Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Morning, Pumpkin!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ribber Lesson 24 - Drop Stitch Lace

This is a kind of knitted lace, made on the ribber.
If you were handknitting, lace like this is made by doing two yarn-overs, or wraps, in one stitch and then you would drop the extra wrap when you come back. It's the same effect - a larger stitch that makes a hole.
This is very simple to do on the ribber, especially if you have a cam for dropping stitches. If you don't have the gadget, you can drop them with a ruler or even your hand.
Try it out - the video is below. Click on the arrow for Ribber Lesson 24, Drop Stitch Lace.

Here's the chart -

A Very Nice Tuesday

Today, I was feeling much better, and at work, after looking at information on old tax returns back in the 70s and 80s, and getting advice from our audit and tax firm and our super-smart CPA/attorney treasurer (he's handsome, too, girls), I finally understand how to present some of the details on the new version of the 990 tax return for non-profit entities.

When you work someplace that's been in operation almost a hundred years, nobody really knows all the history. It's strange looking at old, handwritten tax returns that show pennies and old carbon-tissue copies of letters!

The new 990 is challenging to prepare completely and accurately. I will feel so good to have our two 990 returns done and filed!

A high point in my day was getting an email from the TSCPA that had the list of next year's nominated officers, and my friend Donna Wesling is going to be recommended to the membership for next year's Chairman-Elect. She has wanted this, is willing to do the tremendous amount of volunteer work and travelling involved. Donna has volunteered at both the local and state levels in just about every area, and I am elated for her. We're lucky to have her to lead TSCPA. Assuming the membership ratifies her nomination, Donna works for a year as Chairman-Elect and then the following year is Chairman.

Another highlight was scheduling a lunch with Gail Neely, whom I know from our Austin CPA chapter and have been hoping to get to know better.

Also, I got the drop stitch lace video done this evening and I'm uploading it. It was tedious for me because there weren't any built-in patterns for it and I had to fiddle until I got something that would show up on camera. I like how it turned out, once I finally got it done. Ribber drop stitch lace is very interesting, and if you haven't tried it, you need to!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Another week means another Weight Watchers meeting, and I'm down another pound. My total lost is 19.4 pounds 14 weeks. I didn't bother to count points this weekend, while my mouth hurt. I ate soup, scrambled eggs and the like, and figured I wasn't eating much. Getting back to normal and eating some crunchy vegetables will certainly be nice.

I went to see the dentist today, who explained that I have a gum infection. I am supposed to take the rest of the penicillin and use Peridex with a syringe. Between the pain of her probing around, and the amount of bone damage on the x-ray, I was pretty miserable.

On the other hand, I felt better by the end of the workday. I had balanced the operating cash account and gone to a CPA luncheon, where we listened to a very interesting talk about Texas prosecutions of securities fraud.

Best of all, I got about 800 hits on the learn-to-knit videos in the last 24 hours, probably because the garter bar videos were mentioned on the Machine Knitting listserve.

It's time to finish up the beginning ribber course. I have been working on a slip stitch ribbing video and a drop stitch video. They're not ready to put up yet, though. I am debating about double jacquard - to do it efficiently, one uses the double bed color changer, and this class is just about ribbing. I think I'll do a little, but change the color by hand. The color changer needs to have its own lessons.

After that, do you think a few knit-with-me projects are in order? I've got some very easy ribber project ideas.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


On the Kindle, I'm reading "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners," by John Bunyan; "Getting Things Done" by David Allen; "Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stores 1902-1903; and "An Outback Marriage;" and "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney.

Normally I only read a couple books at one time, but this weekend, with my sick tooth, it certainly has been helpful to skip around between books.

I struggle tremendously with time management with all my activities, so I'm always interested in time management ideas. The two books about time management, Allen and Mahaney, couldn't be more different in their approaches. Allen has an efficient look-at-everything-and-see-what-needs-done approach that works extremely well at the office. However, Mahaney makes very important points about putting devotions first and then deciding what to spend time on - any time at all.

John Bunyan? you wonder. Well, a friend recommended it, and I am finding Bunyan's personal journey toward grace honest and beautiful.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ribber Lesson 23 - Tuck Stitch Ribbing

Lesson 23 is how to do ribber tuck stitch - using the machine's patterning capability:

Ribber Lesson 22 - Pintucks

Here's how to make ribber pintucks:

Ribber Lesson 21 - Short-Rowing in Ribbing

I'm willing to bet that even a lot of very experienced machine knitters haven't done short-rowing in ribbing! Come on, give it a try - it's in all the machine ribber manuals I have seen, and it's fairly easy, if you get the weight right.

This is just about like main bed short-rowing. The big difference is that ribbing requires more weights, and as you take needles out of work, the part of the work you're still knitting gets baggy and needs more weight.

Just a few posts ago I have one called "Knitting Weights," with pictures of all my knitting weights and weight hangers plus how much each one weighs.

You can feel the fabric forming underneath the machine and tell that the part that's getting longer than the rest needs a weight. Use a narrow weight-hanger for a situation where only a few needles are still in work and a longer weight hanger for a situation where there are still a lot of needles knitting. Remember, it's the needles that are in work where you need the extra weight!

