Knitwear Refashions, Part 1

A month ago I decided to tackle the refashioning pile. I’ve posted about some of the sewing refashions I finished, but I actually tackled some of the knitwear first. One of the projects is taking a long time, since I can only knit a few rows now and then, so I’m abandoning my plan to do one knitwear refashion post so I can show you what I’ve done so far:

Sunrise Circle Jacket
Before:

After:

Because the garment has raglan style sleeves, and I wanted to use the same sort of hem on the arms as on the rest of the garment, I could only frog back to a short sleeve rather than sleeveless. I’ve added extra large decorative hook and eyes that have been in my sewing notions stash for twenty or so years. I like the change but I will have to see if I wear it now before I decided if I’m happy with it.

Cowly Vest
Before:

After:

It’s a little hard to see the change, but trust me, the vest sit better. After removing the triangles joining the shoulders I put the garment on the dress model, with the underarm about where it needed to be, and discovered a very simple solution: fold the front and back over each other and stitch into place. Very pleased with this one.

Olive Wrap Vest

On closer examination I decided a woven shawl would be nicer, so I frogged it.

I also frogged this:
knitblog328
I’d outgrown it a while ago and made three attempts to add width to the front that all looked crap. I decided I didn’t want to send it to the op shop. I like the yarn, and I’m thinking of taking out the rocket needles to make another chunky scarf.

I wound up with quite a bit of frogged yarn:

All which I washed and hung to dry and straighten, wound into balls and added to to the stash.

There’s something appealing about frogged yarn, especially when it has gone slightly felty. It’s more rustic, and more honest. Some washing and wear and you see its true self, and hopefully what you knit with it won’t change any further.

Dyeing Day

After making so much progress last Saturday, I was keen to do more on the Sunday. But my back was a bit stiff from hunching over the sewing machine so I decided to do something that didn’t involve sitting down. It was warmer and dry, so I decided it was Dyeing Day. Items on the list:

Dye poncho-shawl
Overdye socks I don’t wear much

The first project I tackled was converting this poncho my parents bought for me on a holiday to something a bit more my style.

These days I want my knitwear to be easily removed, preferably not over my head, and bulky white garments make my body look huge and my head tiny. Thankfully the two pieces of the poncho were easily unpicked. I sewed them together end to end to make a shawl on Saturday. Now I just had to dye it. For that I needed dye for synthetics, which I found at Lincraft.

There was a lot of shawl to dye, so I decided to dip dye the ends. I tied a string to the rail of the deck above and made loops to adjust the height. The instructions for the dye said to boil the item in the dye bath for half an hour to an hour, stirring constantly. The stirring was vital – at one point I let it go still for too long and the end of a piece of fringe began to melt. I don’t think I kept it up for an hour – more like half an hour.

Look at that strong colour! The instructions warned that not all synthetics dye well. Unfortunately, the shawl must be one of those kinds, as didn’t turn that wonderful blue. But the pale lavender it did change to is nice enough. Which is why I chose blue. No matter how pale or strong it turned out, I’d still like it.

It dried even lighter than that. Oh well.

Next I set about overdying four pairs of socks I don’t wear much because the colours don’t match much in my wardrobe. I used trusty Landscape dyes and it was satisfying, after the shawl, to see the wool suck in the colour. Here are the socks, back when they were fresh off the needles:

And here they are now:

Almost like having new socks. Almost.

Later in the day I did another Accessory project which I included in this post at first, but it looked odd so I’ve made that one a separate post.

Score for the day: 3 projects finished. One category defeated! Yaaaay! I wondered if I should eke out these posts, as I suddenly have a lot of them after a couple of months of not much happening here, but I like the diaryish feel of this blog that lets me look back on what I was doing at different times in the past, and so it may as well reflect the droughts and floods in my crafty life right now.

Yarn Shade Card Blanket

I’ve been receiving shade cards from Bendigo Woollen Mills for quite a few years now – since 2006 if the shade cards I’ve collected are any indication. When the new one arrives I can’t bear to throw away the old one, or the shade cards for yarns they stock temporarily once the yarn is discontinued. Those little fringes of yarn are just too pretty. I’ve always wanted to come up with a way to repurpose them, maybe as greeting cards. Well, greeting cards for knitters.

