Machine knitting update

Picture heavy post to follow! ….. I’ve been on a steep learning curve with my knitting machine, and it’s all starting to click. I can cast on and do various things like ribbing or fairisle swatches without having to take out the manual every time!

First machine knit jumper!

The machine knit community had a month where we converted a hand knit pattern to machine and I used a pattern from Amy Milller, it has a fitted sleeve and a slight flare to the shape.

My handknit version from a few years ago is below, I didn’t go with the longer hem this time.

Hand knit Sweet Jane by Amy Miller.

I was able to match the stitch gauge of the pattern but had to make some calculations for the row gauge. Which wasn’t too difficult. First I counted the rows between increases, worked out how many cm it should measure and then figured out how many machine rows would give me the same cm measurement.

I made the back and used it to check my calculations. Then I made some mockup designs on my phone for the front intarsia:

I didn’t draw a chart for the design as it was simple angled lines. I took note of the rows where I would begin and end, and then hoped for the best.

Intarsia on my knit master uses a special carriage, the yarn is laid across the open needles by hand and the carriage passed across as you hold the yarn underneath to give it tension.

I then joined the pieces at the shoulders:

The yellow yarn is waste knitting which gets unravelled once the panels are joined.

Without changing the construction of the handknit pattern, I was able to short row the sleevecap straight into the armhole.

With a machine, all the stitches are placed onto the needles, then the outer needles are held in a non-working position until they are needed.

Short row sleeve cap, the needles on right are in non-working position.

All the needles at work for the rest of the sleeve.

After that I was able to rehang the sides and knit one loosely tensioned row to seam them. Followed by casting off.

I wasn’t confident in hems or ribbing yet so the roll neckline was finished with some loosely knitted rows of stockinette.

I was very pleased to finally get this far..!

The Finished jumper!

Stitch surgery

Scrappy yarn sweater

I started this jumper after bring inspired by Danish knitwear designer Laerke Baeger, who started a series during Lockdown last year on her Instagram, showing how to make a scrappy yarn sweater, which she called the #alonetogethersweater.

The idea is to use two yarns, one of which gets cut at regular intervals and a scrap of coloured yarn tied in. I had alot of scrap yarn so I tied them together with grey used every third colour and white for my 2nd yarn.

At the time I also came across the pattern below from Ruke Knit – White Sheep Sweater.

I liked the raglan shape and the loose fit, so I decided to combine the two ideas.

White Sheep sweater by Ruke Official

Here’s where I went a little off plan… I felt like the ribbed section started too close to the underarms so I lengthened the top section before starting the ribbing.

I also realised I might run out of the grey yarn that I was using every third colour on the tied yarn. So I swapped this for navy every 3rd colour, still working along with the strand of white….. Still with me??!

This is how it looked:

I was trying it on as I went and it wasn’t looking good….. The ribbing would have been better higher / and the darker ribbing just made it look like two different jumpers!

That ribbing was a few hours in the making and I couldn’t bear to rip it back, so stitch surgery was needed!

I threaded 2 circular needles between the panels a couple of rows apart, cut the stitches between and continued them both separately.

2 for the price of one!

After that it was just a matter of carrying on and trying it as I went along:

The neckline felt better folded under:

I turned it to the inside and attached it with a crochet chain stitch so it kept its stretch :

Inner neckband
Centre back ‘label’

All the threads ends are just left as is… No weaving in, and so far only one or two have popped out! The original inspiration jumper leaves the ends to hang on any side but I deliberately kept mine to the inside.

Posing directed by my youngest!

And if you got this far….. the ribbing became a cushion cover:

Slán go fóill!

DIY Swimrobe and swimsuit

Openwater or outdoor swimming seems to be having a moment, it probably has alot to do with gyms and pools being closed!

I live by the coast and swim in the sea every year. Usually from May to September, but this year we had a very mild October so it made it a bit easier to keep going.

The feeling of exhilaration from the cold water gives a great mental boost, as well as being a useful recovery from a jog!

DIY Swimrobe (Not a Dryrobe!)

As the weather got cooler, I put on my wetsuit, but I needed something to throw on after a swim, as it’s often easier to go home and dry off properly there.

Dryrobe and other similar robe brands are very popular – they are basically a loose fit raincoat with thick fleece lining. As usual… I wanted to make my own version, can’t take the easy route😆

I started by tracing the elements I needed from a coat. The hood on my Superdry jacket has great head coverage so I traced the hood and shoulders:

I improvised the general robe shape using a sweatshirt as a guide.

I chalked a wide margin around the sweatshirt. Main fabric is a lightweight and waterproof, I bought it from Guiney’s years ago, to use as a bag lining I think!
The fleece lining came from a Penny’s (Primark) blanket. The pink stripe came from a fabric sample that I bought from Minerva.com.
Generous fabric samples from Minerva

I had bought some raincoat fabric samples from Minerva, but decided to go low-cost for my first attempt at a swim robe, and instead used what I had at home. Their samples are genorously cut across the full width of the roll, so I used them to add some interest to the robe.

Playing with embellishment.
The front pocket was made from ripstop samples. Front Zip was taken from the grey jacket above (those jackets have 2 front zips.. I only need one!). I might change this to a longer zip if I continue swimming next winter.

The fleece doesn’t extend into the hem because I ran out, so the end is lined with a patterned blanket fabric.

I bound the inner seams with the red outer fabric, and wore it a couple of times before I sewed on the lower front pockets, which are lined in fleece.

I also added my favourite feature: an inner pocket for my hot water bottle!

