Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A bigger version

Trying out the different technologies to put photos on a blog. I wonder if this gives  better definition of the penguins?  Click on the image for a much closer view.
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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I found it!


I thought that this photo had mysteriously vanished from my files. I'm so happy to have found my favourite machine knit group project. And a Southern hemisphere festive icon.

It was displayed at the last MKAV Seminar, in the Club Projects competition. (yes, there is another coming up. and the Brunswick club can put in our own entry if we are strong enough) Due to the tyranny of democracy it did not win the popular vote - the display from the largest club took out that honour. The numerically strong and stylistically daring Moonee Ponds group might have taken the popular vote with Barbie and Ken and friends all kitted out in winter woollies, frolicing in the snow, except that it is known that several members gave their votes to the penguins.

If anyone wants to worry about whether machine knitting counts as hand made, just consider these penguins. All made from the same pattern, by different knitters on different machines, using whatever scraps of suitably coloured yarn came to hand. Each penguin a distinctive character.

Made by the knitters in Elaine's East Malvern club, concept developed by Joan.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A Christmas project

If you are related to me, and geographically close, you are almost certainly going to get a scarf for Christmas. Provided I keep up my one completed project a day pace. I'm already a day behind, but the day is barely middle aged.

Being in the southern half of the planet, it is best to take into account the summer solstice, and make something that can be worn in hot weather.
A perfect project is the floating squiggles scarf, invented by Angela McGregor, energetic and creative machine knitter, and current President of the MKAV.

This is the version I made immediately after Angela made her rust and mustard version on a bulky machine loosest tension

My black and pink version is made on a standard gauge knitting machine, using every second needle. It could just as well be hand knitted, but in that case I would use garter stitch and large needles.

The yarns used are Avril Silk / Stainless steel, and Habu Nerimaki. These are available in Melbourne from Dairing and from other retailers both local and international.

The stainless steel yarn holds its interesting memory characteristics. The cotton yarn does not weigh it down used so sparingly, and it shows off the beauty of the thick and thin slub yarn. And it is super easy.
Here is the pattern, for anyone in need of a quick but interesting gift project.

Cast on 41 stitches
Knit with loosest tension, stocking stitch
Every 3rd row, add the Nerimaki into the yarn feeder, remove at the end of the row
Knit 300 rows, give or take
Cast off

Notes. Don't break the decorative thread, just take it out of the yarn feeder and hitch it over the end of the machine until you pick it up again a couple of rows later.

If you are using a retail sized cone of the stainless yarn, Just knitting to the end of the cone gives a reasonable length for the scarf. The Nerimaki will go a long way used in this pattern. You might get two scarves out of it.

The compliments of the season to you all

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

spreading the virus

Hello there, let me introduce myself. I'm a new machine knitter and right now I am doing my very best to pass on the machine knitting virus. Not that machine knitting is new, and not that it really needs me, but ever since my Singer 321 found its way from the op shop to me, the disease has taken hold and is spreading.

I really wasn't looking to catch a new craft affliction. I have plenty of work managing my sewing and hand knitting disabilities, as well as the occasional period recovering from forays into more obscure craft lands, but this one got me when my resistance was down and I am beginning to suspect it might be a disease with no cure.

And now it seems quite a few of my friends have been struck down and like the enabler I have always been, I am now sourcing machines and yarn and passing on details of clandestine Tuesday night knitting sessions for fellow sufferers.

I am also doing my best to try and come up with helpful ways to ease the passage through the early stages of infection, the time when everything is exciting but also kind of scary and overwhelming. When so much more is unknown than known and when our minds start to fight the infection with every minor frustration.

Persistence is the key, but so too is company. I feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Association, and Christine in particular for helping me keep the faith, solve problems, clean the machine, lend expertise and share many hours of companionable knit talk.

