Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How Difficult is Machine Knitting?

My mission is to help people who want to get their knitting machine out of the case, learn it, have fun with it, and make things.

So, how difficult is machine knitting to learn?  Well, I don't want to compare it to rocket science because I don't know a thing about rocket science.  But I have tried to learn a few difficult things in my life.  For instance, isn't a musical instrument rather difficult to master? 

Learning to use a knitting machine is not anywhere as difficult as learning to play most musical instruments.  If you understand and follow the steps, good knitting happens.  So why do so many people struggle to learn to machine knit?

First of all, there aren't a lot of knitting machine dealers to give private lessons.  Even though most people have lots of clothing made on knitting machines, very few people own a knitting machine.  For the general public, these are alien objects.

If you try to learn on your own, most of the knitting machine manuals have small diagrams, puzzling lists and tables of instructions, and cryptic advice.  The machine's parts and tools are strange and unfamiliar.  They don't look like sewing machine parts, or hand knitting tools, or other gadgets in our ordinary lives.  They're different, and they have peculiar names.

I use a common teaching method, that is, breaking the tasks into their individual steps and then working to describe the step in sufficient detail to make each step easy.  Video is a wonderful medium for doing this, since I get to use pictures, sound, and movement, but diagrams and written instructions are often also necessary.

Most of the videos I do are free.  You can find them here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/dianaknits

I also have some for sale at www.dianaknits.com.  My Beginner Course is two DVDs, nothing fancy, just a methodical course.  If you'll just watch a lesson and do that one lesson each day, you'll be quite proficient in a little over a month! 



Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Improve Your Life (and the Lives of Others) With an Altruistic Hobby

How to Improve Your Life (and the Live of Others) With an Altruistic Hobby

Guest post by Maria Cannon

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by aitoff

Did you know that volunteer work and community service have some surprising health benefits? That’s right; as it turns out, your altruistic hobbies benefit more than just the community and those in need.

While altruism - or the act of selflessly giving to those in need - is often seen as an external benefit to those on the receiving end, recent scientific research is now indicating that these selfless actions might have mutual benefits for both parties - including a variety of health benefits. In fact, modern evolutionary psychologists now believe altruism is a particularly useful trait that humans evolved as a means of survival (and it’s not just humans; altruism has been observed in other members of the animal kingdom, too).

As one psychology website bluntly puts it: “Compassion, cooperation and community are key to our survival.” In addition to bringing happiness, joy and fulfillment, making a hobby out of doing charitable actions can actually improve your life in more tangible ways.

Here are just a few of the ways altruism helps you, in addition to helping those on the receiving end:

Mental Health
Whether you are feeling anxious or suffering from depression, incorporating a beloved hobby into your daily life can help reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.

Addiction Recovery
As any addict will tell you: recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is not easy. Luckily, hobbies can help make it a smoother process for you. Stress-reducing hobbies like yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation have been shown to be particularly effective among recovering addicts and alcoholics.

Mental Fitness
Hobbies challenge your brain by helping you to build new skills. As you gain these new skillsets, you will have feelings of accomplishment and increased confidence. In addition, particular hobbies such as yoga and tai chi have been shown to potentially reduce your chances of developing certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Self Esteem
Hobbies also provide opportunities for socializing and making new friends. As you get better at tasks you enjoy, you’ll become more confident and your self-esteem will naturally increase. Hobbying can be a great way to boost your confidence while also doing something you already love.

Think the benefits listed above are just one-time coincidences? Think again! Recent research has consistently shown that giving back to one’s own community can be as rewarding for the person doing the giving as it is for the person on the receiving end.


As you can see, there are many clear ways that altruistic hobbies can be beneficial for everyone involved. Next time you are thinking of doing a good deed, you will already know that there might be some surprising health benefits in store for you. In exchange for your kind behavior, you might actually be doing yourself some favors by possibly improving your physical, emotional and mental health. So… why not give back to your local community? After all, you’ll be helping others while also helping yourself.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A little fun de-stashing - and finding more knitters!

Here in Austin, we have an active Freecycle community.  This is a group where items are given away free.  You put up a "WANTED" ad if you need something, and put up an "OFFER" ad to give away items.  This is quite a resource when you're trying to be frugal about something specific you need and quite helpful when you just need to clean things out.

