Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Chicago Seminar Postponed

I was advised last night that the Tech Knitters seminar has been postponed.

Please keep an eye on their website for updates.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Upcoming Seminar - Chicago

As I've stayed home a lot lately, I finished the curriculum for the upcoming Tech Knitters Chicago area machine knitting seminar, May 30 and 31.

Tech Knitters is an amazing group and I am very, very excited about hanging out with old friends and doing a seminar with enthusiastic knitters.

Find out more about Tech Knitters and the upcoming seminar here.

As usual when I do a curriculum overhaul, I start out feeling overwhelmed with thoughts like, "How do I choose new things?  How do I arrange it into the schedule?  How do I avoid doing reruns and still be useful to beginners?  What am I putting in for the most experienced knitters?"

Yikes.  However, getting overwhelmed is not helpful.  What does work for me is to make lists.  I really do have a lot of new stuff, which I list.  Then I reprint the previous table of contents and double-check what I did the previous seminars to avoid re-runs.

[I worked a list for the Monroe Seminar at the same time, since it's in July, and I'll avoid overlap.  Monroe curriculum is not yet finished, but I've got a very good start.  Cathy has three teachers and breaks attendees into groups so you get to see everything every teacher does.  I do less material that way, but still a pretty good chunk of writing, photos and diagrams for that one.  I'll probably blog about that in a next few days as I finish it.]

After I had my Tech Knitters list, I divided it up by beginner/intermediate/advanced and bulky machine/standard machine and ribber/no ribber, and came up with a sequence.

And now I have it - written, formatted, with pictures and everything, and I am HAPPY with my Chicago booklet.

So, what am I doing at Tech Knitters?  Starting off on the main bed, joins and edges, and I've got quite a few new ones that are quite practical, like my Surprise! Join that looks like a braided cable and the cluster edging.  Then I'm doing some hand-tooling (which is good for Chicago because they have an amazing mid-gauge group in the area).  I'm going to teach the hand-tooled lace leaf edge, the feather and fan, the new method seashell stitch, the pinecone popcorns, weaving and intarsia without built-in or special equipment, and a little Entrelac and garter bar.

In Chicago, I decided I really should spent teaching time with a ribber.  I have some cool new demos.  I plan to cover industrial rib, English Rib, English Rib cables, Double English Rib, U-shaped knitting, U-shaped knitting with increases in the middle like I do in one the mitered shawl, Brioche stitch, Half Milano (long stitch), Honeycomb Stitch, and a variety of ribbing finishes.

On the standard machine, I'll do some lace, show how to start lace and short-row lace as well as super easy and striking Bargello Lace and the Ziggy Lace Border.

I have four free bonus patterns picked out for the back of the book.  These are cute patterns worth making more than once.

John is coming!  He'll do some electronic repairs while he is there, particularly FB100 disk drives, E6000 console work, and 970 CB-1 work.

Now for my usual scolding.  Are you fortunate enough to live in an area with a machine knitting group?  If you are, please don't miss out on their meetings and seminars.  If you aren't attending, perhaps you have no idea what you're missing - show up and find out!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

New Video for March - Pinecone Popcorns!

Well, happy Spring Forward day.

How about a popcorn that really pops visually?  And easy to knit, too:


Friday, March 6, 2020

Trying to Improve

I've been watching other people's YouTube videos on topics I find interesting, for instance, cooking, decorating, and quilting.  Some of these folks are much younger and some are very gifted designers.

I've been putting up YouTube videos for ten years, and it's very humbling.  It's hard to get a decent video put together, and I often see problems and issues with my work.  YouTube has added a lot of features and innovative people are doing lots of new things.

I want to improve.  Videos have really helped other knitters learn, and they have even helped get other people interested in machine knitting.

Observations, so far, watching these:

1.  They have much better "thumbnails"  than mine.  Those are the little pictures you see when you're choosing a video to watch!  I actually spent several days replacing most of my thumbnails to have a title so you'd have an idea what the video is about.

