Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twelve Free Videos from 2013

In past years, I picked out the best blog posts of the year and ran a list on New Year's Eve.  This year, I challenged myself to do a technique video every month, and the videos are by far the most popular posts.  Here are the twelve videos of 2013:
  1. January:  Twisted Fringe Video.   I love this fringe, which hangs nicely and doesn't have yarn ends to fray.
  2. February:  Video on set in sleeve, knitted upside-down using short-rowing.
  3. March:  make a cute Machine Knitted Bunny!  Nope, not difficult; it's just a square of knitted fabric and a little sewing.
  4. April:  Learn knit-side grafted seams with this video.  You can Kitchener from the purl side or the knit side, and sometimes you need to do it from the knit side.
  5. May:  Figure-8 cast-on and graft video.  Here's a stretchy cast-on.
  6. June:  New video, Tam Take Two, showing how you can use sew-as-you-go to make these cute pinwheel hats much more easily.
  7. July:  Make vertical, ribbed buttonholes following this easy video lesson.  This is my favorite buttonhole because it looks so tidy and neat.
  8. August:  The August video was floatless, vertical fair isle.  You can have several colors and textures in work at once!
  9. September:  The September technique video, one of the most popular of the year, shows how to join afghan panels using a contrasting-colored cable. 
  10. October:  Lattice Lace on the Silver Reed machine video teaches a pretty, lacy stitch that "ripples" and knits up very quickly!
  11. November:  The Helix Cable looks quite fancy, but is fast and easy to knit. 
  12. December:  Fingerless Mitt Video, using English Rib to make a thick, quick and practical gift item. 
As of today, I have 160 free MK videos over at my YouTube channel, some great, some primitive (I left my original, clunky beginner lessons up, even though we redid them all in high-definition, using what we learned, for the DVD products we sell).  This is a body of MK work unlike anything anyone else has done, unless they were running a paid subscription site.  I currently have over 2 million views and over 5,000 subscribers, but I get the most excited about the people I have taught to machine knit. 

My husband John says I really must keep on doing the monthly video, and I'm planning to try in 2014. 

Want to catch all the new free videos in 2014?   Click here and "subscribe," and you'll be able to grab 'em as they come out.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Current Project - Don't bother reading if computers aren't interesting to you

Originally, we wanted to travel on the days off we have right now, but that didn't work out, so I made a "wish list" of things I'd like to finish.  One of the things on my list was to redo my laptop - that is, install a solid state disk drive, a fresh copy of windows, and organize my files.

I have given a lot of computers at work a new lease on life (and greatly enhanced speed) by installling SSDs. A person with some computer background can do this fairly easily.

I did most of this one yesterday. Of course, since I was taking the hard drive out of the laptop and replacing it, I could have put it in a hard drive enclosure and gotten my files that way.  However, I thought it was a good idea to copy all my files to a standalone drive that we use for my knitting stuff, just for a good backup, so I did that.

I made one smart decision - I copied all the device drivers in the Windows driver directories onto my expansion drive, which saved me some time later.

Next step was to replace the hard drive with the SSD.  I had already purchased it, and it was sitting here for several weeks, waiting for me to not need the laptop at my office and to find time to do the entire job.  Since SSDs are the right size for laptops, the bracket that came with it wasn't necessary.  You need the bracket if you're putting an SSD into a desktop computer.

SSDs are kind of expensive.  I watch for sales - I like to get a 256GB one for under $200.  I prefer at least that much space, and I like Samsung, Crucial, and Corsair brands.

Next job - reinstall Windows 7, and make sure all the devices have good drivers.  Several of mine didn't (this is a 2-year-old Sony), so did the "Update Driver" process, having the system look in that copy I made of the driver directories.  After that, I reinstalled all the other necessary software, including Adobe, Office, a virus checker, QuickBooks.  Finally, I copied my files over and organized them a little better.  QB took a long time to install, and Windows did a bunch of updates.

Important note:  If you have Design-A-Knit, you should check with your DAK reseller and get instructions on how to uninstall and reinstall it when you redo your computer.  If you don't do it correctly, I understand you can lose a "life," which is what they call your rights to use the copy, part of their copy-protection system for DAK. 

So - how'd I do?  It isn't booting faster yet, because it keeps installing Microsoft updates, but that should stop soon.  I am thrilled, though, with the improvement in QuickBooks, which was taking a few seconds to record each transaction before I installed the SSD - now, the wait is gone.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Joy on Christmas Eve

For me, Christmas is a beautiful holiday filled with sweet memories and spiritual meaning, I hope that whatever you believe and whatever you celebrate, that this year you experience a wonderful, joyful holiday season.

This Christmas, I have so much to be grateful for!  God has done wonderful things for me, scooping me up as a teenager who was depressed and felt unloved (incorrectly) and changing my life forever in just about every way that matters by introducing me to Jesus Christ. 

45 years later, I'm still in good health, productive, and so happy with my wonderful husband John (we've been marred 39 years as of December 21).  Our two sons have both recently acquired new jobs, much better situations. I confess I let myself worry too much about them struggling in this poor economy this last year. 

I work for a nonprofit Boy Scout council that provides "mountaintop" experiences for youngsters while teaching them values and skills that equip them to be happy, successful adults.  I'm always seeing fantastic examples of this; just three weeks ago, I shook hands with a 14-year-old Eagle Scout who saved a young father's life.

Plenty of people don't agree with the values of Christianity or of the Boy Scouting tradition, but I live in a free country where I can worship in my own way and work for this nonprofit that has done so much for my own children.

I need to thank you readers, especially, that I get to share my machine knitting hobby with all of you and make such amazing friends!   This year, I put up 12 new demonstration videos, almost like my own virtual machine knitting club with a monthly exploration, taught five seminars, wrote two new knitting books, and filmed the videos to go with them.  Nearly every day, I answered emails from knitters who sent photos, asked intriguing questions, and provided dozens of great knitting ideas.

The last couple of years I posted a link to a chapter of Luke each day of December up through December 25th, but this year I failed to get that organized.  Today, I thought I'd share a couple of things that I enjoyed, just sitting back and considering the meaning of Christmas.  First of all, here's a message (from my pastor last Sunday) called "The Magic of Christmas," in which he draws lessons from the experience of Mary and Joseph that we can apply to our own lives:

http://mediaplayer.hcbc.com/sermon/the-magic-of-christmas-1360

And matching up to that, here's a YouTube that I found with nativity movie clips and Josh Groban singing "O Holy Night." 



The Sullivans wish you all a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ssssssh....Another gift idea, this one sewn, not knitted

Many of my knitting friends have met my husband John, who does so many things to keep my machine knitting work going and to assist my customers.  So don't tell him what I made him for Christmas, okay?  I'll tell my readers just in case you can use this idea for someone in your life, but John doesn't normally read this blog, it's two days to Christmas, and I think I can get away with it.

In the evenings, we often sit on the couch in our den (near a large, drafty window) and watch TV for about an hour, wrapped in our fleece throws.  Afghans are wonderful, but these are bang-around, let the dog climb up, warm throws that get laundered fairly often.  After they're worn, they go in the trunk for an emergency or get folded for a washable doggie bed.

