So I dusted off the old knitting machine that I’d bought off Craigslist a year or two ago, and gave it a go. After four hours of pulling my hair out, I am pleased to present the following:
Getting started was extremely frustrating – the manual was written in very bad English and almost useless for machine operation (though it did contain some detailed photos that proved handy in assembling the machine). Since I’d never tried machine knitting before, and wasn’t sure the equipment would work, it was a bit of an adventure as I twisted dials, adjusted tension, and discovered a million ways of operating the equipment incorrectly.
Anyway, it appears that, with a few more hours of practice, I should be competent to create knitted blanks for sampling. For the actual weaving I will probably have a friend with an auto-knitter do it, to save wear and tear on my shoulder. Knitting a blank long enough for 16 yards of warp makes me tired just thinking of it!
To improve the learning curve, though, I’m going up on Saturday to visit my friend Nancy Roberts. Aside from having the handy auto-knitter and a business creating knitted blanks, she is also a machine knitting teacher and can help me inspect and troubleshoot my machine as well as helping me with basic technique. If I can get both of those set, and the row counter repaired, I think I’ll be in business.
Weaving-wise, I think what I will do is created knitted blanks for both green and brown and the multicolor samples. This is a design experiment of sorts – seeing how the color and value progression affects the way the eye moves through the piece. I want a balance between background and leaves that draws the eye to the leaves as they fall to the ground, while providing a sense of motion in the rest of the piece as well.
Come to think of it, a faster way to do the design experiments might be to dye commercial cotton fabric and do the cutouts with an Exacto knife. It won’t show how it will look when woven but should work well enough for color and value samples in real fabric – much better than Photoshop simulations! So I will try that over the next few days, before dyeing and weaving up the knitted-blank samples. Sounds like fun!