Vittadini by Machine

I decided to return to the issue of converting hand knit patterns to the machine. It becomes more and more necessary with the lack of good sources for reliable machine knit patterns these days. I stress reliable because I am a firm believer in good editing and much of the material on the internet has never been edited. Even with editing, mistakes slip by and I know that when I find 2 + 2 = 5 the first time, I am likely to keep making the same mistake throughout! There is nothing as valuable as good technical editing to make sure a pattern is correct throughout.

That said, the patterns in magazines like Vogue Knitting and Knitter’s are often doable by machine – and dependably edited to eliminate as many mistakes as humanely possible.

Trisha Malcolm, editor of Vogue Knitting, gave permission for me to reproduce the pattern for this gorgeous Vittadini cardigan so I could detail the step by step directions for converting it to the machine. I realized, once I was done, that it is actually quite similar to the garment I talked about in a blog posting on 8/30/16 – another shawl collared sweater. Sorry about the duplication and next time I will focus on necklines and armholes a bit more. This post is actually far more detailed and, I hope, useful.

I have included both the original pattern and the converted version in a Vittadini Conversion PDF that you can download to work from. The important information for my size (medium – a girl can dream!) is highlighted in yellow. The red type explains the changes that need to be made for the machine.

Just a couple of notes:

(1) Numbers were not rounded off until I needed to know how many rows or stitches and then they were usually rounded up to even numbers.

(2) Each section on the schematic begins with RC 000. So, once the lower body of the garment is done, reset the RC000 before starting the armhole shaping, etc.

(3) These are some of the abbreviations I have used:

STS     stitch/stitches

NDLS  needle/needles

HP       holding position

C/O     cast on

B/O    bind off

S/O    scrap off (shown with a small triangle symbol on schematic).

 

Lastly, I tried my very best to keep going back over the text and re-checking the re-checked math so if you find something that doesn’t compute right about when you thought you understood what was happening – it is probably my mistake not yours!

We’re roasting here in Connecticut this week – hopefully the cooler fall weather is coming soon and we’ll all feel a bit more like knitting!

 

 

 

 

 

Marco Polo Hats Revisited!

In 1993, Studio by White published Simply Sensational, a collection of patterns for the LK-150. All of the educators contributed their ideas when it came time to write the pattern for the Marco Polo Hats. That summer, at Camp Tuckanitslip, we held a contest for the best hats and were delighted that so many of our customers took us up on the offer and entered the contest. I have just posted the pattern on the Free Stuff page of my web site. You can access that page by clicking on the link you were sent when you registered for my newsletter.

This hat is a great learning project for  beginning knitters because it utilizes so many techniques, but experienced knitters will have fun embellishing and altering the pattern to suit their personal style. It is never too early to start knitting for holiday gifting and hopefully this pattern will give some of you the confidence to try something new. I’d love to see photos of whatever you come up with!

The pattern offers two alternatives to the short rowed earflaps and you could, of course, eliminate the flaps altogether or add bodacious ruffles like the version worn by Tara, the little girl in the photo. (I should mention that Tara showed up as our model in almost every issue of Studio Design Magazine and later graced the covers of my hand knitting pattern books  Twelve Sweaters One Way: Cuff-to-Cuff and later Saddle Shoulders. As time marches on, she is now the mother of two beautiful little children herself!)

The brim can be smaller than our versions and you can embellish it or not. The ties can be replaced with wider, scarf-like pieces and the yarns you choose can be as wild and crazy or as subdued as you choose. Have fun and express your true inner self!

 

 

 

 

Stripes and Slits Sweater Pattern

I’ve just added another free pattern to the web site. Stripes and Slits is an over-sized pullover in two sizes, perfect for wearing over leggings. The horizontal slits are explained in detail on page 221 of Open Spaces: Machine Knit Eyelets, Ladders and Slits so the pattern does not give detailed directions for the horizontal slits.

