Checking in: My First Knit & Taking Liberties

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Good morning everyone!  Hope you’re having a not-too-painful Monday (or employing the analgesic effects of a strong drink) – just a quick stopover to share the news that I’ve sewed my first knit!  We’ll gloss over the facts that it’s barely stretchy, and also unfinished.  Shhhhh!

It’s a Newcastle Cardigan for my brother, kind of a first try, made in sweatshirt knit from Abakhan‘s sold-by-weight basket.  I’ll give it a proper write-up when it’s finished and you can see him wearing it (please let something fit someone…).  Suffice it to say, for now, I might be a bit of a sweatshirt knit convert.  So squishy!  So forgiving!

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I sewed it on Paul’s late grandmother’s vintage Jones machine.  It’s always sad to divvy up a loved one’s stuff, but at least it’s going to a good home.  It’s a stunner, and runs really nicely too.  One thing though – it has a straight-stitch and an adjustable zig-zag, but instead of the zig-zag going both sides of the straight needle position, the needle is always over to the left, and then the zig-zag goes out further and further to the right, depending on the width setting.  Does that make sense?  It came with just a zig-zag foot, so the needle is hard over in the left side of the aperture, which makes it a little hard to see where you’re stitching.  I’m sure there must be a way around this, but I am finding it slightly… challenging… to have the straight-stitch off-centre!

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Not sure if you can see much in that photo, but that’s the straight-stitch needle position!

Initially it was a bit gummed-up with lack of use, but the handbook was very helpful, advising me to:

Apply a small amount of benzene to the oiling points, run fast with the presser foot up, then oil as instructed.

Um, OK THEN.  So I guess at some point the housewife was expected to have a handy bottle of benzene under the sink?  When I looked online for alternatives, we got cyclohexane, heptane or toluene, none of which, sadly, is sold at Boots.  Fortunately, white spirit seems to have worked fine!  The pedal was a little stiff to begin with – you could either not go at all, or go REALLY FAST.  It’s eased up a bit though, which is good – when I first started using it, I did a lot of unpicking due to going slightly off-course at high speed, which rapidly escalates into badly wonky stitching.

The cardigan just needs the buttonholes and a couple of other bits securing, but I’ve put it on hold to cut out my Carolyns.  Here’s what I have so far:

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I was hoping to get them done for 9th March, and I may yet still, but I decided to match the pattern everywhere it’s physically possible, so it’s taking hours.  And hours.  I mean, I’m slow cutting out at the best of times, but this… Annoyingly, I’m aware that pattern matching is something I would NEVER have even noticed or cared about before I started sewing my own clothes – do you find that?  Totally made a rod for my own back there…

Speaking of lovely fabric (because we were, weren’t we?), check out the amazing gift I received yesterday from my friend Amy!

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Yeah.  Liberty V&A cotton.  She doesn’t even sew!  It’s a metre, which is plenty to make a summer top, but I’m just going to stroke it for a while, until I have a pattern I know will work.

Right.  I’m going to carry on cutting out the ENDLESS PIECES for these pyjamas (pajamas?), which I think I can do tonight.  Where do you stand on pattern-matching?  Does the fabric wastage involved drive you crazy, like me?  Still worth it though, right?

Have a lovely week!

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