Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I have a new book and DVD - It's about circular sock machines!

     I know, on this site I usually write about general machine knitting, but circular sock machines count, don't they? And CSMs are a passion of mine.

     I got my first one well over ten years ago, and I've had several since then. Over the years, I've made great bunches of socks with them. I decided that I might have something to offer in this rather crowded field, where there are so many wonderful videos and people are even manufacturing beautiful reproduction machines. (Pictured: my beloved, 100-year-old Legare 47.)

     I do socks my own way. I've made so many and tried so many ways to do them (and tried so many machines), and I've gradually settled into my very favorite ways of doing them. Besides, I love to teach, I love to teach with video, and I love to help beginners. This has a nice, long hi-def video that teaches a couple of different sock patterns and a bunch of techniques, and you'll see some techniques you haven't seen elsewhere.

     There are practical problems with sock machines. How do I find one? What accessories do I need? How am I going to learn this oddball craft? Or, in my case, I was thinking, can I think in circles?
How about this question: how do I fit different people if my eccentric old machine really does best at a certain gauge and I need to knit that gauge?
This is also a good product if you're just thinking about making the leap into this craft.
Well, I took it on, and I hope you like it! Here's the blurb:

The Happy Cranker
Circular Sock Machine Success!

       A nice, homemade sock made with good, soft sock yarn is a joy to wear and a much-requested gift. Great sock knitters make a sock using high-quality yarn, and it stays up because it fits - no spandex necessary! They graft the toe seam so it is just as smooth as the knitting and there's no lump to rub on sensitive toes. The cuffs have a beautiful, professional-looking selvedge.

      The circular sock machine is a fascinating little device that makes knitting LOTS of gorgeous socks possible! CSMs, both antique and reproduction, have become tremendously popular in the last few years. Maybe you're thinking of getting one. Or maybe you've got one and you'd really like to have an experienced CSMer sitting right there showing you exactly what to do.

      I have been using circular sock machines for quite a few years and I've owned a number of models of these machines. I make a beautiful sock, and in this book and video I share exactly how I do them. Everyone does these a little differently, and I'm showing my own methods.

     The book has information about finding a machine, getting the right tools, accessories and supplies, choosing sock yarn, marking your cylinder, beginning to knit, making socks that match, and getting gauge and fitting socks. I also have a beautiful sewn selvedge method for perfect ribbed edges.

      And then, there's the DVD: The 2-hour DVD teaches these techniques in detail. I teach a beginner's 60-stitch hemmed sock on a New Zealand Auto Knitter (a modern reproduction). This is a great little sock to get you started, and uses a 60-stitch cylinder and no ribber is necessary! You don't have to wait to master your ribber. If you can knit tubes and short-row, you can knit a sock.

Next, I teach my absolute favorite 72-stitch sock on my 100-year-old Legare 47. I like lots of small stitches for a nicely padded foot, and 72-stitch socks wear especially well. This is a sock with ribs along the top of the foot as well as up the cuff for an absolutely ideal fit.

PRICING: The book and DVD are $25 plus shipping (US $3 for even multiple-item orders, and see international shipping is more). This package contains two hours of high definition video that looks crisp and clear even on your big TV screen, and shows you the techniques with detailed, up-close views.

TO ORDER go to www.dianaknits.com, or you can "Buy it Now" with PayPal:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thoughts on "Retirement"

Ah, what a year I've had, so far!

I'm a CPA in Texas, and for the past 13 years, I worked at an AWESOME nonprofit organization that serves children.  I retired December 31, 2018.

However, the person hired to take my place resigned early this year, and my boss asked me to come back and help them until the annual audit was completed.

So I was retired six weeks, then I worked six weeks.  After that, I traveled about five weeks.  John and I went camping in our small trailer at Alabama's gorgeous Gulf Shores State Park.  After that, we went to California for a wedding, a bridal shower, and a family visit.  After that, we flew to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina for the incredible knitting seminar that the Carolinas guild puts on.

