From fair-isle to football boots

This was a talk that I gave at the Textile Institute. In it I discussed seamless knitting technologies, their historical roots in hand knitting methods, and the potential the ‘new’ technolgies are bringing to commerical knitwear and knitted outputs. The audience had the opportunity to handle samples produced on flat-bed Shima Seiki Wholegarment and Santoni circular seamless machinery.

This was in 2014, and since then mass produced knitted footwear of varying degrees of sophistication has become common on the high street (and it is so comfortable).

I recently purchased a pair of hi-top elastic knit trainers, with flechage (short row) shaping on the ankle and other technical knit structures on the upper and toe, for a very moderate sum. In 2014 they were still expensive and quite exclusive – so we can see the impact on footwear without looking further than the high street (or online shopping of course).

I recently heard of a business in the US that knits custom made climbing boot uppers, fascinating!

Follow this link to my media page to read more about the talk.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in clothing, Flechage, industrial knitting, Knitted textiles, knitting, knitting machine, knitwear, Machine knitting, Short-row shaping, Short-rows, technology, Textiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s inside ‘Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting’?

Lace knitting – see more about this on my Translating Between Hand and Machine Knitting page, but in brief, yes this is explained in loads of detail, with helpful photos and diagrams, examples and step-by-step instructions.

The book does not include garment patterns, it explains how to knit different stitches by hand and machine, and why some stitches are more suitable for hand and others for machine knitting.

Posted in book, books, craft, Creative machine knitting, creativity, educational, hand knitting, Knitted textiles, knitting, knitting machine, knitting patterns, knitwear, Machine knitting, Machine knitting; knitmaster;silver reed; knitting, making, Textiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hand and machine knitting – using a ‘lifeline’ when knitting lace

When hand knitting lace it is so easy to make a mistake or drop stitches, even on the plain rows, (I have a habit of dropping the yarnovers).

To save yourself the hassle of having to unpick and rediscover your pattern, adding a lifeline is a real life-saver; although it may seem tedious at the time.

A lifeline is a piece of thread passing through all the stitches along one row of the pattern so that if a stitch unravels some rows above it cannot drop below this retaining thread.

Decide where you want the lifeline to be, this would usually be at the end of one full vertical repeat of a lace pattern, on a non-patterning row, (usually a purl row). If it’s a short lace pattern repeat that is only two or four rows high, then you might put a lifeline in after every four or five repeats of the pattern.

To prepare and insert a lifeline:

  • Choose a contrast colour that’s no thicker and preferably thinner than your knitting yarn. On fine lace sewing thread is ideal.
  • Cut a length of yarn that is 20 cm longer than the width of your fabric.
  • Thread the yarn into a large eyed bodkin sewing needle. Avoid using a needle with a sharp point as this may split your stitches.
  • Using the sewing needle thread the yarn along the stitches on the needle, making sure the thread goes through each stitch.
  • Pull the lifeline gently so that there is an even length of thread at each side of the knitting.
  • Remove the bodkin sewing needle and knit the row as normal.
  • Once you have threaded another life line in place at your next chosen position you can remove the first one.

You can use a lifeline in exactly the same way when machine knitting, it is just a little bit more fiddly to thread the yarn through the stitches. But believe me, its worth it!

The image below shows a lifeline (yellow yarn), being inserted into lace knitting being worked flat, but using a circular needle. A circular needle has a thin wire in its centre (in this case its a red wire), and sliding the stitches onto the wire before inserting the lifeline creates more space inside each stitch, making it easier to thread the lifeline through.

A lifeline being threaded into lace knitting. Insert the lifeline after working a plain row. This gives you easily recognisable loops to work into.

Posted in craft, Creative machine knitting, creativity, hand knitting, Knitted textiles, knitting, knitting machine, Machine knitting, making | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Translating between Hand and Machine Knitting’ – publication date is 31st August

Cover of Translating between Hand and Machine Knitting

The cover features a voluminous and irresistibly tactile 3D knitted textile by Marie-Claire Canning

Posted in book, books, craft, Creative machine knitting, creativity, educational, Flechage, hand knitting, Knitted textiles, knitting, knitting machine, knitwear, Machine knitting, Machine knitting; knitmaster;silver reed; knitting, making, Short-row shaping, Short-rows, Textiles, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using snap on presser feet with a Bernina 1030 – take care with some types of adaptors

I have been using snap-on feet on my Bernina 730 and 1030 machines for years with the aid of a clip-on adaptor screwed onto a low-shank Bernina adaptor. This combination allows me take the adaptor apart and use the low shank adaptor to attach low shank feet, such as a ruffler.

