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!
The socks were pretty close to done, and I finally finished them last night. I’ve been knitting them since mid-February, but designing involves a fair bit of knitting and frogging and knitting and frogging.
The bit I was designing was a heel that didn’t break the graduation of colour with sock yarns like the Regia Hand-Dye Effect one I used. The finished sock looks a bit odd.
But it looks fine on the foot. The shaping creates a triangle. I did these toe-up but the instructions are the same for top-down.
I also realised after I started the second sock that I hadn’t started anywhere near the same place in the colour graduation to get matched socks. So I knit a longer foot and made sure the heel started at the same place, then frogged the toe and reknit it top down.
I’m planning to write up the pattern then test it. Knowing my luck the exact same thing will be published in a magazine or something before I get the chance to.
I finished two more WIPs on my list as well. The Painted Canvas Bag:
I’d been waiting until had the sewing machine out to sew the handles on, but when I came to do it I discovered there wasn’t room enough for the foot of the machine to move up and down with the thick handles in the way. I wound up hand sewing them with a bit ‘x’ on each loop attaching the handle, using black cotton warp ends.
The other finished project is the hemming of a silk scarf. It took me 2 1/2 hours to hand stitch this one, and it’s only a ‘scarflet’:
As Paul said: “I can see why you hate hemming silk scarves”.
A few weeks back I had a bout of startitis. I had a couple of weekends free for crafting and went a bit overboard. Some of the projects were done in a day, or I finished them later, but other were added to a growing list of wips. Now I’m suddenly conscious of a deadline looming. When I go away for more than a fortnight or so, I tend to come back feeling little interest in projects I was working on before I left. So I need to finish them before I leave.
This has brought on bout of finishitis. Which inevitably involves a list:
Knitting, Crochet and Weaving:
Socks – the ones I’ve designed a heel for that doesn’t break up the sequence of graduated yarns
Sock bookmarks – I’ve made ten so far as gifts to take with me. How many do I need? Hmm…
Ode to the 80s jumper – the machine knitting project from a few weeks back. It’s 90% done. I’ve been hesitating to finish it, though, because I had to admit to myself that I’m not happy with the shape and fit. I really like the way the yarn knits up, and I can now see the garment it should be.
Plaited silk scarf – haven’t got far into this. Tempted to frog.
Crochet sampler blanket – been in hibernation for some time now. I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t want to do a full bed-sized blanket. Just need to do a few more squares so I can sew it up into a knee rug.
Green scarf – on the rigid heddle loom. Using handspun yarn from a scarf I frogged, so unfortunately it isn’t going to reduce the stash total.
Sewing, Refashioning and Anything Else
Red dress into top – um… well… not going to happen unless I lose some weight, because right now I look like a stuffed sausage in it.
Brown Jacket from Pants – a project I started the weekend before last. I need to buy some black cotton fabric. Or do I…? (eyeing fabric put aside for book cloth)
Table mats – japanese print quilting squares that I just need to hem.
Silk scarves – I need to hem five of the scarves I dyed recently. It’s a job I loathe. Last night I did the smallest one and it took 2 1/2 hours. I had to use sticky tape to hold the hem as I stitched it. Blargh!
Fair Isle Bag – from the abandoned vest.
Painted canvas bag – attach handles.
House Slippers – attach soles.
There are some projects I haven’t started, that I’d like to do before I go. I’d like to weave another loopy mobius scarf. I’d like to start and finish knitting another pair of socks. And I’d like to bring out my bookbinding tools and materials and make a sketchbook to take away with me. And maybe some mini book pendants to give away as gifts. And the big loom is looking a bit naked and forlorn without a warp on it…
But I’m holding back starting anything until I can get the list above reduced. Well, except maybe a pair of socks. I do like to have one pair going at all times.