As you keep short-rowing, you can adjust the weights by removing the weight hangers and re-hanging them.

Here's the video. I hope you'll try it out!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ribber Lesson 20 - Racked Pattern

I have always found racked ribbing very cool. After all, if you were hand knitting, it would be very tedious to cable all those stitches to create the fancy zigzags. The machine zooms through it, though. Lots of impact from such a simple stitch!

I'm a Little Sick

I've got a painful tooth. My dentist put me on antibiotics, but despite that, it's been a hard, painful day. I think maybe I waited too long to contact the dentist - I wasn't sure whether it was a tooth or sinuses at first.

We finished figuring out the budget numbers today, and it's Friday night, so I can relax on the weekend, and then on Monday, I'll have been on penicillin a while, and I'll see the dentist in the afternoon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ribber Lesson 19 - Casting Off Part of a Row

An easy lesson, how to cast off a few stitches at the beginning of a row of ribbing:

Weight Watchers

Weighed-in tonight at 1.4 pounds less than last week, for a loss to date of 18.4 pounds in 13 weeks. I think I can reasonably say now that I've recovered from that week I ate all the restaurant food because we were travelling.

Knitting Weights

Weights are very important in machine knitting. Even with Passap machines, which were advertised as requiring no weights, weights can be very helpful at times.

If you watch my videos, you see me use clothespins and weights quite often. This weekend, my husband and I photographed all the knitting weights I could find around my house, thinking this might be helpful for someone who is wondering what how heavy they are and how they're used. We weighed them all, too. You certainly can improvise and add more weights to your collection.

Working from the left, let's start with the lightest items - clothespins. I use them for the loose end of the yarn as I begin to knit. With a clothespin holding the yarn, I can use my hand for something else. From the left - a small plastic clothespin, 5.2 grams, 2 ounces. A plastic covered red clip, 9.8 grams, .3 ounces. A bigger blue plastic clothespin, my favorite, 10.3 grams, .4 ounces.
Then, a "heel fork." It's a cheap fork from the dollar store, and my husband bent the tines so it can hook into knitting. It's good for holding down heel stitches as I short-row. He also drilled a hole in the handle so I can hang a weight. It weighs 22.4 grams, .8 ounces.
Next, a garter carraige weight, 24.1 grams, .9 ounces.
The next object is a triangle weight holder. If you don't have a set of these, you could sure use 'em! Mine are from Silver Reed company, and they're great for holding hefty weights on ribbing. For just the holder without a weight, it's 38 grams, 1.3 ounces.
Next photo, from left: a typical claw weight for machine knitting, 108 grams, 3.8 ounces. Next, a Passap heel weight, long, white, with prongs on one end and a hole on the other (it can be used as a weight hanger), 165.5 grams 5.8 ounces. Next item - a brass weight, wonderful for main bed work, because the weight is spread a little horizontally, 214.9 grams or 7.6 ounces.
Now, for some more serious weight. First, a Passap weight from the comb and weights set, 351.5 grams, 12.4 ounces, then a Japanese small ribber weight, 210.5 grams, 7.4 ounces, then a large ribber weight, 500 grams, 17.6 ounces (about a pound), then a fishing weight (you can buy them in all kinds of different weights, and they normally have a hole. The hook was homemade, from a coat hanger), 460 grams, 16.2 ounces, including the hook (about a pound).
Finally, on the right, two sock machine weights. These are industrial weights, and you can stack more of the hockey-puck type weights on the one with the stick and hook. The one with the hook is 545 grams, 19.2 ounces, and the stackable one is 484 grams, 17.1 ounces (about a pound each). Sock machines use a lot more weight than the other machines.
In fact, now that I've gotten three antique sock machines working well, I learned that a key issue is to have NO tension on the yarn as it comes in and LOTS of weight on the knitting as it comes out. As you can imagine, I cringed at putting a whole pound of weight on a little sock toe, but I actually use two pounds on a sock toe now and two more pounds on the rest of the sock.

Stained Glass Workshop Last Saturday

The Model A Club was having a "restoration clinic" for the guys, about compression and valves, such fascinating subjects, and since it was at Tom P.'s house, and his wife Kathy is a stained glass artist, she offered to have a workshop for the ladies.

They live on a hill in the Texas Hill Country, and it's a beautiful, unique place. Tom has built metal sheds for several of his antique cars, and with the false fronts he built, he has a "village." When John, my friend Laura, and I arrived, the guys were heading to those metal garages and we ladies went inside for Kathy's stained glass class.

Kathy had selected a pattern and created the outer frame. She had each of us do a piece or two of the design. The pattern was already cut up and taped on the back of the rough-cut pieces of glass. We scored them and snapped them into shapes, then ground them on a special grinder to get a close fit to each paper pattern piece. Next, we put copper foil around the edge and Kathy fit them into the overall design, grinding off a little more glass if necessary for a perfect fit. In the 2-hour session, all but two of the pieces were fitted for the picture, and those needed a little fine fitting before Kathy can foil them, then soldier the center seams of the picture. I had never seen this kind of work done before, and truly, it was beautiful and fascinating.

I couldn't resist putting up that last picture - it's me with their dog Zeus, who is quite the ladies' man. If you stop petting him, he taps you gently with his paw...
Kathy's work is stunning, and both Laura and I took lots of pictures. We also got some pictures of Tom and Kathy's amazing Hill Country view.

