I'm sure every machine knitter has heard a version of that line from a dedicated hand knitter. I laughed when I read the tweet during Twitter #knitchat last Thursday, and in less than 140 characters I explained, "I've heard others say that. It's different from hand knitting. Depending on what you do, it sometimes takes longer!"
What I didn't explain was that I happened to be in the middle of one of those things that "takes longer".
I have challenged myself to eliminate the excess fabric that can appear at the top of a machine knitted hat, the excess that's removed from an inexpensive commercial hat with a bit of cut & sew. (See cut & sew vs. fully fashioned under Machine Knitting.)
Sometimes the excess fabric on a knitted hat is not a problem at all; gathers become a design element, as in a slouch.
|Seen on this blog before, my first hat of Spring 2011|
I've used slip stitches and ribs to reduce and hide excess. The judicious use of a knitted flower helps, too.
|Also from this past spring|
I did not want to knit a slouch this time. I know from experience that hand knitters simply and easily decrease evenly over multiple rows when knitting a toque or beanie. Problem solved. No excess fabric.
Reducing evenly over a row is not a satisfying task on a machine. I can do it, but it is a many step process involving multi-pronged tools and/or waste yarn. I find it alternately frustrating and mind-numbing. I know it takes longer than multiple hand knitted decreases.
I've found a solution that works for me, however. And its name is Short Rows. Messing around with Susanna Lewis's recipe for pentagons, I've knitted a circle in five parts for the crown of the hat. This circle gets attached on the machine to my rib and rippled jacquard sides. Knitting double bed and in pattern (a full needle rib/tubular combo) makes the short row decreases harder and more challenging than simple jersey short rows, but by my third time knitting the crown (yup, knitted 3 versions now), I think it's faster than the repeated use of a decker comb for decreases across the row.
|This is Version1 knitted with baby alpaca and bamboo from Silk City Fibers.|
Subsequent versions emphasize the five wedges more.