Bernina feet, whilst clearly the best option, are exorbitantly expensive and I can’t justify this cost for some of the more exotic feet that I may only use for part of one project.

Through the years I have also acquired a Bernina clip -on adaptor with a metal lever at the back with which to ‘clip’ the clip-on feet to it, which is also brilliant at the job but obviously lacks versatility as it doesn’t allow for low shank feet to be used.

Recently I bought a set of 48 (? I think), clip-on feet to expand my collection at a reasonable price, and another ‘Bernina style’ clip-on adaptor which has a red plastic lever at the back rather than a metal one. Now for the weird bit.

I used the knit foot and then the cording foot from the new set, both with the combination adaptor, and all was well. Then the next time I sewed, I attached the rolled hemming foot to the machine using the adaptor with the red lever, and the needle smashed into the foot. Not having used this foot before, I thought the foot was a fault, and so, being in a hurry I sewed the hem with the standard foot instead.

Today I attached the knit foot to the machine, and picked up the adaptor with the red lever as it was at the top of the box in which I keep the clip-on feet. Lo and behold, when I started to sew (with a straight stitch), the needle collided with the centre plate of the foot and smashed! I was confused, this foot had worked last time, what was the problem! Having forgotten which adaptor I had used last time I spent some time fiddling around checking what could be wrong with the machine. Then I thought about it a bit more, and realised I’d most likely used the combination adaptor as this is always stored in the actual machine’s own accessory box. I swapped the adaptors, and sure enough, no collision and no broken needle.

A little analysis and test-driving was needed, and after re-checking it seems that the red-lever adaptor positions some clip-on feet too far forward, so that the machine needle hits the centre plate of the foot. I haven’t tested all the clip-on feet with both adaptors yet, but have written big notices one the storage box, machine and accessory box to remind myself to use the combination adaptor with the knit foot and roller hem foot, and to check any others carefully before starting to sew.

A lesson learned!

Posted in sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Translating between hand and machine knitting’ is about to be published

i have just received my pre-publication copy of ‘Translating between Hand and Machine Knitting’, it was waiting here on my arrival home from holiday. It’s a great welcome home present.

Holding the book

My pre-publication copy just out of its wrapper.

Here are some sample pages.

Posted in book, books, craft, Creative machine knitting, creativity, educational, hand knitting, Knitted textiles, knitting, knitting machine, knitting patterns, Machine knitting, Machine knitting; knitmaster;silver reed; knitting, making, Textiles, the knitting book, Uncategorized, Wool, yarn | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding wifi to Lumix FZ38

I have a Panasonic bridge camera, the Lumix FZ38, which is a great all round camera. I’ve used it for photographs for research and for my books, and it performs really well. However, once its on a tripod its a pain to remove the camera each time I want to see a large screen version of the photo to check colour, compostion, focus etc. The FZ38 won’t tether to my Windows laptop, and hasn’t got wifi to send the photos, so I either chance it that the small screen is showing me enough. In extreme cases where the camera is poised on the end of a boom and its hard to see the back screen, I just hope!

I was at the point of thinking of purchasing a new camera; and considering a DSLR with wifi and/or that would tether, when I came across wifi SD cards. I did a bit of reading around online and came to the conclusion that a Toshiba Flashair might work in my bridge camera. It will take SDHC cards, and that seemed to be the basic critera. If it worked, it would mean I could continue to use the camera that I know, and that isn’t too complicated, and takes a great picture that is perfect for my needs. So I ordered a 16gb Toshiba Flashair (version 4) and it arrived yesterday.

cat on a computer keyboard

The cat was helping me, so he gets his photo used as an example of my new set up with my wifi enabled Lumix FZ38

I couldn’t get to play with it until today, and it was a little un-nerving to start with, the instructions were OK, but didn’t tell you what you were trying to achieve, so it was a bit of a leap of faith. Fortunately my techie son was at hand to give me help when the PC failed to connect to the card. The reason for this turned out to be the a conflict between wifi and wired connections; I don’t have great wifi in my office, so use a wired ethernet connection. He discovered that I have to unplug the ethernet cable (or at least disconnect from ethernet connection) for the wifi to find the Flashair card – and as that worked I didn’t want him to spend ages trying to solve the problem. Someone may be able to tell me why? I just have to remember to disconnect from ethernet first before turning on wifi and connecting to the card.

