Friday, April 30, 2010

Converting Hand Knitting Patterns to Machine Knit

Jodi and Rebecca prepared a very informative and practical program for our April 27th meeting. They provided several handouts, including one on standard yarn weights for hand knitting,one explaining hand knitting terminology and abbreviations and lots of suggestions on achieving a good fit for our garments.

Rebecca described how she would "translate" a published pattern for her own use on the machine. Some of it involves a different interpretation depending on preferences and also whether the machine can perform the same maneuvers. Her method involves first converting everything in the printed pattern to inches and fractions of inches. Then she multiplies by her own stitch and row gauge times the pattern's dimensions. Most of it is straight forward. A set-in sleeve requires a little more attention, however. She pointed out that the sleeve cap height is in direct relation to the armhole depth, but it also depends on the width of the sleeve, which in turn is determined by the style of the garment. Whew! A narrower, more fitted sleeve will have a higher cap; a wider, more casual sleeve has a shallower cap. The average sleeve cap is about 1/2 to 2/3 of the armhole depth.

Jodi showed how to convert a hand knitting pattern to machine knit using the pattern's schematic. She emphasized that you must make a tension swatch. If it varies by just one stitch and one row from the pattern's gauge, the finished product may be all out of proportion. She went through the dimensions of the schematic and the pattern and converted it to her own gauge. She showed how to calculate the armhole curve using some pretty fine math.

Show and tell had some great items. Unfortunately the person whose turn it was to take pictures became awe-struck by all the fine work that she only got a few pictures. Apologies to all the great knitters. Hopefully it won't happen again. There was Marge Coe's All-in-one baby sweater. One completed and one in the process so people could see the construction. Tea cozy, mitts and American Girl doll hat "repurposed" from a felted Norwegian sweater.

There were shrugs, shrugs and more shrugs. Dog coats with a pocket for the dog to carry their deposits back home. (eew!) Felted slippers that didn't quite turn out and regular slippers for the troupes that did. Some darling baby clothes: a girly outfit made with baby jacquard yarn, a romper with built in snaps and a colorful raglan pullover. There was a cute felted floppy hat on a stick that will go into the MN State Fair exhibit "Knits on a Stick". A big hit were the necklaces that were made out of fancy and ladder yarn. This was a pattern demonstrated and sold by Diana Berns at Purls of Joy last weekend. Cheerfully modeled, I might add.

Last, but not least, a "Walkie" scarf that will be in the next newsletter. The pattern was written by Jemajo on Ravelry for keeping warm in the cold Norwegian winters when her dog takes her for a walk.

It was a great meeting with good attendance. We're having fun and learning at the same time!

Monday, April 26, 2010

March 2010 Program: Embellishments by Polly Sonifer

Embellishment is an excellent way to add finishing touches to your knitted work. Look around you. Certainly you have bits and bobbles of ribbons, buttons, and more which are just waiting to adorn your work. Sometimes, it's also fun to try an iron transfer on your knitted piece.

Polly demos her machine knit embellishments for the group to enjoy.

It's also certainly possible to added little extra knitted embellishments to your work. There are some amazing resources and patterns in published books and on the web for knitted flowers, buds, stems, and leafs. With a little time, imagination, and your transfer tool, we bet you could come up with your very own personal botanical garden!

Special thanks to Joyce Anderson for sharing her
lovely machine knit flower pattern!

Polly's darling machine knit sweater and booties, made extra special with a machine knit heart, with the pattern below.

Heart Applique

Inspired from a hand knitting pattern, adapted by Polly Sonifer

Yarn: Any yarn that can be used on your machine to get the desired size.
Instructions are given for Small Heart with Large Heart in parenthesis.

Cast on 3 (5) sts. Knit 1 row.
Increase 1 stitch on each side, and knit 2 rows. Continue in this manner until there are 25 (39) stitches on machine (RC 24 for small; 38 for large)
K6 (10) Rows
Put half of stitches in hold, K2 rows.
Decrease 1 stitch on each side and K2 rows. Continue in this manner until 5 or 6 (10) stitches remain.
Bind off.
Put remaining stitches in workign position and work in likewise manner.
Bind off.
Block, and sew on project.
(note: Loop-through-loop bind off is most effective, as opposed to crochet bind off. Long tail allows enough yarn to attach heart to your project.)

