Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finished another pair

I hand-knitted a pair of socks as a Christmas gift. I finished them today! A little late, but that's OK, because we're doing a 12 days of Christmas thing this year and haven't exchanged presents yet! They were a knitted with a bulky yarn - 40 stitches around.

Monday, October 22, 2007

UP socks

No, that's not -up- but UP, pronounced "Youpie" as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I started these socks on our way back from the UP this summer. The colors of the yarn remind me of the sky and lakes and trees on that trip.

This weekend we spent driving to and from the farm so I got a little time to knit in the car. I got through the heel on the first sock. I have two balls, I may be able to get several pairs of socks out of the two balls, as the first sock is barely making a dent in the first ball.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Grand Rapids Fall Workshop

The two-day Grand Rapids workshop was fantastic, as always. The two demonstrators were Vicki Tylock and Charlotte Richards. I had attended a workshop with Vicki two years ago and really liked her. She has such a fun personality, and it really comes through in the seminars. Charlotte was "new to me" but I like her also, as well as learning a lot from her class.

Vicki demonstrated a lot of different techniques that seemed to me to be focused on getting the garment made and wearing it. She said "There are no machine knitting police!" and told us that we don't have to follow the rules unless we want to. She was basically self-taught and worked out a lot of techniques on her own. She doesn't like sewing up, so she uses the machine as much as she can to join garments.

She says "If someone can see the mistakes in your garment they are "Too d**m close!"" If you make a mistake, keep going, fix it later. She showed us so many things, I can only cover the highlights. She had a fantastic faux suede, Fun-Fur trimmed poncho - she demonstrated the edging technique she used. She also had a smaller poncho made entirely of Fun-fur : Well, the one she showed was Cha-Cha, but she recommended using Fun Fur as Cha-Cha seems to catch on the gate pegs. She uses a standard-bed machine for Fun Fur and it works! She also demonstrated a unique and clever way to insert a zipper into a band, or to make a double band.

She showed her g-carriage 4-panel skirt (with matching top) that was in Estilo, and was very flattering. I was also impressed with her easy woven jacket. I tried on her jacket and I think it fit! I wanted to take her finished jacket home with me, but I contented myself with buying the pattern.

She also demonstrated making gloves in the round on a standard single-bed machine. Sounds impossible, but she proved it could be done, and also "invented" a way to do fingerless gloves right in the middle of the seminar. Vicki is from New York and can be contacted through her web site at

Charlotte (for me, it was Day 2) was also a fantastic demonstrator. She concentrated on several techniques using the ribber or double bed. By contrast to the previous day, she did seem to focus a little more on the "proper" technique. But that is quite understandable, given that she is a judge for knitting competitions. Maybe she is the closest thing there is to "knitting police"!!!

I wondered if she was a professional teacher in another life, but maybe not; she mentioned that she was training to be a nurse when she met her husband of 46 (I think) years.

She handed out notebooks with several of her techniques documented. I don't think I've ever had a demonstrator be so generous with the seminar attendees before. She handed out folding rulers to people who answered questions correctly. I didn't realize that she was from Ohio until she mentioned it later in the day, she said her guild is around the Youngstown area.

Everyone there was fascinated with the "release stitch" technique she worked out over a period of two years, and demonstarted for us. It looks like a textured double-bed jaquard until you drop the top row of stitches and pull- and voila! Like magic the fabric turns into a lacy mesh. The pattern used is a thread lace pattern, it requires the mesh background in order for the design to "pop" out. I have never seen this technique demonstrated before. It results in a fabric that is significantly "wider" than plain stockinette, so could be a good way to get plus-sized garments off a standard-bed knitting machine without having to resort to multiple panels. This technique was one of many documented in the book she handed out to us. As it turned out, after two years of working out how to do this stitch independently, she demonstrated it at a seminar and it turned out someone else had already developed and documented the technique. Just to prove that there is nothing new under the sun...

She mentioned that she was not going to harp on "gauge" but that she would mention it once or twice. She showed us her swatches, all in the same yarn, all in the same tension, all the same number of stitches (her preference is to do 100 stitches by 100 rows for more accuracy). It probably took a whole cone of yarn to do all the swatches, but it very graphically demonstrated the properties of each of the stitch patterns- some are much wider than they are tall, others are taller. Some were done on double bed, some were stockinette, some were tuck, some skip, some were done with the garter carriage. I wish I had taken photos. Most of these techniques were also documented in the handout, as was the "broken toe cast on" which everybody talks about, but I wasn't sure how to accomplish (without a broken toe!)

Charlotte doesn't have email "I have a beautiful uncomplicated life, why would I mess that up by getting a computer?" but if you would like to contact her you could contact any of the officers of GRAMKC - Grand Rapids Area Machine Knitters club for her contact info.

Last but not least I would like to thank the ladies of the GRAMKC club for arranging another well-done seminar. The demonstrators were awesome and the lunch was great both days. Without this group of wonderful women, I would not be nearly so inspired to keep on knitting!
Great job, ladies!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

BT Yarns

I am missing the second day of the BT Yarns seminar in Westlake, Ohio, today, because we are having a birthday party for my two-year-old grandson today. I was torn. He'll never remember that I was at his party, but his mom, my daughter, will!