I recently was given a large, rather nice yarn stash.  I kept a few cones for myself, just couldn't resist, although I haven't enough room for all my yarn.  I shared some with my knitting club friends, but they have a lot of yarn, too, so I still had some.  I ran an ad on Freecycle to give away the rest.

I gave away yarn AND a bunch of duplicate machine knitting magazines, and in that process, I met a local lady who attends a weekly knit and crochet group who make things for charity.  She said some of the ladies have knitting machines, and in fact, she has one.  I was completely unaware of this sister group in our community.  Of course, I invited her to ours and she invited me to hers, and when I get back from Monroe, I plan to attend.  They're at a restaurant, but she said I can bring a portable machine.  A nice dinner and a new group of knitting friends - what's not to like?

This turned out to be a rather unusual way to find machine knitters! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

This Month's Video - Silver Needles Cone Winder

I meet a lot of beginning machine knitters, and if there's a rookie mistake most people make, it's not preparing their yarn before knitting - rewinding it.  Sure, there are instructions in the machine's manual telling you to do this, but the instructions don't tell you WHY to do it.

Your knitting machine uses yarn at an absolutely furious rate, yards in minutes.  It pulls it right into the yarn feeder, generally much too fast for you to notice a knot or a tangle.  Your machine will knit a knot right into your garment (usually in a TERRIBLY) visible place, and you won't know until you're sewing it together or blocking it.

Alternatively, your machine might choke on a knot or a tangle, giving you an absolutely horrendous mess - unjamming the machine, getting the knitting picked out or put back on needles, and getting the machine back into pattern.

Another problem is your yarn might be intended for hand knitting.  Machine knitting cone yarns have usually been treated to slide through the machine better than skeined yarns.  While you are preparing the yarn, you can hold a cheap candle against it, and you'll see a marked difference in how well the machine runs.

We have yarn winders for this, and I do love my Jumbo Yarn Winder, which makes a large, cake-shaped ball of yarn.  Once you wind yarn into a "cake," you get to choose whether to pull from the inside or the outside of the ball.  The inside is a straighter shot up to the machine's upper tension unit.  The outside works best if you leave the plastic core in the yarn. 

You need to be careful with winders not to wind your yarn too tightly.  Winding very tightly flattens the yarn and removes its elasticity.

The general rule is, you want your yarn to feed absolutely freely.  The only tension added to the fiber feeding should be from the machine.

Cakes, set on the floor, feed into the machine fairly well, but the very best way to feed the beast is with a cone on the floor.  I recently invested in a Silver Needles electric cone winder.  Now this is a blessing!  It puts my yarn on cones, which feed extremely well into my knitting machine.  For my circular sock machines, having the yarn coned makes an even bigger difference in ease of use and the evenness of the knitting.  In addition, the winder is fast, which means I can spend less time prepping yarn and more time knitting.

Here's my little video:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dyeing Sock Blanks at Knit Natters

I happen to love making socks on my machines, with my all-time favorites coming off my 100-year-old Legare 47.  It's old and rough-looking, but it does make a gorgeous sock.

Marta, in our knitting club, had dyed sock blanks and knitted matching hand-dyed socks, and the group begged her to teach us.  Last weekend, we had our shot.  We were supposed to show up with the sock blanks, knitted and ready to go.

Here's how I did my blanks - first, I rewound a 100-gram hank of undyed (natural color) sock yarn using my jumbo winder, which makes cake shapes. Then I grabbed out the center of the ball and weighed that.  I added a few yarns to get the 50 grams I needed.  I rewound both the balls, the small one and the one with the center gone, to make the yarn feed the same.  I threaded my bulky machine with a ball in each antenna, then put them in the machine together, e-wrapped on 65 needles, and knitted until I was almost out of yarn, binding off is a latch tool cast-off.   I actually made two sock blanks using 2 100-gram hanks of wool/cashmere yarn Marta had sourced from England.  Gorgeous, soft stuff.

At the club meeting, Barbara had covered the floor and tables at the church where we meet with painter's plastic.  Marta had brought the acid dyes.  She set up three pots of dipping dye and a whole bunch of small jars of painting dyes.

After we dipped, we brushed.  Marta had both brushes and cotton swabs, both of which worked just fine.  Everyone did something a little different.  After we dipped and painted, we rinsed until the water ran clear. 