Once I got back to Texas, there was a lot to do at the nonprofit, and again, I dug in and worked on some interesting projects.  There were deadlines, and one day last week I left at the end of the day thinking I couldn't focus my eyes on one more number.

Now I'm caught up there, and we might have a new CPA for the job starting soon. 

Meanwhile, John hasn't quite retired, either.  He has moved to part-time work while his employer gets someone transitioned into his project. 

I guess he's part-time, and I'm intermittent.  What a pair. 

This whole retirement things comes with a bunch of weird thoughts.  To share a few:
  • I finally got the hang of working, and now I'm retiring.
  • Are we going to suddenly get old, sick and die?
  • Are we going to be broke and eat beans and rice? 
  • Will I get fat again if I hang around the house?
Nah.  This is great.  We prepared carefully for retirement, and I'm not retiring to nothing, I'm retiring to something!  My machine knitting passion has led me to a lot of friendships, teaching opportunities, and I still love it.  I am teaching two more seminars later this year, one in Minnesota and one in California. 

The video part of the MK endeavor is going to be busy this year.  Right now, on each side of my monitor are post-its with lists of videos that need edited.  In addition to the shawl ones, the YouTube channel, dianaknits, gets one a month.  (This month was a cute, easy little cable, Little Twist Cables.  Did you see it?  Shameless plug:  if you subscribe, you'll get an email each time there's a new video.) 

One cool thing about my machine knitting buddies is some retired knitters are setting a great example for me about how to make the most of this time of life. 

Besides, ambition and get-up-and-go have moved firmly into my head space and they're always crouching there, ready to spring.  Now they move me in new directions.  For instance, in that first six weeks of "retirement," I reorganized and cleaned my whole nightmare of a messy knitting studio.  I had been throwing bags of stuff in there, then closing the door.  I also decided to create a circular sock machine book and video set, and got it finished. 

Then I decided to write a shawl book, and knitted a small mountain of shawls, many of which will make the cut. I'm going back to the shawl project now.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Something New - A Click-to-Buy Pattern: Diana's Simplified Entrelac Afghan

A friend, Leslie, is knitting my "Squared Away Simplified Entrelac Afghan Without Triangles," and she's put some information on social media about the project.

Leslie is actually on an RV trip and knitting away in a screened-in room with a view!  She's got a nifty little knitting studio to take on the road.  Leslie is a relatively new machine knitter and NOTHING STOPS HER.  She has made amazing things!

Here's a photo of my sample of the afghan.  This pattern is made on a bulky (9 mm) machine.  It uses the waste yarn method of doing Entrelac.  It requires worsted weight yarn.  Mine was made with four colors of Simply Soft.  You'll want a waste yarn on hand that is about the same thickness and contrasts in color to all the other colors.  This is a VERY fun scrappy afghan, if you want to use up all sorts of yarn!

This afghan starts in a corner and each diagonal row of blocks makes it a little bigger.  If you want a bigger afghan, keep adding on...and on...

If you are curious about the waste yarn method of doing Entrelac, I have two videos about it on YouTube, although they are more complicated because you have to make the triangles to begin.  Here's Part One and Part Two of the Entrelac Pillow.

Another thing that is interesting about this pattern is the "picture frame" edging.  It's a sturdy, doubled edging with mitered corners that is a good addition to your knowledge of techniques and finishes.

Leslie is getting feedback from knitters asking about this pattern, which is one I've only given out to seminar participants and members of the machine knitting group that I attend every month.  I didn't have it for sale at all.  I had been planning to do some Click-to-Buy patterns where you could purchase a pattern and get it instantly.  I'd like to make patterns available quickly as singles and not always part of a book-and-DVD package.  Later, I might make some collections that include these patterns, or I might leave them as singles.  In any case, a lot of knitters have shown interest in having downloadable patterns and inexpensive single patterns.  

This pattern is for sale through PayPal for $5.00 (plus tax of 41 cents for Texas residents). There is obviously no shipping cost, but then again, there's no DVD or video for this one.  

