Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I am currently working faithfully on the new book of baby blankets to machine knit - in between living life.

I decided to call it "Best Baby Blankets," because I was very selective about what sorts of patterns made the book.  I am going for easy to knit, not holey (tiny fingers, folks), not fringey or loopy (ditto, little fingers), washable, and lie flat.  I also wanted each pattern to be interesting to make, either providing an interesting technique lesson or a little different way of doing things.

John and I chose the cover theme pretty easily - a photo of the stitch pattern from a project that we took to the last two seminars can be the background.  This blanket seems to be everyone's favorite.  Knitters kept asking John which book had the pattern, and he kept saying, "She's working on it.  It's not out yet."  Naturally, John has "reminded" me a number of times to get this book finished!  This colorful blanket was made with a lot of scraps of baby pastels, and I knitted a fold-over edging that I sewed down very easily, using the sewing machine for the purl side and hand sewing the knit side.  It looks great, with all the sewing thread vanishing into the thickness of the blanket, and the knit side has cute little scallops.  You could have the nifty little scallops on both sides, if you wanted to hand sew the purl side instead of using the sewing machine.  My favorite part was I didn't have to hide all the color-change ends - I just tied them, cut them, and let them vanish inside the edging!  The edging goes around curves and corners just fine, too.

Getting a book done takes me a long time.  Even during a very busy spring with three seminars and a lot of challenges at my day job, I was enjoying working up the new designs, doing as much knitting and redoing as necessary until I was satisfied.  Next, I filmed, edited video (which isn't quite finished yet).  Next, type out the patterns, take photos, make diagrams, and edit.

This was an extremely fun project.  I went off my original plan because I just wanted to make baby blankets while my club was doing them for charity, and pretty soon I had a nice collection of interesting ones.  It's almost too much fun to stop. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Adorable - and some good Intarsia advice, too:

I couldn't figure out how to get a date-specific link, so if you're reading this long after I posted it, you'll have to scroll down over there...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tom's Kitchener Photos

Tom did this post a while back showing how he Kitchener stitches a sock toe.  Tom's photography is so terrific that I just have to send you to this post if you're looking to learn or improve your Kitchener stitching:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Skirt Pattern at Stephanie's

Stephanie's Studio Yarn Machine Knitting is featuring a straight skirt pattern today.  This is a simple pattern for the standard gauge machine with lots of sizes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I just want to share a wonderful adventure I had this past year.

I got slim.

Oh, I know I'm not skinny.  Here I am in my bathroom taking a selfie (never thought I'd do THAT like a goofy teenager) and I'm a size eight, right smack in the middle of my target weight range for my height and optimal BMI). 

Being slim is marvelous.  I do activities I didn't do before.  I enjoy trying on, buying and wearing pretty clothes.  I can knit items for myself and have them look good (that's a sweater in the photo).

At my highest weight, I was wearing a 22.  Here is my embarrassing "before" picture. I'm front left with my hands together.

I had actually reached the sad place where I thought it was probably impossible to lose my excess weight.  I really would have settled for losing enough weight to feel better and have more energy.  After all, at age 60, I required medication to keep my blood pressure down.  My feet hurt.  I was getting too old to lug all that around.  When I stood up after sitting at my desk a while, I'm gimp along stiffly the first few steps.

Over the years, life has beaten some amount of self-discipline into me.  Although I'd dieted hundreds of times before, in my late 50s, I decided to work hard and make some progress.  I faithfully attended meetings for over a year and a half at a somewhat expensive, famous commercial weight loss program, but made little headway.  I wasn't all that surprised though, since it wasn't my first rodeo.  This time, it was especially discouraging, though, because I'd been very dedicated and serious, tracking all my food and following their plan.  After losing some weight painfully slowly, I got stuck.  I showed up week after week, and my weight just went up or down a little.  Clearly, I needed to move on and do something else.

I read some recommended books - hah, as if I hadn't already read dozens of diet books in my try-to-lose-weight career - one about sugar in the American diet, and another about the activity of carbohydrates in general in producing problem weight gains.  Based on the books, I did another six months of very, very low carb dieting.  All I accomplished with that was stabilizing my weight so I didn't gain back everything I lost in the meeting-based program.  At least that was something!

Then I ran into a friend who had gotten slim, stayed slim, and looked wonderful.  I asked her how she did it.  She took me to visit an all-volunteer, non-commercial weight loss group, and I lost all my weight.

