Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Here's my review of the one pom-pom maker I've ever tried that I actually liked. In fact, it's such a big time-saver that I had to go to the store to buy the other sizes!

I've finally given up the crummy wind-around-cardboard method I learned from my mom when I was a little kid.

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Videos Today

Remember the golf club covers?  Well, they were fairly fast and easy, and by the time I made three sets of three covers apiece to auction off for charity, I had them down to a routine, so I filmed one of the last ones I knitted.  Yesterday, as I was going through some video that I haven't released yet (I actually have three items, this one, a pom-pom maker one, and one my husband did) I decided to get this edited and up, thinking it was a fun little project y'all might enjoy.

Surprise, surprise!  Until I started editing, I didn't realize that this video is quite educational, including some techniques I have never shown on video before.  I had to go a little bit fast to get it into 2 ten minute You Tube videos.  Note that I didn't use numbers in the machine's memory - I worked them out and put them in the console using the "input" keys.  I hold up my messy printout at one point and you can see where I changed the pattern numbers and added or removed a stitch.  I know, another video one day. 

In these videos, you'll find the following techniques:

1.  1x1 ribbing with a traditional cast-on and on a bulky so you can see it easily.  Now this, I've shown how to do before, but you do need it for the covers.

2.  Stripes where I just feed in another color for one row.  Not exactly an advanced technique, but a great way to dress up a project.

3.  Single motif fair isle!  As I was editing this video, I thought about all the times folks have asked me to demonstrate this, and here it is.  I think I do a pretty good job of showing how to wrap the motif to avoid holes.

4.  A garter bar decreasing technique for the tops that creates a smooth, rounded "crown."  I know, it's only golf club covers, but I wanted the tops to look great.  This is just what you need to watch if you want to do hats with this hand-knit-look crown. 

Here's the number chart - be sure to set the left-to-right reverse variation.

Video #1 of 2:

Video #2 of 2:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My UFO Confession

I bet for every UFO I have, there's a reason - maybe even a good reason that it is unfinished.

I have an unfinished beige sweater that is going to be a beautiful handknit sweater if I finish it, but it will look terrible on me.  I can't wear that color; I'm so beige myself that I will look like a big beige blob.  I ordered the yarn from a small swatch and didn't think it through properly.

I have an unfinished forest green (great color) chenille handknit jacket that is going to be too small. Heck, it was probably going to be too small when I started it.  It doesn't want to unravel; the yarn wants to shred if I try to unravel it.

Last week, when I was working on the golf club covers (three good sets is enough for a while; that's 9 covers) I made some that aren't quite right.  Now a new, tougher Diana is emerging:

I threw them in the trash.

What?  You threw something in the trash!  How shocking, you might say.  Someone could use it!  It's probably better than you think!

Darn right I threw it in the trash!  Here's my new, tough-old-bird thought process:

1.  Removing the embroidery would have shredded the yarn so that it wouldn't unravel decently.  It would have taken a while, too, and my time is valuable.

2.  They aren't right.  I don't like them.  If I finish them anyway, I don't have a recipient in mind.  I don't know a golfer who would want a goofy-looking, not-quite-right set of golf club socks.  (If they were a little better, I'd have stuck them, unfinished, in the Goodwill box.  Maybe then someone else would enjoy finishing and using them, but they weren't up to snuff.  Putting trash in the GW box is very bad form.)

3.  When you make up something new and creative, making a poor sample along the way is absolutely normal.  Certainly, you try to solve the problems with swatching, but sometimes there's still an ugly surprise.  That's one of the great things about machine knitting - you don't have a week or a month invested.  You can play, explore, and make mistakes.  If you want to create really terrific items, you need to make some duds on the way.  (I hear there's a similar sentiment about kissing frogs, but I digress.)

