Wednesday, June 22

FO: Plaid skirt

Finally finished the skirt, fits ok. Never doing asymmetrical plaid again though. Nightmare!

And, Eddie decided to jump into an empty shopping bag.

Current mood: snotty and annoyed

Tuesday, June 21

Better together...

I don't use this blog for political stuff usually, because it's got an international readership. However, I feel very strongly about this!

Enough said.

Sunday, June 19

Event report: Guild of Machine Knitter's AGM 2016


Well, it was the annual AGM again and this year it was near Lincoln, so I'd agreed to pick up P at her place en route. When I called, L had also arranged to meet there and as I had worked out the total fuel costs were £15 for the return trip (it pays to think of these things) we decided I'd do the driving - fine by me - I spend 90 minutes on the M6 every day anyway.

We got there without incident, but had to wait in the entrance for a few minutes whilst one of the displays was sorted out - health and safety first! As soon as we were in, I located the first aid box and found (what I thought) were the keys for it. Neither fitted and I somehow managed to drop one into the waste bin in my haste. A quick walk around and it turns out the Guild always brings their own kit. A locked first aid cabinet! Whatever next? What's more important - the price of a bandage or someone's life? Sheesh! Anyway, that being settled I was free to wander about and look at all the displays and the challenge entries. I immediately dicovered that my fancy-pants DSLR camera was (a) dead as a doornail battery-wise - I have 3 batteries, you'd think I'd remember to charge one of them and (b) empty of SD card anyway. D'oh! Luckily, I still carry my little compact Nikon everywhere with me. There were two displays by Bradford College and Derby University. The picture above is from the latter, alas I did not think to get a name, so if you recognise your work please email me and I'll edit this post and credit you*. Bradford gave a short talk on their course, which is a flexible study textiles course (an HNC I think) and I was very interested because it sounds like something I might like to do. They cover all textiles not just knitting so had some lovely weaving on display also. Rob of Smartco was there and has designed replacement handles - £25 but very sturdy - and I meant to go back and buy one but it slipped my colander mind until much later. There were some lovely challenge entries - my favourite was a jumper made from lots of leftover sock yarns plus black. I didn't see the overall winner until later - a beautifully dressed bear with the theme of the poem "When I am old I shall wear purple". I thought the bear was a bought one, a Steiff or somesuch, but no, she made the bear also! The knitter is local to me, too. So well done!

After the formalities of the AGM, where I was "sworn in" to join the committee, the awards were presented. Alas, a lot of the winners were not present which is a pity.

After lunch, our main speaker, Lorna Hamilton-Brown MBE gave us a fascinating talk on her work. She makes amazing sketches, and also knits pictures which look like photographs. She was very funny and engaging and I don't think anyone wasn't transfixed by her work. She's also done an interesting short film about machine knitting which I will link to from this blog when it becomes available - it ought to be required viewing for any muggle who thinks machine knitting is in anyway cheating or easier than other crafts. We had our little fashion show - I was wearing my striped coatighan, because what with the carpal tunnel, all the recent dressmaking, and the humidity, I've not really been anywhere near my knitting machines in weeks. As luck would have it, it was chilly enough that I'm glad I brought it. You've got to love the British "Summer"!

All too soon we were packing away - as my first immediate responsibility as a committee member, I was asked to cut the Guild sign down outside. I dropped it straight into a waiting ant's nest. Oh dear - sorry ants! All in all a lovely day, I only wish it had been twice as long. Someone (Lorna?) reminded us that in 2018 it's the Guild's 20th anniversary, and discussions are already afoot about it (although it's early days yet). Watch this space!

More photos here

Current mood: sick - yes, I came down with the tickly cough/throat bug that has been going around at work this evening. So just don't ask me to sing. :)

Edit to add:

* It's the work of Katie Louise Mills

Friday, June 17

Machine knitting - a new user's perspective

Reposted from Ravelry with permission. Classixuk is a new machine knitter who is loving his new toys!

"Just a quick update for future readers who are interested in purchasing their first knitting machine (and any experienced, yet interested parties, reading right now) ;)

Forgive me if any parts of this post are misspelled, but I’ve had 2 glasses of wine! I was watching a Diana Sullivan video about the ribber (new to me) when I realised I hadn’t updated this for new (or thinking about it) KM’ers in a while!

According to my original post, it’s been 25 days since I unpacked my very first knitting machine and began exploring this wonderful craft. If you are, by now, at the stage of “TLDR”, let me say this one thing…“You should definitely buy a knitting machine!”

The rest of this post will update you on the various parts of my journey…any questions…please ask and I will answer with my very limited experience :)

Things I have made
If you’ve made it this far, you will be as surprised as me, when I reflect on the last 25 days. From a starting point of scarves on big chunky needles in my past, I can now place jumpers, hats, baby blankets, cardigans (and many tension gauges) to my repertoire. I’m sure I’ve made other stuff too, but you will need to check my projects page for that (I guess that’s something else new that I have done?)

