Monday, November 23

FO: hair bun covers


Some hair bun covers for my niece - made from scraps of sock yarn. She has a lot of hair, and can't get covers big enough. She also has a birthday today :)

Leg feeling a lot better - short hamstring seems to have stopped complaining, so maybe it's now the right length? Hooray for that, I say! Cinemas and concerts will be bearable again, physically.

Made a baby blanket on the Passap this weekend, after a club visit inspired me to make something (anything!) on it. Needs casting off. Weekend flew by; I must have blinked! :)

Current mood: apathetic

Wednesday, November 18

How to do a free move

How to do a free move - in other words, how to get your carriage from one side of the machine to the other, without knitting, and without dropping stitches


Both part buttons in, set carriage to hold - hold not necessary in most cases, but if you have needles in hold they may come back and drop work.


Use the carriage release lever, ie "pop the top"


??? Not sure, can someone tell me?



Sunday, November 15

Buying a knitting machine, part 2

I got a comment on a post I wrote on an old blog I'd quite forgotten about here about buying knitting machines. 

"Good summary of machines, but I was hoping you would actually say HOW to buy them. Any reputable websites for buying new (I guess only silver reed)? Any brick and mortar places to buy new or refurbished machines? Any buying tips or reasonable price ranges (so we know we aren't getting ripped off)? I would love to buy a knitting machine, but in months of looking I have yet to find an online source that seemed 100% reputable. Suggestions?"

Well, for a start, I'm in the UK, and I haven't bought machines from many dealers here. I bought my SK860 plus ribber new from Andeeknits, and she kindly adjusted it under warranty when it turned out the back rail wasn't square. All other machines I've bought second-hand from Ebay or from friends. I can also recommend Metropolitan Machine Knitting. I've also ordered small items from Heathercraft and Knits n Bits. There's a good list of all the current stockists I know about on the Machine Knitter's Treasure Chest site, under M/c and accessory shopping, but I cannot vouch for anyone I haven't personally used, so caveat emptor applies here. 

As for pricing, well, it's a difficult one. Personally, I wouldn't pay more than £80-100 UK for a modern *(1980s onwards) punchcard machine, £100 for a ribber, and £200 for an electronic, and that's assuming they are in reasonable condition and mostly complete - I'm happy to replace small tools, but not to replace a vital component eg a sinker plate or carriage. But I can clean the machines up myself so am prepared for that. If you're a complete newbie to the whole machine knitting thing, it's worth paying more and getting your machine from a reputable dealer, so if something does go wrong you have someone to go back to and complain. If the dealer is an honest one they will have refurbished the machine and will have no problem in demonstrating it to you in person. I'd always try and buy in person if at all possible - you can then take the machine home with you and know that it didn't get damaged in the post. 

Now, when it comes to vintage machines (earlier than 1980s), I'm afraid they are just curiosity value now. You'll struggle to get spares and repairs, and if a major item is missing (eg the carriage handle), well, I guess it depends how inventive you can be. I recently paid £20 for a vintage Record machine, it's a glorified peg loom really but makes great garter stitch. Having said that, if vintage is your thing, and you're happy to take a risk, go for it - but don't pay over the odds! 

So yes, it's somewhat of a black art. However, you may not be aware that there's a big machine-knitting group on Ravelry - and those guys are always glad to look over an auction for you, if you spot something suitable. There's a whole list of useful threads here, but if you've spotted something likely, please start a new thread with a "is this worth a look?" or something, and include the link to the auction. As the group is international, it won't be long before someone takes a look and says "Well, I'd only pay xxx for that", "That's a steal, go for it!" or "It's missing the carriage! Beware". There's also a thread "For sale ads that made you laugh", reserved for us to share seriously overpriced or incorrectly labelled auctions - we poke fun internally at them. You can also tell us what you're trying to achieve with a knitting machine, and we'll recommend our favourites for something suitable. 

Of course, if you're lucky enough to have a machine knitting group or guild that meets near you, why not ask them? Groups often have a healthy trade in second hand machines, and they'll be happy to bring you into the fold. 

* For Brother, and for me personally, this would be the KH836 upwards as it has compatibility with other items eg garter carriages. I'm not so familiar with the entire Knitmaster range. 

Friday, November 13

FO: Christmas Camping sweater

This was what I was up to at the end of last month - well, it was a challenging and different way to spend the last of my holiday! :)

There were going to be baubles also (see below) - the designs match this month's front cover of the magazine - but dealing with the floats was an issue, and ladder back dbj is a great technique I didn't quite have enough time to master in the 28 hours it took from start to finish. Very pleased with how it came out though! Monadelphus on Ravelry wrote the dbj technique up in the current issue of the  Guild of Machine Knitters magazine, and has since written notes on how to avoid the holes when going into this tech from stocking stitch, so expect a post on it here soon.