4.  It's so liberating, so stimulating to move on!  There are other projects in the offing, wonderful creative things.  I have a sneaking suspicion that part of creativity is the ruthlessness necessary to THROW THE LOUSY THING OUT.  And move on.  I'm so over you, bad covers, because I finally made good covers!  When I was struggling to finish Diamonds, my sweet friend Greta said I wouldn't be able to do any other creative work until I finished the book, and she was absolutely right.  A piece of me was bogged down until I finished and could actually move on.

5.  Seeing your UFO sitting there makes you feel badly, and you don't deserve it.  Look at #3 - when creating and learning, mistakes are absolutely normal.  So why keep the mistakes forever?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Video - Ribbed Lilac Baby Blanket

Here is the video showing exactly how to make the ribbed lilac baby blanket that I showed on the blog a few weeks ago:

And, the photo of the finished baby blanket:

Note:  I washed the blanket in the washing machine on gentle, without soap, then tumbled it dry with only a scrap of a dryer sheet before I took it to the baby shower.  It was passed around the room and everyone was exclaiming over how very soft it was.  That settles it - from now on, I'm laundering all my acrylic gift afghans.  This turned out as soft as a kitty.

"Knit In"

The Knit Natters are planning a "knit-in" for August.  We are going to a spend a whole day (second Saturday, as usual) at a local church knitting and sewing up slippers for the troops.

It has become clear that warm slippers are our Afghanistan troops favorite knitted item.  It's cold there at night.

If anyone would like to participate, go to our Yahoo Group, knitnatters, and join up.  It's not difficult, and you'll get all our chatter about Central Texas MK.

UPDATE:  The golf covers were bundled with two golf packages they were selling at live auction last night.  They had a UT package and an A&M package, complete with school-colors coolers, and my club covers were a natural fit.  They got several hundred dollars for each package, and it was fun to be involved in that.  I got to talk to one of the couples who got a set, and he's an avid golfer and going to use them today.  These fundraisers are a blast, anyway!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Golf Club Covers

I am attending a fundraiser-party for the local Boy Scout Council (where I work), and I've volunteered to help out with check-in and check-out.  This is an extremely fun event, with all kinds of raffles, games, silent auction items, and even a live auction with extremely cool items.

The party is this evening, and I can't spend a lot of time on a blog entry.

I made more club covers for this fundraiser's silent auction, since I was so encouraged by the amount the other set raised for accounting scholarships.  I went with the local rival school colors, of course, and had a great time with my new Clover pom-pom maker.  I sewed small velvety cowboy hats to the maroon ones, going for that Texas flavor.  My little hat bands repeat the maroon/white/black colors.  I tried different ways of making a hatband but finally settled on simply twisting the yarn.

Visit Ozlorna

Ozlorna's blog has gotten quite active and there are lots of pretty things and interesting posts over there.  Visit!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stuck Buttons on Brother 270

On the Brother 260 and 270, the fair isle button should push down by itself, or for thread lace, you push in both buttons instead.  On my 270 last week, I discovered that the fair isle button couldn't depress by itself - it took the thread lace button with it, and I couldn't make fair isle; I could only make thread lace.

I've seen this problem before, on other peoples' carriages.  See both buttons depressed?  This is all it would do - no fair isle, just thread lace.

First, I clicked on the buttons over and over and tried holding the cams on the back while popping buttons to see if I could get it to loosen up.  Then I took it to John.

John played with a while, cleaning it out and lubricating it, with no success.  Before setting it aside, he gave it a shot of penetrating oil -
He used the skinny straw applicator to get the oil in between the two buttons, then set the carriage aside and told me he'd have to disassemble it later, when he got time, because the two buttons were still stuck together.  We hurried off to the benefit event we had, and then today, I had knit club.

When I got home from knit club, I saw the carriage sitting on the kitchen counter and idly punched in the button - just wondering if John had gotten a chance to work on it.  Yes!  The button is working again!  John told me he never did work on it, but the penetrating oil simply took a while to loosen it up.  And here it is, capable of fair isle again with just the top button depressed:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Golf Club Covers

The Austin CPA Chapter has a scholarship fundraiser tomorrow night, and I asked one of those young, handsome Scouter guys at work what I could take to the silent auction.  He knows I knit, and he suggested I knit golf club covers.  I asked what they should look like, and he said they should be loud and crazy with pom-poms, in a set of three.  He said silent auctions often have too many tempting items for the ladies and some mens' items are needed.