Left Heart is Hand Crocheted

Top Right Heart represents "Small Heart"

Bottom Right Heart represents "Large Heart"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Concentrating on Charity Knitting

At our February meeting of the guild, we talked about stepping up our knitted contributions to the Salvation Army (kids' hats, mittens and scarves), to Project Linus (baby blankets) and to Minnesota Nice (slippers for the troops). To rev up some enthusiasm, Ellen and Maria Ann gave us some patterns they had developed and collected over the years, mostly designed by guild members. They were done on different gauge machines. Examples knit with these patterns were on display. Seeing them in person is worth a thousand words.

Ellen brought her Silver Reed LK 150 to demonstrate one of the mitten patterns we were given. It went quickly and looked very nice.

Always a popular part of the evening, the show and tell items were great this month. Must be all that blustery weather that encourages people to stay inside and knit. There were baby sweaters, felted slippers, felted purses, sweaters, scarves, even a Vikings sweater. Here are some of the items:

If you live in the Twin Cities area and are interested in machine knitting, join us at the Textile Center. We meet every 4th Tuesday (except December) from 7:00-9:00. The Textile Center is located at 3000 Southeast University Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3357. We have all skill levels and most machines represented in the group. There's parking along University Avenue and behind the building. We have a lot of fun and learn from each other. Please join us!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

November 09 Program: End of Year Holiday Knits and Decoration Contest by Maria Ann Youngs

One of Guild members' favorite parts of the meeting is "show and tell", and understandably so, as it's such a wonderful time to see what everyone has been creating over the last month or so. For our 2009 year-end meeting, we decided to give a theme to our monthly "show and tell" and encouraged everyone to knit holiday inspired projects. Those who participated, arrived at the meeting with their items in un-marked brown paper bags. One person revealed all the wonderful machine knit projects and as a group we voted on our favorites, and the project receiving the most votes was awarded a trophy.......

Mar Heck's Santa, was overwhelmingly the most popular machine knit holiday item at the 2009 year-end meeting. He is fabulously cute! It's also noteworthy that Santa is Mar's own, original pattern. Congratulations to Mar on winning 1st Place, as voted on by her machine knitting peers!

Enjoy some of the other great holiday projects by MKGM knitters! We are all winners!

Maria Ann's Wind Sock
Maria Ann Youngs' Holiday Wind Sock

Jane's Mittens
Jane Niemi's Felted Decorative Mittens

Amanda's Stocking
Amanda Young's Holiday Stocking for Zoe

Ellen's Stocking & Mini Cane
Ellen Levernier's Mini Holiday Stocking and Candy Cane

Kevin's Wreath
Kevin Young's Light-Up Wreath (That's right, the lights actually work!

Donna's Snowman
Donna's Festive Snowman Cap

Rebecca's Hannukah Balls
Rebecca Yaker's Hannukah Ball Trio

Polly's Santa Polly's Angel

Polly Sonifer's Santa and Angel (and double Pollys!)

Happy New Year and see you in 2010!!

September 09 Program: Garter Bar Tips & Techniques by Judy Snyder

We all own garter bars, but may not exactly know how to maximize on their potential.

The first, and perhaps, most obvious, use for the garter bar is to aid in creating the garter stitch. In hand knitting, the garter stitch is popular for new knitters as only 1 stitch, the knit stitch, is ever used. While the garter stitch is easy to produce in hand knitting, it cannot be done simply on a knitting machine. Using the garter bar is one way to do so. In short, the garter bar is hooked onto the main bed needles and the fabric is pulled off the machine and onto the needles of the garter bar. The bar is then removed and flipped, so that the knit side is now facing, and the fabric is returned to the machine. You will notice that if you are using the garter bar to turn several rows, the process can be rather slow. You may find "Double Garter Stitch" a little quicker, as the work is turned every 2 rows.

Say you have finished your knitting project, and it's time to bind off. Instead of sitting at your machine, you can remove it onto your garter bar and make your bind off technique portable! The first is the Quick Garter Bar Bind Off, which is simply a running stitch through every loop. This creates a nice loose edge, which matches a woven cast on. It is best for finishing off knit swatches or other edges which will be enclosed or hidden.

