Monday, July 27, 2015

Nothing new under the sun - or, Everything New under the sun!

At last weekend's knitting machine seminar in Monroe, I picked up some old magazines that were offered for "donation". 

These old magazines contain a wealth of information from the heyday of machine knitting back in the 1970's through the 1990's. Even though the styling is dated, the techniques used can be applied today.

 For example, Machine Knit America Vol 2 from Fall of 1992 contained a short article about a "plaid" fairisle pattern designed by Barbara Pavack, owner of the Knitting Hide-a-way in Issaquah, WA.  I checked, the shop is not listed online currently.  The technique involved alternating rows of blocks of color with rows containing 'striped stripes'.  Think of the checks on a gingham fabric and perhaps you can visualize.
Here is the general idea of the repeat:


Her article mentioned that with this pattern, there are endless variations of this stitch pattern that could be used for design possibilities, including color changes, alternating the rows with different colors, using a bulky instead of a standard gauge machine, using the "reverse" button on an electronic machine.  I suppose you could use the double length buttons as well for a different look. 

Barbara mentions that her design was adapted from a purchased man's sweater. Each new variation, in essence, is a new design.

There was an accompanying coat design in a turquoise, shades of gray, and pink color.  Even though I would not make the exact shape of the garment today, I would definitely consider making the sweater in a different colorway, with a shorter length. This would make it a cardigan rather than a coat jacket.  The length of the design was 33.5 - 34.5.  I would cut about 6 or seven inches off that.  Then the shoulder was a modified drop and the accompanying photo looked as if shoulder pads might have been inserted.  They did that back in the 80's and 90's!  I would set the shoulder in slightly more, which would mean removing a few rows from the sleeve and adding those rows back to the sleeve head area.   In addition the pattern called for a cording trim which I would probably omit.  The yarn called for in the original design was Bramwell Roseknit.  Checking Ravelry, I can find out that it is a fingering superwash 100% wool put up on cones.

So, in summary, modify the plaid stitch pattern to suit my taste, modify the schematic to match a more current silhouette and my shape, choose different colors and a currently available yarn, make a gauge swatch to apply the measurements and convert to stitches and rows, and I'll be done! I will have designed a "derivative" design through inspiration from Barbara Pavack.  (Oops, forgot about the knitting, finishing, blocking, and sewing up!)

Or alternatively, design the stitch pattern in Design-A-Knit, apply it to one of my existing garment shapes, make the gauge swatch, recalculate, and away we go!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New-to-me machines

I have been busy rescuing machines from the landfill.  Not literally, but I have bought several who might have otherwise gone there recently!

I am now the proud owner of  a Superba, a Passap, a BEST, an 8-button Brother, a Toyota, and a Singer.  These were in an estate sale and none included manuals.

I also purchased a Home Profit circular sock machine a few months ago. 

Before that I found a deal on a Brother portable machine with a folding, plastic bed.  Lightweight but standard size machine.  Only manual patterning. 

I will be very busy learning the features of these machines.  I won an e-Bay auction for the hardcopy Pattern Book for the 8-button machine, it arrived well-loved and I am happy to have it.

I hope to feature each of the machines in upcoming blog posts.


I came back from the 27th annual Monroe Machine Knitting seminar charged up and ready to finish my sweater! (too bad I did not get it finished in time to show it off!)

Here is a sneak peak at the yarn:

There are two strands of about a 2/24 acrylic.  I purchased this yarn in a plastic bag labeled Mill Ends.  I should know better.  I got the first half of the sweater knitted when I realized that half the bag was balls with two strands, and the other half of the bag was balls of 1-strand yarn. 
So today, in addition to the crochet cast-on and the 128 rows of stockinette I completed, I also wound four balls, first re-winding the ball into a cake, and from there, winding the two cakes into a larger cake.  I only hope the gauge does not vary too much from ball to ball.
I was having trouble with loops on left side of carriage.  I am guessing it is because I am using the full bed and the end needles which I normally do not get much use from.  Probably I am not pushing evenly across the bed.   So I got to practice the technique of "fast ripping" that was demonstrated at the seminar!
There were three sessions each day (Friday and Saturday) with four demonstrators at Monroe, Michigan this year:  Kathryn Doubrley (The Answer lady), Diana Sullivan from Austin. Texas, and a new pair of teachers from New York State, Barb Endler and Susan Adams. I was blessed to see many new-to-me techniques demonstrated, as well as tried-and-true ones. Truly I was blown away by Diana Sullivan's lace scarves, which she demonstrated.  She was kind enough to include instructions for one in the seminar handout.  Susan's explanation of WHY the knitting machine patterns the way it does was also helpful in inspiring future experimenting.
Thanks once again to Cathy Reaume and all of her helpers for organizing this.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to attend seminars in-state.
Several of us from Northern Macomb, St. Clair, and Northern Oakland counties were talking about organizing a meet-up for later in the fall. Maybe October?