Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jet Set Craziness

Today, I caught an 8 a.m. flight to Dallas, attended a TSCPA committee meeting from 10-3 at a hotel near Love Field, then caught a flight home in late afternoon.  The flight home was late.  I ended up home and grabbing my evening meal at about 7:30 (a little harder, for someone like me, who has to be careful what I eat.  I don't overeat any more, so I hate having to eat late because I'm actually hungry by then).

I don't do things like this much; of course it's expensive, and if I spend time traveling, I'd like to stay a while.  I needed to attend this meeting, though, and Dallas is just far enough for it to be a little easier to fly, but not much easier than driving.    It takes 45 minutes to drive to the airport, you have to show up early, and the flight from gate to gate is roughly an hour.  The total driving travel time is maybe 3-1/2 hours each way.  The main reason to fly is that it's just too exhausting to drive it alone.

I like that committee.  It was a nice day.  My flight home was delayed an hour, though.  I had to get back so I can work tomorrow.  We're in budget season.

Then, after work tomorrow (here's where it gets knitting-related), my wonderful friend Barbara and I are meeting and driving to Grapevine (right by Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport) for the two-day seminar that the DFW machine knitting guild is having.  With two of us, it's definitely better to drive.  We can split the driving, stop for a meal, and do that for the cost of gas.

Ilene Levy is teaching, and I've never been to one of her classes.  The DFW ladies are terrifically nice, and we have a group of friends coming from Austin, too.  My son and his wife can probably meet Barbara and me for dinner Saturday, and it's always enjoyable to kick back in a restaurant with them and just spend some time together.

I am looking forward to this so much!  It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or an expert, you get something from a seminar every time!  At the very least, Barbara and I will enjoy seeing our buddies and get inspired by what they're knitting.  I get a kick out of participating in a seminar as an attendee, not always as a presenter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October's New Video: Cabled Edging

Machine knitters need edgings for projects, and in the course of this year of putting up a YouTube video each month, I've put up several.  The October video is a cabled edging that you can use for a finishing touch to dress up projects:

I thought this would make a nice partner for this other technique, a nifty cable you can use to join panels.  You can also use the cable join to add colors or different yarn to your project:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Changes At My YouTube Channel

I've been working on my channel at YouTube, trying to make it a better experience for viewers.

It bugs me that it's hard to find a specific video over at YouTube.  So, I started organizing my many videos into Playlists.  So far, I've put up one with the Beginner Course, one with the Ribber Course, one for trims and edges, and one for lace. 

Click here to have a look at my playlists!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Very cute scarf

Look at this vintage pattern over at Yet Another Canadian Artisan.  Isn't it cute?

I saw this pattern made up at the Fingerlakes Machine Knitting seminar a couple of weeks ago.  It's very pretty, drapey, good on both sides, and nicely flat.  These scarves are especially pretty in a slow-patterning yarn like Magicolor (sigh...sure wish that one were still available!).   With the slow color changes, you get lovely diagonal coloration.  Magicolor was nice, too, because being a little on the thin side, it was such a silky scarf.

A nice variation is to switch direction halfway through.

Hmm, gotta get busy and knit this one.

Inspiration at Vanda's

Adorable embroidery on a baby blanket:

Hmm, while I'm thinking about it, did you know you can use counted cross stitch designs on your knits?  Here are a few things in mind, from my playing around with it:

1.  Generally, one cross stitch goes over one knit stitch, or V.  Or, you can work duplicate stitch, your choice.

2.  Knitting rows are a little shorter than stitches are wide - so patterns will be squished a bit, that is, wider than they are tall.  Either use a tuck stitch and go over two rows and lengthen the pattern a little, or choose a pattern where it won't matter.

3.  If you plan to use embroidery floss, check it for colorfastness first.  Just take a snip, put it on a white paper towel, spray it with water and let it sit so see if any color bleeds onto the paper.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saturday Knit Natters Club

Our Austin/Central Texas machine knitting group, Knit Natters, is meeting on Saturday.  We can’t meet in the usual church building, which is unavailable this week, but are carpooling to Mary’s ranch in Burnet.
Barbara’s doing a Passap demonstration, but sorry, I don’t have details yet.

