Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not Knitting Related: Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth 'Crying In Rage' : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

I'm a space buff, ran into this incredibly sad article last weekend:

Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth 'Crying In Rage' : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

I saw some very interesting things about the Soviet space program at the incredible space museum in Hutchison, Kansas a few years ago.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Now Available: Goldilocks Challenge Book & 2-DVD Set

The Goldilocks packages are finished - and finally for sale!

The whole Goldilocks Challenge was about making terrific gifts using worsted yarn on either an Ultimate Sweater Machine or a Japanese bulky machine.   The book contains plenty of sizes and it's jammed with important machine knitting technique lessons, as well.

DVD #1 Contents:
  • Scarf with latched cables for adults & kids
  • Hat to match scarf in four sizes
  • Mitten to match hat/scarf in four sizes
  • Round tam in four sizes
  • Big, fat slipper sock in 13 sizes
DVD #2 Contents:
  • Knitting the slipper on the bulky machine
  • Twirl baby blanket 
  • Sew-as-you-go technique for mitten thumb
  • Sparkly half-circle shawl
  • Baby raglan sweater
  • USM buttonhole technique
The Goldilocks Challenge was all about urging non-machine knitters to try the craft, and therefore, this package contains a tremendous amount of material to help beginners learn to make great-looking knits.  In addition, these designs are recipes for success for other knitters who want excellent patterns for their bulky machines.  Therefore, the DVDs and book cover cast-ons, bind-offs, two types of latched ribbing, two methods of doing a small buttonhole, and short-rowing.

There's great personal satisfaction in a solid understanding of how to sew your knitting together so it looks great.  Let's aim for blue-ribbon finishing techniques, finishing that's "just right," as Goldilocks would say.  With that in mind, as much video detail as possible is included to show finishing, and mattress and Kitchener seaming instructions and diagrams have been included.

SPECIAL:  This set with book and 2 DVDs will be priced at $30 plus shipping, but during this introductory period, they're $25.00 if purchased from this page using PayPal:

If you want to shop for more items over at, you can save on shipping. I only charge shipping on the first item, $3 for US retail customers and $7.50 for overseas customers.  Use this button:

To view your shopping cart, click here:

Or, to purchase by itself:

Inspiration at ELIS HOUSE: New Norwegian designer with embroidery / sewing patterns.

Gorgeous. Ya gotta see -

In ELIS HOUSE: New Norwegian designer with embroidery / sewing patterns.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Machine Knitting Fun: Speed Ripping on the Knitting Machine

You know what, I didn't invent the garter bar speed ripping idea. Does anyone know who did, so proper credit can be given?

Just about everything I teach has been around a while. I just communicate it.

Machine Knitting Fun: Speed Ripping on the Knitting Machine

Ways to Improve Your Knitting - Fix Your Sponge Bar!

Some of you don't know that there's a sponge bar hiding inside your knitting machine.  This is a metal strip with foam rubber glued to it, and it's critical to your flatbed knitting machine working properly. 

I get mysterious questions about machines doing diabolical things to ruin the knitting, jam the machine, misbehave at the worst possible moments, and generally flummox poor, hard-working knitters.  I usually write back, guessing at what the problem might be, and nearly always mentioning the sponge bar as a possible culprit.  A worn-out sponge bar has caused the following problems with my own knitting:
  • Jams
  • Miss-patterning
  • Dropped lace stitches
  • Sloppy needles that don't stay put
  • Garter carriage chaos
  • Falling ribber needles
  • Misery and cussing 
Many of the knitters write later and say their problem went away after replacing the sponge bar.

In most machines, the sponge bar fits sponge-side down above the needles all across the needle bed.  It's under the metal plate just behind the needle number strip.  You can get it out by pushing on one of its plastic end tabs, and just for grins, if you never have taken it out, look for instructions in your manual and push it out partway. (WARNING:  do not ever remove the sponge bar with the garter carriage on the bed!  Never, never!  I have not stumbled into this problem myself, yet, but I'm told that disassembly will then be required to remove the GC from the machine.  Horrors!) 

