Tuesday, April 18

The machine knitting gods and the "art" of being thwarted...

TL;DR: A lot of stuff didn't work out this weekend, but I did learn some stuff and come out with some pretty socks!

So, we had a long weekend coming up, Easter weekend. For me that's Good Friday and Easter Monday. A lovely 4 day weekend - and the weather forecast wasn't great, so a perfect opportunity to get some machine knitting done. But alas, it was not to be!

It started well enough. Friday was overcast with a slight mizzle - started the day by getting up with the Cog (who had to go to work) and then going for a nordic walk - and the sun even came out briefly! Decided not to stop for coffee afterwards, the nordic ladies are a lovely lot but they all know each other very well (quite a lot of them are retired) and sometimes I feel somewhat socially inept amongst them. Plus I had things to do! Recycled some dead batteries at my usual supermarket and had a quick look for gf hot cross buns - alas, a shelf position, but empty. Carried on into town and struck gold at Asda - once I'd finally located the "free from" section, which took some doing. Picked up some fruit beers as an Easter gift and bought a takeaway sub in town and came home. So far, so mundane.

I had had a sore throat a bit last week - well, it decided, over the course of my long weekend, to develop into a full on head-cold snot fest. It hadn't shown up Friday night because we cooked chicken in a cherry pan sauce - nice, but sauce not v thick without flour alas! And I never attempt new recipes when ill!

Saturday morning I embarked on swatching for a knitweave cardigan, a lovely Sue Booth pattern. Dug out the AW1 but came a cropper barely 4 rows in - the chunky yarn caught in the spring of the AW1 and stretched it completely out of shape - I know, because some kind folks on Rav posted a picture of what it ought to look like. Mine's toast. Great. So I swatched the other way - which is really slow on a Knitmaster machine, because, with no pre-selection of the pattern, the yarn has to be moved from one side of the carriage to the other for every row! Argh! This is one thing the Brother is better at in my opinion. Despite the manual suggesting you thread the knitweave yarn through the mast and mimic the Knitmaster technique, it's much faster and easier to just lay it over the needles. So I have the wrong machine set up now. Drat. Did a gauge swatch anyway. You never know!

I'd seen a recent technique video posted on Youtube by a Russian lady - how to weave vertically on the knitting machine - and thought it might be the perfect thing to do with my Dream Week Challenge yarn - plus it looked like a lot of fun. I needed to knit a swatch for some black acrylic I bought with the DW in mind anyway. As it turned out it's a great technique, but not for very lumpy yarns, and the DW yarn is a black nylon icord interspersed with coloured squares which are much wider. Difficult to thread them through live stitches. Plus, some of the squares will not sit on the right side. Rats. Great idea but wrong yarn, back to the mental drawing board of my brain I guess. Looking at the swatch, the most effective is the red bit at the top - the Hayfield Illusion is a black and variegated yarn and doesn't show up well.

Ok, so park that - I'll have a go at the Swirl pattern. I printed it off a while ago - a simple rectangle and a short-row ruffle, plus sleeves, and you have a cardigan. Seemed fair enough. It was a bit tricky knitting Grigna at T10 - it's a boucle yarn and very lively at such a loose tension. I got part way around, and then suddenly realised I may have gone wrong. The pattern seems to be written in such a way as to do the short rowing part in two halves, but the first half is smaller because I wasn't resetting the row count. Or am I overthinking it? I parked it, so I could email the designer.

So project number three (getting somewhat annoyed now but trying to keep calm!). I've got quite a collection of sock yarn, so thought I'd have another go at the lace heart socks. The pattern is from a Jenny Deter's book and her version has 3-4 rows of hearts on the ankle, and then they continue down the foot. I chickened out last time, and one of the hearts came out wonky; the ill-fated socks ended up in the circular file when they later got felted in the wash. The patterns in that book use 1x1 rib to isolate the lace motifs - much easier to count stitches when there are a block of 13, not 72. The downside of doing lace with the ribber in place is that you can't see what you did on a previous row, or fix a dropped stitch - the CSM ribber is about 3mm higher than the cylinder and there's just no visibility. And guess what? On the second lace row, I dropped a stitch. So I had to transfer everything to the cylinder in order to get the ribber off, to try and rescue it. And as any knitter will tell you, rescuing a dropped stitch within a lace pattern isn't for the faint-hearted. Got the ribber off and bodged it as best I could - but then couldn't be certain how far I needed to tink back. You see, because of how a CSM works, you can't just take the ribber off, fix something, and put it back. To get the ribber off you have to knit around a bit to release all the ribber needles. At any time, quite a few of the ribber needles are within the cam mechanism - same goes for the cylinder - so the only way to fix a mistake is to knit past it and then tink it back. Tinking lace? Also not funny!

It had been an hour or two since the knitweaving, so I thought I'd measure my swatch. The stitches weren't far off, but the row count is out by a factor of 0.67, in other words I'd have to multiply by 1.3 to recalculate the pattern. It's sideways knit, so that would mean recalculating the neck and any armhole shapings. By this point I was losing the will to continue - I decided to go downstairs and slob out on the sofa, and do some more crochet on the blanket. Even I couldn't mess that up!

Sunday I was so full of cold I couldn't face anything too technical, so pretty much hung out on the sofa. Monday I frogged the Grigna (NOT easy!) - I've had some emails from the designer but I'm no clearer, I may have to call her. I also decided to snap the yarn on the lace sock (yeah, the CSM's feed is a closed system, breaking the yarn is quickest!) and start again. The original plan had been to knit the socks as per pattern - but again, I dropped a stitch and bottled out (although at least this time I managed to fudge it and pick it up again). Trust me, lace on a CSM is not for the faint of heart - though if you spot the note in Jenny's book, she does say it's a good idea to remove the weights whilst doing the transfers, but you must remember to put them back on again. I found a quicker way - grab the knitting above the weights and take its weight with your non-dominant hand whilst doing the transfers. Gives you a bit of insurance if the stitch does slip off your hooking tool. So at least I learnt something this weekend, even if again, the socks weren't as fancy as intended. That's a LOT of work! But so pretty!

Buoyed up by one mostly-successful pair of socks, and keen to get them off to graft, I started another pair of simple tube socks, in a lovely yarn I picked up at Kegworth (WYS Signature). It's knitting in really cool stripes, and unlike Knitpics Felici, isn't limited edition. Is it sad to admit I was really chuffed about that? Well, these self-striping yarns, you can never tell how they'll knit up until you do it - and the tension and width of your knitting can make quite a bit of difference, too. What looks great in the ball / skein can look very busy when knitted. Decided I'd do an ordinary short-row this time as the last pair still look nipple-like, despite washing!

It was getting way past teatime at this point, so the second sock is yet to be knitted. The cold is gradually easing off - yesterday, bending down for more than a few seconds gave me an instant splitting headache. Today, the cough is probably the most annoying thing.

Trying vertical weaving on a knitting machine - DW challenge yarn is bottom left.

Lace sock - smartphone picture and dreadful lighting, sorry! It was gone ten pm so no daylight to be found and I was too tired to do much else!

Stripey sock one - yes, my craft room is a mess, I know!

Current mood: okay

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