Women I know have now began asking me if I am ‘taking orders’? High praise indeed I guess?

This site is great, and full of wonderful people who know so much more than you do, and they are always willing to help. I have had to learn that it’s an international community, and that as such, British sarcasm isn’t always fully understood.

Sometimes, some of the responses will be ‘We’ve been asked this before, check this thread’ - which directs you to a 53 page thread for you to search and read for your specific answer (and usually it’s a thread that showed up when you did the search before making the forum post), but usually, other members will come along and answer your specific question within 24 hours.

When that isn’t the case, or you need the answer urgently, you can google search and it will probably bring up an answer from ‘Knitting Paradise’ forums - unlike Ravelry, they allow their forums to be indexed by search engines. I really wish Ravelry would do the same…it would make life so much easier for the users!

The other thing with Ravelry is that they have these really weird post tags that allow people to ‘love’, ‘agree’, ‘disagree’ with your post or even find it ‘interesting’. There is no ‘thanks’ though? You will scratch your head wondering why anonymous people ‘disagreed’ with your post, without any explanation as to ‘why?’, or pointers in the right direction for you, as a newbie to their dying craft?, yet question yourself as to whether you ‘love’ people who help you, or merely find them ‘interesting’? My advice is that you simply ignore these tags (you receive) and get on with your knitting!

Are you thinking about this mid-gauge machine as your first ever machine?

Buy it!!!!

I only just (last night) got it back out of it’s box and knitted a garment on it. It’s easy to learn, easy to use, easy to master and totally compatible with DAK (read on…).

This is the second machine I purchased after the KX-350. It came with extras, such as a ribber, colour changer etc.
Moving on from the KX-350 (which knits the wools you find at the discount shops i.e. Poundstretcher etc.) this machine needed 4 ply on cones purchased via the internet - and a new sponge bar. Perfect condition though - I’ve been very lucky!

The best price I could find for acrylic 500g machine yarn (while you are learning a standard bed machine) is Marriner Yarns in the UK - £6.50 per cone and free delivery over £25. Be aware though, that my order came from ‘Shaws Direct’. I only say this because the Marriner website only lists their yarns and a limited selection of extras (buttons, threads, toy filling etc.) - yet the Shaws Direct website (who dispatched the order and billed me) lists tons more stuff! My advice would be to purchase from the Shaws website if you’re buying Marriner Yarns - same price and more choice of crafts items has to be good! :)

Regarding the standard bed gauge vs mid gauge - you are better, imo, beginning with mid gauge or chunky to learn on. Standard gauge is much smaller stitches…I am now longing for a chunky electronic machine to complete my line-up!

I’ve only played with this ‘new to me’ add-on this evening for the first time. OMG. When you get to this stage, you will see exactly what I mean. I’d like to use an analogy….

Imagine that you are learning to make pizza (and that, for the purpose of this analogy, you aren’t vegetarian)…you spend 25 days being extremely pleased with your margarita pizza, continental mock pepperoni pizza and even your ‘picot trim’ mock pepperoni pizza with toppings of your choice?

And then…you get given a real, yet simple, 1x1 pepperoni pizza.

I reached this stage tonight, just before the doorbell went and I had to stop…hence me being here 5 hours later still thinking about it and looking up videos about ‘how to get more!’ - you deserve a ribber - everyone does - get one! :)

I’ll put this succinctly. There’s a software called DAK (Design-A-Knit) that brings 80’s vintage machines into the 21st century via a USB cable and a computer software. You should buy it. Full stop. It’s even better than your knitting machine!

Diana Sullivan
If you know who she is…keep watching her videos and feeling uber confident that you will knit your next great masterpiece, as you listen to her voice reassuring you that you are the next Machine Knitting God/Idol/Superstar!

If you don’t know who she is…go to Youtube and do a search for “Diana Sullivan Machine Knitting” and be happy to learn the phrase, “This is Diana Sullivan from Austin, Texas”. It will be running around in your head every time you cast on successfully and master a new part of your knitting machine! I promise you that you will feel like a winner with her tutorials :) Roberta Rose Kelly is also worth looking up - excellent trainer - but Diana has a more ‘soothing voice’ and calm, ‘you can do this’ voiceover in my opinion :)

Have fun with your new knitting machine - go on - you know you want to buy it - it is sooooo much fun! :)"

Wednesday, June 15

Health update

So I went for an EGM? OGM? on Friday, to test my nerve responses in both arms. Apparently there's only a slight delay. It has taken 10 or more weeks to get the appointment though. And I've not knitted a stitch in that time - I did try one row of crochet. The nurse who was doing it was Eastern European and was teaching a student nurse - she was rather offhand with me but I guess she knows more about this than I do. She said it was mild carpal tunnel and probably not worth operating on. The student nurse said I would just have to take up other hobbies. Yeah.... well, that's exactly what I HAVE been doing. It doesn't fix reading a book or driving, though - not about to give those up anytime soon. And I'm part-way through a sock. Argh! I did think about making a remark about how would she feel if she had to give up her hobbies, but then thought she probably doesn't get much time for hobbies so held my tongue.