I am planning to teach grafting (Kitchener stitch)of ribbing.  Why would you want to do that?  Well, it comes up commonly with button bands and edgings, and I’ve seen it in circular sweater patterns recently.
This demo will be for knit one, purl one, ribbing, “bottom to top,” and I’ll explain a little later about the “bottom to top” business.  I do my grafts using waste knitting, not the typical knitting needle method, because I can get the tension so perfect that the grafts vanish.  I have some video plans in mind, and have been working through different ways to teach it.  The club ladies are going to be my test audience, and we’ll see if they like my method, what the typical questions and issues are, and how I can improve the teaching of this rather tricky technique.
Not only do other knitting teachers teach needle grafting for ribbing, they usually provide lists of what to do for each stitch, sew knitwise, or sew purlwise, or slip off, or leave on…that’s all fine, but I’m trying to teach the underlying concepts so you can SEE what to do next without following a detailed cheat sheet.  At least, you can visualize the procedure after some practice. 
Now about the “bottom to top” business - Grafting ribbing is a tricky business.  If you graft the open stitches at the tops of two pieces of knit one, purl one ribbing, you get a very unsatisfactory result with a definite demarcation row and all the stitches in the graft row off by a half stitch.  That’s because graft stitches – Kitchener stitches – put the two pieces together offset by a half stitch.  This doesn’t show a bit with stockinette or even garter stitch, but with ribbing, it’s a problem.  There’s another way to graft two tops that looks fine, though.  It’s not what I’m teaching this weekend unless things go swimmingly and we have lots of time to do a second activity.
However, if you graft the open stitches from the top of a piece of ribbing with the loops at the bottom of a piece of ribbing, everything can match up beautifully for an invisible graft.  This is true whether it’s knit one, purl one, or knit three, purl two, or any other combination of knits and purls. 
Last night, I knitted a pile of swatches of ribbing for Saturday’s workshop.  Everybody gets a swatch, 20 rows of the main yarn, 10 rows of scrap, then 20 rows of the main yarn, some yarn to sew with, and a yarn needle.  I knitted it all in a long strip with a single row of contrast yarn in between the swatches that I ripped out later to separate the pieces.   There was no blocking to do, because it’s ribbing!  I have my dozen swatches done, and asked for RSVPs so I can have enough, but in a big pinch, I could run some more at Mary’s house, I suppose   I need to tuck a few stockinette swatches in the bag in case we have someone who needs to learn ordinary Kitchener.  It’s going to be great not to have to lug a machine to knit club!  All I have is a small bag of samples.
November will be different – Barbara and I are demonstrating at the Kid ‘n Ewe all day Saturday, and we usually have members who go and check out the shopping, demonstrations, classes, and animals. 
December’s meeting is different, too – our annual Christmas party.  Everyone pitches in, and we have wonderful parties.  I imagine we’ll do some planning for that this Saturday.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Something New at My YouTube Channel: PlayLists!

Say, have a look and tell me what you think!  I have created two PlayLists on my YouTube channel.  One of them is the Ribber Course, and the other is Cool Projects.  I have 28 project videos on there, most of the ones where I taught a whole project start to finish.

Here's how to see them:

Navigate to my channel, here.

Just below the peach lace strip at the top, it says Home - Videos - PlayLists - etc.  Click on Playlists, or click here:

I'm going to wait and see if people like this, and if so, make some more playlists to organize my content. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hi, All! All Kinds of Updates

It's a Saturday morning, and I have my coffee and the weekend break from my busy office. 

Well, I haven't blogged in just a little while, and yes, I did miss y'all.  Here's what I've been up to -

I was very excited to finish "Best Baby Blankets," which I featured on this blog.  Initial sales are good, as is early feedback.  I did a "baker's dozen" really good baby blanket patterns, with lots of gauges (bulky, mid-gauge, standard), ways to use scraps, and new techniques and time-savers.  I had to finish this sucker - John was after me to have it done, because at seminar, people were picking up the multicolor tuck stitch blanket made from scraps and asking for the book!

