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Project Swapway: The Steampunk Swap

Over in the “Odd Ducks” group on Ravelry, knitters get together and have swaps akin to secret santa.  You get someone’s name, answer some crazy questions, research your “spoilee’s” likes and dislikes and make them something wonderful that they will hopefully really enjoy.  Presumably you get the same treatment in return, and craft exchanging occurs.  The Odd Ducks pick crazy themes on which to have these swaps, and I recently joined their “Steampunk Swap”.  What a fun group of Ravelers lives on that forum!

I hesitate to divulge too much information here, just on the odd chance that my spoiler peeks at my blog and happens to also be my spoilee. Continue reading

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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
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Spring designs for machine knitting

With a basic knitting machine, as I have found out to my chagrin, highly repetitive and complex patterns are very time consuming and not as fun as they would be to hand knit.  Without a few tricks, a dense pattern (either colorwork or texture) might even be faster to knit by hand.

Of course, this changes if you have one of the fancy punch card machines, but that is not what I have.  So I am always on the lookout for patterns that I can manage on my basic knitting machine.  Alas, most of the books and magazines on machine knitting are pretty dated, and the fashions in them look dated.  Most veteran machine knitters say that instead they adapt patterns for handknits into machine knits.

That is probably sage advice, except that I wasn’t having much luck finding patterns that looked like they would adapt well to my basic little machine beyond really boring stockinette-only designs.

Today I discovered Continue reading

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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

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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

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Flat socks and knitting machines

With the holidays looming, my thoughts turn once again to production crafting, and I have retrieved my standard gauge knitting machine (KnitKing/Knitmaster 4500) from under the bed. On it was a partially-complete side-seam sock that I started several months ago.

Knitmaster Know How

KnitKing/Knitmaster Graphic from Newsletter

For those not familiar with knitting machine lingo and history, let me briefly summarize what is going on here. Continue reading

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Knit your own electronics

In the new Knitty for Spring/Summer 2010, there is a thrilling-looking new project for a felted bag.  But not just any felted bag, a bag that displays your knitting chart electronically.  Basically, the bag has LED lights sewn into it, connected to a special computer chip (available here) with conductive threads.  You can upload onto the chip a pre-programmed lace pattern, a row counter program or you can program in your own charts for your projects.  The LED lights then display which stitches you need for that row by flashing quickly, flashing slowly, lighting solid, etc.  Continue reading