I originally planned to knit this sweater when I attended a knitting retreat with some friends from the San Francisco Machine Knitters Guild. I worked out an interesting variation of a Fibonacci stripe and thought it would be perfect to use up some odd skeins I had of Cascade “Sierra”. Unfortunately this wool/cotton blend is no longer being made, but I had three different yellows and some navy and white I wanted to use up and thought I had enough. I willed it to be true….

Long story short – I did get the front of the sweater knitted at the retreat and then realized that I had figured on my total yardage and not considered the individual colors. I didn’t have enough for the back and sleeves. So, I packed up the Sierra and moved on to the purple yarn I had brought with me for a second project – I gave you that pattern last month.

Once I got home, I started looking on Ravelry for one more skein of each of the yellows.Then I felt guilty asking people to bust up their stashes for a single skein so I ended up with 3 more of each yellow. I finished the sweater last week and can tell you (1) there is a slight difference in the row gauge between the LK I used in California and mine at home. Most of the length difference came out in the wash. Most of it. I should have re-gauged for the California machine, but didn’t. (2) I have plenty of all three yellows left over and am resisting the temptation to knit another stripe project for now. If any of you run short, let me know!

Some of you may have run into problems in my web site a month ago. The shopping cart kept dumping sales, showing nothing in the cart when you got to checkout. I apologize for the difficulties! We had just added the SSL  protection to the web site. SSL is the guaranteed security feature that all sites will soon either have or show a notice that they are not secure. There was a glitch deep in the code and it took days to fix it. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time with a new book and a new tool. Never fails, huh?

And, while I’m correcting glitches, the book review for Open Spaces that appeared in the new (early fall) issue of Vogue Knitting was written by someone who, for whatever reason, thinks I did all of the fabrics on a Passap and mentioned it in the review. None of the swatches was done on a Passap though some of them certainly could gave been. The book is far more generic and not focused on any single machine. Hope that didn’t confuse any of you who have not yet ordered your very own copies of this gorgeous book!

We finally caught a break in the heat wave and have had an absolutely glorious weekend. I know the humidity will return – it always does here in Connecticut – but for now, I have spent 3 delicious days digging in the garden – mostly weeding – and it will probably be weeks before I can get my nails video clean again! Hope you are enjoying the summer weather and that all your days are sunny and dry!

 

 

Peek-A-Boo Purple Pullover

While I was working on Open Spaces: Machine Knit Eyelets, Ladders and Slits, I actually found a little time here and there to get some real knitting done. I fell in love with this effect when I was writing the chapter about slits and knitted all the pieces for this sweater (and half of another one!) at a knitting retreat I attended with members of the San Francisco Machine Knitting Guild in the early spring. I packed up my yarn, borrowed an LK-150 and spent two wonderful days knitting dawn to dusk , visiting with other knitters and discussing clothes, wine and everything under the sun while we worked. The weekend was perfect and complete with hummingbirds and delicious meals at the Sonoma Orchid Inn. I could get used to that life!

I’ve added a pattern for this sweater to the Free Stuff on my website. Be sure to use the link you were sent when you registered for the newsletter to bring you right to the downloads page – it is the only way to get there!

The pattern includes all the stitch and schematic charts and basic knitting directions. You can knit this fabric by using bridging and bridge bars, holding position to knit each side separately or intarsia to work both sides at the same time. Without re-writing the whole chapter on slits, I’ve tried to give enough direction to help you knit your own sweater. I recommend that you try a sample first to get used to the method and immodestly suggest that you check out the chapter on Slits if you need more guidance and specific information. You’ll discover lots more great ideas in all three chapters!

 

 

Yoke Sweaters

I’ve had a number of requests lately for a pattern for yoked sweaters. They were huge back in the 80’s and maybe they are coming back! Joyce Schneider wrote a couple of excellent pattern books for standard and chunky gauge machines back then and if you see a used copy of one of those, I’d suggest you grab it!

Just be aware that sweaters in the 70’s and 80’s were closer fitting with less ease so you might want to knit a size larger. Check the schematics for the finished measurements.