On the positive side, I think it's gradually healing. I only got a twinge on the last Nordic walk. So fingers crossed - if I abstain for long enough I can maybe go back to my yarn crafts, although maybe I'll have to dial it back a bit. I've got two pieces of cotton drying in the bathroom (yeah, typical British summer - rainy and wet!) ready for making into a skirt and a dress.

Current mood: annoyed but with a side-serving of hopeful.

Tuesday, June 14

Creative bits and bobs

Just because there's not much knitting going on, doesn't mean to say I'm not messing about with stuff.

Learning to use the sewing machine, I don't think I ever tried buttonholes with this one. Finally redid the embroidery with the right colour.


The cross-stitch is romping along:


Another tee top got knitted and sewn up:


Version two of the skirt is done, awaiting an "on me" modelling session:


And I finally tested the programmeable reader card on my sewing machine, and yes it does work - I think there should have been more colours in this, and I wasn't completely paying attention as I was half-watching the Great British Sewing Bee at the same time.


We said goodbye to one of our longest serving engineers yesterday as he had his birthday and retired (we're going out for a meal tomorrow night). I've never worked anywhere long enough where friends retired on me, it's rather depressing! He'll be much missed for his expertise and his always laid-back attitude - I could always pop downstairs for a natter and a chuckle. As our receptionist is also winding down her duties, this year will be doubly sad. I know things must move on, it's just going to feel weird for a while I guess.

Current mood: sad

Sunday, June 12

History of Brother Knitting Machines

Year Model No of needles Pitch Remarks
1954 KH1-B1 160 4.23 The first knitter
1958 KH-218 180 4.25 Automatic yarn tension unit
1959 KH-311 200 4.5Prototype of today's knitter
1960 KH-511 200 4.5 Needle selection system (4 push buttons)
1964 KH-561 200 4.5 Needle selection system (8 push buttons)
1966 KH-581 200 4.5 L carriage (automatic lace pattern mechanism)
1968 KH-587 200 4.5 Fair-isle pattern mechanism
1969 KH-588 200 4.5 Knit-leader
1971 KH-800 200 4.5Cassette card system (12 needle pattern)
1973 KH-810 200 4.5 Punch card system (24 needle pattern)
1974 KH-820 200 4.5 L carriage (automatic needle selection mechanism)
1976 KH-830 200 4.5 Fine-lace patterns
1978 KH-840 200 4.5 The latest model of punch-card system
1980 KH-910 200 4.5 The first electronic knitting machine

For further model information, see here

Taken from Mary Weaver's Japanese for Machine Knitters

History of Silver Knitting Machines

The Development of Silver Knitting Machines

Aug 1984: Model MJ-3 the first portable model in this field, was put on the market and gave motivation towards portable models in the industry.

Aug 1956: Moving needle type model SK-5 "Chidori" was put onto the market and joined general popularity. It contributed much to solidifying the company's step into this field

Feb 1957: The company name of Silver Knitting Machine was changed to Silver Knitting Machine Sales Co Ltd and its office moved to Shinjuku ward, Tokyo

Dec 1966: Silver Kaikan Building, the centre of the Silver Knitting Institute was completed

Sep 1967: Put on the market cybernetic "punch card" knitting machines. They constituted a revolution in the knitting field

Jun 1968: Punch card knitting machines were awarded a Good Design mark. It was awarded for four consecutive years, a first in this field.

Sep 1969: "Knit radar" was put on the market which made it unnecessary to calculate the division of the stitches

Mar 1970: "Knit radar" was awarded the Invention Recommendation Prize at the Tokyo Invention Exhibition

Jul 1970: Succeeded in developing "punch lace knitting" which completely modified the conventional lace knitting

Aug 1971: The latest punchcard knitting machine "Kantan" was put on the market

Sep 1971: The "Kantan" knitter was award the Blue Ribbon Grand Prix in England, and at the same time was authorised to be permanently displayed in the Science and History Museum in London

Jun 1973: Put on the market the punch card model "Kantan UP" incorporating the Knit radar as a definite part of the punch card machine

Oct 1973: Put on the market the latest rib knitter, the "pile rib knitter"

Nov 1973: Put on the market an epoch-making electric knitting stand the "Family Auto-Knitter".

Feb 1974: Pile rib knitter and Auto Knitter were awarded the Invention Recommendation Prize at the Tokyo Invention Exhibition

For specific models, see here

Taken from Mary Weaver's Japanese for Machine Knitters