I took mine home in a plastic bag, microwaved it to further set the dye, hung it over a plastic hanger and let it dry. 

The acid dyes Marta brought produced very rich, clear colors.  I made no effort to create any kind of a picture, because I knew that my blanks are 65 stitches in a big tension (T5 on my bulky) and my socks will be 72 very small stitches.  The colors are going to break up, but the two socks will be alike.  I just used dribbles and dabs of overdye on the purple blanks. 

After they dried, I thought making the blanks into two balls, one for each sock, would be a pain, but it was actually easy.  I did it alone - it would be a snap with a buddy and two yarn winders - just winding two balls which I rewound later with my lovely electric cone winder.  I have found cones are absolutely idea for my circular sock machine.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Machine Knitting Retreat

A couple weekends ago, the Knit Natters went on a knitting retreat in the country.

The idea came up when we were contacted by Debbie Awtry, who owns and operates the Mountain Laurel Retreat.  It's a house out in the Texas Hill Country near New Braunfels (between San Antonio and Austin), a beautiful, peaceful location.  We hadn't ever done a retreat before, but we decided to go for it, and not to have any particular curriculum, but just show up, have fun, and do whatever knitting we felt like doing - "free range knitting."

In addition to some of our Central Texas ladies, we had a knitter who came from the Houston area and one from the DFW area.  We'd had nine signed up, but two had to cancel, and we ended up with seven women.

Barbara, Angelika, and I borrowed my hubby's SUV and loaded it to the gills.  We had machines, stands, partially finished projects, yarn, winders, tools, water and groceries, overnight bags, and so forth. Some of the ladies were willing to test mid-gauge patterns that are going in my new book, and I had brought along a pile of printed out drafts.  It was a gorgeous, hot summer Texas day, and Barbara drove while Angelika navigated and I goofed off.  We avoided all city traffic by taking the scenic route west of Austin. 

The Mountain Laurel retreat was a nice surprise, a good-sized, newer 3-bedroom house with current d├ęcor and an enormous work room.  That might have been a three or four car garage, but it's all beautifully finished and set up for quilters.  Debbie has everything immaculately clean, every kind of pot, pan or serving dish we might need, and her own quilts on every bed and on some walls, too.

That workroom is amazing!  The room is very brightly lit, clean and fresh, and she has lots of huge tables, two ironing boards, and several quilters' design boards on the walls.  These are large areas covered with batting where fabric pieces and blocks will stay in place so quilters can step back and look at their arrangements.  The room is stocked with comfortable, rolling purple office chairs. The tables were too thick for our machine clamps, but we were expecting that and had brought along stands or anti-slip shelf paper, which works well for the lightweight portable plastic bed machines. 

Debbie's own beautiful quilts are all over the house.  This lady can match points!  Her workmanship is wonderful.  She has several twin beds in each of the bedrooms, and the great room has a giant kitchen, big dining area and big sitting area.  The house really would work fine for 12 people. 

Marta and Pat were already there, and Marta had brought a swift, her tools (she's our club's very own Ms. Fixit), a yarn winder, and her knitting gear as well as undyed yarn for our upcoming sock blank dyeing project (not at the retreat, at an upcoming regular meeting).  They'd gone to dinner and were working away, knitting.  Ruth came from the Houston area, and Karen came from the Dallas area, and we had our full group.

Carl, Barbara's husband, had picked up the groceries for us.  Carl had hit a warehouse store as well as the local grocery, purchasing so much food we changed our plans and didn't go out to eat at all Saturday, just munched away at the goodies from Carl and other snacks some of the ladies had brought along. 

The retreat is a very different experience from a regular knit club meeting.  First of all, you get such a great opportunity to get to know each other!  I found out things about these ladies that I didn't know after going to knit club with them for years.  I am so impressed with all of them!  Secondly, we were all knitting and collaborating.  A couple of the ladies remarked at how useful that was for learning, because there was a whole group of knitters to give suggestions for the situations that developed.  In addition, knitters are such nice people, and everyone was very kind, helpful and considerate, which made food prep and cleanup a snap.

One of the things that just did my soul good was being away from home and all my normal responsibilities and interruptions.  I couldn't really feel guilty about what I wasn't getting done when it wasn't there to do, could I?  I greatly appreciated the change of scenery.

