Friday, July 31, 2009

Beginner Machine Knitting Lessons

I’m having a blast with this project! I go home at the end of my workday and do a couple lessons; I find myself plotting what the next lesson should be in odd moments. I become quite absorbed working on the videos, discarding ones where I do the most amazing, stupid things. One video which otherwise is very good, includes this mistake: I explain that you have to switch the carriage to “hold” and then forget to do it myself – then I just say oops, and do it again the right way! I put it up anyway because it was one of the better visuals of short-rowing.

Certainly I can talk, talk, talk, or knit, knit, knit, but can I do both at the same time? Everyone’s been kind, and I’m improving. If you’re a beginner at machine knitting, I’m certainly a novice, almost a dunce, with videos and YouTube!

For ever so long, I’ve been attending knitting meetings or writing patterns or doing demos, always searching for new and novel things to demonstrate. This project is such fun; there are so many things to show beginners and to demonstrate very simply. My challenge is to make each technique as easy and understandable as possible.

Tonight I hope to film a short lesson on how to rip out. Doing the videos is reminding me of what it was like to first learn these basics. As a beginner, I’d knit until I made a good-sized mistake and start over. Lots of beginnings, not so many endings…eventually, I had to learn to unravel and correct errors.

I realized today that it takes a long time to download the lessons with dial-up. I am going to work on being able to burn CDs of the video files. I can certainly do that for the files that are ready, but this is a work in progress.

The best way to catch the videos as they get uploaded is to subscribe to my YouTube channel. My ID is dianaknits.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Knitting Lessons - Cast Off Methods

Putting up another batch of beginning machine knitting lessons this evening. These are cast-off methods.

Lesson 9: Latch Tool Bind Off

Lesson 10: Tapestry Needle Bind Off #1 (On Machine)

Lesson 11: Tapestry Needle Bind Off #2 (With Waste Yarn)

Lesson 12: Loop Through Loop Bind Off

Lesson 14: Transfer Tool Bind Off, Chain Edge

Lesson 15: Transfer Tool Bind Off, Holey Edge

Later, gator, for more lessons!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week 6 Weigh In

Weighed in, lost another 1.2#, down 11.8 pounds over six weeks.

Did I learn anything tonight? Well, I probably need to get more variety in my diet; I'm falling into a rather habitual menu.

Beginner Machine Knitting Lessons

These are very basic - Beginners keep telling me that they need to see how things are done instead of struggling with machine manuals.

Lesson 1 Open Cast On

Lesson 2 EWrap Cast On

Lesson 3 Diana's Cast On (Simplified Weaving Cast On)

Lesson 4 Latch Tool Cast On

Lesson 5 Plain Hem

Lesson 6 2x1 Mock Rib Hem

Lesson 7 Picot Hem

Lesson 8 Shortcut Picot Hem

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beginning Knitting Machine Lessons - Videos

This evening, I am loading beginning knitting machine lessons on YouTube. It takes a long time! URLs to follow.

MK 70 Knitting Machine by Singer

I bought one of these some time back because it's a terrific portable knitting machine. I found a wonderful video about this machine at Youtube:

One of the unusual things about the MK 70 is that it uses an 18-stitch punchcard, while almost all other Japanese punchcard machines use 12 or 24 stitch repeats, so you can't just use published pattern charts. I've created a lot of 18-stitch pattern charts to use; in fact, the border for this blog is one of them!

Next Audiobook

I'm now listening to The Sea Wolf by Jack London. I read it a long, long time ago. This was downloaded free from

Added Links

I've created some link lists in the lower left side of the blog, Faith Links, Knitting Links, Money & Accounting Links, and News/Opinion Links.

I'll certainly add more later - wanted to get the absolute favorites up, for now.

There are a lot more knitting links at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Scalloped Lace Scarf Pattern

Scalloped Lace Scarf
By Diana Sullivan

This scarf was made from 2.2 ounces of hand-dyed fingering weight baby alpaca. It’s a multiple-transfer lace, so avoid cotton or any yarn without elasticity. The scarf was knitted on the 965i at tension 7, Stitch World pattern number 168.

Practice with waste yarn before making this scarf. With waste yarn cast on and knit several rows plain, using needles from 18L to 18R (36 stitches). Keep enough weight on the lace. Turn the lace carriage over and deactivate the colored end-needle cams by turning the slot in the center. Now the lace carriage will select the end needles.