I've bought quite a few of them over the years, but many of them were thin and cheesy, and some were just too small.  The typical fleece throw is 50" x 60", which is skimpy for even an average-height female.  I'm 65" tall, so 60" is not enough to tuck around my feet and also pull up over my shoulders.  They're 'way too short for most guys; even my sons, who don't use a throw much, have grumbled that most throws are too small.

I went to JoAnn's and bought their best printed fleece.  It's expensive, but with a special and a Wednesday senior discount, I was very pleased with my bargain.  My friend likes to watch for fleece on sale at Hancock's too.  It comes in a 60" width.  I purchased 3 yards each of two prints, so I had two 9-foot by 5-foot pieces.  I made humongous fleece throws with a big pocket across the bottom to keep feet warm.

Here's the general procedure: 

I started by trimming away the selvedge edges and straightening the ends. 

With the fleece prints I used, it was difficult to tell the right from the wrong side.  They look nice on both sides!  I finally decided that one side had a darker, clearer print.  Keeping track of the right side, I folded over the short end about 3/4" for a hem (wrong sides together) and zigzagged that down, putting in a wide zigzag that fully covered the raw edge.  Then I pinned that same edge, right sides together, to form a 24" pocket and sewed down each side, using a straight stitch, about 3/4" from the edge.  I triple-stitched these seams, since they'll get some stress.  Then I flipped the pocket right-side out and poked the corners out so they'd be square.  Next, I pinned around that whole pocket edge and sewed about 3/4" from the edge in the wide zigzag, then continued on sewing a hem with the zigzag all around the blanket to finish it neatly.  The sewing part of the job took me about an hour for each throw.

Finished size is a little less than 5 feet wide by 7 feet long.  If that turns out to be too long, I can always trim off some and re-hem the plain end.

I made a mental list of things that made the thick, stretchy fleece easier to sew.  With such a big piece, you'll want to try not to stretch it or have its weight pulling the work one way or another.  I needed to keep moving the fabric around on my sewing surface.  Secondly, pinning is quite worthwhile to keep the edges matched up.  Pinning also helped when I topstitched over around that pocket edge at the bottom.  By pinning, I could keep the seam at the edge, not pulled toward the top or bottom, and I even pinned the folded edge to keep the fold from moving.  Another thing I noticed was that the fleece was easier to sew if I used at least a medium stitch length.  It's fuzzy, and the sewing machine doesn't pull it through quite as easily as a smooth fabric. 

If you don't sew:  my friend makes fleece throws by simply fringing the edges using a rotary cutter, mat, and quilter's slotted cutting guide.  I don't know why you couldn't tie the "fringe" to make a pocket; she does that to make matching pillows.

Wow! Two Million!

I feel like a million bucks because I have just recently reached 2 million YouTube views.  All my videos are about machine knitting, free demos and lessons, so I guess we're still a lively hobby, even if we are a smaller group than in the old days.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Seeking Fabulous Gift Ideas

Even with Christmas day so fast approaching, there may yet be a few folks who are just difficult gift targets.  Sometimes a handmade gift is the best for that person.

We knit for people so they can have cool things that can't be bought in the stores.  We also knit for people so they'll experience the joy that someone loved them enough to take time for them. 

Yesterday, I attended the annual Knit Natters holiday party, and I saw LOTS of great gift ideas from my girlfriends:
  • Jars of homemade hot cocoa mix and homemade spiced tea.
  • A beautiful dropped-stitch scarf
  • Handknit ruffle scarves
  • A glass Christmas-tree shaped jar filled with little balls of yarn
  • A beautiful multi-colored afghan
  • Fingerless gloves
  • An embroidered sweatshirt (with a snowman and the words, "All my friends are flakes"
Also, through this blog and my MK correspondence, I get great gift ideas from friends on the internet!   Here's one:  Heidi sent me a photo of my bulky lined slipper pattern made up and then stitched to a Boye slipper bottom.   These slipper bottoms are sturdy and insulated, so you can make slippers that are warm (Heidi lives in Minnesota) plus hold up to daily wear.

I try to do a lot of gift ideas on the blog, and try to link to them in December.  Here are a few knitted gift instructions from previous blog posts:

I wrote out instructions for Knitting a Necklace.  Also, here are some project videos that I thought would make great, fast gifts in a pinch:  child's sweater, bulky lined slippers, very quick afghan, warm child's hat, socks, hand knit dishcloth, felted slipper, and mitten.

Got last-minute gift ideas to share?  Please put them in the comments, or email me information, and I'll post them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Earflap Hats

I drew a name in a Secret Santa gift exchange, and the instructions said to keep the cost down, and that humorous gifts were appreciated.

After last year's gift exchange, I have a fairly good idea what kinds of gifts people gave.  My recipient is outdoors a great deal (and lately, it's been quite cold here  - we do get a bit of winter).  With that in mind, and seeing these hats everywhere I go, I decided to do an earflap hat.

Since I don't know my recipient well enough to know if he'd find a monkey hat, mouse hat, or some other goofy hat funny, I decided to just make a warm fair isle hat.  The darker one is for him - the colors are more muted and masculine than they look in the picture. 

These don't look like they'd fit well, but they do.  I should get a wig stand or something just for photographing hats!

I spent quite a bit of time making the pattern, made a dark-colored one, then tweaked the pattern a little more and made another from some interesting space-dyed yarn I had, using a space-dyed beige/gray as the secondary color and a space-dyed blue/green as the main color.

These are just Stitch World fair isle patterns, #75 and #80 from SW#3.  Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever made anything with these two charts before!  The yarn is a fingering weight, about a 2/12, and they're wool.  The pattern is good but not finished - I have a couple of things I want to change still.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

And, Now, a Message to Our Loved Ones... Gift Ideas for Machine Knitters!

Let us have a short pause in the machine knitting obsession for the sake of our dear ones.  These beloved individuals are searching, at this very moment, for fabulous gift ideas for the adorable machine knitter in their life.

This post is for you, dearly loved machine-knitting friends and family.  If your machine knitting maven has printed and clipped it out for you, left it under your pillow, or taped it to the fridge with a note that your favorite dessert is on the middle shelf, take the hint, okay?

These are the gift items that machine knitters long for:

1.  Luxury yarn - wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk...while it's in the skein, your knitter will pet it gently for comfort after a tough day.  When it's knitted up, we'll hug it close and remember what a lovely person gave us this luscious yarn.  Perhaps your knitting sweetie has an allergy or a color obsession, and your kind attention to those issues will come to mind as your adored knitter whips up a plummy bamboo scarf that is SO "her."  Do you find choosing a good yarn daunting - you could get a gift certificate to a favorite fiber store.

2.  Knitting area enhancements...cubbies and cone trees for yarn; shelves for books, holders for magazines, pegboard for parts, totes and trays for hand tools.  How about an umbrella stand to hold cast-on combs and sponge bars?  How about a comfortable, adjustable rolling chair?  How about a nifty magnifying lamp?

3.  Light your knitter's eyes up with an awesome accessory for his or her favorite machine.  Yes, this is just a bit more difficult, but all you have to do is ask a few questions.  Maybe the most-wanted item is a garter carriage for a Brother or an electronic lace carriage for a Studio.  Maybe it's a motor, or a color changer, or garter bar, or transfer carriage, or an electric yarn winder.   Yes, you need one that fits the correct machine, but a good dealer can help you with that.