Last weekend I taught at the Fingerlakes Machine Knitting seminar in Cortland, New York.  They hold a big seminar at a nice hotel and a good-sized crowd of knitters attend.   I believe everyone, from beginners to wizards, felt welcome and had a good time.  Charlene Shafer, Michael Becker, and I taught, plus they had a study group working through Cheryl Jiles' videos.  I keep telling ya, if you haven't attended a machine knitting seminar you are missing something wonderful!

Highlights of the seminar for me: 
  • An INCREDIBLE people's choice fashion show with so many entries and so many professional-looking items, that it was hard to vote.  An extremely talented beginner, Francis, won second prize for a gorgeous light green sweater with a lace yoke. 
  • Raffles and prizes for knitters.
  • Incredible shopping - lots of terrific yarn, a bunch of nice machines for sale, and plenty of hard-to-find machine knitting tools and accessories.
  • Hanging out with some of my favorite knitters.
On Sunday afternoon, after the seminar was finished, John and I got into our rented car and headed for Niagara Falls, which I had never seen before.

Now, you have to understand, our kids call John the "Uber Tourist," because he has to go everywhere possible and see everything possible when we travel.  Of course, we went up the Cave of the Wind decks on the side of the falls and got soaked!  Of course we rode in the Maid of the Mist boat right up to the middle of Horseshoe Falls.  Of course, we stood in the front of the boat and got drenched!

I am very happy to report that now that I'm slim, I was able to hike all over at Niagara Falls, have lots of energy and no pain in my feet!  It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I did get a pink nose.  Read about me getting slim here, and if you want more info, email me (there's an email icon on the left-hand side of this blog, but scroll down a ways). 

We hurried to the airport to catch a flight home and got caught up in that air traffic control problem where nothing was getting through Chicago.  Our plane, which came from Chicago, arrived almost three hours late, but John and I got lucky.  Our flight home, which was a two-hopper, Rochester to Baltimore and then Baltimore to Austin, did not involve a change of airplanes.  Most of the other passengers got off in Baltimore and had no connecting flight because of the mess.  They had to spend what was left of the night in Baltimore and fly out in the morning. 

John and I had dinner with one of our church's pastors, John Harrington and his wife Angela, this week and talked about Hill Country Bible Church's new project, "One Mission."  This excites me tremendously, because we are going to reach a whole lot more people in our growing city, plus Christ Together network (churches with different denominations in big cities teaming up to promote the gospel), and also to support global outreach.  Our fellowship has gotten humongous, so one of the big ideas here is to have "satellite" fellowships, that is, churches in local neighborhoods with their own staffs but who worship with us. 

John and Angela are also our bus leaders on the Holy Land trip John and I are taking in December. I have always, always, wanted to visit Israel.

In October, a group of us Austin knitters are going to the Dallas-Ft. Worth knit seminar, always terrific, where Ileen Levy is teaching.  There might still be room, knitters - I don't know, but you can easily find out here.

In November, my buddy Barbara Deike and I are arranging to demonstrate machines all day Saturday at the Kid 'n Ewe fiber fair in Boerne, Texas.  This big event, held in the country at a county fair facility, has spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting, etc., plus those fiber critters like alpacas, angora bunnies, mohair goats and sheep.  Mr. Stotts of Stotts Ranch is going to show his incredible mohair, and ol' Diana here has treated herself to a gorgeous two-pound cone of the lace weight stuff in a lovely cream color.  Mr. Stotts helped set up the demo opportunity for us Knit Natters. Believe it or not, his super-high-grade mohair is soft as a kitty.  I learned from Mr. Stotts that mohair is graded according to the size of the hair, in microns, and his goats have the really thin, silky stuff.  He even gave me some adorable goat pix.

Ah, too much running around and not enough time to knit...I intend to fix that this weekend!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September's Video - Foldover Edge Trim

I'm about to teach at the Fingerlakes Machine Knitting Seminar in Cortland, New York, but before I go do that, it's time to publish the September video:

I took September's technique out of my new baby blanket book.  This video shows how to do a very simple tuck stitch trim that I used to edge a couple of the different baby blankets.  It solves any rolling problems, and folds naturally in half so that it makes a great binding.  For the baby blankets, I used the sewing machine to put it on the purl side and then hand-sewed the knit side in place. The sewing machine stitches vanish into the thickness of the knitted binding, and I was very happy with the way it fits around corners and curves, too!