With COR, put two extra needles into work – 19L and 19R. Do the first set of lace passes with the lace carriage. Before using the knit carriage, take the two empty needles out of work. Continue in this way: always add two needles before the lace carriage passes, and always remove any empty needles after using the lace carriage and before knitting again. Sometimes the lace will increase and use the two needles, and on those rows, leave them in work; when the lace decreases and there are two empty needles, move them back to A out of work before knitting.

By always putting out extra needles on each end and removing the extra needles after the lace carriage passes, you’ll develop a rhythm and routine. The machine keeps track of the pattern, and you just mind the end needles.

Here is how the lace will increase and decrease:
Row 1 18L 18R
Row 10 (after 1 group of lace carriage passes) 18L 18R
Row 18 (after 2nd set of lace transfers) 17L 17R
Row 24 (after 3rd set) 16L 16R
Row 28 (after 4th set) 15L 15L
Row 38 (after 5th set) 15L 15L
Row 46 (after 6th set) 16L 16R
Row 52 (after 7th set) 17L 17R
Row 56 (after 8th set) 18L 18R
At this point, the machine beeps and repeats the pattern.

For the actual scarf, start at the narrow place, after row 28. Simply do the pattern with waste yarn through row 28, end with a couple knit rows, and e-wrap cast-on with the the scarf yarn over 30 needles (15L to 15R). Knit a couple rows with the scarf yarn and then use the lace carriage.

Knit to desired length, and cast off at a narrow spot.

The scarf will curl unless it is pinned and blocked. I blocked it over the length of my ironing board, putting a pin in each point, steaming it until it was thoroughly damp, then letting it dry for a day.

Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's Road Not Taken

Thought-provoking - what an Obama moderate presidency might have looked like.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Compassion vs. Economics

I keep hearing the proposition that if American worker bees paid much higher taxes, then we could finally wipe out hunger and poverty in America, and what stands in the way of helping poor people is the selfishness of taxpayers.

The problem with that simplistic notion, just like anything else in life, is that there are causes and effects in economics. When all the worker bees and businesses are taxed at a high level (higher than the competing countries), it only suppresses the whole economic system. Instead of creating comfort and prosperity, you create unemployment, more poverty and more desperation than ever, and finally a tremendous falling-away of governmental revenues and a falling-away of charitable enterprises.

Look at other countries, even compare states within the U.S, for instance, Texas and California: Texas is a very business-friendly state, and 80% of America's job growth was in Texas last year. California, which is a difficult expensive state for businesses, can't seem to lose businesses, jobs, and residents fast enough.

Baby Blanket Pattern

Here's that baby blanket I said I'd post - late, but finally here. Do me a favor - if you like it, comment or email; if you find mistakes, pester me to fix them; and if you make some blankets, please let me know!

Fisherman Rib Checkerboard Baby Blanket
By Diana Sullivan

I wanted to design a pretty baby blanket to give to the local hospital for their new moms. My friend who works at the hospital told me that some of the moms have almost nothing for the new baby, so this will be their only knitted baby blanket.

These blankets need to be washable, so I used a 2/12 acrylic. This pattern has no holes or loops to catch tiny fingers, and it’s very soft with the tucked rib pattern giving it some thickness. Once you do one, it's very efficient to knit with almost no finishing.

This baby blanket is made on the 965i using the ribber; if you have a different machine, I've included a chart at the end of the pattern. It has a built-in border that’s English Rib and it has an English Rib checkerboard pattern in the center. This is all accomplished by programming the machine to put pattern only inside the border area of the blanket. Program the machine as follows: Set double height, double width, pattern selector 2, pattern #547, after pressing Step, there’s the diamond on the top and use the defaults, then on the picture of the sweater on the bottom center dot left 89, left dot left 89 (orange 89) the right dot is green 78, and then step through to ready, and put it on start.

The needle arrangement: Main bed end needles are L 199 and R188, and the ribber end needles are left 200 and r 189. The end needles need to be on the ribber to make a good edge on the blanket.

Begin with carriages on right and ribber arm attached. The ribber carriage is set to the tightest possible tension. Ribber carriage settings, reading from left to right: left lever N, slide button N, PR button on R, right PR button on N, and the right lever on N. Main bed is set for plain knitting, patterning device is off, there are no buttons pushed, tightest possible tension. Thread up and knit zigzag row.