4.  A subscription to a machine knitting magazine is always welcome!  Whether it's online or in print, your knitter will find something great in every issue.  Consider Knitter's Edge (online), Machine Knitting Monthly (print), or Country Knitting of Maine (print).    UPDATE & CORRECTION:  Go to Knit It Now, not Knitter's Edge, as BJ has reminded me they are no longer current.  I was thinking Knit It Now, and typed Knitter's Edge!

5.  Consider providing your knitter with a trip to a great knitting seminar!  Here are some of the best...The Knit Knack Shop's Spring Fling, Monroe Area Machine Knitters, Pacifically Passap, and Fingerlakes Machine Knitting Seminar.   By the way, my 2014 seminar commitments so far are Knit Knack's Spring Fling, the Minnesota seminar, and Fingerlakes.

6.   A personal touch is cost nothing but is always greatly appreciated!  How about a few hours of babysitting, elder sitting, some casserole for the fridge, or some other assistance so your knitter can find a little time to knit.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December's Video: Fingerless Mitts

Every month in 2013, I put up a machine knitting video, and for December, I wanted to make a video of a nice gift that you can knit - something that doesn't take too much time or money, but people on your list will appreciate/

So here's my video, teaching a fingerless mitt.  I am an accountant, and we office workers often sit still in our offices, typing on the computer, and getting cold fingers.  These are ideal for that!

This takes less than one skein (under 50 grams) of fingering weight yarn.  Since this doesn't take much yarn, why not use the very best, softest yarn you can find?  Wouldn't these be great in cashmere blend, or perhaps baby alpaca?  I was digging through my yarn stash myself - somewhere, I've got some 50% wool/50% cashmere yarn, just a little bit left on the cone after another project, that I think would make a luxurious pair.

So far, I've made three pair, using 75% superwash wool/25% nylon self-striping sock yarn, machine washable stuff.  I had a few orphan skeins I bought on sale that are buttery soft and quite colorful. It's always fun to knit up self-striping yarns and see how the colors look.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GIVING TUESDAY - A Charity Near and Dear to My Heart


We had "Black Friday," "Cyber Monday," and today is "Giving Tuesday!"

I've never made an appeal like this, and this is mostly for local folks, but those of you who know me know that I work as a controller for a Boy Scout council.  My job is to make sure money is handled wisely, that overhead is kept to a minimum, and that donor gifts go to help children. 

I am especially proud that our council provides uniforms, supplies and excellent curricula to a lot of at-risk Central Texas kids whose families couldn't otherwise afford to participate.  I have personally talked to kids who got to hike Philmont because of Scouting, but whose families could never afford to take them to the country.  I shook hands with brothers who are now attending college, who didn't realize it was an option until getting information from their Scout leaders.  Tonight, I'll get to meet our latest local lifesaving Scout, a teen who provided critical first aid to a man injured in a terrible motorcycle wreck.

While all sorts of charities are asking you to give in December for a 2013 tax deduction, seriously consider Souting.  You can be confident that Scouting actually changes lives - permanently. 

Take part in #GivingTuesday by giving to a year-round program that changes kids’ lives for the better, and helps them succeed in life. Visit http://www.bsacac.org/givingtuesday to learn more and give.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Knitting a Bit - Mobius Scarf

This weekend has been so hectic, and so fun, that it wasn't until yesterday that I got any time at all to knit, and that was interspersed with listening to my son and his buddy watching the remarkable college football games, cooking, doing chores, filling orders (the Black Friday special's still on), buying groceries, and the kind of what-have-you activities that make one wonder, "Where did the weekend go?"  This wasn't conducive to working on my current "Fabled Cables" projects.

I decided to knit something smaller and faster late in the afternoon.  I have far more ideas for knitting than I ever seem to have time to knit, but I have been thinking about a really good Mobius scarf for a while.  I had made a bunch of them quite a few years ago, but never was really satisfied with them.

One of my readers wrote me about grafting ribbing, and he said he'd been able to do a good job grafting knit one, purl one ribbing by putting the stitches on knitting needles (instead of waste yarn) and doing it that way.  That got me to thinking about an invisibly grafted Mobius scarf.

My best Mobius scarf so far is really good sock yarn, about 100 grams, knit 5, purl 5 over 110 stitches, 225 rows begun and ended with waste yarn, then twisted once and grafted as invisibly as I could.  This was done on the standard gauge machine at tension 8.1, both main bed and ribber, and you have to get things adjusted well so that all the stitches always knit off - just enough weight, and smooth-feeding yarn at a fairly loose tension.  I made three of them before I was fairly happy, sewing them up as the guys yelled at the TV. 



 
Here's how the scarf looks, first around the neck as a cowl and then pulled up to keep neck and ears warm.  

You could block the knit 5, purl 5 flatter, but mine, following the natural roll of the knitting, gathers up almost double and is quite thick.

There's one problem, at least for now.  While I finally managed an excellent, nearly invisible graft. visible in the macro picture as the lightest row in the middle of the photo, I haven't figured out how I'll film and teach the technique.   I have a few ideas, but I'll have to experiment.  It probably needs to be taught using bulky yarn and having a single row of thread or ravel cord as a "guide line" to follow as you sew.

Perhaps this can be my December video, perhaps not - we'll see.





Saturday, November 30, 2013

UPDATE - BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL

I've had a few emails asking whether Our Black Friday special, a free seminar book with any order, is still on.  We've had a good response, but we still have books and you can still get the special. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIANA'S BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL

Did you have a lovely Thanksgiving?  We did, and as I think about it, I am very, very thankful for YOU.  Thanks for reading this blog!  Thanks for watching my videos!  Thanks for the photos of projects!  Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!  Thanks for giving me a little knitting business and the opportunity to meet and hug so many wonderful knitters. 

Most of all, thanks for your enthusiasm, creativity and energy for this wonderful art of machine knitting!

I really don't run "sales," but since the stores have "Black Friday" specials, I decided to have one, too!

While the my supply lasts, this weekend's orders will come with a free seminar handout book.  This spiral-bound, lie-flat book contains:
  • Favorite Knitting Shortcuts - fast utility cast-on, loop-through-a-loop cast-off, hand knit look cast-off, shortcut picot hem, and set-in sleeve knitted from the top down (no sleeve seam sewing!).
  • Garter Bar Basics - adjusting the stopper, using the garter bar as s stitch holder, garter stitch, decreasing evenly across a row, increasing evenly across a row, and gather with the garter bar.
  • Garter Bar Dazzlers - move only desired stitches, woven cable, and speed ripping.
  • Diana's Most Requested Bulky Projects - circular swirl baby blanket, big, fat slipper sock, tam, shaped Entrelac hat, and no-sew lined slipper.
  • Knit Leader Exploration - the practically perfect gauge swatch and various Knit Leader notes.
  • Lace Magic - scalloped lace using Stitch World patterns, automatic lace edgings, mirror image lace, and Scalloped Lace Scarf pattern.  (Brother machines)
  • Ribber Fun - quilted ribbing, mitered ribbing for bands, two ribber bind-offs, and Bubble Wrap stitch.
  • Novelty Technique Demonstrations - ruched heart trim, tiny idiot cord edging, floatless vertical fair isle, helix laid cable, and twisted fringe.
  • Bonus - when you can't get gauge:  knitter's math.