When you click the Buy Now button below, you can either sign in to PayPal or complete the transaction as a guest.  It should already be pre-loaded with the amount.  When you complete the PayPal transaction, click "Return to Merchant," and it takes you to the pattern over on one of my websites.  You should immediately right-click, choose "Save As," and save it to your computer.  Also, if you want a paper copy, from that website press Ctrl-P (control & P) and you'll get a printing window.  It prints in color on two pages.  

If you need to contact me, there's an email icon on the left-side hand side of this blog, down a bit.  

Monday, April 8, 2019

Inspiration at My Blue Heaven Knits

Check out these great-looking stitch patterns that are a combination of a needle out of work and cabling techniques:


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Positive Impacts Your Hobby has on Your Life

Elise Morgan was kind enough to contact me and volunteer to write a blog post about the positive impact of a great hobby on your life!  This is a topic I'm really passionate about, from the wonderful friends I've made machine knitting to the fascination of it that takes my mind off, well, anything else that might be bothering me.

Here's Elise's take on the subject:\

Positive Impacts Your Hobby has on Your Life
by Elise Morgan

It’s easy to get feel like you’re stuck in a rut and just going through the motions of daily life, with little-to-no changes in the sequence. However, having a hobby that we truly enjoy participating in brings us joy and enriches our lives, while giving us a reason to “take a break” from our day-to-day normalcies. Luckily, there are so many different hobbies out there, and with each one comes a unique set of skills.

There are so many reasons that we should all have at least one hobby. Below are some of the most important advantages: 

1.     Social Outlet 

Many hobbies allow for us to find a social outlet and can even provide a degree of social support that we are needing. While some hobbies may seem like solitary endeavors, many can get us involved in our communities and allow for us to meet with people that we would not normally meet. These social connections have been found to be a key component of our happiness and ties to the belief of having a “meaningful life”.  

2.     Reduce Stress 

Forget about the stressful situations by getting caught up in your hobby – this way you can refocus your mind on something that you truly enjoy.

If your hobby involves physical activity, it can help to create chemical changes in your body that reduce stress and leave you feeling energized.  

Nonphysical hobbies have benefits as well - taking a break from the anxiety and exertion of daily life by participating in your hobby intermittently can help to rejuvenate the mind and provide more creativity and problem-solving afterwards.  

3.     Better Sleep 

In today’s technical era, it’s hard to resist the urge to look at your phone, TV, or computer before going to bed. If you have ever done this before, you probably know that it’s a lot more difficult to fall asleep after doing so.  

Instead, finding a relaxing hobby such as knitting or reading can help you wind-down for bed by slowing your heart rate and halting that wandering mind at night. Pair a good soothing hobby with a lavender candle and an ultra-comfortable bed to help you get the sleep that you’ve been missing out on lately – we all know it’s much-needed. 

4.     Boost Your Career 

It may seem counterintuitive that something other than work will help to boost your performance in your career, but you better start believing it! Having a hobby helps you learn how to handle situations that require creativity and concentration, and even shows your employers that you have the drive to do something with your time outside of work. 

In addition to boosting your performance, having a career can also help to reduce feelings of burnout. This is because you are able to take your mind off of work and focus on something completely different for the rest of your night, letting you feel refreshed and ready to focus at the office the following day.

5.     Gain Confidence 

It’s a great feeling when you know that you have talents outside of your work-life. Sure, you can be good at your job, but trying out different hobbies and discovering what other talents you have can give you an extra confidence boost.

About Elise Morgan:  Elise is a mother of two wonderful children and a freelance writer located in the mountains of North Carolina. She has recently found her passion writing about all things parenthood, hobbying, and home life. In her free time, Elise enjoys practicing yoga, trying out new recipes, and of course – knitting!


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Little Project

My friend Barbara had a spare Brother 930 that she wanted to sell, and she didn't want a whole lot of money for it.  It had previously lived at her friend's house and wasn't used much at all.  The machine looks practically new!