A while ago I gathered them together and found I had enough for larger projects. I could cover a scarf or bag in multicolour fringe. I just needed fabric or a bag to cover, so it went on the craft to-do list.

When I measured how much fringe I could make last week, in preparation for the weekend, I realised I could go even bigger. I could surround a small blanket. Two blankets, even. But if I stuck to the standard shade card where the fringe is all the same width I had enough to go around a meter square.

I bought polar fleece and iron on adhesive tape.

The first task was to iron the tape onto the fringe, on the side attached to the card.

Then cut down the centre of the tape and carefully peel the fringe off the card.

Once I had all the fringe off the cards, I applied the first piece to the blanket, peeling the backing strip off the tape…

… and ironing the edge of the blanket to it.

Then I sewed the fringe to the blanket with a wide, short zig-zag.

But I found this made the edge curl, so I cut it off, and discovered that the removed fringe straightened out. So I attached the rest of the fringe to an off-cut of polar fleece instead, which I cut off…

… then sewed this to the blanket with a longer wide zig-zag.

I’m really happy with how it came out.

Hopefully the adhesive and two runs of zig-zag is enough to keep the fringe in place. It seems well attached, though I haven’t tried giving it a good yank.

I have some fringe left, and plenty more shade cards, so maybe a shade card scarf will go on the next craft to-do list.

Human Knitting Machine

Here are some pics sent to me by Gail, one of the other participants in the Human Knitting Machine last Friday:

I was on the far left and, as you can see, not really able to whip my camera out to catch the moment.

I think they were unraveling it so people could have a go each day. If you finished with a cast off it would be an amazing blanket – but expensive. The knitted strip yarn they’d made was only acrylic, but even so there was hundreds of dollars worth in it.

There are other ways you could make or find yarn this chunky, though. A sewn tube stuffed with padding. Cheap jersey fabric cut into strips. Multiple strands of fabric selvedges. And if you had something too rough for a blanket, make a floor rug instead.

Gifted

The lovely woman who wrangles the writers at Supanova, Ineke, is a crocheter. A few years ago she made some fabulous, whacky Futurama hats for us. I adopted the Zoidberg one. This year she made amigurumi critters. When asked what I’d like, I suggested a sea turtle, since they eat jellyfish (long story there).

I think there was some frantic hooking between the Supanovas. When I arrived in Perth she presented me with this adorable guy:

In the meantime, I’d got to thinking that I ought to make a thank you gift in return. The first Supanova was in Sydney and we stayed a few extra days, and of course found ourselves walking past Tapestry Craft/Morris & Sons. The ground floor level, where all the cross stitch and embroidery products are, was suddenly more interesting than the yarn filled basement. I had an embroidery project in mind for my gift – perhaps a small pendant – then I spotted cross stitch mobile phone case kits.

It’s very likely I did cross stitch as a child, but I can’t remember. Still, it’s all about squares, be they crossed or pixels. So I bought some graph paper, googled for images of Ineke’s favourite Futurama character, and only needed to acquire two more colours than what I had for the projects I’d taken with me.

It was a lot more addictive and a lot slower than I expected, and I had to be very sneaky at snatching stitching time to get it finished by the last day, but I made it:

Of course, it meant I didn’t get much work done on the embroidery projects I took with me, but I was having too much fun to care. However, my eyesight has suddenly deteriorated a little, so I’m worried that all this stitching is the cause. I do most of it of an evening where the lighting isn’t fantastic but, well lit or not, working close is bound to have an effect.

I’m already rationing the time I spend stitching so be nice to my back and hands. Perhaps a good light is all I need. It can’t hurt.

Gift Yarn Jacket, Part II

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?

First Bond Fair Isle

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a pair of garter bars for the Bond made by Kriskrafter:

They arrived just after I packed the Bond away to clear the dining table for some visitors, so I figured trying them out would have to wait until the next time I had a project to make.

