13.9.11

knitting machine

newest knitting endeavor
newest knitting endeavor

i've been so excited and nervous to share about my newest knitting endeavor.  right at the tail end of this last spring, i acquired a knitting machine from a very kind woman.  like i said, our summer was packed to the brim with activity, so i got less time than i had hoped to get accustomed to this technical new skill.  but over the course of a couple segmented evenings and weekends, i somehow fumbled my way through knitting my very first machine knit sweater, my very first machine knit anything!  it's been done for a couple months now and only my nerves have kept me from posting about it.  i always hesitate to talk about yet another hobby in case i lose interest.

newest knitting endeavor



i'm still learning, but if you're interested to hear, read on and i'll share what i've come to find out about machine knitting so far...

even though i've been driven to learn, machine knitting has been very hard and challenging.  i'm starting out with the most basic of machines, which in a lot of ways, is probably a better way for this impatient student to learn.  nothing is computerized, everything is manual.  this machine has a way of one minute making me feel like the smartest person on earth, and the next bringing me down to the reality of how anything good takes a whole lot of time to learn (and loss of hair and sleep).

the fact that i couldn't find even one pattern for a sweater to help me start off knitting on a machine meant i needed to start from square one on this project.  i'm used to just trusting the hard work that someone else has put into a pattern with most of my knitting projects, and tweaking things along the way.  i had to slow down enough to really, really deconstruct a sweater and understand the fit of a knit garment.  it wasn't anything too different from drafting a sewing pattern, i just had to get out the old paper and pencil and do some math (use my brain? what?!) to figure out where to manipulate the stitches to decrease and increase rather than just deciding where to cut. the hardest obstacle was figuring out how to decrease for a sleeve cap since i wanted to create set-in sleeves.  i read a couple good tutorials which helped me tackle the concept of spacing my decreases.  i feel like this little project has was only the start of understanding machine knit pattern construction, and that's kind of exciting and intimidating all at the same time!


newest knitting endeavornewest knitting endeavor


learning the quirks of a knitting machine can be time consuming.  my machine would jam on parts of the front of the sweater that were effortless on the back.  the yarn would break right when i was counting on it to hold up. whole stitches and rows would drop off the machine because i'd either forget a step or get going too fast.  sometimes i'd have to only back up enough rows to fix the problem, and other times i'd have to completely start over.  i don't know how many times i'd huff past doug and threaten that i was done for good, only to saunter back a couple hours later determined to finish.


i can't emphasize enough how much fun it is once you really get going though.  there is absolutely no way i could have knit this in such a short amount of time (i'm guessing about two weeks total, pattern drafting and all) without a machine.  every time i knock off 80+ rows of knitting within minutes, i just about die thinking how much time that takes me to hand knit that same amount, no matter how concentrated i am.  despite the time it takes to learn about the technicalities of machine knitting, it's incredibly easier and quicker in so many ways.  getting to the "i love this" or "this is not what i was expecting" stage of knitting is something that happens a lot quicker.  you are able to see what you'd want to change in your next project without much wait, which also means the speed at which you learn is so much faster in comparison to hand-knitting.  another benefit is that hands down, a machine knit swatch is better than any of my best hand knit samples.  it's so uniform and perfect, it's thrilling. 

 

i'm glad that my machine hasn't replaced my need to hand knit though.  it helps that hand knit projects usually travel a whole lot easier, but the hand knit look, effort, and slower speed that goes into hand making something still appeals to me.  in fact, the lack of speed is exactly what can be an advantage to hand knitting.  the choices you have to make are spread out over a slower amount of time, but with machine knitting you have to really plan what you're going to do before you get going.  since planning is not always my strong suit, i like that besides spending (wasting?) a lot of time researching patterns for things i want to hand-knit, i can usually just grab needles and yarn, knit a swatch and get going.

newest knitting endeavor

newest knitting endeavor


i feel really fortunate to finally have a tool that helps me create knit garments so much faster than i would have been able to before.  i can't wait to see what else this knitting machine has in store for me!

37 comments:

  1. Have I said yet how wonderful all these projects are? Also, I'm really impressed with the knitting machine for a sweater! My neighbor is an antiques dealer and showed me a sock knitter that he had found the other day, granted it was old, but it seemed so much more complicated than my two needles. :) This is such a pretty knit.

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  2. i love this sweater. thanks for sharing what you learned.

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  3. whoa elly! that sweater is great, you should be impressed with yourself.