I could see th guys had a great time, too, but in my opinion, the girls came out ahead on this club meeting!

Examples of Kathy's work:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ribber Lesson 18 - Increasing in Ribbing

Increasing in ribbing is tricky, and will be different for different needle arrangements. But please don't get the idea that you can't shape ribbing. You can shape it, and it's fairly easy!

On this video, I have several different increases in plain old knit 1, purl 1 ribbing:


Beginning Knitting Machine Lessons - Link List Fixed

If you were having problems with the list of links to the beginning lesson videos, I've just worked on it. It should be fixed now!

Thanks for letting me know.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Link Lists

Now that I have lots and lots of how-to videos over at YouTube, it can be a pain to try to find the one you want to see over at the YouTube channel.

I am trying to make that easier with my new link list on the left hand side of this blog. First, there's a link to the YouTube Channel, if you want to hunt through everything.

Below that, I have links to special blog posts that contain lists of available lessons in a course with the individual links to go straight to the right video.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ribber Lesson 16 - 2X2 Smile and Frown Cast-Off

You can use that same "smile and frown" cast-off for knit 2, purl 2 ribbing, and it turns out just fine:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Yarn to Use for Your Machine

I get the question about what yarn to buy for different machines.

Beginners get horribly frustrated by trying to knit with inappropriate yarn. If you're an old hand with a yarn stash, please treat the beginners you know to some hand-me-down yarns that are easy for knitting!

If you're learning to machine knit, here are some tips on choosing practice yarn:
  • Skeins of yarn are labeled with the gauge, usually how many stitches are in 10 centimeters, which is 4", so divide by 4 to get stitches per inch.
  • As a beginner, get yarn for a standard gauge (4.5mm) machine knits to a gauge of at least 7 stitches per inch. I kind of like 8 stitches per inch for beginners on standard machines. More stitches per inch means the yarn is thinner.
  • Got a 9 mm bulky? Get yarn that knits at least 5 stitches per inch.
  • Got a midgauge? Try for 6 stitches per inch or smaller.
  • Try to get some cone yarn. It's treated with wax to make it knit more easily, and besides, the people who sell cone yarn can steer you to the right stuff. Also, cones feed the yarn perfectly. Set the cone on the floor.
  • Use a wax cylinder. Pick it up off the holder, thread the yarn, and then set it on top. It will turn slowly as the yarn passes underneath. If you put the yarn on top of it, it'll cut a groove in the wax.
  • The yarn should be smooth and boring, not bumpy, kinky, laddery, eyelashy, furry or hairy.
  • Avoid yarn that breaks easily.
  • The yarn should have a little stretch and spring. Stay from limp cotton, linen and silk, for now. It should have more than one ply (strand) and some twist.
  • There's nothing wrong with cheap acrylic yarn for practice! I'd like you to enhance your learning experience by making lavish piles of swatches.
  • Get light colors.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Links: Beginner Machine Knitting Lessons

Here are the beginner machine knitting video lessons, linked in order. I recommend that you watch a lesson, then try the technique, in order. One a day is all I ask...

Getting Started: Threading Machine, Preparing Yarn

Lesson 1: Open Cast On

Lesson 2: E-Wrap Cast On

Lesson 3: Diana's Cast On

Lesson 4: Latch Tool Cast On

Lesson 5: Plain Hem

Lesson 6: Mock Rib Hem

Lesson 7: Picot Hem

Lesson 8: Shortcut Picot Hem

Lesson 9: Latch Tool Bind Off

Lesson 10: Tapestry Needle Bind Off #1

Lesson 11: Tapestry Needle Bind Off #2

Lesson 12: Loop Through Loop Bind Off

Lesson 13: Crocheting to Cast Off

Lesson 14: Transfer Tool Bind Off, Chain Edge

Lesson 15: Transfer Tool Bind Off, Holey Edge

Lesson 16: Increase and Decrease

Lesson 17: Short Row Toe Shape

Lesson 18: Short Row Shoulder #1

Lesson 19: Short Row Shoulder #2

Lesson 20: Short Rowing a Dart

Lesson 21: Carriage Jams, Ripping Out, Dropped Stitches

Lesson 22: Kitchener Stitch Seams

Lesson 23: Mattress Stitch Seams

Lesson 24: Method One Shoulder Join

Lesson 25: Joining Shoulder, Method 2

Lesson 26: Idiot Cord

Lesson 27: Latched Ribbing

Lesson 28: Gauge Swatch

Lesson 29, Part 1 of 2: Divide and Knit Neckline

Lesson 29, Part 2: Divide and Knit Neckline

Ribber Lesson 15 - Smiles and Frowns Cast-Off

This cast-off for ribbing is called "Smiles and Frowns" because you take a U-shaped stitch and then an upside-down U-shaped stitch. It's an easy cast-off using a tapestry needle that makes a good elastic cast-off edge that looks almost identical to the circular cast-on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Design Star

I watch Design Star, and just watched the last episode on my DVR.

On the show, the contestants do various interior design projects and compete for their own show on HGTV. You begin to cheer on certain people and wish others would be kicked off by the judges. The very last episode is a big project with the last two, incredibly talented people, competing for it.