Once it's sticking out part of the way, pinch the foam rubber and see if it has any bounce at all.  It should be puffy enough to squash the needles downward.

I tend to give my sponge bar the squish test whenever I'm about to begin a real project.  I might not bother if I'm running up a demo swatch, but an afghan, sweater, or anything lacy?  You bet, I'll take a moment to squeeze and see if it's squashed before I attempt any serious knitting!

It will probably be at least partly smashed down in each spot where there's a needle.  Sometimes you can get a little more life out of a sponge bar by moving it just a tiny bit so the un-smashed spots are pushing on the needles.  If it's too smashed, you will need to replace it.  If you can't find a sponge bar to buy, you can put new foam in (see for great instructions) or you can use weatherstripping to replace the foam. 

I know people (inspiring, organized souls) who get much longer service out of their expensive sponge bars by taking them out of the machine to rest whenever they're not knitting.  I hope you can do that, but I admit that I don't remember to do it, myself.  I could make the excuse that my machines never cool off, but it wouldn't be true.  The truth is that I'm just a rather absent-minded dreamer whose brain has wandered somewhere remote much of the time. 

Right now I've been knitting on the bulky and neglecting the standard, so I could do this if I were more mindful and organized.  So, do as I say, not as I do... 

I've also heard that you can revive a sponge bar with cleaning, but I've had no luck with that.  I've always had to replace the foam, or replace the whole bar when mine gets squashed.

Oh - didja know that Ultimate Sweater Machines also have a sponge?  You pop out the vertical gray horizontal pieces above the needles and there's foam rubber in there.  I tried knitting without the foam one day, because the lady at the Bond help line said it might help with short-row issues, but I couldn't stand knitting without it.  She said the original Bond machines didn't have foam rubber, but I notice that they also have a slightly different carriage design.  Just a side note. 

Passaps have a spring, not a sponge bar.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Uphill in Every Direction

Ah, Mama said there'd be days like this.

While getting ready for the club in the morning, I was feeling sick to my stomach.  There's been a thing going around, but it was probably something I ate, because it didn't last long. I considered calling and cancelling, but realized I'd promised to bring a machine and some other items, so I better go. I lounged in a recliner while John went after a cake for the club dessert.  No baking for me.

I fired up the color printer to run a prototype Goldilocks book.  Right.  I made every possible mistake trying to get the printer going.  The house internet connection was down, and when it came back, I sent the job to the printer for the umpty-umpthed time and printed the whole book on cardstock (instead of just a cover).

John was resolutely pointing out things in the books that he is finding in his proofreading.  He's an awesome proofreader and editor, BUT after about 25 rewrites, it's hard to keep on revising.

After I was gone, John tried again to fix a laptop's drivers that I re-imaged a couple weeks ago.  I have just about "had it" with doing computer work at home - I take care of the network at work and don't want to do any more at home.  John has about "had it" with this driver issue, as well, but he got it working perfectly at some point.  He doesn't know what we did wrong or right, and neither do I, which is not that unusual for PC software problems.

We had actually made backups of all my precious knitting files onto a portable hard drive before reimaging, and it broke before we could restore them to our network.  Perhaps we'll have to hire a data recovery firm, an expensive endeavor.

My mirror image lace shawl is on the request list for Denver, and the file was lost in the backup hard drive breakdown.  I found a printed copy after going through almost my entire bookshelves, thank goodness, and retyped it, then saved it to three computers.  Gosh, remember when we had to do everything with paper copies?  Well, the good news is I pulled out a pile of other notes and ideas to try out when I get a chance.

My friend called while I was alone in the house and in the shower, so I answered the phone soaking wet in a towel.  I'm still wondering if I was rude to her - she didn't know I was dripping on the carpet.

I needed to take the 970 and to the meeting.  The 970 slid onto the floor from the back seat and I spent most of my trip wondering if it had been damaged in its fall (It was in its case, and it was fine).

