Knitting Without Mistakes

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote the book “Knitting Without Tears” as a guide for knitters to learn when and where to take short cuts. Extremely witty and full of useful tips, it is a fantastic read, not just as a book of information, but as a book of encouragement.

I should have read this book on Friday before I began the task of joining two pieces of my yoga wrap together…

This simple garment comprises of two sleeves and a back. No shaping, some patterning and some rib – nothing hard. That said, I had misread the instructions and found myself re-doing the trellis pattern four times! Once I got it, I was on the home stretch. I knit across the back and then well into the 2nd sleeve before I realised I would run out of yarn. Drats!

So I unravelled the 2nd sleeve and some of the back. Rather than re-knit the sleeve in the current direction and risk running out of yarn again, I decided to knit from the band up and join the two pieces together. Makes perfect sense… until I got to the grafting!

I watched some YouTube videos and set to work. The 1×1 rib on the edge stitches looks a bit messy, but I continued… 2 hours later, I’m still going and whilst the middle section looked fine, those 1×1 rib edges are just not right (tight with a clear ditch). By the time I finish, I decide to that I wasn’t satisfied and so pulled the last 18 stitches out.

I tried everything I could think of – grafting with a wool needle, grafting by knitting, and crochet grafting. How could these stitches defeat me! This is where I needed Elizabeth Zimmermann to tell me in her reasonable voice to put my knitting down and have a cup of tea!

Instead, I pulled the stitches out again and tried making up my own version. Surely if I just glare at the stitches for long enough they will do what I want!! After searching through my books and more YouTube videos, I come to the realisation that the only way to do it is with a two step grafting technique. By now it’s too late and the tears are coming!

Why does a piece of knitting bring out such emotion? For me, my perfectionist streak comes out. I know that finishing can make or break a garment. It can ruin a neat piece of knitting by rushing to finish those dreaded seams. As I am making this garment for myself, I knew that I would be looking at those stitches and feeling disappointment every time I went to wear it.

For now my yoga wrap is sitting unfinished in a project bag. I’ll get to it again soon, after I drink some tea, read some Elizabeth Zimmermann and make peace with my knitting.

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The Common Cold

You can determine when a common cold has got to you by the amount of knitting you are able to do.

The more knitting done shows the better you feel. Less knitting indicates low energy. Knitting with lots of mistakes indicates it’s time to take a nap and sleep it off.

Undoing your knitting for the fifth time indicates a state of delirium and you should not be making knitting decisions during this time.

So instead, I’ll watch some reality TV and drink endless cups of tea. If I’m lucky, I’ll fall asleep and dream that I’m knitting…

First Machine Knit Jumper

After learning to use a Passap knitting machine at university, then buying one and playing around with it, I still felt I had much to learn. I had made beanies, a pair of socks and a pair of bootees. All small items which whilst still challenging, didn’t take much of a commitment from me. So whilst I had some time on my hands, this was the perfect opportunity to make my first machine knit jumper.

Using just one strand of wool (dark navy superfine from Bendigo Woollen Mills), I made some swatches to work out if my tension was on track. I then followed the instructions for Sweater from the Passap Duomatic 80 Manual (p.75).

This project was about learning how to follow a Passap pattern (with it’s unusual terminology, such as +7×1•20R) and learning how to do the shaping (both on the machine and for the garment to work).

Knitting the pieces took patience, knitting one piece per day and knitting the front multiple times over. But sewing the seams was the real killer! I did it all by hand and whilst I started my mattress stitch with stitch to stitch accuracy, by the time the sleeves were on, I couldn’t continue with such precision.

This piece is far from perfect. There were dropped stitches on the front left which when I picked them up, pulled at the fabric. The seams are stable, but I will need to work out a faster way of doing this task. The finished garment fits, but it is a little shorter and tighter than I would like.

All in all, this has been an interesting process which I hope to improve over time (and become faster at). I would love to make more garments and really take these simple pattern shapes and build upon them in interesting and unique ways.

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Inspiring Designers – Liz Clark

I’ve recently taken to YouTube to look up tutorials in all manner of artistic pursuits and that led me to looking at what videos exist that talk about design, namely textile and knitwear design.

YouTube being what it is, you start with a few keywords and then fall into a rabbit hole of related content and it was through this that I found the following video.

It shows the studio and work of Liz Clark who is a knitwear designer and printmaker. It’s inspiring as she has a beautiful studio filled with light, but it shows her knitting by hand, machine knitting and printmaking. I love that she can move effortlessly between these different mediums (and that she acknowledges just how different the knit machine is to hand knitting).

I will keep an eye out for more examples of her work. Whilst I couldn’t find her website, I did find a link to where she exhibits and sells her work – Verandah