Ravellenic Games 2012 - Ravelry.com

Day One - It was my intention to cast on my first project for the games during the Olympic Games' opening ceremony gala scheduled for 9:00pm London time - 1:00pm here on the west coast of the U.S. Unfortunately, other obligations got in my way. I chose, instead, to cast on while watching the delayed NBC broadcast of the ceremonies at 7:30pm my time. The delayed start cost me more than 6 hours of productive knitting time, so I decided to do a quick and easy machine knit project that I could easily complete in a few hours. I wanted to have a finished object that I could "medal" with early on day two. Voila, the Lowly Dishrag:

My personal goal for the Ravellenic Games 2012 is to complete 16 knit projects over the 17 days of the games - an unrealistic goal for hand-knitting unless every project consists of something no more complicated than this dishcloth. I'll be using a knitting machine, of course, since it allows me to complete a project in about a tenth of the time I need to hand-knit just about anything. I intend to do a couple pair of socks, a lace shawl, and a simple summer tank top.

Beyond those, I'll knit whatever simple project strikes my fancy and suits the stash yarn I have. That's goal #2 for Ravellenics 2012 - stashbusting. I've done a significant amount of time lately recycling/frogging high quality sweaters. I am at SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) and have been for a very long time. Time to dig into some of that yummy merino, cashmere, silk and linen that I've reclaimed.


Machine Knitting Upgrade to Electronics

The old Singer Memomatic 327 knitting machine with ribber has gone off to a new home and a newbie machine knitter in Puerto Rico. That old punchcard machine (manufactured in the 1977) has been a dependable little workhorse and served me well over a decade. I was sad to see it go, but in its stead, I've purchased a newer electronic patterning machine - a Knitking Compuknit III. It is exactly the same as the Brother KH-930, just rebranded. It's standard gauge (4.5mm) with 200-needles capable of creating stockinet, tuck, slip, fair isle, weaving, and transfer lace. The onboard computer offers over 500 built in stitch patterns, as well as the capability of programming my own. No more searching for the right punchcard or taking time out with the hole punch to make a new pattern card. All the patterns are ready to go at the touch of a few buttons. It's a wonderful machine, easy to use, and I've been spending a lot more time knitting by machine because of it.

I purchased the ribber attachment, too. I really can't get along without the ability to create professional-looking ribbing for my garments. The ribber enables me to knit circular, too, which allows me to create seamless socks that are as good or better than the ones I've knitted by hand. It tell you, the ability to knit a pair of socks in a day by machine as opposed to two weeks by hand really satisfies my occasional need for instant gratification.

With the addition of the garter carriage accessory, there's only a few stitch techniques that I cannot accomplish on the machine in a fraction of the time it would take me to knit by hand. Cabled projects are a notable exception. Although it is possible to fashion cables on the machine, the process is too fiddly for me and I still prefer to work those projects by hand. One of my first projects with the garter carriage was a gansey-style pullover for my son to wear with his favorite kilt. Would you believe it - this sweater took about 80 hours start to finish. I'd have spent months creating this sweater by hand.
The real beauty of the garter carriage is that it is electric and doesn't require hands-on operation. Once programmed, it requires only occasional monitoring until it's time to decrease for armholes, neck or shoulder shaping. While the garter carriage was busy doing its thing on this sweater, I was free to work on an intarsia sweater project or cook dinner or do a load of laundry. Can you say, "multi-tasking?"

As great as the knitting machine is, it will never completely replace handknitting for me. I still enjoy the tactile pleasures of working fine wool and other luxury fibers by hand. And then, of course, there are the cabled projects I am fond of doing. The kilt hose (below) are a handknit work in progress and one that I could never accomplish on the machine.
I will say, however, that there have been more than a few times with this project when I wish these socks could be worked on the machine. I don't even want to think about how many hours I have invested so far in a single, unfinished sock.