It’s finished! And I like it!
To recap: I had knit a long striped band out of some gift yarn and decided to make it the sleeve-yoke section of a jacket inspired by Jo Sharp’s Origami Bolero pattern. Though the Bendigo Luxury yarn (shade ‘bark’) I ordered to make the rest of the jacket arrived in a few days, by then I’d become thoroughly distracted by other machine knitting projects. It did benefit from a bit of time out, though. When I came to knit the body and collar/waistband I had a better idea of what I wanted to do.
First I knit the body on the Bond and blocked it to size. I had planned to make the collar/waistband piece out of some natural Bendigo yarn I already had, but by calculating the weight and number of stitches of the body piece I worked out that I didn’t have enough. There was almost enough left of the ‘bark’ coloured yarn, however, and I liked the idea of continuing with that shade. Having the rest of the garment in one solid colour would make the sleeves the feature. And a white band around the waist was only going to make that bit of me look bigger.
Trouble was, the Bond wasn’t wide enough (then) to knit the waistband, so I’d have to do it sideways, in a strip. That would make it very hard to get the size exactly right and use up all of the yarn. So I decided I’d just have to hand knit it, veeery slooowly. That’s why one of the first projects I started on the Bond is the last to be completed.
The Jo Sharp pattern is for a garment that can be worn both ways. Now that it’s done I’m not sure what I like better – the ribbed part at the waist or as a collar. Hmm. What do you think?
A couple of years ago I swapped a pattern with another Raveller. The pattern I received in return was Summer Solstice. I tried knitting it by hand, but abandoned the project because the yarn was too scratchy.
At the beginning of last year I tried simplifying it for the Bond. I knit it about five times before giving up due to tension problems, which eventually I worked out was because cable spun cotton was just too much resistant and inflexible for the machine. (It completely destroyed the foam bar and its replacement.)
During the Crazy Hot Weekend I was determined to use up a particular yarn in the stash – some Cleckheaton Country 8ply that I’d dyed with eucalyptus leaves, then over-dyed later with blue because I don’t really wear yellow. I figured I’d try Summer Solstice again.
I had to draw out the pattern pieces and note the numbers of stitches and rows, then convert them to the gauge of the tension swatch. It was worth the trouble because it all came together beautifully.
One of the problems I’d had before was losing track of where I was in the pattern. This time I had a counter on the machine to help me keep track. I’d also found rehanging the weighted hem laborious and annoying. So I did the yoke-sleeve piece in three sections, grafting them together later.
The yarn had quite a bit of colour variation in it, some greener, some bluer, and a less varied greenish-blue. Instead of trying to blend it all together, I did each section in one hue. I figured if I didn’t like it I could over-dye again, but I love how it has come out. And analogous colour schemes seem to be coming into fashion.
Of all the garments I started or made over the Crazy Hot Weekend so far I like this one the best. But there is another one to finish, so I’ll reserve judgement until it’s done.
Last weekend Paul went away to one of his car club racing events, leaving me at home during four days of the Melbourne heatwave. I spent my time that Crazy Hot Weekend working and knitting on the Bond.
I had a plan: knit up a bunch of yarn from my stash that had been sitting unused because it was too thick for the Passap. Start simple and take on more complicated shapes as I grew more confident and familiar with the machine.
So I gathered together all the garment construction ideas and patterns I had that contained basic geometric shapes. The first one I tackled was a basic rectangle with two slits for armholes, worn as a vest. It was supposed to drape nicely at the front so I needed a thinner yarn knit at a loose tension.
The yarn I chose was a handspun (made by Dianne Sullivan according to the label) that I’d bought at the Christchurch Handweavers and Spinners Guild shop in 2009. About a 5ply (sport) weight, it was too thick for the Passap and too thin for the Bond – but knit on the latter would produce an open fabric with drape.
It took two goes to get the rectangle the right proportions. Fortunately, frogging and reknitting is quick and easy with a knitting machine and a ball winder, so I didn’t mind starting again. The second try came out the right size.
A simple black border of black sock yarn around the outside and armholes neatened the edges.
I put the armholes a bit too far apart, so the back drapes a little. But I don’t mind how it looks.
I prefer it wrapped and pinned with a shawl pin than hanging loose. It’s not as soft at the Cowly Vest, but I love the colour and it’ll be a nice throw-on extra layer.
Once I’d washed the vest pieces knit on the Bond I pinned them together and put them on my duct tape dress model:
I’d taken stitch gauge measurements from the original garment pieces, but I don’t think I’d blocked those. The yarn relaxed quite a bit so the pieces were now longer and narrower. This made the vest too long, so I unravelled around 30 rows from the bottom. The sides at the hips needed to be wider, so I tried a technique on the machine of attaching pieces to the sides of a new section as you knit. I’ve been a bit sick lately, so it took a few attempts before I could get my head around it, but I’m really happy with the result:
I sewed up the shoulders, but when I tried the vest on I didn’t like the way they sat, so I replicated the side treatment, but this time knit separate wedges and sewed them on because it was much harder to attach a piece at 90 degrees, rows to stitches:
Then it was a matter of modelling when it wasn’t unbearably hot:
I love it. It’s so soft and light, yet being mostly alpaca it’s sure to be warm.
It’s odd how bagging up a kilo of yarn from the stash and giving it to the op shop can make me feel better. I spent some time yesterday going through the stash and deciding which weaving project to start next. Then last night, as I was waiting to fall asleep, I realised I’d selected a yarn I wasn’t in love with and paired it with another that wasn’t a great match, all for the sake of just using it all up and reducing the stash total.
