Sunday, April 19, 2015

April's Video: Mobius Scarf with Garter Stitch Graft

Most of the time, when we do Kitchener Stitch, we're making an invisible seam in stockinette stitch.  Did you know that you can graft quite a few different knit stitches invisibly?  Garter stitch is particularly easy to graft, and as I taught the technique in "Knitter's Finishing School," I elected to show it with a few rows of waste knitting at the ends of the knitted fabric.  Then, after sewing the invisible graft, remove the waste knitting, and you're set.

Why waste knitting?  Most hand knitters graft from knitting needles using rote memorization of what to do.  Well, by using waste knitting;
  • You can see exactly how much to pull up the sewn stitches to exactly mimic a row of knitting
  • The knit fabric is secure on the waste knitting, and won't slide off the needles or unravel.
  • The row of waste knitting adjacent to the garment fabric actually follows the path that your sewn stitches will follow, so acts as an extra guide.
Why not knit a couple swatches and try this?  Remember the key rules for Kitchener Stitch, no matter what stitch fabric you're grafting:
  • Use a blunt needle.
  • Have enough yarn so you don't have to tie on more in the middle of the row.  It takes about three times the width of the knitting to sew all the way across.
  • Never pull the sewn stitches tight!  Just pull until they're the same length as knitted stitches.  Soft.  Loose.  Relax...
  • Always make sure you're inserting your needle into a LOOP, not just a space between stitches.  If you're not in a LOOP, you're going to have a hole!
  • There are two stitches, even if you can grab them in one push of your needle, on each side.  With garter stitch, on the bumpy side, it's through two bumps; on the leggy side, through two legs.
  • When you take that first stitch on the opposite side, always go first into the "used" hole, where your yarn came out last time you were on that side, then go into the "new" hole. 
Here's the new video:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Knit Natters Machine Knitting Club Today

I'm demonstrating this anti-roll edge at knit club today.  Barbara's also demonstrating, teaching an absolutely adorable Mary Jane slipper on her bulky machine.  She's letting me use her machine for my demo, too, so I don't even have to carry a machine to club.

Here's my little demo, if you want to attend "virtually:"

Diagonal Anti-Roll Edge
By Diana Sullivan 

Here’s an anti-roll edge that doesn’t take a lot of time, is easy and genuinely creates a good-looking, anti-roll edge. 
Using the triple transfer tool, move the second, third, and fourth stitches from the edge over by one needle so that the second stitch goes on the end needle, the third stitch goes on the second needle, and the fourth stitch goes on the third needle.  Using the one-prong end of the tool, pick up the heel of the fifth stitch and fill in the empty needle left by the transfer.
Knit two rows. 
Repeat the transfer after every two rows.
Variations:  You can do this with the 2-prong tool, and that works fine.  It is also quite practical to do it with a 7-prong tool and get a wider fancy edge, as well.
Curious about the yarn in the photo?  It was one of my experiments, just a few yards of some 2000 yards-per-pound (skinny) white cotton chenille that I used for playing around with dyeing in KoolAid.  It’s pinker than the photo, not such a peach, more of a light salmon.  I made a small hank out of it and tye-dyed it with cherry flavor.  This was then knitted on the bulky machine at tension 5, but I think it would be better at about tension 4.  You could get it through the standard machine, and I worked up one project on the garter carriage at the loosest tension. 
I have also knitted this is quite a few other yarns and found that it'll give you a good edge, even in a clunky worsted weight yarn.  Try it!
I did a YouTube video with this demo a little while back.  Here it is:  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fun Post at My Blue Heaver Knits

Read this for fun:  A Crafter's Story of Anger Management

Personal disclaimer:  My obsessive knitting is because I love to knit.  Thank goodness, it's not because I'm angry at John!

When I'm angry at John, he knows it...   :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

At Last - "Knitter's Finishing School" is Available!

Finish your knits expertly!  The Knitter's Finishing School - Video Course is now available, a resource for all knitters, beginners, experts, hand and machine knitters alike.

