Wednesday, 1 June 2011

seamless

I will confess that as much as I love my knitting machine, in recent times I've been feeling a bit, well, deflated.

When I started with the machine, a happy accident in itself, I said if all I got out of it was some scarves and large rectangles I'd feel pretty happy. And almost as soon as it was up and running I produced knitting of the kind I would never dream of attempting by hand, large featherweight scarves and stoles with pretty tuck stitching.

But perhaps inevitably, pretty soon I was looking to move on. I mean how many scarves can a girl use? How many can I give as gifts? When the capacity for production is so great the products start to feel less special.

And at the same time my hand knitting has been progressing well and giving me a lot of joy. Lots of projects coming together, some really great yarns getting bought and used. Lots of otherwise empty time spent waiting and blobbing and commuting used for meditative stitching. Lots of sharing and show and tell and communing with knitting buddies. All very satisfying.

But the promise of the machine beckons. So I started some lessons, and I started some garments and while there have been some perfectly usable outcomes, the honest truth was that I felt quite underwhelmed. The process is mechanical, the results unpredictable, there's a lot of waste and frustration and many many limitations. Aside from the occasional returns to lovely rectangles of beautiful yarn I just wasn't getting excited in the way I fully expected to.

So I can't tell you how deeply gratifying it was to make my first one piece garment. While the sample had many imperfections it's the first thing I've made right from the I wonder if you could do this, through the small scale model to the fully fledged garment. And in a display of the forces for good, I decided to bypass the whole swatch and calculation phase, the reliance on the numbers and the plan phase and just knit using my best intuitive guesses for size and proportion.

I did that not just because it's boring and complicated and a frustrating delay in the journey towards the actual knitting, but also because one of the things I've decided I don't much like about the machine knitting process when you are making a garment is that once you are underway you just have to keep going till the end, fingers crossed it will all come good in the wash. But I don't sew like that, and I don't even hand knit like that. I cut and modify and undo and redo, and while some of that is a calculated process, a good portion of it is just guess work and instinct.

And really, when I think about it, it's the development of those instincts that I really value. I like that through many many iterations of making I've come to a point where I often just have a sense - a sense that curve should be a little flatter, that those stitches should be a little wider, that this sleeve is just never going to fit that armhole. And where the machine seemed to be working against me was where I was trying to bypass those instincts, not only because they weren't there yet, but by working in a way that cut them out entirely.

So like I say, I was darned pleased with the sample, and even more so with the second version - better yarn, fewer mistakes (though still plenty!). My joy then magnified on discovering the garment can be worn many more ways than I had imagined. I think maybe I'm beginning to get a feel for how I might make the machine work with me after all.

13 comments:

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh check you out, Soozs Against The Machine. Love the pins!! They are looking fabulous & just in time for the 1st day of Winter, love Posie

Christine said...

Very ingenious design. Looks good too

jamsandwich said...

that is lovely well done you!
(how many mistakes are there in store bought garments? loads so no need to be so critical of yourself)

Suzy said...

Suzie, that second cardigan (the red and black one) is truly gorgeous, I am in awe. It looks like something you would see in a very fancy & expensive shop. You are so clever!

Nikki said...

You're my hero. Seriously.

travellersyarn said...

The red and black cardi is superb, and I love that you are developing your machine knitting skills. I really should muck around with mine a bit more!

Kate said...

You are inspiring Soozs - that is a clever, clever design, one I hope to knit one day.

throwslikeagirl74 said...

Coming out of lurkdom. I love those cardigans. They're just beautiful. :)

Monique said...

Don't give up on your machine. So many wonderful garments you can make with it. I'm making a dress right now. I've never made a dress on mine, but I can't wait to wear it. I have to admit, before I started swatching every project, my projects never fit correctly. So it's just part of my religion now.
Your cardis are looking good!

Mic helle said...

Almost everything I do instinctual; cooking, mothering, sewing, knitting and painting. There are times, within all that where some knowledge must be gained to reach a new level or overcome some boredom - and that is never instinctual for me. It's frustrating - until that tipping point where the knowledge is learned and the process becomes instinctual again. I find that quite magical.

At the moment, I'm still learning what my machine can do, absorbing it, following well worn paths and waiting for the magic tipping point where instinct can come back into play. So lovely that you are there!!!

I love that garment Suzie - so beautiful to look at, such a lovely feel and that stripe - wabi sabi and divine, divine divine. You rock lady. xxx

nikkishell said...

VERY impressed!

Carolyn said...

Lovely! Well done.

Homeowner Insurance

knitabulous said...

Love this post, and the jacket. Inspired!