I forgot to take the loose items for the 970, and had to call John, who searched our guest room and eventually found them and brought them to us.   My 970 has been packed away for ages; I don't do videos on it because most people don't own one.  Having it out gave me a taste of how badly I want to start using it.  (Golly, I picked it up second-hand and it has every known accessory in like-new shape.)

Then the day flipped the other way up.

Knit Natters was wonderful.  We had a nice-sized group; not at our regular place and not exactly the uusual crowd, but fantastic all the same.  We had a business meeting and divvied up work so we can try our own seminar this fall.

Greta showed us fish scales on the Brother, and she's such a good teacher, she let us take turns in the chair doing a few scales ourselves.  This is a great technique, very unusual.  Greta drives over 110 miles to attend, and I am grateful to have her attending and showing us her fantastic knitting.  She is a brilliant knitter.

Rose showed us Studio lace, and I got a huge kick out of it.  Rose let us take turns in the drivers' seat, too.  By the end of the meeting we were talking about staging a "knit-in" and spending an afternoon making charity items.  We'd all have to bring our machines to Margaret's house, but she's game.

Margaret made me feel so at home,  She even fed my husband lunch!  I felt completely surrounded by love in that house.  Her beautiful teenaged son and daughter carried all my stuff to and from the car.

John and I had a good evening, watched an excellent mystery movie, and I had some lovely surprises in my emails.  My fave had photos of two adorable girls in the bulky child's raglan.  I've asked him for permission to post the picture.

After we were tucked in bed, we remembered something we forgot to do.  We put on our robes and slippers and went out into the front yard to look at the "Super Moon."  The full moon was unusually close to Earth, therefore, it was unusually large and bright.  There was a cloud cover, but in Central Texas style, it was blowing rapidly over the moon, and we watched the moon light up in between passing cloud banks with a background of our twisted Texas Halloween tree (a lot of the trees here are gnarled and twisted).  We howled softly at the moon, laughed at ourselves, and were thankful that we got to see such a wonderful sight.

Friday, March 18, 2011

All Kinds of Updates

Knit Natters

We didn't meet last weekend, so we're getting together in Pflugerville this weekend instead.  This is going to be a less-attended (based on responses so far) but good meeting.  I'm supposed to bring a dessert, so I'll bake cookies in the morning.

Rose is going to show us Studio lace, and she's bringing along supplies so we can explore Enchanted Edgings (the automatic lace I do) on the Studio after we meet. 

Greta is doing a Brother demo on the 970, I think fish scales.  Greta does beautiful work.  (Greta has fully conquered Enchanted Edgings on the 970 and has given me some suggestions for 970-izing those patterns.)

We're going to talk about holding an Austin seminar.

Colorado Machine Knitters Club Seminar

I'm doing a seminar in Broomfield, Colorado (a suburb of Denver) on April 30.  I'm excited, and I'm preparing.  I have written the seminar booklets, which are quite different from the previous ones, because the list of items the Colorado knitters asked for is a little different.  I plan to cover:

  • Circular Swirl Baby Blanket
  • Short-Rowed Set-In Sleeve
  • Decreasing Evenly Across a Row (with garter bar & math)
  • Increasing Evenly Across a Row (GB and math)
  • Knitting a Round Yoke
  • Scalloped Lace
  • Mirror Image Lace
  • Jacquard Variation: Plain on One Side, Pattern on the Other
  • Mitered Ribbing for Bands
  • Essential circular sock techniques (for flatbed machine with ribber)
In addition to the requested items, I've packed the book with extras, and I love the way it's turning out.  It's getting a critical read from folks I can trust now.

The Goldilocks Challenge Book

Yes!  Rewrites are over!  The videos are edited!  I'm in the duplication phase.  This is the cover picture, and the title plunks right on top of that blanket.  We couldn't get everything in one shot, but we certainly stuffed a lot of projects into one photo.