Wouldn't you love to just relax and enjoy the sewing up process on your knits, confident that you can assemble them expertly? This set of videos has the information to help you make your investment of time and materials turn out as beautifully as possible and give your projects a "blue ribbon" finish.

This course is also a resource for when you encounter some of the less common situations, like making horizontal, invisible ribbing grafts.  You can use this course by making swatches and practicing the techniques, or as a reference when you need a specific technique.  Perhaps you'd like to show it at your club meetings and then practice with your friends.

Note that I do some things in about the same way as any other knitting teacher, but I also do a lot of things with a different approach.  Some more experienced knitters may enjoy seeing a different way to do the job, especially if it helps make the seams invisible.

I have longed to produce a course like this for years, as I listened to knitters talk about their finishing experiences and their need for up-close lessons.  The two DVDs have over four hours of video lessons, all hand assembly techniques.

Here are the contents:

Disk One: 

Mattress Stitch:  In the photo, that's an underarm shot of the side seam done with one-row mattress.  Mattress is the way to get side seams that are invisible on the right side.
I show mattress on stockinette stitch, on reverse stockinette, on a shaped edge, and along a full-fashion decrease edge.  Later on the disk, I work it with knit one, purl one ribbing and knit two purl two ribbing, just showing how to plan ahead or even adjust so the ribbing forms an unbroken pattern.

Hide Yarn Ends:  A lesson on hiding ends with a needle and then one using the latch tool.

Kitchener Stitch (Grafting):  Kitchener is a stitch that acts just like a row of knitting, but is sewn in with a needle, for a wonderful invisible seam.  The videos teach purl side grafting, knit side grafting, and Kitchener for a growth line in children's garments.  Did you know that you can graft ribbing invisibly, as long as you can graft from waste yarn at the bottom of a piece to waste yarn at the top? We start grafting ribbing with knit one, purl one and go on to knit two, purl two ribbing.

Disk Two:

Grafting Ribs Top to Top:  I begin by demonstrating the challenge of grafting pieces of knitting with open top stitches, showing how knit one, purl one doesn't work out well if grafted in the usual way, because the stitches will be offset by a half stitch.  Instead, there's a method called the "four-needle graft" that I show using a waste yarn string through the stitches that gives a virtually invisible graft.

Mobius Scarf and Garter Grafting:  Garter stitch is easy to graft invisibly, and there just had to be one project on the disk.  I have a simple, hand knitted garter stitch Mobius scarf (with nice, big easy-to-see stitches) that I begin and end on waste yarn and use to demonstrate the Kitchener Stitch on garter stitch. 

Right Angle Seams:  This is a mattress stitch for those situations where the two pieces are quite unlike, but you still want them to look even and tidy.

Knit 3, Purl 3 Graft Top to Top:  Here's how to deal with wider ribs that need grafted top to top.

Three-Needle Bind Off:  Using knitting needles, I demonstrate the three-needle bind-off.  I call some of these seams "dent" seams, and I like invisible ones better, but this is an easy technique when you need a sturdy seam.

Crochet Seam Like Three-Needle Bind Off:  I demonstrate this two ways, taking the stitches off knitting needles and also by working from waste yarn.

Zipper Installed in a Seam:  Having problems getting zippers in so they're not wavy?  I baste the seam and use that to keep the knitting from stretching out, then remove the basting later.  Just for fun, I use some Liquid Stitch to baste the zipper fabric to the inside of the knitting (test that stuff, first, okay?  And make sure you don't get it on the coil.)

Separating Jacket Zipper:  Here's an exposed coil installation of a separating jacket zipper, positioned with hand basting, then machine sewed.

Blocking:  Here is how to use blocking wires, pinning out to measurements, and then an explanation of several methods of blocking.  I demonstrate steam blocking.

Armhole Seam:  This segment shows how to sew in a seam with mattress stitch.