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Video for November: Helix Cable

My son Steven, who studied genetic engineering in college, named this cable - Helix.



Give this a try - it's a very easy technique, using idiot cord, that you can do on any Japanese machine.  I suppose you could also do it on a Passap if you can cope with the small gap between the beds.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brochure About Machine Knitting - Free Download

When I was about to attend the SAFF fiber fair, I created a brochure about machine knitting, which we printed in color on both sides of the page and then folded in thirds (a Z-fold).  We wanted to give them out at the event, because we thought there'd be lots and lots of people who had never heard of or seen a knitting machine.  I entitled it, "Are You Curious About Knitting Machines?" and put in lots of color photos of projects and referred readers back to this blog, where I have so much information about knitting machines.

It was a good thing, too, that we had brochures, because my class was in an out-of-the-way place, and people weren't going to see the knitting machine or samples just by walking by!   We put the brochures at the main exhibit hall entrance.

If you think this might be useful to you when people ask you what a knitting machine is, you're welcome to use it!  It's a .pdf file.   Click here for a copy.  You can save it to your computer and email it to friends, or you can print it out to give away.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Passap E6000 Knitting Machine - Free to Someone in Florida


HI have heard from Tina in Florida.  She has packed up her E6000 and wants to gift it into a very good home.  This is a Swiss double-bed electronic machine, and quite valuable.
 
Please email me if you are in the Bradenton/Sarasota/St. Petersburg, Florida area, would like the machine and can go pick it up. 
 
Also, I know from purchasing my own E6 (thanks, Pamela F., I still love it), that you will need a very large trunk, mini-van or truck, and it would be very helpful to bring along someone with muscles. These are plastic bed machines and should be moved gently; I wouldn't try to ship it commercially.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Enlighten Me

I'm a big believer in focus.  Life is hectic, so I try to figure out what's most important to do next and put my attention into that.

With that outlook, it's no big surprise that I haven't gotten very involved in social media.  I have a Facebook page, because a few years ago, I was asked to do that for a volunteer gig, but I don't use it much these days.  There's a Facebook machine knitting page, but it isn't really active. Facebook is nice for keeping in touch with family members out of state, especially sharing photos and events.  I like looking at the latest pix of my great-nieces.

I have a Ravelry ID but hardly ever go there.  I don't quite understand Pinterest.  I also have a Linked In membership, which I use entirely for accounting and Scouting contacts, my day job stuff, and it's useful for professional contacts, networking, and discussions.

I recognize that I've got lots of blind spots, and maybe my failure to "get" social media is one of them.  On the other hand, maybe I should spend the time knitting and figuring out the next book.

I am old, but I can learn.  I have adapted to texting my sons.  I can't imagine why they would rather type than talk, but whatever it takes...

What do you think?  In my effort to popularize machine knitting and stay in touch with readers, would it add value if I used social media?  Which ones?  Google plus?  Facebook?  Ravelry? 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fabled Cables

I've been working on the new book, "Fabled Cables," and made up three more samples today.  Fiddling away on the knitting machine has convinced me that I should film with the easy-to-see bulky machine and probably knit actual cable projects on the mid-gauge and standard machines - it's just not cold enough here to need such very heavy knits.

I always have little piles of bad samples when I play with techniques, but when I get a good one, I make a big sample and write notes.  Here is a shot of the good samples from today.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

I really enjoy Halloween, and hope you're having fun, too.  Nope, I'm not dressed up, and my yard isn't full of pumpkins and spider webs.  I love answering the door, seeing the children, and saying hello to the parents.

We're acquainted with a lot of our neighbors, meeting them when we walk our dog, who is a cute terrier mix mutt.  In our neighborhood, there's a great elementary school, so we have lots of little ones.

Instead of candy, I like to give out other treats.   Sometimes I choose the items, and sometimes I can get one of the boys or John to help shop.

The best thing I ever gave out was Little Little Golden Books - just like the ones we had as children, same stories, but tiny, about 2-1/2" square.  They were inexpensive, adorable, and the children loved them.  Unfortunately, I can't find them any more, and I'd like to find something similar.

We started out giving out glow sticks and glow necklaces, which the kids liked, and the parents appreciated the safety factor.  Gradually, our neighbors started taking their kids out much earlier than they used to, so the glowing items didn't appeal to me as much.  Besides, I kept finding duds - if they get shaken around, it starts the chemical reaction and they end up dark on the big night.

With that in mind, the next year we purchased little gliders, cars, bouncy balls, and sparkly necklaces. The kids liked them okay, but the year we discovered long, stuffed snakes from Oriental Trading, we found the new favorite.  We had an assortment of choices, and the snakes went first.  Both boys and girls absolutely prefer them over anything I've given out since the tiny Golden Books.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quick Project

Last weekend at the fiber fair, I was demonstrating how to make a sew-as-you-go beret with the yarn I'd brought along for bulky demos - some monkey brown and bright red that I had - and as usual, I made a baby size so the demo would go quickly.  I alternated the colors beach-ball style since I didn't have a variegated yarn with me.  This hat is in the Goldilocks book in four sizes for the bulky machine, but the techniques are the same as the Tam Take Two video.

Generally, when you teach, you make little piles of goofy swatches.  Two whole days of knitting, and it gets to be quite a pile, but nothing anybody could call a project.

This little demo item looked like it would be cute, and our club needs baby stuff for the childrens' shelter, so I finished it.  Finishing it requires one Kitchener seam, a short bit of mattress stitching to join the ribbing, and in this case, I added the pom-pom.  I had told the class I was planning to sew it up, so now they can see it here.

I enjoy making small projects - hats, scarves, slippers, and the like. Whipping up some little goodie at the end of a long day is a great feeling.

What small projects are you knitting?  I saw dozens and dozens of very small projects at the fair (even small jobs take a while with hand knitting) - shawlettes, cowls, hats, fingerless gloves, and the like.

By the way, Knit Natters club is holding a "Knit In" in November, making lap robes.  We'll have a great day at the church, and Cupcake has promised to grill burgers for us.  For my knitting, I thought I'd set up a knitting machine with its ribber, bring some coned stash I need to reduce, and do various ribbed patterns.  Once you bind off and hide the ends, you've got a finished project.






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fiber Fair versus Machine Knitting Club Seminar

I attended SAFF, lucky me!  I so appreciate getting to participate and teach at that marvelous event.

We just got home yesterday, and we're back in our routine.

The SAFF event was the first fiber fair where I've taught.  I do attend a fiber fair in Texas most years with friends, but I haven't taught before. 

SAFF is a wonderful fair, with an enormous number of vendors selling all kinds of tempting goodies and lots and lots of teachers and classes.  This is quite a different focus from a machine knitting club's seminar, and since you may not have ever attended a fiber fair, I thought I'd try to describe it.

First of all, a fiber fair is critter-oriented - goats, angora rabbits, sheep, llamas, and alpacas.  You see lots of farm trucks and livestock trailers.  Many attendees are spinners.  Working with fleece isn't such an easy proposition as buying a bag of yarn - there's the cleaning of the fleece, the carding, spinning, plying, and dyeing, all before you can begin to knit.  At SAFF I saw lots of people carrying huge bags of fleece, lots of spinning wheels, carding machines and tools, and dyes. 

