Saturday, 6 October 2012

Autumn and time for some quilting

There's definitely an Autumnal hint in the air now, and I've been wearing a lightweight woolly hat and my fingerless gloves in the mornings to work. On 1 October I hung my autumnal and Hallowe'en quilts around the house, to enjoy until the end of the month.  It's nice to be wearing the woollies again, but when I put away my summer clothes under the bed, I realised I hadn't even worn some of them.  It was such a cool and rainy summer.

This week I have knit 1.75 fingers on my Wedgewood Glove and have knit the button band on my Cityscape Cardigan.  I tried a few different buttonholes on a sample and couldn't come up with any that wouldn't gape because the buttonholes are vertical.  So I made a trip to McCulloch and Wallis on my lunch hour, which is a big haberdashery store just off Oxford Street, and picked up some cotton grosgrain ribbon to back the bands with.  Hopefully I can line up buttonholes in the grosgrain with the knitted buttonholes and stop them gaping so much. In the end I used the one-row buttonhole from an Elizabeth Zimmerman video that I have, which seems sturdy but still gapes under sideways pressure.

Commuter knitting has been the Ginkgo/Gingko Shawl  (I can never remember how to spell that) and I am just knitting the final full unit (21st).  Once that is done, I will start the seven partial units.  I've been reading ahead about the method for sewing the units together, which sounds dreadful and involves trying to stitch curved edges to live stitches held on a straight needle. There aren't many projects on Ravelry for this, but two of those have chosen different sewing methods and I think I will as well.

Because it is October, I realised I finally had to stop procrastinating and get the quilt frame up, because otherwise it wouldn't be down in time for Christmas.  I don't want to wait until after Christmas because I am still hoping that we will be putting our house on the market next summer so we will be starting to prepare for that in the spring.

First job was to make room for the frame, by dismantling DH's desk and stashing it behind the dining table in the kitchen.

Next job was to find all the bits for the frame, which were variously squirrelled away in the attic, behind wardrobes, in cupboards and under beds.

Two hours later, after lots of perusing of directions and trying to differentiate between screws that were 2mm longer than other screws, we got to this stage:

I've stopped there for now because I'm exhausted.  Next step will be to get the Pfaff GrandQuilter machine out and give it an oil, and wind some bobbins.  DH was a big help, it's definitely a two person job putting this together.  Hopefully this week I will get the machine going and a practice top onto the frame to start recovering my quilting mojo.

Other mojo I have worked on recovering this week has been electronic knitting on my Brother 950i knitting machine - the one that I did the repair job on the power supply a few weeks ago.  Back in 2009 I blogged that I had fallen in love with the Alice Starmore design 'Marina' after seeing it at the I-Knit Weekender talk she gave.  I eventually bought the Jamieson Spindrift yarn to make a sleeveless pullover version (too expensive to get all the yarn for a cardigan) and the pattern in an old BBC book called This Morning Woolcraft (1993).  During some of my less busy periods at my last job, I slowly input the chart into Excel.  As it is 32 stitches by 68 rows, it doesn't translate to a 24-stitch punchcard so I knew it would have to be knit either by hand or by electronic knitting machine.  I'd had success knitting Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumperweight fair isle on my standard knitting machine and thought that was more likely to happen than me knitting this complicated design by hand.  

However, first I had to get the chart loaded into the electronic machine, which was more difficult than it sounds.  The first setback was when the knitting machine blew up in a puff of smoke.  The second was to get an Excel chart into a format that my antique Designaknit 6 would accept, so that I could subsequently load it via cable into the memory of the knitting machine.  This was so complicated that I can't even remember exactly how I did it now (as it was about 18 months ago).  I think I turned all the Excel pattern squares black, so I had a black and white pattern, and then converted that to a bitmap file.  I then converted the bitmap to something that Designaknit would read (can't remember what) and burned it onto a CD.  I took the CD out to the ancient computer in the knitting shed that has Designaknit and uploaded the chart which converted it to a .pat file.  And finally, after lots of hunting through the manuals to remind myself a) how to use the 950i knitting machine and b) how to use Designaknit, I managed to download the pattern to the machine last Sunday.  Hurrah!!  Then I knit a tension sample in just two colours.  I can see a couple of mistakes in the chart but hopefully I can just fix those in Designaknit.  The tension is coming out tighter than the ball band recommendation (35 st instead of 30) but the fabric feels ok.  

Then I had to write a pattern for a sleeveless pullover to match that tension.  I based the pattern on the KnitCamp vest which fits me fairly well, and did all the arithmetick to hopefully arrive at an accurate replica.  It's not quite ready yet, but soon I may even be able to start knitting this three year old project.  I'm tempted to see if I could knit a cardigan with the yarn I have, since the yarn quantities are for an enormous 80s style baggy cardigan, but I think I would actually wear a sleeveless pulllover more than a too-warm-for-the-office cardigan.  I've also gone through the 22 colours of yarn I was sent, and matched up all the substitutes to the outdated chart in the book, and then written down next to the chart which yarn colour to load in which feeder on the machine for each row.  I expect the actual knitting will actually take less time than all the preparation!

Hope you are all getting more crafting time now that the weather is getting cooler (or warmer if you are down under!).

1 comment:

FabShabbyRoses said...

OMGoodness when I found your blog with this title I knew i had to follow along! Kindred souls! I too have way too many interests and jump around constantly from one project to another! I just joined your blog this morning so will now read backwards in an attempt to catch up! Sincerely, carolyn

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