I had thought a whole weekend of knitting would feel like forever, but the time flew by.  We had all kinds of socializing while we knitted (and before and after, too), so that even the plain parts of the knitting weren't boring.  Angelika and Pat tested several of my patterns and gave me lots of corrections for the new book.  They were tremendously great sports about all the errors and omissions.  Not only that, but after the retreat was over, photos of their finished items are a good part of my book.  I love a photo-filled book!

We had a wonderful discussion Saturday night, and I thought to myself, I LOVE these women.  One thing I don't tend to do is take time for close friendships.  My everyday life is rushed, and this was not rushed.  There is just no substitute for taking enough time, feeling a sense of community.  Debbie has televisions in the retreat house, but we didn't turn them on.

I got a bit of knitting done, myself, samples I needed for the new book. 

Will we do it again?  Probably.  At the very least, we'll have more knit-ins, where we set up machines in the morning at the church and knit all day together. 

Here's our group, from left, Marta, Barbara, Angelika, Ruth, Pat and Karen!  I'm taking the picture :)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Whassup?

Oh, I know I've been quiet.  Awfully quiet here, for a chatterbox like me.

I've been busy and had a series of issues that kept me off balance.

First, John's mom got very, very sick, was hospitalized a whole month, had two brain surgeries and a stint at a rehab hospital.  She's home now, and doing okay, but this was terribly serious and she's in her 90s.

A few weeks later, I got sick.  I spent a night and a morning at the hospital to rule out heart trouble, but it was a nasty reflux flare-up.  After a change in my meds, eliminating a couple food items, and a couple weeks of relative peace, I was much better.

John had a work crisis and a horrendous problem with work deadlines.  He's been working crazy hours and is almost finished with the situation.

I had an insect sting about a week ago that turned into a 4" round pink and red bulls-eye on my leg very quickly.  It looked like something from a Lyme disease article!  The doc gave me antibiotics, which cleared it up.

Through all of this, work's been very busy, I've been going to evening meetings, and I've been trying to finish my upcoming mid-gauge machine knitting book.  It's in the pattern testing phase right now.  It also really needs some photos to get it out of its current sad black-and-white, are-these-really-projects phase. 

Every spare minute I'm running to the knitting room to do a little more, try another idea, edit a little video, or wind more yarn to get ready to knit.

Some really great things are coming up really soon: 

First of all, this weekend, our knitting club is having a retreat at a center in the Hill Country near New Braunfels, Texas.  We haven't been there before, but the pictures are lovely.  We aren't having a seminar, just a "free range" knitting time and some fun and fellowship.  Doesn't that sound great?  We've never done anything quite like this before.  I'll report back and let y'all know how it went for us.

Secondly, in July, I'm teaching at the Monroe Machine Knitting Seminar.  It's going to be super this year (again).  How do I know this?  Well, Larry and Cathy Reaume have done this for years and are organized experts, the venue is a wonderful spacious college campus setup, they always have several teachers, and they bring in a chef to do great food.  Just hanging around that many knitters is a mind-altering experience. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Office Violet

After a long history of no luck with African violets, I am having real success with a windowsill in my office and self-watering pots.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Finished My Afghan

For my last Knit Natters demo, I came up with a tuck lace afghan on my bulky machine.  I saw an idea in a magazine, then swatched, fiddled, and came up with my version.

With my swatches, I played around with fringe, tassels, and edgings, and I decided that a simple hem made the most professional finish for the latched panels.  The stitch has 3 needles in work and one out, and I used the same needle arrangement for the hems.  The mattress-stitched hems ensure every panel meets perfectly at the ends and lies nicely.

When I went to knit club, all I had done were the panels.  The panels still needed to be latched together, the sides had to be latched to make a pretty edge, and the hems, top and bottom, needed mattress stitched.  

For grown-ups, I like a big afghan.  This is about 5 feet by 6 six feet. I used two cones of dark and two cones of light, but I still have about 10 ounces of each color (4 cones of 5 ounces each).   


To my surprise, that all went very fast, and I enjoyed the finishing process.  I had used two strands of Tamm Star in a wine color and a soft rose color.  I thought perhaps having those two strands separate as I unraveled and latched might make the process tedious, but once I found an old latch hook for making rugs (it's big, and I needed the space to hold all the loops) it was terrific.

