Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cranky knitters and dye experiment

Yesterday I attended the Cranky Knitters Rodeo for circular sock machine knitters that was hosted at the Heritage Spinning and Weaving store in Lake Orion.  It was a lot of fun and I got to see my mentor, Christine Smith, who got me started with my CSM after I let it sit in the corner for a year.   I am still having trouble getting the ribber adjusted but I have been cranking out socks.  Visit my Ravelry projects page to see them.  

There was talk of other possible CSM gatherings.  Evidently there is an invitation-only one in Southwest Michigan that occurs annually.   Also we talked about the Michigan knitting machine that meets in Chelsea once a month on Mondays during the day, and the fiber meeting that is once a month in Allenton, MI (just a few miles from me) at the studio of Anne Tullet. I talked about organizing a KMer to KMer meeting locally to meet once a quarter.  July is probably not a good month because of vacations, and August is the Michigan Fiber Fest, so maybe September would be the first opportunity.

Today I finished up my experiment with dyeing. I purchased some excess acid dyes from River's Edge Fiber Arts and got several colors.  Last week I had thrown a full cone with the cardboard core and everything into the dyepot with 1/3 package of "bronze green". I used 1/3 of a package because I thought that most of the dye would be absorbed by the outside third of the 1 lb. cone.  I was entranced with the result.  The outside of the cone is a deep color, and the inner cone only has flecks of color at the top and bottom of the cone.  Afterward I decided to overdye the skein (1 lb. skein) to get more green into the core yarn,  and unfortunately, the color pooled and muddied, and I lost the beautiful effect.

Yesterday I tossed two cones in the dye pot, added some more vinegar, used the remaining 2/3 envelope of the dye, and now I have two cones that match.  My plan is to start with front of sweater with dark yarn, continue up to the neckline, then start knitting sleeves from top down, ending up with the lightest-color yarn at the wrists.

I am very happy with this result.  The yarn is dark, dark green, almost black on the beginning, fading to a bronze "camoflauge effect, and from there the base color appears to be mint green.  The mint eventually fades to ivory but the dark spots continue to appear, where  the yarn was wound on the top and bottom of the cone.  The yarn weight is fingering and is 90% wool, 10% nylon - it was originally intended for sock yarn.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Optional finishing for Brightmeadow's Tea Cozy

So after publishing my tea cozy pattern yesterday (here's a picture of the result)

I reviewed some other tea cozies that were "traditional British" style, and the thing I noticed the most was that the colored ridges appear to be pleated, and the stripes appear to be done in garter stitch plus fairisle.   The pleasing style is epitomized by Sarah Neal on her Ravelry pattern.  The pattern I created yesterday was NOT pleated and NOT garter stitch.  I will not be able to achieve the garter stitch look without hand-reforming stitches.  This would take longer than knitting it by hand in the first place!

But the pleating!  In hand knitting, the knitter pulls the float tight as the colors are exchanged, during the knitting, to achieve the pleated look.  This is not possible on the machine, because adjusting the tension would adjust it for both the stitches and the floats. 

But I realized last night that I could tighten the floats after the fact to achieve the pleated effect, by latching them up. Since I didn't like the effect of the bottom border, I started the latch up by selecting one of the cast-on stitches and latching up the entire column of floats.

When I got to the top, I let the loop hang and pulled it through a stitch to it's left. 
This step could be avoided by doing the latch up with the cozy still on the machine, just hang the top stitch on the open needle. 

I like the effect, it neatens up the tea cozy and adds to its insulation value by providing extra thickness.  The pleated effect is much more apparent now, and the bottom edge looks neater.  It is a bit smaller and had to stretch a little more to get around the teapot, so I think if I make it again I will add another 8 stitches (cast on 46-0-46) to give it more room.

Because of the additional stretch factor, the opening for the handle is now a large gap.   Sp I will probably add a button, hook and eye,  or Velco tab to latch it closed.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Machine-Knit Tea Cozy

Tea cozies are great! I have been enjoying Rooibos tea lately, several different varieties, and I treated myself to a new teapot.  To bring out the flavor of the tea, and all the good medicinal value, pour boiling water over the tea leaves, (my new pot has a built-in infuser) and then allow to steep for at least 5 minutes. 

Head over to my Pinterest page and see the ones I've collected, or go to ravelry and do a search for them there. 

I looked for machine-knitted tea cozy pattern on Ravelry and only found one.  It was knitted "around" the tea cozy, and I was looking for one to knit top-to-bottom. 

While I was there on Ravelry, I found a hand-knitted free pattern by stinkymum for a "proper" English tea cozy, so I thought it would be fun to adapt it for machine knitting. 

My directions below for my prototype are VERY loosely based on her design, which is a traditional English tea cozy. I sized it by eye, thinking I would need to make some adjustments for the "next" one.  I used some old acrylic yarn left over from other projects.    I hope you enjoy it!

Brightmeadow's Machine Knit Peppermint "Proper English" Tea Cozy.

Machine: Brother 260 (punchcard patterning)
Yarn:  Acrylic worsted
Main Tension: 8


Find or make a punchcard that has a 4-on/4-off row on it.  Insert in machine and lock on that row.  Test by knitting air for a few rows: Set the carriage to KC -1, pull out some needles to WP, take the carriage past the turn mark, and make sure your needles are selected  so that every four needles are in upper working position and the next four are in lower working position. 

Cast on and knit lower edge:

COR. Pull out needles 42-0-42.   In MC, use a crochet cast on, very loosely.  Hang cast-on comb.  T8. Knit 4 rows. (Note: I tend to cast on too tightly so I ended up knitting 2 rows by hand so that the carriage would pass.) Make sure you pass the turn mark and set carriage to KC1.  Knit one row.  Needles are selected.

Knit body:
Put CC in carriage and push in MC button.  Set row counter to 0.  Knit 3 rows to establish pattern..  COR.
Split for teapot handle and knit right half:
Put needles left of 0 in hold.  Set carriage to Hold. Hang weights on right side.  Begin knitting and knit 27 rows.  Push carriage past left side of knitting.  Leave 10-inch tails, cut yarn. 

Knit left half:
Make sure both yarns are threaded in carriage.  Put needles on left side into working position as dictated by pattern with CC needles in lower WP and MC needles in upper WP.  Put needles on right in hold.  Knit 28 rows. COL.

Join and knit top edge:

Return all needles to appropriate working position following established pattern.  Knit 3 rows.  Cut CC and set carriage to knit normally with only MC.  Remove hold button and turn from KC1 to  .  Make eyelets by transferring every other needle to adj. needle. T6.  Leave empty needles out of work.  Knit 7 rows, COR.  If desired, latch up threads to form 1x1 rib.  Latch tool bind off.


Make 2.5-3 foot I-cord from CC yarn, over 5 stitches using slip setting.  Weave ends into the cord and trim.  Weave I-cord in and out of the eyelets, gathering the top, and tie a bow.
Weave in ends if you did not do so previously, leaving 1 at top and bottom for sewing up seam.  Fit the cozy over the intended teapot so that the opening in the middle fits over the hand. Use yarn scraps to mark the stitches above and below the teapot spout which should be the end of the seam, leaving an opening for the spout. Sew seams.  Weave in ends. 

Next time:

I think I would prefer a hung hem (possibly picot) to the crochet cast-on edge. Or else a ribbed edging.   The edge on my prototype rolls quite a bit, exacerbated because the cozy is just a few rows longer than the teapot is tall.  I would knit 25 rows instead of 27 for the body.  Next time I will use wool rather than acrylic. 

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!