Hang the long ribber comb and 5 of the large weights. Put a clothespin on the loose end of the yarn. Set the main bed to part left, set ribber carriage to part right. Ribber to 1.1, MB to 1.1, knit 2 rows.

Set the main bed carriage to plain knitting. Set the ribber carriage to plain knitting. Set the MB tension T5. Set the ribber carriage tension to T5. Knit 1 row from left to right.

Make sure that the weights drop. Set the right tuck button in on the main carriage only, leave all other settings the same. Knit 16 rows to make the bottom border of the blanket.

The pattern that was previously programmed isn't selecting yet - it is just sitting there with the 1 in the window. It will select as soon as you turn the carriage knob to KCII. Switch to KCII. Still have right tuck button in, everything else the same. K 1 row right to left, then set RC back to zero again, because you are going to do 320 rows in pattern. Knit this first row and then stop.

The first row selects the needles. On the second row and on every row to the right only the needles that are in B position, the non-selected needles, are going to tuck. What will happen is the two ends have a section of needles that are never selected which makes a nice built-in border. If everything is set correctly, and you've got a motor, you can let it go. Knit 320 rows. Keep an eye on it, since the weights will have to be moved up later, and for the first few rows, of course, make sure the weights are dropping properly.
Switch KCII to N, 1 MB tuck button in, and knit 16 rows for top border. Set both carriages for one very loose row, release tuck button, and knit the loose row from left to right if you’re right-handed. I go from right to left because I’m left-handed. Transfer all stitches to the main bed. Remove all the weights except 1 brass weight under where you’re working. Latch bind off, loop through a loop. Hide the ends. Steam the blanket very lightly – don’t stretch or flatten the blanket.

If you're using a different machine, here's the stitch diagram. It's a 12 by 16 stitch repeat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sparkly Trellis Scarves

A handknitting friend gave me a scarf made out of "railroad" yarn with bright spots. It looks almost like jewelry, hangs beautifully, and brought a lot of compliements.
I found the yarn (there are lots of brands and versions) and figured out a way to make these scarves quickly on the bulky knitting machine. It's just 1x1 ribbing with plenty of weight, and you do need to handle the yarn carefully so it doesn't catch on gate pegs and needles. I could get two scarves out of one ball of yarn.

It is very helpful to rewind the yarn into a loose center pull ball, then put the ball
inside a container on the floor, then thread the machine. Make sure the upper tension unit is loose.

Current Audio Book - Enchanted April

I am listening to The Enchanted April, downloaded free from, as I commute through Austin traffic.  The author’s characterizations and sense of humor are a treat.


My Baby in the Model A

My son Steve giving friends a ride in our Model A after doing a presentation about it in English class.

Dell Mini 10 Review

Wrote a review on my cute little Dell Mini 10 netbook and posted it at!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July Knit Club Meeting

We had July's Knit Natter's meeting at Barbara's house.Pat Tittizer brought her circular sock knitting machine, a beautiful old Auto Knitter on an old sock knitting tripod stand. Some photos of it are included here. I was quite taken with the stand. Pat had been knitting, but she hadn't gotten her ribber going.
I played with it a while - made things worse, at first, until I realized that the needle butts were above the cam and not coming up enough to catch the yarn.
Things got better quickly after that. Then I realized that it has quite a few old, slightly damaged needles, and as we got those out of the way, I got it ribbing on enough needles that I think Pat will be fine on her own.

I demonstrated the sideways baby sweater discussed in the last blog post.
The pattern for the sideways baby sweater is long, but I think I'll just include it here after my long description of the rather interesting techniques in it last time:
Sideways & Almost-Seamless
Baby Cardigan
by Diana Sullivan

Right front: Set machine up for ribbing, 63 stitches from R31 to L32 on main bed and alternate needles on ribber for 1 x 1 ribbing, outside needles on top. Both carriages plain, tension 0 (T0), knit zigzag row.

Hang ribber comb, 2 large weights, T1 both carriages, set for circular knitting, k 3 rows to complete selvedge. Set carriages to plain, both T3, knit 5 rows and then make buttonholes.

This simple buttonhole is made by transferring a stitch from the ribber onto the needle above on main bed to the right. The first ribber needle to transfer 25L, transfer to MB to 24L. Make sure and put empty needle back in B position. Transfer 12L on ribber to 12L on MB, then 1L ribber to lR on MB, then 12R on ribber to 13R on MB, then 24R to 25R on MB. Make sure all needles returned to B position. K 5 more rows in ribbing. This completes the front band.

