Vaila and the Bond: a story

Knitting Vaila is turning into quite the ordeal.  This isn’t the fault of the designer, it’s more the fault of me for choosing a pattern that combines a bunch of techniques I don’t like: patterns with lace on every row, sweaters knit from the bottom up, and reverse stockinette in the round.  I started the sleeves several times.  First I tried knitting them inside out, but that didn’t look great and my gauge was off.  Then I tried knitting them as called for, but I got horrible ladders in the purling.  I could have tried magic loop, but that would have added another technique I hate to the mix (I find it fiddly and annoying.)  So I was about to give up on the sweater, when my husband bought me the Bond knitting machine.

I hit upon the idea of knitting the stockinette portion of the sleeves on the bond and then picking up and knitting ribing for the cuffs off of the live stitches at the beginning.  So I made two swatches on the bond, with the #3 and #2 plates.  3 is supposed to be for worsted, but to get 4.5 st/in after blocking I had to use #2.  Washing the swatch is so important in this case – because of the weighted hem, the knitting will be stretched.  You also need to know your row gauge, because you cannot measure your knitting while it is on the machine.   It worked out great – the sleeves are done, though they require seaming, and it looks like the sweater will be finished someday (right now I am knitting the decreases, never my favorite part… remind me no more bottom up sweaters in one piece, ok?)

What follows is a little demonstration of knitting a sleeve on the bond.  I apologize for the quality of the pictures, but I was doing this at night!

First you will use the green cards provided to push forward the number of needles you need.

Take the weighted hem and lay it through the needles.

Make sure all the hooks are open using the transfer tool provided.

Lay a piece of elastic thread across the hooks, and weight down either end with a clothespin.  Now you will fold the hem over the hooks, so that the hem is hanging from the elastic thread.  Push the hem back towards the table.

Reset the needles by replacing the green cards with the yellow one.  Once all the hooks are pushed back to this position, remove the card.

Choose the size card you need for your yarn weight, and place it in the shuttle.  It is also recommended to wax the back of the card with a plain parafin candle (the new sets come with one.)

Close the shuttle and thread your yarn through the guide.  Now you are read to begin knitting.  Push the shuttle down the row, making sure the yarn doesn’t get tangled in the hem.  The hooks should catch the yarn.

One row completed.  Clip a weight onto the end yarn.  Now you continue, pushing the shuttle back and forth.  Be sure to tension the yarn with your hand at the beginning of each row, or you will drop end stitches.

The knitting grows really quickly.  Be sure not to let the hem touch the floor or your lap.

When you are done (be sure you count rows based on your row gauge) you can bind off.  I tried the back stitch method on my swatch, and liked it well enough.  For the sleeves I transferred the stitches on the hooks to waste yarn, and then placed the hem stitches on a needle to knit the ribbing.  After I finished the ribbing, I seamed the sleeves and then attached them to the sweater by knitting across all stitches.

On the left are the machine stitches.  Right now they are a little tight, but they should loosen up when washed.  I did find that machine knitting makes a tighter edge than handknitting, so the seaming was a little tough (I would have been ok on the knit side, but it was hard to see the reverse stockinette.)

I find machine knitting to be more like weaving than knitting for some reason.  In no way does it replace the joy of hand knitting, but it does make it easier for me to think about some basic sweaters to knit eat up the extra yarn in my stash.

I’m planning to knit the above sweater (the Climbing Vines pullover from the new IK) and am thinking of doing the back and sleeves on the bond as an experiment to see how shaping works, but I’m not totally sure I will…

I would consider the machine to be a worthwhile purchse.  There is a learning curve, and it really is only great for stockinette (it can do ribbing, cables etc, but it requires hand manipulation of the stitches.)  It’s a bulky weight machine, and it isn’t going to be good for yarns knit under sportweight.  I plan to use mine for gifts (since I am a selfish knitter, and I hate taking a lot of time knitting something that may not be appreciated) and the occasional boring bit of a sweater.  It’s got to go in the attic, so I need to clear some space up there.

I hope my explanations were a little helpful!

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16 thoughts on “Vaila and the Bond: a story

  1. I’ve always wondered exactly how those machines work. How fast do they knit compared to handknitting? It seems like a good investment because there’s only so much I can take of plain stockinette as well.

    Oh! It’s funny how you mention you’re a selfish knitter because I’m doing Christmas knitting this year and I happen to be a selfish knitter as well and I stumbled upon these gift tags on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=vt_related_1&listing_id=18359408) that, of course, I purchased immediately. They seemed appropriate. 🙂

  2. Gia says:

    I have a Bond too – I made lots of toys with it, very quickly. Also some small garments and such. You will grow to want to know all the cool things you can do with it. If you have any questions with it, let me know…I’ll try to help ya 🙂

    Also, I was wondering if you still have any chunky yarn for sale?

    Thanks 🙂

    Gia

  3. lisa says:

    I used a Phildar “Big Phil” machine about 18 years ago and loved it. I, too, used it for gifts as I couldn’t see the time/love for it not to be appreciated. My, then, LYS owner had the “Big Phil” and loaned it to me. I’ve thought many times since then about a machine of my very own. Now, you will be producing finished garments like never before!

  4. What a neat machine, but I like the old fashioned way better. I can see me getting everything all tangled up 😉

    I also plan on doing the Climbing Vines sweater, after I finish my February Lady Sweater, and I’ll be waiting to see your choice in yarn for the C.V. sweater.

  5. Mizzle says:

    Thanks for the pictures!

    I got a knitting machine for free – it was on a craigslist kind of thing, free for the taking by anyone who would appreciate it.

    I’ve tried it, but things didn’t work out too well. I’ll try again soon, now that I know about opening the hooks with the transfer tool…

  6. I think you’re sweater is coming along beautifully! It looks really great. I’m in love with the Climbing Vines sweater! I’m searching now for the perfect yarn to use.

  7. Alix says:

    Good on you for persevering with Vaila! I’m knitting it too and am almost done the body…I don’t hate purling but the lace has been a PITA and there has been quite a bit of fudging. I think it looks fine, but it still bothers me knowing I made mistakes at all. The curse of being both lazy and a perfectionist!

    I’m intrigued by your Bond but am also pretty sure any experimenting with knitting machines on my part would end in disaster.

    Looking forward to your FO!

    -Alix (yarncake on Rav)

  8. Thanks for the info on the Bond sweater machine. I bought one once on Ebay, and found it to be frustrating to deal with so I never really got it going. I was thinking maybe I would try buying a Silver Reed one as I’ve heard good things about those. I’d like to have one that works with really lightweight yarns (7-8 stitches to the inch) as those are something I never will have patience to handknit but I love the finished product.

  9. Wow, I need to check out a machine now. I’ve always been curious about how those work.

    About to start the Vaila pattern myself! And the Sylvi red jacket as well. Bliss!

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