The person I was rooting for didn't win, but I certainly enjoyed the homes they redid.

The guy I wanted to win, Dan, made such a beautiful difference in the house he redesigned that I wish he could work for me! I had my husband John look at the finished house pictures, and he liked it, too. In fact, we liked everything he did, which is unbelievably rare for us. Dan used a color palette anchored by a strong lilac color (John and I both like purple). I liked every piece of furniture he chose! He put travertine tiles in the kitchen and gorgeous dark wood cabinets. What really grabbed me were the following beautifully executed ideas:

1. He reinvented a very small teenage daughter's bedroom by putting in a small couch for her friends and putting the bed up on top of drawers and pull-out desk surfaces. I had no idea such a great teenager's bedroom could be put in that little space. Plus, the colors and patterns were lovely and the girl was crazy about it.

2. Got the utmost out of a small and awkward master bedroom by turning the head of the bed onto the narrowest wall and putting cabinet built-ins around it plus at the foot of the bed. He dressed that room up beautifully, too, elegant and cozy. Those bedrooms went from tiny and shabby to jewel boxes.

3. He hid a flat panel television by building a shallow cabinet over the fireplace covered with beveled mirrors. He used beveled mirrors at one end of the living room because the teen likes to practice dancing there, and he used custom-cut mirrors on the recessed closed door panels. The small house was brightened a great deal visually with those mirrors.

4. The house had lots of space problems, including a closed-in kitchen with an ugly laundry center. They ended up with lots of cabinet space, and best of all, he put a good-sized stacking washer and dryer out of sight inside one of the rich dark cabinets. He also opened the wall between the kitchen and the living room.

The guy who won did some funky, loud colors and pieces that I wouldn't want to actually have to live with. The judges like his personality and his edgier design ideas, and he might be wacky to watch on TV, but I doubt if I'll ever wish I had the rooms he did.

A Glimpse Into the Mind of a Knitting Lunatic

My brother Bill emailed today, and said he had watched some of my machine knitting lesson videos. Bill has his own interesting hobbies, in particular, woodworking. Our emails sparked my thinking about why I am so crazy for such an obscure hobby.

I've always loved textiles. In my case, clearly, I adore the colors, textures and fashion designs. I also hand knit, sew, crochet, needlepoint, make rugs, quilt - you name it. I do it all fairly well because of my great enjoyment of fiber arts and my love of solving each interesting puzzle. I owned a yarn shop for eight years from 1978-1986, which I sold when our older son was little. As a shop owner, I learned continuously. The customers taught me, and I learned by doing research to answer customer questions and solve problems.

I do more machine knitting than other needlework because I'm a busy mom. I mean BUSY, ridiculously willing to bite off more than I can chew. My time checkers never cover the whole board! I have always had all kinds of projects and volunteer passions, and as I've mentioned in the blog, I am a Certified Public Accountant (a designation I earned in my 40s) and work full-time as a non-profit controller.

Machine knitting is fascinating, and because it is so fast, you can experiment, rip and redo, design your own thing, aiming for exactly what you want.

It could be lonesome having a hobby that not many people have, but I found a group, and I hope you can, too, plus there are great communities on the internet. And isn't it just a little intriguing to do something not everybody knows how to do? We don't have a secret handshake; we ask people if we can turn their sweater edges inside out and see how they did it.

The things you can make are terrific! I make incredible soft, warm socks on an antique circular sock machine and John and I rehabbed, and people love to receive them as gifts. I like making baby blankets with the new baby's name knitted into the center on my garter carriage. I make lace shawls, tops for the office, sparkly things for evening, tote bags, pillows, afghans, whatever I please, and I manage it within the little bits of time I can find in the corners of my life. It might take me a month to do a project, but if I were handknitting, that might be several months.

Most clothes don't fit me correctly, and they never have, no matter what I weigh, even though I am an average height. A big epiphany occurred when I was watching What Not to Wear and discovered that most other women feel the same way! I thought it was just me, but I hear these other ladies saying that clothes don't fit them in some of the same ways they don't fit me.

With the knitting machine, I can fit myself. I will be doing some lessons on the KnitLeader. I have my body block drawn on the mylar sheet, and as long as I do the steps, I get one garment after another to fit. I get the length, width, shoulders and neck I want. If something isn't right, I can always rip, or just start over. I have my shape patterns in DAK, too.

It's great fun to knit gifts, but it's also very gratifying if you decide to knit for charity. You could never get the same volume of "good stuff" done if you were handknitting or even crocheting. Some of my friends knit because they know that all around us, there are people in need. Austin has a mild climate, but for us, coming from Southern California, we were surprised at the winter cold. When we first moved here, I recall driving on a blustery winter day and seeing a little boy who had no jacket, just a T-shirt and jeans. He had pulled his arms inside the T-shirt and was hugging himself to keep warm. Well, maybe he forgot his jacket, or maybe he didn't have one. The Junior League in Austin collects and gives away a massive number of children's jackets every year, and I've got a friend who actually knitted hundreds of stocking caps each year for several years, along with other knitters, so the kids could have a warm hat as well. I've got another friend, an older lady with a very modest lifestyle, who knits dozens of preemie hats. Premature babies have problems with body temperature, and the hospitals have discovered that hats help with that. I know another lady who knits garments for little preemies to be buried in; it's very sad, but those parents know that somebody cared about them and and made something lovely, new, and personal for their little one.

