Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knit a Little Every Day

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 25 "25 Days of Diana"

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Videos - Bulky Mittens (Ultimate Sweater Machine)

I finally got the mitten video finished!  This is a match-up for the scarf and hat made on the Ultimate Sweater Machine.  As you do this mitten, you will practice:

  • The double e-wrap cast-on
  • Latching up ribbing
  • Decreases
  • Increases
  • Gathered cast-on for thumb
  • Mattress stitch steams
  • Latched trim
This is not a fancy or expensive machine, and yet, look what nice things we were able to make, and how quickly!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winding Yarn Before Knitting

I keep seeing discussions about rewinding yarn on the various lists, and thought I'd share some thoughts on rewinding yarn:

1.       Yarn fed into a knitting machine should not have any resistance at all until it goes through the tension mast; therefore, it should always be coned or rewound.  You can strip it (pull it out of the skeins and pile it loosely, in order, into a container), too, but you'd best use it right away.
2.       This is incredibly true with sock machines.  People who skip the rewinding step suffer with many more problems; some of them “get by,” but I like to be relaxed and confident as I work. 
3.       IMHO, cones are best, rewound second-best.  (Some circular sock knitters use paint rollers, and I consider them very unacceptable.)   Yarn feeds best from down on the floor, too, not up by the machine.  
4.       It takes extra time to wind yarn loosely enough.  I often wind my wool sock yarn twice, trying for an extremely loose “cake” of yarn. 
5.       I NEVER store a tightly wound ball of yarn.  If I ever receive a tightly-wound ball of yarn I rewind it more loosely right away.  It’s amazing how fast tight-winding can stretch and crush yarn so it loses its springy, fluffy attributes.
6.       I prefer freshly-wound yarn for knitting because as it sits around it become more “sticky,” tangled and difficult to feed.  We noticed in our shop that the longer skeins sat around, the more tangled they were when finally used.  Commercial skeins might have been wound a while ago in the factory, then handled as they were packed and shipped and unpacked, handled when picked up by customers and also handled each time we’d straighten the shelves.  Some ball shapes are more prone to tangling than others, as well.
7.       I’ve taken to using a jumbo yarn winder for even my small balls of yarn.  It’s not only fast, but the center core is bigger.   When you pull it off the winder, the yarn fills in the center which makes it looser.  
8.    I do often use "cakes" of yarn and pull from the center, but for really difficult yarn, I leave it on the winder core and pull from the outside.  

December 23, Luke 23

Luke 23 for today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, Luke 22

Here's Luke 22 for today.

Ultimate Sweater Machine: Videos, So Far

If you're an Ultimate Sweater Machine knitter, or a bulky knitter, you might like to be able to find all the USM videos quickly.

These are in the order you would probably want to knit them.

Intro to the USM

The scarf videos 

Photos of the scarves and various notes

Hat, to match scarf and written hat directions

Worsted Weight Tam on the Ultimate Sweater Machine

Cast-On Rag on USM

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adorable Childrens' Hats at Rett Og Vrang

rett og vrang: "Bamselua" i mange varianter, størrelser og farger

December 19, Luke 19

Here's Luke 19 for today.

Ribber Scarf & Tam Set - One More Colorway & Instructions

I think this is my last Patons Lace tam hat and scarf set.  The whole set, including a 6-foot scarf, only requires two balls - there are almost 400 yards on a ball.  Now that I've seen it knitted, this is my favorite "colorway."

To make this scarf, I modified a pattern in my Beautiful Ribber Scarves book to take it from a patterning bulky machine to a 965i.

Following the Cream Tuck Lace scarf pattern, convert to Stitch World 291 for the 965i to get that pattern chart (Stitch World numbers change from machine to machine).  Increase the stitches to 65 stitches, make sure racked into full pitch and zeroes lined up, 1x1 rib, end needles on ribber, 4 rows for edge, T4.  Then the pattern starts by putting selected stitches from the ribber to the main bed: L6, 12, 18, 24, and R1, 7, 13, 19, and 25.  Do selection row, T6, then set for Tuck. Knit 650 rows, end with 4 rows 1x1 ribbing T4 and bind off.

Your machine's ribber, your most-expensive accessory with its complete needle bed, might sit unused because of the effort required for mastery.  The ribber is ideal, though, if you've got to do some "production" knitting, that is, a lot of items for charity, for gifts, or for sale!  Your ribber makes thick, fluffy, fancy things that lie flat, and you'll save so much time in finishing that it's well worth investing time in mastering the ribber.  For instance, the only finishing required for this scarf is binding off and a light steaming to eliminate curl.

I am so passionate about persuading people to master the ribber that I've filmed an entire free ribber course, here.

Teaching Teens to Machine Knit

A fantastic post over at Machine Knitting Fun.  Here's what we REALLY need to do to popularize machine knitting!

Machine Knitting Fun: Evil Plan Times 5

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 19 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 19 "25 Days of Diana"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18, Luke 18

Here's Luke 18 for today.

