Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Getting Ready for Seminar in San Francisco!

Yea, another trip to California!

I'm packing our bags for another seminar, this time in the Bay Area.  John is going with me and has some machine knitting repairs to do.

I've worked hard on this curriculum, and now, because the S.F. knitters have asked for fitting, I've written an extra handout for Saturday morning.  I am going to teach how I do a basic fitted sweater chart with a set-in sleeve.  I'm pretty excited about this new material.  It'll be great to get feedback on it from the fashionistas in that group!

Most of the curriculum will be focused on machine knitting techniques, especially things that I have not taught in that part of the country.  In other words, new demonstrations.  I'm doing a bunch of cool hand-manipulated techniques and garter bar basics on the first day, and on the second day, I've got some brand-new lace material that the Minnesota knitters loved.

I also put a big section in the back of the book with bonus patterns.  They have some relatively new machine knitters in that guild - so let's get 'em knitting!

I think the group has room for more attendees, if you are interested.  Their website, "Machine Knitters Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area," is here.  If you have never attended a machine knitting guild meeting or seminar, you're in for a wonderful surprise.  Knitters are incredibly fun and welcoming, and you'll be blown away by the ideas you'll carry home from hanging out with the other machine knitters.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Now Available - Shawl Collection for Machine Knitters

Whew!  My new book is finally available to purchase at www.dianaknits.com.  The DVDs arrived from the duplicator the other day, and I can finally say it's ready to go.

So - what's here?  The book contains 9 shawl patterns, a mix of skill levels, techniques, and machine gauges, and then there's a 2-DVD set.  It simply took hours and hours of footage to teach all the different shawls. I was very pleased when I tested the  new DVDs the other day - super crisp HD pictures on our big-screen TV.  The book and DVD set is $25.  US postage is $3 and international shipping is more.

Rundown on the shawls:

The Self Fringing Shawl is a super beginner project.  I wrote the pattern for the mid-gauge, and I used a number of different yarns for it.  A good starting place would be a single package of Shawl in a Ball.

If you've been unhappy with self-fringing techniques in the past, you might have run into the problem that the knitting along the self-fringe unravels into a mess.  I have a "locked" fringe technique, and that problem is totally eliminated.

The two pictured are Shawl in a Cake, and take one package.  Another favorite samples was made with an end of sport weight slubby white yarn and a pile of small balls of leftover self-striping sock yarn.  It's a super scrappy project.  Forget hiding ends for all those color changes - they're fringe.

Miters and Lace was knitted on my bulky with the ribber.  I took advantage of U-shaped knitting technique to make a matched mitered triangle shawl out of "cakes" yarn.

This has hand-tooled scalloped lace edge with a great-looking mitered point for the center point of the shawl.  Details matter!

The Peacock Shawl is done on a bulky machine, no patterning or ribber required.  This one is a semi-circle, short-rowed triangles and a hand-tooled lace.  Make your lace tooling super easy by using a 7-stitch transfer tool.

The Peacock Shawl has an interesting straight edge finish - the extra-wide I-cord edging, to provide a sturdy edge for the most-handled part of the shawl.

I tried several yarns for this one.  The blue/green colorway shown is Shawl in a Cake.  This is big - you need two packs.  The oranges colorway is Caron Latte Cakes.  That particular shawl is absolutely the comfiest, warmest shawl in my huge box of samples.  Caron had discontinued this yarn, but it's back now, and I've seen it at Michael's in new colorways.

Color-changing yarn or "cakes" yarn is fun for this shawl,,because you get a starburst effect with the colors.

Half Circle Shawl with Leaf Edging is made on the standard gauge Brother with a Stitch World lace for the outer edge.  I've taught the Stitch World method of scalloped edgings before, but if you wanted, you could use any of the "Enchanted Edgings" on this one, instead.  The edging was knitted afterwards and put on with sew-as-you-go technique for a nearly undetectable seam.  The starburst design is lace eyelets this time.



The Mirror Image Lace Triangular Shawl is a pattern I've had for years, but didn't sell, because it's a little more advanced and has very unusual techniques, particularly the mirror image lace. It's in this book, though, because I included all the video necessary to see exactly what needs done to get the effect
The lace matches in the middle of the triangle, and the shawl also featured a fancy edge.  This is made on a standard gauge Brother electronic using a Stitch World pattern.