Machine knitting can also be very economical. At least, that's true if you are a normal person and not continually collecting equipment as I have. (Surely it's my husband John's fault, as he has always indulged me with knitting machines. When I got a yen for a Passap E6, he watched for one for me, and we drove all the way to Morgan City, Louisiana to pick it up.) Once you have your basic rig, yarn isn't very expensive compared to its entertainment value and its value made up.

Losing Weight

I haven't done an update on my Weight Watchers adventure in a few weeks.

Let's see, two weeks ago, I was in California. I didn't go to Weight Watchers that week.

Then I came back from vacation and went on Tuesday after Labor Day, because my regular class was closed on Labor Day. It was very discouraging to gain 1.2 pounds on vacation, but I determined to get right back to work. We had gotten together with friends and relatives on vacation by taking people to restaurants, and most days ate both lunch and dinner out. It was a fun, easy way to reconnect, but even though I tried to choose the low fat, healthy options and watch portions, I gained weight.

Tonight I checked in again after a week of behaving myself carefully, and I am down 2 pounds, losing the weight I gained on vacation and down just a bit more.

Altogether, I have lost 20 pounds in 12 weeks. I have to continue with this quite a while longer, but it feels quite do-able.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ribber Lesson 14 - Loop thru Loop Bind-Off Off Machine

Here's a terrific, easy bind-off that works with all kinds of ribber stitch layouts:

Susan Boyle Sings Wild Horses

I find Susan Boyle's voice thrilling:

Knit Club Photos - Saturday, Sept 12, 2009

We had a terrific Knit Natters meeting on Saturday, September 12, 2009, at Barbara Deike's home in Leander, Texas. Above are Barbara, holding her lifelike baby doll, and Tiffany, Barbara's granddaughter, holding one of Barbara's Afghan Lovely afghans.

Sara Tittizer did lesson, teaching us to spin. She gave each of us a drop spindle and wool roving in two colors. Using two colors as you learn is a way to see how much twist you are putting on the yarn.

It was no surprise to me what a patient teacher Sara is, since that's her profession, and she is such a patient person. She took her time with each of us and got us to the point where we were actually spinning usable yarn. Above, she is helping Sylvia Moore, showing her how to control the wool and keep the drop spindle rotating:

Barbara's granddaughter, Tiffany, was spinning, too!

Mildred showing Mary Page her knitting, and on the right, Mary Page showing us her incredible, soft roving from her own alpacas!

Mildred Beeson holding Barbara's lifelike baby doll, and on the right, some of Mildred's hats made on the Innovations circular knitting machine.

On the left, Balkan hats and a wrist warmer that Pat Tittizer knitted, and on the right (gee, I wish the picture did justice to the tiny, shiny beads), Pat's incredible hand beaded work. She and Sara had gone to the Campbell Folk School, and Sara learned to embellish gourds while Pat was taking a course in intricate beading. I wish I had some gourd photos!

More show-and-tell from Pat Tittizer! On the left, Norwegian mittens and wrist warmers, and on the right, a closeup of two of the gorgeous beaded projects.
Sylvia Moore was there, wearing one of her amazing embroidered T-shirts, and she remarked that she had expected our show-and-tell to be all knitting. Nope, we pretty much hold a free-for-all during show and tell. We want our members to bring whatever they're working on at the time, and sometimes it's a story or experience.

This is Sara's handwoven shawl made on a giant triangle loom. What doesn't show up in the photo is her combination of blue, green, and sparkly yarn and her meticulous crocheted edge.

Tiffany wearing a sweater made for her by her grandmother, Barbara, on the left, and on the right, another amazing tote bag that Mildred Beeson made. Mildred lines her totes, adds pockets inside and out, puts a clasp on top, and often embellishes them, as well. This one has filet crochet on the outside pocket and was made from drapery fabric.
My show-and-tell was my video knitting lessons that I have been putting up on the web.
Carl Deike showed pictures of their recent trip to Big Bend, Texas - on the television - aren't digital cameras great? I didn't even realize there were any mountains in Texas, let alone such as a beautiful, cool place to go in summer.
Barbara Deike also did a Passap lesson for us on "mock garter stitch," which we all decided ought to be described as a lace stitch. This was very pretty, but what I was excited about was learning a little more that can be done with the U100 transfer carriage.

Lesson 13 - Loop Thru Loop Castoff for Ribbing - On the Machine

Quick, easy, good-looking castoff for ribbing where the needle arrangement allows for transferring all stitches to the main bed.

This one's done on the machine. Next, I'll teach the same thing but done with waste yarn, so that the loop-thru-a-loop part is done later, away from the machine.

Lesson 12 U-Shaped Knitting

Here's the latest ribber video:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ribber Lesson 11 - Circular Knitting

I filmed three more videos about getting the most from your ribber! Now I have to get them edited and uploaded. One down, two to go!