Here's a timesaving tip:  Avoid sewing down all of those yarn ends where the colors changed so many times by just knotting the yarn, cutting the ends, and hiding them inside the fold-over edging.   

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's a Book! Best Baby Blankets is Finished & Available!

Did you hear any shouting or dancing?  That was me in Texas, excited to have "Best Baby Blankets" finished. 

It wasn't really the plan to do a baby blanket book next, but my knit club was making lap robes and baby blankets, and I fell in love with the project.  I had such a good time playing with my different machines, yarns, and ideas.  I put everything in the bone pile that didn't meet my standard:  truly great-looking baby blankets, with no holes for little fingers to catch, practical to make and own, and not requiring fancy equipment.  I included plenty of options - standard gauge, mid-gauge and bulky as well as with and without ribbing attachments.  Of course, not every blanket works in every way, but I think there's something for everyone with a Japanese machine in this book.

Please consider charity knitting as you use these patterns.  A number of them are designed for speedy completion or for using donated or leftover yarns. 

The photo shows some of the blankets.  My sample bag had twice this many, but you can only get so many in one photo.  I hope this book will become one of your favorites, because it has a bunch of projects and some fun, different techniques. 

A baker's dozen blanket designs are included with this book and DVD combo:

Fold-Over Edged Blankie - for virtually any machine in any gauge, this one's a simple little thing you could have a beginner do as a very first project.  The big trick here is the edging, a simple tucked strip that you sew around the edges, hiding ends and making your blanket lie flat.  (Try this edge around a neckline!)

Baby Quillow - a "quilt" and folds into a "pillow," a fun introduction to quilted stitch using your ribbing attachment.  This is a good one for standard and bulky gauge machines with a ribber and patterning device for knitters who want to try something quite different.

Panels and Cables Blanket requires only a single bed machine.  Put your panels together with a contrasting cable stitch, edge the blanket, and you're finished.  Beginners can do this one, too, and it makes one of the best full-sized adult afghans if you want to enlarge it. For standard, mid-gauge, and bulky machines.

Short-Rowed Pinwheel Blanket for standard, mid-gauge, and bulky machines.  This only requires a main bed.  You'll be surprised how quickly you can knit a sizeable, circular colorful blanket.  Skill rating?  Easy.

Multicolored Tuck Stitch Blanket - Here's a great blanket with no ribber and no patterning device required, also an easy one.  As I've shown these blankets to knitters, this is the most-requested pattern.  I've included instructions for standard, mid-gauge, and bulky machines, instructions for doing it fast with a patterning device, and instructions for making the stitch by moving the needles by hand.

Circular Swirl Blanket - this old favorite came back, and I dressed it up, featuring it for bulky and standard gauge, and filmed it on the standard gauge with a very unusual, optional circular ruffle trim made using your ribber.  You can make this blanket with our without a ribber, though.

Long Stitch Blanket for standard and bulky machines does require a ribber to make the simple, built-in edging that lies beautifully flat.  You need to learn this edging!  You'll find lots of other uses for it.

Racked Ripple Blanket requires a machine with patterning and a ribber to knit a fascinating, puffy "ripple" stitch.  I tried this one with scraps, doing a zigzag stripe of each color and also with a planned color scheme. 

Reversible English Rib Blanket is for both bulky and standard gauge machines with a ribber.  This warm, versatile pattern stitch can be whipped up quickly.  Once you bind off and hide your starting and ending yarn ends, you're finished.

Honeycomb Blanket for standard gauge machines with a ribbing attachment uses the very popular honeycomb tuck stitch to produce a thick, thermal blanket.  You may ask, why so many ribber blankets?  Again, it's because when they come off the machine, you hide a couple yarn ends, and you're finished!.  They're all thick, warm and gorgeous.  Besides, I want you to enjoy using your ribber more. ;)

Fisherman Rib Checked Blanket utilizes the patterning device to have blocks of fisherman rib and blocks of plain ribbing, plus a plain ribbed edging for a terrific, professional-looking fast project.  I like all these tucked rib blankets best on the standard gauge machine for babies, but try them on your bulky for luxurious blankets for adults and older children!

