Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I knitted hats for the Women's March. Since there was a deadline, I've abandoned my tablet case temporarily, and put aside the CSM for a while.  This was a really good exercise because it forced me to get familiar with the ribber on my Brother KH230.  It has plastic inserts for the ribber carriage called pushers.

 Without the pushers, the stitches do not form properly.  With the pushers, it works beautifully.  But you must remove the pushers to cast on, then re-install them to knit ribbing.

I did not hear about this hat project until I read about it in the Detroit News/Free Press the week before the march.  My hats are going to people who have pledged to wear them as a reminder of the march's goals.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Felted fairaisle tablet case (Part 1)

Since I got a new tablet for Christmas, I am making a tablet case from a felted fairaisle piece.  I think it will look artistic and cozy, and also protect the tablet.  Note that the tablet already has a glass screen protector and a plastic case, this is just extra insurance and hopefully a fashion statement.
 It is a true learning experience.  Let me share the journey with you!

Yeoman Fifty-fifty (white) and mill end acrylic boucle.
leather scraps from an old sofa

Whoa! You say.  " Why is she trying to felt acrylic?"

ANSWER: I have experience with knitting a cardigan sweater with the 50-50 yarn that hubby threw into the dryer.  I knew it would felt.  I also have experience with yarns in fairaisle felting at different rates, leaving a touchable texture, and wanted to get this effect.  Plus, it was what I had available.

You say "I don't have a sofa to take apart" 

ANSWER: Be creative.  Go to a thrift shop and find an old purse to use.

Thread: Coats and Clark Heavy Duty
Stabilizer: tear-away scraps left over from machine embroidery project
Trim/ Hardware: Magnetic snaps, zipper, chain, D-rings, snaps


Brother KH-930
Vintage White Sewing machine

Step 1.  Decide how much fabric will be needed.  Sketch basic design, and measure tablet.  Figure on about 25% shrinkage.  I skipped the sketching because I had an idea in my head.  Relying on my memory did cause a problem later.

Step 2. KNIT the fairaisle piece. I used built in stitch pattern 10 from Stitch world, but after knitting a swatch, decided I wanted something bolder and knitted the fabric double- high and double-wide. Bind off.

Step 3. FELT the piece. I used standard laundry detergent in our front-loading washer and dryer.  I put it through three cycles before getting the density I wanted.  My original idea was to sew up the flat piece before felting, and insert a plastic block (made from cutting board) to keep the shape.  I had a suggestion from a fellow knitter just to make a flat piece and cut to size after felting, so this is the approach I chose. It seems to felt better if other laundry, like towels, are included in the load, to provide abrasion.

Step 4. Add the leather trim and sew the basic bag.  Since I've really never sewn leather on my machine before, I should have started with my swatch, but I forged ahead anyway. 
   a. I chose to use the vintage cast-iron machine because I didn't want to break any plastic gears in the newer machines.  They don't make them like they used to!
   b. I made sure to use a leather needle and heavy duty thread.
   c.  I used a long stitch length, the longest the sewing machine would support.
   d.  Trim the leather so the edges are straight.
   e. Sew the trim to bag. Sew with leather side up. Use tear- away stabilizer under the fabric to keep it from stretching.
f. Sew the side seam.  Oops, that was supposed to be a center back seam.  That is why I should have made a sketch first.  I can live with it.
g.  Turn inside out and test the fit. Oops again.  Guess I should have measured the leather. Can't live with this.  Good thing I have a whole sofa's worth of leather.  Actually now I am seeing this together, not sure if I like this leather with this fabric.  The leather has gold undertone and the boucle yarn has more of a silver undertone.

h. back to the drawing board.  

i. Right away I see design flaw.  If the flap is attached to the back, it will need to be cut out and attached separately.  Maybe best to make entire flap out of leather.
j. By fitting the plastic block to my bag, I realized I will need a lining.  The fairisle floats are not entirely fasted down, and are snagging on the corners of the block when I try to insert it.

I will come back later and report on the (hopeful) success or failure of this project.  

Meanwhile, I am working on getting familiar with my circular sock machine. I hade a wonderful lesson from a fellow CSM owner and am starting to be more confident. I am also feeling happy because I have been learning to darn socks.  I started a Pinterest board on mending, darning, and repairing things. More to come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I am sorry for the delay in posting.