Yesterday was fabulous. I sat in on the morning seminar with MaryAnne Oger. She chastised us for not wearing our knits (I was not), and talked about selecting coordinating wardrobe colors and knitting a nine-piece wardrobe. I think she showed us more than nine pieces, though, all in moss green, black and cream. She showed us a fairaisle black-and-moss Chanel-type suit, two more casual jacket sweaters in green, a cream shell, a black shell, a cream big shirt, two dresses, and a few prairie-style skirts. She also was wearing a camisole-type top. She seemed to favor Wool-Ray and Wool Crepe.

I had read a book a few years ago on a similar topic. I believe their advice was to pick two colors and two nuetrals. This way you can buy your accessories in matching colors and you don't need 52 pairs of shoes and purses to coordinate with all your outfits. Your dark neutral could be black, brown, navy or gray - and you buy your shoes, bag, and belt to match this dark neutral.

At the time I picked black, cream, red and tan. For some reason I thought that the red flattered my coloring. As I've gotten older, and my working wardrobe is more focused on a manufacturing environment rather than "office wear" I stopped trying to mix work and home clothing. I bought Oxford shirts and Docker-style pants for work and that's my uniform.

Lately I've noticed that greens and blues look better on me. Is it because I'm older or I've changed my hair color? Don't know, but I've been changing my casual and dress-up wardrobe to reflect greens and blues. (Mostly denim for the blue) Keeping the tan. Not too sure about the black. Might have to change to brown as a neutral.

In the afternoon, I attended a Garment Designer session and a "fashion trends" session, both with Susan Lazear. The color pallettes for next year are going to be - CHOCOLATE, PASTRY, and CANDY. I think what I could see were a lot of tans and browns, some deep purples, tomato red, and sage green. Hmmm. My colors will fit right in.

I haven't finished any of the garments I've started this year. I think I will make a sidebar to list them.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Missed the floods

Thanks to those who have expressed concern about the floods here. Fortunately, the flooding is all around me, every town around here seems to be under water, but luckily we had no water in our basement or damage to any property. Good thing, because all my knitting machines and most of the stash is in the basement!

If you would like to see photos of some of the flooding, here is a link to our local paper. Be sure to click "next" to see all the photos in the gallery. Our main post office for the area was closed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Out here article

I went to TSC (Tractor Supply Company) tonight in search of canning jars (WHICH THEY DO NOT HAVE, BTW) and picked up a copy of their magazine "Out Here" and found an article about machine knitter Sharon Nani.

The article in the hard copy of the magazine is different than the one online. It tells more about how Sharon got started in machine knitting and what her business is like today, whereas the online article is Sharon's advice for others starting a cottage industry.

The magazine is free, stop by their store and pick one up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shame on me!

I have been neglecting my knitting, and my knitting blog. I guess I am waiting for Bonnie Triola's Inspiration 2007 to get inspired. See you there?

I'll also be at the Grand Rapids seminar in October.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Socks, part 2

OK, we left off halfway through the heel.

Turn heel.
Row 1: Sl 1, K15, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 2: Sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 3: Sl 1, knit to within one st of the gap, ssk, k1, turn
Row 4: Sl 1, purl to within one st of the gap, p2tog, p1, turn.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all heel sts are worked, ending last repeat of row 3 with the SSK, and last repeat of Row 4 with the P2tog. There are 16 heel stitches.

Heel gussets.
Knit 16 heel sts, pick up and knit 14 chain sts along right side of heel flap. Work 28 instep sts, following established pattern. With an empty needle, pick up and knit 14 sts along left side of heel flap, k 8 sts from heel needle. There should be 22 sts on needles #1 and #4, 14 sts on needles #2 and #3.

Round 1: Work to 3 sts from end of needle #1, k2tog, k1. Work instep sts in established pattern. K1, ssk at beginning of needle #4, work to end.
Round 2: With CC2, work even.

Repeat last two rounds until there are 14 sts on needles #1 and #3, 56 total sts.

Continue in established pattern until foot measures 3 inches less than desired finished length.

Shape toe.

Work 3 rounds in stockinette stitch.
Begin decrease:
Round 1: Work to 3 sts from end of needle #1, k2tog, k1. K1, ssk at beginning of needle #2, work to end of needle. Work to 3 sts from end of needle #3, K2tog, K1. K1, ssk at beginning of needle #4, work to end.

Round 2: Work even.

Repeat the last 2 rounds until there are 7 sts on each needle. Work Round 1 (the decrease round) only until there are 8 sts remaining, 2 on each needle. Break yarn, leaving a 12-inch tail. Choice 1: Place the sts from needles 1 and #4 on one needle, and the otehr 4 sts onto another needle. Kitchener stitch these sts together. or Choice 2: Just put the tail onto a darning needle and run through all stitches twice, then darn in end (backstitch) through a stitch or two, securing tail. Cut off close to stitching.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Finishing more socks

My own sock pattern - inspired by the travelling socks book. I used Lion Brand sock yarn and size 1 needles.
One skein was enough for both socks, but to keep pattern consistent, I rewound from the center of the ball into a new ball until I had at least 13 repeats of the color sequence. (Actually I did 12, and had to make a patch for the last.... ah, such is life!)

Cast on 56 stitches evenly (14 stitches per needle) over 4 needles, using a stretchy cast-on such as the Continental Long-tail cast on. Join into round, being careful not to twist stitches. The join is the center back of the sock.

K 1 round, then work in K1, P1 rib for 13 rows. P 1 round. Begin pattern rows as follows:

Needle 1: Knit
Needle 2: 1st ten stitches form cable. Last four are knitted.
Needle 3: 1st four stitches knitted, last ten stitches form cable.
Needle 4: Knit.