I admit I'm not much for making my own yarn.  I need too much yarn too fast!  I know, always after my next fix... However, when you're at a big fiber fair you can easily lose your heart and your disposable income to the amazing, soft, gloriously colored yarns available from natural fibers.  A fiber fair is absolutely the most wonderful place to find the Really.  Good.  Stuff.  At a fiber fair, you can not only pet an angora rabbit, you can pet the most glorious yarns.

The alpacas are adorable, but there's no way I can bring one home.  For one thing, we live in a suburb, and it's against our homeowners association rules, and for another, you can't have just one, because they pine away without companions.  However, I could bring home some heavenly soft alpaca yarn to pet!  And later, knit it into something heavenly soft to wear. 

I also found it very, very stimulating to look at all the displays and get a sense of what people are hand knitting and crocheting just now.  I liked seeing the popular colors and fibers, sweater shapes and embellishments, as well as some of the small projects people are doing.  It's also awesome to just look at what fiber folks are WEARING - sweaters, hats, shawls, and scarves. 

At the end of the day, what was the most fun about the fiber fair?  Why, the people, of course!  John and I met absolutely lovely folks.  It's a huge congregation of kindred souls, most of them dressed in knits. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fabulous Fiber Fair - And, It's Not Too Late!

John and I are in Franklin, North Carolina, and I'm getting ready to teach all day tomorrow.  We have spaces!  In fact, the class will be quite intimate - I usually have 35-50, and we have a much smaller group, as this is primarily a spinning, hand knitting, and weaving kind of event.  I should have split my classes up more, but the way I set it my schedule, you have to commit to a day (9-4). 

Tomorrow (Saturday), I'm teaching on a bulky machine, my entrelac techniques, basic techniques, garter bar tricks, all kinds of things that apply to almost any machine but are easiest to see on the bulky.  Sunday, we're setting up a standard gauge machine to teach lace and ribber techniques, including my Enchanted Edgings and a bunch of other cool stuff.  I've made terrific bound handouts for everyone and brought a boatload of knitted samples.  John also put out "Are You Curious About Machine Knitting" brochures in the main entrance, doing our bit to try to popularize machine knitting.

And oh, the SAFF fiber fair is fabulous!  There are SO many vendors, so much gorgeous yarn, so many pretty patterns, and beautiful spinning wheels.  We gave the vendor area a walk-through and found wool, cotton, alpaca, yak, bamboo, and mink fibers, plus mountains of roving and fleece.  This is also a lovely area with lots to see and do.  We wish we had a lot more days!  John and I combined this trip with some sightseeing.  We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway; we went to Friends and Fiberworks, a marvelous local yarn shop, and best of all, we went to see the Biltmore House. 

Need more Info?  www.saffsite.org

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ten Simple Essentials for Every Machine Knitter

1.  Measuring tape.  It doesn't have to be fancy, just flexible, fairly long, and marked in both inches and centimeters.

2.  Yarn winder.  Always rewind skeined yarn and avoid frustration!   Our machines use up yarn so fast that they need yarn that feeds quickly, smoothly, and evenly. My favorite yarn winder of all time is the jumbo hand winder, which holds a whole pound of yarn. 

3.  Sturdy knitting stand.  Article on using a good stand, here.

4.  Wipe-off markers (I like Crayola washable markers and also Vis-à-Vis washable markers.  Avoid permanent markers.

5.  Ravel cord.  You might have gotten a couple of yards of ravel cord with your knitting machine, and it was plain white.  Supplement that!  I love Omega's Artiste nylon cord, which I find at Hobby Lobby (buy hundreds of yards cheap, get whatever color you want, and use all you need).

6.  A sheet, for covering your machine.  You want a piece of fabric that blocks light but breathes.

7.  A vacuum, for cleaning your machine.

8.  A spiral notebook to keep near the machine and write down notes and ideas.

9.  A pocket calculator, for working out the stitches and rows for shape.

10.  Oil for lubricating your machine.  Beware:  you must use very light oil that will not harm plastic.  I like Hoppe's Elite Gun Oil. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Running a BIG Seminar from a SMALL Club

I'm a little late finishing and posting this, but after yet another awesome seminar from a small club (in this case, three small clubs participated - Canfield seems like a pretty small town to me), I've been thinking about clever things I've seen small clubs do to put on a BIG, FUN seminar.  Here's are big take-aways for those of you who want to grow your clubs, popularize machine knitting, and generally have a fantastic time at your very own seminar.

1.  Is your club too small, or have you no club at all?  Go to Yahoo Groups and look at those machine knitting forums, check out Ravelry, and look for machine knitters in your area! Phone your local yarn shops and hobby stores.  Contact sister groups within 100 miles.  You have to begin somewhere, and the place to begin is to see if you have some people who might participate.

2.  Line up your volunteers.  Be bold about asking people to help, beg family members to pitch in, and work through a list of tasks together.  Find a determined leader to champion the project. 

3.  Build a budget.  Our first seminar at Knit Natters decided that we couldn't afford to use any of our club's cash in the bank.  You need to build a break-even budget for your seminar, but if you have a little balance to start, you'll be willing to follow a more ambitious budget.  You have to start somewhere, but once you start, you have momentum for the next seminar.

4.  Find a location.  Be creative!  Here are some places I've taught seminars, so far:

  • City offices
  • Museum community room
  • Church classroom
  • Living room at a knitter's home (photo is the Chicago group holding a terrific seminar in a gorgeous living room)
  • Community college classrooms
  • Fairground buildings
  • Library community room
There are other places you can use, too - some companies will let you use a conference room.  Hotels and conference centers have rooms for rent.  Ask around, do Google searches, and you'll be surprised.

4.  Set the date - this needs to happen at the same time as working out the location and the volunteers. You need months of lead time!  It's not that you're working that whole time, it's that you're allowing time and repeated contacts to find your teacher(s), attendees, and get your work done.

5.  Line up classes - if your club has nothing in the treasury, you can probably divide up demo duty among members, but if you've got a few bucks, seriously consider a professional teacher.

With a little bit of money in the hopper, perhaps from the last seminar, you can look at engaging someone fascinating, someone your club doesn't see all the time.  Brainstorm about which teachers you might like to have, contact them and see what they charge.  Expect to pay for travel; a teacher can't do a small seminar and pay for airfare from merchandise sales, typically.  A distant teacher will cost more than a nearby one.

Talk to knitters who have attended various teachers' seminars, and collect opinions about the different teachers and the kind of work they do.

6.  Engage your teacher.  A machine knitting teacher likes to get specific information, for instance, the hours they'll work, what the venue is like, how many people, and my favorite, most requested demonstrations.  I love to know, as a demonstrator, what mix of beginners, intermediates, and experts are in the room.  Do I want to go over basics or spend time on unusual techniques?  Is this group into fashion, home decor, charity knitting, or DAK?

7.  Go into party-planning mode.  You need to deal with food, drinks, seating, video, sound, parking, etc.  You are essentially giving an all-day party for knitters.   Focus on FUN, and split up the work!