To bind off the rightmost 7 stitches, transfer the ribber stitches for the first 7 stitches onto MB needles (3 ribber stitches get transferred), then do a latch tool bind off and free the stitches from the gate pegs.

Leaving the leftmost 7 stitches in ribbing, transfer all the other stitches to the main bed. Turn MB tension to T8, leave ribber tension alone. K15 rows. When knitting with the ribber with so many stitches plain, it may be necessary to put the needles in E position so they’ll knit off okay.

After the 15 rows, cast on an additional 10 stitches on the left side in ribbing, using a ribber e-wrap cast-on. You go counterclockwise around the ribber needle, then clockwise around the upper bed needle and so on. Now on needles L42-R24.

K1 row to the right, then place a 7-weight hanger and a small weight on the newly cast-on stitches. K10 rows this way with the ribbing on the left and the rest of the bed plain.

Transfer the ribbing stitches up to the main bed. Drop the ribber, change to regular fabric presser, all stitches now on MB, reduce the weight a little, K19 rows.

The leftmost 27 stitches are the armhole opening, the stitches on right are the body. Put the body stitches onto a garter bar as follows: Bring needles to E position from L14-R24, put on a short length of garter bar and hang it from the gate pegs. Put empty needles out of work.

Needles in the armhole position go to E position. Set carriage to not knit E needles. Unthread the machine but don’t break the yarn. Move the yarn out of the way over to the right.
Sleeve: Bring every other needle on the left of the needles in work into work, in other words, 44L, 46L…to 68L to B position. Bring the carriage from L to R, it won’t knit anything because some needles are in hold and the other stitches are on a garter bar. After it’s on the right, thread it with a length of contrasting yarn hung between the beds, with a clothespin hanging on the free end, on the left of the stitches in work, knit across and it lays it in the needles newly in B position.
Unthread contrast yarn, put clothespin on the other end, and then hang claw weights from the contrast yarn. Bring out in-between needles so there are 27 out to the left in B position. Carriage in part, move to right without knitting anything and thread garment yarn from over hold needles, under fabric presser and then into the feeder. Take carriage out of part, knit across, lifting yarn up a little as you go from right to left, and it’ll go into every needle on the left. Put the needles that are in hold to D position so they will knit. RC000, K4 rows and decrease 1 stitch each side, needles in work using the full-fashion method. Also take one of the claw weights and move it just to the left of the garter bar group of stitches so the sleeve will move downward. Decrease on both sides on rows 13, 21, 29, 37, and 45. After row 45, K8 more rows to row 53. Hang a triangle weight holder and a large weight somewhere near the top of this knitting. Unthread the carriage, change to ribber arm, bring ribber carriage over so it’s lined up with MB carriage, thread with sweater yarn, transfer every other needle to ribber to make the sleeve cuff. Change MB tension to T3 to make the cuff. K10 rows ribbing ending with carriage on right, transfer stitches from ribber to main bed and bind off. That completes a sleeve.

My preferred method of binding off ribbing is to knit one row loose, transfer loose stitches to main bed, pull needles to E, and use latch tool to pull a loop through a loop.

Put empty needles out of work. Put ribber bed down and ribber covers on.
Pick up the garter bar stitches and put them back on needles. Pull the sleeve out between the beds and fold it right sides together. Hang the needles that are on contrast yarn on the next 27 empty needles and remove the contrast yarn with the wrong side facing you. Be careful not to twist the stitches. The yarn running through the stitches is going to turn one stitch to the right and the next to the left, so you have to see which way the stitches are turned and put the transfer tool in correctly. Remove contrast yarn and double-check the stitches placement on then needles.

Back: You now have a little inside-out sleeve hanging toward you. Put it between the beds and add a claw weight. Change to regular fabric presser, T8, RC000, K94 rows.

Sleeve: Make exactly like first sleeve.

Front: Sleeve between the beds, right sides together. Rehang the garter stitches. Then, to their left, rehang the sleeve stitches in the same way as the first sleeve. Put on regular fabric presser, T8, K18 rows over the two groups of stitches.

