattern: Sideways MK fingerless gloves


Machine: std 4.5mm gauge machine
Yarn: Any oddments of sock yarn 3-4ply
Tension: 5

Make 2 alike

  1. Cast on with waste yarn over 52 sts, knit a few rows and end with carriage on right. 
  2. K 1 row ravel cord RC000
  3. With main yarn and T5, K 38 rows. Set carriage to HOLD - carriage should be on left
  4. Put needles 5R to 26R into Hold
  5. K1 row (COR)
  6. Put 5 Ns opposite carr into hold, K1 row
  7. Put 1 N nearest carr into hold, K1 row
  8. Rep rows 6 and 7 until only 6 sts left in work in the middle of the bed (RC47)
  9. Put all needles from 26L to 4R into UWP and K 6 rows (RC53)
  10. Put all thumb needles back into hold except middle 7, K 1 row
  11. Put 1N nearest carr into hold, K1 row
  12. Put 7 Ns to UWP, K 1 row
  13. Rep rows 11 and 12 until all thumb stitches (26L - 4R) back in work. Break yarn.
  14. Put all Ns into HOLD, and pass the carriage to the right (free pass) COR (RC63)
  15. Put all needles from 5R to 26R into UWP and knit 8 rows (RC71)
  16. Cancel HOLD, K38 rows on all needles (RC109)
Break yarn, leaving a tail 4 x the width of the knitting, and scrap off on waste yarn. Graft the cast on and cast off edges together and weave in ends.

  • You might subtract multiples of 2 rows at (15) if you find the finger part too loose. I tried leaving them out altogether and felt it made the thumb hole a bit too tight - only advantage being you don't have to break the yarn
  • I added a row of dc, a row of tr and some 5tr, 1dc shells to mine; you could add rib before grafting instead to counteract the natural curl of stocking stitch. 
  • If you don't fancy grafting, cast on with e-wrap instead, knit the last row @ T10 and latch off instead. You'll have a seam down the outside of the hand. 

Tuesday, January 27

FO: Sideways knitted gloves



This is a pattern I came up with the other weekend. The original plan was to try and do it without breaking the yarn, but that makes the thumb hole a bit tight (that one is not pictured, might frog it yet). They looked ok but I added some crochet shells to counteract the curl. Next pair'll probably have ribbing instead. A great use for leftover sock yarns. The thumb is done with short-rowing. This yarn is very loud, I love it!

These are so pretty I think I might keep them for myself!

In other news, I bought a big cross-stitch sampler kit to work on. Yes, I'm contemplating going over to the dark side of needlepoint... :)

Current mood: thoughtful

Friday, January 23

Almost wordless Friday

First attempt at a lace sock on the CSM. It's supposed to be a heart, but it went a bit wonky.

The first snowdrops in the park in town

The continuing saga of trying to get the shower/bathroom fixed. 'nuff said.

The Cog is off down the pub tonight - I can't go, 'cause I still can't sit for too long. No fair. Still, I'm a bit grumpy anyway so probably best I stay home.

Current mood: crappy

Wednesday, January 21

Back troubles...

Currently, I can stand for about 20 minutes before I get lower back pain, and I can sit for about 10 mins before I get leg cramps, pins and needles. Chiropractor said lying down is best - I pointed out that lying down in pubs might lead to being thrown out! :(

Learning to handknit whilst reclined at the moment. It's not really conducive to machine knitting. Might try and get some reusable cool packs - apparently TENS is not an option.

Thoroughly fed up with this stage, it can't heal soon enough! The knee chair at work is actually blessed relief! Otherwise I suspect I would be off work!

Sunday, January 18

Machine knitting: It's not a toaster!

I really feel I should dispel a myth about machine knitting. Yes, yards of straight stocking stitch (and other patterns) can be produced quite quickly. But casting on takes time (especially if it's all 200 needles!). Increasing and decreasing, and any other technique you might like to do (eg cables), takes time. Casting off takes time - it can be back-breaking, sat in the same position for half an hour. Then you STILL have to sew all the pieces together (sometimes, you have to do some sewing partway through the process so you can machine knit some more, eg sewing one shoulder up so you can add the neck welt). Not to mention, the swatching/washing/blocking beforehand if you want the garment to fit a specific person, the measuring, the designing of the pattern, the false starts and frogging back when your attention is distracted or you make a mistake. These things aren't specific to machine knitting, of course - any fibre crafter who wants predictable results should be prepared for some up-front prep work. But I suspect people see the word "machine" and imagine it's as easy as waving your arms about a bit, and out pops a fully finished garment, like some sort of yarny toaster. Or this adorable Pingu cartoon.