This was a machine in great shape, but it needed some of the usual things.

Our club heard from a lady from the prominent local university's theater department who wanted to buy a knitting machine and make it available for the students to use, as well as herself, in costuming.  As a group, my knitting buddies and I were pretty excited about this, because we are not aware of any machine knitting going on at that school.

So, Barbara brought the machine over.  Of course, it needed a sponge bar!  Once that was replaced, we set it up and tested it.  It was miss-patterning on both ends of the needle bed, and the center carriage buttons were stuck.

My husband came to the rescue once again - he took the carriage apart enough to thoroughly lubricate everything, and instantly, no stuck buttons and no miss-patterning!

Barbara also had a KR850 ribbing attachment, and the university wanted that, as well.  It needed some parts, and I inventoried it against the ribber manual and ordered items.  I ordered a few things for myself, as well.
This arrived yesterday, all carefully and closely fitted into a rather small Priority Mail shipping box. On the right, wrapped in honeycomb-looking shelf liner, are four claw weights I ordered at the same time.  

Barbara and I feel really good about the students having all the parts they need to have a great machine.  

This little story has some good lessons if you have to rehab an older machine:
  • When a machine miss-patterns (selects the wrong needles in pattern), it seems to nearly always be the carriage.  John has fixed quite a few of these, and only one was something in the machine.  
  • When you test a machine to see if it selects needles correctly, put all the needles in work and check out the entire bed.  I really don't know why, but this carriage only miss-patterned on the ends, and if we'd just tried out needles in the middle, we'd have had no idea there was a problem.
  • Oil, oil, and oil!  Each moving part on the bottom of the carriage needs to move fast!  Flippers should "flip!" rather than move lazily back into position.  The carriage zips across the needles very quickly, and a slow flipper doesn't have enough time to put the needle where it should go.
  • Most used machines need a new sponge bar.  Always check the sponge bar!  It should hold the needles down against the bed.  It should have some height left in it, not be crushed down.  Look at the ends where it wasn't against needles, and compare that height to how tall it is where the needles are.
  • If you are buying a knitting machine, don't be embarrassed to pull out the manual and inventory all the small parts.  Those little things are expensive, and if you're picking up an unusual brand or an older machine, spare parts can be quite rare.  However, don't assume that it will not be possible to get parts.  I have found that most parts for the punch card and electronic era Japanese machines are available.
  • If you find yourself with an unusable knitting machine, maybe one that was dropped, has a badly warped bed, or some other major fault, please part it out rather than discard it.  We machine knitters love these old machines, and you can sell your good parts on eBay or give them to a dealer, knit club, or repair person.    

Monday, March 4, 2019

New Video - Loose Loops for Binding Off

A practical little tip for March.  It's cold here - great knitting weather!

I've discovered that each machine is different for this - some work okay with a knitting tool, some with a chopstick, and for some, I just eyeball it and adjust it to make it more even right before I do the bind-off.  It's a timesaver, for certain, to have loose loops and go right across binding off quickly.

Sneak Peek:  In a few days, I will have a circular sock machine knitting book and DVD ready to sell!  The video is in duplication right now.  I am an avid CSM user, and just hope my approach to sock making will be helpful to others.

And, I'm madly knitting up patterns for a shawl and wrap book.  It's not as close to ready, but hey, it's ready when it's ready...  I had retired, but my replacement at the Boy Scouts resigned, so I'm helping out part-time until the audit is finished. I'm totally enjoying it, but it'll slow down the shawl book a bit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Inspiration at Knitting Up a Storm

Check out these beautiful felted slippers!


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Connie's Warm Idea & Other Variations on the No-Sew Lined Slipper

Connie has come up with a very clever modification to my sew-as-you-go lined slipper from the Footnotes book.  She adds a cuff, which is doubled like the rest of the slipper!  Connie says she lives in Michigan and needed to make a warmer slipper.

