Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Scoop du Jour! Machine knit fronts - one with hand ribbed edgings

If one could be said to have a Split Knitting Personality, I am GUILTY! The cool thing is that it goes right along with the Split Weather Personality of CHICAGO these days - one day is very cool and rainy - then the next, is tropically TORCHED!

My dilemma? I can't stand to touch WOOL right now...

So off the Chopping Block of WIPs comes the Fern sweater.

AND, in it's place goes:
Scoop du Jour!

I've had a bag and a half of Rowan All Seasons Cotton (my very favorite yarn) languishing in the Stash Palace for quite awhile. I was clueless as to what to make from it - the original idea died a lingering death and vaporized some time last year or thereabouts...

But I love this yarn's subtle varieagation - Grey on Grey - and saw a Utility Sweater in my FUTURE!

Now that Rapunzel and Wavy Bulb are history, I'm set on the FANCY PANTS Front for quite awhile and can make some WORK CLOTHES!

YES! I work for a living - 50-60 hours a week on my regular photojournalist gig.

And I need clothes - cool clothes - I am caught in an endless round of T-shirts and GASP, Parkas and my head is just reeling with the threat of another Autumn looking like a UPS Delivery Guy.

OH WAIT - I just bought this activewear jacket to work in because it WOULD make me look like...

Anyways, in a fit of extreme energy, I pulled out my freshly acquired knitting machine (similar to the one in this auction) this weekend and whipped out most of the body parts of this sweater. Then begins the hand finishing - which for this garment is fat, chunky ribbing on all the edges.

It has a wide scoop neck, with deep ribbing on the bottom and less deep ribbing on the trim.

Just the Saucy Sassy Cardi that BUSTS the Parka/Tshirt tyranny!

Can you see the mistake with this piece? Ahhh, the power of cheese, the photos never lie!

I'm going to have to RIPPIT! Hey Froggy, once again I'm following your mantra!

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Wednesday, September 1

Split Knitting Personality: knitter who really enjoys using machine knitting and hand knitting in the same sentence, oh, same garment!

If you've been a subscriber of any of the knitting tomes, sooner or later you've come across an article about the Process vs. Project (I think I got that right) Schools of Thought about Knitting.

Some knitters just enjoy the Process of the deed itself - the stitch by stitch relaxation, watching the garment Grow under your hands, the visceral, organic connection one makes with FIBER...

The Project Folk are goin' for the Gold - a race to that new jumper! Something to brighten up the grind of the Daily Landscape - a Fashion Statement that needs to be spoken sooner rather than later...

I would put myself 99% smack dab in the Project group. I consider my Stash and the End Results of my Labor as PURE WARDROBE ENHANCEMENT! If I'm not going to wear it, I won't waste my time making it.

This does NOT, however, mean I don't ADORE the Process.
I am truly under its spell...

How I get that hot little item in my hands is where the Split Knitting Personality comes in...

Hand Knitting --- Process
Machine Knitting --- Product

ADD the two together and VOILA!


Nothin' crazy about that!

AND nothing too far afield of the Sanctity of the Process...

After I machine knit the Stockinette parts of the garment, they are all finished by hand knitting.

Many people refer to their hand operated Knitting Machines as Stockinette Looms - and believe me, while you're moving that carriage back and forth manually there is a *weaving* type vibe going on. Instead of stitch-by-stitch knitting that is accomplished with traditional needles, you are making row-by-row progress.

...to be continued

read the Complete Notes: Machine Knitting HERE

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Friday, September 24, 2004


Design: Bonne Marie Burns for ChicKnits
Yarn: Phildar "Marjory" 50% Cotton/ 50% Acrylic
Color: Cream & Black
Gauge: 20sts/28 rows over 4"
Needles: #3 & #6
Type: Hand & Machine Knit with Duplicate Stitch Detailing

This little pulli is my maiden voyage on the LK-150 knitting machine I got on eBay. I also have a Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine that I leave out attached to a fabulous heavy maple IKEA table I scooped up at a sidewalk sale this summer. The LK-150 is a Mid-Gauge Machine; the Bond is a Bulky Machine.

These knitting machines are great for doing big pieces of *plain* Stockinette Stitch knitting that can be finished later by hand. I made a few garments when I got the Bond two years ago, drifted away from it, and now, with the arrival of the LK-150 am back on the machine track...

Why Machine Knit? It allows me to make the simply wonderful fitting Utility Sweaters I love to wear to work. Using a machine and high quality ingredients, I can make hard wearing, long lasting, dependable, SIMPLE garments I can't buy off the rack.

Oh He** - I'll tell the TRUTH! I have very loooong arms, a short waist topping a long body. I am CUSTOM all the way! I CAN'T buy off the rack unless I get a garment a couple of sizes bigger than what my body needs to meet my length requirements...

It is indeed a time saver. You can make all the sweater body pieces, minus the borders, in a weekend. Then you can hand knit the edge finishings and sew it together at your leisure.

There is a learning curve - but not too bad. If you just make all of the little projects in their included book, you will learn all the techniques you need. Mine also came with a very good video that demonstrated the techniques.