We don't press a button, and out pops a finished article, all sewn up. There ARE industrial machines that can do this, but only after hours of programming, and my house just isn't that big, and neither is my bank account. Where would be the fun in that, anyway? The only reason I bring this up, is that there was a request on a knitting group yesterday for someone to pop into a tv studio on Tuesday with a finished article (a novelty item). I'm sure the researcher meant no harm by the request. Just as the various requests that crop up on the knitting lists, usually around the beginning of December, for xmas jumpers for celebrities and "oh can we have them finished by the end of next week?", are well-intentioned, but poorly researched. There was a request to hand knit the entire royal family, a fortnight before Prince William's wedding. I've often seen requests on knitting lists, from students - they've come up with a line of knitwear, can someone please knit it for them by the end of the month? Not entirely sure what one is supposed to learn if someone else does the hard work for you, but then I never went to art college...

These things take TIME, my friend. Learning to machine knit is like any other skill - riding a bike, flying a helicopter. It takes time to learn the ropes and then things can still sometimes go wonky. If you know nothing about the craft, know this: the word machine does not mean it's much faster. It can be, but only after a LOT of practice, and quite a bit of swearing. There's a heck of a learning curve, and a lot of folks just don't make it past that. Alas, there are an awful lot of knitting machines in attics and under beds that are testament to that.

Maybe I'm just grumpy, or over-sensitive, but I feel that these "last minute" requests devalue the skill of the craft and are somewhat insulting. Hey ho. Maybe it's just me, I'm not a winter person. I'll be more perky in March, I promise.

Having said all that, I did manage to make a semi-decent jumper out of the olive green all-over cable disaster - this took probably 5 hours, over two days, to make the parts, and then another 3 hours or so to sew up by hand. It was made on the SK860, which protested a bit, until I hit on the idea of running the yarn over a wax candle attached to the tension mast. Himself seems happy enough with it, although I'd've liked a tighter neck. No, he never tucks his t-shirts in. He mostly lives in fleeces since discovering them in conjunction with his snowboarding hobby, so I suspect this will sadly be the last jumper I make for him. He just doesn't wear them.

olive green jumper

I also made a hat with some of the leftovers - there's still enough of this yarn to make quite a few more hats I think. The yarn softens quite a bit in the wash. I shamefacedly admit I didn't wash the swatch I used to calculate the jumper from; the yarn felt so acrylic-y I figured it wouldn't change much  - so I learnt a lesson there! The hat was converted to midgauge from Daisyknits' adult bulky hat - it's basically a big hem, so double-thick and nice and warm.

olive green hat

I also finished off the Zen jacket - I ran out of yarn, so the sleeves are shorter than in the pattern, and it didn't come out as long as in the pattern for some reason. I'd definitely make this again, but choose a lighter yarn. This is Artesano Merino. If I was to make this again in the same yarn, I'd probably change the even stitches in the 9 dtr shells for chain stitches, to take out some of the weight (and of course make the yarn go further).


Apologies for the weird camera angle - I am not top heavy with tiny legs, alas. I blame the cameraman! The back problem has mutated into pins and needles in my right leg, should I dare sit on a conventional seat for more than about 30 minutes. It sounds minor, but it means pubs and cinemas are right out at the moment, and the only way to watch tv is horizontally. I hope it hurries up and heals - I have things to do, and a lot of them I need to be sitting down for! And the el-cheapo knee chair at home is not kind to my knees or behind!

Current mood: uncomfortable

Thursday, January 15

Varier Balans

Well, I bought this little beauty for the knitting room, but it's ended up being my rehabilitation chair at work for the time being:



Yes, ignore the impromptu keyboard and mouse raiser - my desk is 710mm high and it's not quite high enough, haven't been able to source a keyboard raiser yet. I got it from the wonderful folks at "Back in action" - ultimately the plan is to get a better office chair for work, but that's when I get better. It might look like some bizarre medieval torture device, but it's actually really, really comfortable. The sciatica seems to have stopped, now it's just vague, deep muscle pain. Made a lot worse if I sit on a hard seat for a few hours. The chiropractor seems pleased with my progress, but it's early days yet and my right side is still too tender to sleep on, so sleep is not great at the moment.

