‘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. Here are some sample pages.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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

 

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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.

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Genius way to remove gel pen stains

I arrived at work yesterday and immediately dropped an open gel pen onto my new white linen shirt. Why does this always happen when one is wearing light colours, and especially if an item is new?

So I dabbed it with water, and spent the day trying to hide the mess with my hair. Once home I searched the internet and straight away found Ask Anna, a great site the gave the perfect instructions to remove the stain – I couldn’t believe it, its gone. So simple. A combination of Surgical Spirit and white vinegar dabbed on with cotton buds, a rub of salt and its gone! Thank you so much Anna! See the full instructions at;

http://askannamoseley.com/2012/07/how-to-remove-gel-ink-stains-from-clothing/

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Notes on spinning and plying

Spinning 

Spinning is twisting fibres together to make a single spun yarn (singles). All sorts of fibres can be spun, but generally speaking, the longer each fibre is (it’s staple length), the easier it is to spin into a yarn. Singles yarn, especially those with more twist tangle back on themselves, and do not usually make good knitting yarns. They are weaker, and will produce a knitted fabric that lies crooked (bias).

When a yarn is spun, the twist of the fibres can only go in one direction, either ‘S’ or ‘Z’ . ‘S’ is is when the yarn wraps like the central diagonal of the ‘S’ and ‘Z’ is the opposite direction, when the wrap follows the central line of the ‘Z’ opposite. On a drop spindle, ‘S’ is created by the spindle being spun anticlockwise, and ‘Z’ is produced when the spindle is spun clockwise. On a spinning wheel the direction is controlled by the direction of the wheel itself.

Plying is twisting two or more yarns together so that they make one, thicker yarn. It is done for various reasons; it will balance single spun yarns and prevent bias twist, it creates a thicker yarn, it adds strength to delicate yarns, and it combines different colours and textures for aesthetic results and can be used to produce a combination of these results.

When yarns are plyed, they should be twisted together in the opposite direction from their original direction of spin, e.g. two ‘S’ spun yarns would be plyed in the ‘Z’ direction.

You can ply your own single spun yarn or make thicker and decorative yarn by plying commercial yarns together.

Decorative effects to try: threading beads/sequins onto one strand, using a fancy and plain yarn, twisting singles and then twisting them again with commercial yarns in the opposite direction to the first twist (cable plying).

Method 1: When plying the same yarn together. Wind a centre pull ball using a ball winder and taking the yarn from both centre and outside ball, ply them together on a spindle.

Method 2: When plying the same, or two different yarns together. Wind the two ends of singles (or commercial yarn) together into a double ended ball, tie the end to the spindle and off you go.

Method 3: Andean Plying. Can be used in either of the above situations.

 Step 1: Hold your left palm facing you with the fingers splayed.

Step 2: With your right hand, take the end of the yarn, and tuck it into your watch band, sleeve, or hold it under your thumb. Do not lose this end!

Step 3: Take the yarn left around the the back of your wrist.

*Step 4: Bring it across the back of your wrist to the right side of your wrist

Step 5: Then take it left across your palm and around your middle finger from left to right.

Step 6: Next take it back around your wrist from right to left.

Step 7: Take the yarn to the right across your palm, and around your middle finger from right to left, then back to the left side of your wrist *

Repeat from * to *

Step 8: When all the yarn is wrapped around your hand, and making sure you don’t lose either end, slip the ring of yarn off your middle finger and twist the whole bracelet of yarn around your wrist so that this ring is on the back of your wrist.

If you need to take a break now, slip the main bracelet onto something like a toilet roll centre, being very careful to keep the ends visible.

Put the bracket back on your wrist. Once it is on your wrist keep your fingers splayed to prevent it slipping off whilst plying. Tie the two ends to the spindle or leader and start the spindle off. Use your fingers to feed the yarn evenly and control the amount of twist travelling up the yarns as you do when spinning.

 

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4 ends of commercial yarn being plied using the Andean method. Finally it is wound into a hank. It could just be wound onto ball for knitting, but if a bit lively it may need to be hanked, steamed and hung before making into a ball.
This is a downloadable pdf of this page. Please note that you are welcome to print this for personal use, but it must not be  reproduced or distributed. Plying  

 

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Hand made drop spindles

I will be running a hand-spinning workshop with the first year knitters next week. We have a couple of spinning wheels, but I have found it most successful for the students to work individually with drop spindles and take turns in the wheels. I make spindles as it gets costly to buy 12 or more of these. The ones this year are made from 50g air-hardening clay and dowel or chopsticks and decorated with beads pressed into the clay. To seal them I’ve painted them with PVA paints. On some the central hole was a little big, so a bit of glue has secured this, and a rubber band underneath. prevents any slippage.

Last year I used Fimo. This made lovely whorls, but was expensive. I found this year’s air hardening harder to work with, but that may be because I added a thicker outer ring to the whorl to improve the mechanics of the spin. I read this on a spindle-making blog, and it works. Just looks messier. I will try one in Fimo next.

Top: all the spindles. Bottom: the Fimo whorl.

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Cutting out fabric shapes

Today I cut out 28 Scabies mites – only need to sew them up now.

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Jacob’s wool blanket

Having worked on this on-and-off for about two years I have finally finished a hand knit blanket. Worked in modular squares it was ideal for travel knitting, so has been around a bit en-route to completion. The yarn is from West Yorkshire Woollen Spinners and seems as if it is going to wear well. There are three repeated garter stitch pattern squares interspersed with plain garter stitch squares in three natural colours. The squares are joined with hairpin crochet and the blanket is fringed in a finer wool yarn with a knotted fringe.

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