Bands and buttonholes:  I show how to pick up and knit a band along a vertical edge, how to pick one up along a horizontal edge, and the math behind those processes.  I show how to make a doubled neckband.  (Warning:  I used knitting needles here, because I wanted this course to be for all knitters.) Then I demonstrate three garter stitch buttonholes and two ribbed band buttonholes.

PRICING:  The two-DVD course is $25 plus shipping.  This course contains over four hours of high definition video that looks crisp and clear even on a humongous television screen, showing how to do the techniques with detailed, up-close views.

SHIPPING:  We mail items each weekday using U. S. Postal Service.  In the United States, we charge $3 to ship an order.  If you need other items, you can save on shipping - when a customer orders more than one item at the same time, additional items are shipped free of charge.  My other items are at

I love my international customers, but shipping is different - please see the page for information about international shipping. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inspiration at Art Machines

Scroll down just a bit to see Anna's ruched hat:

This is EASY on the knitting machine.  The stripes would help you pick up the correct row of stitches for the ruching.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Inspiration at Carissa Knits

I really like the hand knit scarf best, but she has another interesting piece here:

And I know why I like the scarf so much - it's the beautiful color!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Inspiration at Simple Knits - Winter Hood

Here's a warm hood project at Simple Knits, terrific use for a small amount of warm novelty yarn.  She sells her patterns, and I'm always seeing very nice projects at her site:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Knitting for a thinner me

One of the challenges of losing all that weight is my lack of things to wear that I actually knitted myself.  I broke down and got rid of some of my knits that are much too big now; having made them and loved them, it was difficult to give them up.  A couple others expired due to old age, just worn out.  I had a couple of classic items, knitted ages ago in sturdy synthetic fibers, that are very wearable now, but I want to knit myself some new things.

I am doing so many things that are important to me, including working at my terrific nonprofit job, hanging out with my husband, answering reader emails, teaching seminars, planning for seminars, and writing the next product (I'm currently almost finished with "Finishing School," a 2-DVD set with an extensive set of sweater assembly and finishing technique lessons for both hand and machine knitters) that I don't have much time to knit for myself.

I am realizing, trying on and purchasing retail clothing, that a slim person wants completely different sweaters.  I have to learn and adapt.  I need less ease, now, obviously, but I also want a little more length than I used to prefer.  And, I feel cold weather and air conditioning so much more now that I want much warmer things. 

I actually knitted two sweaters that aren't fully assembled, and I think I'll celebrate the completion of "Finishing School" by doing some finishing of my own!  Also, I've acquired some  luscious mohair yarn from a Webs sale.  I suppose it'll be springtime before I get all this done, but heck, these Texans do love their air conditioning so much that I need a sweater along most places I go.  Maybe the new mohair needs to be a cardigan. 

Along the way, I came up with an idea for a simpler way to do an enclosed "industrial" neckband, using a ribber.  The rose sweater I'm making has my first attempt at it, and I folded the turtle neck up to photograph the spot where it joins the sweater.  Maybe I'll get this shortcut into a video soon. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Video for March - Super Easy Decorative Anti-Roll Edge

This month, I have a quick little video showing how to make an easy decorative anti-roll edge.  This would be good in lots of situations!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Health Benefits of Knitting

A hat tip to Canadian Artisan, who linked over to this article on the health benefits of knitting:

I got a kick out of the article.  I read the part about "higher cognitive functioning" to my husband, and he said we probably have higher cognitive functioning than dead people! 

Of course, the article is about hand knitting, but most of us MKers hand knit, too, and we sew things together by hand.  I find knitting incredibly soothing, especially hand knitting, and especially if the yarn is a yummy color and texture.

Oh - while you're over at Canadian Living, check out their  hand knitting patterns!  I've never seen this online mag before, and I like what I'm seeing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspiration at Knitting Up a Storm - Extra-Warm Mittens

When you click on this interesting mitten post, be sure and scroll down and see that she used roving for all the rainbow dots and left chunks of the roving on the side of the mittens for warmth.  She calls them "thrums," which is a new word for me.

There's a photo of the mittens inside-out.

My original reaction to these mittens was that they look big, like oven mitts.  Well, that roving is the reason why. 