This project carried me along in completely unexpected directions, wearing me out, waking me up in the middle of the nights, and constantly morphing and changing.  I kept adding "one more project" to the book.  I decided I needed not only enough information included for USM beginners but enough for Japanese bulky knitters to adopt the projects as well.  I was as weird and obsessive as I've ever been, but finished, this is a really cool book/video set.  I really believe that folks with Ultimate Sweater Machines or Japanese bulky flat bed machines will go to this book over and over for gift recipes. 

I finally ended up with the following worsted-weight projects in the book:
  • Warm Scarf  (with latched "cables")
  • Warm Hat  (matches scarf, more "cables," includes a unusual latched ribbing technique)
  • Matching Mittens
  • Big, Fat Slipper Sock (a sew-as-you-go project, lots of sizes.  For this, I had to devise a work-around for the USM to short-row toes.)
  • Tam (more sew-as-you-go, lots of sizes, super cute in the baby size IMHO)
  • Short-rowed mitten (with a sew-as-you-go thumb, of all things)
  • Half Circle Shawl (with a sparkly eyelash yarn edging.  I came across an eyelash yarn my machine loves)
  • Twirl Baby Blanket (different from Circular Swirl - this one is very USM-do-able.  I finally came up with a satisfactory two-color edging for this.)
  • Baby Bootie (okay, it's just the tiniest ever Big Fat Slipper Sock.  I guess it's the Tiny Fat Slipper Sock)
  • Raglan Baby Sweater (3 sizes, buttonholes, a real learning opportunity for my beginners)
I also added a section at the back with Kitchener and mattress stitch.  There was one week when I spent my evenings squinting at my mattress stitch diagrams trying to make a better roadmap of a stitch that involves lots of threads going back and forth.

It took two DVDs to go over the minimum how-tos for both kinds of machines.  What made it so long?  Trying to make it all accessible to beginners really added to it, and then having to do things differently depending on whether it was a USM or a Japanese bulky machine was the other factor.  To get it onto two disks, it was necessary to omit a lot of procedures if they were already covered in another project.  Also, for the beginners' sakes (so many of my USMers are beginners), the projects are presented in order of difficulty in the book and there's an admonition to make them in order of difficulty. 

Other Stuff

At my office, audit fieldwork begins next week.  I think we're prepared, but there often are surprises!  We have a chart of accounts the size of the Mojave desert, so lots of places to make mistakes.  It's always a very hectic time. 

My baby Steven (okay, a big, tall baby with long shaggy hair and cowboy boots) was home this week from Texas A&M for spring break.  He spent a lot of time hanging out with friends enjoying the Austin music scene - this week is the famous South by Southwest music festival.  He's had a great time, and we've thoroughly enjoyed having him home.

As of yesterday, I haven't knitted much of anything in weeks - I just worked away on the bulky book and videos.  John did a fix that helped enormously with our video editing, which had been impeded with software problems.  I fully intend to sit down and knit something this weekend. 

I ran across an old notebook last night with machine knitting patterns I designed a long time ago and then forgot.  I also have several notebooks full of ideas I was going to try one of these days....

Ways to Improve Your Knitting - Rippit, Rippit

Sometimes you've got to frog.  rippit, rippit...

I've even heard it said that you can tell how good a knitter is by how fast she rips.  Of course you're going to get it wrong sometimes - that's why you rip and make it right.

So, none of this wimpy fear-of-unravelling, knitters! 

Machine knitters get frustrated with the difficulty of unravelling a lot of rows at once while keeping everything on the needles and in the hooks.  Here's an amazing shortcut which uses the garter bar needle stopper to make ripping amazingly painless:

Maybe you've already seen this video, but not tried for yourself.  Give this one a try!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ways to Improve Your Knitting: Do A Better Cast-Off

You may have noticed that if you do a latch-tool bind-off as shown in your machine knitting manual, you get a funny ridge.  And, if you move a stitch over, knit through, then move that over, and knit through, you get a bumpy holey edge.

There are two cast-offs that look just like smooth hand knitters' cast-offs that I do most of the time.  These are easy.  They look alike, but the fast one is used when the tension dial is set below 6 and the other one is used when the tension dial is set above 6.