Lesson 11, how to knit a tube using the ribber:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Commentary in Forbes on the Obama Speech

I read at least a dozen commentaries on the Obama speech this week, listened to excerpts (we weren’t home Wednesday night), read the fact-checker commentaries, including the one from Associated Press, and of course, glowing reports in the Austin American Statesman.

Of everything I have read, this is the one that resonated with me the most:

I don’t agree with her, though, about tort reform, since here in Texas, it helped a great deal.  I doubt if any tort reform proposals will actually come from this administration or the congressional majority leadership who are pushing HR 3200.   Despite what he said in his speech, his having Katherine Sebelius as the cabinet member looking into tort reform means to me it’s a non-starter - she used to be the chief lobbyist for the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association.

Ribber Lessons - What's Coming

I have wondered about what to cover in this ribber lesson series, and after giving it considerable thought, I keep returning to the concept that this is another beginner course.  I started doing this in the first place because I met beginners who have no local teacher. 

The purpose of the ribber lesson series is to cover the essentials to give beginners a working knowledge of the ribber, the ability to incorporate ribbed knitting in garments, and help them to follow ribber instructions in magazines and knitting books.  I want them to reach the point where they are excited about what it will do and comfortable with using it.  (By the way, according to YouTube, the ribber lessons have more male viewers than any of the other lessons.  Guys must find the ribber interesting.)

After that, logically, I need to cover the charting device and some patterning.  The charting devices are the simplest, cheapest way to get started with knitting garments to fit.

The lessons are designed so that by watching each lesson in order, then practicing that technique while it’s fresh, you can master the basics and start knitting the projects that inspired you to buy a machine!

I like to understand why I am doing each step of anything I do, not just follow a list of instructions.  If I push a button, I want to know what that button is doing.  It’s easier to remember that way.  I give as much background explanation as possible in the lessons.  Of course, as the lessons get more detailed, I have to assume people have watched prior lessons and omit some information, or else I couldn’t move forward.  If you discover that I’m going too fast, check out the prior, similar lessons in that same series.  Or send me questions or comments, and I’ll respond.

Another thing I mull over is how many projects to put up along with the basic courses.  The lesson groups consist of sample after sample, but sometimes you just want to actually make something.  Surely everyone wants to say, “I made this!”  In that spirit, I think I’ll put some more projects up before the charting device lessons, particularly projects without complex fitting.  Most of the knitters I know, even the most advanced, like to collect and make simple, practical projects.  We knit them for charity, for quick gifts, or just because we’re in the mood for the tried-and-true project, not a big challenge.   Speaking of gifts, it’s already September and the holidays will be upon us soon.  We’ve gone from incredible heat and drought in Austin to shorter days and even rain.

I am careful about copyrights.  I only put up my own designs or designs with permission, and you’re welcome to knit them, for non-commercial use.

It’s so exciting that I’m working my way through these essential lessons!  After they’re online, it will be great fun putting up more unusual and advanced technique videos. 




Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Please Read and Consider - Health Care Bill HR 3200

Important questions we should all be asking about the health care proposal, with selected excerpts from the actual 1,017-page legislation:

Two English Rib Lessons

Well, actually, there are four different techniques in these two lessons. One's done on a knit 1, purl 1 layout and the other one is done on a full needle layout. For each layout, I show how to have the main bed do the tuck stitches as well as how to have the ribber do the tuck stitches.

English Rib looks great! I've used it in quite a few situations, and in particular, I have an easy sweater on that uses English Rib to good advantage. Maybe I'll make a video about how to do that sweater. If you haven't tried it, please do. It might be listed in your manual as "half fisherman's rib." It has a different look and texture from ordinary fisherman's ribbing, though.

Lesson 8 - English Rib, 1x1 version

Do version 1 and then version 2. I went fast on the version 2 lesson, because it is incredibly similar to the first one, but I wanted to show it and show how different the stitch looks in the smaller gauge.

Ribber Lesson 9 - English Rib, Full Needle Rib Version

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ribber Lesson 7 - Knit 5, Purl 5

Here's how to do different needle arrangements - cast on in FNR and then rearrange stitches. This video shows how to rearrange into K5 P5:

Ribber Lesson 6 - Broken Toe Cast-On

This cast-on is useful when you need a slightly tighter edge on k1, p1 ribbing or full-needle rib. It has an extra row of yarn at the beginning which holds the comb. That prevents the comb from stretching the knitting too widely.

It begins with a zigzag row, then carefully insert the comb so that the comb will be supported when all the ribber stitches are dropped. The comb will need to be inside the V formed by the yarn going from each knit (main bed) needle to the ribber needle below and back up to the next knit needle.

After you knit the zigzag row and drop the ribber stitches, you do another zigzag row and the rest of the circular cast-on, just like any other circular cast-on. Finally, when the piece of knitting is finished, you will need to remove that first row of yarn by pulling it out on the side opposite the loose end.

Home at Last

Like most people, I enjoy both travelling and getting home again. This trip to California, primarily to visit family members, was both stressful and fun.

I hadn't been there in several years, so the changes in both places and people were profound and often upsetting. In just a week, we stayed in San Bernardino, Huntington Beach and Simi Valley. We visited both my sisters, my younger brother (the older one doesn't live in that area), John's brother, sister, and mother. The easiest way to get together was to take people to dinner, so it was something of a restaurant tour. (Fortunately, according to my bathroom scale, it wasn't a complete disaster, but we did eat a lot.) We also shopped a little for real estate in the beach communities.

