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 sideknit 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.

 

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 the original setup, 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  redlipstick.net  (website was later deleted).
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

To block or not to block

Pattern repeats are sorted out, out of work needles correct positions critical, many false starts, then onto yarn crankiness. Two “shawls” are now knit, approximately 16 inches by 64 inches, one in off-white cashmere, the other in over spun wool. They are large enough to drape around shoulders, lightweight enough to wrap for warmth as scarves. Both required washing to remove sizing, are now very different in body and touch. My favorite way to “block” laundered items is air drying on a wool rug after a couple of spin cycles in the washer. I use pressing/steaming if appropriate to fiber, do have blocking wires,  but they have only ever seen daylight as substitutes if I “lose” ribber cast on comb wires. Next in this family will be a shot at knitting this item with a thin ribbon. Here is the completed drying twosome with their purl side public face. The Knit side is interesting as well, duplicating the hand technique swatch exactly. Yarn weights used are pushing boundaries for KM, knitting is extremely slow after design/yarn problems are all sorted out. Though this online post follows camera documentation that began yesterday, the actual process has occurred over the past 2 weeks.

A shawl tale

I have always been interested in mock crochet stitches executed on the knitting machine, have done a bit of experimenting in the past. The ones that are the most interesting to my eye are usually knit on the double bed, often making them reversible, which in turn may require hand manipulations. Browsing through old knitting magazines I came across this baby sweater and became determined to produce a similar fabric, in a manner that might be more manageable for production. In this instance the back locks are changed in sequences of 3, 1, with button changes, the yarn is fine. The first sample I produced was following the pattern stitch instructions.

The fabric as a hand technique, dropped stitches included

The challenge: creating a downloadable stitch pattern that will automatically select appropriate needles and duplicate this texture. Yarn used will be varied and have different weights. Pusher/needle set up both beds critical, then there must be an edging…more to follow.

The latest in collar country

In anticipation of the fiber invitational in Lowell and the annual Art to Wear show at Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative, the copper wire is resurfacing in new neck pieces. Some of the presently completed work may be seen below. Materials often come with their own stories. I purchased my nearly invisible wires from an elderly gentleman at a RI yard sale years ago for only a few dollars. He in turn had worked using them on TV and radio tubes in the “old days”. The 32 gauge version was obtained with the assistance of a brother-in-law-electrician. A beaded piece is “in the works”, and then there is all that colored telephone wire and a shoebox full of acupuncture needle cases periodically calling out to me… I tend to work freeform, without sketching, piecing elements and working out designs and problems as I go. There are elements of surprise for me as well in each piece I create.

The beginning of a new/different direction

ladder lace and short rowed ruffles, modified commercial toggle closure

The finished collar tuck lace and ruffle collar; 4 strands of nearly invisible wire used throughout