stocking

Yes, it’s true, I broke down recently and bought a knitting machine. I was mildly intrigued by the concept, who wouldn’t love to make a hat in a half an hour? After many tries, I can honestly say ME, I never want to make another hat like that. Sure, you can make a hat with no decreases, no ribbing, no shape at all, basically a tube, then fold it in half to hide the sloppy ends under the top and under a pompom but why bother? With a little effort you can really knit something special you’ll be proud to wear rather than an I-fitting mess-up-your-hair-in-a-moment monstrosity. I know there are people out there who will disagree with my findings, but the simple truth is, you get what you pay for whether in dollars or your time.

Sure, I tried using it to knit a flat panel too, that was even less successful. I tried everything, every yarn I had left over from writing my book and a few from friends who donated left overs for “the betterment of knitting science”. The edges were uneven, stitches dropped consistently as I worked, and the finished pieces still had to be edged or burned, I leave to you my friends to figure out which option was selected. Let me just say it was a long evening around the fire pit.

So, what to do with the hats and pieces that were made from acrylic? The homeless have enough problems, they don’t need ill fitting hats and worthless scarves one can see through. In an effort to give it all another chance, I wrapped them up and put them away for a few months until inspiration hit while I was at the local dump. For those of you who are not familiar with life in Massachusetts, most towns do not have trash pick up, residents either have to pay for a private hauler or bring their trash to the dump. I chose to do the latter, it’s a quick stop on the way out of town, and I have access to a full size pick up truck so it just makes sense. Anyway, back to the story…

In the parking lot I found a little Christmas stocking. It was clearly a sign as it has an “R” embelishment upon it. I’d call it embroidered but that would be an insult to those among us who are accomplished fiber artists, this was. cheap dollar store quality piece, inspiring as it was, it was not well made.

A little bleach and some Shout, it came pretty clean, clean enough to use as a prototype for that bag of swatches and hats made on the soon to be smashed knitting machine, date TBD, but it will be epic and involve the aforementioned truck.

As we all know, you cannot cut knit fabric, no matter how hard you try to be gentle, it will unravel. So, that leaves a few options, my favorite; a proper steek, is time consuming and these pieces were not worthy. The next option is a few trips through the sewing machine then a good slicing, takes time, takes effort, again not worthy. The final option seemed appropriate, melting. You may not be aware that in addition to my knitting and crochet work, I do marine canvas repair, it’s actually my primary line of work since the world closed in March 2020. Hot knife and fire extinguisher in hand I went to work. I placed the hat tubes over a piece of brass and cut them into rectangles.

Cutting the tubes into useful sections by melting the edges instead of steeking them saved a lot of time and energy
If you look closely you can see the burned edges the hot knife so conveniently made along each piece. Thankfully no combustion, the fire extinguisher was at the ready just in case.

With the pieces squared off it was easy to replicate the general form of the little stocking I had found at the dump. Hop on over to TikTok and have a look at the videos or read on for a few of the highlights.

Sewed two pieces together, placed them RS up, sewed two more pieces together and placed them atop the first also right side up. Aligned the seams. this will become the top of the finished stocking. The outside will be blue and green, inside yellow and grey.
Traced my pattern onto the WS. For this I suggest tailor’s chalk, a light color for working on dark and a dark color for working on light knit fabric, just as one would do when working with a woven fabric. Notice I am using fabric clips to hold my work in place instead of pins. Fabric clips work much better on knit material than pins. I don’t use pins because if the box should fall and scatter on the floor, chaos would ensue. Fabric clips are much easier to pick up. Best of all you cannot prick your finger with a fabric clip and bleed all over your work
Sewed a single seam then a zig-zag, turned the work right side out and here’s a finished stocking, all ready to be used for a gift card or other small holiday gift giving. Minimal waste as the stocking can be scaled to suit the available fabric and if you are so inclined, the scraps can even be sent to a textile recycling facility.

Next up, dyeing. While on patrol for a pair of old scissors to cut the knitted fabric after sewing, I found a bottle of green food coloring, not the natural food coloring I get at Whole Foods and I would use for baking but the nasty chemical kind from the regular grocery store. I bought it years ago when I was learning how to dye Easter eggs with shaving cream to create tie-dyed patterns.

All in, not a bad solution. I might also make a few sweater ornaments out of the better natural fiber yarns to give to people who have pets in the household.

Well that’s it for today, back to the needles and my advent knitting for now. Feel free to follow my progress on that in Instagram. There’s nothing like the feel of a true hand knit gift and this advent kit from Crazy for Ewe is just perfect for it – https://www.instagram.com/p/CXEUp5NLG9T/

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