PlanetJune Craft Blog

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first machine-knitted sweater!

This is my first FO of the year, and I’m completely thrilled by it!

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

It’s a combination of machine and hand knitting, and to explain how that came about, let’s start with some backstory…

Despite having filled my wardrobe with handknits, I haven’t finished knitting a sweater for over a year now. With hindsight, I think the reason is that knitting kept me going through the worst of my PTSD. When I couldn’t do anything else, I could still move my needles, loop my yarn, and make one neat stitch after another to pass the time in a constructive way. Knitting became my therapy, and it did that job so well that it ruined knitting for me as a fun hobby.

I’d started on a simple project that should have been easy and fun – remaking my simplest sweater design in a different colour (the lovely periwinkle you see above). I got most of the way through the sleeves, and then… I stalled.

I put the project away and hadn’t been tempted to knit another sweater for ages, until I bought my knitting machine. I used the rag hems I told you about in my previous post as guides to try to match my gauge to the sleeves I’d already knitted by hand, and then got started trying to machine knit the missing parts (the front and back) of the sweater.

The back went so well that I got a little too enthusiastic (or too confident!) when I knitted the front – I got over-tired and didn’t notice I’d skipped the whole section from waist to underarms!

It’s hard to see what’s going on while you’re knitting, as the work is weighted down and completely stretched out of shape, so I didn’t notice my mistake until I’d finished and laid the sweater front out flat…

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

Bet you’ve never seen a sweater with this shape before! (Ignore the green rows at the bottom – those are my rag hem and won’t be part of the final sweater.)

Haha! Disaster! I fed a lifeline (the yellow yarn across the photo above) through the row below the point where I went wrong – there should be an extra 32 rows of knitting at that point!

But I wasn’t too discouraged by my mistake – it was good practice for following my at-the-same-time armhole decreases and neck decreases, and I was encouraged by how neat the stitches looked.

I frogged all the way back to the lifeline, hooked it all back onto the machine, and tried again (without making any stupid mistakes this time).

Once I’d finished, it was just a matter of seaming the front, back and sleeves together, then picking up stitches to knit the bottom band and neckband by hand. And it seems I’ve got my knitting mojo back! I really enjoyed hand-knitting the ribbing so I could see how the sweater would turn out.

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

There are some minor flaws in my knitting, where the yarn must have caught on something and so the tension of the whole row is too tight, but I’m delighted with this as my first attempt. The gauge is exactly what I was aiming for, and it’s a perfectly cosy sweater for this time of year!

I’m so impressed with how well the stitches match between my hand knit sleeves and the machine knit body – if you didn’t know, would you be even able to tell there was a difference?!

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

Concept proven, and now I’m back in the knitting game with lots of ideas for what to knit next with my combination of machine- and hand-knitting – I think it’s the best of both worlds. So exciting!

15 Comments »

  1. Andrea Matthewson said

    What a lovely jersey! Your machine knitting journey brings back memories … my grandmother had one. I spent lots of time with her and she was always knitting, sewing and embroidering. She made many jerseys for her children and grandchildren on that knitting machine!!
    Thank you for sharing bravely about your PTSD journey. 5 yrs ago I experienced an incident while in my car. Part of coping with daily travelling in the traffic to work and back – i joined a lift club (car pool) AND I started knitting and crocheting along the way. It really helped to distract me when we drive. And if attacked I have a weapon to defend myself.

  2. Celine said

    “There are some minor flaws in my knitting, where the yarn must have caught on something and so the tension of the whole row is too tight”
    ——————-
    No, no, those aren’t flaws, they are unique custom touches! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • June said

      Well, yes, sure, let’s go with that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Celine said

    Beautiful! Very impressed and a lovely color. (My daughter was very insistent that I knit her periwinke mittens at one point.) Combining the machine-knitted parts so perfectly with the hand-knitted sleeves is awe-inspiring.

    • June said

      Thank you, Celine! Yes, I think combining the two is going to be great – e.g. I could hand knit a nice patterned front, and then machine knit a plain back and sleeves, so I’d get to try a new design or stitch pattern but it’d be finished in a fraction of the time it’d take to knit the whole thing by hand!

  4. Bea said

    Ohh, it looks awesome! And no, I could never tell the arms and body were knitted differently.
    I need to stop knitting only tests with my machine and go for it, thanks for the inspiration! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • June said

      Yes, Bea – please do go for it! If it goes wrong, you can just call it another test and start again. Messing up is all part of the learning process (which is why I showed you my ridiculous mistake above – there’s nothing that can’t be fixed or tried again!) :blush:

  5. David Grindel said

    WOW ! It really does look great. I cannot imagine having a machine that can knit. It would be fasanating to just watch it work. How hard is it to program ? How long did it take ? Does it make any noise ? Sorry for all the questions but I’ve been around all kinds of machines, printer, card readers etc. but never a machine that handles yarn and can make a sweater. Great job ! Glad to hear your back in knitting.
    Dave

    • June said

      I tried to explain the mechanism a bit in my previous machine knitting post, Dave – you can look back there for some pics of the machine and how it works!

      Not all knitting machines are the same – many are programmable with punch cards, and I assume there are motorized and electronic machines too, but mine is super basic: it’s operated completely manually and it’s not programmable at all. All it can do is form knit stitches.

      It’s not at all ‘load it up with yarn and pattern, press a button and wait for a sweater to emerge’ like it sounds – I still need to do every bit of hand manipulation I’d have to do with needles; the only difference is that I set up the row first (e.g. position any increases or decreases) then run the carriage across (by hand) and the machine knits all the stitches of the row in 1 second. But that’s still a significant benefit!

      Oh, and yes, it’s noisy… It’s definitely not something to do while someone else is in the room, unless they’re incredibly tolerant ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. chantale perron said

    June, I’m really impressed by your determination!!! Congratulation on passing throught this pointof impact where you used to quit everything…it takes a very strong will to pass those steps. Cute sweater too!

    • June said

      Thank you, Chantale! I hate to fail at anything, so I don’t tend to give up unless I’m really doing terribly, or not enjoying it at all. It takes practice to get good at something new, and once I’ve got past the stage of making regular mistakes, I think I’m really going to enjoy this.

  7. Cecelia Remedios said

    Very BEAUTIFUL and the color is GORGEOUS.
    My favorite part it’s V-neck, DEFINITELY my preference
    BEAUTIFUL WORK

    • June said

      Thank you, Cecelia! I love the V-neck too. I was worried the V was going to be too big – it looked massive before I added the neck band! – but it turned out pretty much how I was hoping it would (phew!) :sweat_smile:

  8. Katy said

    You did a beautiful job! I wouldnโ€™t know it was a โ€œhybridโ€! Actually, even knowing, I canโ€™t tell. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • June said

      Thanks, Katy! Apart from the tension blips in the machine knit part (which aren’t obvious unless you’re looking for them) I don’t think I’d be able to tell which parts I’d hand knit either. So that’s really great – I just have to practice avoiding the tension issues for my next project :slight_smile:

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