Using a tried-and-true cone yarn, stranded like this, is my new favorite afghan yarn supply.  This blanket had two cones of the same yarn for each panel, but for some afghans I made a while back, I actually used three thinner yarns to make a "tweed," a mixture of different colors. You don't need so very much of each color, and the finished result is quite interesting.

The color is truer in the close-up; that is, the wine is a little darker, but the rose is about right on my monitor.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Upcoming Seminar

I'm teaching at Knit Knack Shop's Spring Fling next weekend!

Have you been to Spring Fling?  Put on by Charlene Shafer's Knit Knack Shop, this is one of the relatively few larger seminars.  It's held at a fairgrounds in Peru, Indiana, has multiple teachers, incredible shopping (Knit Knack has just about anything you need for your machine knitting), and incredible fellowship with over a hundred knitters.

You can pick and choose from a great lineup of classes for Friday and then more for Saturday.  The teachers this year are Sandee Cherry, Susan Guagliumi, Carol Scott, Carol Wurst, and me.

I'm certainly looking forward to this.  My friend Barbara Deike is going with me to help out, and we always have a great time, visiting with fellow knitters and shopping a bit, ourselves!

Click here for more information.




New! Video for April - Chunky Woven Cable

Here's my April video:



This is one you can do on any main bed - no ribber required. 





Monday, March 27, 2017

Hello! I'm back!

If I owe you an email or if you're just wondering about me being MIA the last few days, well, we took a vacation and cruised with old friends.

OLD friends!  We went to each other's weddings!  We camped together, two families with two boys each!.  Their adult sons came along on the cruise, and it was wonderful to get to know them and their wives as adults.  Our boys didn't come - one had to work, and the other has a sweetie who gets very seasick.

This was great fun, but now I have to get back to the real world and off Island Time.  I'm in the final run-up to teaching at the Knit Knack Shop's annual Spring Fling.  If you have never gone, you really ought to go over to www.knitknackshop.com and read about it.  As knitting seminars go, this is one of the very best!  Barbara Deike (my Passap wizard friend) is coming along to help me out, and I love to travel with her.

Meanwhile, at work, we're being audited this week.  After we catch our breath from that, we're being audited again (a different kind of audit).  I've done this a long time, but I still get anxious.  I want everything to be fine, but we have so much accounting to do, and just two of us, that we're always finding and fixing mistakes in our own work, let alone having it examined by outsiders.

Gotta run and answer some more of those emails.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Knit Natters Met Today

Today was our Austin area machine knitting club meeting, Knit Natters.  We meet at a church in Leander.

Today Delpha showed us her brand new LK150 - really makes mine look a little old and worn, but I've had such pleasure with that lovely machine, and Delpha plans to "wear it out!"  She's already made a pile of hats and a scarf. 

Joan put a new sponge strip in her portable machine, and we were all pulling needles.  I was surprised at how quickly she and Pat put in that strip.  She carried it off with plans to clean all the needles before they go back in the machine.

I had the demo today, and I taught this Entrelac blanket - it's something I came up with to add to my afghan class at the Knit Knack Shop's Spring Fling next month.  Look, Ma, no triangles!  This Entrelac is on the square. 

Our local club is very good about letting me try out my new demos on them, and after I showed this technique using use one color of yarn, Dea said I ought to stick with several colors because it's so much easier to see the diagonal rows.

We talked about future plans for the club, at least a little bit.  We've got hopes of attending the Dallas seminar in October, carpooling to Dallas to see Sandee Cherry teach.  We nearly always send a contingent. We also rescheduled the April meeting so Barbara and I can attend, even though we're going to Knit Knack Shop the weekend we usually meet. 

It was nice to see Dea again, too; she had been out a while with illness.  Today, she purchased an extra Knit Leader I had - I had picked it up at a garage sale some time back.  You never know what you'll find at thrift stores and garage sales, but the really lucky thing about this one was everything was there, and complete.

John repaired my KE-100 Brother motor drive today.  It had stopped counting backwards, so I had to watch the rows.  He took it apart, cleaned it and removed old, gunky grease, and it's working great now. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Old Knitting Files

A few years ago, when I bought a new computer for my knitting, I took the old computer apart, and it has sat in a corner of the room now for three or four years.  