The fast one is the one I refer to as "Loop-Through-A-Loop."  See this video:

The other one takes just a little longer, but is great when the garment tension setting is bigger. I call it "Transfer Tool Bind-Off, Chain Edge:"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fascinating Book, Gray Matter

Here I go again, doing a totally non-knitting post.  Warning.

I've mentioned books before, but generally restrain myself because I read several books a week, and a steady diet of book reviews would be so dull for y'all.  Besides, it's not like I'm Ms. Literature - I read a lot of books just for fun, for instance, before this, I read a murder mystery with folks being killed and buried in the basement of a creepy old house.

This week I read (if you consider listening to part of the book on my Kindle as I drive and do housework, and reading part of the book, "reading") Gray Matter by Joel Kilpatrick and David Levy, and it's worth a posting.  I highly recommend  this book!

Dr. Levy is a neurosurgeon, and the book is about the experiences he has had since he decided to incorporate praying for his patients into his surgical routines.

I've never had a doctor pray for me - have you?  Sometimes, it would sure be nice. I pray for the medical people I've encounter quite a bit.  They don't know I'm praying for them, but what can one think about when a dentist is working in your mouth, or a nurse is trying to hit a vein, or you're lying in a loud MRI machine?  I read somewhere to pray for the people who work on you, and doing that makes me feel better and hopefully blesses them.  I also like to pray (silently) for hairdressers (and probably I'm also praying that they won't wreck my hair).  That's all silent prayer.

Dr. Levy prays WITH people.  Out loud.  He has learned to do this gently, asking permission, and praying very simple prayers.  We can all learn to pray with people, and I hope I develop much more of a habit of offering to pray when appropriate.

I was fascinated by Gray Matter.  I know there are marvelous blessings from a rich prayer life, but I find a lot of books about prayer boring.  I chose this Christian book thinking it was more about medicine and the human brain and less about prayer.

The medical stories were absolutely gripping, so it was a fast read, like watching a medical drama.  However, after finishing it several days ago, Dr. Levy's book has me thinking about prayer, especially about how praying with people creates such unity and comfort.

It was also very interesting to read about what a surgeon's life is like.  I have a young friend (whom I've known since she was tiny) well on her way to being a neurosurgeon, and I kept thinking about her.  Someday she'll be spending hours and hours at a time trying not to damage delicate structures while she does an intricate repair.  Someday she'll be working on people, knowing that no matter how carefully she works, a patient could end up crippled or dead from one of these high-risk procedures.

This book also has thought-provoking stories that explore the importance of mental, spiritual and emotional well-being on physical health, for instance, the importance of being forgiving, or not  living in anger and bitterness, and how sick emotions lead to sick bodies.

Building and Maintaining a Machine Knitting Club

Knit Natters didn't meet yesterday.  The hostess, Barbara, had flu at her house and the rest of us didn't figure out another place to meet in time.

Margaret has offered to hostess next weekend at her house in Pflugerville (NE of Austin).

I have to brag a little on Barbara.  Quite a few years ago,  our local dealer (a marvelous lady, Charlotte Powell), decided to stop holding a monthly knit club meeting, and Barbara offered to hostess.  Month after month and year after year, Barbara has rearranged her life for one weekend of the month.  She has an extremely busy job and a long commute, but she rearranges her house and cleans like a dervish so we can come.  We are now using every single chair she owns, I think..

Barbara had a few fantastic ideas at the outset that came from her years of attending clubs.  First of all, everyone can talk about whatever crafts or even life at show-and-tell.  This way, we get to see Barbara's dolls or Mildred's quilts or Pat's tatting.  It adds a lot of fun.  Secondly, she knocks herself out to make a wildly fun holiday party each year.  Third, beginners are very welcome and we don't care what machine they have.  Different machines make the club more interesting.  Fourth, Passap knitters have lots going on at our club, not just Japanese knitters.

