Archive for the “meta-knitting” Category

So... I got it into my head that I wanted a newer knitting machine - one of the standard gauge ones with bells, whistles, and electronic innards that can be connected to a computer. By "newer," I don't mean anything like "new," because the model I was looking for was made in the late 80s/early 90s. These nearly 30-year-old machines are still cranking right along. It's pretty amazing to see what some people have done with them: check out img2track and this awe-inspiring star tapestry!

After a good deal of research and looking on eBay and Etsy, I found a Brother KH-940 (well, a KnitKing Compuknit IV, which is exactly the same thing with a different label) for a good price and bought it. Of course, getting something for a good deal often means getting something that needs a little fixing up, and that's pretty much what happened.

When I got the machine, it was covered in fine brown fuzzy bits, and the case took a little damage in shipping, but the electronics tested out just fine. The needles were clean and the sponge bar new (whew) but the centre buttons on the carriage were immobile - which is a pretty common issue, as the grease hardens with age, and that was a fine excuse to go shopping and get some more appropriate cleaners and lubricants than what I had in my garage already. It took me about a week of evenings to get it all cleaned up and knitting smoothly.

A view of the control panel and needlebed of the KH940.

Then, of course, I had to make some swatches. First I tried fair isle, and it was like magic. The carriage holds both yarns at once and automatically knits colour A onto some needles, colour B onto others. There are a bunch of patterns pre-programmed into the machine, so I picked number 40 at semi-random and made up this small swatch using leftover sock yarn.

A navy and white fair isle swatch with a pattern of diagonal lines surrounding vertical bars.

Then I wanted to try two-colour tuck stitch, and quickly found that it's much more of a pain in the neck as the knitter has to manually swap yarns every other row to make this work. Some people invest in a second carriage to make it easier, and I can't say I blame them. Here's pattern 302 in the same sock yarn:

A 1960s mod looking tuck stitch swatch in navy and white.

So third, I decided to try a one-colour tuck lace with some of the coned cotton that I have, and when I accidentally dropped the whole piece off the needles I decided that I liked the pattern well enough to attempt a wrap/shawl sort of thing with it. Whooooboy, this was the cursed piece of knitting. Not that there was anything wrong with the yarn or with the machine; everything was entirely user error.

A pale pink swatch of tuck lace, with vertical "ribs" of dropped stitches surrounding wavy lace columns.

How do I mess thee up? Let me count the ways...

By forgetting a yarnover so that the drop-stitch columns don't unravel into the hem (as seen above, if you look closely)
By forgetting to push in the tuck buttons when beginning the pattern
By forgetting that I turned the machine off, and moving the carriage across the needles anyway
By unraveling the resulting badly-formed row... and then resetting the computer to the wrong row number
By the yarn snapping, when I finally get going again

There is a definite learning curve, here...

A pale pink piece of knitting hangs from the needlebed of a knitting machine... with the yarn snapped, and several needles empty as a result.

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My test swatch came out of the laundry looking just as nice as when it went in, so I applied the cable border to the whole blanket, wove in the ends, and did a small celebratory dance before arranging it on the couch for a photoshoot. It's squishy and warm and I couldn't be happier with it! I used 8.5 of the eleven balls of yarn that I bought, and I'm planning to return the last two to the store rather than make any coordinating accessories.

A red and teal blanket with a cabled edge is artfully arranged on a black leather couch.

On Wednesday I met up with friends for knit night at the bookstore, and someone was just *giving away* yarn and books. With some arm-twisting, she convinced me to take some. I came home with a German stitch dictionary, two balls of Supersocke, and one skein of Silkie Socks that Rock. Now, to decide what to make with them...

Two balls of self-striping pink and black sock yarn.

A skein of "Silkie Socks that Rock" yarn in the "Walking on the Wild Tide" colorway - handpainted, variegated tan, blue, green, brown and shocking pink.

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Not that stranded colourwork is particularly difficult, but I feel like I'm done with the "hard part": I finished the outside of my new hat yesterday, and now it's time to unzip the provisional cast-on and knit the "easy part" otherwise known as the stockinette lining. It's almost a shame to cover this up, isn't it? But if I don't, not only will the hat be too big but it will also be less warm than I want. I have a sportweight yarn in a beautiful blue-green that will make a striking contrast.

Red and white stranded colourwork as seen from the inside. Star/snowflake shapes are on the bottom, and a series of dashes and dots on the top.

My original thought had been to make an overstuffed pompom for the top of the hat, but now that I'm looking at this nifty star formed by the decreases, I'm not so sure. Maybe I'll sew a button to the inside so that it can be detachable. What do you think - pompom, or no?

(I think I might have to try it, just to see how it looks.)

The top of a red and white hat. The stitches and colours form a star shape.

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At this point I really don't need more hats, but I've been having so much fun knitting them that I started a new one anyway. This one will have a snowy theme, and Michael helped me chart it out so I'm doubly excited to knit it.

Burgundy and white balls of yarn, with a circular needle that has the beginnings of a new hat.