When I got the first request earlier this year, I dug through my old files and found this pattern Yokeswtr.  I think I wrote it when I worked for Singer. I know it was a long time ago judging by (1) the way I wrote the pattern (too many words!), (2) the fact that it doesn’t include a mid-gauge version (always my preference) and (3) Heirloom yarn has not been available for decades and, most notably, (4) I had to cross out an old address and phone number on the top! Have not lived in Cheshire for a long time now!

I have to apologize for the fact that the stitch pattern is not with the knitting directions, but any small, repeating patterns will work for a yoke. If you opt for a larger pattern, make sure it will fit the width of the yoke and not suffer by the decreases.

Heirloom 2/8 wool is no longer available, but JaggerSpun Main Line 2/8 would be a perfect substitute and the colors are gorgeous. There are probably some acrylics of equal size, but I seldom use acrylics and have no idea which ones. I suggest contacting Charlene Shafer at The Knit Knack Shop because if anyone knows, Charlene will! She may also have a yoke pattern book of her own or some of the old Joyce Schneider books available.

For a few minutes I toyed with the idea of re-writing the pattern and then I came to my senses and decided that what most people need is the method, rather than a specific pattern. I hope this is helpful information for you to have……it helped me on my quest to clean out the file cabinet and keep this stuff in circulation! Have a joyous Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or whatever you decide to celebrate this year. I might celebrate them all – including Festivus! I’m already hoping for a happy, healthy and safe New Year in 2018.

Another Free Pattern

Modeled by Carol Scott, this top is one-size fits most. Both the knit and the purl side of the fabric are interesting – its your choice which to use for the right side.

I’m still plugging away on book #4 (Hand-Manipulated Stitches, Exploring Open Spaces) and although there are no sweater patterns in the book itself, I just posted the third free pattern (based on the techniques in the book) on the web site.

The first pattern was called “Swirling Eyelets” and the second “3D Eyelets and Nops”. Both of those were inspired by the first section of the book, which deals with extreme eyelets.

The third Open Space pattern is called “Slit Topper” and is indicative of the kinds of things I am including in the section on Slits. Eventually I will get some Ladder inspired sweaters done as well.

Frankly, I’m having a lot of fun playing with the “what if” and “I wonder if I could…” approach to some of these experiments in open fabrics, but I am getting restless to start making some sweaters. Hopefully the fall will afford me a bit more time. I think I say that every season, but the end is in sight and eventually I will have the time to do some garment knitting. I hope!

As often as I can, I weave in ends as I work, but for this garment, I should have waited until it was done and worked them in by hand. It turned out I like the purl side of the fabric even more than I do the knit side. The woven-in ends showed just enough to negate the possibility of using the purl side as right side and they were clipped too close to start re-working them in. Live and learn. I did include some photos of the purl side of the fabric in the pattern so you can see the difference. I think that the way the fabric curls towards the purl side adds an interesting bit of texture to the overall fabric. My advice would be to wait on the ends until you decide which side you like best for the right side.

In the meantime, enjoy this new pattern! You can access all the free downloads by signing up for the newsletter on my web site. Just save the confirmation email with the link that will bring you directly to the list of free downloads – you cannot directly access that page from anywhere on the web site.

Some New Russian You Tube Videos

Last week I got an email from a Russian machine knitter named Elena Luneva, asking if I would take a look at her You Tube videos and share them here on the blog. I think they are terrific! She has had the text translated into English on-screen titles and although I would love to have heard that rich Russian accent speaking English, the titles are probably easier for most of us to manage.

If you go to Elena’s You Tube page, make sure you click “Like” so that you are the first to know about any new classes she adds.

In the first class, Principles of Knitting Terry Cloth, Elena uses a ribber comb to work a hand-manipulated, purl-side looped fabric on a single bed.  

The following class, Knitted Baby Cap with PomPom from Terry Fabric, has patterns to use the looped fabric.

Her third class, The Principles of Formation of Elongated Loops, is about creating giant stitches and ideas for using them.My kind of fun!

