Sometimes things don't go to plan... that was me with the digital embroidery machine yesterday. After testing out an idea, well trying to answer the question of can you embroider onto knits, successfully with some small swatches (see here) I took the plunge to do something bigger. I knit a giant "swatch" or baby blanket on the knitting machine with one of my faux entrelac nordic stranded colourwork patterns.
I planned to embroider a pattern that I created tracing some of the motifs I was playing with in my sketchbook to create a layered gradient pattern collage, moving from larger motifs to gradually smaller ones. My thinking was that it might be interesting to layer or embroider it over top a small denser pattern like the my faux entrelac colourwork pattern. Below is the progression of the design into a repeat and finally to embroidery.
So I never made it to the end of the design. The machine wasn't terribly happy- let's say metallic thread breaks easily and mixed with knit means a lot of rethreading! The major problem for the machine is tension. Knits don't have the stability and rigidity that other fabrics do, knits have give and stretch! Well the particular machine I was using wasn't happy with the amount of tension I had achieved with the table hoop frame... it decided to "eat" or bunch in two spots. This bunching resulted in two broken needles and much unhappiness. There was no real damage to the knit but it means rethinking how to approach embroidery. Things to think or rethink to make it easier for the machine and me: working smaller and doing more repeating to make a bigger piece? adding stabilizer?
What I still managed to have stitched still looks nice. I'm the only person who has attempted to do this (embroidering on knit) so its one big experiment. I think it adds a nice touch to a knit, giving it an added dimension or texture. Don't get me wrong I could achieve a layered effect with inlay knitting techniques, I'm planning on trying that too for all the hand knitters out there! I wanted to take a risk and try something new- it was a good learning experience! It also got me into thinking more about using metallics and novelty yarns with intention.