Thinking about some goodies I have on that computer and that I wanted them, hubby helped me fish it out of the corner and set it up today.  I pulled off dozens and dozens of old knitting files, and I've been having a good time browsing through them.  

Most of them are Design A Knit pattern files.  I have a real tendency to entertain myself by making up stitch patterns, whether I ever knitted them or now.  I also worked out a lot of more complicated knitting in DAK first.  I'd download them to the machine, discover problems as I knitted, go to the computer and fix the problems, and download and test again.

There are about 30 doily patterns, some much better than others.  Just as I have used the slip buttons on the Brother machine to make scalloped lace edgings, slip can be used to make short-rowed lace in pie shapes so that you knit and knit and get a round doily, tablecloth, shawl or whatever.  With a good invisible graft between the ending and the beginning, these things are lovely.  It's not that most people use doilies any more, but I just love figuring them out.

There are baby blanket files.  I had made a lot of garter carriage baby blankets for gifts where I would choose background and edge stitch patterns, and use the DAK font tool to program the baby's name into the center. 

There are about 35 garter stitch pattern files.  I made a number of big afghans that were stitch samplers.  One of them had garter stitch lace and hand-turned cables on it, as well, but my favorite thing to do by far was make afghans 3 or 4 panels wide with all sorts of stitches that didn't require any manual intervention.  The garter carriage would run for days, but these afghans were a wonderful weight and not much work after I figured out the first one.

I also found dozens of thread lace patterns and a gob of patterns styled after Norwegian fair isle themes.  

I also found old club demonstration files, photos from our knit club that reminded me of people I haven't seen in years, and Toyota, Brother, and Silver Reed stitch patterns saved in DAK.  

As a person who pack-rats data, there was a bunch of stupid stuff there, too, ridiculously outdated resumes, school essays the kids typed, and plenty of duplicates.  




Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Video for March - Scalloped Hem

For March, the new YouTube video is a scalloped hem that you can do on any flatbed knitting machine.  It's just some tuck stitch along with a regular hem.  I do love the looks of this, though, and hope you like it, too.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Knit Knack Seminar is Coming Up!

I just finished writing my instructional materials for the upcoming Spring Fling seminar at the Knit Knack Shop in Peru, Indiana.  The seminar is Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8. 

This is a wonderful seminar, and if you have never gone, you ought to!  First of all, it's a big seminar with several teachers, so you have lots of class choices.  Also, the Knit Knack Shop has almost every kind of tool or item that you might need for your knitting machine, and Harold Shafer does repairs on machines.  Harold gets very busy during the seminar, so if you need a repair and want it done to take home with you, contact him right away.  When I've been there, Harold also had nice machines and accessories for sale, as well, at very good prices.

Oh, as speaking of shopping, they have all the Tamm yarns for machine knitting.  This is acrylic cone yarn, made in Mexico.  It's practical stuff that washes and wears, and it is ideal for our machines.

Another reason you should go is the incredible camaraderie.  This is a big seminar, with lots of knitters.  Almost everyone who stays in a hotel stays at the same place, and it can take on a knitting party atmosphere in the evenings! 

Another thing I love about the seminar is that the Shafers are organized and experienced.  The instructors are varied, all the teachers have written handouts, food is fine, and the event is orderly. 

So - what am I teaching?  Well, I made a lot of changes to my class lineup.  I always change it, but I've taught at Knit Knack before, and needed fresh material.  I'm starting out with a ribber class, with the English Rib Cloche Hat, Wiggles stitch, and a ribber seams overview.  Then I'm doing a lace class, with short-rowing lace, slant lace, scalloped edge lace, isolated lace, and finally, a hand-tooled lace edge for a triangle shawl.  Next class is a fun projects class with Kitty Cat Baby Hat, Mocassin Slipper, and Stuffed Hearts.  After that, I have a fitting class, where I'll talk about fit, gauge, knitter's math, and the Knit Leader.

