Conclusions on Machine Knitting

I have been making these machine-knit things for a few weeks now.  They’re all based on the rectangle, which is not bad, and my machine can’t do much else (it’s an oldie, remember?).  For the last week or so I found myself investigating new (or "more advanced," I guess) machines, machines which could do lace and double-knitting and fair isle and other stuff.  My mind whirled around with the possibilities and with trying to choose which machine to get.
Well, I sat down today to work on a new pullover for Chris (started last night), and yeah, it’s coming out OK, and it’s an interesting and useful craft, but…I do NOT get the joy of knitting like I do with handknits.  After working on the pullover for a while, I came down and picked up my Ocean Wave shawl to work on that, and I get so much tactile delight from handling the cashmere that it really makes me happy.
So, in conclusion, I will keep my cheapo knitting machine, finish up the projects that have been started, and only use it for skirt portions of dresses in the future – dresses where I’m writing the pattern, and the skirt part is long sections of plain stockinette.  No more machines for me!

Cashmere Jubilee

That is the name I gave to this Alex-sweater, first real attempt at machine knitting, project, because it looks sort of like a cherries-on-fire theme.
There’s quite a saga to this one.  Want to hear it?  Of course you do!
This is the same yarn combo as in the center (largest) machine-knit bag in the picture below.  Alex really loved that bag and asked me to make him a sweater with those yarns.  OK, fine.  I had no real plans for them.  So I cast onto the machine and started knitting.  These were two yarns stranded together, both laceweight 100% cashmeres from Colourmart.  One (orange) was called Aragosta and the other (pinkish) was called Marchesa.
As I knit it became clear that I was going to run out of Marchesa before finishing the garment.  (It was slightly thicker, and therefore less yardage per cone, than Aragosta.)  To help forestall any weird design issues that might result, I decided to knit one really long rectangle and then cut a steek for the neckline, instead of trying to guess at the finished length, start a front piece, and (possibly) run out of yarn.  So I machine-knit a really long rectangle, as wide as Alex needed for a sweater (plus ease to allow for shrinkage during finishing).  I just kept going until there was no more Marchesa left.  The rectangle was long enough.  That’s sorted.
When it came off the machine, there was a garbled section near the rear right hem where several stitches had dropped and made a bit of a mess.  I cut a piece of faux leather and sewing-machine-stitched it behind the hole in the garment to keep it from fraying further.  (Couldn’t see how to fix the stitches with any knitting technique.)  Purchased the racecar patch and sewed it on the front side, over the mess.  So, that’s sorted.
Now it was time to cut the steek for the neckline.  Well, cashmere doesn’t steek nicely, so I first pinned out the area to cut, then zigzag-stitched around that hole, and then cut out the fabric inside the hole.  My original intent was to allow the cut strands to unravel down to the zigzags, to make a decorative neckline, but this looked like garbage, AND, it failed to cover up the zigzags…so this neckline was looking pretty bad.  Well, thinks I, why not machine-knit a collar and sleeves using the remaining Aragosta yarn plus some cherry-colored other cashmere I have hanging around?
Cast on the machine, knit a "thing" (supposed to be a short sleeve).  Started the second "short sleeve," finished it, took it off the machine, discovered the second one was only 1" long whereas the first one was 3.5" long.  Argh, scrap the sleeve idea.  I’ll make it a vest.  Hey, I’ll use the wider sleeve piece as the collar!
No dice; couldn’t get it to attach right.  By this point I’m out of the cherry-colored cashmere and almost out of Aragosta, so it was time to come up with another solution.  Luckily, I had a spare skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in a cherry red color.  I picked up around the sleeve openings and knit some ribbing, and then picked up around the neckline and knit some ribbing.  To conceal the mess from the zigzag stitching, I made this ribbing extra tall, and then folded it down to the inside and seamed it down.  Now you can’t see the mess!
I finally finished all this Macgyvering tonight and flung it in the laundry.  "Ack," I hear you screaming, "cashmere in the laundry?"  Well, the test piece – the pillowcase or bag shown below – responded very well to this treatment with minimal shrinking.  I didn’t really fear for that.  I’m not planning to throw this in the machine every time we do laundry, but the Colourmart yarns are oiled specifically for machine-knitting, so while they’re a bit gritty to work with, they bloom and soften beautifully in the wash.  So this was the Inaugural Wash.
After the cold water wash and tumble dry, we took it out and Alex tried it on…and VOILA, your favorite knitter has TRIUMPHED AGAIN!  All that monkeying around has resulted in a really nice little sweater.  It fits him nicely, it looks and feels good.  I wouldn’t hesitate this to show this garment to even the most discerning of judges (although I wouldn’t expect fulsome praise from them either).  I am happy with it, and pleased with my perseverance and knowledge of how to tinker with problems and fix them.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Cashmere Jubilee!

A “PS” to Machine Knitting

I just discovered that there is a machine called a linker, or linking machine, which is basically like a sewing machine that makes chain stitches, but it (a) uses your choice of yarn, rather than thread, and (b) allows you to easily get exact stitch placement so you end up with a straight seam.  (I really wish I’d known about these machines years ago…all those pullovers I’ve made would have been SO much easier!)  Someone was auctioning a brand new one on ebay, and the bids were less than 1/3 of the retail price, so I bid…and won!  It should be here this week.  I’ll report back.  There are a few recent projects hanging around waiting for the linker to arrive.  I can test the linker, and finish the projects, probably by Wednesday.

Machine Knitting

Well, I’m glad I only paid $49.99 for my old knitting machine.  Yes, it’s speedy with stockinette.  But it’s finicky about tension – yarn in balls isn’t playing well with it, although yarn on cones knits like a dream.  But I’m finding it hard to get each project started – I end up with a lot of dropped stitches and weird loops, and it takes a long time to fix them.  Also, the three successful things I made had to be seamed by hand, and it was an awful lot of seaming.  When I knit by hand, I usually do the seams as I go – so there might be the same number of seams, but not all at once.  And the ends need to be picked up and finished.  This is all really time-consuming and stressful for me.  I had hoped that the knitting machine would allow me to knit the long, plain sections of stockinette for the skirt parts of the dresses I want to design, but with all the seaming required, I’m not sure I want to bother!  Maybe I just won’t design any more dresses!

L-R:  bag knit with Filatura Superior and tencel; bag knit with 2 strands of laceweight cashmere; bag knit with laceweight cashmere and Kidsilk Haze.