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.