And I decided that was just plain silly. Since getting RSI I’ve started to see my time as the greater commodity. Why spend it on anything less than a yarn I love and a finished object I want? The only reason I can think of is to try a method I haven’t tried before, but it doesn’t need to be while making something I don’t like or need.
But I let myself take one yarn back out of the bag. It eases that nagging feeling I’ll regret the cull.
And, of course, I bought some more yarn, too.
The weekend before last I whipped these up on the knitting machine.
Top down, short row heel and toes. Finished over a few nights by kitchinering the top edge of the toe to the foot and hand knitting the cuff. The yarn is Regia Royal Colour and black Patonyle.
I recently finished the knitwear alterations I’d started pre-RSI and when I was done with these socks I missed my little half hour handknitting fix each evening. So I intended to whip up another pair of socks for myself the next weekend so I had cuffs to knit this week.
Except by the time I got to the weekend I’d had a very heavy period for thirteen days and was too exhausted to concentrate. After botching one sock I frogged it and despaired. Then the next day it occurred to me that I could just churn out tubes now and add toes, heels and cuffs later. So I started on the sock yarn leftovers I’d matched up last year:
The knitting machine colour changer is fantastic, and makes knitting stripes so easy. Seeing how the colour combine and watching the rows grow is dangerously addictive. I may be in danger of building up my arm and shoulder muscles.
It has me wondering how well scrappy socks would go on the machine. I couldn’t do small stripes, as stopping to thread new yarn would get tedius. But if I did bigger stripes it might be a fun way to use up smaller amounts of leftovers.
Is this the last garment I’ll ever knit?
Pattern: River Tweed
Yarn: Cleckheaton Country
Alternations: As suggested on Ravelry, I added 4 stitches to each underarm. I also added an inch to the arm-to-waist section, which it turned out I didn’t need to do because the yarn relaxed after washing.
Comments: I love everything about this except the button bands. I’m not thrilled about the way they sit at the neckline. Not having the collar begin from the button band makes the band look like an afterthought. But I’d probably be less critical if the band wasn’t garter stitch. It doesn’t make a firm enough fabric to resist bowing between each button. Still, if it really bothered me I’d frog and reknit the band in ribbing. Though perhaps I would be more motivated to do so if I didn’t have RSI.
Well… it might be the last major garment I knit completely on the needles. If I can get most of the knitting done on the knitting machine, perhaps I can still produce them without aggravating my wrist. The next one I intended to tackle was going to be mostly done on the machine anyway. Just the cuffs and bands to do by hand. Or perhaps I’ll work through a garment slowly. It took me four months to knit River Tweed anyway, which is unusually long for me. I could whip a jumper out in 4 to 6 weeks if I stayed focussed.
That I’m actually contemplating knitting at all is thanks to my hand being much improved. Only the occasional flash of heat or twinge of pain now. I was able to sew the buttons on River Tweed with only a little soreness afterwards. On Saturday I warped up the small loom, which didn’t bother me until I had to tie the warp on. The little knots caused a bit of soreness, so I did them in two batches. That’s the secret to getting things done now: tackle them in short bursts.
And I seem to recall you can buy sock knitting machines. Might have to look into that, considering the size of my sock yarn stash.
The way I intended to finish this changed several times during the making. I was going to cover the tubes with material or contact, then I decided painting them would be easier, then I decided recycled denim attached with a hot glue gun for the big tubes and jute rope on the smaller ones would be easier on my hands. Paul did the painting for the base and the ends of the tubes.
I should have stuck with the first idea. Glueing on big pieces of material would have been faster. I was going to do this with the cloth from some old pairs of jeans, but I realised I didn’t have enough to cover all three big tubes. I did have, on the other hand, lots of pre-cut strips of denim left over from weaving rag rugs. Still, that meant I used black denim on the whole thing, which looks really good.
The last step was to make a removable and washable lining for one of the big tubes from some leftover fake fur, batting, black cotton and velcro. That only took fifteen minutes or so.
Slinky was already playing with the tower in it’s naked cardboard form after I did a test build, and the fancying up hasn’t put him off. He’s not noticed that the tubes are now scratching posts yet, and I haven’t drawn his attention to the fur-lined nest yet. But us humans are rather chuffed with how it turned out.
Ode to the 80s jumper:
Pros in frogging: Yarn this nice deserves a better project. At least I got some practise using the knitting machine. If frogged, stash will get bigger again.
Pros in not frogging: Most of the work is done. It’s not THAT bad. More yarn out of the stash.
The blue crochet sampler blanket:
Pros in frogging: Don’t have to make two or more squares. Don’t have to remember what I was doing. Really over this project. Can use yarn for something else.
Pros in not frogging: Could make (yet another) lap rug with just two more squares. Frogged yarn will increase yarn stash. Frogged yarn will be in lots of short lengths.
Lots of progress has been made on my wips, but not many were finished. The first one to be ticked off the list was this scarflet:
Once again, I used sticky tape to hold down the hem while hand stitching and once again it took ages. So when I came to tackle the next scarf, which is a square one, I made a fringe instead:
However, this took as long as the hand stitching did on the first scarf. Partly because it’s bigger, and partly because it’s a lot more fiddly than it sounds. I have two more square scarves left to hem/finish and I’m considering trying two other ways to do it.
I’ve been working on my pants-into-jacket wip, and since the sewing machine was out I also hemmed the table mats:
Cotton is MUCH easier than hemming slippery silk, I can tell you!