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Category Archives: Machine Knitting

Machine Knitted Baby Blanket #2

Presenting my second baby blanket ever. Finished!

Angel Prayers

It is knit on a single bed machine in 3 strips of 4 segments and each segment has a finished lining panel behind it. It is called “fully lined” because it is essentially two separate pieces of fabric knitted together at the color changes. The back “lining” hides the floats that result from having more than one color in a row. It is knitted on a single bed and therefore, is not a double knit fabric where those floats would be knitted into the back fabric.

The pattern designer’s intention was for the knitter to leave the second to last needles out of work if I remember correctly, so that those loops at the edges could be joined together by latching. So simple! But the instructions were not really written for a beginner like me and were way over my head. I ended up with raggedy edges and a few dropped stitches, extra long loops at the row ends, etc., all beginner’s mistakes. You can bet I am a wiser beginner now.

A couple of weeks ago I found these strips rolled up in a satchel and I began trying to figure out how to join the three strips of this afghan together. I finally invisibly blanket stitched the two layers together on all sides to “fix” any dropped stitches or uneven edges. Then I hung one section using every other needle on the machine, facing me, e-wrapped in white, and then matched the squares together with a second strip, backside facing me and pushed the whole bundle behind the latches. It was too much thickness for the carriage so I manually knit back the bundle together. This created a single strand of white on the needles and I latched them off. I did the same routine with the 3rd panel.

Here’s the back.

Back

You can see the loops on the back and ladders on the front, a result of the EON (every other needle) latching.

Edge Join

Maybe you can see the stitches better in black and white:

Black and White Stitching

But as I worked I found that my errors were not unsolvable and not as bad as I had imagined. Using the machine to evenly hang and join the strips really helped. I am pretty happy that I finally figured it out in a way that, while not professional looking, still allows the blanket to be serviceable.

Angel Prayers Angel

Angel Prayers Closeup

And Please Bless Daddy. I think it’s a cute blanket!

I was going to add a crocheted edging but found that the thickness of the two pieces plus the invisible stitching holding the panels together made crocheting uneven and difficult. I felt it was better left as is.

Since this is going into a preschool where I suspect it will not always get the tender loving care it deserves (cold water wash and gentle drying), I needed to reinforce the joins so I used 100% cotton thread, doubled and “invisibly stitched the edges together along each latched edge.

Here’s the pattern booklet I used

LittleAngels

Here’s my first blanket finished way back in 2007 when I was setting up the preschool and recovering from chemo and radiation (how did I do all that???). It was smaller and not knitted in strips that required joining so I wasn’t prepared for all the problems I caused myself on this second blanket.

blankie

I am slowly moving all the sewing and knitting things that were stored in the garage when I put The Stitchery, my workshop, on the market. I have moved many things in and in order to do that much I have had to sort through almost everything in the house and toss, donate, and rearrange to accomplish it. Nothing is really “set up” yet. I do have the cutting table in the (heated!) sewing room but I can’t yet sit down to a sewing machine. You get the picture?! Of course you do!!

In my beginner’s opinion making an afghan on a single bed was a ton of unnecessary work. I learned lots about the importance of wrapping the end yarns when changing colors, and keeping edge stitches neat and tidy. Oh, I’ve learned a lot because I made a lot of errors!!! I am pretty sure right now that I’d rather knit jacquard (AKA Fair Isle) with the ribber or on a double bed machine like the Passap. Maybe that will be the next project.

It’s nice to take a knitting break from all the heavy monkey work of moving things around and sorting and organizing. I am getting closer to having a knitting area and my sewing room back in service. I’m looking forward to it.

Piping the Lining Edge and Knitting a Little

Here’s the piping I had made up for the join between the orange and purple wool and the acetate lining for the Marfy 1977 coat. Because the silk used has cool stripes in it I wanted to create fabulous chevrons with the strips but ran out of any thing I could use to fill the piping. I also wanted the piping to have more “statement” next to the loud wool and flashy acetate so I experimented with the width of the second layer of piping. I’m not satisfied with the results of the rat tail piping and flat edge:

Piping and Flat Edge Lining

Next step is to make some cording on the knitting machine, using a yarn I can live without:

Making Cording

I caste on 7 stitches, knit some waste to get going, and punched the right part button on. Each pass from right to left the machine knits on all needles and before passing the carriage from left back to the right I pull out the middle needle. The machine then only knits on the middle needle and the stitch pulls the ends inward, creating the inward curl and making the knitting into a cord.

I see that this second cording is going to be bigger than normal so I hope my “creativity” (read “playing fast and loose with the rules”) hasn’t produced something that is too autre or eccentric. We’ll see.

