Saturday, 24 January 2009
Dusting off the knitting machine
I used to be a machine knitter. I was really into it for about 4 years, from 2000-2003. By that time, the hobby was on its last legs in the UK, and I was able to pick up all sorts of machines and kit quite cheaply. Then we moved, and I had to put it all into storage for almost a year. By the time it was all out again I'd forgotten a lot of the more complicated stuff. I gave away several machines and sold another couple, and now I have three left, which I rarely use.
But I dusted my Brother 881 off this week, and knit this little baby jumper for a work colleague who has had a little girl. It's from an old Machine Knitting News, the 1989 No 2 Baby Collection, and is all done on the machine, in 4-ply acrylic. It felt good to be machining again, except for the frustrating parts where I made stupid mistakes because I haven't used the machine for so long. It is a drop shoulder, which is why the arms look a bit stubby. I'm not entirely convinced that machine knitting is that much faster than handknitting really, especially when you make mistakes. It takes a while to punch the card, get all the yarns set up on the machine, do all the colour changing, set up the ribber for the ribbing bands etc. I suppose the difference is that once you have all that set up, you could knit several jumpers one after the other quite easily, if you wanted to for some reason. And it would definitely be faster if you were just knitting plain in one colour, because you can knit a whole row in just seconds. Now that I am a hand knitter too, I am becoming a bit of a yarn snob who looks down on all my cones of acrylic machine knitting yarn, but I need to use them up.
I was contemplating putting my last quilt top onto the frame, when I remembered the two landscape pictures I made in a workshop at Sisters last year in the 'Accidental Landscapes' class. So I've put one of those on the frame instead and am quilting it. It's a bit of work because lots of starts and stops, so each time I have to bring up the bobbin thread and fasten the two threads off to avoid getting a bird's nest on the back when I start, but it is going well. Lots of thread colour changes as each fabric is quilted in matching thread. That's how the tutor does it, rather than using invisible thread, it gives more texture and 'painting' to the picture. The mountain tops have a bit of angelina fibre to make them glisten.
The dungarees I am knitting for my teddy bear are just about finished, I will snap a pic for next week. Thursday night at the I-knit shop knitting group, I cast on for 'Hey Teach' in my pink Rowan Summer Tweed. I am once again knitting the fronts and back in the round as it is plain stockinet up to the armholes. Good tv knitting. Dh's tie is coming along, more than halfway in length now, but it is so boring to knit on that I can only do it for short periods.
I don't think I said that Swooze got her socks, they fit great and she is really pleased with them.
I bought the new UK knitting magazine, 'The Knitter', last week. It is aimed at the more experienced knitter, and I think is intended to be a UK answer to Vogue Knitting or Interweave Knits. I was curious so bought the first issue but on the whole I wasn't that impressed. First of all it cost £5.99, which was a bit of a shock. Second, I was wondering why the man's jacket looked familiar then I saw that it was reprinted from an old Rowan book (42) that I already have, and it turns out that no fewer than six of the patterns in the magazine are actually reprints from other published books or pattern leaflets, not original designs. Of the couple of original patterns, one by Di Gilpin looks rather unblocked and homemade. So on the whole, not worth £5.99 and definitely not a competitor for Vogue Knitting. Perhaps it will get better, but I am not tempted to subscribe at this point.
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