Technical Block: Knit

We started our technical block in knit, straight onto working with the machines. I find any kind of machinery very intimidating at first however I was truly excited to get started and try it out. If all the hooks and wires weren’t already making me nervous, we were given a tool bag for the week, with a set of weights and ‘transfer tool’. I had never seen any of this before and this probably heightened my nerves. Saying that Tim explained it all very well and when I got started it wasn’t actually too difficult if you took your time to figure it out. It all seemed to be about thinking methodically, threading up and remembering to hook the yarn in the carriage and e-wrap in the correct way. We were shown how to knit the basics and then moved onto to adjusting the tension depending on the thickness of yarn and also to give a desired effect. With the tighter tension giving denser blocks and looser, more open hanging stitches. Playing with this I also learnt to bring in a second colour and toy with mixing this with the previous yarn but also swapping it in and out to create stripping. My chosen yarns were of different materials and thickness and I was really intrigued by the contrast of the shinier thin quality against the thicker wooly texture. By using a purpely blue against the turquoise the effect was striking yet somehow also subtle, which I liked a lot.

Creating lace holes and ladders was exciting as when I looked at my jumpers at home in the morning I was fascinated and completely bewildered as to how such things could be made. Now within the first hour or so of the day I had a much better insight and this was stimulating as I could see clearly the relevance of kit within each of our daily lives. Tim showed us that by using the transfer tool, which no longer seemed so threatening in its ambiguity,  stitches can be moved and  adjusted to make patterns or design. However my first attempts were not so designed as they were chaotic as I tried to grasp the technique and frustration in accidentally dropping a stitch. Although I am going to practice to be able to explore this possibility of patterning, the uneven and asymmetrical ladders created a very beautiful delicate knit, almost like a shed snakeskin.

With Jane, in the afternoon,  we practiced hand knitting and although I had learnt on foundation a bit, it was very helpful just to be reminded. She showed us a very easy way to cast on using the one needle and thumb to e-wrap. Once we drilled that through, I went on combing knit and purl rows to create stocking stitch and also experiment with ribbing. At first I struggled to remember where I was in the pattern but this was much easier when Jane showed us how to identify the bumpy side that was the purl and the ‘V’ shaped knit stitches. I haven’t completely mastered this yet but I find hand knitting to be really relaxing so I think I will enjoy continuing to experiment with this, possibly also with different yarns.

Although the machine are able to create work very quickly, this didn’t not mean we were to abandon the hand knitting. I love that you can work with much chunkier yarns and explore surface and texture through this. I am also fascinated by the intimacy of work with your hands and being able to make something that invested more time. We were shown that  you can also do specific techniques on one that is not possible on the other. I think it will be quite interesting to combine the time and effort taken in the hand knit with the process of machine work. What amazed me most about this first day in Knit was that by the time I left I had genuinely learnt something I hadnt known when I arrived in the morning. Something I didnt know whether I would actually be able to do, let alone enjoy so much. The possibilities of knit are extremely exciting and I am looking forward to seeing where this block will take me.

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