We got home last night, according to our plan to have Labor Day off to recover.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's My Birthday!

I'm 57 today! John and I will celebrate tonight.

Say a little prayer for me - that I'll be a blessing to my friends, family, coworkers and anybody else I somehow touch, and that I'll behave with integrity and compassion.

Things are going very well for me - but for some of my oldest friends, they aren't going so well just now. We all have our times when a child is sick, or a job is lost, or health is damaged, or some other hardship comes along, but at present, I am grateful for good circumstances, and best of all, I am loved.

Tips for Learning Your Ribber

In you're starting with the ribber lessons, here are some ideas to make this whole learning process easier:

1. Use skinny yarn! It doesn't hurt a thing to use thinner yarn than necessary when working with your machine, especially when making practice swatches; however, if the yarn you use is too thick you will be terribly frustrated! It may jam, or it may not knit at all. You want a yarn that is smooth, too - no bumps, hairy stuff, or crimps. The easiest yarn to use as you are learning your ribber is thin, cheap, acrylic yarn. Set a cone on the floor for best flow of the yarn through the tension unit.

2. Consider making your swatches and keeping them rather than unravelling and reusing the yarn. You could staple them to pieces of paper with a label of what yarn you used, what technique, and what machine settings.

3. Use enough weight. You will gradually develop a good idea of how much weight to use. Most ribber manuals have a chart showing how many weights to use for different numbers of stitches. As you begin, refer to that chart.

4. Balance the ribber comb! What I am mean is that the ribber comb should stick out the same amount on each side of the stitches. Here's how to do that - if you want to knit 60 stitches of ribbing, center them by using needle 30 on the left to needle 30 on the right. Then, when you put the ribber comb in, hold it against the bed first and see how long it is, then put it in so the right edge and left edge are at about the same needle numbers. A shortcut I use is to have the center of the comb marked. I hold the comb with my thumb at the mark and put that at zero.

5. Take your time, and after each change in settings, compare them to the book so you don't forget to change a setting.

6. Have faith in your ability to gradually memorize all of this. Because you will do a bunch of short lessons, these things that are peculiar now will be habits later. It gets easy, I promise!

7. If you look in the book and think one of the ribber techniques isn't very interesting, or you look at my lesson and say, no, that's not for me, think again. These things are often much more interesting in your hands than they are in a photograph, so try them anyway and feel them. It will spark your imagination and you'll start having ideas as to how to use the different stitches. Don't be surprised if I act excited about a particular stitch and you think it's nothing special - that's the fun of it, that we're all different.

8. Go on over to and look at the English Rib Child's Sweater in the free patterns. There's a photo of it on a cute little girl on the Free Patterns page. Here is an entire sweater, intended for beginners, made with the ribber! I think this is such a good teaching project for ribbing that I may do the whole thing on video, and rechart it for the bulky, besides. It's just rectangles. Honestly, this is a MUCH easier sweater than the V-neck raglan beginner sweater I put up on video with the beginner lessons! There is no shaping whatsoever. You can knit these sweater pieces at an amazing rate, and they really do fit and look cute on children. A favorite trick of mine is to use a fun, variegated yarn for the yoke and make the rest plain.

9. Do play around with using the techniques for full needle rib as well as 1 x 1 rib. The difference between the two is simply gauge. You'll be able to use more kinds of yarn, and you'll get more effects.

10. Look through your things and find your "fine knit bar." This is just a long, somewhat flexible piece of plastic that you slide between the main bed gate pegs and the main bed needles. It helps the stitches knit off, and is very helpful for some stitches and gauges. In fact, sometimes I like to use it when just doing main bed work.

11. Swatches are a wonderful way to learn. If you do swatches ahead of a project, you avoid all kinds of unpleasant surprises. I hope you'll do a swatch for every single lesson!

12. Make sure your ribber comb wires are in good condition. Insert the comb, then grab the bent end of the wire and pull the wire out just enough to get the comb in place, then push the wire back in. It certainly is much easier than removing the wire all the way, then trying to hold the comb with one hand and rethread the wire with the other.

13. After the cast-on is done, for the next 8-10 rows, watch and make sure that the comb drops as the ribbing lengthens. This was one of my biggest issues when I was learning my first ribber. Apparently, there wasn't much room for the comb to drop and it would just sit there, either not moving down or only moving down on one side. I was probably using yarn that was too thick, too, my biggest beginner mistake. You can give it a gentle tug downward after each of the first few rows and make sure it isn't sticking.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Posting a Video Ribber Course

As I put these links up, I hope that any beginners who are trying to learn to use a ribber will follow the sequence - watch a lesson, do a lesson, in order. You will probably need to modify them to fit your machine - have your manual open so you can find the settings for tuck, slip, etc. for your own brand of machine. I am trying to organize this so it builds knowledge in a logical way. By doing them in order, you shouldn't find them too difficult to do.

For the typical beginner, machine knitting is intimidating. There's a reasonable fear of breaking or bending something, and the general sense that you don't have enough hands! But please persevere...I just had the lovely experience of handing my niece two machine knitted blankets for her beautiful new baby, and I didn't tell her how quickly I whipped 'em out! After all, I work all day and can't sit for hours with knitting needles, as much as I would like to.