Consequently, a very cheap version of this is gracing the knitting room - my version not having anywhere near as much padding, it was numbing my derriere to tears last week. So not much machine knitting to report. I frogged "Cable Guy" and there's a plain-ish jumper now just waiting for a photo shoot, I also finished up the Zen jacket, again, waiting for the weekend when there'll be some natural light. Started to concentrate on the cabled sock I started at Ally Pally, but had to frog it back as I've left it too late to start the heel.

Current mood: sore

Sunday, January 4

Things afoot...

Picture 001
Picture 003
Picture 004
Picture 005

The knitting disaster

I hate to start the new year on a low note, but this is the jumper I've been working on since July (Cable Guy from SnB).

The Cog thinks it's a bit too big (and this was the SMALL size!) - he said it might be ok for gardening, but he likes his jumpers PLAIN (yes, I did know this, but BORING!) and it's, in his words, "a bit too barrelly" and too warm. He's a 38" chest so not particularly small. There's one project on Rav reckons the starting stitch count was a typo (by quite a lot), but it did work out mathematically so I'm not sure. Yes, I deliberately asked him to stand with his arms out like that, so you could see how big it is.

Picture 031

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. The yarn (discontinued Patons Bracken, a wool-acrylic mix) is a lovely green, with a fleck of gold and mint - which he DOES like, despite him being the prince of darkness normally. I have 400g left and swatched it on the SK860 yesterday - I suppose frogging is in order, because I'm pretty sure 400g isn't enough for an adult jumper. I did make him a pair of simple fingerless gloves with the leftover part-ball and the yarn taken off the sleeves. I must admit, I don't really like the cast on edge anyway - which, in the pattern, went straight into stocking stitch - I added 4 rows of garter stitch. I almost wish I COULD spot a mis-twisted cable, because that'd give me just cause for frogging the whole lot.

This xmas has been a bit of a bust, really - I had planned to get lots of machine knitting done before I was instructed that sitting was a really bad thing for a lumbar herniated disc. I have ordered a fancy new chair, but left it to the 31st, it being a large purchase. Thanks to the courier company deciding to delay it, it's going to turn up tomorrow when I'm back at work, despite having been despatched on the 1st. Apparently Christmas came as quite a surprise to several parcel companies, and there I was thinking it's the one main holiday of the year that never moves (unlike Easter). Yeah, can you hear the sarcasm here? And no, it's not Yodel who rescheduled my delivery - a pity really, as the Yodel agent lives down the road and I could've picked up from her myself.

I can only give thanks for the serendipity that caused me to have the chiro appointment on the day my sister was planning on freecycling her kneeling chair, otherwise it would have been an even more uncomfortable fortnight than it was. I spent most of the 27th and 28th watching tv lying down. Thank goodness for a reclining sofa that goes almost horizontal - but of course that's not conducive to eating or drinking, and lying down in this house tends to attract cat butt. Also, I tend to fall asleep - having a major deficit of sleep from November and December to catch up on. I am going to have to think about a portable solution for this "not sitting" thing though - because otherwise I have to give up ever going to the cinema or the pub (or anywhere else with normal seating) ever again.

Add to that the whole VATMESS the UK government has brought in - as if to remind me, someone from the US bought a crash course leaflet on New Year's Eve. The leaflets sell (via Etsy) for a nominal amount - and probably, in a year, that might happen up to 10 times a year - that's a very generous estimate. I'm seriously considering whether I should take them down - I mean, the only reason I charge a small fee is that I put time and effort into them and I felt it was justified. Some interesting ideas here, anyway. Maybe I should offer them for a donation, instead, or go back to the paypal and email it method (although it seems unclear whether that is a legal workaround). So well done, whoever came up with this legislation, and didn't think that removing the VAT threshold would be an issue - way to go. I can see an awful lot of microbusinesses just shutting up shop. (Kudos, incidentally, to Ravelry for coming up with a 3rd party solution for folks to continue to sell their knitting patterns).

And I hate having to get all political on what is supposed to be a knitting blog, dammit.

Anyway, I'm determined to look on the positive side. I made serious inroads to the Zen jacket yesterday, and am on the final border. The sleeves will have to go uncrocheted, so it's going to be more of a sleeveless waistcoat - because I won't have enough yarn - but as it's almost 1kg of alpaca I think sleeves would be a bad idea anyway. I finished a kumihimo braid I started, and started a friendship bracelet - I have no idea what I'll do with either of these things but the creative must out!

Talking of which, I've spent far too long on this blog post already. I need to go knit something! :)

Current mood: quixotic