Gift Set - Tam + Scarf

I made the tuck lace scarf from Beautiful Ribber Scarves - but on the standard gauge with more stitches, and the standard gauge tam for a gift set.  This is Paton's lace.  Two balls of yarn did the whole job, and the scarf is well in excess of six feet in length, so this is a luxurious gift set at a low cost.

I ELIS HUS: Lue til sjalet / Hat and scarf.

I ELIS HUS: Lue til sjalet / Hat and scarf.

I ELIS HUS: Sjal til mannen / Scarf for my DH.

I ELIS HUS: Sjal til mannen / Scarf for my DH.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 18 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 18 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 17 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 17 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 16 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 16 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 15 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 15 "25 Days of Diana"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, Luke 14

Here's Luke 14 for today.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 14 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 14 "25 Days of Diana"


Hubby says I need to announce that Hobby Lobby has another coupon this week.

They also have the Ultimate Sweater Machine on sale.

Staycation Day 6 - Monday

I filled orders.  I have a holiday special going, a free DVD of gift projects with any purchase, so we packed up the weekend's orders, along with some family gifts (nice knitted items) and some more Christmas cards, and headed for the Post Office.  We went for a glamorous lunch at Burger King, chicken sandwiches and apple slices, then stopped at Hobby Lobby for yarn for the sport weight tam.  Ran a couple errands besides that and came home.

I finished the light blue variegated tam.  We took out the Brother 230 and ribber that was given to me to sell for charity and had a good look; did an inventory and decided that since it needs a sponge bar and a few parts, which will have to wait until after the holidays.  Anybody want a good old 230?  There's a Knitmaster 323, too, also with a ribber.

Spent some time hunting for a couple of hard-to-buy gifts for the kids.

Knitted a tam out of Paton's Lace but still haven't figured out the sport weight version..  Went through the knitted goodies for John's mom and sister, but haven't packed the box yet as there's an item I'd like to add.  John's mom is 85 and going strong.  She likes to walk early in the mornings when it's cool, and she likes the hats and light knitted scarves.  A few years ago I knitted her a cloche, didn't even keep notes, and I probably need to devise a new cloche as hers is worn out.  She also likes the tams I knit.

My friend came over in the evening and sewed the rest of her napkins.

I made one of my lazy cook's dinners - poached salmon and veggies.

Knitted the Paton's Lace tam.  I listen to my Kindle read books to me while I sew up knitted items, and yesterday I finished the Lee Strobel book, The Case for Christmas.

Today, Tuesday is my last vacation day, but I'm not exactly going to suffer.  In the first place, I like my job, and in the second place, there are holidays in each of the next two weeks!  When January comes and I have to work five whole days in a row, it will be quite an adjustment!  Accounting is seasonal, and in January, we'll be frantically working on year-end close, which is always interesting.

I have a general rule, even on weekdays, to try to knit at least a little while.  This is how I get so many socks done - if I can find 25 minutes or so, I can crank a sock on the CSM.  This is also why I do so many small projects. If I'm really tired, I can always hand knit.  I have piles of hand knitted dishcloths in my finished items bins; I not only had some tired evenings this year, but I bought cotton yarn on cones and kept knitting away, trying to use it all.  I love to knit the two-needle round ones and make up new ones.

Tam in Paton's Lace Yarn

Patons Lace yarn caught my eye at Hobby Lobby weeks ago.

When John's mom asked me to write a hand knitting pattern for the tam, I thought this might knit up as a sport weight, even though it's marked as a #2, Fine yarn.

The reason is it's a brushed (hairy or fluffy) yarn and I generally expect those yarns to knit up about twice as thick as they look.  I love yarns like that, and I kept thinking about it, so when we stopped yesterday to buy a sport weight yarn to regauge the tam, I bought one ball of this and then bought another skein of something I was absolutely sure was sport weight.

Well, it really is a "fine" gauge yarn, and knits up just fine on the standard bed machine with the same gauge as sock yarn.  And, it's fluffy and lovely; the pictures do not do it justice.  I steamed it lightly and brushed it very gently to bring out the fluff a little.  Because of the very slow variegation, the colors tend to change at each of the hat sections.  With the very slow striping quality of the yarn, I think it would make a lace or tucked rib scarf, and the fancy colors wouldn't overpower the lace pattern.

The only difficulty in knitting with it is a tendency for the hairy fiber to catch a little, easily remedied by pulling the knitting down gently occasionally, for instance, at the end of the section when you need to move the claw weights anyway.

Paton's Lace is 80% acrylic, 10% mohair, 10% wool, 85 grams (3 ounces), and 498 yards.  You often get amazing yardage with a brushed yarn.  The tam only took 35 grams.  Now I have to buy more to make a scarf to match!

When our kids were little, we invented the term "toddler logic" to explain the contrary way they functioned; now I think I need to coin the term, "knitters' logic" to explain the way that all the thought processes of a knitter seem to lead to more yarn.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Newest Tam

This was such pretty sock yarn, and I made a tam (beret) from it (following the regular, standard-gauge video instructions).  I started it Sunday night but decided to watch a movie and finish it this morning, and I assembled it and blocked it this morning.

