Saturday, December 9, 2017

Solving the abrasion problem.

I frogged (unknitted) the project.  I now have five balls of yarn.  Still thinking on what to do to fix this. 

Monday, November 6, 2017


I was making some progress on the surprise sweater, but I am currently stalled.

I finally realized that for every four pairs of rows knitted, I needed to put one stitch in hold every three rows at this gauge in order to make a perfect (well, almost perfect) 45-degree angle.  I was working away and feeling really proud of myself at how well the miter was shaping up (pun intended) when I noticed two problems. 

Can you see it here?  The first problem is that the reason you can see the diagonal line of my miter so well is that there are HOLES in my knitting.  These might be caused because I was not paying any attention to wrapping when I was short-rowing.   These stitches are also showing abrasion from the carriage passing over them.

The second problem which might be a little more difficult to see in this photo, is even on the area of the garment that is in hold position, there is abrasion and pilling at the current row.  I believe this is caused by the brushes rubbing the same stitches on every pass of the carriage.  I am making sure to take the carriage past the row counter to keep track of my knitting, and each time, the stitches are irritated.  You can see a "hazy" line under the needles, like a little cloud of fuzz.

Well, this garment will not be worn on church on Sundays, the way it is currently going.  I have a couple of choices.

1. Rip back the entire miter, and the last two or three rows prior to beginning the miter, break the yarn, and throw away (or use for future waste yarn) and find my place in tuck stitch, then resume knitting with my new knowledge, hoping there is enough yarn to finish the sweater.

2. Continue with this garment from where I currently am, and treat it as a fitting garment, what we call a muslin in the sewing world.  Did I mention that this yarn was free along with the purchase of a slightly (hahaha) used knitting machine?   Make the final garment in a better yarn (hoping to get same gauge), and this time, prevent the holes and the abrasion from occurring.  After fitting the garment and making any needed adjustments, cut this up and make doll blankets out of it by serging the edges and putting a ribbon trim.

3. Continue with this garment from where I currently am, and come up with a creative way to embellish it to cover up the problems.  Embroidery?  Applied I-cord? 

Since I managed to drop 75 percent of the stitches when I put the needles back in work to start the next section,  I just covered the machine up and left it, until the next time we visit the farm.  This project is taking a time-out while I decide which approach I will take. 

In the meantime, I am thinking about how I will avoid this abrasion the next miter or the next time I knit this sweater.   I think the best approach will be to take the "held" stitches off on waste yarn while knitting the miter.  This includes the stitches in the miter as well as the left side of the garment in hold at the beginning.    Then there will be no possibility of the carriage abrading the stitches. It will mean some extra time to rehang them before starting the next section, but I can just consider it part of my meditative practice.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Detroit Skyline in October Inspiration

My friend Leya Coleman participated in a bike ride over the Ambassador bridge last Sunday, and took a gorgeous picture of the Detroit skyline WHILE RIDING which she posted on Instagram.  With her permission, I am using it for inspiration for my next project.

When I saw her photo, I had already pulled together a few skeins of yarn, starting with one I created during Spinzilla.  This skein was randomly spun from four ounces of different fibers that I had received from Spinning Box in September 2017.  Unfortunately I did not keep track of which fiber came from which business, since I was concentrating on Spinzilla!  Below on left, is the two miles of fiber I spun during Spinzilla.  The yarn I had chosen as a core of the next project is the sixth from left on top row, with shades of green, yellow, blue, black and white.   The second photo shows it as a closer view (on the right).

I complemented the yarn with others from my stash. One was a special skein from Grace Gerber, who was the creative genius behind Larkspur Funny Farm.  It's shown in the upper left corner below.    I've had them piled in a a basket in my dining room, walking past them for inspiration. I knew there was not enough for a complete sweater, but I was looking at the color harmonies.  I decided to add a blue alpaca that has been lingering in my stash for 20 years or more.  That is the cone at lower left. 

Then I saw Leya's photo and was impressed by how many of the same colors were reflected in her photo! 

I quickly added a few more stash yarns.  I found an online utility,, that will pull the palette colors out of your photo, and using it and a few other graphics tools, I soon had a side-by-side comparison of the palette in her photo and my selected yarns.  

