A “figlet” moment

When I taught, I felt the need to come up with a “clean’ expletive for moments that simply required one, mine was “figlet”. With nearly 60 inches of shawl knit, this “magically” happened.

I now have about 120 + rows of carriage transfers and knitting to undo to get back to a place I can hopefully repair/continue from. Am trying to convince myself it will be a meditative undertaking. Happiness is not doing this type of knitting for a day job: double figlet!

Lace crankiness: some tips

The lace pattern used in the last shawl is now re worked to eliminate hand transfers required every other pair of knit rows. A second shawl using the new version is in progress.
Some random tips after the journey so far come to mind.
KM: Brother 910 with mylar sheets:
For marking the mylar the Mirado Black Warrior HB2 pencil used on its reverse side produces good results for reader scanning.
It is helpful to have oiled, clean carriages: Hoppe’s elite gun oil (no silicone) rather than sewing machine or brother oils is safe for plastics, for use on Passap beds, and is the only thing I now use on my machines.
Dropped stitches can abound, checking gate pegs, needle latches and their condition can help prevent some of them. Familiarizing oneself with yarn and visually checking after each transfer row may actually save time in the long run.
I have had moments where I felt like Penelope udoing her work 24/7. If rows of stitching need to be unravelled it is easier to undo transfers before the unravelling, and repeats sometimes are corrected more easily if taken back to the beginning of transfer sequence.
The lace carriage must be taken beyond needle selection marks at either end of the machine prior to any “correction” to prevent selection errors.
If more than one lace pattern is on the mylar sheet the lace column or an alternate can be marked with colored pencils with different color assigned to each pattern repeat.

On the blocking board.

After hand washing the piece, blocking wires and pins were used to help it retain desired shape while drying. Its final measurements in inches are 20W  by 68L, its weight 3.25 oz . Steaming alone helped stabilize stitches for corrections and is often enough for many pieces in terms of blocking, but flattened the surface excessively in this case. Texture returned and became more apparent with use of the former method. In the image below the center, pivoting point of the mirrored pattern is evident.

In progress

The first half of the shawl as it appears on the machine in the process of  being knit after several false starts. Gaping holes were typical of potential stitch “drops”. Yarn was knit at loose tension for the effect, in turn resulting in gate peg issues at intervals, but tolerated the lace transfers and hook up problems without breaking, an absolute necessity in a piece such as this. Studio brand ribber comb provided the best source of even weight.

Beginnings

MacKnit was a very short lived American machine knitting magazine (1980s). In Number 5, beginning on page 40, Susanna published a lace shawl pattern that included several transfer lace types. Garment shaping was achieved through an intriguing series of  triangles joined during the knitting of them. Using her lace graphs, so far I have the resulting swatches below. There are 2 errors I need to sort out; the fabric is intriguing. The top pattern rows become the triangular edging. The yarn that finally “worked” for me was the Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk blend from Webs.

purl side

knit side

The swatches were very quickly steamed. Lace is one of those fabrics that actually require “real” blocking for best results. Some hand-tooling is mixed in the repeats, stitch formation needs to be constantly checked. Will sort out problem areas, then see where that takes me while keeping any first project as simple as possible.

Lace tales

Generally when I decide to explore a fabric unfamiliar to me, I begin obsessively gathering information which at times can amount to an act of procrastination. I like to solve the different kinds of resulting problems, am involved with the techniques, and attracted the complexities of the resulting structures and design. As much as the main fabric pattern, edgings in lace items can make an important contribution to the finished look. Borders with shaped edgings appeared in very early Brother punchcard books. Typical graphs seen in hand knitting reference books were provided for the on machine hand technique. “Brother Fashion” volume 4 included the graph and instructions for a shaped edging on a blanket, Tessa Lorant published a small book on edgings (1981) that included some punchcard designs for such edgings as well. In her usual kick butt fashion Susanna Lewis included a pattern in “Machine Knitted Guide to Creating Fabrics” (1986) that took the process a step further by using slip selection with the knit carriage to automate the shaping process. Working out the separation required for the repeats can be doable but quite time consuming. A “modern” publication on the latter subject can be found here.

New directions

Winter inventory was completed long ago. I live in the northeast which has had a notoriously snowy winter. Many an hour has been spent in snow removal, few hours knitting anything “new”. I have completed some hand knitting projects, and as one, I attempted re knitting a lace shawl successfully completed multiple times before. Having trouble tracking its complicated pattern, I journeyed back to taking “another look” at machine knit lace. Multiple transfer lace on the machine can be slow, tedious, and requires patience in original set up, as one must have yarn that tolerates transfer across fixed metal parts without breaking and the “perfect” weight to allow stitches to knit off properly. Though I like designing my own stitch patterns this is not anything I am ready to do in lace.
The first foray in my explorations resulted from a discussion on a knitting yahoo group I belong to with regards to a lace chart published at in 2 parts.

Below are images of the resulting fabric:

purl side

knit side

The wonders of blocking

Blocking is one of those knitting preferences that can arouse strong pro/con arguments, and goes the range from casual to nearly compulsive with wires, pins, and assorted tools used to achieve desired results. My shawls continue to sell well: the photos below illustrate part of the process and 2 of the most recent in their family. All shaping and joining are achieved through the knitting process; the shawls are reversible, may be worn and draped in a  variety of ways.

before steaming and pressing

unblocked1

detail shot after steaming/pressing

blocked1

one way to wear, purl side facing out

shawl1