Row 1: P1, K2, K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle (stitch travels to right); k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle (stitch travels to left) , K2, P1

Row 2: P1, K1, K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle;K2;k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle,K1, P1

Row 3: P1, K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle; P1, K2, P1 ;k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle, P1.

Row 4: Repeat Row 3

Row 5: P1, k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle (stitch travels to left); K4; K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle (stitch travels to right); P1

Row 6: P1, K1; k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle; K2; K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle; K1; P1

Row 7: P1, K2; k second st tbl, k first st, slip both sts off needle; K2 tog and leave on needle, K first st again, slip both sts off needle;K2; P1

Repeat rows 5 - 7 until sock measures 6 inches. (I had 12 repeats), ending last round ready to begin needle #4.

Turn heel:
Begin with first stitch on needle #4. Knit 14 stitches on needle #4 and 14 stitches on needle #1 onto one needle, turn. P28, turn. These stitches form the heel flap. The remaining 28 stitches on needles 2 and 3 will be held for the instep.

Row 1: *Sl 1, k1; repeat from *
Row 2: Sl 1, P27.

Repeat these 2 rows 13 more timesfor a total of 14 chain stitches at each edge of heel flap.

Take a break, I'll post the 2nd half of the instructions tomorrow!

It's important to try the sock on as you reach the end. You don't want to do all your decreases and finish the toe, cut your yarn, and then find out it is 1/2 inch too short.

I made this baby romper for my sister who just had a baby. Little Elijah weighed 10 lbs. 14 oz. when he was born, so he MAY be able to wear it once before he grows out of it. Must remember to heed DH's advice next time - MAKE IT BIG!!!

Friday, July 6, 2007


I FINISHED THE TRAVELLING SOCKS! So, what's next? I started another pair.

Using the same size needles, and a different pattern (of my own invention!) and Lion Brand yarn. Instead of 80 stitches cast on, with the Lion Brand yarn I am using 14 stitches on each needle (total of 56) so the sock is knitting up much faster.

I picked up a book at the library with a pattern for a hand-knit shopping bag using mesh stitch. After knitting 4 rows of 50 stitches in mesh stitch, I don't find it relaxing at all, so switched to the machine to GET IT DONE. I knit a bag on the bulky machine, with the same yarn, using every other needle, except for a few rows of stockinette at the bottom and at the top. I think perhaps it would be better with 100 stitches, dropping EON.

Will post pictures ASAP.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Reading about knitting.

I found a book Knitting Lessons, Tales from the Knitting Path, by Lela Nargi, in the overstocks bin at a local store. I was thrilled, and snapped it up. I've been reading about knitting today instead of knitting!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Machine pattern index

Dancing Barefoot has just posted on the Machine knitter's list that she has gathered up an index of free patterns on the web. There is a link on her blog. I have helpfully posted her blog as a link on my blog!

Travelling socks

I have been working on the travelling socks - while travelling. I think about 3 or 4 more rounds on each one - then I can start decreasing for the toes. I am using the pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road book. I think I made the legs a little longer than the pattern called for. I was surprised by the toe pattern: not having read all the way through the pattern, I didn't realize that it calls for a decrease on each of four needles up to the end, rather than the usual paired decreases on top and bottom. I can put off the decision of whether or not to deviate from the printed pattern for a few more rounds, then will have to decide!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I was getting to the end of the wound-off ball of yarn today, and the other end caught and tangled with the yarn as it fed through the carriage. What a mess! Since I was so close to the end anyway I went ahead and broke the yarn, to wind off another ball from the cone. (remember I am using 2 strands for this shell.) After winding off the ball, I rethreaded the machine and hooked the loose end to the mast.

Got called away, to cook lunch or something. I decided I wasn't going to get this one finished in time to wear it this weekend, so decided to start another one, similar shape, but in the bulky cotton I purchased at the GLS&WS...

Made the swatch in stockinette, blocked it, brought Garment Styler up to recalculate the pattern with another stitch gauge, and spent a bit of time playing with the software to change the curved bottom hem.

I endured the comments from my DH that I should finish one project before starting another. Then thought, I could knit a few more rows on this green sweater before I go back downstairs. ONE ROW!

I forgot to put the yarn in the carriage. I lost all my slipped stitches, about every 3 out of 5 stitches. ARRRRGH. Rather than try to rehang all those stitches and then figure out where I was in the pattern, I thought it would be easier just to start this piece over.

But I learned something about my curved hem. Next time I use a slip stitch and a ravel cord, I will knit at least one row of stockinette before changing to pattern mode. I thought I would just be able to re-hang the ravel cord - no, it is buried in the pattern. So it is going to be easiest just to start completely over.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Sitting here in my room, I took a break from knitting and turned around to the computer and the large pile of mail sitting there next to it. I pulled out a few things at random and filed them, then came to the mailing from Knitter's Magazine about the Stitches convention. Kaffe Fassett is back! I see he has a new book, Kaffe Knits Again. Susan Lazear, the genius behind Garment Designer, will be there, plus a long list of other experts. Ginger Luters is teaching a class using Stitch Painter. Leslye Solomon is teaching a few classes. Even though the emphasis is on hand-knitting there are obviously a lot of techniques that carry over to machine knitting. I see a class on "suitable seams". We all know that finishing will make or break the look of the garment.