So what was it like?
  • It didn't really cost any money.  I'll toss a couple bucks in the basket to help pay for meeting space and some admin costs.
  • No scary stuff - no surgery, no diet drugs, and no fasting
  • I ate a LOT of food.  My food program is managed by another person.  She told me what to have in each meal, using food categories and easy measurements.  We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also grain, legumes, meat, fish, and dairy. The meals are large, but we don't snack.  If I don't like some item or have an allergy or dietary issue, I don't have to eat that because there are plenty of other things in that category.  Once I lost all my weight, my sponsor increased my amounts, so now I eat even more.
  • Getting certain foods out of your system is the hardest part.  We don't use sugar or flour, and it takes a week or two to feel better after getting those items out of their diets.  I had already gone through that with the low carb regimen, though. 
  • I was held accountable.  I check in regularly with my sponsor, the same lady who gave me my food plan.  I also attend group meetings and talk to other members on the phone. 
  • I receive tremendous support and encouragement.  I have described this as a self-help group to people who ask me about it (I get asked a lot, because I lost so much weight), but I realize that's untrue, because this is actually a help-each-other group.
  • I don't weigh very often.  At first, I weighed once a month.  I lost ten pounds the first month - lots of members lose much faster, but my sponsor was looking to take my weight down gently and slowly because of my age.  Of course, for me to lose ten pounds the first month was stunningly fast!  After that, I lost more slowly, but I learned not to worry about it because I finally began to believe that it would come off.  I lost 58 pounds in ten months, and now I'm holding at 60 pounds down.  I came into this program already down from my highest weight because of those other efforts, so altogether, I'm down about 80 pounds. 
  • Less worry about food and weight.  Since I don't snack, I find more time in the evenings to do other things.  I just prepare my planned meals.  Since I know I followed the plan, I don't worry all the time anymore about whether I did something wrong and I'm going to start gaining weight again.
  • You have to want this - seriously.  I am really surprised, as miserable as it is to be fat, how many people just won't bother to do this.  I guess they're not ready yet.  If you do it, it absolutely works, but you do have to show up, attend meetings, follow the plan, and be honest with yourself and others.  Gosh, I thought I'd be the one person for whom it wouldn't work, and it did.  
If anyone is interested in this, contact me for more information.  I promise this isn't a commercial program, and I won't be a pest.  I have an email icon on the left-hand side of this blog page.  Just scroll down, find the envelope, and click.  I can answer questions by email and send you to the group's website. 

Happy Knitting,


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Video for June: Waffle Stitch

I'm continuing to put up a new video each month, trying for an interesting variety of techniques, and here's the June video.

This "waffle stitch" is a warm, textured, tucked stitch made easily with your ribber.  This lies flat and is great for blankets and jackets.  I filmed the demo on the easy-to-see bulky machine, but I hope you'll try it on a standard gauge as well.  Some of these chunkier stitch patterns are wonderful for giving some heft and interest to fabrics made with thinner yarns.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Advice About Shaping Necklines

I agree with this advice over at Machine Knitting is My Life:  take the whole garment piece off on waste yarn, then knit one side at a time.

These instructions are good:

However, there's one thing left out that you need to read BEFORE you knit off on waste yarn.  All machines have specific instructions in the manual explaining how to keep you place in the pattern stitch and return to that same place.  Read through those instructions, keep the book on your lap, and follow them, because you need to get back to the same spot in the pattern to knit the first side of the neckline and then again when you knit the second side.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Miles (Almost) of Ruffles

I've tried lots of techniques for making pretty knitted ruffles, and I'm usually disappointed.  For this project, I wanted a curved ruffle that would be full on the outer edge, but not very full on the edge by the blanket, and one that would not roll or kink on the outer edge.

Here's what I have, just a section of the blanket that I've sewed together.  I still have quite a long ways to sew, having only sewed ruffle to two of the ten pie-shaped sections..

John has been teasing me about my incredibly impractical baby blanket project.  The actual blanket knits up quickly, but he's pointed out that I knitted this long, long piece of ruffle (thousands of rows, short-rowed, and using the ribber on one edge, moving an edge weight regularly), and who will want to knit all those rows?  Not to worry, you can edge the blanket lots of ways, and I'll put more than one in the book, but I wanted to play with my ruffle idea!  Next, I shocked him when I explained that I was going to iron the ruffle.  Yep, kill it with a steam iron.  It lies rather well without the steaming, but I wanted a flowing, drape-y look.  Yup, it's a lot of time to spend on a baby blanket, but nothing compared to the time a hand knitter would spend. 

The ironing job went quite quickly, and look how nice the ruffle is, even before a final steaming of the assembled blanket!

This technique makes an excellent ruffle, and it'll be a fun lesson for the book and video.  I am determined, as usual, to make each project in my book and video a fun learning opportunity.  Consider the possibilities:  a ruffled poet's blouse; a ruffle around a tablecloth, or how about a shawl?