I'm buying up coned and lace weight yarns like there's no tomorrow and just loving seeing all the different fabrics the machine can make. Right now I'm hard at work on my first proper garment and I'm already planning a second. I can't wait to publish the patterns on Ravelry and see others try them too.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Machine Knitting in Public

New knitter explores the mysteries of tuck stitch

Those of us who like to meet knitting friends at Stitch and Bitch groups find that some venues just don't like us much. We take up space, talk for hours and maybe we don't put enough money into the business for the time and space used. 
Imagine the consternation if we were to turn up at a pub and clamp our machines to their tables! 
Despite MKAV President Angela's threats to turn up at a Stitch and Bitch, plastic machine under one arm, so far we have restricted our Machine Knitting in Public excursions to craft shows.
Our next MKIP will be at the Craft Expo 7 -10th October at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton.  Brunswick novices may like to be part of the demonstration. Come for a day, or just an hour or two.


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The machine just doesn't like it

Last night Sooz spent the evening locked in a battle of wills with a couple of different cotton yarns. The yarns won.

With the benefit of a night's sleep, and warm water flowing over my head to lubricate my thought processes, I think I have identified the critical issue.
The yarn was not flowing freely enough.. Now I know Sooz kept saying, "Look, there is no tension at all, and it is still stuck!" With the benefits of the previously mentioned aids to clear thought, and the experience of trying to remove the knitting from the needles last night, I see that the problem was too much tension on the yarn in the previous row.
So when knitting with cotton yarn with no 'give', make sure the yarn has every encouragement to co-operate with the machine to make good stitches.
1. Make sure the yarn flows unhindered through the tension mast., If the yarn is not flowing freely, rewind or at least unravel a few meters so there is no tension coming from the ball.
2. Move the carriage slowly enough for the stitches to form properly in the rigid yarn. If the springy bit of the tension mast uses up all its travel, you are going too fast.
3. If you use a silicone spray, it will be more evenly distributed over the  yarn if it is on a cone or a wound cake. Because there are edges where the yarn passes every turn, there will be a bit of lubrication every few inches.
So Sooz, if you are strong enough, we will have another go at those cottons and see if the people win next time.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

It will all come out in the wash

Years ago, I read in one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's writings, that she used to think that all the knitters in the past produced wonderfully even work. Then she noticed that with time and washing, all knitting gets to look splendidly regular, no matter how uneven the work was straight off the needles.
She was of course referring to hand knitting, but the effect of time and washing is even more critical to machine knitting. Most times I don't consider machine knitting finished until the pieces have been given a good tug, and washed, to settle the stitches into the shape they will hold ever after. How many times have I known someone hanker after a bigger gauge machine because they don't like the way the stitches form on every other needle on a standard gauge machine? Someone bought around a few well washed swatches of machine knitted industrial cashmere. The most satisfactory swatch, with the most perfectly shaped stitches, had been knitted on every other needle. That tell tale small stitch, big gap, EON stitch shape had transformed in the wash so that you would never pick it for every other needle knitting

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The blog begins!

This blog exists to give a public voice to the Brunswick machine knitting novices - officially a club of the Machine Knitters Assoc of Victoria. The blog has a handy calendar to give us a reference point for our activities and other events of interest to us.
In the absence of a network of machine dealerships, an association is the best available resource of practical assistance with knitting technique and machine problems. Our group exists to form a conduit to pass the collective experience of long established knitters on to a new generation of machine enthusiasts. Being part of the association also takes care of the liability issues involved in taking part in public events.
Despite being part of a formal association, this is an informal group. Some of us might sell our work, but even if we do, we are in this for the satisfaction of creation. It is not school, where we have to pass tests, it's not work where we have to conform to an employer's directions and time frames, and it's not a competition. Although anyone is free, nay, encouraged, to partake in the retro delights of competitive knitting at the Royal Melbourne, and other Shows.
Our friends Jules and Amy are about to embark for knitting camp in Stirling in Scotland, and then they are off to explore all the excitments to be found in hallowed knitting territory on the islands.
With luck they will find the time and the connections to keep us posted here.