Ahhh. This convention is in Baltimore on October 11-14. I probably will not be going. I see there are two Stitches Midwest in August in Chicago, this might be more affordable for me - it is only about a 5-hour drive to Chicago. I attended Stitches East in King of Prussia, PA several years ago. I had a wonderful time, and learned a LOT. Between the travel expense and the stash enhancement I spent a LOT more than I wanted to. If only hobby expenses were deductible!

A better curved hem

On the back of the sweater, I blindly followed the directions to cast on 150, then increase 6 on each side after 9 rows. This made a stairstep instead of a nice curve. I will have to figure out what to do with this when attaching the trim.

On the front, I got smarter. I cast on the waste yarn over the number of needles required for the widest part of the garment. Knitted one row with ravel cord. Then pulled the end needles (about 20 each side) to hold, set the machine for hold, and pulled out two needles each side for several rows until I got to the widest part of the garment at row 17. I also decided that decreasing four stitches each side was not enough shaping for me to worry about and knitted straight from this point up to the underarm.

Work in Progress

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Friday I rooted out the multi-colored rayon blend I mentioned the other day, as well as the green. Turns out the multi-colored yarn is 85% rayon, 15% silk. According to the label, the cone weighs .67 lb. It is a mill end, and I remember purchasing this from the Michigan Fiber Fest last year. The tag shows Davidson Corporation in Eaton Rapids, MI. According to the label, I paid 16.75 for this cone. ($25.00 per pound) With the multiple colors, I thought a plain stockinette might be good for this yarn. At tension 7 on the KH864, I got 40 stitches = 5.75 in, and 60 rows = 6.5 in., meaning it is 7 stitches to the inch and 9.2 rows to the inch.

The green yarn is quite a bit lighter weight- it is also a mill end, labelled 15/2 Rayon/Cotton. I paid $2.50 per pound. I think perhaps I bought this at R&M yarns in Adairsville, Georgia during their "dollar days" sale several years ago. I experimented quite a bit until I got a texture I liked. Initially I used the yarn as a single ply and it was much too light. I then wound off quite a bit, and used it double in stockinette at tension 6 and found it still a little light weight for my liking. Then inspiration struck - I have never knitted a slip-stitch pattern on my machine. Why not try now? I picked the Brother punchcard #6 (from the bulky machine) which is kind of a tumbling-block pattern. 40 stitches and 60 rows in the swatch yielded a much shorter swatch. 40 stitches = 5.25 inches, 60 rows = 3.75 inches! That is 7.6 stitches per inch, and 16 rows to the inch! I will be knitting a lot more rows to achieve the same length, but I am happy with the fabric weight in the swatch. Material cost will be much less for the cotton/rayon blend, but the labor cost will be higher. So, plugging in the numbers into the shell pattern I put in Garment Designer the other night, I see I am to cast on 150 stitches, and the bands are supposed to be 8 rows tall.

I have cast on using the weaving cast on (EON in work, K 1 R, All needles in work, knit several rows of waste yarn), then knit 1 row of ravel cord. Theoretically this will make it easier to hang the hem. (ha! Garment Designer doesn't tell me what kind of hem or band to use! My choice!) I am going to knit 8 rows at 1 tension tighter than the garment tension (5) , Knit 1 row at T10 for turning row, then knit 8 rows at tension 6 and hang the hem. I am going to do this in stockinette, which will contrast with the garment body. hmmm. No, that won't work at all. Looking at the body pattern, I am to knit 10 rows then cast on additional 6 stitches each side. Hmmm. This is getting complicated.

OK, thought about it a while. I will go ahead and knit the body, then rehang the bottom for the edging. This will give me more options to trim anyway, and I can think about the edging while knitting the main pieces.

Great Lakes Sheep and Wool Show

Yesterday I went to Wooster, OH, to the county fairgrounds, where the Great Lakes Sheep and Wool Show was taking place. There were 5 barns just full of vendors, not to mention the sheep and llama shows that were also taking place.

I went late in the afternoon because I knew I would be in stash acquisition mode - and I needed to limit my purchases... So I only left myself an hour and a half to shop. It was enough! Here is the haul:

I got a cloud-soft skein of llama/angora/alpaca ($24), 3 skeins of beautiful handpainted wool ($16 each), and some coned unlabeled fiber I just couldn't pass up - $1.00 a pound. I think some is wool, will have to subject it to the burn test to make sure. The white cone in front was definitely cotton. Two cones of grey ragg cotton at $5.00 a cone (about 2-3 lbs per cone) and a cone of sock yarn (8 oz.) at $2.00 an ounce from Zeilinger's woolen mill.

I found a yarn requirements chart displayed in one stall and swooped it up as it has requirements for everything from hats to socks to sweaters.

On the way out I stopped to say hello to some alpacas:
They are so cute! and they were very friendly. I asked if they were like horses, when they lay their ears back they are upset, and the owners said no, not at all.
They were still judging sheep when I left, the show goes on today.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Knitting mysteries

I just found Maggie Sefton. I spent every moment I could over the last three days reading three of her books: Knit One, Kill Two; Needled to Death, and A Deadly Yarn.

She has a fourth one out - Knit Fast, Die Young.

I sometimes read mysteries when I am stressed out. Sometimes I knit. For mysteries I tend to stick to female detective stories, like Sue Grafton, Joan Hess or Earlene Fowler's, for example.

At any rate, Kelly, the amateur detective, CPA and novice knitter, is still knitting the same sweater in book 3 that she started in book 1, a rose-colored cotton and silk blend. I hope she gets a knitting machine in book 4!

