Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The only reference you'll ever need?

Well, I couldn't possibly presume to tell you what you should prefer, but this is my present favourite reference. It crept up on me gradually. I bought it from Reynolds in Sydney, along with a few other books. I must have thought it looked promising, but it did languish forgotten for a while. But every now and then I'd look to clarify some technique or other, and find it useful. 
It proved to be particularly useful when I was roped in the demonstrate "Punch Lace", I was honoured in this way on the strength of having discovered, by accident, that 1x1 punch lace is an excellent way to add a depth and texture to an otherwise plain knit surface. The notes on Punch Lace in this book proved to be a most satisfactory basis for a comprehensive demonstration.

Once I noticed what a treasure I had, I wanted to find out some more about this woman. You can read about her life here Finding Regine .
As I see it, these are the elements that make this book so valuable here, and now.
  • It is written for the 24 stitch repeat punch card machine, specifically the Singer punch card machine. The machine a would be machine knitter is most likely to find in Melbourne.
  • It is written for the basic flat bed machine, without ribber or other accessories. Every technique discussed can be performed without any ancillary specialised equipment. 
  • Regine herself was not familiar with knitting machines when asked to set up a tertiary machine knitting course. Her expertise was in knitwear design. With the aid of a Singer technician, she kept one class ahead of her students. The beginner level of expertise dominates.
  • Although the book is not visually inspiring, apparently being a compilation of typed class notes, it is the work of a knitwear designer, focussing on the design implications of all the techniques explained.
  • A brisk work through this book would constitute a solid foundation in machine knitting. Those class notes are valuable lesson plans.

Never thought you would use Punch Lace?

Punch lace, also called Thread Lace, is an interesting technique, which as far as I know does not have a hand knit equivalent. It would be possible but probably too awkward to be worth the effort. It is similar to the Fair Isle technique, (called Knit In on the Singer machine). The difference is that one of the two yarns in the yarn feeder, the one in the front, 2 position, will knit all stitches. The other yarn will knit only those stitches corresponding to the blank places on the card.

Small pattern punch lace makes for interesting texture, with effects not unlike Plating. Choose cards with small runs of holes and blanks, Card ! and Card 7 are suitable. I like to use good quality natural yarn and fine silk.

This is a punch lace Alpaca Silk project using Card 1

Detail from the surface of the above Silk / Alpaca wrap

Wool and Silk. Card 7

Punch Lace, just like in the book.

 Choose cards with blank sections and no long runs of holes to minimise snagging.  The first example would need to be lined.. Cards 15 and 1 7 work well in this mode.

Card 17. Note that the background is the same punch pattern as Card 7

Candlewick, not lace at all

 An interesting thing to do with the technique.  With this technique choose cards with runs of holes to create long floats. After knitting, cut the floats to create candlewick effects. Card 12 works particularly well, both circulating and locked. Card 9 illustrated.
This effect is similar to Knitweave with cut floats, only in this version the the cut yarn is more securely knitted into the backing fabric.

Choose your own Punch Lace.

You can make Punch Lace featuring any shape you like by leaving the desired shape blank in a card otherwise punched out according to the pattern on Card 1 or Card 7. I have experimented with strips of sticky tape on Card 7. I imagine shapes cut out of Contact would work perfectly well. Although the possible effects of seeping stickiness should be considered.

Note that the design is a randomised version of Card 17 illustrated above. The photo of that card illustrates the structure of Card 7, useful if you do not have cards in the Studio / Singer / Knitmaster set

Monday, 30 December 2013

Friendly Cardigan construction revisited

Today I was asked to clarify some details about the Friendly Cardigan free pattern I uploaded to Ravelry some time ago. Looking back at it, I'm embarrassed to note that I would be hard pressed to make sense of it myself, if it were not that it exists as a process in my head.
I was delighted to find that I still have the relevant pieces used in the construction of one of the prototypes. Taking inspiration from the old Empisal manuals, I demonstrated this process with a doll for the model,

This prototype was made using interlock fabric, just the collar piece being knitted in a simple 1x1 tuck stitch. The neck band is attached to the back neck, and the top sections of the front pieces.

These are the pattern pieces, the equivalent of schematics for an all knitted version

The pattern pieces were based on a cling wrap body wrap, discussed earlier on this blog, an excellent method for accommodating all shapes and sizes,

I'm not sure this illustration adds much, but it really is a magically useful process.

edited to get back to the detail of how to work out the slant on the fronts of the cardigan. 

The black lines represent a standard, one piece front. The sketch shows shaping at the sides. Yours may or may not have shaping.
The red lines illustrate the adaption for one side of the cardigan. (The other is a mirror image) The upper edge is defined by extending the neck edge across to the lower edge of the opposite armhole. The free side need not be shaped, even if the seamed side is shaped.

On the cardigan used to illustrate the pattern download, the neck piece is knitted in Passap Long stitch, and doubled over to cover the cut edges of the main pieces.  It is a design feature of this version to have the neck piece longer than the edge to be covered, giving a pleasant asymmetrical vertical to the garment when worn.

My most recent outing of this design was this T Shirt, altered to add in a knitted half front in stocking stitch, and a neck piece in 1x1 tuck stitch. This time the neck piece is sized to match the length of the neck and top edges of the cardigan.

I started this posting on a Mac, and am finishing on an iPad. The format has slipped from my control somewhat. I may be able to sort that out some time, but I will publish as is, in the interests of immediate optimistic explanation..