Friday, 17 April 2020

Just one machine...

I want any new knitter to consider the proposition that you can knit a wide variety of weights, stitch patterns and knitted items with just one standard gauge punchcard machine. Now if your hobby is machines, rather than knitting, by all means collect every domestic machine and accessory ever produced. Its an interesting study and a potential lifetime hobby, but not much help for a newcomer hoping to make interesting and useful items, with limited hands on support.

“What kind of yarn do you want to knit?” This is the question often put instead of an answer to the question, “I’d like to take up machine knitting, what machine should I get?”

The friendly local knitting machine dealer, only too happy to sell you three gauges of machine, a garter carriage and every conceivable accessory, and to employ an expert to provide ongoing instruction in the use of all these, is an extinct species of business operator.

In my part of the world there are still old, more or less indestructible, standard gauge punchcard machines machines to be found. Even the top of the price range of second hand machines of this sort represents amazing creative value for money, and Op shop bargains still turn up. Even the brand new equivalents, still made by the Silver Reed company, are great creative value.

On a standard gauge machine you can knit a wide range of Weights of Fabric. You do not need to use light, medium or bulky yarns to make light, medium or bulky fabrics. In any case, the range of weights of yarn that can knitted on a standard gauge machine is rather wider than generally recognised.

One machine - one card - one stitch setting
Singer 329 - Card4 - Tuck setting

A textured knit,  pleasing to look at from either side of the fabric

Denise Chevalier’s Let’s Twist Again,
As featured in the the Parade at the 2016 Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo.
Knitted on a Singer 360 using Card 4 to make textured stripes as described in this earlier blog post

Denise Chevalier again in a previous version of the same design knitted in stocking stitch on the same Singer 360 machine.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

1973 again - Machine Knitted Jacket

This pattern features on several blogs as a warning about the aesthetic danger of enthusiastic, but uncritical embrace of popular craft.

However, it turns out that this has come back into style in some pockets of hipster culture. "That is so cool, can you make me one?"

I did.

In the absence of a shotgun, we used a broom for a prop.
I planned to stay with the original styling as closely as possible. The yarn is lighter weight (Superfine Wool Australia 3 ply as opposed to Bluebell 5 ply).
The pockets were left off for technical reasons. The jacket is proportionately longer, a 1973 short jacket needs 1973 high waisted trousers.
The collar is stocking stitch folded over, rather than the heavy original made with two pieces of ribbing.
As I was in the early stages of construction, a young woman who has clearly been the victim of a machine knitter's misguided generosity, kindly sent me a warning that no young person would wear such a garment. She was not aware that I was acting on a request, and it seems that her sartorial comfort zone is a little different.   Also discussed as a Ravelry project 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Punch lace revisited

A while ago I wrote about various applications for the Punch Lace setting on the Singer/Studio/Knitmaster/Silver Reed machines (Thread Lace on Brother machines). I like the textures I can knit using this setting.
Now my previous post reproduced a chart explaining the relationship between the holes on punchcards and knitting on the various settings on those 24 stitch repeat punchcard machines. Just one problem - no mention of Punch Lace! So here is the key to add in,
Punch Lace:  Punched hole; Needle knits yarn in thread mouth B. Unpunched; Needle knits yarn in thread mouths A & B.
I like the non-lacy applications of the Punch Lace setting, and I like projects where I can set up, then just knit to and fro without worrying about edge stability or anything else that might need intervention.  So to have a selvedge of stitches knitted with both yarns in a punch lace project, I need blank columns on the punchcard. Here's one I punched out last week.

 Card 1, with the centre 2 columns left blank.

It is possible to blank out the unwanted holes with sticky tape if you prefer to adapt a standard Card 1.

Project on the machine, showing textural stripes where the blank columns govern the knit.

Wrapped around Janet, showing the translucent fabric with textured stripes.

After knitting the fabric was washed vigorously, tumbled dried, then steam blocked. This was the finishing process to release the fibres from the spinning oils, and to full the Alpaca slightly. Any later laundering will be a much gentler process.

Detail showing the 2/60 Alpaca/silk (Yarn Mouth B) side of the fabric

Detail showing the 2/28 Alpaca (Yarn Mouth A) side of the fabric

More detail can be found in my Ravelry project notes

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Read the card, choose your own texture

Some time ago I found an insignificant looking piece of paper and got so excited that I reproduced it and passed it around to any machine knitting friends nearby. No one shared my enthusiasm, but I'll put it here. This chart refers to the Silver Reed  (Studio/Singer/Knitmaster)  24 stitch punchcard machines. I think it is accurate for the Brother punchcard machines as well.

Below are some photos illustrating just one way of using a favourite card, Singer/Studio/Knitmaster Card 4, using tuck stitch and needle selection to make a fabric with sections of different textures, and as a bonus, an automatic wavy edge.

Each needle is controlled by just one column on the card, so with reference to the chart, you can see that there is a 4 stitch pattern repeat, with two needles knitting every row, and two needles alternately knitting and tucking. If you take the needles that knit all the time out of work, you will get an all over  tuck pattern. If you remove from work the needles that tuck, you will get stocking stitch. Study the markings on your needle bed and you will be able to work out which needles are tucking and which are knitting. If you alternate between a few needles tucking and a few needles knitting, you will get nicely contrasting textures in either lacy or solid knit, depending on your yarn and tension.

  1.  It helps to start by identifying what the middle 2 needles are doing, then work outwards from there.
  2.  Selecting needles that knit for the edges makes for neat edges.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Swag Blanket Mk2

I've been pleased with my large blankets, useful as outer garments and for many household and travelling purposes. However, although simple, the knitting process was not quite as simple as I would like. Knitting neat edges was not an automatic process. To overcome this I modified Singer/Studio/Knitmaster Card 7 so that I could position two columns of knit stitches on each edge. Of course this meant that two columns in every 24 do not tuck, adding an interesting textural stripe to the fabric. The occasional seersucker type stripe effect is best seen in this project knitted by Marlene.

The seersucker effect comes about because the dominant tuck stitch makes the piece shorter and wider than a plain stocking stitch piece with the same number of stitches and rows. The stitches in the columns where all stitches are knitted are longer than the tuck patterned stitches so they pucker.

This is a modified Singer/Studio/Knitmaster Card 7

The middle two columns are punched out so that the corresponding needles will knit every row. To get a neat selvedge, position the edge where there are columns of knit stitches.

Here is the latest of my enormous, but lightweight blankets, pegged out on the rotary clothes line to show the area and the textured stripes.

This is a simple knitting process. Marlene's project was her first ever on a standard gauge punchcard machine. Some lovely yarn and a simple project made for a happy first experience.
I like the texture so much I will make another modified Card 7 with punched out columns on the edges as well as the center of the card.