Like the other hats, I'm knitting this in Cascade 220 with a 220 Sport lining, but unlike the other hats I've started with a provisional cast-on. It's something I've never done before, but my mom (who, by the way, has test-knit both the Crossing Trails and Hollis Hills hats) suggested it as a way to avoid the annoyance of having the lining curl up into the work while you're trying to knit.

The funny thing about that is that the provisional cast-on is even more in the way, as the chain is fairly loose... oops? Have I done it wrong?

Closeup of the start of a hat, with the provisional cast-on curling around.

I looked up several variations and decided to try the one where you crochet directly onto the needle and go from there, rather than attempt to pick up the stitches from a long chain. Once I had all the stitches I needed on my needle, I chained a few more before cutting the yarn and pulling it through the last chain. That will make it easy to "unzip" when it's time to knit the lining.

My goal is to have this hat knit and the pattern written up for publication before it starts warming up too much. I'd love to wear it on one of our snowboarding trips this winter!

(On that note, I keep seeing these gorgeous - and expensive - Dale of Norway sweaters in the ski shops. I might just have to knit one for myself. And then there are the doubleknit hats, another technique I haven't yet tried... and the cowls... so many ideas, so little time!)

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One of my New Year's resolutions for 2019 was to release more knitting patterns, and I'm happy to share the first one of the year with you! Please extend a warm welcome to the Hollis Hills Hat.

For the past twenty years or so, my aunt and uncle have hosted Thanksgiving as an annual family reunion. Two dozen (or more) of us descend on their house from all over the country, starting our celebration on Wednesday evening and keeping it going straight through the weekend. Since New York can be cold in November, I wore one of my warmest hats to Thanksgiving dinner last year – and my aunt admired it to the point of putting it on her own head and running off to look at herself in the mirror. I asked her (not too subtly) what colour her winter coat was, and then sent her this hat as a surprise bit of thanksgiving.

Check out the Hollis Hills Hat in Ravelry's pattern library, or click the button to add it to your cart there:

Hollis Hills Hat, modeled

The hat is knit with two contrasting colours of worsted weight yarn, plus a small amount of sport weight yarn for the facing. I knit this purple hat with Cascade 220, using approximately half a skein of each colour, and approximately 70 yards of Cascade 220 Sport Superwash for the facing.

The pattern includes charts for two sizes and has an optional facing, which is knit in a lighter-weight yarn on the same size needles. Omitting the facing will result in a looser hat.

Hollis Hills Hat

The beet-red facing feels like a fun surprise, hiding away underneath the more subtle purples.

Hollis Hills Hat, with the brim turned up to show the lining

Half a skein of the 220 sport was enough for a lining that's more than three inches tall, so there's a triple-thickness of wool to keep the cold off one's ears.

Hollis Hills Hat, inside-out

I hope you enjoy knitting this hat as much as I did!

Important Copyright Information: The Hollis Hills Hat knitting pattern is © 2019 Knitting Pirate. You may not sell or otherwise distribute copies of this pattern, but you may absolutely sell the hats you make with appropriate credit given for the design. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do with this pattern, please feel free to contact me.

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I started a new hat with the DK-weight yarn that I bought in November at the MD Alpaca and Fleece event. It's "Just DK" from Shirsty Cat Designs, and it's quite soft and pleasant to knit with. The slipped-stitch cable pattern that I chose is subtle because the yarn is so variegated, but still shows up nicely.

A cable pattern begins to emerge from the ribbed brim of a hat in variegated autumn colours.

The colours of the yarn remind me of the woods in autumn, after most of the leaves have fallen and everything has turned to subtle dark shades. That made me think of the "Fall" section of John Denver's "Season Suite":

Reflections in the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time
The falling leaves are whispering winter's on it's way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday

I think I'll call this one the "Passing Days" hat.

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Over on the Ravelry forums I read something about knitting stranded colourwork with a light tension so that the stitches wouldn't pucker or pull, and something about that must have stuck with me. Even though I've knit several stranded hats that came out just fine, I started this purple one with a mindset of staying loose... and uh. Yeah.

Pirate wearing a purple hat that's far too large.

I revised the pattern a little and knit a second hat at my usual tension, and that one came out just fine. The original could be worn as a slouchy hat, but the double thickness makes it harder to get it to flop over properly. It's too big for Michael, too. It's too big for *everyone*.

Pirate and Michael wearing almost-matching Hollis Hills Hats.

The important thing, though, is that this hat is a gift for my aunt, who admired my Crossing Trails hat at Thanksgiving with so much enthusiasm that I felt compelled to surprise her with something of her own. The pattern is almost ready to share! Keep an eye out for it later this month.

Wouldn't this picture make a perfect album cover? And if you look closely, you can see that he's working on a colourwork project of his own...

Pirate wearing the smaller Hollis Hills Hat, with Michael making bunny ears behind it.

I'm not sure how it started, but I mentioned something about brioche stitch. "What's that?" he asked, and I pulled up some pictures. Then we watched a couple of YouTube videos about how to do the two-colour brioche stitch and the appropriate cast-on for it. Before too long we were heading out to a yarn store, where he bought some Cascade Eco+ in a solid dark and spattered light blue, and between Christmas and New Year's he's knit nearly two feet of scarf. (It's grown quite a bit since I took the picture.)

