Sunday, 9 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week 18: Day 23: Machine Knitting and the Scalloway Hotel

Mon 1 Oct 

When I was in Shetland in the summer, I visited Anne Eunson so that we could have a ‘play day with knitting machines’. I have had one of my knitting machines, a Brother 830,  24 stitch  punchcard with 850 ribber, for many years. It was bought new  in, I think 1974, and has been used ever since. (It has also been joined by many accessories and some other machines but that is a long story for another time). Anne is currently using 2 electronic Brother machines, but has at least one other and also first used knitting machines some time ago! I believe she did have a period of knitting as a  paid job. 

So we have a love of machine knitting in common and we both have Brother knitting machines. We had a great day together in the summer learning from each other but a day went too quickly and so the Monday after wool week was to be another ‘play day’. However, I was quite tired from the week and Anne must have been more tired as she had run several workshops, I had only attended workshops. 

We only had 2 possible days left to have our wonderful second breakfast at Mackenzies, so this was our first stop. Anne was coming into Lerwick early so it seemed a good opportunity to meet up at the Dowry for a coffee.  M joined us and was then planning a free day which was to include visiting some of his favourite spots and looking at birds I guessed. We would then all meet up at the Scalloway Hotel for dinner.  

All went to plan and we stretched our minds getting our heads around the different types of double jacquard and investigating the best yarns to use to get the finishes we desired. (1) We did stop for a quick lunch but kept thinking of other things to try. By the end of the day Ann had started experimenting with  yarns for a skirt and I was working out alternative stitch combinations  for another jacket. 
Some of my samples

Anne’s knitting machine

All too soon it was time to pack up and head for Scalloway. It was wet and the wind was getting up. As we met M he wondered why I had not picked up the endless texts and emails he had sent. I had only used my iPad for taking photos of stages in our machine knitting and I had left my phone in the hall. It turned out M had made contact with NorthLink  about  our ferry booking to mainland the following evening as they predicted it was going to be very stormy. Due to lack of any communication with me he had provisionally booked us onto the ferry on Wednesday as they were able to take the van as well. So we were to get an extra day in Shetland again. (We had had 3 extra days last October as the van could not be fitted on when we had also changed the booking due to bad weather). We would need to go to NorthLink in the morning and make a decision about what to do. 
The meal at the Scalloway Hotel was very good indeed. We had not eaten there before but decided this would definitely be a place to add to the 2019 visit. Besides enjoying the food it was good to talk about ‘things Shetland’ in general. It was lovely to have a quick word with the Fruity Knitting team of Andrea and Andrew who were also eating there although none of us got our knitting out. (Well if anyone did I was obviously talking too much to notice! ) 

By the time we left, it was very wet and by the time we got to bed the wind was getting very strong too. 

(1) By some people Fair Isle Knitting is referred to as Jacquard Knitting. In machine knitting there are two types of Jacquard Knititng, neither of which is Fair Isle Knitting. In both cases two rows are knitted in one colour and then two rows in another colour. A colour changer additional fitment  is not essential but is the sensible practical way to do this if knitting more than a sample. There are no floats on the back of the knitting. The pattern is selected by the punchcard  or electronically. 
Single Bed Jacquard is the equivalent of mosaic or maze knitting in hand knitting. It gives a lovely finish.
The pink jacket that I wore at SWW this year was completed with this technique. I will write more about it when this Shetland Journal is complete. 
This is a sample 
Front                                                                  Back 
Double Bed Jacquard uses the ribber  as well as the main bed of the knitting machine. Essentially any floats are trapped between the two layers of knitting. There are a number of choices for the back of the knitting, some depending on the machine used. Choosing the correct, quite fine fibre is a major key to the success of the overall finish. 
It is not surprising that many ‘home knitters’ do not use this technique. Done well it is lovely but there can be a number of pitfalls. It is quite difficult and time consuming but worth the effort, in my opinion. 

This is a sample of embossed jacquard  using any yarns I could find, but I love the design as it is. 

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