The Bias Lace Triangle Shawlette was my approach to getting stripes that slide along the triangle without using the garter bar.  I used bias lace on the standard gauge machine with a lace carriage along with self-striping sock yarn.  Both sides are pretty; I don't know which side should be "public."

These bias lace projects are easy, and I have two in the book.  The second on is a chevron shape, Chevron Bias Lace Shawl, a nice, big shawl made of two trapezoids of bias lace.  Halfway through, change direction and make the lace bias the other direction!

The Drop Lace Stole is a bulky project that requires a ribber.  Drop Lace was a featured stitch for the Brother 260/270 machine ribbers.  It's pretty and it's easy, but I haven't used the technique all that often.  Try something fuzzy and warm for this shawl, which is a big, wrap-me-up stole. I first made it for my tall daughter-in-law, who liked it because it is generous-sized.

Finally, the book has a poncho, which is sized for adults as well as children.  People are wearing ponchos again, and these look so cute on little girls and stay on.

That's the Slider Lace Poncho, knitted on the mid-gauge with a very simple hand-tooled pattern, shown in the closeup photo.

This is just two rectangles, if you're a beginner, and it has two different but simples edgings to learn for the neckline and the bottom edge.  I also teach how to put the two seams in on the machine.  Those seams join a side edge to a top edge, and a good way to make them look great is to put them together on the machine.





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Finished the Baby Velvet Adult-Sized Afghan

Wow, it's finally finished!  This was a LOT of short-rowed shells to knit.  I've been knitting on it a little almost every day for a couple weeks.

I love doing these.  This was the child's pattern with a different yarn an a looser tension, only 12 stitches).

It's very, very soft.  It's pet-able!  Chenille is sure quirky, though, as you'll see as I describe finishing, below.

I used the same edging I used on several of the shawls - an extra wide I-cord made by latching the inside ladder by hand every few rows.  I just love this edge, and it really gave a needed reinforcement to this afghan.  The chenille is a somewhat floppy, and the sturdy double edge helped.  That edge eliminates all edge curl and looks good on both sides.  It went on tighter, though, than I expected.  I had to turn up the tension to #10 (the afghan was knitted on T9), and I had to use weight and be sure to pick up every side loop along the sides (just the loops, not the knots - the idea is to get every other row) and every stitch on the top.  I didn't have a problem with it going on tight with the other yarns.

The afghan has a hem at the bottom, and the pattern says to put a hem at the top.  Because this was chenille I knew sewing a top hem would be a problem.  Chenille is hard to pull through with a needle, likely to break, and loses its fur being pulled through over and over.  Binding off the hem with the latch tool was going to make a lumpy line at the bottom of the hem.  Instead of using a top hem, I did this:

  • Made the final row of "finishing shells," which are shorter than the regular shells.  End that row of shells with one row of the same color over all the needles so there are no double loops from short-rowing to pick up.
  • Put on 6 rows of waste yarn with a contrasting color of worsted weight yarn.  
  • Do the I-cord edge, picking up one stitch from the top edge along the waste knitting each time.  Be sure to use the looser tension for this, T10.
That top edge is beautiful, straight, sturdy, and not lumpy at all.  The smaller pic is that top edge. 

The next photo is the detail of an inside corner at the bottom - it shows the hem which curves along the shells, gives you an idea what the purl side of the seashell stitch looks like, and also what the inside of the I-cord edge and bottom hem look like.  If you want warmth and to not snag fingers and toes, this pattern has no holes and no floats.  

I took a bunch of photos, walked away, and only then decided to steam the edgings only.  I wanted to stretch them a little, just gently, as the corners cupped a little.  I also wanted to make sure the curved bottom hem was flat.

I suppose that if you wanted a straight line at the bottom, you could start with one row of the shorter finishing shells, but I prefer the curves. 

I did not steam the seashells at all, just the edges.  The chenille made a flatter seashell than any other yarn I've tried, and I wanted texture.

Another warning about the chenille - yarn ends do not want to stay hidden!  I keep tucking them in and the tip ends keep working out.  Fortunately, I knitted almost every end in by e-wrapping six needles on the wrong side.  

Here's the afghan spread out on a bed for steaming.

That's a queen-sized bed, and you can see what a BIG afghan this is.  I wanted it big, and it turned out wider than the mid-gauge needle bed.  It's not very often you get an adult-size afghan with just one width of the knitting.




Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yarn Challenge - Baby Velvet

This yarn jumped into my shopping cart at Michael's:

I usually shy away from Chenille.  Although it is incredibly soft and pretty, it can be difficult to knit.  Sometimes it biases so I have a  diamond instead of a rectangle, and sometimes it "worms" later, after the project is finished and used.

I have had good luck with high quality chenille, in terms of holding up once it was knitted, and truly lousy luck with other chenille yarns.  I like all-cotton chenille.

This is polyester chenille, and I didn't know how it would behave.  I wanted it anyway.  I was standing in the store petting it like a yarn idiot.  I thought the colors were wonderful beachy, shell colors and I have loved ones who live in Huntington Beach.  I don't know how true the colors are on your monitor, but the pink is a pale, slightly peachy rose and the other color is a pale taupe.  My plan was to make the Seashell Stitch Child's Afghan, but adult-sized.  (This is not the seashell stitch in the YouTube video.  I've changed the method and like this one better.)

I also didn't know how much to buy, and purchased two skeins of each color, hoping it was enough for an afghan.  The yardage is incredible - 492 yards in a 10.5 ounce (300 gram) skein.  It's labeled yarn group 4 (worsted) with 4 stitches to the inch.

Chenille yarn has a central core and cut fibers coming out from there.  That means that sometimes you can get chenille yarn to knit on a smaller gauge machine than you'd expect.  I had already been experimenting with using my 150-needle mid-gauge with a loose tension and somewhat larger yarns.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this yarn knits on my Studio 860 mid-gauge at tension 9.

Now I've knitted a while (seashell stitch takes a bit of time, as it is all short-rowing), and I have two big, awesome surprises!

Awesome Width - I have already ranted about how wide Seashell Stitch turns out.  I am getting over 46" in width!   This is before the edging I use on that blanket.  It is actually a little wider than the needle bed.

Awesome Yardage - I had already mentioned how much yardage there was, but as soon as I had a little knitting done, I realized how very light the fabric is.  I don't mean thin and cool - not at all!  This is fluffy and warm.  I'm referring to how light a whole handful of the fabric feels, almost weightless. 
The yarn just goes on and on.  I have used most of the first two skeins and I've already got 43" in length. 

Even if I make this afghan extra long (I like long afghans) and add my side edging, I will have yarn left over! 

I am very happy with the stitch.  Of course, as soon as I got going, I thought about other ways I could do this.  I could use more colors and graduate them; I could use a background color and all sorts of colors for the shell checkers.  Two rows of each color makes a bit of a ripple.  However, the option that really fires my imagination is to make diagonal stripes, which I already know from making mid-gauge shell shawls is easy.  This just shows you how hard I am finding it to get this stitch out of my system.

I did give out the Seashell Stitch Shawl pattern, which is not yet available for sale, to my Princeton, Minnesota seminar participants, and I asked for feedback on the pattern.  I am going to give it to the San Francisco seminar attendees next month, too. 

Here's a closeup of the knit side of the shell stitch in this yarn, unblocked and still hanging on the machine.  It is making up with less of a three-dimensional texture than it has in other yarns, but it still has the raised look to each shell.  The fabric is soft, light, and a bit limp. 

If you work with this yarn, do rewind it and use it from the outside, leaving it on the winder's core.  I put mine on cones, and it is feeding into the machine very well.  Just looking at the stuff as it feeds, I can see it has a tendency to catch on itself on its way to the upper tension unit, and I know it would tangle and give me trouble if it were poorly rewound.



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Something New at My Shopping Site - Seashell Child's Blanket

I had a YouTube video showing a quick, easy way to make the seashell stitch.  Lately, though, I've made several projects with it and come up with a different way to make it.

I am crazy about this stitch.  I make it and make it; it takes more time to make each short-rowed shell, but the texture is just lovely and the shapes fascinate me.

With my new selling site, I am putting up some single patterns you can buy.  I send them by email as .pdf files.  These don't have video files included, just instructions.  People has asked for this, and my first one was the simplified Entrelac blanket.  This new one is a blanket made with the seashell stitch.  I used at hem at the bottom, but at the top, in order to have a nice border, I made shortened seashells to give a straighter edge.

This is a mid-gauge pattern.  I am pleased with the width I get from this stitch.  It's 43" wide.