On the second day, I'm teaching a fairly advanced garter bar class, then a tips and tricks class, and a class that is all about making cables.  After that, I'm doing a class called "Easiest Afghans Ever," where I teach several panel afghan techniques and a rather different (and pretty) simplified Entrelac afghan that I've named "Squared Away."  (My mom was always getting things "squared away.")  My second-to-last class is all edges and joins, and I've got some good ones you probably haven't tried.  And, finally, I'm teaching "This Class is Biased," because I've got some fun slanted projects, including the Slant Lace Circle Scarf, Bias Mid-Gauge Scarf, and Bias Gift Bag. 

Actually, not on the lineup, is my own version of Clapotis and my own version of a fast, stitch-out-of-work bias scarf that behaves a little different than Clapotis stitch.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Socks by Bob - Here's an admirable gentleman!

Check out this article and video about an octogenarian man who has made over 10,000 pairs of socks for shelters:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/88-year-old-saskatoon-man-socks-1.3922778

Wow.  What a terrific charity knitting project!

He has built his own circular sock knitting machine, and he's apparently making long, long tubes of stockinette, which he later turns into tube socks.  I am curious how they are finished.  I cannot tell from the photos, but I suppose you could simple serge the toe end and the top end, or use a sewing machine.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Inspiration with Ozlorna

She's doing some beautiful things with tuck stitch and punch cards:

http://ozlorna.blogspot.com/2017/02/tuck-stitch-baby-blanket-with-cards.html

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Video for February - Horizontal Ribbed Band

Here's February's video:


This is a very basic ribbed band that is reliable for cardigans.  The ribbing stabilizes the edge, and these buttonholes are a great basic.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Video for January - Embossed Leaf Lace

As I create a video to upload each month, I'm trying to have a wide mix of machine knitting topics - sometimes a small project, sometimes a simple technique, sometimes an essential skill, and occasionally, something fancy.

Today's video looks fancy, a double bed technique where you make a lace motif that stands up on top of a purl background.  Although this is hand-manipulated, it is very easy to do, and I believe it could be done on any double-bed machine. I just love the way this looks, and hope you like it, too!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Best Posts of 2016



Happy New Year!  I wish you every blessing in 2017!

Here are my favorite picks from my 2016 posts.  I stuck with my discipline of putting up a video each month, so many of these are videos:
  • Curved, slanted pocket lesson in a video.  This one's a little longer than most, but it's quite a thorough lesson.

  • Video showing how to knit both sides of a neck at the same time.   

  • Take the Ronnie Challenge!  I was so impressed with Ronnie, the lady who let me stay at her home while I taught at the Chicago seminar, her knitting expertise, kniting creativity, and her amazing charitable knitting output, that I wanted you to get that shot of inspiration, too.

  • You don't need a special Intarsia carriage or special setting to do picture knitting.  It can be done on just about any machine, with a little planning and manipulation.  Here's the video.

  • Want to learn picture knitting, and you DO have an intarsia carriage?  Here's a video teaching how to do Intarsia with the Brother carriage.  It's a 3-color cable design, by the way, but I do go through the usual Intarsia basics, especially how to manage all those yarn ends.

  • I love lace, and I do peculiar things to "hack" the knitting machine's lace capabilities.  Here's an old favorite of mine, Mirror Image Lace, shown in a video.  I often show this at seminars.  It gets you thinking about the directional movements of the machine and stitches.  

  • I interviewed Kris Basta, the creator of the wonderful, made-in-America, very cleverly designed garter bars for all sorts of gauges, bulky as well as mid-gauge.  Here's yet another hobbyist who has used her unique talents to help all of us.

  • Here's a post about stumbling onto and acquiring a fascinating vintage Juki machine.

  • February's video was a simple little craft project that is a huge favorite - stuffed hearts for Valentine's day!  I've made these into pin cushions, sachets, throw pillows, and heating pads.  

  • Based on reader feedback, I believe the most popular video of the year was the Cloche Hat project.  I hope you'll try this one and learn to make two-stitch English Rib as well as the flower embellishment.

  • Now this video teaches a darn good buttonhole technique.  
How do you plan to spend your Near Year's Day?  John and I aren't exactly worn out from partying, since all we did was watch a couple Netflix movies and then watch the ball drop.  This morning, we went to church.  We're relaxing right now with hot tea, but one thing for certain - I plan to have some time for knitting today!  Lately I've been having the best time with my antique sock machine and I've also been playing with Red Heart Scrubby yarn.