Now that’s how to warm up!!
Bright enough!! Not hard to spot me from a distance!

The other item I needed was a sleeved swimsuit, it doesn’t add much warmth, but it will protect from the sun this summer.

I used sports lycra from fabricland.co.uk. And lined it with black lycra.

I changed the neckline after seeing the draglines in this picture.
The leg openings were finished after this (and after I’d worn it under my wetsuit to swim a few times – for research purposes!)

I almost titled this ‘new togs’ but do many other countries say togs instead of swimsuit? (or bathers/swimmers) but we use togs as much as swimsuit!

Anyhoo, the pattern I used is below- Vogue 9192. I combined the top from view E with the bikini bottoms view D. I didn’t need to make any alterations, they joined perfectly across the waistline. These were so easy to make that I’m sorry I put it off for so long!

Vogue pattern V9192

I’d like to make view C sometime too. Recommendations for swimwear fabric stockists will be gratefully received!

So that was my sewing for January. Feb and March were all about knitting, specifically Machine Knitting!. . I’ll share more of my progress soon.

Slán go fóill x

And one more picture before I go…

Unexpected bonus…. It matches my fleece lined ski pants!

Machine Knitting a hat

I have decided that this is the year that I properly learn how to use my knitting machine. I own a (2nd hand) Knitmaster 360 and ribber. I have never given myself enough time to fully understand how these work.

The reverse of my hat, halfway through knitting

I have made a few things with them…you might find some old posts on this blog. (I still regularly wear that Cardigan!)

In order to motivate myself, I joined The Machine Knitting Community at the end of January. It’s run by a designer named Nic Corrigan who owns Whitehall Studio. The membership opens up 4 times a year, so that new people join in batches.

The Community operates through an app and website, where there are monthly Knitalongs, monthly zoom knit night, guest speakers and demonstrations. With all previous events recorded and available to watch at any time.

I’m slowly making my way through the videos, and have also followed the pattern and instructions for a previous Hat Kal.

My first machine knit hat! Pom Pom to be added!

I have never gotten to grips with my ribber, and within minutes of posting a query on how to get it set up, some helpful members directed me to some videos, and helped troubleshoot my setup. This alone was worth the joining fee!

My first hat was knitted and I made lots of great mistakes (I know that sounds odd… But hear me out)…

1. My ribbing was like cardboard… Due to setting it up wrong. I know better now!

2.The hat was too long… I will now remember to knit a swatch🤣.. (looking at my post from 7 years ago, I should have known that!)

3. If I don’t unlock the punchcard, the pattern will freeze and become vertical stripes (could be useful in future!.

Non stretchy ribbing and accidental stripes!

4.The patterning has some missed areas… Due to not pushing the carriage fully past the punchcard selectors.

It’s a steep learning curve and needs alot of patience/perseverance, but I’m enjoying the challenge.

I could have unravelled my practice hat and started again, but I needed to try to make it wearable, (why?…. Because sometimes I make life hard for myself!)

So I threaded a lifeline and cut off the grey ribbing.

I folded up a band and hung all the stitches back on the knitting machine…. (Probably won’t do that again… Too much time).Knitted a row and then cast off.

Once the side was seamed it was good to go!

Patterning mistakes are a bit more obvious on this side

I worked on some swatches during the week and plan to spend some more time at the machine this week, putting what I’ve learned into practice on a second hat.

And I’m also wearing a hand-knit in progress in the above picture… I’m working on the sleeves and will hopefully have a finished piece to show soon!

Made in Ireland (Again!)

McCalls 7694

Sometimes sewing plans take a while to come together. I was given a long wool coat by my Aunt over 2 years ago, she knew I’d appreciate the pure wool fabric, and would put it to good use.

William Lett Wool Coat (1985)

It was Made in Ireland by the label ‘William Lett’ approx 35 yrs ago, and despite being worn in the 80’s to Weddings and Funerals alike – other than the lining and foam shoulder pads coming apart – it was in almost perfect condition.

I had thought about altering the shoulders and trying to change the collar etc, but I knew it still wouldn’t be my style, so I put it away for a while.

Then this pattern caught my eye:

Mccalls 7694

So in November I took the coat apart at the seams and tried to fit as many of the pattern pieces as possible.

Disassembled coat!
Pattern tetris….

Despite the length of the original coat, I was left with only small scraps once I had cut and pieced some of the panels.

The front panels have an extra vertical seam, the sleeves have a longer cuff panel than on the pattern and the inside facings are also pieced together.

I added a seam parallel to the zip line so that it would look intentional!
Sleeve panels, longer cuff panel than the original pattern
The back pleat is a pieced panel and not as deep as the pattern, due to fabric shortages!
The paisley lining and snaps were the only things I bought to complete the jacket.

It’s a great pattern and I seem to fit Mccalls size 10 quite well – despite my measurements matching up with the size 12 on the envelope. (my measurements are approx 34-29-36)

I did take the shoulders in a little, they are cut to be a dropped style, but this doesn’t suit my straight shoulders so I took them in about 1.5 cm to sit on my shoulder.

Before altering.. Comparing shoulder fit to the original

Below after altering. I also love the lower curved hem detail:

The zip came from an old RTW Cardigan!
Final bit of posing I promise! It’s lightweight but so warm!

Other than a few swear words while attaching the snaps (they kept popping off as soon as I tested them – I was being too gentle with the hammer 😂), I loved making this.

It’s nice to prolong the life of this fabric, and good to show alternatives to buying new fabric!