The reason this blanket looks so crazy is I simply used Ice Cream yarn, which is self-striping with big blocks of white, yellow, and turquoise.  I love the random craziness of it, but you can make an orderly shell blanket if you like.  I am about to try one alternating the two rows in two colors.

Here's the pattern's shopping page.



Sunday, October 20, 2019

October Video - Double Bed Color Changer

Here's a video I made in response to a request, demonstrating the double bed color changer:


Friday, October 18, 2019

"Top This" Hat Kits

When I was teaching at Cindy Schmatz' Princeton, Minnesota seminar last week, she had her shop open after each day.  I bought a few machine knitting tools (her prices are awesome) and I picked up two Top This hat kits from DMC.  Cindy had a wonderful price on them.

I knew I already had one at home, but I also knew that I'd be spending almost a whole day flying home (two flights and a layover) and in need of something to do.  Hand knitting is a wonderful activity for days when you simply have to wait.

The pattern inside only has toddler and small adult sizes, but more sizes are available on a website.  I knitted the Giraffe first, shooting for a size a little larger than toddler for a preschooler great niece (added a few stitches and rows myself, didn't bother to download the pattern).  What I needed to know was, what tools were required?  The wrapper said to buy a size 9 knitting 16" circular needle and a set of size 9 double-point knitting needles.  I would also need stitch markers and a sewing needle.  I had my giveaway yarn sewing needles with me and some stitch markers from the LAMBS sock crank-in I attended for a half day (they gave us a wonderful goody bag).

I have a huge collection of hand knitting supplies at home, and wanted to buy as little hardware as possible.  I don't like knitting on double points, and I thought about knitting back and forth and putting in a neat seam.  I settled on buying two 16" size 9 circular needles and using the (so-called) "magic loop" method for a seamless result.  John and I took a field trip to a Crafts Direct store, which we don't have here, and it was quite fun to look around in there and purchase my needles.

I was lucky and got gauge without trying more needle sizes.  I didn't want to buy more sizes when I have so many at home.  Also, the 16" needle was very comfortable to use with this number of stitches.  I didn't have to stretch or gather the hat too much as I worked.  I knitted the giraffe hat on flying day, and part of the bear hat, which is the toddler size.  After I got home, I knew I already had the lion kit, so I knitted that one up, too, goofing off and watching TV.
I was happy with the quality of the kit.  I like the simple instructions and the easy way to do the smooth spiral crown with stitch markers.  The yarn colors are beautiful and vivid, and the stuffed animal heads are secured with attached ribbon and a disk inside the hat allowing for removal for cleaning.  On the bear, I brought the ribbon back outside to make a neck bow.  They certainly give you plenty of yarn - in fact, when I knitted the lion hat for a larger kid, I decided to double the ribbing rows and make a fold-up brim for extra ear coverage.  If I had this project to do again, I'd have done that on all the hats, but I didn't realize how much extra yarn I would have.  I'm sure there is enough yarn for an adult hat, if you've got a young adult who loves the hats.

I may use the pattern again to hand knit an adult hat.  I have some gorgeous 100% mohair that knits worsted gauge left from a KM project, and I also have one of those fur hat toppers.







Tuesday, October 1, 2019

FUN at DFW Machine Knitting Seminar

Six of us carpooled to Dallas last weekend to attend the DFW Machine Knitters Guild's annual October seminar.  Linda Jensen (My Blue Heaven Knits) demonstrated this year.

We had about 30 in attendance.  It was wonderful!

I know for a fact that there are lots of knitters within driving distance who did not come.  They probably don't go to the club meetings, either.  Did they know about the seminar?  I don't know.

This morning I was thinking about reasons not to attend a seminar.

Gee, I don't know anyone.  I won't be comfortable not knowing anyone.

Shoot that one right down.  These are KNITTERS.  Knitters are an incredibly enjoyable social group.  Nice, nice, nice, plus extremely excited to have new people in attendance.  Knitters take the beginners and give them the best seats in the room.  Demonstrators let them stand right behind the machine to see everything.  From time to time, they let the beginners sit at the machine and try it themselves.  They let them (and non-beginners) take home swatches from the demos.

Knitters are so kind and social that I'm dazzled by them every time.  They joke, they laugh, they look after each other.  They have so many odd behaviors in common.  For instance, we collect yarn, we collect machines, and we collect patterns.  We let each other examine the seams and hems on our clothing.