Yes, I think we can easily do this on the machine.  Hmm.  So many ideas, so little time!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ways to Shape a Beanie Top

I had a rather good question today, a very common issue.  How can you machine knit a hat without having lumpy gathers on top?  It's not easy to decrease evenly across a knitting machine's needles, because each one is on its own needle.
Here are some thoughts about how to solve this problem:
For a perfect finish, check out my golf club covers – done exactly like a hat top, using a garter bar to make nicely even decreases, here: 

That’s part one, and then YouTube will offer you part 2 – it’ll pop up in the suggested videos on the right. 
Although my photo has them lying on a table, so there are some wrinkles, they're smooth with the proper circular decreases for a fitted hat.  No gathers!

This is a lot of stitches to move, though.  By the time you finish a golf club cover, you're have had a garter bar workout.
The other way to do the same job is to take it all off on waste knitting, then put the stitches back on with the necessary spaced decreases, unravel the waste yarn, knit a bit, take it off on waste yarn again, etc.  Tedious but you can get that same perfect shaping.

There are other ways to do this, as well – none quite so perfect as the method I show in the golf club covers – 

1.      I did a watch cap in the Goldilocks Book that shapes beautifully at the top of the head because I disguise the decreases in among some latched cables. 

2.      You can transfer every fourth stitch to its neighbor, take the empty needles out of work, tighten the tension some, knit a few rows, then transfer every second stitch to its neighbor and take those needles out of work, tighten the tension as much as you can, knit a few rows and sew the stitches off and gather up.  This is smoother but not as pretty.  This is how I did the monkey hats in the KnitLeader course.  They're still a little gathered, but not much.

3.     You can make the whole hat ribbing, which gathers better than stockinette stitch, especially if you gather the knit stitches and then gather the purl stitches.  Here's a ribbed hat that I think looks very professional:

4.  You can make your hat sideways and short-row the crown, as I did in this short-rowed baby hat, pictured in shades of light blue and green.


A Milestone on "Finishing School"

Starting last fall, I've been working on a 2-DVD set about how to finish knits.  It's for machine knitters and hand knitters, and includes things like beautiful seams and grafts, blocking, and a number of other details that make your knits look expert, and maybe win a blue ribbon.

Well, I went wandered right off my plan.  I had a seminar or two to do, and then a wonderful trip to Israel, and then the flu, then the holidays, and then year-end close at work.

So, this week I went back and took stock of where I was on the project.  I scarcely recalled the work I did, ending back in October, but there was about an hour and a half of finished, edited video showing a ridiculous number of seams and grafts, in addition to a bunch of other video lessons that weren't yet edited when I got interrupted.  I was editing them and adding them to the course in a sort of logical order, and then next logical thing was grafting (Kitchener stitch) for knit two, purl two ribbing.

I had endless video showing that, and I watched them and saw why I kept re-filming.  Some of the videos had a bad picture - too-dark yarn, maybe, or a poor contrast between main and waste yarn.  In addition, those days that I was filming, I made every possible speech mistake and finger fumble.  But, if at first you don't succeed, try about fifteen more times and you'll get there.  After watching all this terrible dreck, I decided I don't like any of it, so I knitted new samples and re-filmed it.  Tonight I finished editing that technique demonstration, plus another one showing knit three, purl three ribbing, illustrating how you can graft any ribbing invisibly if you graft the beginning live stitches of one piece to the ending live stitches of another. 

And that fills disk one, putting me at the halfway point in the process!   Now, on to the second disk, starting by going through the video I filmed in the fall.  This project gets the award for the most goofy-looking little samples, lots of little squares sewed together various ways.

Also, recently, I've come up with a couple new demos for this year's YouTube videos and my local knit club.  I've also knitted, but not assembled, two new sweaters for myself.  I've got a different way to do an industrial neckband, which I tried on one of my sweater projects and find quite satisfactory. 

Knit a little every day, that's my motto.  Or, how about this one - any day is better, if I can just get a little while to knit.