I still have the 10-minute limit on YouTube, which is okay with me, because I don't want them to be long and boring. But it does mean that I can't show the beginning steps over and over again or let the camera run for long while I am pushing the carriage back and forth.

The lessons are begining to get interesting. For instance, the e-wrap cast-on that I just put up is something that you won't find in your manual, yet is easy to do and makes a very nice edge. It is also practical when you have to cast-on additional ribber stitches in the middle of a project, for instance in the Almost Seamless Baby Sweater.

I keep changing the links on the left margin of this blog to make it easy to navigate to the different groups of lessons that I have put up. First of all (and down the list) is a complete beginner's machine knitting course for the person with any flatbed Japanese knitting machine. Above that is a link to the beginner's project, which is a V-neck raglan sweater. Above that is the complete garter bar course - quite fun, and I bet I've got something in there you've never seen before. Now I'm on the ribber, and the course so far can be reached by clicking on the "click here" in that top link description. Here's my rationale: if I were a beginner, what order would be good to acquire and learn equipment? I imagine I'd start with a main bed, then I'd try to get my hands on a garter bar (because it's relatively cheap and does so many useful things), and then I'd try to purchase a ribber. Or, maybe I'd have gotten the whole works from some knitting nut and I just wouldn't know where to start! So here's a plan of attack.

I think charting devices are the next useful thing, where you can trace on a pattern and then knit to fit, but that won't be for a little while because there are so many amazing ribber techniques. I've got plans for lots of ribber lessons.

I do love to hear from you, and this time, let me throw out this question - what kinds of patterns would you like to have? Do you knit gifts, or things to sell, or what? Let me know... For instance, I was thinking about putting up a garter bar watch cap with garter stitch around the ears for warmth and then garter bar decreases to make it fit the head. To design something and double-check, to proofread it carefully, takes a little work, so I'd like to know what people need.

Ribber Lessons - So Far

Here's the list of ribber lessons for the flatbed knitting machine:

Ribber Lesson 1 - Circular Cast-On

Ribber Lesson 2 - Full Needle Rib

Ribber Lesson 3 - Knit 2, Purl 2 Ribbing, Regular Version

Ribber Lesson 4 - Knit 2, Purl 2 Ribbing, Springy Version

Ribber Lesson 5 - E-Wrap Cast-On for Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 6 - Broken Toe Cast-On for Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 7 - Knit 5, Purl 5

Ribber Lesson 8 - English Rib, 1x1 Version

Ribber Lesson 9 - English Rib, Full Needle Rib Version

Ribber Lesson 10 - Fisherman Rib

Ribber Lesson 11 - Circular Knitting

Ribber Lesson 12 - U-Shaped Knitting

Ribber Lesson 13 - Loop Through loop Bind-Off for Ribbing, on Machine

Ribber Lesson 14 - Loop Through Loop Bind-Off for Ribbing, Off Machine

Ribber Lesson 15 - Smiles & Frowns Cast-Off

Ribber Lesson 16 - Smiles and Frowns Cast-Off for Knit 2, Purl 2

Ribber Lesson 17 - Edge Decreases in Knit 1, Purl 1 Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 18 - Different increases in Knit 1, Purl 1 Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 19 - Casting Off Part of a Row of Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 20 - Racked Ribbing Pattern

Ribber Lesson 21 - Short Rowing Ribbing

Ribber Lesson 22 - Pintucks

Ribber Lesson 23 - Ribber Tuck Stitch

Ribber Lesson 24 - Drop Stitch Lace

Ribber Lesson 25 - Slipped Ribbing

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ribber Lesson 4 - Springy Knit 2 Purl 2 Ribbing

Here's that next lesson, which uses a 2x1 needle arrangement on both the main bed and the ribber bed to create a much springier ribbing:

And, here's the embedded video:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SoCal Wildfires / Visit to Simi Valley

On the drive to Simi Valley to visit my youngest sister Karen, I got a photo of the smoke early on in the Station Fire. This was Saturday afternoon before the fire was so horrible and spread. The black smoke travelled up in a plume, and then the weather conditions created by the fire created a cumulus-type white cloud above the fire.

Another! Ribber Video

Ah, so lovely to be at Sharon's house uploading on their high speed internet connection!

This next lesson is knit 2, purl 2 ribbing, also called 2 x 2 ribbing. I've put it up on youtube at:

And here it is, embedded: (My darling nephew Thomas showed me how to get the embedding feature to work again!)

New Ribber Video

Before I left Austin, I filmed a video on casting on using full needle rib, and then I edited it on my trip. I strongly urge you, if you haven't used your ribber in a while, or if you're a beginner, to just work through these lessons in order. Watch a lesson each day and do whatever I did in that lesson. I'm trying to do them in building-block order so you'll develop a good, solid knowledge of how to use the ribbber.

This one is pretty darn easy - do it with your ribber manual at hand, because the settings are different from one machine to another. It's absolutely an essential, basic lesson.

Huntington Beach

Hanging out in Huntington Beach today, looking at properties and eating wonderful things. They're having a heat wave. It must be over 80 degrees outside!