While reading about her cotton and silk shell, I remembered a couple of cones of yarn I have in my stash. I think they are cotton/rayon blend. One is a variegated yarn with pink, ivory and moss colors and the other is a mossy green, if I remember right. I think a shell would be just right for this yarn, maybe in a two-color tuck. hmmm.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I sorted my old emails to more easily find a note from a friend, and came across an old email from the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association. Several years ago I attended a MAFA 3-day workshop that was just wonderful. Actually I believe the entire event lasted a full week, maybe even spanning two weekends, but I only attended the weekend workshop. I do remember this, we stayed on a college campus (had to bring our own bedding) and I took a class on designing knits from Lily Chin. Wow, can that lady knit fast!

At any rate I found a topic on the MAFA web site entitled "How to Keep Excessive Travel from Impeding Your Weaving and Textile Interests" that listed how to do fiber projects on an airplane, the airport, or in a hotel. I thought, what a great idea!

The article listed specific things you could do: For example, bring graph paper and do design work. Download fiber-related podcasts to play while waiting. Finishing work, for example, fringing. Small knitting projects (socks, anyone?)
Tablet weaving.

I've already got two projects in the car, but the traffic jams here are so small I couldn't even finish a row before I have to move the car...

But I did make a major start on a pair of socks on our last vacation. Excellent project for the airplane!

So, please leave your idea for maximizing your knitting time as a comment!

Monday, May 14, 2007


Let's see... How many unfinished Projects do I have going?
1. Green ripple afghan - inherited from a farm auction
2. Shopping bag knit from plastic shopping bags (have to hide it or DH will throw it away)
3. Pair of socks in "Dancing" yarn from Knit picks
4. Pink sweater - just sew it together and block it, darn it!
5. Baby all-in-one in cotton - (in the back seat of my car)
6. Navy blue prayer shawl - (need to rip out about 30 rows that dropped one yarn)
7. Teal and raspberry sweater (at the farm in Michigan)
8. Burgundy jacket

That's all I can think of at the moment, although I have lots of other ideas percolating around in my brain. I wonder what order I should attack these? I really, really want to finish them! Maybe I should start in order of most complete, working down to the ones that are least complete..... Of course I am most excited about the newer projects and the old ones have gotten tedious.....

The other "unfinished" thing I need to do is give all my knitting machines a deep cleaning. Ilene demonstrated this at the Grand Rapids seminar. I think I can actually do it. If her demonstration wasn't enough, I also have a DVD from Frank Sanders from last year's workshop... Maybe I should play it...

And one more thing, Charlene Shafer recommends transferring all diskettes into DAK. I have all the tools, including the workbook.... So that's really a UFJ. An unfinished JOB.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pattern development

I spent an hour or so working on my jacket pattern today. I have customized it to my body measurements, and then adjusted the standard pattern that was generated to more closely mirror the measurements of my poor old jacket.

For the back I am supposed to cast on 53 stitches either side of zero. Got to decide if I am going to rib first, though.

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that the last sweater I knit, I used a much lighter-weight yarn on the standard-gauge machine. I did not double the yarn for the ribbing, or do a hem. The sweater body was in fairaisle, and I am very unhappy with the floppiness of the hem. (I learned a lot of lessons on that sweater, someday I will have the courage to show it to you..maybe when I knit its replacement.)

Charlene mentioned that when she is doing a crochet trim on the edge of a garment or afghan she often doubles the yarn to give it more body. This probably would have been a good idea for the ribbing on that fairaisle sweater. But this one is going to be plain stockinette in the body. hmmm. I will have to knit some samples.

Kitchener stitch for socks

Ilene demonstrated Kitchener stitch for us. Particularly useful when finishing a sock across the toe, especially if the wearer has problems tolerating seams inside their shoes, for example, for diabetics.

I have been trying to do Kitchener stitch from the right side, and have been having trouble. My method was to knit waste yarn at the end and then try to follow the path of the waste yarn through the open stitches. I had trouble at the beginning and at the ending.

Ilene's method was much simpler. There are only a few steps:

1. Knit 1 row of ravel cord and then several rows of waste yarn
2. Turn the sock inside out - perform Kitchener stitch from the purl side.
3. Thread an eyed needle with the tail of the main yarn
4. Insert needle into first open stitch on far side, away from the tail.
5. Stitch back and forth, getting one stitch from each side. The stitch to insert the needle into will be the the NEW stitch on the side where the yarn is coming out and the OLD stitch on the opposite side.
6. Go to the end and secure the last stitch by a backstitch or two.
7. Pull out the ravel cord.

Melva Bass explained this method in fewer words on Roz Porter's page at this web site.

The subject of kitchener stitch came up because Ilene also demonstrated cotton spandex for socks. OH MY GOSH these socks were so soft and stretchy. Ilene knit a baby sock for us, using tension 10, then demonstrated the "shrinky-dink" technique of steaming them. The size was reduced significantly! She used two strands of cotton spandex. She brought several cones for sale in many colors to the seminar. I broke down and bought one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More from Charlene

More tips from Charlene's Afghan Techniques session on Friday:

* When joining in a new cone of same color color on an afghan or something where the seams will be visible, make the join several stitches in from the edge - you might unknit a few stitches and knit them again with the new cone. This prevents the tails from ending up doubled when making the seam and leaves your edge nice and smooth.

* When hanging a row of your lining onto the fairaisle (or vice versa) you can use every other needle or every third needle, you don't necessarily have to hang every stitch. It is important to be consistent, though, don't start one way and finish another.