Elena’s fourth class, Woven Insert,  features a truly unique way of weaving ladders right on the machine. I found this one particularly interesting because I am currently/still working on a chapter about ladders for TBTWNE (The Book That Will Not End) and can honestly say it never occurred to me to do what she does here. Truly innovative!

With all of the US/Russia controversy in the news these days, I really like the  fact that knitters all,  ultimately, speak the same language! Thanks for sharing, Elena!

More Free Downloads!

Tucks and Twists is one of my all-time favorite sweaters.

I’m really happy to tell you that Knitter’s Magazine just gave me permission to share all of the patterns I did for them back in the 90’s. I have been busy scanning and have finally got them all added to the free downloads on my web site.

I think that most of the patterns have stood the test of time quite well. Just be aware that the yarns will most likely no longer be available and you will have to do some substituting. There is a wide variety of techniques to be learned from these patterns and many of them were done for the LK150. As always, you need to be registered for the web site newsletter to enjoy all the freebies. Also, feel free to share these patterns with your knit clubs and friends, but please make sure my name and the credit to Knitter’s Magazine remains on any copies.

“Back in the day” when I was with Studio, we used to advertise in Knitter’s (and other hand knit magazines) so they were much more open to featuring machine knit patterns than they might be today.

These are the patterns I just posted:

24 Gold Carrots – a multi-color tuck stitch pullover with 24 appliqué’s gold carrots that was the inspiration for the issue called Fakes and Funnies.

Basket of Flowers

Basket of Flowers – a really gorgeous hand-manipulated stitch that uses woven stitches to create an undulating fabric.

Little Girl Blue – a child’s cardigan with smocking.

Mozambique Mosaic – a fabulous LK150 two-color tuck stitch (AKA Tuck Mosaic) worked on the LK150. There is also a Tips & Techniques download on mosaic stitch and, of course, a whole chapter in Hand Knits by Machine.

Peacock Tails – is a light weight, open mohair cardigan that uses a unique hand transfer method that, in fact, I am revisiting in the ladder chapter of the current book project. This is a great technique to stretch your yarn further because the fabric is more air than stitches!

Sideways Vest – I designed it as a women’s vest, but they wanted more men’s patterns for the magazine and decided that this one qualified as uni-sex. This one features sideways construction and a neat little added detail at the beck.

Tucks and Twists – This was one of my favorite sweaters ever. It is a lush combination of tuck stitch, twisted stitches and the Judith Duffy cabled edging.

Royal Hawaiian – this one uses a narrow short rowed zig-zag band for the edging.

I also uploaded the pattern for an intarsia vest, “Como se Llama?” that I did for Knit ‘N Style Magazine, which has been out of publication for years.The entire vest is worked in intarsia and the charts are all included.

Lastly, Gini Woodward sent me the original directions that used to come with the garter bars (or, rather the “garter stitch accessory” as they called it back then). I have added that with the Tips & Techniques.

2017 Retreat with Deborah Newton!

Deborah Newton

 

One of my all-time favorite knitters happens to be a hand knitter – Deborah Newton. I’ve known (and adored) her since we were both authors working on our first books for Taunton Press back in the 90’s and when I tell you she is bright and funny and incredibly talented, I am not exaggerating one bit. I know I am a little star-struck when it comes to Deb, but she really is the best and I am fortunate to count her among my friends.

A recent design from Vogue Knitting is perfect for a mid-gauge or bulky machine!(copyright Sixth & Spring)

You can hardly scan an issue of Vogue Knitting over these many years that doesn’t feature one of Deborah’s designs and, beginning with Designing Knitwear she has produced a trio of books that should be in any knitter’s library because what she has to say transcends needles or machines!

 

This is one of the garments from Finishing School.(copyright Sixth & Spring)

Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters, her second book, is my favorite go-to book for finishing details and techniques (and a dozen great patterns). Her newest book, Good Measure: Knit a Perfect Fit Every Time is loaded with gorgeous illustrations to support the purls of wisdom she shares on how she designs sweaters – and tells you how to do it yourself! There are also 24 patterns included in the book.