A dark and light blue brioche scarf in progress.

I'm really pleased he's taken up this hobby. It's fun to share with him! This is only his fifth project and I'm not at all ashamed to say that he's a way better knitter than I was, when I was on my fifth project. That's all kinds of awesome.

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Five and a half years ago, I bought this green Austermann Step yarn at The Mannings (which, sadly, closed a few years ago. Ah well.) It's going to make be my next traveling sock, perfect for hauling around with me to work on while waiting for mechanics and flying across the country. As a winterholiday gift, I got a set of Addi FlexiFlips, and thought that this would be a great time to test them out. I've heard both good and bad things about them, and I've been curious to see if I'll love or hate them.

I already had several inches of sock knitted on my trusty old DPNs, which meant that I'd be working from them onto the new FlexiFlips.

The very beginning of a subtly striped green sock on the needles, with a mostly unknit ball of yarn.

But when I went to make the first stitch, something seemed off. The new needle seemed subtly thicker. Maybe it was just my imagination? I got my gauge ruler.

It wasn't my imagination.

I almost always knit socks on US 1 (2.25mm) Susan Bates DPNs, which I buy at Joann in a multi-pack of sock-sized DPNs for a small amount of money. (They're $10, but then everything at Joann is at least 40% off.) So I'd asked for the FlexiFlips in size 1 as well... without realizing that while Addi do sell a size 2.25mm set of FlexiFlips, their size 1 is actually 2.5mm.

Well, heck. Everyone else calls a 2.5mm needle a US size 1½, not a 1. And Addi's other needle sizes match up with the usual US to mm conversions. Harrumph!

I guess I'll just keep going on the DPNs, because even a .25mm difference in needle size can make an obvious difference in gauge, but... do I spend the money for a set of 2.25mm FlexiFlips, when I'm not even sure I'll like knitting with them? Do I try a different sock on these 2.5mm ones first, despite my concern that they'll be too loose? Do I write to Addi and complain about their non-conventional sizing? How disappointing.

The "obvious" solution, I guess, is to hang onto them and spin some more sock yarn, which tends to come out a little thicker than the commercial yarn (at least it does when I spin it) so that I can finally try these.

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As usual, more for myself than anything else, but you may find it interesting as well:

PUBLISHED DESIGNS
Just one, the Crossing Trails Hat - but it raised over $50 for cancer research!

INCOMING YARN AND FIBRE
Yarn:
1 skein Classic Elite Yuri from Laughing Sheep (Mom's LYS)
1 skein Just DK from Shirsty Cat Designs at MD Alpaca and Fleece
2 balls Cascade 220 and 1 ball Cascade 220 Sport

Fibre:
2 ounces silk sliver from MDSW
4 ounces Into the Whirled Corriedale from a fibre trade
8 ounces white Corriedale from a fibre trade
6 ounces Buoy Blend from Hipstrings
6 ounces Shetland sampler pack
8 ounces Dorset
8 ounces Southdown
2.2 pounds custom blend from World of Wool

Total: 5 skeins yarn, 4.8 pounds (yike) of fibre

OUTGOING FIBRE (links go to pictures)
2 batts hand-carded alpaca in a fibre trade with a friend
Finished last year's TdF project: 2 pounds (!), 718 yards bulky three-ply
8 ounces Corriedale -> 296 yards two-ply for future flip-top mittens
2 ounces silk sliver -> 112 yards chainply, to line the mittens
4 oz Falkland and 4 oz Merino/silk -> 364 yards cable-plied yarn for the Tour de Fleece
4 oz yak/silk blend -> 258 yards chainply
6 oz Hipstrings Buoy blend -> 320 yards two-ply
4 ounces Coopworth roving, sold in destash

Total: 3.75 pounds, 2068 yards (wow)

OUTGOING YARN (links go to the post with the finished project)
1 ball Opal Rainforest, for Michael's Tiger Tiger socks (465)
2 skeins Cascade 220 for the Crossing Trails hat (220)
1 skein Cascade Heritage Paints for the Cakewalk Socks (437)
2 balls Patons Kroy and some Serenity Sock for the Rainbow Ragg socks (389) (57)
Handspun merino for the Handspun Socks (500)
1 skein Tess Super Socks for the Boulevardier socks (450)
1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash for Michael's replacement floppy hat (220)
1 skein Brooks Farm Acero, destashed to another Raveler (420)
2 skeins Cascade 220 for the prototype and second version of the "Hollis Hills Hat" (440)
1 skein Cascade 220 sport for the Hollis Hills Hats (136)
1 ball Trekking XXL for Sibling Socks (459)

13 balls / 4193 yards

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Tallies up 2018.

No matter how many times I do it, I'm always amazed by the magic that is turning the heel. It might even be my favourite part of knitting a sock.

A blue sock in progress, with a newly turned heel, on a striped navy and white background

Not to be a nudge, but the Crossing Trails Hat pattern is still on sale for 20% off and still raising funds for the Cancer Research Institute. Thanks to you, we'll be donating more than $50 already. With almost a month to go, do you think we can hit $100?

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