Change to ribber arm, MB T8, RB T3, bring up ribber, thread the ribber arm. Transfer every other stitch, first 8 on the left hand side of the knitting to the ribber bed and K10 rows. Increase the weight at this point using a triangle weight hanger. K10 rows. Cast off first 10 needles so first needle in use is on MB. I use a latch tool cast yarn and have to pick the yarn off the gate pegs. K14 rows, MB T8, RB T3. Transfer EON from main group that’s still on top bed to get back in 1 x 1 ribbing, e-wrap cast on 7 more stitches in ribbing at right, change both beds to T3, K10 rows, then do a loose row transfer up and bind off. (After the first row, use a 7 weight hanger and small weight to secure the 7 cast-on stitches.)

Finishing: Sew sleeve seams and shoulder seams. Pick up stitches for back of neck and knit band; pick up stitches along bottom of sweater and knit band. Bands are 10 rows of 1 x 1 ribbing.
More free patterns may be found at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interesting Knitting Techniques

I just told someone at work that your brain works on problems when you’re away from them and not even thinking about them. That’s a big strategy of mine – I set things aside, wondering what a solution might be, and at some later point, poof! the brainstorm arrives, usually when I’m not even thinking about it.

I learned this studying music. As you practice, you pick your way through a piece and wonder if you’re even making progress, and then one day, you see a sudden improvement.

In just this way, I had an idea about a way to do the sideways baby sweater and eliminate a lot of seams while I was working on something else. With this technique, you’d only need shoulder seams and seams down the length of the arm.

When I finally got home and had a chance, I sat down and started knitting up my idea, voice recorder in hand (this is how I create my detailed patterns – I say each step as I do it and type it out later). I couldn’t be more pleased with the fact that this sweater incorporates a bunch of extremely practical techniques that you don’t often see in patterns:

Use of the garter bar to “park” one side of knitting while you knit the other side. This technique is in fact faster than waste yarn because it’s so fast to put the stitches back on the needles later. It’s better than putting stitches in hold because you don’t get grease marks across the knitting from the carriage going across it repeatedly.

My machine knitter’s version of using a cast-on string, like hand knitters sometimes do for an open cast on. This short-cut takes the place of waste yarn to hold stitches and is very practical for this particular project.

A very simple 1-stitch buttonhole that works beautifully in 1 x 1 ribbing. I prefer buttonholes that aren’t too large and don’t unbutton too easily. These are great for a baby sweater. A 5/16” to 3/8” button is just about right. Remember: knit the buttonholes, then take the sweater to the fabric store and try the buttons with the actual sweater. What you think looks good will probably change when you actually try it.

Sleeves knitted from the top down using decreases, then bands added by hanging a weight and transferring every other stitch to a ribber needle.
A fave method of binding off ribbing (hint: looks just like a hand knitter’s ribbing bind-off).

I knitted the second sweater in peach yarn, but didn’t do any embellishments as I knitted because it was experimental. After taking the sweater off the machine (yes, you end up with the whole sweater hanging on the machine), I declared the experiment a success!
I have only to add a couple bands and sew up the shoulders and sleeves. Then, off to the store with that one to pick out some pretty buttons.
I have several variations of this sweater in mind, including an adult variation with body shaping.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Man Selling Knitting Equipment

This weekend, I got a call from a gentleman who saw our Knit Natters website. He lives near Kerrville, Texas, and he wants to sell several machines and accessories that belonged to his late mother. He has inherited some excellent models, including a Brother punchcard standard, a Compuknit VCX (Brother 965i), a Brother 910, a Brother 260 punch card bulky, and several garter carriages. If anyone is interested in purchasing a machine, email me about it, and I will provide his contact information.

I was in a knitting mind anyway – and after talking to him, I went over to our links page to see if the DFW knitting guild site link is okay, because he hadn’t been able to access it. I found myself looking at the patterns on their site, especially a baby cardigan knitted in one piece. I knitted one – the pattern is okay, but certainly not the way I’d do it. Hmmm…the brain starts cooking up something new.

All that got me to thinking about another charity that might appreciate baby knits, a local crisis pregnancy center. I read on their website that NEW baby stuff is needed and the moms can earn things for their babies. So – if they have to use credits or whatever to get them I better knit very appealing things.
I devised a baby cardigan, done in a whole different way from the ones I’ve done before. It’s finished except for buying and sewing on buttons and some embellishment. I am still making changes but should have a completed one to photograph and post soon.