She was kind enough to send me a photo and give permission to share this great idea on my blog.

I asked her how she does it, and she said that after knitting the lining, she added 40 rows and then went back to the rest of the pattern.  It does take some sewing, of course, but it's minimal.

This Sew As You Go Lined Slipper is probably my most popular slipper pattern.  It's double, and when you finish knitting it, the only sewing you have to do is hide the ends.  With Connie's modification, the only sewing you'll need to do is sew the cuff closed and hide the ends! 

The Footnotes book has the slipper in 12 sizes for standard gauge, mid-gauge, and bulky machines.  Here's a picture of the slippers without the cuffs.  I make the slippers in all sorts of yarn, since I have all those gauges worked out.

When you have a pattern for a small project like this, and lots of gauge options, it makes a great scrappy project.  Connie used two colors on her cuffed slipper, and I used at least two colors (an outside and a lining color on the ones in the photo.  Consider, then, my brown and green scrappy variation from the Footnotes book:

To get this look, do your color changes at the narrowest part of the heel and toe of the outer slipper.

If, like me, you knit a lot of woolen socks, you end up with a bunch of small balls of leftover sock yarn.  Sock yarn works very well for the standard gauge version.

Finally, one more slipper idea.  For a luxurious slipper, you need only a small amount of a luxurious yarn, something super soft, for instance, baby alpaca, to line the slipper.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

New Video Today - Tuck Mosaic

For February, the new video is about tuck mosaic, also called two color tuck stitch.  

I had a great time working with this particular tuck mosaic pattern.  The strong graphic design is quite striking, especially if you use a self-striping yarn with a solid color.

How about a placemat?

Tuck Mosaic Placemat

By Diana Sullivan

This will make a placemat.  You will find the stitch creates a relatively flat fabric with little edge roll, a pretty side edge, a lot of thickness and warmth, and a wide piece compared to slip mosaic.  It’s a very suitable fabric for garments, blankets, and household items.

Note that mosaic stitches, or two-color tuck and slip, have a different look than the diagram.  Here’s the diagram for this stitch:


Machine:  Brother 270

Yarn:  I used Caron Cakes along with I Love this Yarn in the white, but I want to try this with scraps or yarn that changes color more often.

Program the machine for pattern 146.  No variation keys.  Turn the center black piece in each of the pink cams on the bottom of the carriage so that end needles will ALWAYS select.

Needle arrangement:  Left 20 to right 21.  Set tension to #6.

Cast on with waste yarn and knit a few rows, then a row of ravel cord.  Change to darker yarn.  Knit 3 rows.  Turn tension dial up to #10 and knit a row.  Turn tension back to 6.  Knit 3 rows.  Pick up hem.

Turn the row counter to 000.  Turn on KC.

Thread with white.  Knit 1 row.  Needles will select.  Put in both tuck buttons.  Knit 2 rows.

Take out white yarn and “park” it under the end of the needle bed.  Put in color yarn.  Knit 2 rows.

Continue to knit 2 rows white, then 2 rows colored yarn, until row counter 84.  You should end with 2 rows white.

Turn off patterning.  Knit 1 more row white.  Thread colored yarn, knit 3 rows.  Turn tension up to 10, knit 1 row.  Turn tension back to 6, and knit 3 rows. 

Knit several rows of waste yarn in a contrasting color.  Cut yarn, leaving a long tail for sewing.  Sew the hem shut with a whip stitch through the bottom and top loops of each hem stitch.

Block lightly.

Edit:  I've added the chart, in case you don't have a copy of that Stitch World book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Making My Own "Cake"

I've got a project for which I want a slow-changing, tweedy colored yarn.

I found some who-knows-what-it-is white slubbed yarn, and I'm using a twisting yarn winder to ply it with sock yarn scraps.  I knit a lot of socks, and have a lot of partial balls, since it normally comes in 50 or 100-gram balls.  Most of my leftover sock yarn is variegated or self-striping.  I'm putting maybe 100-150 cranks on the yarn twister in of one ball, then tying on another ball and continuing.

