Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oct. Program: Hand Manipulated Stitches by Char Engebrecht

Hand manipulating your stitches is the foundations to machine knitting. They are the first techniques we learn as beginner machine knitters: casting on, binding off, holding, lengthening, and reforming stitches with the use of transfer tools.

By definition, hand manipulated stitches is "reforming the knit stitches". Hand manipulation will transform your machine knitting beyond stockinette. Cables, eyelets, and decorative edges, for example, are just a few of the many stitch variations achieved through hand manipulated stitches. Use this chart to help determine what the different stitch symbols mean.

Certainly the extra effort will increase the time you spend on your garment, but be sure to plan everything out before you dive into the actual project. Be sure to make machine knitted swatches in your actual yarn to determine stitch gauge and to decide which patterns work well together. Label your swatches, as you will likely want to return to them for a later project.

Use your sense of adventure and try several techniques within the same garment! The extra time you spend will make you garment very special and unique!!

A couple quick tips when hand manipulating your stitches:
  • Do your garment shaping first, and then begin your hand manipulated stitch pattern.
  • Pull needles out to D position, and they will knit easier.
  • Make the back rail of your knitting machine with a grease pencil or dry erase markers to help remember which stitches are being altered.
  • Cable patterns are easier to remember if you have the number of stitches in your cable is the same as the number of rows you knit between the cables.
  • For every 4 cables in the design, add 1 stitch to the width of your garment, that way it will not effect your gauge.
  • If you get interrupted in the middle of a row (while transferring stitches), hang your transfer tool on the next stitch to be transferred.

Please be sure to visit our Flickr page to see more variations on hand manipulated stitches.

Great references for hand manipulated stitches:

Hand Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters by Susan Guagliumi (the VHS tape is also great if you get get your hands on it! Sadly, this book is out of print)
Hand Transfer Patterns, by Liz Hunt
Knitting on the Edge, by Mary Ann Oger
Machine Knit Today, a Cable Works Supplement
LK 150 Instruction Book
My Knit Patterns, by Colleen Smitherman
Tricia Shafer
Trims Plus and Trims and Techniques, by Harriet Tonn
Machine Knitters Source
Machine Knitters News