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  4. this is so fascinating, thank you for sharing your process! when i saw your photos on flickr first, i about died with the uniformity of your stitches..;) i am so impressed you drafted this, too. its gorgeous, and very you. nice, elly!

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  5. This is such a wonderful post! I'm an avid knitter and always hit that, "knitting takes so long and there are so many things i want to make" wall, so I think the knitting machine option would be perfect to make larger, more time consuming items. The sweater you made looks wonderful btw, I just love the color and shape :)

    xo
    Amanda

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  6. elly, my mind is blown! i had never even thought about how useful a knitting machine could be. i love fine gauge sweaters but never knit them because, ugh, the time drain. but on a knitting machine! the possibilities are really endless. this is such a beautiful sweater!

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  7. Wow. The finished product is really awesome, but reading about your process makes it all the better! It is so well designed; I love the shape of it and the button details. Great work!

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  8. That sweater is gorgeous! And what a fascinating post, too - knitting machines sound so different and fun!

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  9. This is so awesome! I just got a knitting machine too, but have yet to try it out. I'm completely intimidated, and also realize how much time it's going to take to learn.
    Your sweater is really beautiful. I'm so impressed.

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  10. elly, this is fantastic!!! i'm so glad to hear you have a knitting machine! you are incredibly talented! i played with my machine last year and did a lot of swatching and figuring but ended up getting side tracked. way too many things on my plate! but now you are inspiring me to dig out my machine and start over. i think i need to plan a bit more, though. like actually buying yarn that works for a machine rather than try to use the yarn i have. :P anyway, your sweater is lovely. your drawings look so meticulous! i will have to rope jed into figuring some math for me. heehee... :)

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  11. It looks so good! What a lot of work you put into it and got such great results. I'm about to start a machine knitting class and am really looking forward to it, even moreso since this post. :)

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  12. this looks amazing, elly! so so good.

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  13. wow, love the sweater and would love one for myself!
    you're making me want to try machine knitting although I really don't need more things on my plate ;)

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  14. Gorgeous sweater. I love the sleeve length!

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  15. It's beautiful! And I'm a big believer that you have to try at least one, maybe two dozen hobbies to find one that sticks. At least that's how we roll in my house.

    BTW, where did you get your black jeans? I'm on the lookout for a pair that fits well and yours look great.

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  16. the jumper is so lovely Elly! I want one! (please thanks). I want to have a go with a knitting machine more than ever now!

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  17. Congrats on your knitting machine! I am so impressed by your dedication to really learn it! I got mine months ago and made some accessories and a sweater but it is not nearly as professional looking as yours. I need to spend more time on it and not get distracted by all the other projects I have on the go! You serve as an inspiration to do that!

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  18. what a lovely, timeless sweater you've made! exciting to read about your adventures. can't wait to see what else this knitting machine has in store for you!

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  19. wow! it looks amazing! i'm so tempted to give this a try, but don't know if i have the patience for all the planning...

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  20. All that you create and make is absolutely wonderful.

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  21. I love it and want one! Sounds like a frustrating process, my goodness.

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  22. This is amazing! It looks so great! Impressive.

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  23. oh man, i wish i had your outfit to wear today. make some more and sell em!

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  24. Really beautiful job, you're so talented! Keep it up.

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  25. This sweater came out amazing! A great collaboration between hand- and machine-knitting.

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  26. Wow! You are so multi-talented. That is an incredible sweater.

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  27. Can i say that you are secretly awesome? I've been loving all your projects.
    Best wishes.

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  28. that sweater is beautiful! So perfect. I don't think I would have the patience (or math skills) to work with a machine!

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  29. Yay! I was so excited to read this post as I'm just venturing down the same road right now - I finally made a scarf with it and can't wait to start a sweater! Yours turned out so fabulous! Also was wondering about how sleeves would work, so I can't wait to check out the link your referenced.

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  30. your sweater is so lovely- hard work pays off! i would love to learn how to use one of those knitting machines but i'm not sure i have the patience these days...

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  31. i had a knitting machine years ago, but i found it so hard to figure out in the short amount of time with it, and over the years it's gone missing. i love this project of yours, and that sweater is fantastic. once again, elly, you amaze me.

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  33. this is really great, what kind of knitting maschine do you have? just asking, because my family also owns one, but you can really only do square shapes with that...

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  34. Excellent! So glad to read something new from you..I love that dress! Great pictures, nice silhouette!
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