Several of us take turns coming up with demonstrations, and we are always trying to get more people to show us how to do the things they make.  For a while, it looked like our little club might die away slowly, as some of the ladies became elderly or disabled.  We were so sad to lose Mineola Grumbles, who was an inspiration to us all and knitting very actively into her late 90s, even with her eyesight almost gone.  Mineola named our group.

Then we put in the website, and I wasn't doing a great job, but at least we had something.  After that, Pat retired and started teaching all over the place (knitting, crochet, tatting, and other things, too)  and she also got very involved with a craft consignment store for seniors.  She was talking us up, and bringing us some people. I was giving a financial literacy speech one day when I met a very nice young woman who told me about how easy it is to do a blog.  I had asked her, a PR and web-marketer,  to have a  look at, and she said that it was okay as far as it went but needed current content.  A blog comes  to life with lots of posts.  Some of my blog readers have found us - but this blog is  mine, not necessarily the club's.  I love to publicize the club, but don't want them stuck with the blame for anything I do that is stupid.

We have gotten to know the ladies at the DFW guild, and we copied one of their good ideas and set up a  Yahoo group.  You wouldn't believe how easy this is to do, and it will give us the following abilities:

  • Email everyone in the group instantly
  • Keep files online - pattern directions, whatever
  • Keep photos online
  • Keep a calendar online
Our Yahoo Group is called Knit Natters, and if you're a machine  knitter in our area, well, you can join.  We'll accept folks, and if someone starts spamming or flaming, it's easy enough to drop them.  Not that you have many problems with knitters!

Our group has grown and gotten big. 

Here are things I think work to build a machine knitting club:
  • Just start.  Even if it's only two of you and you don't know each other well, set a regular day every month and get together and actually knit.
  • Find a steady location.  Of course, you can move from house to house, but there are library community rooms, senior centers, spots in churches, and lots of opportunities to find meeting places.  It really does help, though, to have a steady location.  Try to get a downstairs situation, since a lot of MKers are older people.
  • Don't have one person do everything.  Our club improves every time we get someone different to show us  how to do something different.  
  • You'd love to have a dealer involved, but your club should not exist to make money for a dealer.  Nobody should feel sales pressure.
  • Work VERY hard to avoid a snobby club.  All machines and skill levels need to be welcome.  Say it right out loud - that it's a club goal to be friendly, welcoming, and very open to beginners.  (Our beginners are awesome, by the way,  and have been very, very helpful to the club, hostessing and really pitching in.)
  • Have regular jobs for people - a club treasurer, a person in charge of refreshments, etc.  We have relied heavily on Barbara but a lot of clubs don't have a Barbara.
  • Take on charity projects, if members have any interest.  You can get publicity this way, too.  Back when our club was handled by Charlotte, the club knitted Caps for Kids and got newspaper publicity for that.
  • Get some knitting done every meeting.  This probably means that you have to yell and break up the chatting and get down to the demonstrations.
  • Do some field trips - to local yarn shops, to fiber  festivals, to craft shows.
  • Consider the feature-rich Yahoo group idea.  Have a web presence!
You can do this!  All you need is one other machine knitter, and you can grow a club from there.  

Please tell me about your club efforts!

Cute, cute cute! Inspiration at RHYTHM OF THE NEEDLES: No Lyin', I'm Knittin' a Lion!

A lion hand-puppet.

RHYTHM OF THE NEEDLES: No Lyin', I'm Knittin' a Lion!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Knitters' Math - When You Just Can't Get Gauge

Sometimes you need to convert a pattern from one gauge to another.  In other words, you want the same size garment, but you want a different number of stitches and rows to the inch or to the centimeter.  Sometimes, you have a pattern and you simply can't get the gauge - for instance, it was originally designed for some unusual yarn that can no longer be purchased.  Sometimes you have a favorite, tried-and-true pattern, and want to knit it in a different yarn and different gauge.

