Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Working With my Circular Sock Machine

Ruth asked which I liked better – hand knitting socks or machine knitting them. Well let’s just say they are two different animals. The sock machine is challenging in its own way. Every antique sock machine has its own quirks and mine is no exception. There is a steep learning curve and it’s like the machine knows when you get cocky and think you’ve got it figured out! So I like the challenge of the machine and of course it’s faster – although I have to keep reminding myself of that whenever something goes wrong. Hand knitting socks is fun for different reasons. It’s portable, relaxing, there are more variations possible, and it’s good mindless knitting (unless you’re doing a complicated lace pattern). I love to make socks both ways.

But lately I’ve been experimenting with making something other than socks on my machine. At the sock machine conference I missed out on a class by Jenny Deters on flat knitting on the sock machine because we were out at a weaving store I think and didn’t get back in time. Anyway Jenny wrote a book called Unique Fancy Sock Patterns and I bought it at the conference. When we got back Deb showed me her way of flat knitting on the machine – it involves removing enough of the needles so that the carriage can be moved back and forth instead of around and around. In my case I can leave 48 needles in and with care I can knit back and forth. I combined the idea of hand manipulated eyelet patterns from Jenny’s book and the flat knitting and I’m trying to make a baby afghan by knitting strips that I’ll attach together. Trying is the word. It takes a lot of time to hand transfer the stitches to make the eyelet heart and I have to keep reminding myself of how long a baby afghan would take to knit by hand. But I did a dumb thing. I changed the tension between the green yarn I was using and the yellow and now the strips aren’t the same size. Duh. I’ve been trying to readjust the tension to make them the same without much success. Even though I’ve put the tension markers at the same place that they were, the tension isn’t the same. Remember what I said about every machine having its quirks. Apparently my machine is independent in the way it does the tension. Sigh.

I was going to stripe the green and yellow but maybe I’ll have to make two afghans, one green and another yellow or maybe I'll have to frog (you know rip it, rip it) the green ones and make new ones. I’m having fun figuring it out though. And I hope I’ll succeed. When I get enough strips of the same size done I’m going to drop down a stitch on the edges and latch them together. We’ll see how that goes! And then I have to figure out what I’m going to do for an edge finish. Hmmmm, how long would it take to hand knit this afghan.

Here's a picture of the non matching strips all curled up and another spread out so you can see the hearts. The strips will be about 6 inches in width and I'll need 5 of them. Maybe I'll, gasp, crochet a border around them!


Miss T said...

I'd love to see you work the sock machine sometime! It's very cool.

kelly said...

Hi Ann -
That is just too cool! I had no idea you could do things like eyelet and knitting flat pieces. Very cool.

MNLacer said...

Good luck with your puzzle! Except for the tension/gauge issue, it looks like the start of a great project.