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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What a Delicious Annual Potluck!

Thanks to all who attended the Annual MKGM Potluck this month! Not only does the Machine Knitting Guild of Minnesota have stellar machine knitters, there are also some pretty fantastic cooks and bakers in the bunch!

Also, a special Thank You to our non-member guests at the party: Shawn Dolan of Knit and Sew World in St. Peter, MN and Judy Stachovich of Cindy's Stitches in Princeton, MN - it was great to welcome you!

Too bad we need to wait another full year for such good eats!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sept. Program: Mittens by Maria Ann Youngs

Although September in Minnesota has enjoyed a relative warm-up over the last week, we KNOW what is just around the corner: Cold and Snow. With that in mind, it's time to start preparing some stylish and functional cold weather accessories. What could be better than a perfect pair of mittens? Traditionally worn by kids, mittens of today transcend generations and you will certainly be able to machine knit the perfect pair for both young and old.

Be sure to think about your yarn choice. Acrylic may be a good option for kids, as it is easy to wash and maintain. Although warmer, wool requires a bit more care, and may be more suitable for adults. Although cotton mittens are not incredibly common (or warm), you may find it to be an excellent choice as a lining for your toasty mits.

If you've got some machine knitting experience under your belt, the great thing about knitting mittens is that you don't really even need a pattern. Design yourself a pair of mittens based on your hand measurements (width, finger length, thumb length, cuff height). Thumb placement varies widely from mitten to mitten, and seaming is often a matter of personal preference. Once you start knitting, be sure to take notes along the way so you can recreate the mittens, after all, you will likely receive many compliments!

There are many hem styles to consider when you start knitting your mittens. Some varied options include a picot edge, a hung hem, a ribbed cuff, and a rolled start to name a few. Try experimenting to see what works best for you - think about both comfort and aesthetic.

Similarly, you have quite a few choices when it comes to finishing the ends of your mittens. Different looks include gathered tops, tapered tops, and short rowed tops. You may want to keep in mind that short rowed tops are the least bulky and therefore perhaps more comfortable!

Once you've nailed down your preferred fit and style, or are working from an actual pattern, think about a way to add some special design elements to make the mittens unique to you:
  • Embellish you mittens with Embroidery.
  • Add stripes!
  • Sew some ultrasuede on the palm for added steering wheel grip.
  • Knit beads in to add a touch of pizazz.
  • Make them fingerless!
  • Line your mittens with fleece (be sure to knit your mittens a size bigger!).
  • Use i-cord to attach a pair of mittens, that way you will never lose just one!
  • Felt your wool mittens so they are dense and warm.
  • Knit a couple dozen mini mittens to create a festive holiday wreath to hang on your front door!

One last word of advice: After making your first mitten, whether it be left or right, be sure to follow the opposite steps for the second - it would certainly be a drag to spend your time knitting two right mittens, not to mention uncomfortable!!

Assorted Machine Knitting Mitten Patterns:
Standard Gauge Mittens for both kids and adults by Jane Niemi
Children's Mittens by Irene Woods
Baby Mitts by Maria Ann Youngs
Mid-Gauge Mittens by Ellen Levernier
Fingerless Mitts by
Felted Mittens on the Bulky by Mar Heck