Wow, talk about fits and starts. Part 1 was published August 1 and here it is the end of September already! Well, there has been more machine knitting. Quite a lot, actually.
In April, I joined the Machine Knit Community or MKC for short. It is a paid subscription, and it's open for new members only during 4 months of the year. Starting Oct. 1, it'll be accepting new members again for that month.
I had read somewhere that the site was a good boot in the rear for machine knitters and that it had really helped people keep knitting, and keep improving.
Having been on the site now for 6 months, I'd agree that this was a good move for me. The MKC is run by Nic Corrigan of Whitehall Studio in Yorkshire. Pre-pandemic, she had a shop/studio in her town where she designed patterns, made stuff and sold it, and also taught MK classes in person. Like everyone, in early 2020 she had to quickly readjust - she gave up the space in town and moved her workshop into her house. Then she set up the MKC. It will be one year old in October.
Here's what you get if you join:
- As you would expect, you can participate in an online forum with like-minded people. I'm not sure how many members there are but it is very international.
- Better yet, you can attend (live, online) regular hour-long seminars about machine knitting. Every month there is a theme, and the seminars typically relate to the theme. We did lace during the summer, now we're on to intarsia. We've talked about the design process. For me, one of the best themes was improving your knitting space.
- The seminars feature people who are working in the field of knitting. We've had Bill King (at least 4 times since I joined), Elena Berenghean, Olgalyn Jolly, Juan Alcantar from Juan's knitting garage and many others. They don't just talk - typically they also demo the techniques they are talking about. If you can join live, you can ask them questions. It's a great way to pick up tips from the pros.
- The seminars are recorded and you can watch them again (and again and again). You can also watch all the videos from seminars that were held before you joined. In January, I paid to take some classes at a virtual Vogue Knitting Live from Bill King and Olgalyn Jolly. They were fantastic, but once over, they were gone. It costs about as much to join the MKC as it did to sign up for 3 classes at VKL.
- You can also sign up for specific classes, connected with a pattern that Nic or someone else designed. This costs extra but gives you access to help with the pattern and techniques, lots of video content, and weekly sessions with the designer.
Every week, you're asked if you want to set a goal for the week. Just one thing. Some people find this really motivates them to get at the machine and knit.
So what have I knitted?
First up - this top from the Circle of Lace pattern. Following a MK pattern is mostly a departure for me but I loved the details on this top. The pattern is only available on Facebook (search for MallyKnits). It's made sideways and uses a lace pattern from Stitchworld but you can substitute any lace pattern that looks good sideways.
I made this on my Brother 910/950 which has the Stitchworld patterns programmed into its original electronics. I had taken the AYAB board out (it stopped working, I reinstalled the original board, took it to Peter Smith in Toronto, it was blown fuses, cost $3 or so to fix) so just used the lace that the pattern called for. Easy peasy (once I got a new sponge bar and figured out the tricks of the 910/950 and its lace carriage).
This top is made with lace weight yarn at a big stitch size so it is very light. I used some superwash wool from my stash.
There's plenty of short rowing in this pattern (gives the flared shape) and while the pattern is all text, I didn't find it too hard to follow. I did adjust the rate of short rowing to make it slightly less flared and if making it again, would reduce the flare even more.
I love the neck finish (though if making it again would ignore the instruction to double up the yarn for the final rows; it is a bit too heavy).
I also think the little row of purl bumps at the join with the sleeves is very attractive. The top is all seamed on the machine, and tells you how to get this effect.
Finally, I think the side seams are beautiful.
The details in this pattern are worth the price.
Next I'll show you a cardigan I made from another MK pattern. This one is the Gorple cardigan
by Nic Corrigan. I splashed out for the course as an extra on the MKC.
This is also partly knit sideways - the sleeves extend to form a yoke at the back. The pattern calls for both sleeves to be knit in one piece from cuff to cuff.
This project illustrated for me the value (and non-value) of MK patterns.
I could not get the row gauge called for by this pattern although I was able to match the stitch gauge with no problem. Because the pieces are knitted both up and down and sideways, this meant that the numbers in the pattern would be completely wrong. I ended up drawing the pieces out on paper (per my usual technique
) using the numbers and gauge in the pattern to get the shape and dimensions called for by the pattern, and then re-drawing at those dimensions, using my actual gauge. It was a complete pain!
I also made the cardigan longer than the pattern (which is quite cropped). If making it again, I would re-draft it to be narrower in both body and sleeve as well . The front is OK but when I look at the back view, I can see it is just too big for me!
Again I used pure wool yarn from deep stash and though I figured it would be a really boring cardigan, and it is, it is also strangely useful, and fall hasn't even really started yet.
Also - warning, COVID hair!
In my next post, I'll talk about my new way of largely avoiding the laborious task of drawing my pattern shapes on graph paper for machine knitting.
Will I ever use another MK pattern? Stay tuned.