It's not too hard to do the math to convert from one gauge to another.  Lets's go through the basic steps!
  1. Make sure the pattern is a good, accurate pattern.  You wouldn't want to risk your time and materials on a pattern where you can't get gauge because the pattern's gauge is just incorrect. 
  2. Remember, you still need the materials you have chosen to be appropriate for the garment.  No sense converting a dainty little tank top intended to be knitted with thin yarn into a bulky yarn gauge! 
  3. Recalculate some of the critical measurements on the pattern.  For instance, I would definitely divide the stitches across the bust (front + back) by the given gauge and see if the resulting measurement makes sense.  For instance, if the pattern is 100 stitches wide and the gauge in the pattern in 5 stitches per inch for a "Size 36," then the designer was planning a garment 20" wide (100/5) in the front and 20" wide in the back - 40 inches altogether, which really is a lot of extra room.  Would you like to wear something 40" wide if you are 36" around?  Try measuring your favorite sweater.  Ever since the gone-but-not-forgotten wildly oversized sweater craze, there have been patterns floating around with 6-12" inches of ease.  I can't remember a yarn shop customer who liked more than 2" of extra room in a sweater.  Most people are surprised at how little ease they prefer.
  4. Always check the body length and sleeve length, as well.  Hand knitters can get pretty casual about those two measurements because they get in the habit of simply measuring the length from the knitting needles, but machine knitters need to know how many rows to knit.  Measuring the knitting hanging down from the machine is little better than a wild guess since the needles are yanking the knitting wider and the weights are yanking it longer. (yes, I know, I had you do that for a neck scarf, but I had you removed the weights first and it was a 6-foot scarf on a machine that doesn't come with a row counter!)  
  5. Once you're happy with your pattern, you need a good measurement of your own gauge.  Make a good-sized sample, let it rest, then block and launder it in the same way you will block and wash your finished garment, and then measure it.  I have detailed instructions for a terrific gauge swatch in the beginner video course.  Even very experienced knitters have asked me to show them how I do this swatch, which is marked with the tension dial setting and has lots of places for measuring.  Please don't try to get by with a skimpy gauge swatch!
  6. After you knit the gauge swatch, stop and think about how the fabric feels.  Is it tight enough to not be droopy?  Is it too tight and stiff?  Can you see through it?  Was it too hard to knit on that setting?  Just take a minute and make sure you'll be happy with the tension you chose.
  7. If you knit that gauge swatch, it's 40 stitches between markers and 60 rows between markers.  To get your per-inch gauge, measure the stitches in inches and then divide 40 by the measurement you get.  For instance, if you get 5-1/4", 40 / 5.25 = 7.6 stitches per inch. 
  8. Do the same thing with the rows - divide 60 rows by the number of inches between the row markers. For instance, if you get 5-1/2", 60 / 5.5 = 10.9 rows per inch.
  9. Now, if you want to convert that written pattern to YOUR gauge, use this formula:
YOUR gauge / THEIR gauge X THEIR number = YOUR number

To illustrate this formula in #7, suppose their pattern has you casting on 75 stitches and knitting 110 rows.  Their gauge is 5-1/2 stitches and 7-1/2 rows to the inch.

On the knitting machine, let's say your're getting 7 stitches and 10 rows to the inch.

Their gauge for stitches is 5.5.  Your gauge for stitches is 7.  7/5.5 = 1.27.  Take the 1.27 and multiply by the 75 stitches, and you see that you need to cast on 95 stitches instead of 75 stitches.  (Key issue:  one stitch or one row doesn't matter.  If you're going to be brave enough to do this, you will have to round to the nearest stitch).

Their gauge for rows is 7.5.  Your gauge is 10 rows.  10/7.5 = 1.33.  So instead of knitting 110 rows, you would knit 110 X 1.33 = 146 rows.  

Are you a person who prefers centimeters?  Follow these instructions, except measure in centimeters and every place I mention "inches," think "centimeters."  As a matter of fact, I prefer centimeters when the pattern I'm converting is in centimeters or when I'm working with the Knit Leader.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pistol Case / Romance / Knitting Gear

An internet knitting friend emailed me a picture of how beautifully a garter carriage fits in a plastic 4-pistol carrying case.  I already had a plastic shotgun case to tote a ribber to seminar (wow, does that work great!).  I needed something for carrying the G-carriage safely.  Once I carried my g-carriage in a shopping bag, and the bottom of the bag gave out, dumping out and damaging my g-carriage.