I have overcome my fear of the knitting machine for yet another time. It seems so mysterious until I sit down and stumble through the routine. And then it’s all routine, back and forth, back and forth, pushing that carriage, hundreds of passes: good simple muscular, grunt work.

Which is good when trying to work off frustration at finding that fabulous pattern that I couldn’t afford: Is. Missing. The. Jacket. Pieces.

J, K, and L are not in the envelope.

Jacket

I made up some photos to get more detail of the shape of these pieces. You can get larger views by clicking on the photo and then on “sizes” above the photo on the Flikr page where you can chose the larger sizes:

Missing J, K, L Pieces Missing

Missing

The instructions for the font show a small bust dart

Front Instructions

And instructions for the back piece show a shoulder dart

Gusset Instructions

I can draft this style of jacket since I have the Coat & Skirt Making book, but I really wanted to see Edith Head’s interpretation.

Fortunately I found another copy of the pattern (for half the price) and the seller guarantees that all the pieces will be included.

Meanwhile, the knitting machine has help me keep the blood pressure down. That’s a good thing. I can probably drag out the finishing of this coat until the new pattern copy arrives. It’s always something!

Happy Sewing!

Stitchery at Ravelry

Ooooh, I didn’t expect to receive my invite so soon, last I looked there were 5000 people in front of me but

The Stitchery is now Stitchery at Ravelry.

And I’m leaving town today so I won’t have time to play over there with the yarn and fiber friends.

Oh well, since I’m also a
sewing goddess or
sewing diva or
sewist or
sewn fashion enthusiast or
whatever

(this is how we got our name The Sewing Divas, we kicked around until we were tired of kicking)(I can’t tell you how much that term bothers me, it’s too enormous, but overall it seems to work so my trepidations will have to sit down, and just shut up!)(that’s a quote from internal discussion with me, myself and I)

I have little to add to the Ravelry site at the moment.
Too many irons in the fire,
Jill of all trades,
Mistress of none,

but really I’m

Dancing

perilously close to the existence of the dilettante at all times.

However

I don’t have the luxury of maintaining a hobbiest’s status since I must produce useful and attractive objects in almost every endeavor so I must be noun # 2:

2. a lover of an art or science, esp. of a fine art.

Yup, that’s it.

But for today I’m going to travel a great distance to maintain the art of snoop shopping!!! I hope to have a full report when I return on Monday. And it’s a good thing that I’ve studied Georgene’s excellent Snoop Shopping article in Threads

Happy Trails
:)

Preschool Work: Machine Knitted Baby Blanket & Coverings for Mattress Pads

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The first blanket is done!

blankie

The back is attached at each color change by “hanging a hem”, picking up the stitches of the front and hanging them on the needles, then knitting over both stitches.

back

This was the easiest job: just stapling upholstry grade vinyl to a board. There is a foam pad covered in batting underneath. This changing table is in the bathroom and is mounted on a platform that fits over the tub.

changingbath

This was a trickier job: to cover the 2″ foam pads that fit inside the stand alone changing table and baby cribs:

changingpad

crib

I made piping using 3/8″ cording and 1.25″ wide strips of vinyl. I needed more than 15 yards of it. It was tedious but very easy using a piping foot. I wanted the piping around the top to prevent any wetness from running down between the pad and the wood.

cribpad

I cut the tops using the dimensions of the foam pads and sewed the piping to the top section using 3.5 stitch length and a leather needle. Taking a half inch seam allowance made the foam padding and batting fill out the vinyl covers better.

The bottoms were cut to measurement plus 4 inches since the foam is 2 inches thick. I’ll show you the method for making the corners tomorrow.

I found it in the older edition of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It’s not in the new 2003 edition.

The foam and batting wouldn’t slide easily into the cloth-backed vinyl casings so full length openings were definitely required.

On the first one, the 40″ long changing pad I used two 20″ separating zips with the tops abutted together in the middle of the opening.

zip

I decided that zippers were too much extra fuss and work so switched to velcro. Unfortunately I miscalculated the overlap on the velcro by 1″ so the covers don’t fit as tightly but I was under a deadline and the functionality wasn’t compromised.

velcro

Tonight I’ll close with more shots of the school interior:

The Nursery

nursery

Cubbies separating different age group areas

cubbies

Amazing Speed

I wanted to title this submission “Hopes and Dreams” but the dreams are coming true so fast that it could only be “Amazing Speed”!

My husband has hired a Directress/Head Teacher who’s belief it is that she has just been handed the fulfillment of her dreams: to open and run a school. And she has translated the hopes and dreams into action in just one week’s time. Did I mention that she’s absolutely fabulous and so happy to be challenged?

