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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Yesterday, July 26,  I demonstrated two machines at the GM Employee Car Show in Warren, Michigan.  The first machine was a KH-910 with the Evil Mad Scientist AYAB hack installed.  The other was my Home Profit antique circular sock machine with a prox sensor installed to count rows.

I also took project explanation posterboards, and a table full of about 25 pairs of socks and a few sweaters and shawls. and I took too much yarn, and a couple of boxes of tools and spare needles. And a cast-iron sewing machine base with a plywood top.  And a plastic chain.

 The back of my little GMC Terrain was pretty full.    I loaded it up the night before, because I needed to arrive at 6:30 to set up and find a good parking place after unloading.  In the morning I skipped breakfast at home and visited Tim Horton's instead.  Those guys in the drive-through are SUPER FAST, and very polite.

At the MakerFest, it took me about 2 hours to set up, re-arranging the tables a few times, with lots of help from the organizers. People started showing up and asking questions  about an hour before the official start time, so I was glad to have arrived early

I had a lot of interest from several people, including three youngsters to whom I explained the concept of swatching (prototyping to makers).  The first girl (maybe about 8 years old) asked, "What is this, a doll blanket?" and I explained that different yarns had different size stitches, and to make a full-size garment I need to do some math to calculate how many stitches to put in the full sweater in order to make it fit.  She nodded her head very seriously.  She understood the concept!  She looked at all the swatches and remarked that they were very pretty.

Eventually the sun climbed higher in the sky and I had to move my display from just on the outside of the tent to inside the tent to avoid the sun, which was beating down intensely.

I explained the difference between knitting and weaving to an automotive engineer, and related it to car hoses and tires and interiors of the cars, and how the different textiles used  have different properties.  I let a beautiful woman,  who might have been a model, sit down at the CSM and knit a few rows.  She had about 10 men following her around, and they were watching and listening intently also.  She proclaimed the experience "Immensely satisfying!"  I let another engineer get "up close and personal" to the CSM to see how a knit stich is formed when the cams lift the needle butts, forcing the old stich behind the latch and the new stich in the hook when the latch closes, slipping the old stitch off the needle.

While I was demonstrating, I knitted about 7 baby beanies on the CSM (with hems!) for donation to a GM hand knitting group to pass on to the Troy Beaumont hospital  neonatal unit for preemies.

I explained the Arduino/AYAB hack about 10 times, how the KH-910 Mylar sheets are no longer available, and that model did not have an interface to the floppy drive, so no way to permanently store the patterns, and showed the electronic components I removed from the KM and the buttons used to enter a pattern one stitch at a time.

There was at least one other Arduino project there, a programmer was using a pulse sensor input to record pulse rate while listening to various types of music, in order to put a playlist of calming music together.

All in all, I think it was a very successful day.  When the photos are available I will update this post.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monroe Seminar

I attended the Monroe Seminar, the 29th annual one.   Demonstraters Diana Sullivan of YouTube fame, Mary Anne Oger of "Knit Words" fame, and Carol Scott, who is not yet famous, but will be soon. 

Next year is going to be a REALLY BIG DEAL as the 30th annual seminar.

Thanks to Cathy Reaume and Chris for organizing this for so many years.

Monroe is more than an hour away from me.  (I don't mind travelling for this event) but I am wondering if there are other "Thumb Area machine knitters" that would be willing to join a club.

We could even sponsor an annual event, like a retreat.  But first, a club...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Resource Map of Knitting Machine - Arduino Experts

I was re-reading "Zero to Maker" by David Lang.  At the bottom of page 31, he suggests, in italics, to build a knowledge map for your subject of interest.  Since it was in italics, I thought I had better pay attention. So, here's my attempt to build a knowledge map of people who are hacking home use knitting machines.

Becky Stern with Limor Fried
Description:  Hacked the KH-930e with Adafruit to emulate the Brother (Tandy) floppy drive
Timeline: 2009 and 2010 articles in Make magazine 
References: You Tube Video  Step by Step Tutorial Blog post Makezine article 2009 QR code scarf 

Steve Conklin
Description:  Participated in hacking the original FB-30, wrote original disk emulator.  Chronicles the history of the hacks in his own "resource map" in the presentation.
Location: NYC?
Timeline: Pre-2009
References: YouTube presentation Presentation (takes a minute to load)

Knitic - Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Culet
Description:  Open Source Hardware (Arduino) and software (Knitic) to control a KH-930
Location: Barcelona
Timeline: 2012 web site- 2013 Published in Digital Humanities
References: You Tube video  Digital Humanities Article GitHub

Circular Knitic - Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Culet
Description:  3-D printed circular Knitting Machine (hat size)
Location: Barcelona
Timeline: 2013 - You Tube
References Web site

IMG2TRK - Davi Post (DaviWorks Software)
Description:  Inspired by Becky Stern Adafruit hack, software to emulate FB-100 disk drive.  60 stitch width patterning is free download, to use more needles must purchase.
Location: Madison Wisconsin
References: Ravelry Project Page Web site

AYAB - All Yarns are Beautiful
Description:  Alternate hardware and software to control KH-910, KH-950, KH-930, and KH-940 knitting machines using computer using Arduino Uno or Mega and AYAB shield
Location: Munich, Germany
Timeline: December 2015, version 0.8 released
References:Web Site Ravelry Forum Vimeo video (English closed captions)  Austin Steingrube YouTube Video 

Chaos Computer Club
Description: Computer club - some members have interest in AYAB
Location: Munich Germany
References:  Wiki

Evil Mad Scientist Lab

Description: Arduino Makers supplying (among other things) a hardware kit to replace separate Arduino board and  AYAB
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
References: Online Store

Hanna Napier

Desciption: KH-950i  retrofit with Arduino.  Very nice block diagrams of KM schematics on her page.
Location: somewhere in the UK
Timeline: Feb 2015 web page update
References: Web Page

Machine Knitters Guild San Francisco Bay Area

Description: Group of Machine knitters, some of whom are working on bug fixes with Evil Mad Scientist and AYAB
Location: San Francisco
References: Website  Makezine article 

Claire Williams

Description: Author of a widely quoted tutorial
References: Blog post


Description:  A flat-bed knitting machine that knits electronic designs
You Tube video demonstration   Kickstarter Campaign 

Lisa Lang

Description: Wearables designer using knitting machine
Location: Berlin
Timeline: May 2015 article on Arduino blog
References: Blog post

Victoria Majestix Imperia Pawlick

Description: Electronics and Textiles workshops hosted once a month
Location: Berlin
Timeline:  2014?
References: Blog Post

O Knit Me

Description: 3-D? Punchcard creation
Location: Somewhere in Italy?
Timeline: ?
References: website

Glitch Knit

Description: hacking a KH-970 to completely replace electronics. 
Location: Japan
Timeline: ?
References: Article

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cranky knitters and dye experiment

Yesterday I attended the Cranky Knitters Rodeo for circular sock machine knitters that was hosted at the Heritage Spinning and Weaving store in Lake Orion.  It was a lot of fun and I got to see my mentor, Christine Smith, who got me started with my CSM after I let it sit in the corner for a year.   I am still having trouble getting the ribber adjusted but I have been cranking out socks.  Visit my Ravelry projects page to see them.  

There was talk of other possible CSM gatherings.  Evidently there is an invitation-only one in Southwest Michigan that occurs annually.   Also we talked about the Michigan knitting machine that meets in Chelsea once a month on Mondays during the day, and the fiber meeting that is once a month in Allenton, MI (just a few miles from me) at the studio of Anne Tullet. I talked about organizing a KMer to KMer meeting locally to meet once a quarter.  July is probably not a good month because of vacations, and August is the Michigan Fiber Fest, so maybe September would be the first opportunity.

Today I finished up my experiment with dyeing. I purchased some excess acid dyes from River's Edge Fiber Arts and got several colors.  Last week I had thrown a full cone with the cardboard core and everything into the dyepot with 1/3 package of "bronze green". I used 1/3 of a package because I thought that most of the dye would be absorbed by the outside third of the 1 lb. cone.  I was entranced with the result.  The outside of the cone is a deep color, and the inner cone only has flecks of color at the top and bottom of the cone.  Afterward I decided to overdye the skein (1 lb. skein) to get more green into the core yarn,  and unfortunately, the color pooled and muddied, and I lost the beautiful effect.

Yesterday I tossed two cones in the dye pot, added some more vinegar, used the remaining 2/3 envelope of the dye, and now I have two cones that match.  My plan is to start with front of sweater with dark yarn, continue up to the neckline, then start knitting sleeves from top down, ending up with the lightest-color yarn at the wrists.

I am very happy with this result.  The yarn is dark, dark green, almost black on the beginning, fading to a bronze "camoflauge effect, and from there the base color appears to be mint green.  The mint eventually fades to ivory but the dark spots continue to appear, where  the yarn was wound on the top and bottom of the cone.  The yarn weight is fingering and is 90% wool, 10% nylon - it was originally intended for sock yarn.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Optional finishing for Brightmeadow's Tea Cozy

So after publishing my tea cozy pattern yesterday (here's a picture of the result)

I reviewed some other tea cozies that were "traditional British" style, and the thing I noticed the most was that the colored ridges appear to be pleated, and the stripes appear to be done in garter stitch plus fairisle.   The pleasing style is epitomized by Sarah Neal on her Ravelry pattern.  The pattern I created yesterday was NOT pleated and NOT garter stitch.  I will not be able to achieve the garter stitch look without hand-reforming stitches.  This would take longer than knitting it by hand in the first place!

But the pleating!  In hand knitting, the knitter pulls the float tight as the colors are exchanged, during the knitting, to achieve the pleated look.  This is not possible on the machine, because adjusting the tension would adjust it for both the stitches and the floats. 

But I realized last night that I could tighten the floats after the fact to achieve the pleated effect, by latching them up. Since I didn't like the effect of the bottom border, I started the latch up by selecting one of the cast-on stitches and latching up the entire column of floats.

When I got to the top, I let the loop hang and pulled it through a stitch to it's left. 
This step could be avoided by doing the latch up with the cozy still on the machine, just hang the top stitch on the open needle. 

I like the effect, it neatens up the tea cozy and adds to its insulation value by providing extra thickness.  The pleated effect is much more apparent now, and the bottom edge looks neater.  It is a bit smaller and had to stretch a little more to get around the teapot, so I think if I make it again I will add another 8 stitches (cast on 46-0-46) to give it more room.

Because of the additional stretch factor, the opening for the handle is now a large gap.   Sp I will probably add a button, hook and eye,  or Velco tab to latch it closed.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Machine-Knit Tea Cozy

Tea cozies are great! I have been enjoying Rooibos tea lately, several different varieties, and I treated myself to a new teapot.  To bring out the flavor of the tea, and all the good medicinal value, pour boiling water over the tea leaves, (my new pot has a built-in infuser) and then allow to steep for at least 5 minutes. 

Head over to my Pinterest page and see the ones I've collected, or go to ravelry and do a search for them there. 

I looked for machine-knitted tea cozy pattern on Ravelry and only found one.  It was knitted "around" the tea cozy, and I was looking for one to knit top-to-bottom. 

While I was there on Ravelry, I found a hand-knitted free pattern by stinkymum for a "proper" English tea cozy, so I thought it would be fun to adapt it for machine knitting. 

My directions below for my prototype are VERY loosely based on her design, which is a traditional English tea cozy. I sized it by eye, thinking I would need to make some adjustments for the "next" one.  I used some old acrylic yarn left over from other projects.    I hope you enjoy it!

Brightmeadow's Machine Knit Peppermint "Proper English" Tea Cozy.

Machine: Brother 260 (punchcard patterning)
Yarn:  Acrylic worsted
Main Tension: 8


Find or make a punchcard that has a 4-on/4-off row on it.  Insert in machine and lock on that row.  Test by knitting air for a few rows: Set the carriage to KC -1, pull out some needles to WP, take the carriage past the turn mark, and make sure your needles are selected  so that every four needles are in upper working position and the next four are in lower working position. 

Cast on and knit lower edge:

COR. Pull out needles 42-0-42.   In MC, use a crochet cast on, very loosely.  Hang cast-on comb.  T8. Knit 4 rows. (Note: I tend to cast on too tightly so I ended up knitting 2 rows by hand so that the carriage would pass.) Make sure you pass the turn mark and set carriage to KC1.  Knit one row.  Needles are selected.

Knit body:
Put CC in carriage and push in MC button.  Set row counter to 0.  Knit 3 rows to establish pattern..  COR.
Split for teapot handle and knit right half:
Put needles left of 0 in hold.  Set carriage to Hold. Hang weights on right side.  Begin knitting and knit 27 rows.  Push carriage past left side of knitting.  Leave 10-inch tails, cut yarn. 

Knit left half:
Make sure both yarns are threaded in carriage.  Put needles on left side into working position as dictated by pattern with CC needles in lower WP and MC needles in upper WP.  Put needles on right in hold.  Knit 28 rows. COL.

Join and knit top edge:

Return all needles to appropriate working position following established pattern.  Knit 3 rows.  Cut CC and set carriage to knit normally with only MC.  Remove hold button and turn from KC1 to  .  Make eyelets by transferring every other needle to adj. needle. T6.  Leave empty needles out of work.  Knit 7 rows, COR.  If desired, latch up threads to form 1x1 rib.  Latch tool bind off.


Make 2.5-3 foot I-cord from CC yarn, over 5 stitches using slip setting.  Weave ends into the cord and trim.  Weave I-cord in and out of the eyelets, gathering the top, and tie a bow.
Weave in ends if you did not do so previously, leaving 1 at top and bottom for sewing up seam.  Fit the cozy over the intended teapot so that the opening in the middle fits over the hand. Use yarn scraps to mark the stitches above and below the teapot spout which should be the end of the seam, leaving an opening for the spout. Sew seams.  Weave in ends. 

Next time:

I think I would prefer a hung hem (possibly picot) to the crochet cast-on edge. Or else a ribbed edging.   The edge on my prototype rolls quite a bit, exacerbated because the cozy is just a few rows longer than the teapot is tall.  I would knit 25 rows instead of 27 for the body.  Next time I will use wool rather than acrylic. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I knitted hats for the Women's March. Since there was a deadline, I've abandoned my tablet case temporarily, and put aside the CSM for a while.  This was a really good exercise because it forced me to get familiar with the ribber on my Brother KH230.  It has plastic inserts for the ribber carriage called pushers.

 Without the pushers, the stitches do not form properly.  With the pushers, it works beautifully.  But you must remove the pushers to cast on, then re-install them to knit ribbing.

I did not hear about this hat project until I read about it in the Detroit News/Free Press the week before the march.  My hats are going to people who have pledged to wear them as a reminder of the march's goals.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Felted fairaisle tablet case (Part 1)

Since I got a new tablet for Christmas, I am making a tablet case from a felted fairaisle piece.  I think it will look artistic and cozy, and also protect the tablet.  Note that the tablet already has a glass screen protector and a plastic case, this is just extra insurance and hopefully a fashion statement.
 It is a true learning experience.  Let me share the journey with you!

Yeoman Fifty-fifty (white) and mill end acrylic boucle.
leather scraps from an old sofa

Whoa! You say.  " Why is she trying to felt acrylic?"

ANSWER: I have experience with knitting a cardigan sweater with the 50-50 yarn that hubby threw into the dryer.  I knew it would felt.  I also have experience with yarns in fairaisle felting at different rates, leaving a touchable texture, and wanted to get this effect.  Plus, it was what I had available.

You say "I don't have a sofa to take apart" 

ANSWER: Be creative.  Go to a thrift shop and find an old purse to use.

Thread: Coats and Clark Heavy Duty
Stabilizer: tear-away scraps left over from machine embroidery project
Trim/ Hardware: Magnetic snaps, zipper, chain, D-rings, snaps


Brother KH-930
Vintage White Sewing machine

Step 1.  Decide how much fabric will be needed.  Sketch basic design, and measure tablet.  Figure on about 25% shrinkage.  I skipped the sketching because I had an idea in my head.  Relying on my memory did cause a problem later.

Step 2. KNIT the fairaisle piece. I used built in stitch pattern 10 from Stitch world, but after knitting a swatch, decided I wanted something bolder and knitted the fabric double- high and double-wide. Bind off.

Step 3. FELT the piece. I used standard laundry detergent in our front-loading washer and dryer.  I put it through three cycles before getting the density I wanted.  My original idea was to sew up the flat piece before felting, and insert a plastic block (made from cutting board) to keep the shape.  I had a suggestion from a fellow knitter just to make a flat piece and cut to size after felting, so this is the approach I chose. It seems to felt better if other laundry, like towels, are included in the load, to provide abrasion.

Step 4. Add the leather trim and sew the basic bag.  Since I've really never sewn leather on my machine before, I should have started with my swatch, but I forged ahead anyway. 
   a. I chose to use the vintage cast-iron machine because I didn't want to break any plastic gears in the newer machines.  They don't make them like they used to!
   b. I made sure to use a leather needle and heavy duty thread.
   c.  I used a long stitch length, the longest the sewing machine would support.
   d.  Trim the leather so the edges are straight.
   e. Sew the trim to bag. Sew with leather side up. Use tear- away stabilizer under the fabric to keep it from stretching.
f. Sew the side seam.  Oops, that was supposed to be a center back seam.  That is why I should have made a sketch first.  I can live with it.
g.  Turn inside out and test the fit. Oops again.  Guess I should have measured the leather. Can't live with this.  Good thing I have a whole sofa's worth of leather.  Actually now I am seeing this together, not sure if I like this leather with this fabric.  The leather has gold undertone and the boucle yarn has more of a silver undertone.

h. back to the drawing board.  

i. Right away I see design flaw.  If the flap is attached to the back, it will need to be cut out and attached separately.  Maybe best to make entire flap out of leather.
j. By fitting the plastic block to my bag, I realized I will need a lining.  The fairisle floats are not entirely fasted down, and are snagging on the corners of the block when I try to insert it.

I will come back later and report on the (hopeful) success or failure of this project.  

Meanwhile, I am working on getting familiar with my circular sock machine. I hade a wonderful lesson from a fellow CSM owner and am starting to be more confident. I am also feeling happy because I have been learning to darn socks.  I started a Pinterest board on mending, darning, and repairing things. More to come.