Well, I realized that the background of my photo was grey, which accounts for the greys in the middle of the top palette.  As you can see, many of the other colors are very similar!  I just needed the ochre and browns from Leya's palette to act as a complementary!   (According to the palettefx site, these colors are "Rusty Nail" and Millbrooke.)  One neat feature of this site is that for many colors, there are suggested suppliers for the colors in the palette.  Here is an example for Millbrooke. 

Unfortunately, for that particular color the link does not work, maybe the yarn was discontinued?  Clicking on the lavender bar at the left yielded this ad for JoAnn Fabric store with a specific suggested yarn.  Kind of a nice feature, if it works.  

I am not sure of what algorithm they might use to match the colors, since the lavender bar in the palette did not have a name, only a hex number, and to my eye, none of the featured yarn colors are a match for the lavender, although perhaps the pile of yarn at the left includes this shade.   

Good thing I will not need to shop for any more yarn!  At any rate, since a couple of the colors in Leya's photo were not included in my selected yarns, I found another couple of yarns in my existing stash that I hope are close to matching, or at least pleasing.   

You can see from this photo that the yarns are of various weights, especially the copper-colored one.  I decided to ply this very fine yarn, so wound off two balls and using my spinning wheel, made it into a 3-ply, which took a couple of hours. The original yarn was a Z-twist, so I plied in an S-direction.  These letters refer to the direction of the twist, which you can see by examining the yarn closely,  and the diagonal bar in the letter. By turning the spinning wheel in a clockwise direction, you achieve Z-twist, by turning it counter-clockwise, you achieve an S-twist.    It is still quite a bit finer than the others, and is still in the lace-weight category, so I am considering winding off into a center-pull ball and plying it one more time with a Z-twist from both ends of the ball. 

So, the final yarn selection for the project is shown below, with the large cones, I am sure I will not run out of yarn. 

Next up:   Pattern selection! 

New Machine Knitters group launched!

Last Saturday the Mitten Thumb Machine Knitters met for the very first time at the JoAnn store in Rochester Hills.  

Great meeting, I have a feeling we will become good friends.  Several people brought items for "show and tell" and I demonstrated the thread lace stitch on a Brother electronic machine, and the plastic-bed Brother KH-341 with integrated Knit Leader.    

Among the group are several with various types of machines and varying levels of experience.  For the next several meetings we have decided to meet in each other's homes to help each other get set up and started on knitting.    Next meeting will be January 20, 2018.   Contact me for further details, or join the Ravelry group. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Susanna Lewis' version of EZ Surprise Jacket

I'm working on a version of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Surprise jacket that was published with her permission in MacKnit Spring/Summer 1986.  The article was written by Susanna Lewis. There was an errata sheet for the instructions, which I have a copy of.   I plugged the instructions into an Excel Spreadsheet so that I can make multiple sizes and multiple gauges.

  This is how far I have gotten.

I'm doing it in approximately a size 24, using tuck stitch pattern 297 on KH-930 and two strands of 2-24 acrylic. 

My gauge swatch measures 15 rows per inch and 5.5 stitches per inch.  I think this means I need to decrease 1 stitch every 3 rows, approximately, to achieve a 45 degree angle, as a sense check.

Before I start the miter section that begins the sleeve back and front of the garment, I wanted to make absolutely sure of my math.

So using the instructions as given in the "recipe", I have calculated the magic formula to figure the decreases for a straight 45 degree angle.  Using that formula with my gauge, I am getting numbers that make no sense.

It tells me to decrease .73 stitches every 2 rows.   That is approximately 3/4 of a stitch.

I can't decrease .73 of a stitch.

I think I need to decrease 3 stitches every 8 rows, which I arrived at by multiplying by 4.  This is close to 1 stitch every 3 rows, but not quite.  I need to figure out the fudge factor.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Allergic to Wool? Not really!

I know several people have told me in the last few weeks that they are allergic to wool.  I just stumbled across this article discussing the science behind why people really aren't allegic to wool.

They might be allergic to the chemicals used to process and clean the wool, they might be sensitive to large "scales" causing an itchy feeling, if the wool contains a lot of vegetable matter which was not processed out, the stalks of the plants might cause an itchy feeling. 

But they are probably NOT allergic to wool!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

new Ravelry Group

If you are a machine knitter and in or near the Thumb area of Michigan, head over to Ravelry to check out Mitten Thumb Machine Knitters group.