aka Machine Knitted. Both hand and machine knitting have a place in my life. I love hand knitting. I love take along projects that occupy my fingers when I need to be still. Machine knitting fills that place in my mind that wants complicated knits or instant gratification. Unfortunately my machine knitting, like the hand knitting, has languished the last several years. Oh I’ve tried several times. Fired up the machines. Cleaned carefully and knit numerous swatches. Even started and ruined a few projects. That’s why today’s project is precious to me, even with all it’s imperfections:
It’s knit with 2 strands of 2/24 acrylic yarn in a tuck stitch pattern that imitates cables or fisherman knits.
Even with 2 strands of yarn, this is a light weight knit and does not have quite the depth of a hand knit fisherman’s Guernsey. The purl side becomes the right side although the knit side is also interesting.
I used simple shapes or intended to use simple trapezoid shapes.
Many sweaters are built of basic rectangles or squares. Which is fine. It’s just that the pear-shaped me finds that a narrower shape at the top fits a little nicer. Hangs just a bit more gracefully. Has fewer folds of fabric beneath the arms. I don’t have to settle for too tight across the hips or too wide across the shoulders/bust. Back and front would be knit like the figure on the left. Interestingly, the same shape laid over on its side (on the right) makes a nice sleeve. I planned for a cut and sew scoop neckline finished with single knit bands folded in half to cover the raw edges. A similar band would and did begin each piece to form the welts along the hem and wrist.
Now this is a simple shape created with regularly spaced decreases along the sides. It can be pretty mindless knitting which allows one to be concerned with all the minutiae you need to keep track of when machine knitting. If only people really knew what had to be done for a successful machine knit garment, they’d be a lot more respectful when talking about machine knits. The first step is swatch 40 stitches knit in pattern of the garment over 60 rows. Swatch is then treated to its expected final environment which in my case will involve occasional washing on the hand cycle of my front loader. As much as I may complain about my front loaders, I have to admit that the hand wash cycle is superior to my personal hand washing. The washing machine is both thorough and gentle. My sweaters will also receive freshening in the dryer and light pressing. So I partially dry the swatch and then lay it out to finish air drying followed by a light press. Then I take the gauge measurements. The Trapezoid Sweater is a favorite of mine. Very easy to change the final look through use of patterning, dimensions and neckline or sleeve finishes. I’ve used it so often in the past, that I have a pretty good worksheet to make my calculations. Yes, yes my KH970 has the capability of making all those calculations internally. The thing is, I had this worksheet first and have never taken the time to figure out how that machine feature works.
However something went terribly wrong. Since I’ve used this worksheet many times (many , many times), I’m pretty sure the worksheet is good. I checked and rechecked the worksheet. I’m sure it’s good. What went wrong had to happen with the swatch. Maybe the number of stitches/rows is off. Or the swatch reacted to the laundry/ironing process more than the finished pieces. Whatev, I reknit the front and back twice. The trapezoid was long and narrow. After 4 fronts/backs, I decided upon a cut and sew option. Figured out how many extra stitches I would need to make the needed width. I cast those on and knit straight up. I had to reclaim yarn to knit all 4 pieces. While washing and blocking the pieces, I converted my newly completed knit block it to a dartless block. Using that I cut T-shirt shaped pieces and serged them together.
I top stitched over the serging using my cover stitch machine. It holds the seams flat which is really nice during wear. At this stage, shoulders stitched, sleeves attached in armscyes and top stitched, I added a rib knit band around the neckline. Both the thread and fabric band match in color so it’s not noticeable. Probably helped that both fabric and yarn are eons old.
The knit-on bands at the hem and wrists wouldn’t snug to the body so I added elastic in the channel that is formed when the band is turned up and attached at the knitting machine.
It’s not a perfect process and not totally lovely, but it does work.
The finished garment does snug to my body keeping out wind and cold, two very important consideration for sweaters of the Mid West.
To be honest, it fits about as I expected a dartless block would do. I’ve got a dart forming above the bust. I think of myself as flat chested. Apparently my fabrics disagree. It tucks in under my tummy which is unlikely to get any smaller. I did cut the right shoulder and right armscye 1/2″ lower to accommodate my asymmetry. My only real criticism and the thing I would improve in the future is that the shoulders seem a little wide and the sleeves a little long. Possibly due to the stretchy nature of knit. I did stabilize the back shoulder of my PJ test. I may need to consider doing the same with all my knits.
Although I’m pleased with the final garment, it was not without issues and not without room for improvement. Most importantly to me, it is done, done all the way d-o-n-e. The first d-o-n-e machine knit sweater in about 8 years. I’m happy.