* Trenzi is a good yarn for an afghan that will get a lot of hard use (around kids?), it contains nylon.

* If you are using a lining, use 2 tension #'s looser than you would for a garment or sweater. The second layer gives the afghan plenty of body.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ilene Levy at the GRAMKC seminar

I promised you some info on Ileen Levy ( The first thing she told us was that News and Views is being published again, and the first six issues have been released. It is being published bi-monthly. The new publisher is Country Knitting of Maine, and is available through Ileen or from from Linda Williams, Well, that was exciting enough!

Ilene's first seminar had to do with measuring yourself for use with her Design-a-Pattern software package, which is a charting package.

Accurate body measurements are probably a number-one requirement for success in knitting, whether designing your own pattern or adjusting someone else's. (Obviously the gauge swatch is number 2!) Ileen was so motivating, she really made me feel that it's not quite so complicated at all, I came home and on Sunday, took out a cone of bulky yarn that has been sitting around for a while, and knitted a gauge swatch according to her directions. Only since I was using a bulky machine, my swatch was 20 stitches by 30 rows instead of 40 x 60, as I would do on a standard bed machine. Ileen's method is to leave a stitch out of work on either side of the 20 (or 40) stitches - she pointed out that on all the Japanese machines, there is a marking on the needle strip that shows which needles to leave out of work. (I think my Brother manual might have said to mark those stitches, I will have to look that up later, Ileen's method is simpler). She uses an e-wrap cast on for her swatches, and marks the tension setting with eyelets at the end. Irene then uses blocking wires (I didn't for the swatch above) and steams it. If wool or cotton, you may want to pre-wash before measuring. Acrylic is probably good with a steaming.

This yarn is labelled 1/95 (date?) in big letters it says 356, below that Ruby, Blend 7378/8434 Lot No. 2. I see no info on manufacturer. The yarn on the cone is kind of rough-feeling, which is probably why it is still in my stash, but once knitted into the swatch, and steamed, it actually feels soft. I have no idea if it is wool or synthetic. I will have to do the "burn test", I suppose. ***Update: it smelled like hair burning, must be wool or silk/wool blend.

This yarn yielded a gauge of 5.25" over 20 stitches, or 3.8 stitches per inch, and 5.125 inches over 30 rows, or 5.85 row per inch.

I am planning to make a jacket to replace this one:

It is a jacket that I loved and wore quite often - too often, as the stuffing is now coming out of the quilted section of the jacket. The jacket was silk, and the outer shell seemed to tear every time I turned around. The sleeves zipped out - I have removed one to cut the seam and measure the sleeve dimensions.

One tip that is useful regardless of whether you have Ilene's software or not - BE SURE TO BREATHE IN when measuring the bust measurement. She demonstrated this with our model, and sure enough, the "breathy" measurement was a full inch bigger. She also noted that when measuring the arm length, to be sure to do it with the arm bent, as it seems to be a slightly longer measurement. She also demonstrated using a clipboard or knitting pattern book or something similar over the "curvy" places when taking a hip measurement or underarm measurement, to make sure that the garment is big enough to encompass the lumps as well as the bumps.

Ileen's software looked interesting and I was sorely tempted. But I have Garment Designer and I don't use it enough, so I reluctantly kept my wallet in my pocketbook.

Monday, May 7, 2007

my, oh, my, oh, my, oh

Why did I leave Ohio? To go to the Grand Rapids Area Knitting Machine Club Spring Seminar!

I had a wonderful time. Thanks to all who organized this. Charlene Shafer and Ilene Levy were the demonstrators on Friday and Saturday. Adrianna and Sarah prepared the luncheon, which was wonderful. The Grand Rapids seminar is a WONDERFUL value. They try to keep the prices low and have largely succeeded. I compare the cost of a machine knitting seminar to a similar seminar for handknitting and I find that I save hundreds of dollars. Possibly because I eliminate some of the travel expenses and don't have to stay in a hotel!
I learned many, many tips and tricks at this seminar. I will try to share a few each day over the next few weeks so as not to overwhelm you as I was overwhelmed and inspired!

I spent the first day, Friday, with Charlene Shafer. Charlene's shop is "The Knit Knack Shop" in Peru, Indiana. She demonstrated some of the techniques from her newest books . (Shameless plug)
She demonstrated a number of afghan techniques, and answered a burning question for me: When you are knitting an afghan with fairaisle, which obviously has floats on the reverse, and the lining is plain stockinette, you have two different gauges to deal with. Usually the fairaisle block is shorter (higher number of rows to the inch). But for ease of knitting and finishing, it is convenient to have the same number of stitches and rows on the front as on the back. How does she deal with the difference in size? Her answer was that she likes to attach the lining at a number of points on the back, like "quilting" the two pieces together. It is nice if you have a design element such as contrasting colors to use to do this. But the more places you attach the lining, the nicer the finished product will be. Blocking and steaming will eliminate the size differences, once they are attached.

Another point she made about lining fairaisle afghans is that if you use a darker lining color, the floats on the back of the fairaisle will not show through the lining, as might happen with a lighter color.

