Like I said on Monday, I couldn’t let the knits challenge pass by without making something. I was a little pressed for time so I didn’t want to make something huge. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m still not satisfied with the finishing on the two sweaters I made last Fall and I was scared. I figured two tubes would be perfect. I would make them just the right width and length so that I wouldn’t have to cut into the fabric. I wouldn’t have to finish any raw edges so everything would be neat and tidy. The leg warmers were a baby step back to designing things on the knitting machine.
I swatched and measured.
I measured a little leg and made some calculations (to figure out how many stitches to cast on and how many rows to knit). I cast on and knit two rectangles. And… They were too wide. I’d ignored a tiny little detail I absolutely did know about. Gauge (that’s the number of stitches and rows per inch) changes depending on the shape of the fabric. If the fabric is narrow and long, it tends to stretch out even longer and narrower (so more stitches per inch and fewer rows per inch). My swatch was narrow and long because I’d done several tries all together. The rectangle I needed for the legs was closer to a square (so fewer stitches per inch and more rows per inch). Since my stitch and row calculations were based on the long and narrow swatch, my rectangle ended up too wide and just long enough (I’d planned on it being longer and folding the edges).
The leg warmers were a swatching lesson.
I wasn’t about to reknit my pieces so I had to bite the bullet and finish those edges. I grabbed the swatches and started testing on my serger. I always have issues with the looper threads not being nicely huddled against the knit fabric and the fabric getting stretched out at the edge. I upped the tension on my loopers to a 7 (I’m usually at a 5 on my Brother 1034D) and look!
Now that it’s written, I realize the solution was a bit of a no brainer but still, I’m so happy to have fixed this one problem!
You can see in that picture that the edge is still a little stretched out. I bumped the differential feed up to gather as much as possible. Or maybe I was one step down from maximum? And I lowered presser foot pressure as much as I could. And this is a huge improvement. The leg warmers were a huge step forward in my sweater knit sewing.
Finally, I couldn’t fold in the top and bottom of the leg warmers like I’d planned. No length to lose! But the edge needed some finishing. It’s plain old stockinette (jersey) so it rolls. I went with a row of single crochet all around the top (every other stitch). I held the yarn double, one strand of each color. My experience with crochet on top of these machine knits is that the yarn I use to make the knit usually feels to thin to be crocheted on. Weird, right? Maybe it’s because crochet tends to be airier than plain knit so the added thickness closes it up.
And now, I feel confident that I can make whatever it is I’m going to want to make for signature style week. I just need to design it and I know I can get the finishing just right.
So you see? So much more than just a pair of leg warmers!