I’ve opened a wordress blog in the new school’s name *just in case* a blog would be useful to the school. There’s nothing there right now but it is located at BestBeginnings.wordpress.com.

The newly remodeled daycare building has been visited by the requisite state agencies, all of whom have approved the projected school layout and activity centers, and the building and improvements (I’m sure I’m leaving out a category of inspection or two in this rundown) and all that’s left is licensing. The licensing packet has been delivered to us and we will have it filled out presented to the State in a meeting Monday, Sept 23rd, I believe.

An Open House or two are planned for the last week in September and the target opening date is the first week of October.

I have to get the 2″ foam for the cribs and changing tables and cover them with vinyl, then make slip covers in something soft. We have a local company that makes the foam, Volunteer Foam, so I’ll finally get to see what that company’s all about.

I am anxiously awaiting a bolt of darling blue and white checked flannel numbered 2-8 from Ressy. Alas, the coordinating fabric of stuffed bears on a blue background with the wordng “Sweet Friends”, number 2-7, had already been sold out to someone else outside the coop.

In the meantime, since we are moving through the system so quickly, at an unheard of speed at any rate, I’ll use sheets for the slip covers to go over the vinyl coverings.

I have also boldly ordered the acrylic (with a hint of nylon) yarns to knit receiving blankets and the new Little Angels Bably Blankets pattern diskette from Charlene Schaeffer of the KnitKnackShop.com in Peru, Indiana. Charlene kindly advised me on the yarns that will withstand multiple washings. Thanks, Charlene! I know so little about the “grandmother arts” and I am so blessed to have this outlet my unfullfilled crafterly instincts.

LittleAngels

The wording on the white and blue blanket says, “Guardian Angels Watching From Above, Bless This Child with Faith Hope & Love”. I’ll also do the blanket in rose, blue and white that says, “Please Bless Daddy, Please Bless Mommy”. I think they are darling blankets and I feel the parents of the nursery age children will, too. How darling are these blankets??!!

Thus I have set for myself a task about which I know very little but will have to master. I’ve made my own deadlines and I’ll have to learn it, no more messing around with accounting, equipping, and commercial sewing. I’ll be knitting. I have to visualize myself doing it and stop being intimidated by all the gadgetry of the machines. Hopefully I’ll have something to show you in the next week or so.

It will be wonderful to actually produce something useful!

Mohair, The Diamond Fiber

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Mohair is silky, durable, dyes well and is known as the diamond fiber for its ability to absorb humidity and resist creasing. Who can resist a mohair wool blend or a fine mohair for knitting every other needle? Where does it come from (besides the goats, we already know Angora goats growth this luxury fiber.

Did you know that 58% of the world’s mohair is from South Africa, 90% of that from the Eastern Cape? I didn’t until I read this article: South Africa’s Mohair Mojo

Mohair SA’s Review 2005 manual puts South Africa a full 45% ahead of its biggest production rival, the US (13% of world production). They are followed by Lesotho (10% share of world production), Turkey and Argentina (both with a 5% share), Australia (3%), New Zealand (2%) and “other” (4%).

There are many stages in mohair production: the grower, the broker, the processor, and then the end user.

In South Africa, mohair is largely handled up to the washing and combing stage (processor). “A total of 95% of SA production is exported in raw or semi-processed form,” Loots says. “Semi-processed mohair is exported to all destinations, including Europe, the UK and the Far East.”

South Africa’s product output peaked in the 80’s with 12 million kilograms abut is now 3.5 to 4 million kilograms annually.

We are lucky when we can get some to knit up or buy a length of Ermenegildo Zegna fabric from Michael’s Fabrics.com (highly recommended)!

The Real Stitchery

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Today I want to let those new to my blog know that The Stitchery is a little old house that is soley dedicated to sewing, knitting and commercial embroidery. It is located about 20 minutes from my home and I go there every day that I can to sew, run the payroll and other administrative duties for the company belonging to my family, machine knit, and do the embroidery jobs I have on order.

It’s there that I usually handle the personal finances as well so one room functions as an office for me.

One room is the cutting table, patterns, clam press and ironing board with a gravity feed industrial iron that steams quite well.

One room is all the fabric and trim stash and personal sewing machine, serger and coverstitch.

One room is now going to be the commercial sewing room, invading the primacy of the knitting machines. There are two industrial Merrows, and a few domestic machines. The two Passups are still in place but the Studio 360 and the Brother 830 are pushed together by the door. I think they’d still be usable with some rearranging.

Yesterday I misspoke: home with me came the Brother 940, an electronic with patterning capabilities.

Click here to read the beginning of this blog: Welcome to The Stitchery

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