‘Hi, I’m Barbara from Italy and want to thank you for writing “Translating between hand and machine knitting”. It’s just great, I can now understand the differences between silver reed and brother. I have one of both but got frustrated trying to use the silver reed, so just stopped working with both… now I have the chance‘
Thank you Barbara, its great to hear your feedback.
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!
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.
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.