While Deborah carefully explains various necklines and garment shapes, she also details design considerations for specific body types and fitting problems. I found it refreshing that some of the models are somewhat more normal sized women (i.e. not size 3!) which gives me a much better idea what the garments might look like on me and helps to illustrate some of her tips on fit.

I especially love the swatch photographs in Good Measure because they tell you so much about what the final sweater will look like. Deborah works out all the details on each swatch before she begins any project. If you are familiar with Deborah’s work, you know that perfect fit is the hallmark of her designs and it starts with the switching process. If you are a hand knitter, you are probably familiar with Deborah’s designs. But if you have only knitted by machine and tend to avoid hand knit patterns and books, you owe it to yourself to take a look at these books because she will open new worlds for you!

The inn on Block Island

OK. So – the books are fabulous and her work is the gorgeous and I am clearly #1 fan. Here is the best news – Deborah will be teaching a workshop for North Light Fibers in September on gorgeous Block Island, Rhode Island. Space is definitely limited so if you’re interested in giving yourself a special gift, use this link to get the details and to sign up for the retreat! Four days on an island with Deborah Newton sounds a little bit like heaven to me!

3D Eyelets and Nops

I’m really excited to share this sweater pattern with you! It is one of the garments I have been working on as I sample and knit my way through the content for my fourth machine knitting book: Hand-Manipulated Stitches: Eyelets, Ladders and Slits (Exploring Open Spaces). I’m aiming for a release this spring, but life always gets in the way so I won’t make any guarantees quite yet. You’ll be among the first to know once I set a date! I hope the scale of this pattern gives you an idea what I am up to with this new book – the open spaces I am working with are contemporary and bold – not prissy grandma lace! (No offense intended to grandma or anyone who has a grandma. Heck – I AM a grandma!)

The full, detailed pattern for this green merino wool sweater is on my web site with all the other free downloads so I won’t include the chart or other particulars here on the blog. However, because the transfers I used for this stitch pattern are a little unusual, I thought the video would be helpful.

In the video I use a handy needle Magic Needle Selector Wand for the SK 860 (mid gauge – 6.5mm) from Knitting Any Way. They are available for machines with 6.5, 7 and 8 mm needle spacing and only cost $34. There used to be a great adjustable needle selector available for Passap with 5 mm spacing but I’m afraid I don’t know of one for Japanese standard (4.5mm) or bulky (9mm) spacing. If anyone out there does, please let me know! I’ve seen people make needle pushers out of heavy cardboard for special projects and I’m tempted to think this is something that could easily be 3-D printed…….

My pattern is written for a luscious merino wool from Silk City that I started out using right off the cone on the standard gauge machine and, although the swatch was gorgeous, I realized it would take forever to finish a whole sweater. So – I used the yarn doubled on the SK-860.It would be great for the LK-150 as well. You can adapt this stitch design to any yarn on any machine as long as you do a gauge swatch first. There is just no escaping those gauge swatches!

The transfers I used for this design are triple transfers where 3 stitches are transferred from the left and 3 from the right onto the same three center needles – each of those needles end up holding 3 stitches. The tension on the transferred stitches is what forces the “nops” to pop out on the knit side of the fabric. The eyelets are 3-stitch eyelets so the whole scale of this lace is way beyond more common lace stitches!

Because the stitch chart shows the repeats centered from zero on the bed, you can just repeat the transfers all the way to the edges of the fabric, which makes it pretty straightforward to keep track of the placement and easy to use this pattern on any number of stitches. Just remember that you need to make either a whole or an exact half transfer and may have a number of plain stitches at the edges for lack of a enough stitches for a repeat. You’ll see what I mean once you start to swatch and try the technique.

In order to keep track of this pattern so that the eyelets formed their neat little zig-zag in the background, I made a chart that listed row numbers and indicated which transfers to make when. I checked the chart every time I picked up my 3-prong transfer tool because it took a whole lot less time to do that than it would to rip out an entire row of incorrect transfers!

I hope you like this pattern and that I have whetted your appetite for the new book!