Friday, July 27, 2012

Knitting Machine

That's right, ChemKnits Readers. I purchased a knitting machine. And not just any knitting machine, but a cheap one. These plastic crank instruments have very poor reviews on websites, and since I am a hand knitter, what possessed me to select the NKOK Singer Knitting Machine
(which currently has 2 stars)?

I have been experimenting with different methods to dye skeins of yarn asymmetrically, and I knew that one method is to use sock blanks. But what do you do when you don't want to use fingering weight yarn, or you want to dye for a project that isn't socks? With this machine I can crank out blanks in whatever yarn I want, and since I plan to unravel it eventually it doesn't matter if there are some dropped stitches.

Cranking out tubes of stockinette takes a little getting used to. I will make some videos with the machine at some point to demonstrate the nuances, but for now I can say that it is useful to have a crochet hook handy if you care about the evenness of stitches. After a little practice with the tension, you can easily create even stockinette (see above right.) I was easily able to wind up 100g of worsted weight and fingering weight wool in an afternoon. (At some point in the future I will actually time myself.)

If you just start cranking, you'll produce yarn with live stitches at the end. A tip that I read somewhere is to feed the yarn through every other hook before you start, and this will prevent unraveling. When you work gets long enough, the twisting can take a tole on the fabric so you may need to block your project at the end.

I wish the knitting machine had more than 20 sts around so I could produce wider blanks... but I am not willing to invest in a more expensive machine just for some dyeing experiments. Stay tuned for when I start dyeing my blanks!