Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Machine Knitting Camp

I bought my first knitting machine in February 2020. I had two lessons and just as we were scheduling the next one, the pandemic hit. I did take another virtual class at one point which helped me learn to use the color changer and understand the electronics of my machine a bit better. But I’ve largely been on my own, using You Tube, the MK Ravelry group, and an amazing FB group to get me through. 

But unlike my usual eager self, I’ve been really timid about venturing deeper into machine knitting. Recently, I commented on a cute MK project on Rav and the maker emailed me to let me know that she was in Minneapolis and invited me to join the Midwest Machine Knitting Collaborative (MMKC). Woohoo! 

I was already hooked up with a local mk salesperson and I’d seen frequent mentions to “Purls of Joy”. Honestly, I assumed it was something religion-based (like knitting for church charities or something) and didn’t think much else about it. Turns out, it was a machine knitting seminar and this year, 2022, was to be the final year! So I scrambled to attend the 2-day seminar. I learned a ton and was introduced to a bunch of  new knitters and resources throughout the state. 

I learned about the 3-day class and when I got the email that 1) there was one spot left and 2) that it was very affordable, I jumped on it! 

I drove up to St. Cloud on Thursday morning, ready for the 10 a.m. check in. There were lots of people already set up and knitting and I thought I was late! Turns out, a couple of women had come in from out of state and had taken in-person lessons the day or two before. Good to know!

Back in February (of this year), I hit the mother lode with my trip to WI and one of the machines is a standard gauge Silver Reed Sk360. I’ve been knitting on a Brother standard gauge and figured this would be a good time to learn the new-to-me machine and brand. The bulky I bought is by the Studio/Silver Reed/Singer brand as well. 

But, I hadn’t taken this thing out since bringing it in the house in February! I knew that the woman I got it from hadn’t used it in many years. She was over 90 and said she’d long since stopped using the standard gauge because the stitches are too small to see. Not to mention this machine was manufactured some time in the early 80s, when I would have been a wee little one. I could use a little oil so figured the machine could too! :)

We started out talking about basic machine maintenance. I’d brought a new sponge bar with me because that’s a given - you should always replace the sponge bar in a used machine. We started cleaning it out and it just kept going and going! SO MUCH LINT! Oh my gosh! I swear I ended up with a pile of lint and dust that could fill an 8 oz cup. We oiled it up and I was off and knitting!

Much of the weekend was guided - we all knit:
  • a tuck stitch dishcloth - casting on and off, using punchcards
  • worked up another tuck stitch design in a cowl or wrap - casting on and off, using punchcards with a specific needle arrangement, steaming/blocking, seaming

  • And socks - casting on and off, ribbing, short rowing, Kitchener stitch, seaming

I seamed one of my toes wrong (the seam was on the outside). 
So I undid it, but I couldn’t figure out how to redo it, so I’m just going to rehang the sock and undo the toe shaping, and re-knit.

Lots of skills! We also had “table talk” each day where we discussed different topics, which was super helpful. We learned how to fix things, we did a tour of the yarn shop, there was a bit of marketing too :) Hey, they’ve got a business to run!

I also started a sideways sweater. I tried on a sample in size 44 and it was so cute! I knit the same size, and used the same yarn (different color), but mine is coming up smaller. Recently, there was a discussion about Silver Reed knitting up a little tighter than Brother at the same gauge. But, this is also why, you always make a swatch! I’m still going to finish it because it will *fit*, it just will be a fitted top vs. the intended style.

See? Lily can fit it!

I also shortened mine about an inch or so. I have a couple of dropped stitches that I need to pick up. Then, I’ll seam the other shoulder (I don’t like seaming on the machine and will do the rest with my linker), add the sleeve ribbing, and then the lower ribbing. 

The morning of day 3, we all were in high spirits! Two of us were going to finish our sweaters and start our socks, others were going to finish their socks and start sweaters…And then every single one of us had weird, random issues with our knitting. The two pros spent most of day fixing, undoing, redoing, it was a MESS! 

When I got home, I swatched (haha!) a cotton/cashmere (47%/53%) blend to make another version with some decorative eyelets, inspired by this:

The fabric is so amazing!

The first two nights I ended up with a migraine. On day 2, I took my meds much sooner than I had on day 1. I ended up early in the morning, with my plastic mid gauge out and hooked up to the ironing board :)

I knit the back and the head there, and knit the front when I got back home. I started seaming it together, but have a little ways to go :)

Hotels were SO expensive, especially for St. Cloud(!), but even with the hotel, food, and my shopping at the camp (I bought a couple of MK patterns, sock yarn, the next issue of Machine Knitting Monthly, and some items for my machine), it was well worth it! 

I want to go to the next one, but there’s a high likelihood that a 70 mile drive in February or March may not be an option :-p

I rearranged my room a bit, bringing up the narrow table (18” wide x 60” long). It allows me to hook up a second machine when I want (yes, even with just 18” width!!). The folding table easily clears the space and I can get to the other long edge when needed. 

I definitely notice a difference between the two brands and am happy to be able to switch between the two standard gauge machines as needed. Now, I just need to get my bulky up, cleaned out, and running!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

A Couple of Birthday Dresses!

I almost always make a new dress to wear on my birthday each year. For 2022, I was seeing a musical production of Twelve Angry Men, and I wanted to have a "special" day dress and something for the show. 