While on the train on the way home from picking up the freebie machine I read the old manuals and realised that the way you do fair isle is really quite easy. I hadn’t got that far in the book for the machine I’d bought, because at the beginning there was already so much to learn.

Having taken over the dining table again so I could look over the freebie Bond and combine it with the one I’d bought, I figured I may as well try a small fair isle project – and give the garter bar a go too. Though not for making garter stitch but to do spaced decreases across the bed.

So I picked some yarn and a simple beanie pattern from the Bond manual, and got knitting.

I tried a simple zig zag as I could do that without worrying about a chart. The fair isle was pretty straight forward, though I had to learn by trial and error that whichever yarn has the greater number of stitches in a row has to be the one you knit with the carriage. When hand knitting fair isle I tend to make the floats a little tight. On the machine I’ve made them too loose, but now that I know I can adjust for that.

The garter bar worked well. Getting it to line up with all the needles takes a bit of fiddling, but it makes decreasing (and increasing) across a row so much faster and easier than doing it by hand.

Now that I’ve done a hat, I really want to make something larger. I have enough of the blue and brown yarns left to make a vest. Hmm…

(But that did have to wait. I had sewing to do. Lots of sewing.)

And Carrying On From There…

(If you’re a bit bored with Bond posts, don’t worry. As so often happens, I have posts about one craft lined up to publish while I’ve actually moved on to another – this time sewing up costumes. I don’t want to blog about one of the costumes until after the event, but the other should be good blog material… pun not intended. In the meantime…)

The new (design-wise) Bond came in this box:

The old came in a long, slim box, since it didn’t split in two like the newer style machines. (You can see the box in a photo below.) Obviously I wasn’t going to get the old bed into the new bed’s box. I could get the two connected pieces of the new style one into the old box – just – but there was no room for the carriages and all the bits and pieces.

I needed a carry case of some sort, so I went to eBay and searched through the categories. I found a camera bag that might have worked if it had been longer, and a tool bag with the same problem. I found bags for cricket bats, but they were too flimsy. Finally I looked in the musical instrument section and found keyboard carriers.

$50 (including postage) later I had this:

It’s exactly the width of the old Bond’s box:

It’s padded but not rigid, so I’m using the old Bond box to protect the beds. I had put all the tools and such in separate zip lock bags then into another cardboard box, but the bags are fiddly to get into while you’re working. So I measured up the remaining space in the keyboard bag and shopped around until I found this toolbox:

And Paul discovered that the carriages fit perfectly into those plastic shoe storage boxes with room for the keyplates as well:

Now that I’ve finished incorporating the new old Bond with the old new Bond, and got everything to fit nicely into one convenient carry bag… someone has offered to give me another Bond. And that has given me another crazy Bond modification idea…

Could I rig up a second bed in front, and do circular knitting?

Okay, the New Stuff is Good Too

Part two of incorporating the old Bond involved me fixing things on the old bed, and a revelation regarding wax.

First up was the sticker strip marking out the needles. Using Illustrator, I recreated the strip and printed it on sticky-backed paper. But this wouldn’t stick. A previous owner had waxed just about everything on the machine. So I removed all the needles and put the bed in the bath to give it a good scrub with soap and hot water. It helped, but the strip still didn’t stick very well. It still lifted off in places. I needed another solution.

But then I began to wonder if I should bother with a strip at all. The boxes of the sticker strip align with the gaps between the needles, not the needles themselves, and I find at times I can’t remember if a box is supposed to represent the left or right needle. A mark that was in line with the needles would be better. Looking closer, I saw that the carriage and needles don’t rub the back edge, behind the needles. And, of course, either side of the channel at the wider, front part.

So I bought some fleuro yellow nailpolish and, at every fifth needle, marked both places. I don’t know how well this will wear, but it’ll be easy to replace.

Next I dealt with the sponge bar problem mentioned in my last post. The solutions I’d come up with was to buy some foam draft strip and cut the foam away where the strip would cross the bridge between bed sections.

However, the plastic bars that hold the needles and sponge bar down crushed and broke the draft strip backing at the bridge, so I still had the problem of the first needle in each section being too loose. The rest of the needles now moved with about the same freedom as the ones on the new style bed, so at least that was an improvement.