I had maybe ten balls that had some blue in them, and that's what I'm using.

I wasn't so sure I'd like this, but I knitted a sample, and am pleased.

Ah, back to the winding!  Good thing I'm listening to an interesting book.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Working On My Knitting Studio

When our younger son left for college, I took over his bedroom and made a knitting room.  I foolishly thought all my knitting things would be in one room, but no, it's still all over the house. 

One of my first goals as a new retiree is to work on the knitting room and make it into a studio where I will really enjoy working.  It was probably in the worst possible condition after last year. I was overwhelmed at work, helping hire and train a new person, while very busy.  I also traveled and taught five seminars.  It was a wonderful year, but I didn't even unpack right away after some of the trips, and plenty of times, I just tossed bags and boxes into the knitting room.

I've been working on it diligently every day, and progress is happening!  I still have a big list of things to do, but here's what I've done so far.

For starters, I put together some wire cubbies for yarn.  These things are simply banged together using plastic connectors and a rubber-tipped hammer.  They're about one foot square, and I put them up along most of the longest wall in the room.  I started with 10 units long by 5 units tall, but John looked at it and suggested I go one unit higher, so now I have a 10x6 array.

I put bulky yarn in the left end of the rack, then mid-gauge yarn in the middle, and standard gauge yarn is on the right end.  I am embarrassed to say that this isn't all of my yarn. There are also two cone trees in my bedroom and some boxes downstairs.  Friends have generously given me yarn, and yarn has been included with machines I purchased.  It's time to do another yarn destash.  I went through a period where I gave away ridiculous amounts of yarn.  It even sold it for $1 a cone at a garage sale, and a customer told me I was crazy to sell it that cheap.  Well, my friends didn't want any more yarn, my house was groaning with it, and it had to go! 

It took me a while to learn that I don't love collecting yarn and machines.  It's knitting, designing knits, and teaching that gives me joy.

One task I didn't realize would be fun was putting yarn and tools into the rack.  I had forgotten some of the yarn I had.  Having pretty stuff on shelves at eye level makes me want to knit - big time! 

I had read about a financial challenge a while back that suggested one buy nothing in January.  Give the credit card a post-holiday rest and "shop" in your home, said the article.  I wasn't doing it deliberately, but this project had me shopping in my own home, and there were some great finds.

Most of the rest of these photos are things that have been in the room for ages; it's my attempt to organize the miscellany that comes with a passion for machine knitting.  Since I like to see how things can be stored, maybe you'll pick up an idea or two from my storage.

Starting at the door and going clockwise around the room, and with all the machines uncovered so you can see how I work, here's some my functional but messy room.  On the back of the door I have a clear shoe bag.  I've had this for ages and find it works great for keeping and being able to quickly find small KM items.

After you walk in, there's a small closet with bi-fold doors, and in front of that there's a little wooden stand with my electric cone winder and my jumbo yarn winder.  These need to be out all the time.  I very seldom use a small winder anymore!  I don't believe in knitting without rewinding the yarn.  There's a trash can right there, between the winders and the mid-gauge Studio 860.  It's so handy to have a trash can by each machine.

This is my Studio 860, which is electronic mid-gauge. There are cups and trays of tools next to it, and on the floor under the winders is a cardboard box filled with more mid-gauge tools.  The machines set up in this room are my workhorses.  Sometimes I teach on other machines, and those machines are put away elsewhere.

To the right of the mid-gauge is a sturdy music stand.  I've tried different ways of keeping the current pattern and notes handy, for instance, clipping them to the yarn mast, but this works best for me.  A music stand is one more thing cluttering the room, but it has lots of room.  In addition to my pattern, I have a spiral notebook, a pen, and another pattern or two I'm thinking about working up.

If I'm working and get an idea or think of a task I don't want to forget, I'll write it down right away with that handy paper and pen. 