Garter Bar Bind Off

The second bind off you might enjoy is the Regular Garter Bar Bind Off. The technique is simply a backstitch through the loops. The finished result is similar to an e-wrap cast-on and has the same stretch, flexibility, and appearance. The technique is as follows: Thread your needle and yarn up through the 1st loop, up through the 2nd loop, and back through the 1st loop. Skip the 2nd loop, and thread you needle up through the 3rd loop, and then back through the 2nd. Continue cross until all stitches are complete.

Garter Bar Bind Off

The garter bar is also an excellent tool to increase stitches at the center of your work (such as for a dart) or evenly throughout a row. Remove all the stitches onto the garter bar, but do not turn the fabric over. As you replace the stitches onto the needles, skip a needle wherever you need to make an increase. When all of the stitches have been returned to the main bed, fill the empty needles by picking up the purl bar from an adjacent stitch to prevent forming holes (aka eyelets).

Similarly, the garter bar also aids in decreasing at the center (such as a dart) or evening through a row. First make your transfers on the main bed, which will result in empty needles. Now remove all stitches onto the garter bar. Return the stitches to the main bed, transferring a few stitches at a time. Replace only the first group of stitches, up to the empty needle, lift the garter bar slightly and shift it over one needle so that the next group of stitches can be returned to the main bed, leaving no empty stitches.

Use the garter bar instead of holding position to divide necklines. Remove the stitches for one side of the neckline onto the garter bar and you should be able to hook the eyes of the garter bar onto the sinker posts. Please press down gently until the garter bar hangs down from the base of the sinker posts so that the carriage can safely pass over it.

Garter Bar Neckline

The garter bar is also handy in place of scrap knitting to remove shoulder stitches from the machine. You can hang two sets of stitches on the garter bar with right sides facing and then bind them off together in a smooth seam.

Garter Bar SeamingGarter Bar Seaming

The garter bar has so much potential! You can use it to remove work from your machine, to hold stitches for partial knitting, to aid in shaping necklines and shoulders, to create picot edges, eyelets, and cables to name a few.

Garter Bar Cables

For more techniques on how to use your garter bar, be sure to check out Diana Natters Garter Bar video tutorials. Her step-by-step instruction will make learning these techniques a breeze!

Don't have a garter bar? You could always try making your own, although results may vary.

August 09 Program: Weaving Techniques by Polly Sonifer

Most knitting machines allow you the ability to experiment with the weaving technique. In machine knitting, weaving yarns are secondary yarns which are not technically "knit", but rather travel behind, in front of, or around stitches in your work to decorate your fabric. In stockinette knitting, it is up to you which side of the work to make the "public" side. In weaving, the purl side of the fabric becomes the "public" side, as the inlay yarn (weaving yarn) shows on the knit side of the fabric.

Top image is the knit side of fabric, while bottom image is the purl side of fabric, where you can see the weaving pattern very clearly. You will note that weaving does create a slight shadow or "grin through" on the knit side of the fabric.

Weaving presents an excellent opportunity to experiment with different yarn combinations and using them in unusual and/or experimental ways. After some experimentation, you will find that a wide variety of yarns can be used for weaving. Because the yarn itself does not need to fit into the hooks on the machine, you can use much heavier yarns. Anything from thick to thin, and do be aware that using fine thin yarns may lead to delicate floats which may easily snag. In this case, it may be best to pay attention to your float distance, minimizing then to 1 or 2 or 3 needle widths. That said, weaving patterns can be varied greatly by hooking them up on needles every few rows.

Knit on a standard gauge machine, a sport weight variegated yarn is used for the background, while a worsted weight solid yellow is used for weaving.

Spend some time with your manual to determine the appropriate settings for your machine. You'll want to be sure to have your weaving brushes engaged, as they help prevent the floated yarn from jumping off the needles. You will find that weaving yarns can be worked horizontally, as well as vertically.

Polly in her fabulous woven coat. She does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of the fabric.

Weaving yields a very stable fabric with great reversibility. This fabric will also not unravel easily and is very suitable for cut and sew techniques. Weaving can also be used selectively to create decorative edges and fringes. Susan Guagliumi's book Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters presents an excellent chapter on weaving techniques to get you started.

Here, the colorful side is the woven side (purl side) of the fabric.