If using a very large repeat (such as a 200-needle repeat) on an electronic machine, be sure and set the machine for a single motif. This will eliminate any possibility of the design being split in a way you do not want.
Tomorrow, or the next time I catch a few minutes to post, I will fill you in with some information about Ilene Levy.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


The farmgirls are having another exchange, this time it is potholders. I used a heavy cotton twine for these on the Brother bulky. Tried to do a tuck stitch for more bulk but the string didn't cooperate. Ended up with the plain stockinette. Used 60 stitches wide by 45 rows tall. Used provisional cast on and then bound off both ends with a crochet hook, used the tails to crochet a seam up the side. There were a lot of experiments along the way with this. The fairaisle was a big mistake, it will not be a good potholder. I washed these in hot water and dried them in the dryer several times to shrink them, so that the stitches are extra tight for insulation value.

Blanket square

I was invited to participate in a blanket project for a friend of a friend with cancer. Sort of a "blanket of caring". I've completed my square in "Dancing Ladies" pattern - it shows that life is a dance, and, we are all connected. I decided, since it is fairaisle, that it might be best to also do a facing square. Here they are:

I'll post more details later after the blanket is completed and presented, as it is a surprise for the recipient.

The navy is Solara acrylic - 2 strands of 2/24 (Deep Indigo) - from Atlantic Spinnery, and the pink is Cashmilon from Aurora Yarns - in Rose (1 strand).

I got 8 stitches to the inch in fairaisle at tension 7 on the KH864, so 64 stitches was exactly 8 inches, and I knit 77 rows to arrive at 8 inches tall. I think this is my very favorite machine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I've been working on an afghan that I picked up at a farm auction several years ago. It is a version of Feather and Fan pattern in green striped wool. I've been looking for the authoritative version of "Feather and Fan" - this afghan is set up for 10 decreases/yarn overs in the repeat. One pattern I found had 8, another was a variation with only 6. What's the right number?

At any rate, work is progressing nicely, if slowly. I have memorized the pattern, and it is just the thing to work on sitting on the couch and watching TV - keeping my feet warm! I am using size 6 circular needles with stoppers on the ends, knitting back and forth to accomodate the many, many stitches. I have been afraid to count how many repeats - I don't want to know. I think I can knit about three rows at a stretch before my fingers start cramping and I get a knot in my shoulder. At that rate, if I work on it every day, I should be done around May.

Do you get credit in heaven for finishing someone else's UFO?

Monday, February 5, 2007

from Ode to Common Things

Pablo Neruda's poetry seems especially fitting today, it is 6 degrees below zero this morning. Here is an excerpt:

So this is the moral of my ode:
beauty is beauty
twice over
and good things are doubly
when you're talking about a pair of wool
in the dead of winter.

taken from Odes to Common Things

See the entire poem at

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Trekking socks...continued

I could NOT find my sock stretchers. I will have to look for more... eBay? estate sales? I know where they were before I moved. But, I've opened all those boxes and I don't remember seeing them. And that was four years ago.

These socks don't exactly match. That is because after making the first one I tried it on and found out it was TOO SMALL, so I made the 2nd slightly larger. Next time I use Trekking I will make the tension slightly looser - maybe an 8/8 instead of 6/6? That may help with the dropped stitches also.

Cotton Dishcloth

First dishcloth! I used Bernat Cot'nSoft - an old, old ball that has been hanging around here for years. I see there is a pink price sticker on the label - it was marked "Clearance - $1.00" so I didn't spend a lot of money on this project!

I modified the pattern I found for the dishcloth below, halving the numbers so I could knit it on the bulky (Brother 260) I cast on 37 stitches (I eyeballed it, I counted after I was done), set the machine for tension 8 and tuck, and off I went! I used a crochet cast on and bind off.

Initially I had problems with the carriage jamming and yarn breaking. If you look closely at the photo you will see my repairs. After spraying the carriage with Machine lube, the yarn with Lori-Lynn yarn spray, and adjusting the mast tension these problems mostly disasppeared. I don't think I would use this yarn again for a dishcloth. Probably it will be much nicer on the standard gauge with a finer yarn.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Obsessive knitter

If you've not seen this short clip (THE LAST KNIT) on YouTube yet, you have to watch it:

It captures us obsessive knitters so perfectly!
The girls at Mary Janes have started yet another exchange. This time it's knitted or crocheted dishcloths. I've been on a search for machine knit dishcloth patterns posted on the internet. I've found a few, including Dorothy Rosman's at and Rachelle Moffett's at
I'll be trying these out soon, the deadline for the exchange is March 15.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cast offs - no pun intended

Someone posted on the machine knit list, asking why people, finding out she is a knitter, give her their unwanted sweaters. Do they want her to wear them? Unravel them? Use them for inspiration?

I asked why she isn't using them to make felted bags. I found this sweater at Goodwill and took it home to make it my own. Two complete cycles in the washer/dryer (Hot wash, cold rinse) plus an extra drying cycle shrunk and felted the vest down to at least half its original size. I liked the ruffly effect of the original ribbing, so decided to leave it at the opening. I used a leftover upholstery fabric for the lining. It is completely suitable because of the satiny finish and the tight weave. The zippered pocket on the inside was added as an afterthought so probably could have been engineered much better. The handles are attached by machine stitching to the lining, and then the lining simply hem-stitched inside the bag. This is my first felted bag, it was a fun, quick project. I used a sweater donated to Goodwill, but it would be simple to create fairaisle yardage on the knitting machine for felting, then you would have complete control over the colors.

Except for the handles, which were purchased on clearance for 50 cents, this bag was made completely of recycled materials. The zipper for the pocket was reused from an old pair of jeans. The zipper was a little sticky, from sitting around for several years. I used a little Lori-Lynn machine lube spray on it and now it glides back and forth effortlessly.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trekking socks

Still "frogging" the hand-knit sock. Oh well, it was good practice.