I went to a recent make, M7834 for the day dress. When I finished the paisley version, I knew I'd be making it in this cotton clip dot from SR Harris, and leaving it sleeveless. It's such a cute pattern and I loved how the original turned out. 

I made no changes other than narrowing the shoulder as I mentioned in the last post, but I should have! I've said it myself a thousand times, FABRIC CHANGES FIT! The first one was made in a heavier rayon challis with beautiful drape. This cotton one pulls a bit at the bust. 

A woman stopped to tell me I looked very pretty, and that she's inspired to get a white summer dress now. 
yes! yes! yes!!

And the pretty blue purse I treated myself to as an early birthday gift! 

It turned out pretty-ok and I loved wearing it! I started the day with a trip to my favorite bakery for a pastry and a latte, then I went and got the Benz shined up! :) Afterwards, I worked that day until about 2 or 3 and started to get ready for dinner and the show.

For evening, I sewed Burda 7/2022 #106. I know I've gained some weight, it was endo-belly time, and this dress is fitted. So I traced a 42 neckline and armholes and a 44 for the rest. I should have known better but I was short on time. I ended up having to blind stitch the surplice down in front because it was huge and gaping. I am a 42 on top in Burda with the waist graded to a 44. Doh. The ties were tied really tight, too! LOL!

I used this rayon challis that I got when I visited SR Harris back in 2018. I sewed the side seams a little larger through the bust, did not add hem allowance on the skirt but hemmed at 5/8", and tacked down the front as mentioned. 

Since the fabric and lining (cotton voile) are so lightweight, I used the "trick" learned some time ago and trimmed 1/8" from the neckline edges in lieu of understitching. It works well when both fabric are very light and takes a press well. 

I don't know what point the surplice serves though as it has a side zipper. I think it would work fine as a v-neck. 

Speaking of...I've read lots of "fear" type things about side zippers, but it was easy peasy! I tacked the bodice lining to the waist seam by hand.

And it has twirl factor!! Woot! 

I just spent 3 days at a machine knitting camp and it was AWESOME! I'm going to do a separate write-up for that.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Mid Year Check-In and July Plans

The year is off to a rough start -- in real life and in sewing plans. Oy! I looked back at my list of goals for 2022 and I've met exactly -0- of them!

  • Trench Coat - I want this but have stalled. Wah. I am thinking of taking a sew-cation in August. A trench coat is a strong desire but in reality, isn't a workhorse here in Minneapolis. I'd estimate I could wear a trench for about 4 weeks in fall and maybe 4-6 weeks in spring. 
  • Burda 2/2020 blazer - I don't think I ever bought lining fabric for this. I wanted a very specific color and struck out with Mood. I'd better start looking again so that I can be ready to sew this for fall! A wool blazer will have lots more functionality than the trench - I can wear it about October through May ish. 
  • Formal black dress - Perhaps this should read "semi-formal". I need a dress for more serious/somber occasions, but not say, a black-tie event/party.
  • LBD or LBJ(umpsuit) - I'm thinking this Vogue 1465 or Simplicity 9151 (always down for a CR pattern!)
  • Blazer for him - Another project for fall. I have the fashion fabric and lining! Ooh, still need buttons though. 
  • The Dress a Month fitting Challenge - So far, I've sewn patterns by Simplicity, New Look, and McCall's. I've removed Kwik Sew because I don't have any woven KS dress patterns. I also removed Viki Sews. I've replaced KS and VS with Ottobre and Patrones.  I don't think I'll get to all 12, but definitely want to finish out the Big4.
  • Matching machine knit sweaters for the boys - winter project
  • Machine knit trousers - I'm not sure if I'll get to these unless I find yarn on my knitting camp trip this month. I think a crepe yarn is best but don't want to buy online without help. So either I find yarn at Rockinghorse Farms or I get tips from the experts there on where to buy. 
  • 5 garments for skill building
    • A raglan sweater or cardigan 
    • A sweater or cardigan with set-in sleeves - I found a summer project in Machine Knitting Monthly that I'm going to try!
    • A dolman sweater with some type of stitch pattern (garter, fair isle, lace, something!)
    • Socks - This will happen at MK camp in July
    • A wrap or poncho - I may do this sooner rather than later because the office is often pretty chilly!
  • Begin grad school - who knew the deadline for fall was February?! Hahaha. I can be kind of spacey sometimes so I'm not surprised I missed this little (har,har) detail. I will be applying February 2023.
  • Read 3 books per month - my focus has been really off and I have only read about 5 books total this year. womp, womp.
I was going to work on my challenge pattern (a Vogue) but pivoted and started a dress for my birthday which is next week. I sewed a sleeveless version of M7834 in white swiss dot and it is SO cute! The cotton doesn't drape as nicely over Lily so it looks tight, but it isn't. It fits great! May not get photos of it on until that day but will post it. I did not make any changes aside from leaving off the sleeves, and narrowing the shoulder as needed from version 1.

In June I sewed 5 yards. 1 garment for myself, 4 kids garments, and altered 3 garments for my daughter!:
Ottobre 3/2010 #17 and 18
Ottobre 3/2014 #12 and 25
M7834 dress 

For July, I am really going to try to execute!!!!! :)
  • Burda 7/2022 birthday dress
  • Socks at knitting camp
  • MK summer cardigan
  • Butterick 6640 for my challenge in a striped cotton shirting. I plan to have fun with stripe direction!
  • I really(!) want to find time to sew NL6692 as well

Wish me luck! 

How is your 2022 sewing plan coming along?