Well, I’m not sure that I consider it cheating. Although, some might. I call it “A means to beat down my encroaching yarn stash”, or my “RSI* avoidance plan”!
I’m talking about knitting machines! They can come in various styles, but the one that I was really keen to acquire was the Addi Express (22 pin). I was given one for Christmas recently (OK, I bought it for myself as a Christmas gift, because NOBODY knows what to buy me, and why bother anyway? Especially when I buy what I want, when I want it!!), so with all these bundles of left-overs and odd-ball yarns, I wanted to explore the possibilities with this machine.
I found this wonderful lady called Margaret Olander, who makes regular yarn-related video blogs called “Sheepishly Sharing“. She too has an Addi Express as well as the Addi Maxi (larger version) and I’ve learned a lot from her! She shares tips and tricks, pitfalls and remedies, while she explores all the possibilities with these machines.
My Projects So Far…
I’ve been having so much fun with this machine, but my first ambition was to ‘knit’ a pair of socks. As you may be aware, I can already knit socks, no problem, but sometimes it would be great to make a quick pair of socks as a gift, or just for fun. So, here are a few that I’ve done:
This one uses 2 different colour strands of fingering weight yarn, held together. The funny thing about holding 2 colour strands is that their appearance is not always even. I found myself turning my tension hand a few times so that the pink yarn doesn’t sit in the same place while cranking the machine. In the end, I think the machine decides.
Yarn: Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon by Old Maiden Aunt in “Twu Wuv” (pink) & “Jaded” (teal blue)
Made from an unloved fingering weight yarn on the shelf marked “What Was I Thinking???”. This yarn is quite thin, so I held it triple to get the best out of it. It becomes super-stretchy, but it is a firm yarn, therefore it is not fluffy. When worn, it gives the appearance of an open-gauge sock – a bit draughty-looking maybe. As I am writing this, and having worn it all day, I can’t say that I’ve noticed this.
Yarn: Pure 4ply by Wollmeise in “Daisy”
How I Made Socks on the Addi Express
After casting on, I made a long tube of about 36 rows, broke off yarn, inserted some waste yarn and knit for half of the stitches (11), reconnected yarn then resumed for a further 40 rows and bound off. Once off the machine, using 6mm circular needles, I removed the waste yarn and picked up the 22 live stitches and knitted them in the round by forming a heel and decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the 11 stitches (-2 sts) every alternate round until a total of 12 stitches remained (6 back and 6 front). I broke off yarn leaving a 6″ (15cm) tail, threaded a yarn needle and grafted (kitchener stitch) the heel. For the toe, I repeated the same process as the heel. For the cuff, I picked up 22 stitches and worked a 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for about 5 rounds then BO loosely.
Super Insulated Socks
Here, I was trying to achieve a fabric that I would be happy to wear on my feet. In this version, the yarn is held double, but the length of the foot and leg section is twice as long. The ‘tube’ is folded in on itself to create a double layer. For this, you have to be mindful to create a gap for the heel in both layers. It’s pretty simple to work out, but the tricky part is to combine all 44 sts into 22 so that you can work the heel and toe using the method I mentioned above. A more time-consuming (but perhaps more insulating) method is to work the heel and toes for EACH layer, then sew them briefly together so that they don’t slip and slide. I might try that and see how it goes.
My conclusion for these socks is that they became too thick. You’d never be able to get any shoes on. In fact, scrap the idea of shoes altogether!
Yarn: Sock yarn from Tiger Stores (75/25 wool/nylon) – 2 strands, & Excelite by John Arbon Textiles (Exmoor Blueface/nylon) – 1 strand.
Ideal Fabric for Socks
Sock yarns are the best in my opinion because they usually come in Superwash form and/or have enough nylon content to make them strong, but you need something more. You need extra ‘fluff’ to make it warm and to fill in those holes in the outstretched fabric. So to create a good workable sock, you need 3 strands of fingering weight yarn comprising the following:
Strands 1 & 2 = wool/nylon mix (or acrylic) – for warmth and strength
Strand 3 = fluff! some kind of wooly or rustic yarn (i.e. Blueface Leicester, Jacob, organic Merino etc.)
More coming soon!
As you can see, I am still exploring this. But I’ve got quite a few more projects to show you as well, so I will post them soon! And the great thing about all of this is, I am actually using up all my left-over yarn!! Yay! 🙂
Better get cranking!!
*Repetitive Strain Injury