Inspiration at A Kitten Knits

Very, pretty colorful small projects:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Video Today - Wavy Drop Lace

For the May video, here's a stitch pattern formed using the ribber and some dropped stitches:

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A sewer drain pipe for Mother's Day

Here I am with my newest acquisition, a PVC sewer drain pipe from Home Depot, 6" in diameter and two feet long.  We were at the hardware store getting a package of rivets for John when I noticed this, precut and ready to use for storing sponge bars and combs, that is my combs that don't have holes in them.  Most of my combs are hanging from Command hooks that can simply be fastened to the wall with their little peel-and-stick tapes. 

This has enough size and weight to it that I think it'll work just great and my sponge bar pile will stop falling over.

It would be cheaper to purchase a long length of the stuff, cut it and split it with your friends, but getting the cuts straight with a hacksaw sounded challenging to me.  I like that this isn't much of a project.  I didn't find an end cap to fit it, but I don't think that's really necessary.

John is wiping the ink off with acetone.  It takes a while, but it does come off.  I plan to sand the ends very lightly, just to smooth out the edges where it was cut.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Purls of Joy Seminar

Well, here I am in the Denver airport, awaiting my flight back home to Austin.

John and I had a fantastic weekend at Purls of Joy knitting seminar in Princeton, Minneapolis.   Every seminar is different; every group unique, and Minnesota is a very special place for machine knitters.  First of all, they have multiple dealers, talented folks who teach, design, repair, and otherwise support our craft.  They have an assortment of knitting clubs, too, and I met a lot of quite advanced knitters at Purls.

I loved the two style shows.  Quite a lot of people participate, wearing fashions they knitted.  My husband, who usually doesn't notice knitwear, grabbed me a couple of times to ask if I saw this or that particular gorgeous outfit.  Walking around the room, I saw cables, beads, laces, weaving, thread lace, ruching, on a grand variety of garments. 

Princeton is a small town, and we stayed at the AmericInn, along with many of the knitters.  With a fire in the lobby fireplace and knitters lounging around, our evenings morphed into a party and gab fest.  We ran into wonderful folks we only knew online before, and a few people we hadn't seen in years.  People came from as far away as Canada and Louisiana.  John and I ate yummy food, going to the Bakers Square twice, since there isn't one in Austin.  John got pie, while I stayed on my food plan.  Food at the seminar was great, too, along with lots of fresh coffee, chilled bottled water, and other beverages and treats. 

I was crazy busy at the event.  Since I'd never taught there, my classes were beyond filled.  I didn't take any photos because I was swamped.  At one point, I got behind schedule and taught through the break.  We probably busted the fire code, stuffing an extra fifteen or so chairs in a room intended for 50.  Over 100 knitters attended.  John ran out of several items, which we are mailing to customers when we get home.  The knitters did everything they could to help each other be able to see and hear. I did my best with my little voice, since we had a glitch with the audio and couldn't use the PA.  Some of the ladies helped me move a few chairs to the very front, which we reserved for those having difficulty hearing.  We had a fantastic camera and projector and a superb picture of what I was doing at the machine.  I ran out of handouts, and as participants email me, I'm sending .pdf files.

This seminar is held in a large church hall, complete with classroom spaces, a big kitchen, nice restrooms, and plenty of parking.   It's put on by a dealer's association, and they know what they're doing.  The door prizes were fantastic - several subscriptions to Machine Knitting Monthly were given away, a sewing machine was a prize, along with cones of yarn and many other goodies.  They even have a knitting contest, and I voted for a spectacular beaded and cabled outfit after struggling to choose just one.

Please, if anyone got some good photos, could you email some to me?

I have now finished three seminars within two months, all wonderful - Newton's Spring Fling, Knit Knack's Spring Fling, and Purls of Joy.  I'm "off" until fall, when I'll go to Fingerlakes in upstate New York.  However, I promise not to be "off," but to finish up the baby blanket book.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Video Today - Knit 2, Purl 1 Industrial Ribbing

In keeping with the 2014 plan of a new video each month, here's April's video:

I hope that when I put up a technique video that you haven't tried before that you'll take just a few minutes and knit a sample.  This is a great way to add to your personal bag of tricks.  They make good club demos, too, for those of you who are always looking for club ideas!

I've been blogging very little lately, and I do miss you all!  Sorry!  I had the Knit Knack Shop's annual Spring Fling just a couple of weeks ago, which was awesome.  This very next weekend is Purls of Joy Seminar in Minnesota, which also has a big turnout and choices of classes each session.  Getting ready for one seminar and then the other has been time consuming.  In addition, I'm knitting the samples and making the videos for a baby blanket book with a nice assortment of pretty little projects - some bulky, some mid-gauge, some standard, some with the ribber attachment, and some without.