Saturday, June 4, 2016

Burnt by machine

That's the name of my knitted top, get it?

I finished it!

It took as long to finish the arm and neck openings as it did to knit the pieces. This is how it goes with machine knitting, I'm learning.

In the case of this top, a lot of the time spent on that phase was thinking about how exactly to do it - by machine. It's a technical/mechanical issue.

Knitting by machine is so different from knitting by hand where you can flip stitches around, combine them and add new ones wherever you want.

On a knitting machine, you are stuck with each stitch on its own fixed needle. If you want to add or subtract one in the middle of a piece - as I had to to make the vertical darts for shaping this top - you need to move all the stitches to one side of where you are increasing or decreasing to make room (or take one stitch away) in the middle.

Needles on one bed only knit, and on the other bed they only purl. Making garter stitch, the easiest thing in the world for a hand knitter (knit every row) is about the slowest stitch you can do on a machine because you literally have to switch the stitches from one bed to the other, or reform them on a single bed machine, every single row.

So the problem with my bands was that the pattern called for them to be knitted on (stitches picked up around the edges) in reverse stockinette stitch so they would curl and look nice and round. Easy by hand, tough by machine because of the configuration of the needles and how they would knit. No matter how I figured it, I'd end up either with the stockinette side showing (curling the wrong way, therefore) or with the "seam" where the stitches of the band were joined to the body on the outside instead of the inside.

There are probably ways of doing it but it was going to be really, really awkward.

So I did it by hand with skinny 2.5mm circular needles. Picked up the stitches, knit four rows, cast off. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

And here's the back. Yes, that is a band of garter stitch on either side of the (totally redundant) keyhole opening. See above for degree of difficulty.

The Sewing/Knitting Lawyer is happy with how this one turned out. It should be a nice basic item for summer.


  1. Nice! Do you have a garter bar for your machine? It makes it somewhat easier to make the vertical darts.

    1. Not for the Passap. Did it with a combination of tools.

  2. Looks great! I had a chance for a free knitting machine and turned it down. Cue the sad. Your results are fabulous - Congratulations!!

  3. It looks pretty sharp. Congrats!

  4. Oh, I know this dilemma with garter stitch! As In understand only Brother has garter bar and not for all machines. I have a very simple machine - Silver Reed 150, and I also struggle with hems/edges. Just like you, I usually trim everything by hand. In some pieces I do this trick on the machine - a folded hem/neckline. I work x number of rows than put the cast on edge on the needles and knit them together - the finishing is very neat and doesn't curl!

  5. Nice FO! The funny thing to me is that all the details that make this a difficult MK are what keep it from being utterly tedious to knit by hand ;)
    Picking up and knitting the bands will help stabilize the edges, but you probably already knew that!

  6. Your knit pieces are absolutely gorgeous. This one is certainly no exception. Knitting is something I'll just have to admire from afar, then tackle the sweater issue by sewing them.

  7. Congratulations, it looks fantastic! As I'm starting to reknit my baby cardigan ( my first knit project outside of a plain scarf) I am surprised and pleased I can understand some tiny bit of what you were saying!
    Have you said what the content of the yarn is? It looks so nice and smooth. I'm guessing it has silk for summer wear?
    Well done, as always, you are so inspiring!
    hows the shirt dress coming along?
    Joyce in Sudbury

  8. Very nice!! It's a cute top. Interesting the intersection of hand and machine knitting. Maybe just expecting to use the combination is the trick. Best use of tools?
    I have a sewing machine, but sometimes handwork is just better and/or quicker.

  9. Hi, ive been enjoying your blog, i dont knit but showed mum your post (Passap knitting for 40 years), she suggested, For the neck band if you'd joined just one shoulder, then you could of knitted the band on the machine.. same with the armholes. You can use a u80 or u100 for garter stitch. Otherwise a g carriage on a brother does some lovely patterns.