Here's another possible reason:  I'll be bored.

Well, you might get bored.  I didn't see it at Linda's class, but you could.  You could have spent the prior evening eating and drinking and talking, then stayed up half the night in the sleepover atmosphere created by sharing hotel rooms with other knitters.  You might have just come back from eating a great plate of pub food and get a little after-lunch slump going.  But it didn't happen to me!  I've been knitting so many years that I don't like to admit it because it's like announcing my age, and I don't get bored.  I sit there thinking, oh, that's different than the way I do it.  Why does she like to do it that way?  She's making WHAT?  That's something I've never tried to make.

I don't know about you, but I've noticed that getting away from home has very salutary effects of my psyche.  I'm just having fun, and I'm not looking at all the stuff I ought to be cleaning up, or finishing, or otherwise doing.

How about this one?  It's expensive.

Well, if you go to seminar you might spend some money.  First of all, there's the hotel and all those meals and drinks.  But I'll speak for my little group.  The seminar fee was surprisingly small - really ridiculous for two full days of teaching.  That works because we're all chipping in on flying in and paying a teacher. Also, we shared hotel rooms, two to a room, and we carpooled to and from.  Of course the local people didn't need the hotel rooms.  Our group brought snacks, got free breakfast at the hotels, and some of us skipped the drinking or just had a drink and an appetizer.  At seminar, we learn about good places to purchase supplies, or talked to people who are willing to swap equipment, or learned how to fix something that would have cost a lot to ship somewhere for repairs. I've been to seminars where knitters scored great free equipment from someone who just wanted to find a good home for it.

Some seminars have bulletin boards where people sell and trade things.  I have gotten some of the most amazing deals because it's what I need but you have two and just want it gone.  Some seminars have vendors who bring knitting supplies and you can get what you need and not pay shipping.  Not having to pay shipping is especially nice when you need sponge bars!  Sometimes there's a repair guy there and you can get your machine serviced or repaired and not have to ship it.  Shipping a machine is both expensive and risky.  Seminars also have fellow knitters who can answer your questions about equipment you might buy, it's strengths and pitfalls and what good prices are in the area.

My husband was at DFW repairing items.  He was in a separate room, but it was a little distracting.  I'm sorry for that distraction, Linda!  The distraction was we were all holding our breath as to whether he could fix a Brother 260 that would not pattern.  It is a beautiful machine and Lyn just acquired it, but it wouldn't select any pattern needles.  John did manage to fix it, finally.  This is not one of John's typical repair jobs, and he had told her he'd try, and if he couldn't fix it with what he brought along, he wouldn't charge.  If the knitter had to mail that to a repair place, the freight would have been about triple the cost of the repair, since that is one hefty machine and the problem was in the bed.  John also repaired several CB-1s and E6000s and those knitters didn't have to mail them anywhere.

The DFW folks had a table of door prizes.  There were a lot of knitting magazines and books there, and some yarn, as well.  Everyone wins, eventually.  I was eyeballing a book I wanted, and even though my name wasn't called early I got that book!  At the end of the seminar, they want the items GONE and you can take a few more home.  I love back issues of knitting magazines.  There are all kinds of cool ideas and techniques in them.

Speaking of seminars, Cindy Schmatz has one this month (Oct 11-12), in Princeton Minnesota, and I'm teaching there.  Cindy still has some spaces.  Click here for more information!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

New Shopping Website

I have put a new shopping website up, and if anyone is willing to take a look and give me feedback, I'd be grateful!

Right now I am waiting for the support people at Square fix a picture bug, which would allow me to choose the main picture for each item.  II also need to link Paypal so it will accept PayPal payments.