For some reason the Flashair interface that should enable the easy drag and drop doesn’t seem to work, so he mapped the card as a drive, so it appears in Windows Explorer. This is better than the web browser interface as saving the photos is easier via Explorer.

So I have by Panasonic Lumix FZ38 sending pictures to my PC almost seamlessly. OK, the distance can’t be very far, a few feet is all, but thats fine for my uses. It means I don’t have to take the camera off the tripod to check my shots. Brilliant!!

Then next step is to install the Flashair app on my iPad and try viewing the photos on that as well, (I don’t necessarily want to save them on it). I can’t see it will be a problem, but just need to give myself a bit of time to sort this out.

I also want to test the card in my IXUS and see if it will work as well in that, wow this is so exciting!

The card cost under £30, so compared to updating my camera thats a good deal.

I think that because it makes a mini-network of its own, I could wifi pictures between the camera and laptop without being part of a wifi network as such – for example when out and about without a wifi signal – we shall see, that is something to experiment with later on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in photography, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Translating between Hand and Machine Knitting

A pre-publication glimpse of my new book, Translating between Hand and Machine Knitting.

CoverTo be published by Crowood Press in summer 2018, this book is lavishly illustrated with clear step-by-step instructions on knitting techniques, stitch structures and fabric constructions.

Unlike many other knitting books, this one explains why knit stitches behave in certain ways, and how to achieve effects using combinations of stitches. Each stitch construction is analysed and explained with diagrams and examples, for example tuck stitch (in hand knitting this is known as broiche stitch) is clearly illustrated so that the route of the yarn is tracked, and effects on vertically and horizontally adjoining stitches can be seen.  Fabrics made with this stitch in both hand and machine knitting are illustrated, explained and compared and contrasted in both methods of knitting. The most suitable method is highlighted and pros and cons of methods discussed.

diagram_stitchCopyright

The constructions of textural and colour effects are explored and described by hand and machine knitting methods. There is a whole chapter explaining how to knit a hand knitting garment pattern on a machine, or vice versa, and how to subsitute yarns between both methods. Examples and illustrations support every step, and shortcuts and hints and tips are scattered strategically throughout the text.

I am proud to say that my book has been written with the primary aim to enable the reader to take control of their knitting and create exactly what they want in both knitted textiles and knitted garment shapes.

It will take pride of place on any knitter’s book shelf, sitting next to The Knitting Book and Knit Step-by-Step.  Preorder on Amazon

Posted in British wool, craft, creativity, hand knitting, knitting patterns, Machine knitting, Machine knitting; knitmaster;silver reed; knitting, making, the knitting book, Uncategorized, Wool, yarn | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC online interview

More consideration seems to be being given to the problem of sizing in clothing; a subject of my own research that is close to my heart.

The BBC reported that H&M have announced they will be changing their sizing in the UK. I was asked by teh BBC to add some background to the story about the history of clothing sizing systems and how these have been implemented.

Read the article here:

BBC news H&M female clothes sizes bigger

Victory_tapemeasure150px

According to the article, H&M offered the follwoing as an example of what they plan to do, ‘…the previous measurements and fit of a size 12 would now be the measurements of a size 10’.  I am trying to get my head around that. So does that mean they will in effect re-label a size 12 as a size 10? Does that actually address the issue that has been brought to light?

One of the major changes in women’s size found by the 2002 national sizing survey Size UK was that of relative proportions. Women’s waists are much larger in proportion to their bust and hips than they were 50 years ago. The historically desirable female ‘hour-glass’ figure, achieved largely through the constriction of corsetry (latterly those ghastly panty girdles), is no longer a realistic shape for the average woman. So shouldn’t this be reflected by making waists larger rather than than just up-size all over?