Waffles Baby Blanket and Wiggles Baby Blanket - two more terrific thermal ribber blankets.  Waffles doesn't require patterning and can be hand-manipulated.  Wiggles stitch is really similar, but uses patterning to add some variation and make the process more automatic.

If you've purchased my products before, you know that I do full-color books with lie-flat coil bindings, include plenty of photos, avoid abbreviations, and use clear diagrams.

The book and DVD come as a set for $25.  This DVD contains three hours, twenty minutes of high definition video, that looks crisp and clear even on a humongous television screen, showing how to do the techniques, 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.  As always, when a customer orders more than one item at the same time,any additional items are shipped with no additional shipping charge. 

INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS:  Canadian orders cost $8.50 to ship, and other countries $13.75. Any additional items in the same ordered are shipped with no additional shipping charge. Using the U.S. Postal Service, it can take up to 3 weeks for products to arrive in some locations.  The USPS tracking number only tracks the order while it is in the U.S.  You are responsible for any customs, duties, or handling fees that your country charges.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Video for Augus - Two Diagonal Trims

For this month's video, I'm featuring two simple main bed trims.  We machine knitters are constantly looking for good trims for machine knitting to counteract the problem of rolling stockinette stitch and to give things a professional, finished look:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fascinating Video - Inner Workings of Brother Punch Card Mechanism

This is a must-see video if you've ever been curious how a punch card machine works:


This one is from The Answer Lady - thanks, Kathryn & Jack Doubrley, for this very interesting look inside the machine. 

Caution:  As you watch this, you'll hear Jack warn you more than once that you would not want to take your machine apart yourself.  It sounds like great advice to me!  We do have a few terrific repair businesses in the machine knitting community, and I recommend you use one of the professionals when you have mechanical problems. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tricks to Eliminate Ripply Ribbing Cast-On Edges

I received a question recently about how to improve ribbing cast-ons.  This knitter was tightening tension as much as possible but still getting a flared, rippled cast-on edge.  This problem is common, and how much trouble you have seems to depend on the yarn and the machine.

Why does this happen?  It's hard to get a tight tension because the yarn has to travel the distance between the ribber and the main bed, needle to needle, for the first zigzag row.  Also, the ribber comb's teeth, which are a fixed distance apart, tend to hold the edge open and make it flare. 

What can you do?  Well, there are several things that greatly improve the ribbing edges.

First of all, you could start your ribbing with waste yarn.  Cast on and knit several rows with the waste yarn, getting an inch or two of edge on your work.  Switch to circular knitting and knit 2 rows with ravel cord, which makes is easy to get the waste yarn off later.  Then set the carriages for your regular circular cast-on with your garment yarn.  The comb and weights are hanging down from the waste yarn before your "real" knitting, and your garment cast-on is being pulled together, nice-and-neat instead of sideways-and-wavy.  The difference from that strategy alone is just wonderful. 

Second strategy:  Do the broken-toe cast-on in this old video (gosh, this is from before I did hi-def videos!).  Especially check out the part at the end where I showed the nice edges.  This is great information, and so easy.

And here's one more trick to put up your sleeve:  If you're still not thrilled with the edge after your piece is knitted and off the machine, you can slip a blocking or ribber wire into that cast-on edge, gather up the edge, and hit it very briefly with steam.   Heck, if your whole project is assembled, you can still do this to tidy up ribbing edges.  Do not steam the whole ribbing, just the very edge, and briefly. 

If you did the Broken Toe Cast-On in the video, you could leave in that starter row that I pull out at the end of the video.  Pull on it to gather up the ribbing and then do the blocking trick, above.  After the piece is thoroughly dry, pull that thread out.

Surprise!  Your edge is beautiful and perfect!  In a messy life, with difficult people and broken plumbing, where so many problems are achingly complex, I get great personal satisfaction from one little perfect cast-on edge...