DOWNSIDE: not as user friendly as hand-knitting. AND, this is the real reason that 99.9% of the sweaters you see in the ChicKnits Galleries are completely hand knit - I love the feel and process of hand knitting. The Lap Dance, so to speak...

Machine Knitting is not MOBILE. You really have to dedicate a block of time to the project - I never leave a piece hanging from the USM but finish in one session whatever piece I'm working on to avoid gauge changes in the fabric.

You also really have to understand gauge and count rows instead of measuring to get reproducible results so your pieces match EXACTLY. GAUGE is good. GAUGE IS PARAMOUNT!

But THAT, but of course, is true whether it's hand OR machine...


some Starter MK Links

What Machine Should I Get?

the Incredible Sweater Machine Group on Yahoo

Bond Knitter's Internet Links

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Thursday, October 6, 2005

Can I put my hand in your Pocket?

One of the reasons I'm so into Fusion Knitting (machine & hand knitting combined in the same garment), is that it can be a both a time saver and a mother of invention..

click all small pics
for larger pix

One of the differences between hand and machine knitting is that you always start machine knitting with a provisional cast-on.

That leaves live stitches at the bottom of your piece - you unzip the waste yarn and put the stitches back on the needle to finish by binding off or maybe something MORE....

Apres knitting, but before finishing, I decided I wanted some *Purse Pockets* on my Scoop du Jour. QUE? I hate carrying a purse!!!

No Problem! I attached my yarn to the WS of the piece, purled one row then knit about 4" of sts from the front edge.

Using another piece of yarn (from the outside of my ball) I did a long tail cast-on (cuz I like the look) to replace the next 4 or so inches.

I used a contrasting color of scrap yarn to bind-off the corresponding body stitches to be worked later for the pocket lining.

Then I finished the row and continued working the front ribbing to the bottom of the piece.


The pocket *front* was done when the ribbing was done, but now it needed a lining.

That was what those reserved stitches were for - an interior *pocket* that would be sewn down after it was knit.

I decided to save some time and do it on the machine...

You unzip the waste yarn from the reserved stitches, then hang them on the hooks, attaching some little weights to balance the load.

Then you KNIT!

I made my pocket about 4" x 4" (it looks much longer here because of the weights...)



my little Purse Pocket !~

Almost hidden, but at the ready just big enough to carry a lipstick, bus pass and $$$...

...see all entries here in the Complete Notes: Barny Yarny...

...read all entries about Machine Knitting HERE

Comments (18)

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Fruit of My Loom


A scant 3 years have passed (like lightening!) since I tripped into a suburban Joann's with a 50% off coupon and scooped up a Bond knitting loom. That first year saw me knitting like a banshee, enlarging my wardrobe and, for maybe the first time EVER, wearing clothing that actually fit my frame (especially those gracefully long ARMS!)

The sweaters I made for work are now ready to be *retired* - they look tired, a little shabby; they've earned their day in the pasture, to be sure...

And, it's time to make some new ones...

Luckily, I've been bit by the Machine Bug all over again after a demonstration Corinne and I gave as the October Program at the Windy City Knitting Guild. I took the Bond On the ROAD! up to the Northside (I'm a Westside girl myself, teeheehee) and proceeded to astonish and amaze myself when I actually got through an entire, I believe, one hour's worth of machine knitting while being observed by actual audience! I think this is what happened because I have such terrible stage fright, I only remember about 30% of what went on - 2/3's of the time are really fuzzy, (but warm - thank you all for your Very Kind Attention!).

What you see above are pieces of two seperate sweaters - both in Navy, my favorite Work Garment Uniform color. They lay tightly in obedient Stockinette rolls, as is the nature of the stitch, waiting for the finishing to begin...

I began calling the first one of my sweaters *Elemental* and the second rightly became *My Dear Watson* in response. Here you see the first front of the Dr.


It is loomed using the most beautiful Black Water Abbey yarn - 2-ply, one ply black, one ply a very rich purplish dark blue - in sum = celestial NAVY! I knit the body parts on the Machine and add the bands, etc, by hand. To keep the Project Juice ALIVE, I've picked out buttons from the Button Chest - believe me when I say that it took a long time to find the correct shade of black plastic button! WEIRD, but true, they are all slightly different depending on composition and finish, ie. shine, matte, semi-gloss. YES! I had a lot of fun auditioning the Buttons...

This sweater is destined to be the plainer of the two - fitted but fabulous, showing off the really rich depth of color of the yarn.

Even though I've seen some really fabulous trad Aran BWA sweaters, especially at Stitches Midwest this summer, I was just too totally blown away by this yarn's hue to muddy the waters reflecting the deepest night sky.

...read all entries about Machine/Fusion Knitting HERE

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Sunday, December 4, 2005


Oh, blessed light of December - ye are only on the map between 6:30a to 4p these days, but I love you all the same...

The wonders of the Digital Color Space Spectrum never cease to amaze me! The gamut is so much more clipped in the blues than film - but today I think the actual color of the wintry skies worked a little magic.