If you want to read more about the social history of corsetry I recommend ‘Bound to Please, A History of the Victorian Corset‘, by Leigh Summers. Its easy to read and very informative.

Bloomsbury publishing link to Bound to Please

 

Posted in body size, clothing, clothing size | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Knit presser foot versus walking foot

A number of years ago I invested in a walking foot for my Bernina sewing machine. It wasn’t cheap, but it does a wonderful job. The walking foot makes sewing stretch or very light fabrics a breeze and matching checks and stripes a dream, but it wasn’t cheap. Its also wonderful at preventing puckering and when matching seams.

Bernina walking foot, note the special Bernina fitting which means no screwdriver is needed to fit the foot.

Last week I saw something called a ‘knit presser foot’, and thought it was interesting – mainly because the foot itself is smaller than the walking foot so I thought it might be easier to use in tight spaces.

The clip-on knit foot – note the bar that fits over the needle clamp.

The knit foot I bought is a clip-on foot, but provided you already own (or purchase), a Bernina adaptor for clip-on feet thats not a problem. These adaptors cost anything from £7-£15, depending on which one you opt for, and where you buy it. I have bought a couple from eBay and the most recent one from Austins. The eBay ones are made up from a Bernina low shank adaptor and a low shank clip on adaptor screwed together. A slightly kutcha solution, and with more potential for wobbling and misalignment, but they work OK in general. The Austin’s one is a single piece adaptor, which on the whole I prefer, but both have their uses.

I am also an impatient sewer, and it looked a bit easier to fit the knit foot for a quick seam. Its actually still a fiddle, very little difference in time needed fitting the knit or the walking foot I would say, once the adaptor is installed.

The knit foot itself came as part of a set of feet, some of which quite frankly I have no idea how to use. My enjoyment of this set is amplified by the wonderful names of some of the feet, ‘Iron opens the mouth to’, and ‘If you don’t speak iron’. Yes they are embroidery feet, but much prefer these names.

Finally I was ready to test out the knit foot. I am impressed, it does a pretty good job of sewing stretch fabrics and matching checks; I’ve not tried it on slithery or slinky fabrics yet, or thick knits rather than jersey.

The blue plastic bar, I think this is silicone type plastic as it is slightly sticky.

The key feature of the foot that you notice first is the arm that fits over the needle clamp. This works in a similar way as the arm on the walking foot; it reduces the pressure of the foot on the fabric as the needle raises and lowers. In the knit foot this is a little more obvious than with the walking foot. Underneath the knit foot a small (blue in my case) soft plastic bar grips the fabric and as the pressure is released on the foot, this gripper feeds the top fabric through the foot in synch with the raising and lowering of the foot.

The Bernina walking foot I have has black firm rubber bars that grab the fabric, feeding the top fabric through as the foot lefts of the fabric. Some brands of walking feet have teeth rather than rubber bars. I think this was the mechanism on a low shank generic walking foot I bought many years ago that, despite an adaptor, did not work well with my Bernina, and was a pig to install each time. I think I still have this, so may try it some day on my non-Bernina machine.

The under side of my Bernina walking foot, you can just see the black rubber bars between the metal .

Both feet equalise the feed of the top fabric with that of the bottom fabric as it is fed through by the feed dogs underneath the machine. In overlockers (sergers) a differential feed prevents puckering in stretch and very fine fabrics in a slightly different way, but still controls the way in which the fabric is fed through under the presser foot.

Stitch length makes a big contribution to successful use of the knit foot. Shorter lengths work best for me. You can use a double needle in with either foot. My walking foot is limited to a shorter stitch length for reverse stitch at start and finish.

These two feet so far have seemed pretty equal, but I like the knit foot for being small and easier on small pieces. It is also easier turning corners and sewing curves with the knit foot than with the walking foot. If I want a perfect seam I will however use the walking foot, because I trust it more through my experience of its reliable consistency in use.

Time may change this evaluation, but if you want to try sewing stretchy fabrics or matching patterns etc, for the price, a knit foot is a good investment. If you use it a lot, maybe think about a walking foot on your Christmas list.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment