Friday, February 21, 2020

Yarn Scale

Mary Anne Oger has a photo of the small scale she uses in her knitting room.

I do the same thing.  I actually have an old Weight Watchers kitchen scale in the knitting room.  It has both grams and ounces. 

Off topic:  I have another, newer food scale in my kitchen, I still weigh and measure my food, I'm still slim, and no, I'm not a Weight Watchers customer.  I had a previous post about slimming down a few years ago.

 I weigh partial cones, allowing a whole ounce for the weight of the cardboard cone.  I weigh partial and unlabeled skeins, as well. 

I often weigh finished projects to see exactly how much yarn I used.  By weighing a finished project and checking the yardage on the label. I can figure the yardage used in the project, which is very useful for working out whether I have enough yarn to make another.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Shopping Game at Harbor Freight

My husband loves to go to Harbor Freight, which is a tool shop with a lot of low-price specials.  It's actually an interesting store.

I entertained myself on our last trip by looking for things that machine knitters want or need.  I found a bunch, too!  I didn't buy all this stuff, since I already had most of these items in my knitting area, but my machine-knitting scavenger hunt kept me occupied. 

I admit it - I like bargains, and I bet you do, too.  I didn't clean up or crop these photos - I wanted you to see the prices and displays.  The prices are low, and we also had a coupon for some free items and a percentage off on the total purchase.

First of all, lights.  They have lots of different flash lights, shop lights, and work lights.  I use a big LED work light in my knitting room as well as a halogen lamp in my knitting room.  I also keep flashlights handy.  On the last trip to Harbor Freight, I picked up one of these pocket-sized LED work lights on special.  It is also a flashlight and has a little hook.  I've already used it - I hung it up near my lap as I was binding off some ribbing where the waste yarn had unraveled.  It is surprisingly bright.

I noticed at a knitting seminar a while back that a cute little flashlight was one of the most popular door prizes.

I didn't photograph screwdrivers, but Harbor Freight has lots of them, including the small cheapo ones that have interchangeable bits.  You might want one of those if you travel with a knitting machine.  Knitting machines have both standard and cross-point screws. 

I keep a big standard screwdriver, small and medium cross-point screwdrivers, and a pair of needle-nose pliers in my knitting room.  These little tools are mine.  I don't raid John's tools.  (BTW, I've had my own small toolbox in the kitchen for most of our marriage.  It was a gift from John that I thought I wouldn't use much, but I actually use it very frequently).

I also didn't photograph "grabbers," you know those gadgets for old folks who need to reach things up high?  I keep one of those in my knitting room!  It's great for getting things off high shelves, but its best use is moving cones of yarn behind my machine or picking up dropped tools.  It's saved me from lots of crawling under machines.

This next item has been mentioned a number of times on this blog and at seminars - we use it to unstick carriage buttons!  For instance, the MC/thread lace buttons get stuck together in the center of Brother carriages quite frequently.  You buy a bottle of penetrating oil like this PB Blaster brand (John really likes Kroil, but you have to get that one online).  You spray it, using one of those spray straws, as far into the mechanism as you can get it.  Then you set the carriage on your kitchen counter and every time you notice it, you punch the buttons.  It can take two or three days, but you almost always can get the buttons working again.

If you can't fix it this way, the next step is soaking the carriage.  However, we've seldom had to soak carriages for this problem alone.  Note on prevention:  Whenever you finish a project, oil your machine.  Move all the buttons and levers.  Move all the buttons and levers on your other machines, while you're thinking about it, and it will eliminate this problem.

Ah, dental picks.  They have an assortment of different picks, and I like them more for circular sock knitting than for my regular knitting machine, but it's nice to see them at Harbor Freight.

In another place in the store I found these other picks with nifty little handles.  I'd rather have the chunky handle - wouldn't you? 

Not only do I like to have dental picks in my knitting room, I also like to have tweezers.  I got used to using these long, assorted tweezers when I fixed a few laptops at work. 

Okay, the next one is a joke!  I have been teased because I am such a clothespin user as I machine knit.  I didn't see any clothespins at Harbor Freight, although they had clothesline.  What I did see were these crazy clamps.  Sure, they had little ones that would work for a yarn weight, the way I use a clothespin, but this one is ridiculous, so I took a picture.

I don't really have an MK use for this thing.

This is a telescoping magnetic grabber.  These are super to have near your sewing machine and your circular sock machine.  I drop those itty bitty sock machine needles quite often. 

Another item I keep near my CSM is a telescoping "dental" mirror.  Sometimes it's nice to see under and inside the CSM.  Harbor Freight carries those, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New Video for February

Here's the new February video:

I already blogged about this slipper and how I am sharing the technique video on YouTube now.  This little slipper is a good introduction to English Rib and it's a fast, fast cute little slipper.  I especially like it on the standard gauge made with good sock yarn, as shown in the video.

This slipper is in the Footnotes book, in twelve sizes and two gauges.

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel?  It's easy and it really helps!  YouTube does mysterious ranking that determines whether it recommends a video.  I want to teach LOTS of people about machine knitting, and for that, the videos need to attract eyeballs.  If you subscribe, if you hit the bell icon so it'll notify you of new videos, if you hit the "thumbs-up" icon, if you comment, then there are more "views."

Machine knitting is not exactly the most searched-upon topic on YouTube!  I have stubbornly put videos up for us few machine knitters for about ten years now.  My videos that also obviously apply to hand knitting, like the "Faster, Flatter Mattress Stitch," get recommended by YouTube and are my most viewed videos.  I appreciate those of you who subscribe and support machine knitting VERY much.

Also, if you subscribe, you can get notified of the new videos and watch them before I allow YouTube to put on advertising.  I always run them a month or more without ads when they first come out.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Dozen Slippers - Made and Delivered

I was so impressed with Alexandra's accomplishment - 100 pairs of slippers! 

All I needed to make recently was 12 pairs of women's medium slippers, but quickly, for a friend's project.  I told myself to use yarn I already had - no trips to the stores!

I chose the Quick and Cozy English Rib Slipper pattern from Footnotes, which is my fastest slipper pattern.  That pattern is so stretchy that a women's medium will fit just about any lady!  Besides, I was in a hurry, and I could zoom through those.

What yarn to use?  This slipper can be made on a bulky machine, or a standard gauge machine, but requires a ribber.  I could use worsted weight yarn or sock weight.  Even if I chose a yarn that wouldn't make gauge, I knew that with a pinch of math, I could recalculate the stitches and rows and still make it on either of those machines, which are standing ready with ribbers attached.

Here's the video from Footnotes, which I've never shared on YouTube before.  It shows how to make the slipper using sock yarn and a standard gauge machine. 

I wanted them to be fairly thick and sturdy, so they'll last a while, but also reasonably soft.   I wanted them to be a bit feminine.  I kept picking yarn up and then putting it back. 

Eventually, I found some pink sparkly yarn in a drawer.  (There is 'way too much yarn around here.)  This yarn is rather chunky and stiff for a sweater, with enough cotton that it isn't stretchy, yet I knew it would stretch fine knitted in this ribbed pattern.  The yarn was from Newton's Knits a few years ago.  I had been wondering, every time I looked at it, what it wanted to become!

The pattern calls for 4 ounces of yarn.  I round up when I write patterns that only specify a thickness group, because your yarn might have less yards than mine, or you might make small changes.  In this pink yarn, the bulky medium took about 3-1/2 ounces for a pair.   These knit up in 10 minutes or less per slipper.  The sewing takes me another 10-15 minutes, though!  They need a seam at the back of the heel and the top of the foot.  Hide two ends, and you're done. 

Knitting 24 slippers took less than a workday, but I did it in several sessions.  Sewing them up took a few days of indulgent TV time (lately, re-watching "Call the Midwife" on Netflix when I'm doing finishing).

I hadn't made this pattern in years.  I watched my own video to refresh my memory, and it was a good thing, because the seaming method, which I'd forgotten using, was easy and worked great.  You might like to apply these methods to a project like like a hat, that needs gathered at one end.

Once they were assembled, for safety they needed an anti-slip substance on the bottom.  John keeps silicone seal in the garage, where he uses it often, and had a new tube on hand. 

I also stuffed them temporarily, to stretch them open a bit so I wouldn't glue them shut with the silicone seal.  That turned out to not be a problem, though; I ended up putting seal on just the ridges.

Some of the silicone seal I used in the past was runny, therefore, very easy to put on - you just scribble using the cone-shaped applicator.  However,  this one was thick and pasty.  I put nalgene gloves on, squished a blob on my finger and stroked it on each rib in the ball-of-the-foot and heel areas on the bottom of the slippers.  Since my sealant was so thick, it certainly didn't go through and catch the stuffing, which I removed before taking this picture.

The photo shows slippers drying on a trash bag.  The silicone seal gets everywhere, even though I think I'm being careful.  The loose ties you see are just to keep the pairs together.

I think they look like pink, sparkly corn cobs!  They are bigger than they look, because the ribs open up when you slip them on your foot. 

Here are some pictures of them finished.  The sparkle is subtle and doesn't show up in the pix.  Note that is a seam up the top of the foot, blending in and looking like the rest of the ribs.

Here's a shameless plug for my Footnotes book and DVD.  This contains a bunch of other slippers in it, as well, as well as some sew-as-you-go socks.  Everything has 12 sizes and it comes with a very detailed technique DVD.  The slippers are for standard, mid-gauge and bulky flatbed knitting machines. 

I've sold more Footnotes than usual lately.  Usually when that happens, someone has made something very nice using one of the patterns and shared it on the internet.  I don't know what it is - would someone tell me in the comments? 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Inspiration from Marzipan Knits

I love Dale of Norway designs, and Mar was making a scarf, had a problem at 200 rows, and started over.  She made this adorable doggie sweater from the "bad" piece:

Go have a look! 

Friday, January 31, 2020

What a Difference an Edge Makes

I've been making tuck mosaic lately, and made a blanket with hems at the top and bottom but a rather disappointing edge.  It is a great size for a baby blanket, a pretty pattern, and nice colors, but quite unfinished looking.  With tuck mosaic, you change colors every two rows.  Different patterns have assorted tuck stitches across the rows, and you can get this sort of uneven edge.

I'll probably blog about tuck mosiac more later.  It really is an interesting technique, floatless,
interesting on both sides, and wide for the number of needles and yarn thickness.

This very unfinished-looking project sat in a little heap in my knitting room while I went on vacation. 

I got back into the knitting room Monday and spent the day editing videos.  (I put up my monthly videos ahead of time - otherwise, I don't think I'd have one every month.  It is time to do more.  I had some already filmed, got them edited and ready, and am happy with the videos I have for y'all so far.)

Tuesday, I was out in the morning, then came home and did various chores until late afternoon.  I thought, I've got an hour and then I want to cook.  What can I knit in an hour?  My eyes landed on this unfinished blanket.

I started out thinking I'd put a smooth wide I-cord edge up the sides, and I even worked a sample.  It looked okay, but it was slow going and a little tricky to space evenly, with all the tucks confusing what is visible on the back side.

I decided to put a simple worm edging on - just like the one I show on this baby blanket on YouTube. If you go to 19 minutes, 40 seconds, I'm putting the edging on, using 3 stitches and eight rows, which is exactly the edge I put on this blanket. 

On the video, I was careful about what loops I picked up on that blanket, spacing it just right as I made the edge.  On my little mosiac, though, with all the tuck stitches, I simply used the "jab" method and garment tension.  Jab the 3-prong transfer tool in just  after the last place you picked up.  I tried to be about a stitch in from the edge so there were at least 2 loops on top of the tool, which kept my edging along a straight column of stitches - but I didn't always hit that spot.  Any "misses" are not very noticeable because of the edging. 

This went so fast - I was finished in that hour.

I didn't know if I'd get away with "jabbing" - maybe the edge would wrinkle or flare, or the edging would wander in and out along the side - but it looks great.  I haven't blocked it yet, and I'm not sure I'll bother.  The worm edge is awesome in that way.

And I still love the way the worm edge looks, with a nice twisted cord look.  It's especially nice in this project, which was done on the standard gauge machine, because it's small and delicate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Gift Idea - For those who give socks

I haven't had much time for blogging during the holidays, but I made note of things I thought might be interesting.

I have given socks away at my annual knitting club Christmas party a number of times, and it's always nice to give them to women who appreciate the labor and materials in a truly good pair of socks.

I thought that was just getting boring.  I know they like these socks, but where is the surprise?

I once made a "pamper your feet" basket for a silent auction, and I decided to use that idea again, inexpensively.  I bought everything at Dollar Tree, and I tried to color-coordinate the items to go with two pairs of purple-themed socks I had knitted (in a women's medium, which really seems to fit everybody using my favorite sock pattern, which I teach in The Happy Cranker).

The basket was a white wire basket from Dollar Tree, and I had a small manicure package, a bath bomb, some bath soak in a apothecary jar, some nail polish, and a bath poof included with my purple socks.

I loved it, and it went over well at the party.  Maybe this is an idea you could use to dress up a sock gift!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Impressive Charity Project!

This last Christmas, I heard from Alexandra A. from Missouri.  She knitted 100 pairs of warm slippers, which she sold for $15 per pair, payable by check to the Salvation Army.  She raised $1,500 for the Salvation Army!

I am dazzled by this effort!  What a lot of knitting, and what a wonderful charity to help!  I've heard people say time and again that they do so much for so many people in genuine need.

Alexandra sent a photo of her slippers:

The pattern is in the book Footnotes.  Alexandra's yarn is pretty, isn't it?  She says it was regular worsted self-striping yarn from her local Hobby Lobby.  I like the way she changed colors to put different colors on the top and bottom of the foot.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Inspiration at Synnove's Blog

I think this one post is a wonderful illustration of one of the big, big reasons we love machine knitting.  Synnove is making pants, and she didn't have enough sizes in her pattern, so she did the math and knitted and tested her new "recipe" (pattern). 

Trousers are so very hard to fit.  Even if you do very careful math, they may not fit the way the recipient wants them to fit.  And, all our body shapes are so very different.

A hand knitter would probably not attempt pants, since there are so many stitches in them.  As for knitting for someone else knowing she might have to rip and start over, she would be appalled at that kind of knitting for a "test."  In contrast, plain machine knitting like this goes so quickly that we can knit and rip as much as we want until we get the garment we desire.  Sure, some of our projects are much too fancy to knit, rip, and re-knit repeatedly, but we can still do if it we get our stubborn on. 

(I unravel things with a vengeance with my cone winder.  The pieces vanish so quickly that there is simply no time to agonize over my rip-decision!  Y'all don't see all my unraveling - you only get the patterns after I work out my issues.)

When you look at her blog, scroll down the left hand side and use the Translate widget.  The English translation can be a little strange, but hey, her work is so gorgeous that I love to look at her blog even if I don't quite understand the narratives.

Synnove's Blog

Friday, January 17, 2020

How to get an MK-70 carriage off the bed

Pamela S.  emailed me and said she needed to remove the carriage from an MK70 knitting machine.  She couldn't find this information in the manual!  I told her I didn't have one anymore (but I am a big fan of that model).

She wrote back:

I asked on Ravelry how to remove the carriage on a MK 70 knitting machine and a lady told me. The carriage only comes off on the left hand side of the machine. You must lift it as you head to the left hand side and off it comes. It must go back on the left hand side.

Well!  I didn't know about this, and I think it could be quite useful for the MK70 users to have this information.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Handy Items for Knitting Room

I keep tools and household objects in my knitting area.

Here are a few I use the most often, and I like to keep handy:
  • A rubber jar lid grabber, which is nice for tightening or loosening clamps
  • A flat screwdriver and a cross-point screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Anti-static spray, plastic-safe gun oil, silicone spray
  • Rags (I like old cotton socks)
  • Washable colored markers
  • A stick the right size for pushing on the sponge bar
  • Credit cards cut in half at an angle for opening needle latches
  • Clothespins
  • A sturdy music stand, which sits by my machine with patterns and notes, and a typist's page holder with a bar to mark the line
  • A cheap voice recorder (for keeping track of exactly what I did when I was working out a new pattern)
  • Pen, pencil, ruler, scotch tape, and lots of cheap spiral notebooks
What handy items do you stock in your knitting room?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Can you straighten a slightly bent needle?

I got this question from Noreen:

Hi Diane,

Just wondering if you can straighten needle latches if slightly bent to use again or do you need to replace them.I look forward to hearing from you.



Yes!  Oftentimes, you can just straighten a slightly bent needle.
  • You need the latch to flip open and shut completely freely.  If it sticks a little, replace this one.
  • The needle shaft has to be totally straight
  • The needle butt can't be open or crooked to one side
  • The hook needs to be the same circle as the others - not partially open or tighter
  • The latch needs to cover the hook when closed, be straight on top of the hook, since yarn has to slide freely over it.
This is a job for pliers.  I like to compare the straightened needle to another good needle.

I am a big believer in having spare needles on hand, and they're not very expensive, but I've also straightened them.

You'll need to test your straightened needle.  Sometimes after straightening, it looks good, but it doesn't work.  Sometimes you can't tell it's bad until you've knitted a while, and you'll see the occasional split or tucked stitch.

If it doesn't work perfectly, you need to replace it.  When in doubt, replace it!

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Video - Single Motif Knitting

My latest video is a lesson on how to do "single motif" patterns and wrap the edges for a beautiful finish.  I did it on the Brother 965i, but you use exactly this same technique on any Japanese machine as you do fair isle knitting that does not go all the way across the piece.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Making a Knee Sock

I happened to have a question from a knitter about converting a regular ankle-length sock pattern to  a knee high sock pattern for an adult woman, and at the same time.

Whether you're working with a circular sock machine (as in my book, The Happy Cranker), or with a standard gauge knitting machine (that book is Making Socks on the Standard Machine, the modification is pretty simple.  

You need to add 12” above the ankle and below the cuff with a somewhat looser tension, and I'll call that the "calf area."  

For the circular sock machine and the "Diana's Favorite Sock" pattern, I take the yarn off the heel spring on the upper tension unit, and that loosens up the tension just for that calf area.  I put it back on for the top cuff, which tightens it, back to normal.  That pattern has ribs up the top and front of the sock, and those ribs make it fit better on wide feet, narrow feet, and wide and narrow calves.  I put a 3" top cuff on and prefer the sewn selvedge I show in The Happy Cranker, because it looks good and is stretchy enough to pull over my calves.

These fit me, and they also fit my friend who is an inch taller and wears a size 2.  She has very slim legs, and narrow feet, and I have side calves and wide feet.  

If you're working with a standard gauge machine, turn the tension up on about 2 tensions on the dial, make a swatch, and figure out the rows to add for the calf area.  Then tighten back up to make a knit 1, purl 1 top cuff that’s about 3” long.  

I like the long top cuff because I fold it over and it stays up!   In a pinch, you could fold it over and sew it, adding elastic, but I haven't had to do that and would prefer not to do it that way.   

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Getting Ready for Seminar in San Francisco!

Yea, another trip to California!

I'm packing our bags for another seminar, this time in the Bay Area.  John is going with me and has some machine knitting repairs to do.

I've worked hard on this curriculum, and now, because the S.F. knitters have asked for fitting, I've written an extra handout for Saturday morning.  I am going to teach how I do a basic fitted sweater chart with a set-in sleeve.  I'm pretty excited about this new material.  It'll be great to get feedback on it from the fashionistas in that group!

Most of the curriculum will be focused on machine knitting techniques, especially things that I have not taught in that part of the country.  In other words, new demonstrations.  I'm doing a bunch of cool hand-manipulated techniques and garter bar basics on the first day, and on the second day, I've got some brand-new lace material that the Minnesota knitters loved.

I also put a big section in the back of the book with bonus patterns.  They have some relatively new machine knitters in that guild - so let's get 'em knitting!

I think the group has room for more attendees, if you are interested.  Their website, "Machine Knitters Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area," is here.  If you have never attended a machine knitting guild meeting or seminar, you're in for a wonderful surprise.  Knitters are incredibly fun and welcoming, and you'll be blown away by the ideas you'll carry home from hanging out with the other machine knitters.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Now Available - Shawl Collection for Machine Knitters

Whew!  My new book is finally available to purchase at  The DVDs arrived from the duplicator the other day, and I can finally say it's ready to go.

So - what's here?  The book contains 9 shawl patterns, a mix of skill levels, techniques, and machine gauges, and then there's a 2-DVD set.  It simply took hours and hours of footage to teach all the different shawls. I was very pleased when I tested the  new DVDs the other day - super crisp HD pictures on our big-screen TV.  The book and DVD set is $25.  US postage is $3 and international shipping is more.

Rundown on the shawls:

The Self Fringing Shawl is a super beginner project.  I wrote the pattern for the mid-gauge, and I used a number of different yarns for it.  A good starting place would be a single package of Shawl in a Ball.

If you've been unhappy with self-fringing techniques in the past, you might have run into the problem that the knitting along the self-fringe unravels into a mess.  I have a "locked" fringe technique, and that problem is totally eliminated.

The two pictured are Shawl in a Cake, and take one package.  Another favorite samples was made with an end of sport weight slubby white yarn and a pile of small balls of leftover self-striping sock yarn.  It's a super scrappy project.  Forget hiding ends for all those color changes - they're fringe.

Miters and Lace was knitted on my bulky with the ribber.  I took advantage of U-shaped knitting technique to make a matched mitered triangle shawl out of "cakes" yarn.

This has hand-tooled scalloped lace edge with a great-looking mitered point for the center point of the shawl.  Details matter!

The Peacock Shawl is done on a bulky machine, no patterning or ribber required.  This one is a semi-circle, short-rowed triangles and a hand-tooled lace.  Make your lace tooling super easy by using a 7-stitch transfer tool.

The Peacock Shawl has an interesting straight edge finish - the extra-wide I-cord edging, to provide a sturdy edge for the most-handled part of the shawl.

I tried several yarns for this one.  The blue/green colorway shown is Shawl in a Cake.  This is big - you need two packs.  The oranges colorway is Caron Latte Cakes.  That particular shawl is absolutely the comfiest, warmest shawl in my huge box of samples.  Caron had discontinued this yarn, but it's back now, and I've seen it at Michael's in new colorways.

Color-changing yarn or "cakes" yarn is fun for this shawl,,because you get a starburst effect with the colors.

Half Circle Shawl with Leaf Edging is made on the standard gauge Brother with a Stitch World lace for the outer edge.  I've taught the Stitch World method of scalloped edgings before, but if you wanted, you could use any of the "Enchanted Edgings" on this one, instead.  The edging was knitted afterwards and put on with sew-as-you-go technique for a nearly undetectable seam.  The starburst design is lace eyelets this time.

The Mirror Image Lace Triangular Shawl is a pattern I've had for years, but didn't sell, because it's a little more advanced and has very unusual techniques, particularly the mirror image lace. It's in this book, though, because I included all the video necessary to see exactly what needs done to get the effect
The lace matches in the middle of the triangle, and the shawl also featured a fancy edge.  This is made on a standard gauge Brother electronic using a Stitch World pattern.

The Bias Lace Triangle Shawlette was my approach to getting stripes that slide along the triangle without using the garter bar.  I used bias lace on the standard gauge machine with a lace carriage along with self-striping sock yarn.  Both sides are pretty; I don't know which side should be "public."

These bias lace projects are easy, and I have two in the book.  The second on is a chevron shape, Chevron Bias Lace Shawl, a nice, big shawl made of two trapezoids of bias lace.  Halfway through, change direction and make the lace bias the other direction!

The Drop Lace Stole is a bulky project that requires a ribber.  Drop Lace was a featured stitch for the Brother 260/270 machine ribbers.  It's pretty and it's easy, but I haven't used the technique all that often.  Try something fuzzy and warm for this shawl, which is a big, wrap-me-up stole. I first made it for my tall daughter-in-law, who liked it because it is generous-sized.

Finally, the book has a poncho, which is sized for adults as well as children.  People are wearing ponchos again, and these look so cute on little girls and stay on.

That's the Slider Lace Poncho, knitted on the mid-gauge with a very simple hand-tooled pattern, shown in the closeup photo.

This is just two rectangles, if you're a beginner, and it has two different but simples edgings to learn for the neckline and the bottom edge.  I also teach how to put the two seams in on the machine.  Those seams join a side edge to a top edge, and a good way to make them look great is to put them together on the machine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Finished the Baby Velvet Adult-Sized Afghan

Wow, it's finally finished!  This was a LOT of short-rowed shells to knit.  I've been knitting on it a little almost every day for a couple weeks.

I love doing these.  This was the child's pattern with a different yarn an a looser tension, only 12 stitches).

It's very, very soft.  It's pet-able!  Chenille is sure quirky, though, as you'll see as I describe finishing, below.

I used the same edging I used on several of the shawls - an extra wide I-cord made by latching the inside ladder by hand every few rows.  I just love this edge, and it really gave a needed reinforcement to this afghan.  The chenille is a somewhat floppy, and the sturdy double edge helped.  That edge eliminates all edge curl and looks good on both sides.  It went on tighter, though, than I expected.  I had to turn up the tension to #10 (the afghan was knitted on T9), and I had to use weight and be sure to pick up every side loop along the sides (just the loops, not the knots - the idea is to get every other row) and every stitch on the top.  I didn't have a problem with it going on tight with the other yarns.

The afghan has a hem at the bottom, and the pattern says to put a hem at the top.  Because this was chenille I knew sewing a top hem would be a problem.  Chenille is hard to pull through with a needle, likely to break, and loses its fur being pulled through over and over.  Binding off the hem with the latch tool was going to make a lumpy line at the bottom of the hem.  Instead of using a top hem, I did this:

  • Made the final row of "finishing shells," which are shorter than the regular shells.  End that row of shells with one row of the same color over all the needles so there are no double loops from short-rowing to pick up.
  • Put on 6 rows of waste yarn with a contrasting color of worsted weight yarn.  
  • Do the I-cord edge, picking up one stitch from the top edge along the waste knitting each time.  Be sure to use the looser tension for this, T10.
That top edge is beautiful, straight, sturdy, and not lumpy at all.  The smaller pic is that top edge. 

The next photo is the detail of an inside corner at the bottom - it shows the hem which curves along the shells, gives you an idea what the purl side of the seashell stitch looks like, and also what the inside of the I-cord edge and bottom hem look like.  If you want warmth and to not snag fingers and toes, this pattern has no holes and no floats.  

I took a bunch of photos, walked away, and only then decided to steam the edgings only.  I wanted to stretch them a little, just gently, as the corners cupped a little.  I also wanted to make sure the curved bottom hem was flat.

I suppose that if you wanted a straight line at the bottom, you could start with one row of the shorter finishing shells, but I prefer the curves. 

I did not steam the seashells at all, just the edges.  The chenille made a flatter seashell than any other yarn I've tried, and I wanted texture.

Another warning about the chenille - yarn ends do not want to stay hidden!  I keep tucking them in and the tip ends keep working out.  Fortunately, I knitted almost every end in by e-wrapping six needles on the wrong side.  

Here's the afghan spread out on a bed for steaming.

That's a queen-sized bed, and you can see what a BIG afghan this is.  I wanted it big, and it turned out wider than the mid-gauge needle bed.  It's not very often you get an adult-size afghan with just one width of the knitting.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yarn Challenge - Baby Velvet

This yarn jumped into my shopping cart at Michael's:

I usually shy away from Chenille.  Although it is incredibly soft and pretty, it can be difficult to knit.  Sometimes it biases so I have a  diamond instead of a rectangle, and sometimes it "worms" later, after the project is finished and used.

I have had good luck with high quality chenille, in terms of holding up once it was knitted, and truly lousy luck with other chenille yarns.  I like all-cotton chenille.

This is polyester chenille, and I didn't know how it would behave.  I wanted it anyway.  I was standing in the store petting it like a yarn idiot.  I thought the colors were wonderful beachy, shell colors and I have loved ones who live in Huntington Beach.  I don't know how true the colors are on your monitor, but the pink is a pale, slightly peachy rose and the other color is a pale taupe.  My plan was to make the Seashell Stitch Child's Afghan, but adult-sized.  (This is not the seashell stitch in the YouTube video.  I've changed the method and like this one better.)

I also didn't know how much to buy, and purchased two skeins of each color, hoping it was enough for an afghan.  The yardage is incredible - 492 yards in a 10.5 ounce (300 gram) skein.  It's labeled yarn group 4 (worsted) with 4 stitches to the inch.

Chenille yarn has a central core and cut fibers coming out from there.  That means that sometimes you can get chenille yarn to knit on a smaller gauge machine than you'd expect.  I had already been experimenting with using my 150-needle mid-gauge with a loose tension and somewhat larger yarns.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this yarn knits on my Studio 860 mid-gauge at tension 9.

Now I've knitted a while (seashell stitch takes a bit of time, as it is all short-rowing), and I have two big, awesome surprises!

Awesome Width - I have already ranted about how wide Seashell Stitch turns out.  I am getting over 46" in width!   This is before the edging I use on that blanket.  It is actually a little wider than the needle bed.

Awesome Yardage - I had already mentioned how much yardage there was, but as soon as I had a little knitting done, I realized how very light the fabric is.  I don't mean thin and cool - not at all!  This is fluffy and warm.  I'm referring to how light a whole handful of the fabric feels, almost weightless. 
The yarn just goes on and on.  I have used most of the first two skeins and I've already got 43" in length. 

Even if I make this afghan extra long (I like long afghans) and add my side edging, I will have yarn left over! 

I am very happy with the stitch.  Of course, as soon as I got going, I thought about other ways I could do this.  I could use more colors and graduate them; I could use a background color and all sorts of colors for the shell checkers.  Two rows of each color makes a bit of a ripple.  However, the option that really fires my imagination is to make diagonal stripes, which I already know from making mid-gauge shell shawls is easy.  This just shows you how hard I am finding it to get this stitch out of my system.

I did give out the Seashell Stitch Shawl pattern, which is not yet available for sale, to my Princeton, Minnesota seminar participants, and I asked for feedback on the pattern.  I am going to give it to the San Francisco seminar attendees next month, too. 

Here's a closeup of the knit side of the shell stitch in this yarn, unblocked and still hanging on the machine.  It is making up with less of a three-dimensional texture than it has in other yarns, but it still has the raised look to each shell.  The fabric is soft, light, and a bit limp. 

If you work with this yarn, do rewind it and use it from the outside, leaving it on the winder's core.  I put mine on cones, and it is feeding into the machine very well.  Just looking at the stuff as it feeds, I can see it has a tendency to catch on itself on its way to the upper tension unit, and I know it would tangle and give me trouble if it were poorly rewound.