Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bond Cap

Here she is, bathed and finished:

Pattern: Adapted from hat pattern in the Bond USM booklet

Mods: 2x2 ribbing rather than rolled hem. I had to rip and work the bind off a second time with US 10.5 needles since my first try wasn't stretchy enough.

Yarn: Brunswick Germantown 100% Virgin Moth-Proof Wool (they don't make 'em like that anymore), from the same skein I used for my gauge swatch for Stitches

Keyplate: Keyplate 1 on the Bond USM

Comments: Meh... After latching up the ribbing and sewing the seam I doubt knitting it on the Bond was any faster than hand knitting would have been. Still, not too bad for a beginner's first attempt, I think. To be donated to charity, as it's sized for a child.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bonding Issues

Ok, so the Bond. I watched the DVD that came with it. I downloaded and watched files from the Bond Knitting Club Digital Edition. Read lots of posts on Knitting Today's Machine Knitting Forum and just about all of the archived posts at Iwannaknit on Yahoo. Set up the machine, did the gauge swatch, took it off the Bond and let it rest overnight. Plotted out a pattern and bought an extension and row counter, set up the machine again, and cast on.


I tried. Really I did. From 4 in the afternoon until 3 in the morning Wednesday, trying to fall in love with a form of knitting that was clearly invented for the sole purpose of defeating all challengers. Dropped stitches, weights falling out of the hem, carriage jams - you name it, it happened. After all the prep and all the glowing recommendations, knitting on the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine should have been a piece of cake.

More like a severe case of indigestion.

When I went to bed at 3:30 Thursday morning, most of the back of a simple modified drop-shoulder sweater was hanging from the Bond. When I got up four hours later I finished it, threw in some waste yarn, and took it off the machine. There were several easily seen ridges on the piece, probably from when I hadn't moved the carriage along at just the right speed, maybe from when the yarn had the tiniest bit of tension on it, and certainly on the last row that I'd knit and that had hung on the needles overnight.

I hoped it would block out. Went to work. Came home Thursday evening and gently washed the piece in the bathroom sink, wrapped it in a towel to squeeze the water out and arranged it on another towel to dry, patting it into place. But there was no question, the ridges were still visible.

Very frustrated. Very disappointed. So of course I tried again.

Here's the new and improved gauge swatch:

Not too bad, not totally smooth, but acceptable. The swatch was done with Cascade 220 on keyplate 1.

And here's what I have to show from Friday:

One child's cap, totally finished and enjoying its bath before blocking. The ribbing was done while watching Elizabeth (featuring the new James Bond playing a Jesuit priest) on the DVR Friday night, dropping down stitches and latching them back up.

The cap's not too bad. Post-blocking picture to follow.

I'm still not completely convinced that the Bond and I were meant to be together, but I have hope.


Well, sort of.

Pattern: Jaywalkers by Grumperina

Mods: 6 stitches rather than 7 between increases and decreases, and Eye of Partridge stitch on heel flaps

Yarn: Superwash Merino from Labadie Looms

Needles: Addi Turbo US 1 circular and Clover US 1 DPNs

Comments: Love the pattern, love the yarn!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Back in mid-October I bought this:

... the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine. I'd read a lot of reviews online, good and bad. It seemed that people either really loved it or totally hated it. I just wanted an alternative to knitting row after row of stockinette stitch in worsted weight yarn. I love hand knitting, but boring is boring.

So I had one of those spiffy 50% coupons Joann's sometimes puts out and decided that at $80 it was worth a try. I could always return it. It was a few weeks before I finally got it out of the box and set it up on the kitchen table. I followed the video that comes with it, step by step. Totally frustrating, but I finally got it to work and knit up half of the worsted acrylic yarn that came with it.

I wasn't too impressed. First, bright yellow acrylic yarn? Second, the stitches were huge. I used keyplate 3 as recommended in the video then tried keyplate 2, which did look a little nicer. Still...

Fast forward a few more weeks. I've dug out my 15 year old copy of Catherine Cartwright-Jones' The Prolific Knitting Machine and read a bit, poured over the archives of The Bond Club Online at the iwannaknit group at Yahoo, and watched several videos (big thanks to Brenda Bell) along with the one that came with the Bond. I'm checking out Knitter's Review knitting machine forum. I am ready.

I wanted an alternative to the kitchen table to set it up on, so Brian and I looked at clamping a board to his workbench in the basement. I still might use that, especially since the board could handle several extensions, but for now I've set it up on my dresser. Worked just fine.

Remember this? I returned the Nature Spun and bought enough navy Cascade 220 for my WVU sweater. It's darker than the Nature Spun but a much nicer yarn, with very subtle heathering. Here's my gauge swatch (the navy is photographing dark):

A swatch only a mother could love: curling stockinette, fresh off the Bond. Keyplate 3 was used on the top section, then 2, then 1. The yellow is only there as waste yarn and to separate the three sections. I tugged it sideways and lengthwise and am going to let it rest a day or so, as recommended in the Bond Club archives. Right now it looks like keyplate 2 produces the best fabric, not too loose or tight.

Looking forward to measuring for gauge and getting started on this baby!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Post Stitches

So last Sunday was my big day at Stitches East, all 4 hours of it. I drove down to the Baltimore Convention Center for an 8:30 am class, Design Your Own Aran Sweater with Beth Walker-O'Brien. Quite a good class. Beth was well prepared with a number of gorgeous Aran sweaters and swatches and very clear and complete outlines and worksheets. We used our gauge swatches...

... done as homework before the class to come up with a basic Aran pattern based on our measurements. I'll definitely have to order Janet Szabo's Aran Sweater Design and the Harmony 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns, as Beth highly recommended both, and I already have the notes for Janet's FLAK, although I didn't participate at the time of the knitalong. And I took lots of notes!

After class I hit the market. Lots of great stuff, very tempting. I took a very quick look at a knitting machine, and walked past booth after booth of books, yarn, and needles. I bought some Blue Face Leicester roving (so soft!)...

... in the Petroglyph colorway and yarn...

... (in what I'm fairly sure is Henry's Attic Silk and Ivory / Carrera) from Lisa Souza. Her work is even more beautiful (stunning!) than the photos at her web site.

And that's it. Exactly one class and one purchase. I was home by 1:30.

This was the first Stitches even I've been to in about 15 years. I've done the whole deal before, loaded up with classes, gone to the lunches and dinners and fashion shows, made several rounds of the vendors to compare prices and decide what I wanted to go back and buy. Lots of fun, but rather expensive. Just not for me this time. I find myself thinking that a lot of the class material is readily available in books or on the web, at a much lower cost or free... I guess I don't really have a problem with teaching myself new techniques and poring over instructions until I "get it."

The big thing with Stitches and other events like it is the comraderie. More than anything else, it's fun being with other knitters. Who else but a knitter is going to get excited about a new technique or a finished sock? Just looking at other knitter's finished work is inspiring and you can always learn something new.