Two weeks ago, I started a new machine knitting class on Fridays with the very knowledgeable and very helpful Jill Lothian of Scottish Machine Knitters. She also very kindly sourced a vintage Knitmaster 326 for me! I’m unbelievably excited to own a knitting machine at last. I have wanted one for a very long time, but was unsure about how I would learn to use it and maintain it.
Jill’s course is great and concentrates on the technical aspects of machine knitting. This is in contrast to Katy Birchall’s wonderful class I attended at Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts at Abbeyhill Techbase in Edinburgh from January to March this year, which focussed on the design and project planning aspects of machine knitting.
This Bank Holiday Monday, I have knit up two squares: one with a stripe pattern allowing me to relearn how to switch between two colours; and the second using a colourwork pattern punchcard that Jill lent me. I’ve used the same two colours for the squares, namely Charcoal and Marzipan from Knit Rennie. The wool is a 2/11 supersoft lambswool and washes beautifully.
Having seen the wonderful Owls jumper by Kate Davies Designs, knitted up by the Ginger Twist Studio yarn shop in Edinburgh, I decided I had to knit it for myself. So, when I spotted the Rainbow Heirloom stand at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF), I knew I had found the perfect yarn for my jumper: chunky alpaca in OOAK Golden. There was one problem, though, there were only 4 skeins left! So, on the spur of the moment, I bought them all and decided to knit a sleeveless jumper instead!
Using KDD’s Owl jumper pattern and Vedis Jonsdottir’s wonderful free vest pattern from the Istex website, I cast on with my 6.5mm needles. The yarn knit up beautifully as my hybrid pattern evolved. I substituted the rib bands with moss stitch rounds. And, having attended Helene Magnusson‘s fantastic course in shaping Icelandic Lopi sweaters at the EYF, I added a number of extra rows to the back section after I had cast-off for the armholes and was knitting the front and back sections separately. At the top of the Owl cable pattern, I added a round of purl stitches between the Owls’ ears, and a complete round in purl to finish off the cable motif. Finally, having increased the length of the back earlier in the knit, I could omit the short rows.
The finished result took a while to block as the garment is really thick! Deciding on the buttons for the eyes took ages. But, I eventually selected small shiny shell buttons with just two holes for thread, and sewed them vertically to look more “eye-like”. I’m delighted that the end result is a wearable, warm, yellow, sleeveless jumper!
Having been very tentative about trying to knit a shawl, I decided to attend Veera Valimaki’s class on “Shawls and Shapes” at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. She was amazing and during her class she broke down different shawl shapes into very simple 4-row patterns!
With newly found confidence, I decided to start a v-shaped shawl using her basic pattern; this shape being perfect to wear with yoked jumpers and cardigans, and as a cycling scarf to keep the back of my neck warm! I added a mix of stocking stitch and garter stitch blocks to the basic pattern to create a slightly more interesting texture. I decided to knit the shawl using a skein of 4-ply Titus Goddess in Filey. The result has been well worn and is much needed with the unpredictable spring weather! In fact, the result was so well used that I decided to knit a second v-shaped shawl in some leftover Blacker Yarns Gotland DK wool. Not having enough of one colour for a whole shawl, I added a paler band to the edge. Again, the shawl has been well worn!
So, now for the big challenge: a Shetland hap. As I’d loved Veera’s class, I decided to knit her 3/4 Hap for the KnitBritish Hapalong that started on Friday 10th April. Again, I decided to use 4-ply Titus, in Coal, Crucible and White Rose. I’m ridiculously pleased with result, and cannot wait for the right occasion to wear it!