Archive for the “kh940” Category

Well would'ja look at that, it's a stripy sweater!

The pieces of a stripy sweater laid out on the floor as if they were sewn together. The stripes are gray, blue, and green - on the sleeves the gray stripes are wider, and on the body the blue stripes are wider.

All four pieces are done. I basted them together and tried on the sweater, and it doesn't not fit! It may be one stripe longer than necessary, and there may be a little weirdness with slight tension differences between the blue yarn and the others, but I made a sweater!

Well, almost. I still have to pick out all my basting and replace it with actual proper seaming, and then I have to knit a neck/collar, and then it needs to be washed and dried (because it's all superwash sock yarn, it will go in the washer and dryer - although carefully, in a mesh bag, so it doesn't get pulled out of shape)... and THEN I will have made a sweater!


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Remember that time I knit a sanquhar-inspired scarf with little skulls hidden in it?

A scarf in navy blue and white, folded over to show that one side is the reverse colors of the other side. Each section of the colourwork is a different traditional Sanquhar pattern.

It's not that it was a bad idea, it's that my execution was off, and so was my estimation of whether I actually wear scarves. I've been looking at this thing all winter going "okay, but it's too long and too thick to be comfortable, and not only does my jacket have scarf-eating velcro but I can zip it up to my nose so do I really need a scarf anyway? Especially one that's going to make me look like I'm either pregnant or shoplifting? Maybe I should unravel it and knit something else. There's enough yarn here for a sweater."

"There's enough yarn in that scarf for a sweater," I've grumped to myself pretty much every time I see the scarf in the closet, feeling a little sad about having knit something that's really cool but actually useless.

"There's enough yarn in that scarf for a sweater," I thought as I was buying entirely different sweater yarn.

"There's enough yarn in that scarf for a sweater," I pretended not to remember, as I picked out the gray and green and blue from my stash and charted out the stripes.

Do you know where there is NOT enough yarn for a sweater? Indeed, it's the stripy sweater. I finished both sleeves and weighed the remaining gray yarn, and did some math. I said some bad words (sorry) and re-weighed and re-mathed. Then I called a friend who verified that my math was right and my sweater was not.

But here's the thing. The blue yarn in the sweater is the same blue yarn that's in the scarf. And (you see where this is going) there's enough yarn in the scarf for a sweater. What if I reverse the stripes on the sweater body? That would actually look really neat.

A pattern schematic for a sweater, showing the front, back, and a sleeve. On the sleeve, there are wide gray stripes and narrower green and blue ones. On the body of the sweater, the blue stripes are widest, and the gray and green are narrower.

"There's enough yarn in that scarf for a sweater," I muttered, and stomped downstairs to retrieve it from the closet. I spent an evening un-seaming my careful seams, and then Michael helped me re-wind about 2000 yards of yarn. He turned the ball-winder and I wound directly onto the swift.

A partially disassembled colourwork scarf sits next to a ballwinder on a wooden coffee table, ready for unraveling.

There's enough yarn here for a sweater.

Two white and two navy blue skeins of sock yarn. They are neatly tied and folded, but the yarn is squiggly from having been knit and unraveled.

It needs to be soaked to get the squiggles out, and then of course I'll have to wait for it to dry, but there's totally enough blue yarn here to finish the stripy sweater, and enough white yarn for... well, for half a sweater. I'll worry about the white yarn some other time.

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It's (finally) time for a machine-knit fingering weight sweater! I chose three yarns out of my stash - two skeins of gray, one of a bright kelly green, and one navy blue. First, swatching. I tried each of the three yarns on tensions 5 and 6, and decided that T5 felt better, and was less see-through, without being so stiff that it won't feel nice to actually wear.

Tension swatches of yarn in medium gray, kelly green, and navy blue.

The tensions and my measurements all went into Designaknit, which produced a sweater pattern (hopefully one that fits). My next step was to learn how to cast on and knit an "industrial rib". While I've heard about this type of ribbing on the machine knitting forum, I had no luck searching for instructions. But then an enlightening post came through - the thing that everyone calls "industrial rib" appears in my ribber's manual as "different method of 2x2 rib knitting." Who knew? And the post included instructions for a cast-on that won't flare, which went really well. It's incredibly stretchy and the edge folds so nicely with the ribbing:

The ribbed cuff of a sweater sleeve. Half is partially stretched to show the cast-on edge, the other half is a zig-zag of edge stitches, as the ribbing is very elastic.

Then I knit a whole sleeve! Stripes and all! There's just one problem... I knit it at the wrong tension and it's 20% too large in every direction. Guess I'm going to rip it out, re-wind the yarn, and try again. My decision to carry the yarn up the side of the sleeve, instead of cutting it to weave in later, seems like it was absolutely the right call. (Also, how weird is it that my gray yarn and my gray carpet are almost exactly the same gray?)

A sweater sleeve laid flat on the carpeted floor. It is striped in medium gray, kelly green, and navy blue. The gray stripes are almost exactly the same colour as the carpet.