This is the, not quite woven in the ends, running out of daylight shot I took on Hallowe'en afternoon:


Holey baubles, Batman! :)

Picture 194

Sunday, November 8

The AG50 intarsia carriage

Well, I promised a friend I'd have a go with my AG50 carriage. It's an electronic intarsia carriage that I must have picked up at the Nottingham show a few years ago. Seeing as I haven't had the SK840 up in quite a while, I've never got around to playing with it. I also have the completely manual AG24 carriage.

So, the AG50 works in conjunction with the EC1/PE1 combination. You have your pattern split by colours, plus a blank pattern for the background, and all these must be memorised into the PE1 before starting. The PE1 splits each colour into rows. Type 1 intarsia basically selects 1 row of colour 2, then 3, then 1 (so it helps to do a free pass at the start if colour 1 is your background).

Flickr seems to be kaput today and reckons all my photos are private, so posting the links for now - I hope to remember to come back and fix this post at some point! Links fixed

The first picture shows me just about to knit back the brown stripes by hand.

Picture 211

The next two pictures show the front and back of the sample I knitted.

Picture 212

Picture 214

I knitted the green and black bits (the argyle pattern) back by hand, and then you can lay the background yarn over the needles and knit that across. It's kind of intarsia crossed with fairisle as I didn't use seperate yarn for the background. I also forgot to loop the edge of the yarn around a neighbouring stitch, hence a rather holey edge. So in other words, the electronics selects which colours you should knit, but unless it's the background, you'll be knitting the other colours back by hand. A 30 row intarsia pattern will require 90 moves of the carriage, and everything except the background will need knitting back by hand (and you'll have to try and judge your tension). 

I then had a go at type 2 (the leaves and grapes above the argyle). This is kind of embellished fairisle, but as each colour needs a move of the carriage it's more akin to slip-stitch patterning. Again, a 30 row pattern will require 90 passes of the carriage.

I then made a start on type 3 intarsia - which is plain old intarsia, but the pattern you load has the outline of a shape. You can choose to either knit the outline back by hand, and then knit the various colours by hand (in whatever colours you choose), and then knit the background, or you can choose to either knit the outline in the same colour as the background, or choose to make it part of the coloured areas (why you would do this I'm not certain!). I didn't manage to knit a sample of this, because I was completely mystified as to what colours I was supposed to be using at this point. I think it basically selects all needles to C position and leaves the border needles in B position, so it's probably closest to proper intarsia in that you'll make 30 moves to get a 30 row pattern.

Type 4 intarsia lets you knit a kind of double-bed jacquard but without the ribber. I was getting quite tired by this point so didn't attempt it.

This carriage falls firmly in the "why bother?" category for me. For: the machine selects the needles for you, so you can't possibly go out of pattern. Against: as each colour requires its own row, the more colours you add, the more passes you have to make to achieve them.

Personally, I think using the plain AG24 carriage, where you lay each colour over the needles as required, though more prone to error, is much quicker.

Current mood: annoyed

Tuesday, November 3

Bits and bobs

I have been really busy at work (and at home) lately, but there has been a few bits and bobs of knitting. I had some holiday to use up last week and managed to get a few things completed - I also took on a commission which I can't talk about just yet. Suffice to say that having a very short deadline, the machine gremlins were out in force, and everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong - mostly myself making schoolboy errors I'm afraid. It was certainly no time to try out a new-to-me yarn nor a new-to-me technique, although the technique I tried (later discarded) is an interesting one and worth another blog post I think. More on that later.

I knitted this jumper back in April 2013, but the cowl neck never sat properly so I'd never worn it. Whilst having a charity sort out, I realised I could just relatch / reknit the neck more to my taste.


I also knitted some ribbed CSM socks and had to recalculate the foot, not used this yarn for this pattern before. Colours are a little washed out in this shot, my camera isn't great - the day was overcast too.



Current mood: hot

Monday, October 19

FO: blue hat and heart socks


Hybrid MK / CSM socks

Made another hairpin lace cowl, the tuck pattern I used is slightly different - haven't got around to photographing it yet. I also made another hat but the yarn turned out to be chunky and it came out like cardboard so I unpicked it. The blue stripey one is for the charity box again. Seems I am doomed to knit hats for others but never have one for myself! Need to figure out what tension the yarn likes, and if I can emulate the chunky pattern on the midgauge machine, because it's not set up and otherwise I need to handknit it.

Eddie finally sat on my lap last night - well, he tried, but I had a dress on, so he sank between my legs. First time in 6 months he's been relaxed enough to do that. Result!

Current mood: blah