The only solution I could think of for these loose end needles was to cut a very thin sliver of the draft strip and stick it along the needle channel, under the needle. This holds the needle up a little, but the carriage still works and I was able to knit without any problems.

Having already drilled into the old bed, I must admit I’m tempted to get a grinder and remove the bridges between each section so a sponge bar can be laid across the whole thing. But it seems a bit too risky. One mistake and the whole bed could be ruined.

These last weeks of Bond knitting I’ve been looking at the Ravelry “Bonders” forum more often, and someone mentioned Cheryl Brunette’s tutorials over on YouTube and that she talks about where you’re supposed to apply the wax. Turns out I was right: it’s impossible to wax the keyplates properly with the chunky ring of wax that comes with the machine.

She suggests a few alternatives, one which I had on hand: some old partly used birthday cake candles. Once I’d waxed the right surfaces of the keyplates they ran smoother and quieter.

So now MEGABOND has wax where it’s supposed to go, and less where it’s not. The needles aren’t too lose or tight and every fifth one is marked. All I needed now was a way to store and carry it…

I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff

Two weeks ago, in one of those neat co-incidences of timing, a Raveller in Melbourne posted that she was giving away an old Bond. She’d taken most of the needles out of to fix another machine, but there was a complete extender kit and I’m always keen to add length to mine. So I put my hand up for it. After a trip into town to pick it up, I was the happy owner of this:

It was intresting to see the subtle changes that had occurred over the years. The cast on hems were sturdier. These had breaks in them, but could be cut down to make smaller ones if I ever needed to. There was an old as well as new carriage – having two carriages would make working stripes in two colours much faster as I could work from each side and not have to change the yarn all the time. The books were very clear, and actually instructed you to pull the elastic out, not snip it. (Which might explain why the hems had breaks in them. I suspect they were never well suited to this treatment).

The needle beds were made from little sections bolted together just as with the newer model, but on this one the whole length was held together with one rod. This made it sturdier than my machine, which divides in two so it can fit into an easily carried box, and each extender kit is attached with a single bolt so that the whole middle section is a bit wobbly – which is why I eventually screwed the whole lot down onto a length of particle board.

Discovering this, I was tempted to clean up the old bed and move all the needles from my Bond into it, but the other big reason I’d attached my Bond to a board was that the clamps that came with it didn’t work. When I tightened them they pulled the machine down and forward, so something was at a wrong angle somewhere.

So I tried the old clamps and hey presto! They worked just fine. I compared them later, and the old one has a smaller angle than 90 degrees. That must make all the difference.

Eliminating the wobbliness and having clamps that worked was a significant improvement. I wouldn’t have a heavy board attached to my machine so I’d regain some of the portability. I could use this old section as the middle section, then attach the two halves of the newer Bond pieces to the sides, adding all the needles from my extender kits and the one I’d adopted the old Bond for. Which makes 186 needles in total!

Lots of cleaning and moving of needles later I hit my first challenge: the rod of the old Bond protruded out one side, making it impossible to attach extension pieces. Yet this machine had come with an extender kit, which must have attached somehow. A close inspection revealed that the rod had been cut off at one end and pushed to one side to free up the hole, which aligns with the bolt hole of the extender piece. I’d have to do the same with the other side.

But to keep the join as sturdy as possible, I got Paul to cut the rod just short enough that it still fits within the hole. Then I drilled new holes for the bolts that attached the new Bond halves.

But when it came to locking the needles into the old bed, I found a flaw in the old design. The cavity for the sponge bar in the old bed doesn’t run the entire length of each piece as in the new bed. Little dividers at the edges mean the sponge bar has to be cut into sections. This means that the ends of each sponge bar move when needles slide against it – and the result is the end needles slide more freely than the middle ones. I’m considering how I might fix this. I figure the sponge bar (or whatever I use in it’s place) needs to be attached to something thin and rigid. A strip of card or plastic, perhaps.

Other than that, the operation was a success. And so I can now introduce you to… THE MEGABOND!