8.  Add sweeteners for an extra-fun day.  Here are examples of sweeteners I've seen done very effectively at seminars:
  • Handouts - ask your teacher for them, and print them.  Most knitters expect printed materials. 
  • Raffles - could be money, yarn, equipment
  • Mystery gifts
  • Door prizes
  • Games & goofy contests
  • Swap table, where knitters can sell their extras
  • Merchandise for sale
  • Hands-on activities (in the photo, Sarah and Sylvia, working with a drop spindle)
  • Book swaps or free book tables
  • Swap bulletin boards
  • Live and silent auctions
  • Snacky breaks (my two favorites so far - popsicles on a hot day and homemade cookies)
  • Fashion shows
  • Dinner outings at the end of the day, for those who wish
Your seminar time together is limited, so you can't do too many things.  Tailor these goodies to your particular group, and schedule them into break times and lunch times.  Early afternoon is a great time to do something unusual.  You need to get people out of the chairs if you can, and avoid the after-lunch doziness.

9.  Promote, promote, promote!  Make sure your advertising has enough contact, price and calendar information so knitters can work out quickly whether they can attend. Use lots of free or cheap advertising vehicles:
  • Web forums like Ravelry, Facebook and Yahoo Groups
  • Free community ads in the newspaper
  • Public service announcements on local radio
  • Mailing lists, including email lists
  • Magazines and bloggers, if they'll help
  • Your teacher, who may have a website or business
  • Posters in local businesses, especially related ones
  • Craigslist
10.  Execute with a joyful spirit!  On the day of the seminar, keep in mind these realities:
  • Get your team there early to set up and test the equipment - it's nice if you can set up the day before, but that's usually not possible.
  • Have a backup plan if a knitting machine doesn't work, there's a glitch in setup that takes extra time, or some other thing goes wrong.  I always put a few bonus materials in the back of my handouts, and I can skip to them if a machine doesn't work.  You can always entertain the crowd if they have to wait a few minutes by doing one of your sweetener activities.
  • Start the day with coffee, tea, and breakfasty snacks, if folks drove a while.
  • Have someone willing to stand up and direct everyone - get folks to sit and quiet down, do a little fun sweetener activity, and introduce the teacher.  This person needs to be loud and assertive, but only if necessary.  You need to start on time, get back from breaks on time, and it's just occasionally necessary to ask people to quiet down or pay attention.  Have that person appointed before you begin the day.
  • Divide up the cleanup chores, and leave the space in great shape. 
Small things usually go wrong, but a terrific attitude makes all the difference.  Simply be adaptable and keep your sense of humor and awareness that being able to put on a seminar is a big blessing.

BTW, the last photo is me, at my chubbiest, at the Knit Natters seminar two years ago!  We're starting to talk about a seminar for next year. 

 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NEW! October Video - Lattice Lace on the Silver Reed (Studio) Machine

Enjoy...



I get lots of requests for Silver Reed videos, so here's one!  This pretty lacy ripple is something I first did, long ago, on the Brother machine, then the Toyota machine, and now, here it is on the Studio.  What makes it ripple is the slant of the transferred stitches.  You don't need to block or force the ripple to happen; it's integral to the stitch structure.

While I have not had any success doing the automatic scalloped edges on the Studio, it does a wonderful job knitting lace.  The way it transfers stitches and knits all in one pass, it zips out lace FAST!  Here's an old favorite lace pattern for the many situations where you want all-over laciness.

By the way, the way this is punched and the way the needles are arranged (do full repeats of 24, please) you won't need to worry about edge stitches. 

SEMINAR THIS MONTH:  Say, have you been thinking about the Asheville, North Carolina seminar?   Get registered, if you want to come.  I promise you two days of packed lessons, a little basic, a little advanced, something for everyone.  Here's that website:  http://saffsite.org/

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sharing a Video from Anna at Art Machines

You don't need to understand any Russian to enjoy this terrific ribber video from Anna at Art Machines:



Inspiring, as always, Anna!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Very Cool Article

I read lots of business-oriented articles people forward me, and once in a blue moon I see one I want to share!  I know, this is a hobby-oriented blog, but here's one I think y'all will like:  "21 Awesome Things to Say to Yourself."

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131009143428-20017018-21-awesome-things-to-say-to-yourself

Monday, September 30, 2013

Seminar in Asheville, North Carolina - Please Come!

This should be completely different and very, very fun!  I am going to teach at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville, North Carolina. 

The fair runs October 25 to 27, and I'm teaching Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27.  I've got two full days of classes planned, with my usual extensive handouts.  John is coming along to help me, and we're looking forward to sightseeing in beautiful Asheville.  We'll see the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I'm told I better get a look at the Biltmore house.  Clicking around on the web, it looks like you could easily have a week's worth of fun sightseeing in Asheville.

This is a good-sized fiber fair.  I've been clicking around on their website - here - http://saffsite.org/ - and reading the list of workshops might make you dizzy.  They've got classes on crochet, hand knitting tatting, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, dyeing, felting, and spinning.  And lots of other stuff... I suspect the shopping alone will make for a wonderful day.

If you've wanted to go to one of my seminars, though, I'm doing two individual daylong workshops with all sorts of MK techniques and my usual extensive handouts.  I will, of course, be absolutely thrilled if we can pick up a few non-MKers to get a good taste of our magic.

You can come to one or both all-day classes - here's the lineup:

Day One,  Saturday, 10/26, 9-4 at the Blue Barn: Bulky Machine Knitting, Cost $120  I'm going to teach all Saturday on a bulky machine, which makes it easier for you to see what I'm doing, but everything here is applicable to standard and mid-gauge machines, too. 

Session 1:  Machine knitting tricks and tips - learn some terrific ways to do things better and more easily!  Better, simpler edges and hems; make a great-looking set-in sleeve the easy way.

Session 2:  Garter Bar Basics:  Learn to adjust the stopper, use garter bar to hold stitches, do garter stitch, quaker stitch, decrease evenly across a row, increase evenly across a row, and gather with your garter bar.

Session 3:  Garter Bar Dazzlers: Move only desired stitches, woven cable, and speed ripping.

Session 4: Diana’s Most Requested Bulky Projects: Circular Swirl Baby Blanket; Big, Fat Slipper Sock; Tam; and Sew As You Go Bulky Lined Slipper.

Session 5: Shaped Entrelac Hat: Yes, the knitting machine makes beautiful, easy Entrelac, and wait 'till you see this very interesting project!  The sizes of the blocks change to make the hat shape.

Day Two, Sunday, 10/27, 9-4 at the Blue Barn, Cost $120  On Sunday, I'm switching to the standard gauge machine, and we'll take advantage of some of its unique capabilities.

Session 1: Knit Leader Exploration: Here's a class on using the Knit Leader effectively!  Wouldn't you like a logical, relatively inexpensive way to make perfectly shaped and fitted items?  I'll go over   gauge swatches; using the device with the bulky machine, doing intarsia, knitting for bigger people, and using it for craft projects.

Session 2:  Of course, you can make gorgeous lace by hand knitting, but a standard gauge electronic Brother machine can make incredible scalloped-edge lace - edgings and big pieces of fabric - using ordinary Stitch World patterns.  I have a diabolically easy way to keep track of all the needle moves.