I *think* this looks like the real color it is!

But on your monitor, who knows? :)

You always read this disclaimer (yep, I'm slacking again in those online catalogs...) and I really know, from the school of hard knocks, that it's true. I saw the light today and just decided to go for it - I thought I might have a match! Now my journal is complete with the finished object - and I still love those little pockets!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

and so it begins...

Of all things knitting, last year had to be the Year of the KAL. They were everywhere - I jumped in feet first on Alison's February Fix-a-Thon and the Martha KAL over at Jessica's Rose-Kim Knits...

Why KAL? I would say it all boils down to one word: ENERGY.

Being in a group of like-minded people, attempting a challenge to a finish is just the Ultimate Needle Team Sport. It motivates; it inspires; and it can bail your frilly fanny out (ahem, the LaceForAllSeasons that I lurked on to make my first shawl, hi Wendy, happy belated birthday!) when you get stuck. And, yes, I'll admit it. I get stuck quite often. And people were always there to give me their individual/collective wisdom to grease my sticky needles along. Thank You! oooxxx

There is not one project that I've made that I didn't benefit from the Feedback of others.

Ahhh... The Butterfly KAL: I spied this beautiful camisole fashioned by the lovely Eilene early on but just didn't have the time to join in...

Little skeins of something called Kidsilk Haze snuck into my Stash whenever I wasn't looking until finally, this posting by the Skinny Rabbit herself tipped the scales. She was wearing it the way I could envision myself wearing it - over another (long-sleeved) top.

I had to do it.

But I couldn't. Just didn't have the time - even though I'm determined to make more lace...

But I could make this, a little ChicKami, using the KSH. It wouldn't have the lacy drama of the Butterfly, but it would have the *L@@K* - a sheer vest, a simple frosting effect.

I fired up the machine and made some swatches.


This, IMHO, is the most important part of the process ever. It is the Blue Print, the definition of the building blocks you use to fashion that *wall* that sheet of fiber that becomes your fabric. It probably comes as no surprise that I have a dressmaking background - and I usually approach knitting as a way to make fabric. Here you see the personality of the gauge (20/28) working with the strand itself - sheer but by nature of the mohair, dense enough to carry it off.. (The white borders are the waste yarn you use to start a piece when you machine knit.)

AH and what fabric a piece of knitting is.

It is alive. Not only is it shaped in progress, it has an inherent organic flexible quality that woven fabric never achieves, a quality that mimics the body shape it is worn on allowing us, if we pay it its proper homage will repay us in spades.


Up she goes on the dress form to see if it can really seal the deal. This is knit using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in the Spray version - color #572 Pebbles. The pooling is intriguingly different on the front and back pieces. I cannot describe how delicious this piece feels - but it is both substantial and gossamer...

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Friday, January 20, 2006

New Threads FRIDAY!



c'est bonne

Pattern: ChicKnits
Designer: Bonne Marie Burns
Yarn: Rowan *Kidsilk Spray*
Color: #572 Pebbles
Gauge: 20sts/28rows over 4"
Needles: #5 & #7
Type: Fusion

WOOT! The first Finished Sweater of 2006! Just in time for a weekend romp - the Kidsilk Haze ChicKami...

I have to nod ye olde noggin' towards Spencer at Letizia's for providing a Finishing Vibe last night @KIP. He is their barista and also a wonderful musician and previewed his new CD for us while we stitched. Very NICE! Many thanks...

I have to admit, I was a little scared to mattress stitch this - don't know why. But of course, here's where I venture a guess: the Kidsilk is so skinny and slippery that I thought there would be Control Issues. Well, I don't need $$$$$'s dollars of PsychoThr to understand that I have enough Control Issues already and surely don't need a tank top to be pushing me around.

A mere Cupcake, juice and CD later, and we had Lift-Off! WHEW!

And there was joint rejoicing in KIPville last night as well- D wore her new Lara cardi and it is DIVINE! It has inspired all of us - Corinne is already well on her way into a luscious blue one made from wool/hemp. I am so tempted - we all decided All Women Look Wonderful in BLUE! Especially the subtle handpaints these sweaters were made from.

...Speaking of Variegated Yarn - I was pretty satisfied with the color striations in the Kidsilk Spray. There was *splotching* in a couple of places - but it added, IMHO, an interesting design element overall. My favorite place was on the skinny straps where it checkerboarded neatly, on both sides. (As always, if pooling pushes your buttons, you can use two balls of yarn and knit alternate rows. I'm doing that right now on a Manos cardigan that's in the sample stage...)

How much do I like this? SO much that I am going to make one out of #597 Jelly (GREEN!) and one from #576 Vino [Spray] and, hmm, one out of #584 Villian... The ChicKami took less than two balls. I knit it flat, instead of in the round (take stitch count -divide in two - add 2 sts to each piece for seams - VOILA! - you are in the Flat...)

[miniHAHA: bet you might know some famous SPINNERS - yo, T. Cruz!!!]

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