Thursday, July 14, 2005

What is this?

A. the cat’s revenge on a lace sampler scarf
B. proof that the knitting gods are toying with me
C. trouble
D. all of the above

now, all you machine knitters sit on your hands, I can hear you going "pick me, pick me!"I know you are dying to answer!

The answer is in fact D, and a whole lot more…I bought my current machine from a dear old lady, the whole kit and caboodle for $200, a bargain for an electronic, even if it is an old one. Included in the “caboodle” were a stack of hand marked Mylar pattern sheets, I have used some, but decided yesterday to do some lace sampling ( I keep feeling like I am going over and over old ground, I hate moving and giving stuff away…I keep losing stuff I need! Next time we move, my whole workroom moves with us) and dug the sheets out, I then numbered and listed the patterns prior to knitting them to keep an accurate record, and then set to and knitted a long scarf of different lace patterns, unfortunately a number of them were “no go’s” so I ended up with patches of ladders, (some needle crunching…)and a few had obvious mistakes, which I may be able to fix, but a few were lovely, which made the whole exercise worthwhile.

I printed the number of the pattern (which is also written on the Mylar sheet) the number of rows in the sample, tension, weight required and just a general note about ease of knitting etc. on a slip of paper and stapled this to the sample, at present the scarves are just folded in a box in my workroom, but when I have finished sampling I will over lock each successful sample to minimize storage ( see my whinge from before re: travelling…I have a box load of samples in the storage room of our Waihi house!) I may take photos of these samples and load them into my laptop, simplify things even further.

Standard machine knit lace ( for those of us who don’t own garter carriages) is quite different to handknit lace, for a start there is a stocking stitch side and a reverse stocking stitch side, you cannot have plain and purl stitches on the same side, unless you handtool them, use a garter bar, or the aforementioned garter carriage. There are some very pretty lace patterns that are easy to knit by machine, but would torment a handknitter, I am not going to go into the details of how machines knit lace, there are experts who can do that
Here for starters. And a more complex, how to turn a handknit lace design into a machine knit pattern

The main advantage for me is the speed, which allows me to experiment with lace, in ways that I couldn’t do and still have a job and family. I can knit an “emergency gift” scarf in 20 minutes (and weave in the ends in the car on the way!)
I keep reading about the “Birch Blackhole effect” Birch would take me an hour to knit on the machine…but I won’t, it would be cruel!
I love the relaxing effects of handknitting, and will continue to hand knit lace patterns like Old shale, which relies on garter st for patterning, I see machine knitting as a separate and complimentary craft, for the sake of sanity some things are better suited to the machine, and others to hand knitting.