Here's why I did this:
  • Maintaining my old website is difficult, time-consuming and not my skillset.  This seems like it will be much easier, at least once I get the initial setup.
  • I have all my purchasers paying through PayPal and some people don't want to use PayPal.  When I get PayPal working with it, this is supposed to take major credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
  • I wanted people to be able to write reviews.  When I shop online, I read reviews, and I bet you do, too.
  • I'd like to put up "click to buy" single patterns.  Making a book takes me many months, and I've been wanting to experiment with doing a single pattern and then flitting off to my next knitting passion.  I put up two digital patterns.  Right now they're not automatic - I'll get an email that someone purchased something and I'll email them the pattern.  Square is supposed to make this automatic later.
  • I want it to be easier to contact me.  
  • This website came with an email list manager, and I left it on there.  I don't know about a newsletter or email list.  Let me know what YOU think about that!
  • This website also has a "coming events" section that I appeals to me.  For instance, later this year, I am teaching in Minnesota and Northern California.  If those seminar organizers wanted me to promote those seminars, this would be a way to do it.  I could put other people's seminars up, as well, if they sent me the information.
The new site is here currently:  dianaknits.square.site    Once it's all set, it'll be moved to my domain, www.dianaknits.com.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Peacock Shawl

Here's another one in the upcoming shawl book.  I called it the Peacock, because I was going that that tail shape.

This one was hand-tooled on the bulky machine.  The blue one is made from Shawl in a Ball, and the orange colorway is Caron Cakes.



The straight edge is a extra-big I-cord.  It's something I found in an old Japanese book (with good pictures - I can't read Japanese).

The edge is relatively easy to hand-tool, because I did it with a 7-stitch transfer tool.  I had a cheat sheet with the short-row stitch numbers and the stitch number for the increase-decrease edge, and I marked the needle bed, as well.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Working away on the shawl book

I've been working on a shawl book...forever.  I have a great time coming up with the ideas and the shawls, and then getting the rest of it done is where I bog down.  The filming, editing, writing, diagramming, proofreading...and this time, the photography has been difficult.  My shawls are big, and that's how I like them.  It makes them harder to photograph.  My husband finally helped me - we made a two-person job of it with me holding very bright lights for him.  (The more light, the more detail...)

Today, I thought I'd share more shawl pix.  This was an especially fun pattern for me to develop, with several little puzzles to solve.  I don't know if you will like this as much as I do, but this was my solution to matching striped yarn from "cakes."  Yup, I had the antiquated idea that I would really like the stripes to match and make a chevron.



This was a ribber project, using my bulky, and I got the marled look to the colors by mixing a cake of a sport weight self-striping yarn (Lion Brand) with an off white DK yarn.  I got the stripes, edge, and center lace by doing increases in U-shaped ribber knitting.

The edge is hand-tooled with the 7-stitch transfer tool.  The brown shawl edging is the one taught in the book.  It has my best bottom corner miter.  

I didn't add a top edging on any of these.  It's actually a built-in row of eyelets, and it looks fine.

You might like to see this in other yarns:

Did you know Caron Latte Cakes is available again?  I saw it at Michael's the other day.  I did this shawl in Latte Cakes.  It was an earlier shawl, and I went around the bottom corner with the edging by crowding the motifs.  Less effective than the miter, I think, but still very pretty.
I also did it in the regular Caron cakes.  This one has an earlier version of the bottom miter, and while it doesn't show well in the picture, in reality it is sort of straight across at the bottom.  I liked the little point better.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

New Video Today - Enchanted Edgings on Brother Punchcard Machine

I had a reader having trouble with doing Enchanted Edgings on a Brother punch card machine, so I borrowed a Brother 890 and filmed how to do it, step-by-step.



Enjoy!

Here are some of the edgings samples which were made on a Brother 890.






Monday, August 26, 2019

Making Knee Socks & Boot Socks

I'd been cranking some socks lately on my 100-year-old Legare 47.  I've been making "Diana's Favorite Sock," which I teach in my Happy Cranker book and DVD.

I simply do a sock a day.  I have always cranked socks as a way to leave the concerns of life behind.  I think it's an exercise in mindfulness - you really have to pay attention to what you're doing when you work up socks on an antique machine.  I count my rows manually, often out loud, saying a row number as my crank hits the bottom of its cycle.  Yup, I know we could install a row counter, but my old Legare is authentic - and primitive.  My mind focuses on the knitting steps, and pretty soon it's finished and beautiful.

I stop to admire whatever the yarn colorway looks like knitted into a sock.  Finding very pretty sock yarns is a little sweet treat for my travels in life.

I crank the socks in a "string," starting the next sock after some waste knitting.  After I finish a sock, I usually take off the sock in the bottom of the string and sew up one sock, as well.  I enjoy a little sewing.  I use a magnifying Ott light and I listen to a book or music.