I have a desk in the corner of the room.  This was my 35-year-old son's desk way back in high school.  Although it's old and battered, it is very functional for my needs. It holds my desktop computer and has lots of cubbies to stash things.  It also has a pull-out on the right side that provides extra surface area when I have a desk project.  I use this area to edit video, do bookkeeping, figure out patterns, and keep oddball things like DAK cables or my camera bag handy.

This is a special computer, configured for editing video, and I am very grateful for it, because it saves me hours of time on each video project.  I needed a special video card and lots of memory (we went with 36 GB) to handle high-definition video files.  I'm thrifty, but my husband has tried to teach me how important it is to have the right tool for the job.  This is a great example of how much having the right tool pays off.  It's due for a tune-up, a new hard drive and some software installation.

I have two rolling office chairs I move around the room.  I prefer the adjustable office chairs, because they're padded and I'll move them up and down just to change my body position as I work. 

Next, on the west wall, in front of the window, is my bulky machine (Brother 270) that you see so often in videos.  The day I took the photo was rainy and gray, but this bay window on the second floor looks out on the front lawn.  I enjoy having it open for the extra light.  It's not good for the machines to be exposed to sunlight, or dust.  I have colorful beach towels to keep them covered, but these pix are with everybody naked. 

This 270 is the machine I usually go to first if I'm playing around with swatches, trying out ideas and solving problems.  I purchased three sets of these cheap plastic drawers about 20 year ago, and they're still just fine.  This one is on wheels and filled with bulky tools.  I have ribber covers in place all the time unless I'm using the ribber.  I will also remove the ribber entirely if my project is on the main bed and I need better access.  This one's on a tilt stand, so I can easily go from main bed work to ribber work and back again.

And, here's the standard gauge machine, a Brother 965i.   It is mounted on a Brother motor drive.  I currently have an old color changer on it, because I was doing some Brioche ribbing.  I have wires and extension cords in a pile on the floor.  When we have lightning storms, I always crawl under here and unplug the power strip, which is used for this machine, the camera, the light, and the motor.  Almost everything in the room is on three power strips, which facilitates unplugging at the very first rumble.

With the extension cords, I can easily move the camera and work light all over the room.  The plastic drawers are filled with standard gauge tools and weights, and then on top is a carrying tote overflowing with ribber items. 

Here's the far right side of the room, with new yarn cubbies in the background and an oddball item in the foreground.  This is the light I use when I'm filming.  We discovered that the more light I have, the clearer I can get the video focus.  My husband gave me this garage work light stand.  It used to hold an incredibly bright halogen light, which was hot and an energy pig.  I'd get cooked working in here.  Despite the heat, I became utterly sold on having lots of light in the room as I knit.  When the LED work lights became common, we put one of those here instead.  It's just as bright and not as hot.  In addition to the ceiling light fixture, there's a halogen floor lamp by the Passap and a clip-on desk lamp. 

That's it for the north wall, and turning to the east wall, which is a short wall, I have my beloved Passap E6000.  In the corner left of the E6 is a large capped PVC pipe, which holds all my sponge bars, both new and worn out.  I prefer to purchase new sponge bars, but sometimes you need a size that you can't find, and you can put new foam rubber into an old sponge bar frame.

 There's also a cardboard box, which is filled with ribber combs.  I really don't have a smart way to store ribber combs.  I tried hanging them Command brand hooks, but they're a bit heavy for the hooks and tend to hit the floor.  Also, the combs are also unbalanced and hang crookedly if you use the weight holes.  I suppose the solution would be to drill a hole in a spot that balances, polish the hole's rough edges, and then pound nails in the wall, but I hate to drill a new hole in any of my combs.  Anybody got a great idea for storing ribber combs?

Friday, January 11, 2019

I've been knitting lately...

I have been taking a sample Entrelac sweater with me to seminars that doesn't fit me anymore (I made it when I was bigger).  After all this time, I finally got around to making a new one to fit me!