I remarked to my Practically Perfect Husband John one evening just before Valentine's Day that I hadn't ordered one yet, and he told me not to, that because of the shipping cost it would be cheaper to pick one up at the sporting goods store.  Then I said I better remember to drop by the sporting goods store, and he told me not to.  Finally, to keep me from buying a second case, he showed me the case, and admitted he'd already done the deed.  He was wanting some Valentines' brownie points, and I gushed all over him, of course.  He gets credit for finding something I actually will use instead of some generic heart-themed thingie.

I put the case on the kitchen island, where everything seems to land until we get our act together.  We clean this island off every few months, and in the interim, it develops a big pile of weird objects.  Some of the objects are pretty darn weird, too; right now, there's a broken electronic projector, a yarn winder, a flashlight, a pile of junk mail, some knitted samples, a few tools, scraps of paper with cryptic notes, a cardboard box, a cell phone that nobody wants, a tangle of wires and cords, and oh yes, the plastic pistol case.

Stevie came home from college on the weekend, saw the pistol case and got excited, thinking that maybe Daddy had bought Mom a target pistol for Valentines and we'd go shooting.  Steven likes to shoot, but Mom's a bit cheap.  Not that shooting isn't kind of fun, but I'd rather buy yarn than spend money on ammunition and shooting range fees.  If you buy yarn, you get a sweater; if you buy ammo, you get a loud noise.  (This is Texas - people shoot, okay? I was never going to allow my precious little boys to even have a toy gun, but after they shot each other with blocks, shoes and coat hangers, I gave that silly thought up.  Then when we moved them to Texas and their friends went shooting, well, of course they learned to shoot, too.)

Steve should have known better.  The same thing happened before, when I got the shotgun case - he got excited, thought I'd bought a shotgun, when it was only a case to carry my ribber.

Hmm. I suppose I could really drive him nuts by finding a knitting use for clay pigeons.  Do you suppose I could block tams over one?

On knit club day, I took the pistol case to Show And Tell.  I held it up and explained what a great garter carriage box a 4-pistol case makes.  General consensus:  this is a perfectly romantic gift for the garter carriage loving spouse.
Later, I was catching up my business checkbook and there it was, the charge for the case.  John, who runs around with a debit card for my business checkbook, mostly paying for postage when people order knitting books, figured it was a knitting-seminar-related expense and put it on my business account.

Oh.  So I paid for it myself...drains a bit of the romance out of it, doesn't it?  But then again, one of the joys of being an old, cozy couple (36 years) is you get to be practical.  For instance, we actually had a chocolate discussion this Valentines - we weren't going to have chocolate in the house and all those extra calories unless it was the agreed-upon Good Stuff.  Plus, anytime my man actually pays attention to the genuine me, it's romantic, right?  And, wouldn't it get him into the doghouse with me if he bought something useful for the business and didn't use the business checkbook?
And look what a great garter carriage case it is!  Even when I don't carry it around, my GC is all nestled in foam inside a very sturdy box.  This way, nothing nasty happens to my precious GC when I have to transport it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cheap Prescriptions

I'm having dental work, and needed some prescriptions. I dropped the scrips off at WalMart Friday because I needed a few items there anyway, and Saturday, I picked up the filled prescriptions at the WalMart pharmacy drive-through.

I only paid $4 for each prescription drug..  These were common, generic drugs.  I didn't use my health insurance plan, either, since they were less than the drug co-pay. I don't normally use their pharmacy, and I asked about these prices.  She gave me a big list of all the WalMart generic drug prices.  I was surprised that WalMart still has this cheap pricing on so many drugs.

Last time we needed an antibiotic, a doctor prescribed the same one for my son, and it cost a lot more!  I'm sending him to WalMart next time!

Inspiration at Roz's Loft

Woven, beaded bags:

Such beautiful work!