Monday, 23 February 2015

New Toys...........

Earlier this month there was a Circular Knitters convention in Bristol and intrigued I went along.  I know the history of these machines from my research into women homeworkers in the silk industry.  Whereas most of the equipment for silk was artisan made usually of wood, these machines are made of cast iron and fairly complicated.  Most were bought on a production basis, you paid for the machine in finished socks, and then and only then did the worker start to earn cash.  It is obvious from the manuals that the makers didn't have much faith in the little woman's ability to understand the mechanics of the machine as text in the accompanying manual is patronising to say the least.

This is a circular knitting machine - generic photo

But the mechanics are the bits that fascinate me - how does it work, why does this bit move and this not..............  In reality they are really quite simple - it is the latch hook that does the work, without this fabulous little needle none of the knitting machines we have today would exist.

Now on to the new toys..........  No I haven't bought one of the circular type, but I did get a fleabay bargain of a Knitmaster 323 knitting machine.  Yes I know I have a machine, but Mr S broke the carriage handle and as yet hasn't made the promised replacement! But it was a very basic machine and that was it, no way of making any more than the flat-bed machine it is.

Here is where my love of mechanical things come in, it needed a new sponge, needles and good clean. Plus the spools that make the punchcards function weren't going round. I was directed to this resource on YouTube, with the wonderful title of 'Help! my machine was working when I put it away'.  With the help of this and Mr S's tools I took the carriage apart, removed lots and lots of fibre and put it back together again

There was a lot more than this, but Mr S sneezed and bits of fluff went flying everywhere!

And here it is all set and ready to knit. Yes it is on the ironing board and yes I do need a proper table - soon!  I was lucky enough to get a paper manual and set of punch cards from a fellow Raveller and this is my first attempt at fair isle on a knitting machine ever. But this is a flat-bed so to do more I need a ribber attachment............, or so the lovely lady I met at Unravel said!

So I did say toys, well inspired by this video, in which the sweater is knit and then sewn I have finally bought an overlocker! This is my birthday present from Mr S who understands me perfectly.

It is rather scary and much noisier than my sewing machine, but I have my first lesson booked in March so should overcome the fear of breaking a thread and not being able to re-thread...........  there are four threads and each have a particular threading, so until then I am being extra careful!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Where did January go and other things..............

Well January has flown by and here we are in February and I have a new toy..

Back in the summer I acquire a very basic knitting machine with the aim of knitting sock blanks and creating gradient yarns - and it has been very successful

I did this one using three colours and carefully painting and only allowing a small amount of overlap

The only problem, and I am not sure it is a problem, the yarn is kinky from the knitting - but I have looked at some of the gradient yarns on sale and they have the same issue.  As this was a learning exercise I discovered that you really do need to push the dye into the yarn to avoid the dreaded white bits!!

So all good - well not so good, as  when I was knitting this up, Mr S managed to break the carriage handle on the machine - fortunately I was able to finish the knitting by pushing the carriage with my hand.  Mr S says he will make a replacement directly! 

I the meantime I found this bargain on a well known auction site

It is a Knitmaster 323 and it does Fairisle!  After some research I discovered that this was only the second machine by Knitmaster that did automatic colour changes, the first was the 321 and my little beauty is the slightly improved version.

First off it needed a good clean and with a little help from an online video by the answer lady and ask jack.  I took the carriage apart and removed all this and a bit more (but Mr S sneezed and blew some away!)

They soaked the metal parts in some lurid pink cleaning oil, but I used WD40 and a dental pick and soon the bits that should go round were.............  I had posted on Ravelry asking for advice  which is where I got the link to the video and a fellow Raveller came up with the cards (which were missing) and a manual in book form (so much easier than looking at 122 pages on the iPad!

So today I was able to knit the first sample in some bright acrylic yarns a friend gave me when I got the first machine (thanks Emma).

Apart from the gradients - January was a month of colour - fluorescent colours to be more accurate

Seems neons are the latest thing, so I had to try!  Particularly pleased with the pink, yellow and orange, but less happy with the green - need to vary the proportions I think.  These dyes are more intense than the Landscape dyes so I had to absorb the exhaust in some fleece, which were just a bright - so I made these

and this

I don't normally wear hats, but it has been so cold lately that I gave in and made one for those bitter days when you just can't get warm.

Lastly - not a new year resolution, but I resolved to spin at least 15 minutes every day, from 7pm until 7.15pm while listening to The Archers - its surprising how much you get done - currently have 3 bobbins full ready to ply - pics later...............

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