This is from my Wear Your Diamonds book, which has Entrelac yoke sweaters for men, women, and children for mid-gauge and bulky machines. 

As we say in Texas, this is not my first rodeo!  I knitted quite a few of these in the course of creating the book and the video, but surprise - I hadn't knitted one of these in several years, and I had to reread the instructions carefully.

This is a round yoke sweater, which is a variation on a basic raglan.  I love the look of round yoke sweaters, and these have a strong graphic design that I especially like with the contrasting colors and the changing block sizes.  This yarn is Brush Strokes, a soft acrylic with a little alpaca.

You start with the yoke, using waste yarn at the bottom, then making triangles for the bottom of the yoke, then the rounds of different sized blocks. 

The big problem with having a sweater that is part Entrelac and part stockinette stitch is that the Entrelac is very, very wide compared to the stockinette. I came up with a way to greatly reduce the number of stitches for the yoke compared to the sweater, which is done in the setup triangles.

When the yoke is done, it's rehung upside-down on the machine for the body pieces.  This photo shows the short-rowing which makes the body fit properly with the round yoke. 

The front, back, and two sleeves are all different, because to have a good fit, the front neckline must be lower than the back neckline.  The whole yoke is placed lower on the front than the back, that is, the body is modified to make the neckline sit lower. I marked the inside center back of the yoke with a few stitches of the medium gray yarn, so I can easily find the right way to pull on the sweater. 

Today I finished assembling the sweater.  I found this fabric rather difficult to sew, since the yarn has hairy strands that make it hard to see individual stitches.  I put in and removed the first seam a couple times, and then got a very bright light to shine right in my lap, which made it much easier to see the stitches.

The color shows up best on the photos of the sweater hanging on a door.  In the close-up, the flash washed out the color a bit, but I'm including it so you can see the texture.  I didn't block the sweater at all, preferring to leave the three dimensional texture of the Entrelac diamonds. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Things to Do On New Years's Day

There are lots of superstitions about New Year's Day.  Here in the South, we're supposed to eat a "mess of black-eyed peas" for good luck and prosperity during the new year.   Some the other traditions and ideas I found on a web search:
  • Other foods are supposed to be lucky - lentils and pork, for instance.  Lentils are round like coins.  Pigs move forward as they root, and we want to move forward, don't we?
  • We're supposed to stock up the pantry!  You can't start out with bare cupboards, or the year will continue in that way.
  • Don't let any of your stuff leave the house; otherwise, this will be a year when things leave the house, and you become poor.  True believers don't even carry out the trash! 
  • Don't break anything today, or pay out any money, or cry.  Again, you're avoiding setting a negative pattern for the year.
  • First foot - the first person setting foot in your home is going to set a pattern for the year, so it's best if he's tall and handsome. 
  • Polar bear plunge - jumping into cold water is a New Year's tradition in several colder countries.  I have NO IDEA why what's good luck.  Can anyone enlighten me?
  • Set goals and make resolutions to set the tone for the year.  After all, a new year is a new start!
  • Turn the hangers in your closet the wrong way.  As you use your clothing during the year, you'll put it back in the normal way, and next New Year's day, you any easily identify anything you haven't used all year so you can clean out your closet.
All right, y'all, I am giving MY plans for great New Year's Day:
  • This is the FIRST DAY OF MY RETIREMENT!  I am celebrating a new time in my life and new adventures I know God will bring.  I'll start by spending time with the Lord. 
  • I'll follow my food plan.  Many of y'all don't remember me when I was fat, but five years ago, I lost a LOT of weight, and I'm sticking to the plan!
  • I am going to pack some boxes for charity, at least one or two, because I need stuff to go OUT of my house.  I want to set my brain on culling things we don't use. 
  • I'll knit for a while, to establish that pattern (and because I love to do it).
  • I'm going in my knitting room and doing the little TLC routine on all my knitting machines that are set up.  (The video is below).  A little cleaning and oiling, a little love, and these wonderful old machines will give another year of excellent service!