Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cast offs - no pun intended

Someone posted on the machine knit list, asking why people, finding out she is a knitter, give her their unwanted sweaters. Do they want her to wear them? Unravel them? Use them for inspiration?

I asked why she isn't using them to make felted bags. I found this sweater at Goodwill and took it home to make it my own. Two complete cycles in the washer/dryer (Hot wash, cold rinse) plus an extra drying cycle shrunk and felted the vest down to at least half its original size. I liked the ruffly effect of the original ribbing, so decided to leave it at the opening. I used a leftover upholstery fabric for the lining. It is completely suitable because of the satiny finish and the tight weave. The zippered pocket on the inside was added as an afterthought so probably could have been engineered much better. The handles are attached by machine stitching to the lining, and then the lining simply hem-stitched inside the bag. This is my first felted bag, it was a fun, quick project. I used a sweater donated to Goodwill, but it would be simple to create fairaisle yardage on the knitting machine for felting, then you would have complete control over the colors.

Except for the handles, which were purchased on clearance for 50 cents, this bag was made completely of recycled materials. The zipper for the pocket was reused from an old pair of jeans. The zipper was a little sticky, from sitting around for several years. I used a little Lori-Lynn machine lube spray on it and now it glides back and forth effortlessly.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trekking socks

Still "frogging" the hand-knit sock. Oh well, it was good practice.

I found that when doing the short-rowing for the heels and toes for some reason the stitches in position B tended not to knit, the carriage simply laid the yarn over the needles but did not pull it through. I have both carriages at tension 6 which results in a closely-knit sock, but is possibly contributing to this problem. I will need to ask the experts on the machine knit list why this is happening to me. A work-around that I found is, on each row, to use my tool to pull the needles to position "D" -making sure that the needles are far enough forward so that the stitches are behind the open latches. This is shown on the right side of the main bed in the photo below. The stitches on the left are in front of the open latches, and if not pulled forward, may not knit. It is much more tedious to hand-pull every stitch on every row than to hand-knit on four needles, so I want to be sure to do this on every row!

I finished the second sock in time to sew up the toe and the side seam of the ribbing while watching the State of the Union address.
Tomorrow I am going to look for the pair of antique sock-stretchers that I used to have around here somewhere. I will block the socks if I can find them.

Knitting for Peace/Knitting for Charity

Some web sites I have come across:

Ships Project -- www.theshipsproject.com -- for soldiers in Iraq
Red Sweaters -- www.redsweaters.org -- memorial tiny sweaters (look for mine!)
afghans for Afghans --- www.afghansforAfghans.org
Shawl Ministry -- www.shawlministry.com
Sheila's Shawls -- www.silentwitness.net -- healing shawls
Warm Up America -- www.warmupamerica.com
Hugs for Homeless Animals -- www.h4ha.org
Native Elders -- www.anelder.org
Knit for Her Cure -- www.knitforhercure.com
cancer Chemocaps -- www.chemocaps.com
List of organizations with charitable knitting projects -- http://www.interweave.com/knit/charities.asp

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The road to hell is paved.....

with good intentions, and I really planned on working on that sock today. But instead I sewed labels on the scarves (Drat! I forgot to take the girls' pictures before they left with scarves around their necks!), I packed up some old handknitting patterns and sent to some farmgirl friends, made peanut butter cookies, cooked dinner, dug carrots out of the frozen garden, did my daughter's taxes (short form!), sorted out some more knitting patterns, and generally fiddled around ALL DAY LONG and did not sit down at the knitting machine for even 1 minute. hmmmm.

I have incentive to get that sock finished - I was the winning bidder a few days ago on eBay for two skeins of Wildfoote Sock yarn, color JUNGLE, dye lot 006. I NEEDED that yarn, because I knit one and three-quarters socks with that yarn plied with a lightweight cotton. Then I RAN OUT of the one skein I had previously purchased at my LYS on clearance.... And I need to finish the sock I have on the machine before rehanging the previous unfinished sock. Because I KNOW in my heart of hearts if I take this sock off the machine, unfinished, it will become a UFO forever.

Knitting Gifts and Girlfriends

One of my new friends from Mary Jane's Farmgirl Connection sent me this lovely package for our Hot Socks and Coffee exchange- there was more chocolate but I must have been cocoa-deprived or something!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I've been knitting socks

I've knitted several pairs of socks now that were quite satisfactory of the lilac acrylic. I'm wearing a pair right now!

The ribbing is fun, transferring the stitches to start the main part of the foot is tedious, but - then I get to start the motor drive! 40 rows round and round, then shape the heel, then 120 rows, then shape the toe. I've decided I like the top of the toe seam the best - the short row shaping at the sides makes a seamless toe area. Nothing to hurt!
Next I decided to re-knit a pair of socks that I handknit last year, following a published pattern, that turned out to be way too big. Nothing worse than a sock that doesn't stay on your feet. The socks had ony been through the washer and dryer about 4 times so they weren't felted too bad, and unknit fairly easily. I have heard that you are supposed to stretch and steam the yarn before re-using it but I found it worked OK just unknitting and re-knitting. The tension in the mast was satisfactory to straighten the yarn enough to knit. I've long since thrown away the label from the yarn (hmmm. Note to self - start that knitting journal! with samples!) but I think it was TREKKING XXX yarn.
OK, no swatching necessary. I've already knitted this yarn. The yarn size is about the same as the two strands of acrylic, no? I'll use the same number of stitches/rows.
Can you guess what happened? Yes, the first sock came out too small. The second one is on the machine right now. The ribbing is done and it is ready to transfer the stitches from the flat ribbing to the circular foot. I'm frustrated with this project. All that lovely hand-knitting, the beautifully turned heel.... all gone.
As queen of the UFO's, though.... I will move on. I will take a break here and knit two lovely scarves for my daughters. The youngest gets a red "Whisper" from Patons and the oldest gets a blue/lavender "Bling-Bling"
from Bernat. Since they are coming over tomorrow for dinner I want to get them done today.




I used the bulky machine, every other needle, having previously been warned that a furry yarn such as these could not be knitted on every needle. I cast on an e-wrap cast on over 17 stitches. I hand-pulled the first few rows through the needles so that I had something to hang the weights on. I did not feed either yarn through the mast tension dial, although I used the rest of the mast, and I changed the carriage to the ribber yarn feeder so that the nubs wouldn't get hung up in the carriage. As I knitted each row, I pulled the end needles out to the "E" position and hung heavy ribber weights at the side, else the yarn did not knit on the end needles. Before knitting the row, I inspected to make sure there were no stitches dropped. Although both yarns were lumpy, I found that the "Bling-Bling" yarn did not drop stitches nearly as frequently as the "Whisper". (I found dropped stitches on almost every row using the "Whisper" yarn). I hand-knitted the dropped stitches, and repeated until I ran out of yarn. Each scarf took 2 balls of yarn, and I found that the "Bling-Bling" made a nice length scarf and the Whisper was just a little short. Tomorrow I'll see if I can get them to model their scarves!