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I actually knit this sweater early last year, but the baby only just made an appearance a couple of weeks ago, so it's been a secret 'til now...

The pattern is the Lilly Sweater, which seemed like a good way to use a skein of cotton-blend sock yarn and practice machine knitting all at once. I used Plymouth Sockotta, which I used to knit the Pomatomus socks back in 2007-9. Yes, they took me that long, because I didn't like how the yarn felt in my hands. All the more reason to use it for machine knitting, as the finished fabric is actually quite nice.

A wrap-around baby sweater in tonal aquas and blues, with two bright yellow crocheted buttons.

I didn't have any buttons that I liked, so I decided to crochet a cheerful yellow yarn around boring plastic buttons (for rigidity). They're sewn to the sweater with the yarn and the ends are woven in farther than usual, for extra safety.

A bright yellow crocheted button, in progress and almost complete.

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Seven years ago, I bought the world's ugliest yarn (I love it though) intending to knit a pair of EZ's "Nether Garments", because what could be cozier than woolen long-johns? Except it never happened, possibly because every time I thought of starting the project, I thought about how long it would take... and put it off again.

Then I got a knitting machine, and thought "wow, this will make it so easy to make a pair of pants!"

How wrong I was. The knitting machine makes short work of knitting pieces of fabric that might be pants legs; it does not make it any easier to fit a pair of pants to my body.

I picked out a pattern (the "Lounging My Best Life" pants) and knit a gauge swatch - and for a wonder, I got it right! (The pattern is written for a mid-gauge machine and mine is a standard gauge, but if I loosen it to tension 10, this 6-ply yarn will go through.)

Since I'd never made pants before, I thought I'd follow the pattern exactly as written (even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't fit) and then make adjustments from there. Here's the first leg knit up, minus the ribbing at the cuff, which I'll handknit after I know the legs fit - isn't it perfectly 1970s?

One pants leg, unseamed, lies at full length on a wooden coffee table. The stripes are an incredibly garish collection of 1970s colours: mustard yellow, brown, steel blue, and some jacquard-looking stripes as well.

What it's not, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, is perfectly fitting. It's quite a bit more high-waisted than I want... and I don't seem to have nearly as much curve in my hips as the pattern seems to think I will. I took measurements and tried again.

My second try (not pictured) is closer, but still doesn't fit. I knit both legs and basted the seams so I could try them on, then took more measurements and attempted to draft a pattern in Designaknit. Then I set everything aside for a while until I could stop being mad at it. Once I get over the disappointment, I'll try on the pants once more to make sure I've noted everything I want to change in the fit, and then I'll wind up the yarn and give it another shot.

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These socks have been an absolute journey. My first attempt was too small, and I didn't realize it until after I'd knit down past the heel. My second attempt, after recharting the skull and crossbones section to have eight more stitches in it, was upside down - and I still wasn't happy with my fine gauge colourwork on DPNs. (Uneven. Puckery. Not nice.)

I gave up, put the chart into Designaknit, sent it to the knitting machine, and cranked out the cuffs in no time at all. The rest of the socks I knit by hand, because miles of stockinette is perfect for knit nights, car rides, and hanging out with Mom.

The pattern is Buccaneer's Booty and the red and blue yarns are both Lang Jawoll, a gift from my friend Ky. I love the subtle shading in them. Thanks, Ky!

A pair of red socks with blue toes and heels, and a band of skulls and crossbones at the cuff.

I subbed in Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel for the short-row heel in the original pattern. I like how it fits and I adore the look of the dark blue wedges on the red sock. I also added an extra bit of striping at the toe to more closely match the stripe at the cuff.

The heel is made up of three wedges of blue on the red background of the sock.

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This hat. This hat has been giving me so much trouble. I ordered the yarn online and was hoping for blue-green-blue, but what I got was green-blue-green.

A ball of yarn with the green-blue-green gradient visible on the top edge.

Four rows into the knitting, I made the rookie mistake of picking the project up inside-out and knitting in the wrong direction. So I started over, knit the ribbing, and... not only was the hat coming out too small, but starting with bright green was just wrong. I re-wound the ball, broke the yarn at the right starting point, and impulsively decided that this would be an excellent project for the knitting machine. A little bit of ribbing and then miles of stockinette? Perfect machine project, right?

At least six times, there were issues that resulted in having to begin again.

The yarn snapped. The ribber needles weren't knitting off properly. My cast-on unraveled. The tension was wrong. The ribber comb got hung up on the bracketry and things went sideways. It's a learning experience, right?

But finally, finally! I got it! I made the ribbing, and then folded the fabric in half to transition over to knitting in the round. It worked, it worked! I did it! SUCCESS!