2.  They have lots of personality!  They talk at that camera like crazy, I mean face to camera for most or all of a video.  They joke, goof off, and edit in short goofy clips from TV shows.  They use lots of new slang and acronyms, which I have to look up.

3.  I'm pretty impressed by some speeded-up videos of crafts with a clock in the background showing how much time the work actually took!  I want to make progress and love to see how long things take to do.

4.  The openly "monetize" the daylights out of their videos because they actually make a living with videos!  Well, having lots of products you can buy to get the same look, or little built-in sponsorship call-outs doesn't bother me much.  If I love their videos I want them to make money. (But oh dear, the un-skippable, repetitious political ads clipped in all through them right now puts me off watching them.)

5.  They're LONG!   Sometimes you have to take extra time to show something complicated, but a lot of these are just overly talky.  I was listening to one the other day, and the woman said she was trying to get it at least ten minutes long!  Here I thought I needed to keep them under 10 minutes as much as possible.  Huh, there is something I don't understand about that.  I wonder how long my viewers want my videos to be.

6.  They use a lot of music and camera tricks.

7.  My absolutely favorite ones are the practical ones with lots of usable tips and ideas.

Hey, do me a favor and tell me how you think I could improve.  What do you like and not like about knitting videos, generally?

What would you like for me to teach?   More courses?  Does anyone want a course that just teaches a particular machine model?  Are my overviews of interesting (and maybe obscure) machines interesting?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Inspiration at Rett Og Vrang

Check out Synnove's retro baby set!

Oh, Synnove, I wish I had this machine knitting pattern!

I think this would be super cute with bright colors for all those sideways stripes, a real update to the look.  The shaping and sizing looks like a math challenge, though.



Monday, March 2, 2020

When An Awfully Stubborn Knitter Meets Awful Yarn

This mystery yarn was given to me a few years ago.  I love the color.  I don't think it shows up in the photo, but it's lavender with little heathery bits of pink.

This big mess is my multiple tries with the yarn.  It was on a cone, so I didn't rewind it.  It was even bagged with a good name brand on it, but as soon as I looked closely at it, I didn't think it was that brand.  I think it was in the wrong bag.

It turned out that it has knots, thin spots, thick chunks, and weak spots. 


I've been working on a nice pattern book idea, and tried two of the patterns with this stuff, thinking most of us have some thin mystery yarn, and using the ribber I could get nice width, pretty patterns, and no edgings needed.  However, when you use the ribber, the work forms between the beds and you don't see trouble right away.


The ball on top of the pile was from unraveling  150-200 rows after finding two big holes in the work.  The yarn had broken.  I rewound that into smaller balls.  I wondered if my stitch design that put too much strain on the yarn - too much weight, too many tucks, etc.  For at least the first three tries, I was sure I was the problem.  For anyone who hasn't seen me at seminar and maybe thinks my knitting goes smoothly, well, that isn't always the case!

The other messy samples are multiple tries that ended with trouble.  It wasn't the machine, or the ribber comb, or the tension, or the pattern I chose.  It was the yarn, a thick spot, breaking, or having a big fat knot.

One of the chunks didn't knit off, it piled on a needle, and now there's a bent needle in my trash can, too.  I didn't see it, hear it, or feel it soon enough.  At that point, I knew there might be breaks but I didn't expect thick sections.

I'm so DONE with that yarn!  Pardon my bad grammar.  This was certainly frustrating enough to mess with my grammar and my decorum, as well.

There is one option: I could carefully rewind the yarn into little balls, feeling it as I go, and cut it every time I find a flaw.  I've done that before, but this particular cone would turn into 20 little balls.
Nope. I am not rewinding it.

I am not giving it to anyone for "practice yarn" or "waste yarn."  Sounds like a way to annoy a friend!  Goodbye, pretty but evil yarn.

Monday, February 24, 2020

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.
t

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:

http://marzipanknits.blogspot.com/2020/02/dog-peace.html

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?