I recently had a couple of  surgeries which haved caused me some "downtime" while I recover.

I've been adding to my library in Ravelry - my Ravelry ID is Brightmeadow.

There don't seem to be a lot of machine knitting publications already in their database, but I have found a few.  I have several years worth of KnitWords hardcopy magazine on my (real world) bookshelf.  I also have the digital version that Mary Anne Oger published when she closed the magazine, if I can find the CD. It is somewhat clumsy to add  the magazine covers by photographing them, and then rotating the photo 90 degrees, then uploading it to Ravelry.  It would be really good to know if others have already posted these.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pokeweed natural dye

We were at the farm over the weekend and, although it was raining, I delighted to discover that the pokeweed berries had not totally dried up and blown away.  I picked them from two plants and brought them home.  I wound off and mordanted one pound of DK weight with cider vinegar.  I heated the pokeberries up in several quarts of water until the berries burst when the water was almost boiling. Then I threw in most of the ice from the icemaker in my freezer to get the dyebath back to room temperature.  Added the wet, mordanted yarn to the dyebath and brought it back to simmer, then let it cool and finally hung outside to dry.  I am pleased with the color, but we will see how light-fast it turns out to be!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Full STEAM ahead

On a lark, I signed up for a class at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.  The class meets on a weeknight, so it is a stretch for me to drive across the state to attend and then back again for work the next day, but so far, I am managing it. 

The title of the class is "Inside the Studio" and the subject matter is a peek into the studios and lives of artists who exhibited at the FED gallery at KCAD during the recent exhibition of The land of Here and Now.

When I first walked into the gallery, I was amazed to see a giant beach blanket that I knew at first glance just had to have been machine-knit, so I felt right at home.

The instructor, Eliza Fernand, was the host of the artist residency program which was the subject of the exhibition.  She was the co-curator of the exhibition.  She is fellow textile artist, a quiltmaker, and is amazing.  

Last night she shared some local events with us that are directly related to machine knitting: Knit It, in Grand Rapids, and a maker pop-up event in Detroit.

If I get anything out of this class, it is going to be that I have the RIGHT to call myself a fiber artist, there is no exam to pass or portfolio to amass.   

Our assignment this week is to find inspirations to post on our vision boards in the classroom.
I've posted my 1-hour prayer shawl and my pink-and-purple sweater and swatches for it, so far.  I want to post the following:
  1. TKGA Machine Master's Program
  2. Fashion Illustration course
  3. Fashion sketches - plus-size
  4. Pattern from Sewing expo
  5. Zaragoza photos
  6. Woodland Native American quillwork inspirations for shawl
    1. swatch - felt
    2. swatch - applique of fine knit a la Mariette
    3. swatch - couched design
  7. Create Pattern designs for publication
  8. Write magazine article
  9. Publish this blog!
  10. Inspirations - slow versus fast
  11. Inspirations - industrial versus domestic
  12. Inspirations - tension between present and the past
  13. Inspirations - physical versus virtual
  14. STEAM education (Science Technology Engineering Art Math)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

maker Fair

Ed and I went to Maker Faire at Henry Ford Museum today.  I was hoping to find other machine knitters and did not.  However I did find TNNA giving away drop spindles.  Laura, who was sight-impaired, helped me with my drop-spindle spinning.  I think she helped quite a bit.  I probably will never be proficient at drop-spindle spinning, however.

When we got home I tried to do a tuck-stitch version of the one-hour prayer shawl with ladder yarn.  It is not working so I am giving up for today.
At the Monroe seminar, Diana Berns demonstrated the 1-hour prayer shawl technique.  Basically, this:

Set two needles at left of bed to working position and one needle a distance away (for fringe).  E-wrap cast on and hang weights.  Knit, increasing one stitch on right every two rows. When you reach the width the shawl should be, set the carriage for hold and hold one stitch on the right every two rows.  When you are back down to one stitch, start putting one needle back into work every two rows.  When you reach the end, start decreasing one stitch on right every two rows.  When back down to one, cast off one stitch.  Block before or after "unworking" the fringe.

I did this with a cone of my all-natural yarn.  Decide the angle was too narrow on a stockinette stitch.  Thinking about embellishments, perhaps an Iriquois-insprired woodland theme? Or perhaps a Spanish Mantilla?