Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Simpleframe

Ever seen a Simpleframe manual knitting machine? 

Simpleframe knitting machine
Unless you're reading this in the U.K., probably not. Manufactured and distributed by Frame Knitting Ltd., Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, the company appears to have gone out of business in 2009. Here is a double bed with 48 needles on each bed. The frame is very well made and can comfortably sit lengthwise on your lap. 

According to blogger and researcher cleveroldstick, it was invented by Dr. Patrick J. Reilly in 1982 after watching his daughter using a Knitting Nancy--you know, those spool-like holders with 4 nails that you probably used to make cord when you were a kid. 

I was doing a lot of weaving and knitting and Kris was somewhat interested. After the Simpleframe was selected as a finalist in the “Prince of Wales Award Scheme for Industrial Innovation and Production" and featured on the BBC television program, Tomorrow's WorldI bought one for her.

A query to the Machine Knitting Monthly helpline, notes that when that magazine was launched, it included a Simpleframe supplement with two  patterns a month, hints and tips, news and letters. 
CAD drawing of Simpleframe yarn tensioning parts

I never knit on it and I'm pretty certain that Kris didn't either. The double-bed machine sat in its original bag with the original manual along with a supplement with lots of patterns. I wanted to share it with my knitting machine guild because no one had heard of such a thing. I borrowed it but when I pulled it out, it was missing a couple pieces and one was chewed up. Child, dog, or cat, no one knows.

First order of affairs was replacing the pieces. I found a Simpleframe for sale on eBay, but the bids were too high for  couple of pieces. I checked out 3D printers, but don't have a CAD program to draw to spec. Then I went to the Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival and found Metis Industries. The were using a small 3D printer to make drop spindles. (Full story, here.) Ari was confident he could make replacements. He did! 

Next: Assembling and knitting on it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yarn immersion

A family tradition

Exhibition of past Vogue patterns re-imagined
I don't know how many years it takes to make a tradition, but for the past several years, Kris and I have gone to Vogue Knitting Live New York for two days. This year Lauren joined us and it became even more special.

Call it time away from the daily routine. Call it education. Or just call it a fun two-days living and breathing yarn. Whatever it's called, it's fun and an opportunity to  learn new skills, gather ideas, be inspired, and spend time with loved ones.

Learning curve

Kris and I have discussed the learning curve associated with any classes like these. If you're a beginner, the learning curve can be daunting and overwhelming. So much to learn. So little time. But for the more experienced, a foundation of knowledge exists so expectation must be tempered. At this point, learning comes in increments. Not leaps.

We agree that if we get at least one really good idea, inspiration or experience from a class, it was successful. I took two classes that added incrementally--one about knitted edgings with Melissa Leapman and another on pattern writing with Deborah Newton. A success!
Marketplace opens with lots to entice

Marketplace fun

Then there is the Marketplace. I prefer to visit on  Friday evening to Saturday, when the crowds are greatest.
I wasn't a big buyer. I needed a skein of royal purple worsted-weight yarn to make a hat to wear this weekend to the Women's March on New Jersey in Trenton. I found it at Dragonfly Fibers!

My only other purchase was a stemless wine glass from Annie & Co with etched "Three Sheeps to the Wind" just for fun.

And when I have a glass of wine from my fun wine glass, I'll remember the time together with special loved ones.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hats to go

Pussyhats go to Washington.

Hats bound for Washington, D.C.
I first heard about this initiative through my machine knitting guild, which meets at the Unitarian Church in Lincroft, N.J. A group of 100 people is going to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21 and the plan was to donate hats to them in gratitude for hosting the guild. 

I immediately downloaded the Pussyhat Project pattern and went to A.C. Moore. I did not purchase the yarn in the pattern as I wanted to donate as many hats as possible and the outlay would be a bit high. The pattern is worsted weight yarn. The color? Pink, of course.

I bought three skeins of Caron Simply Soft yarn and one of Lion Brand Landscapes and went home to figure out how to knit these up as quickly as possible. My main knitting machine isn't suitable for yarn at worsted weight. 

First, I set up the Simpleframe and knit the first  hat. Because I was learning how to use the little manual knitting frame, the ribbing tension was awful on the first section. You won't see that hat because I frogged it. 

Caron Simply Soft hats
Hat of Lion Brand Landscapes
Then I set up the single bed LK150, which I can carry to workshops, and did tensions to figure out how to make a hat the size of that in the pattern. I made six hats from three skeins of the Caron and one from the bulkier Lion Brand acrylic yarns. 

Should you think this was a super-quick knit, don't be deceived. Faster than on needles, surely, but a real pain in the you-know-where because of the need to hand manipulate all the ribbing--as in, un-do and ladder up the stitches. 

Taking it up a notch

Single ply handspun Polwarth hat
My Passap DM-80 is a masterful knitting machine. And it is double-bed, which means it can knit rib. No. It doesn't knit all by itself. It doesn't finish itself, either, but it certainly speeds up the repetitive knitting bits.

I tried knitting a hat of my single ply handspun wool (Polwarth) and I loved it. 
Next, I ordered a one-pound cone 3/8 sport weight yarn from a Vermont company that makes hats. And I proceeded to knit! I got five hats from the cone.

Five woolen hats
Then on to finishing the hats. Minimal, sure, but still a couple of evenings seaming up the sides and weaving in the yarn ends. The seams on the sides of the hats, which are rectangles with ribbing on each end and stockinette in the middle, provide enough substance to allow the corners to stand up. As in cat's ears. Got it?

I'm out of yarn, but have 13 hats for distribution. Four are in today's mail to the church and nine go to my lovely daughter-in-law, who will distribute them among her group from Zeno Mountain Farm 

(Full details and notations on tension, number of needle and rows is on Ravelry. And, yes, I did gauges on each of the yarns before knitting.)