I found that when doing the short-rowing for the heels and toes for some reason the stitches in position B tended not to knit, the carriage simply laid the yarn over the needles but did not pull it through. I have both carriages at tension 6 which results in a closely-knit sock, but is possibly contributing to this problem. I will need to ask the experts on the machine knit list why this is happening to me. A work-around that I found is, on each row, to use my tool to pull the needles to position "D" -making sure that the needles are far enough forward so that the stitches are behind the open latches. This is shown on the right side of the main bed in the photo below. The stitches on the left are in front of the open latches, and if not pulled forward, may not knit. It is much more tedious to hand-pull every stitch on every row than to hand-knit on four needles, so I want to be sure to do this on every row!

I finished the second sock in time to sew up the toe and the side seam of the ribbing while watching the State of the Union address.
Tomorrow I am going to look for the pair of antique sock-stretchers that I used to have around here somewhere. I will block the socks if I can find them.

Knitting for Peace/Knitting for Charity

Some web sites I have come across:

Ships Project -- -- for soldiers in Iraq
Red Sweaters -- -- memorial tiny sweaters (look for mine!)
afghans for Afghans ---
Shawl Ministry --
Sheila's Shawls -- -- healing shawls
Warm Up America --
Hugs for Homeless Animals --
Native Elders --
Knit for Her Cure --
cancer Chemocaps --
List of organizations with charitable knitting projects --

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The road to hell is paved.....

with good intentions, and I really planned on working on that sock today. But instead I sewed labels on the scarves (Drat! I forgot to take the girls' pictures before they left with scarves around their necks!), I packed up some old handknitting patterns and sent to some farmgirl friends, made peanut butter cookies, cooked dinner, dug carrots out of the frozen garden, did my daughter's taxes (short form!), sorted out some more knitting patterns, and generally fiddled around ALL DAY LONG and did not sit down at the knitting machine for even 1 minute. hmmmm.

I have incentive to get that sock finished - I was the winning bidder a few days ago on eBay for two skeins of Wildfoote Sock yarn, color JUNGLE, dye lot 006. I NEEDED that yarn, because I knit one and three-quarters socks with that yarn plied with a lightweight cotton. Then I RAN OUT of the one skein I had previously purchased at my LYS on clearance.... And I need to finish the sock I have on the machine before rehanging the previous unfinished sock. Because I KNOW in my heart of hearts if I take this sock off the machine, unfinished, it will become a UFO forever.

Knitting Gifts and Girlfriends

One of my new friends from Mary Jane's Farmgirl Connection sent me this lovely package for our Hot Socks and Coffee exchange- there was more chocolate but I must have been cocoa-deprived or something!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I've been knitting socks

I've knitted several pairs of socks now that were quite satisfactory of the lilac acrylic. I'm wearing a pair right now!

The ribbing is fun, transferring the stitches to start the main part of the foot is tedious, but - then I get to start the motor drive! 40 rows round and round, then shape the heel, then 120 rows, then shape the toe. I've decided I like the top of the toe seam the best - the short row shaping at the sides makes a seamless toe area. Nothing to hurt!
Next I decided to re-knit a pair of socks that I handknit last year, following a published pattern, that turned out to be way too big. Nothing worse than a sock that doesn't stay on your feet. The socks had ony been through the washer and dryer about 4 times so they weren't felted too bad, and unknit fairly easily. I have heard that you are supposed to stretch and steam the yarn before re-using it but I found it worked OK just unknitting and re-knitting. The tension in the mast was satisfactory to straighten the yarn enough to knit. I've long since thrown away the label from the yarn (hmmm. Note to self - start that knitting journal! with samples!) but I think it was TREKKING XXX yarn.
OK, no swatching necessary. I've already knitted this yarn. The yarn size is about the same as the two strands of acrylic, no? I'll use the same number of stitches/rows.
Can you guess what happened? Yes, the first sock came out too small. The second one is on the machine right now. The ribbing is done and it is ready to transfer the stitches from the flat ribbing to the circular foot. I'm frustrated with this project. All that lovely hand-knitting, the beautifully turned heel.... all gone.
As queen of the UFO's, though.... I will move on. I will take a break here and knit two lovely scarves for my daughters. The youngest gets a red "Whisper" from Patons and the oldest gets a blue/lavender "Bling-Bling"
from Bernat. Since they are coming over tomorrow for dinner I want to get them done today.

I used the bulky machine, every other needle, having previously been warned that a furry yarn such as these could not be knitted on every needle. I cast on an e-wrap cast on over 17 stitches. I hand-pulled the first few rows through the needles so that I had something to hang the weights on. I did not feed either yarn through the mast tension dial, although I used the rest of the mast, and I changed the carriage to the ribber yarn feeder so that the nubs wouldn't get hung up in the carriage. As I knitted each row, I pulled the end needles out to the "E" position and hung heavy ribber weights at the side, else the yarn did not knit on the end needles. Before knitting the row, I inspected to make sure there were no stitches dropped. Although both yarns were lumpy, I found that the "Bling-Bling" yarn did not drop stitches nearly as frequently as the "Whisper". (I found dropped stitches on almost every row using the "Whisper" yarn). I hand-knitted the dropped stitches, and repeated until I ran out of yarn. Each scarf took 2 balls of yarn, and I found that the "Bling-Bling" made a nice length scarf and the Whisper was just a little short. Tomorrow I'll see if I can get them to model their scarves!