Session 3: Automatic Lace Edgings: Here’s a terrific way to make a scalloped edge lace quickly and easily, but it requires a special stitch pattern like the ones in Diana’s book “Enchanted Edgings.” These charts are designed for Brother machines with lace carriages. The scallops form like magic, and now these patterns are all available for 24-stitch punch card Brother machines with lace carriages, as well. We’ll also do a little mirror image lace.

Session 4: Ribber Fun: Let’s do some fascinating and unusual things with the ribbing attachment, for instance, quilted ribbing, mitered ribbing for bands, unusual cast-ons and easy, practical bindoffs.

Session 5: Novelty Demos: As many as we can do in the time available! Ruched heart trim, tiny idiot cord edge, Bubble Wrap stitch, floatless vertical fair isle, helix laid cable, and twisted fringe. Please note that you will not be working on your machine in this class.

Join us!  You can sign up at the website:  http://saffsite.org/  
 

 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quick Updates

Last week, I taught at the Mahoning Valley Machine Knitting Seminar in Canfield, Ohio.  I had an absolutely marvelous, but FAST, weekend, flying up on Friday and back on Sunday afternoon and evening.  Whew!  I want to blog more about that seminar and about small clubs putting together good seminars.  For now, special thanks to the organizers, who were awesome, especially Karen, with whom I stayed in lovely, peaceful comfort, and the Larry and Cathy of Michigan, who came and ran my little business for the day, selling my books and DVDs!  I didn't have to give a thought to that, just teach, which is the big idea.

Then I went to work on Monday.  It's a busy time of year at work, and I worked on a big gala fundraiser Thursday.

'Long about Wednesday, I got grouchy, wondering how I'd possibly do my little part of the fundraiser competently.  Everything was fine, though, and Friday I spent most of the day doing the bookkeeping for the fundraiser, then came home a bit early and slept.  We watched on movie last night on Netflix, then slept a long time.

The exhaustion is over, and this morning, I feel a lovely rush of creativity and energy.

So, knitters, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth!  You should see more of me in these pages in the days to come.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Inspiration from Elis Hus

Here's a very nice round yoked sweater with a traditional pattern (I love these).  Note the unusual treatment of the neck shaping.  Normally, when I have done a round yoke, I have tilted the whole yoke, making the body above the armholes shorter on the front, to get the shape to the neck.

http://strikkogsy.blogspot.com/2013/09/i-samme-hefte-lanett-baby-1113.html

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Knit Natters Going Strong

We had a good meeting today - pretty good-sized group, great refreshments (potluck, natch), some people back now that summer's winding down, and it was just a delight to relax with my local knitting friends.  I enjoy knitters so much; this group is so pleasant, so down-to-earth, and so creative!

Sylvia brought this photo of our charity knits that she delivered to a local childrens' home.


As you can see, the ladies came through yet again!  This particular ministry is taking babies now, and can also use baby items.  They were quite pleased with our club's items, and would especially like slippers for the kids.   Hmmm.  I hadn't expected to go on yet another slipper binge, after last year's!  I guess I can break out those "Footnotes" patterns again.  

Barbara did an awesome Passap demonstration with circular knitting and vertical stripes.  I showed the easy cable join in my recent video.  I brought along the baby blanket to show the technique, but now I'm on a lap robe (we're doing some lap robes, too).  I had gone in Hobby Lobby a couple months ago and found that they were clearing odd lots of Homespun at a nice price, so I purchased every variant of purple I could find.  If I make more progress on this project in the next couple of days, I'll put up some pix.  My challenge was to mix all the different purples, dye lots of purple and different color runs.  I'm definitely in a scrappy mode, having a good time mixing up ingredients and trying to get a rich-looking effect.

One treat today was seeing some of the items the ladies have already made.  Sylvia's doing some very nice tucked lap robes, and Mary and Norma worked up some cabled ones.  

Another huge treat was the bag of her family's antique baby clothing that Joan brought, absolutely fascinating items.

Several in our group are going to the Dallas machine knitting seminar (with Diana Burns), but I have too much going on to go along, and Barbara said she can't make this one.  So, we're staying home, and we'll have a smaller group at next month's meeting.  Our lap robe knit-in has been postponed to the 2nd Saturday in November.

The next few weeks are going to be crazy for me.  I'm doing an all-day continuing education class one day this week, rushing around trying to catch up a bit at work (we converted to a new general ledger, and it slowed us down), then going to Ohio this weekend to teach a knit seminar (whoopie!), then going to Dallas the week after, but just for a day.  I take this stuff one day at a time, that's for certain.  In October, I'm going to Asheville, North Carolina, to teach a seminar.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hello, Knitters In or Near Houston!

Hey, Texans, did you know there's a terrific machine knitting group in Houston?  I'm putting a link to contact their group in my links on the left-hand side of this blog.  They don't have a website, but they meet every month, and they are a bunch of extremely friendly, talented knitters:

Houston Area Machine Knitters
311 Pennsylvania
Webster, TX 
We meet the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 10:00 – 12:00

President:  Turid Olson
email her!  turidolsen  "at" aol.com

Now to keep their president from email spammers, I put the little "at" instead of  the @ symbol.   


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September's Technique Video

I'm still trying to put up a technique video each month in 2013, and so far, I've managed it.

For September, here's a simple video showing how to join two afghan panels with a small, contrasting color cable. 

Here's the photo of my finished baby blanket, and then a close-up so you can see the small pink cables that join the knitted panels.




And, here's the YouTube technique video:




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another Entrelac Idea

Entrelac is great for scrappy projects!  Here's a picture Kristen from Germany is letting me share, showing her Entrelac beginnings, using leftover acrylic yarn.

I think this sample is using the "EZ Entrelac" method.  You could also use the waste yarn method in "Wear Your Diamonds" to make Entrelac in very wide pieces, continually using just a few needles on the machine for the single block you're currently knitting.

Monday, September 2, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE - Diana's New Book


100 Ways to Improve Your Machine Knitting

Get more knitting done while having more fun!

 
 
My new book (just a book, no DVD this time) is a large compilation of machine knitting tips and information.  I chose 100 favorite tips, ideas, and instructions that I gathered over my 35+ years of machine knitting, being a dealer, working with a club, and teaching seminars.  Some of these are little things, some are more essential, but each one is a way to improve your machine knitting skills, reduce frustration, and generally enjoy the hobby more.

This book will help you move toward mastery of machine knitting, fitting, and finishing, and make machine knitting much easier.  It's a down-to-earth book - I want you to start where you are with the equipment you already have, to be practical about yarn, supplies, and tools, and enjoy making projects more.


This book contains a wide assortment of topics!  Here are just a few examples:
  • Choosing and finding a terrific knitting machine
  • A powerful learning plan
  • Knitting machine check-up
  • Smart yarn choices
  • Upper tension unit tips
  • Yarn weights
  • Beat the yarn-looping miseries
  • Learn the "plain" techniques
  • The "practically perfect" gauge swatch
  • Gauge for bulky machines
  • Rolling edges and how to deal with them
  • Learn to estimate yarn requirements
  • Ripping Tips
  • Ways to use very thin yarn
  • Seaming on the machine
  • Punch card tips
  • Vertical knit-back Fair Isle
  • Make a doubled neckband
  • Dividing for the neck
  • Do a vertical dart
  • Kitchener, mattress and smiles and frowns finishes
  • Speedy, narrow mattress stitch
  • Be the boss of your ribber
  • The magical Brother medium ribber comb
  • And many more...
This 8.5 x 11 comb bound book is over 100 pages, and heavier than my other products.  To keep shipping costs reasonable, US orders will be mailed Media Mail.  This may add 2 or 3 days to delivery time.  You could also opt for Priority Mail (it's too heavy for First Class Mail). 