Next, I wanted to switch to circular needles to knit the crown decreases, which is one of the things that machines don't do well. I knit several rounds of waste yarn, but was still worried that it would unravel down before I could get all the stitches onto my needles. "Wouldn't it be great," I thought, "if I had a transfer tool that screwed onto an interchangeable needle cable?" Lacking that, I looped a length of ravel cord onto my double eye transfer needle, and transferred the stitches one by one. Leaving the ravel cord behind the gate pegs held the piece steady until I was done, and then I was able to lift the whole thing up at once with no fears of unraveling.

(Originally I tried tying the ravel cord to the transfer needle, but I couldn't get the knot small enough to easily slip through the stitches, so looping it on was the next best thing. It did twist up a bit as I worked, but it was less awkward to manage when the camera wasn't right there.)

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It's finished!

A scarf in navy blue and white, folded over to show that one side is the reverse colors of the other side.

I seamed it by hanging it sideways on the knitting machine with the wrong sides together (right-side out), and pulling loops through both sides, then binding off those loops.

It's so squishy, just the right length for me, and I think it'll be very warm - though I'll have to wait 'til winter to find out, of course. I need to weigh the leftover yarn to figure out exactly how much I used, but it was roughly 2.3 skeins of each colour.

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Inspired by Sockmatician's Sanquhar Scarf, but unwilling to do that much double-knitting with sock yarn, I decided to design something similar to knit on the machine. I began by using Excel as graph paper to fill in squares, which is probably not how its developers ever imagined a spreadsheet application would be used, but it works!

Then Michael helped by writing a magic spell – er, I mean, a program – that would convert the Excel spreadsheet to a bitmap, with one pixel per cell. I loaded that bitmap into the knitting machine software, transferred the pattern to the machine, and 700 or so rows later, voila! a scarf! (At least, in theory. I may have messed it up a few times and had to start over.)

The Sanquhar scarf in progress, with the wrong side showing.

I'm including my initials into the "cuff," as was traditional for mittens. I'll put them on the other end of the scarf too!

The Sanquhar scarf in progress, showing the front side.

With machine knitting, it's often easier to begin again than to try to correct errors:

Behind the knitting machine, two re-raveled balls of yarn sit and wait for another attempt.

My plan is to knit the second side of the scarf with the colours reversed in order to mimic the double knitting look, and then seam them together. The floats will then be safely sandwiched between layers so they can't snag on anything, and the finished scarf should be thick and squishy.

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I've wanted to knit Puppies since I got the knitting machine. Last year I bought four cones of laceweight yarn for it, and promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more yarn until I'd knit the thing. So... I knit the thing.

First, I made a swatch and attempted to felt it (not entirely, just a little bit) in the washing machine. I have a front-loader, which makes it a little more tricky, but it seemed to work just fine! There's still some stitch definition, but all the floats are stuck down, which is exactly what I was trying to achieve.

A swatch of the Puppies pattern in purple-gray and white. It looks like damask wallpaper.

And then I got started knitting it on the machine.

The Puppies wrap in progress, hanging from a flatbed knitting machine, with weights hooked into the fabric. The purl side of the fabric is showing.

The wrap is knitted in three sections - first the two outside strips, and then the centre strip connects them as it's knit up. I knit strip one, and then failed to properly upload strip three to the machine... so I knit strip one twice. (Sigh.) After some time and troubleshooting, I figured it out, and knit strip three, followed by the centre piece. Each of the sides took just under an hour, including the time to upload the pattern into the machine... and the centre took more like four or five hours, because of having to hook the sides up as I went. Michael helped me arrange the side strips so that I wouldn't be hooking them up backwards or upside-down or anything silly like that - I am awful at the mental gymnastics of rotating pieces around in my head to get them aligned properly!

The two outer strips of the Puppies wrap with a yardstick for scale. They are much longer than the yardstick.

All three strips of the Puppies wrap, together and laid out on the floor. It is more than a yard wide and probable about two yards long.

Here's a closeup of a "puppy" (I think it looks more like a horse, but hey) with the fabric folded over to show the floats as well:

The Puppies wrap folded over at the bottom so that the front and back sides are visible in the same picture.

And then, with much trepidation, I tossed it into the washing machine. For the most part it fulled nicely... but there are some places that look a little holey, and I'm worried about those. I might try to spot-felt them, as well as the parts of the seam that just didn't quite felt enough. That'll be done by hand in a basin, rather than in the washing machine again.

The Puppies wrap, felted and laid out to dry on towels. It's now slightly less than a yard wide.

A closeup of one of the holes in the wrap. It's not very big, but it is obvious..

Here you can see that part of the seam felted together just fine (circled in green) but part of it really didn't (circled in orange):

Properly and improperly felted areas of the seam connecting two of the strips of knitting.

I'm not super-happy with the results of this project, but it was definitely a Learning Experience with capital letters! I've gotten a bunch of advice on how I can better felt the thing next time, if there is a next time, including a method to keep the edges from rolling up and sticking to each other in the wash (ugh, I had to unroll/unstick them all, and bent back a fingernail in the process) and how to keep the edges from ruffling. I have a bit of the yarn left... which I might use held doubled to make some colourwork armwarmers. We shall see!

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