Project Swapway: Designing a Cape

A few months ago, I joined a Steampunk Swap in the Odd Duck Swaps group on Ravelry.  My swap target (or “spoilee”) was very talkative and fun, so I got loads of ideas for what to make for her.  One thing she mentioned caught my fancy right away as a great opportunity to set a design challenge for myself.

The inspiration started with a page of illustrations of Victorian capes that my “spoilee” had posted.  One caught my eye immediately.

Victorian Cape

Victorian Cape

So gorgeous!  I loved the high neck, the tailored look, the weighty drape of the luxurious fabric (presumably fur, in the original).  I imagined that this would be a lined cape that would keep a lady warm on the coldest winter strolls, and yet be easily tossed aside for a waltz with a beau.

So then I started to think about how to put my own spin on it.  A steampunk cape with a bit of my own flair.  I toyed with the idea of buying fabric and sewing, but I really wanted to knit it.  A yarn with a good drape should mimic the weight of the fur better than even faux-fur.  And what would a knitted cape be without a heavenly lace trim? Continue reading


Forethought heels vs machine-shaped

In my continuing adventures to find or create a relatively painless sock pattern that I can crank out on my flat-bed machine, I have now tested out a couple of variations on the theme.  Here’s my take on them:

1) All-shaped flatbed sock:  Knit from the cuff (hand manipulating the ribbing, because I don’t have a ribber) across the top of the foot down to the shaped toes then along the sole and finally up the heel.  This sock is seamed in the back for the leg, then down both sides.  The top of the heel is kitchener/grafted to the bottom of the leg.

Wildly colored socks

Technicolor test pattern socks

  • Pro’s:  All the shaping and all the knitting is done when it comes of the machine.  This is the pattern that came in my manual.  The heel/instep is comfortable. Continue reading

The trick to machine knit fair-isle

As promised, I want to share my “comb” trick for machine knitting “fair isle” on a basic knitting machine.  After much tedious and slow hand manipulation, I came up with this idea to make cardboard combs to manipulate a whole row at at time.  This idea is probably not original or novel, I probably saw something similar somewhere long before I had a knitting machine.  But if I had seen it somewhere before, I managed to forget about it through exhaustive hours of hand manipulation of a dense pattern.  Then the idea started to surface in the back of my mind, but I somehow thought it would be more work to stop, measure, and cut out a comb.

Desperation makes us keen to experiment. Continue reading


Holiday machine knitting

Holiday crafting consisted of only two projects this year (which will, at this rate, be done in mid-January).  May I just say that my large extended family is wonderful for deciding this year that we should do a cookie exchange for the adults and only do gifts for the (2) children.  So much less pressure!  So I planned and began a couple of machine-knit scarves for my nephews thinking that nothing could be faster… except that I chose a tightly-repeated fair-isle “snake” scarf for one of the two projects… Continue reading