International customers:  These books go First Class International, and unfortunately, the postage is pricey.  Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery; unfortunately, some of the more distant destinations like Australia often take the full three weeks. 

All customers:  You can save a little on postage by ordering additional items in the same order.  We pay the extra postage for any items after the first one. 




 

Announcements

A week ago, a colleague and I went on a business trip that lasted from Monday to Friday, and I've just been getting back on a routine from that.  We are converting to a new general ledger at the office, and it's been a bumpy ride.  Both of us in our little accounting department are going home worn out at the end of each day.  I joked about this; borrowing freely from the Red Green show, my pledge is, "I am old, but I can learn...if I have to." 

The little bit of knitting I managed to do on my business trip was in the hotel room on my LK150.  I used the machine a little bit to play with cable ideas. 

It's quite portable, especially if you purchase a gun case!  I bring a tote, too, with tools, yarn, and a roll of anti-slip shelf liner, which makes clamps unnecessary.  By the time my friend snapped this picture, my practice yarn had been knitted and unraveled for reuse.  (Did you know you can make perfectly wound center-pull balls using a stick, if you're traveling without a yarn winder?  I used a disposable salt shaker to rewind my yarn.) 

Here's a silly picture of it posed with my co-worker's Beanie Baby bears, Fuzzy and Groovy. 

I should have time to blog a little more now.

Here are a few general announcements:

1.  I'm proud of the new book, which was well-received at the last seminar.  Wouldn't you like a book filled with tidbits picked up over my 35 years of machine knitting?  Part of the delay was figuring out how we're going to do the shipping.  We have to send it Media Mail or Priority Mail in the United States, and we had to raise the postage internationally (again).  It's 109 pages, has no DVD, and it weighs too much for First Class mail.  Media Mail seems to add 2 or 3 days to delivery time.  I actually investigated other formats, like Kindle, but decided that the very best product to own and use as an MKer is the big, lie-flat spiral bound format. 

2.  The upcoming YouTube video demonstrates a good-looking contrasting color cable you can use to join sections of knitting.  I also have a couple of videos ready to go for future months, so maybe I can make my goal of getting one new technique video up each month in 2013! 

4.  I had the very disconcerting realization, after all these years of blogging, that some of my blog feeds had a signature with an incorrect email address, which was terribly frustrating and annoying to people.  Sorry!  It's fixed now. 

5. Need to reach me?  Simply click on the envelope icon down on the left-hand side of this page.  Asking questions at YouTube, in the comments, or in other Web places doesn't work nearly so well.  If I happen to see the question and answer it, how will you see the response?  I do try to answer email questions.  If I can figure out a fairly helpful answer, I'll give that, and if I don't know an answer, I'll say so.

6.  John and I are currently preparing for the Ohio seminar.  Last time I checked, they still had some spaces, and I seldom see such a great seminar value, especially if you live close enough to drive.  It's a one-day, and you wouldn't even need a hotel room.  We're going to have video and sound systems, a fun freebie, and good handouts.  I will have to talk very fast, though, to try to get in everything on the agenda!  We're packing up merchandise and goodies to mail ahead.  Lucky me, Cathy and Larry Reaume (who put on the wonderful, annual Monroe seminar in Michigan) are helping me at the seminar!  Come, say hi to them, take in a full day of demonstrations, and I promise to send you home itching to knit. 

7.  A note for commenters:  I love getting comments, but have to delete comments with links of any kind!  If you want to comment, please don't include a link, even a safe one.  I get lots of comments that contain very suspicious links, and if my readers click on them, they'll have problems with spam at best and viruses at worst.  I can't test links for fear of ruining my own computer.  Please clean links and email addresses out of your comments.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sneak Peek

My video for September will show how to make these inset cables:

It's another way to add more color and texture to your knits.  I used it to join panels in a blanket, but wouldn't it be nice on a sweater?

Our knit club is doing laprobes in October, and I was playing around with fun ways to join panels. When I came up with this easy little technique, I thought it was demonstration-worthy, and managed to film it on my new camera, then get the video edited.

The project itself is a baby blanket.  This was the old "use the stuff that's already in the house" sort of project.  I knew a blanket out of the variegated yarn would be skimpy, so I added one ball of pink yarn to make the joining stripes and the edgings.

Here's a shot of the whole blanket, which can be knitted on a non-patterning midgauge, or change the yarn and calculations for a different machine.

I had one big skein of Bernat Softee baby yarn, which is a sport weight, group 3.  I made a gauge swatch that was 30 stitches by 33 rows, which is about a thousand stitches, then weighed it on a gram scale to see how far my yarn would go.  I calculated how many stitches that big ball of yarn would make, and then made 5 panels, each 240 rows by 34 stitches. I felt it would be a little skimpy without the joining cables, but they add 4" in width (about 1" each), and then the edging (a 4-stitch, 10 row worm) adds a little width, as well.   The finished blanket is a nice size.





Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Contact Me

It is always best NOT to ask questions as comments on my blog posts.  I do try to answer them, but how will you find the answers?  I guess the answers might help someone else, if my answers were any good.  :)

The best way to contact me is to email me.  I do not type my email address into blog posts, because that will expose me to even more spammers than have me now.   There's an email link on the left-hand side of this blog, though, which looks like an envelope, and it's down below the "About Me" section.

I do answer emails daily.  I answer questions, when I can; I'll also let you know if I don't understand the question or I have no idea how to solve the problem.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Karen Saunders and I talked again today.  We are firming up plans for a very nice one-day seminar in Ohio.  If you can go to Ohio, and want to try out attending a knitting seminar, this one will be good!  I'd love to see you there!

Here's the information about the seminar again:

Mahoning Valley Machine Knitters

September Seminar

Diana Sullivan is planning to teach some of her favorite machine knitting shortcuts, great garter bar techniques, some of her most popular bulky projects, two gorgeous scalloped lace techniques, ribber tricks, and several great bonus patterns and techniques are included in the handouts.
   



Come and attend our seminar!
 

     Where:  Rotary Community Building at 320 Oak Street in Canfield, OH 44406 

     When:  Saturday, September 21, 2013  

     Time:  9:00 – 4:00 with registration from 8:00 a.m. -9:00 a.m. 

     Cost: $35.00 and this includes a wonderful hot lunch! 

 

    
Questions or concerns:  Please leave a message for Judy Locklear at 330.679.2432 or Karen         Saunders at 330.301.0662 or Betty Leskovac at bleskova@zoominternet.net 
 



Please return the bottom portion with payment. *************************************************************************************

 Mail registration by Sept. 13, 2013 and a $35.00 check c/o:

 Louise May      550 Ohio Ave., Apt. 101 McDonald, OH  44437-1857 

   
    Name:

    Phone number:

    E-mail:                                              

    Phone: 

    E-mail address:

    Amount due:  $35.00