So - I whipped these simple ones out.  I bought burnt orange colored yarn because I wanted to do UT colors.  We have some avid UT alums and fans who golf.  Not that "Hook em!" is a good motto for a golfer.  :)

I have some Texas A&M colors, too, which are left over from Steven's sweater, but I'm out of time.  This is Austin, and lots of our CPAs are from UT here in town.

Here's the "recipe:"  Using worsted weight yarn, on my Brother bulky, I cast on and knit 56 rows of ribbing on tension 2.  I transferred all the stitches to the main bed, then knitted on tension 6 about 30 rows, including the stripes.  Then I shaped the tops by decreasing with my garter bar - move 5 stitches over by one (using my garter bar decrease method) so there are 4 stitches, then a decrease, all across; knit 2 rows, then decrease in groups of 4 on across; knit 2 rows, then decrease in groups of 3; knit 2 rows, then decrease in groups of 2 so every stitch except the two end ones are doubled up.  Knit 2 rows, cut a long end and use a needle to pull it through the open loops.

To sew up, sew through the open loops at the top twice and pull up tight, then mattress stitch down the side.  Hide ends.  Add goofy pom-pom. 

By the time I did the fourth one (my prototype is quite fun, in self-striping yarn, but not the UT theme I had in mind for the party), I was knocking them out in 20 minutes, and I'm not a very fast knitter.  Of course, that's not counting the sewing job or making the pom-poms.

UPDATE:  The covers sold at the party, at a good price.  I'm sure they appealed to the bidders because of the Longhorn colors.  I could use school colors without violating trademark rights and make a UT fan/golfer happy.  Now I need to knit more for another benefit party, and I plan to make both UT and A&M ones this time, and have an idea or two to embellish them and make them even more fun.

I broke down and bought a pom pom maker at Hobby Lobby that I hope is easier to use than my folded cardboard method.

The stripes, by the way, indicate which club you put them on.  With them marked, you don't have to pull them all off to find the right club.

Monday, May 7, 2012

NEW - Diana's Shaped Entrelac Book "Wear Your Diamonds"

Lots of machine knitters have realized that Entrelac is easy to do on the machine.  All you need is a sensible, straightforward method and you're off and running.  In fact, Entrelac is habit-forming!

If you love round yoke pullovers, this book is for you.  The round yokes are shaped Entrelac, easily made by changing the size of the blocks.  They are knitted using a seamless technique and waste yarn.  The only triangles you have to do are at the top and bottom of the yoke.  For most of the yoke, you only have to deal with a few needles in the center of the machine at a time!  And, there is very, very little counting. 

The yokes are knitted first, starting with waste yarn, and then the body pieces are knitting working from the yoke down the sleeve or down the body to the hem.  There is a special technique to make a beautiful transition from stockinette stitch to Entrelac.  It's easy and it looks terrific, even up close, even though the Entrelac diamonds are a radically different gauge from the stockinette sleeves and body. 

The book contains both mid-gauge and bulky gauges and sizes for children, women and men.  The sizes run from a child's 4 to a man's 48, limited only by the number of needles on a machine.  To make it easier to follow a size, the book contains  colored size charts.  Find your gauge, then find your size, and it's easy to follow your column by looking for the color. 
The book also contains shaped Entrelac hats - an easy introduction to the technique.  These are great-looking, warm hats with an excellent smooth crown technique to join the Entrelac blocks beautifully at the top of the head.   These also come in sizes for children and adults in both mid-gauge and bulky gauges. 