John and I have been going out country dancing with another couple lately.  They really know what they're doing, but John and I are beginners.  We can barely two-step, and when he twirls me, sometimes I get away!  A local place has a free lesson on Friday nights, and we have a wonderful time.  We listen, we practice, and we laugh at ourselves.  

The other lady and I were talking recently about our feet.  I'd been shopping for cowboy boots that don't rub anywhere.

She told me that she fights calluses from years of dancing in cowboy boots.  She described how she likes a thick sock or even a "boot sock."

Hmmm.  My homemade socks are rather thick.  Depending on the yarn, some of them are amazingly soft.

Time to think about making some knee socks, and this is just the sort of machine knitting problem I love to work out.

I hadn't made knee socks since my years as a hockey mom sitting in super-cold ice rinks watching Steven goal-keep.  Back then, I used to make 54-stitch socks, but now I make ribbed 72-stitch socks, which I know will work better.

Pictured is my first attempt.  With just a little math, I succeeded in getting the length right and making a top that stays up.  I wanted 12" of length, unstretched, between the ankle and the top cuff, and then a shorter top cuff.

The pink speckled sock is my typical pattern, knitted in Lorna's Laces.  The green mix is some Yarn Paradise wool blend, was made exactly the same through the ankle (I start at the toe).  Then I took off the heel spring and knitted 90 rounds with the needles set up like the ankle.  After that, I put the heel spring back in work and switched to knit one, purl one ribbing for the sock cuff.  The cuff is just like the cuff on the anklet except that it's only 30 rounds.  I know the top cuff looks wider than the cuff on the pink socks, but that's two pink socks in the picture, stacked a little offset, but only one green sock.

The calf area is wide enough because taking off the heel spring makes bigger stitches.  I did NOT want to change my machine tension, which is adjusted just the way I want it for my shorter sock.

I wear a women's medium.  This pair of Lorna's Laces socks weight 76 grams.  The finished pair of knee socks weigh 104 grams.  Since sock yarns are put up in 50- and 100-gram balls, you might run a little short unless you buy an extra ball or you use another yarn for the heel and toe.

If Diana's Favorite Sock works for you, you might like to try this.  I'm about average height, and on some people, you might fold the upper cuff down once, but I need all the length.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Asking me questions, making comments

I do love to get YouTube comments.  Most of them are encouraging, and many of them show me areas I ought to be covering or doing better.

Today I was trying to reply to a comment from Knitting Nana about necklines, and when I go to that video, the comment doesn't display.  So, as a stubborn critter, I go to "manage comments," and nope, it's not there.  I go to "spam" and find lots of comments that are not spam at all - in fact, I couldn't find any spam unless some of the ones in foreign languages are spam and I think those are about knitting, too.

Then there's "held for moderation."  I clean up some of those, but Knitting Nana's comment isn't there, either.

This has happened multiple times.  My email says I have a comment on YouTube, I want to reply, but I can't find it anywhere.

The truth is, I will never be able to communicate with you very well by using the comments on YouTube.  Some things are somewhat hidden, and then it's very difficult to go back and forth and clarify the questions.  Meanwhile, everyone else can read the "conversation" and that might help or send it down a rabbit trail, no telling.

If you want an answer, EMAIL ME.  There's an envelope icon here on the blog (left side, scroll down).  I check email daily unless something big is happening.

And then, I do my best to answer.  Sometimes I can truly help, and sometimes, I can't.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Knitting Shawls

I've been quiet here lately, with quite a lot going on.

I retired at the end of the year, went back to work temporarily in March, took several trips, and finished up the circular sock machine book and video.

All the while, I was working on shawls.  I'm putting a nice shawl collection together for a new book and video.

Starting with something simple and quick, a self-fringed shawl in two shapes - a deep triangle and a long, slow triangle.  The secret to a great fringe is to "lock" it by reinforcing the last stitch before the fringe.

A couple photos:
This one is "Shawl in a Ball," and takes one ball.  I made several out of that yarn - it's so much fun to see what the colors will do.  This brown has metallic golden accents.




 This is Caron Latte Cakes, takes one ball, and surprised me.  I thought I would not like the way the color changes along the miter, but I do like it!  It makes the shawl much more interesting. Unfortunately, this yarn is discontinued.

The peach shawl is the deeper triangle, and it's huge.  I made it with some worsted weight pure mohair. 

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:

https://myblueheavenknits.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/rainy-days-are-experimentation-days/

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!