Keeping to our commitment to quality products and no skimpy instructions, the set also includes detailed narrative instructions, lots of color photos, and a DVD with detailed, close-up video of how to knit these.
Why the DVD?  Well, our customers have been very emphatic that DVDs are tremendously helpful for following machine knitting instructions and techniques.  DVDs work.  We can put a tremendous amount of information on one 2-hour DVD, and we do!  This one not only shows how to knit the hat and the yoke, it shows the sweater shaping and ribbing finishing.  There is even an extra section about how to knit ribbing successfully - without a ribber - at the END of a knitted piece.

SPECIAL DEAL:  Don't you think there ought to be a special, since we usually do one when we introduce a new item?  Well, let's have one!  Since Diana recently taught at two seminars, there are some nice goodies left.  With any purchase of "Wear Your Diamonds," we'll send along the Diana's Favorite Demos disk or the Triangle Machine Knitters handout booklet - your choice.  Let us know which one you'd like.  This is just until we run out of disks and books...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Little Knitting - Lilac Bulky Baby Blanket

I need a baby gift for a "civilian" (non-knitting) friend.  It won't spoil her surprise to put it on the blog, since hardly any of my civilian friends read it.

My friends know that I knit, and they generally hope for something hand-made on special occasions, although I have no idea how this gal feels about it.  I hedged my bets by getting something off her baby registry as well.  With baby's sensitive skin in mind, I laundered the blanket with no soap and tumbled it dry, softening it incredibly.  This is just at "Pound of Love Yarn," which I purchased with something else in mind.

I was looking for a rather plain pattern in a thick, soft blanket and made this variation on my old "Luxury Throw."  It's all English rib, and the stripes are English Rib on the front and then English Rib on the back.  This makes it completely reversible, flat, and no gaping holes for baby fingers and toes to catch.

There are lots of projects in my mental hopper, but this weekend was a catch-up weekend after being out of town, and I have non-knitting obligations today.  Isn't it great to squeeze in a little project amid the busy-ness? 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm Back

We got home late Saturday from the Triangle Machine Knitters seminar, and Sunday was busy with all that weekend stuff - necessaries like attending church and buying groceries.  I had to do a long de-briefing with John and tell him blow-by-blow how much I loved going to Raleigh, and believe it or not, the dear man likes listening to all that talk.  How going to knit seminar is like having a whole roomful of instant friends, so that it's sad to leave, what worked and what didn't, and what a wonderful time I had on this particular seminar.  

I went promptly back to work on Monday, and what a busy week this has been! On my day job, I'm working on a number of terrific projects and feeling useful.

Now the dust has really settled and I'm pretty much back to my old routine.  I'm not worn out from seminar, not frantic, and most of the things I didn't do while I was getting ready to go and while I was gone are caught up! 

One thing to do pretty darn soon is advertise "Wear Your Diamonds" - list it for sale on the blog and on eBay.  This shaped Entrelac is SUCH an easy machine knitter's technique and yet looks so fancy!  Just making little blocks...hum de dum...and I did the math to turn the little blocks into round yokes for sweaters.  It actually is a very boring demo at seminar.  Too simple.  I like knitting it while listening to audio books, it's that mindless. 

The Diamonds books were pretty well-received at the two seminars, and it'll be fun to see how my mail order customers like Diamonds.

We have a Knit Natters club meeting coming up on the second Saturday of May.  Suzanne and Margareth are doing demos - one is machine maintenance and the other, crochet. 

John and I are trying to rent out our recently vacated townhouse in Huntington Beach. My sister Sharon, who lives nearby, is showing the place for us to lots of interested people.  It's a 2-bedroom cute little condo (houses there are much smaller for the money than they are here) on a marina with a good-sized boat slip and a nice garage. A couple of years ago my sister looked at the small patio fountain and decided that rather than have it run constantly, it'd make a pretty fish pond. She reports the fish are still doing fine after two years, and the water lily is blooming!  Sharon knows how to make a self-sustaining fishpond and always has pretty Koi and water plants. 

Phil is Knit Weaving

Great post -

Baby variation on my English Rib child's sweater

It's over at Marzipan - nice idea - good photos, too.