Can you imagine making such a nice gift with only a single, 50-gram skein of sock yarn?  Better yet, leftover sock yarn!  And, it can be knitted in one session!  (At least, once you've made one and gotten the hang of it.) Check this out:

I think I'll do a tam book with all the different gauges and sizes of tams.  I want to include kids' sizes as well as ladies' sizes, plus I want to include the charts so you can shape the tam automatically if you have an electronic machine.  I am currently redoing the tam pattern for sport weight yarn and handknitting because my SIL has some perfect yarn and wants to hand knit one. 

Any cute ideas for a book title for a tam book?  

December 13, Luke 13

Here's Luke 13 for today.

Staycation Day 5: Sunday

Our Sundays are nearly always very busy.  If anything must be done on the weekend, we better not save it for Sunday.

We have had two appointments at the church on Sundays lately - 9:00 a.m. for services and 4:30 p.m. for Financial Peace class coordinating.

We had a wonderful group this time, and yesterday afternoon was the last meeting.  We had a bunch of people who participated actively in discussions, were from different backgrounds, were different ages and marital statuses.  Yesterday was the final Dave Ramsey lesson, "The Great Misunderstanding," which puts the whole get-your-financial-life-in-order into perspective. It stresses that you don't live for greed, or just for yourself, but learn to live with open hands and an open heart and GIVE.  It is a fantastic lesson.

Since it was our last class, people had brought snacks, so we had a little party and an interesting discussion, particularly since the subject was giving, and several different churches were represented by people in the room.  I had to walk away feeling really good about the couple who are choosing to stay on their budget, established this year, next year for their Christmas present to each other, or the single lady who has developed a second income source that's fun, or the young, handy couple who have feel affirmed in their decision to buy a fixer starter home, put up with some serious frustrations, but also some serious payoffs. And then, there's a the lady who doesn't have lots of money but is giving lots of time, and a guy who didn't like an expensive project at his church, but realized later that they were doing a lot of things right and deserved his support.

A nice finish to a very good class.  If you have never attended a Financial Peace course, I can't recommend it wholeheartedly enough. The class hits all the most important aspects of getting your finances in order and even provides a logical sequence to follow, plus you have the support of a group who are all working on the same steps.

No more of those classes for us until 2011, but wow, 2011 is almost here.

My neighbor came over to borrow the sewing machine, and I showed her how to thread the Bernina and operate the knee pedal.  She was hemming napkins, really beautiful pink brocade ones.  We didn't have time to finish, but she'll be back tonight.

We ended our day by watching a cop movie.  John and I are movie nuts.

I've been doing some really interesting reading about Christmas this month - I finished 25 Days, 26 Ways to Make This Your Best Christmas Ever by Ace Collins (great book) and now I'm reading The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel.

My staycation is about over, but the mission is accomplished - I'm mostly ready for Christmas and won't be stressed out over it that last week.  And, I completely enjoyed being home with hubby for a few days.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 13 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 13 "25 Days of Diana"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, Luke 12

Here's Luke 12 for today.

Staycation Day 4 - Knit Natters Party

Saturday, the Knit Natters had their annual Christmas party at Barbara's house.  We had a great party.  First we do a craft, and Sara taught us to bind little books.  We all made little books, in fact more than one, and they turned out great.

After that, we ate.  Barbara had laid out quite a spread and we all brought something, as well.

We had our gift exchange, which was a blast.

Finally, we had one final piece of club business, which was to set up a Yahoo group to make it easier to stay in touch with each other, to post a calendar, and to file photos and patterns online.  Machine knitters are welcome, especially anyone in our Central Texas area.  You ask to join, and a moderator will add you to the list.  We didn't have all the email addresses for our own members, so it'll take a little while to get it up and running.

The rest of my day was used up with shopping, getting groceries, and the like.

Inspiration at Feather and Fan: EXTERMIKNIT! EXTERMIKNIT!

Knitting of Dr. Who-style outer space sculptures:


Machine Knitting Fun: Day 12 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 12 "25 Days of Diana"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

YouTube - Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four

Fantastic video showing how data can be brought to life with graphics:

YouTube - Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four

Tam & Slippers on USM at Alex's Machine Knitting

Alex's Machine Knitting

December 11, Luke 11

Here's Luke 11 for today.

Day 3 of Christmas Prep Staycation

My Christmas prep yesterday was mainly to wrap presents.

I did get to knit!  I knitted two cast-on rags and filmed the second - the first idea had pockets instead of a regular hem, and it didn't work out for a video.  I was going to put the pockets in place using sew-as-you-go, but it was difficult on the USM, whose needles won't stay in upper working position, and even though I got it done, I decided it would have been much easier to just sew up pockets.  So think about that - you knit a square with a finished cast-on and bind-off, and you fold up the bottom and make a few seams for pockets.  The pockets are to hold weights.

I was really happy with the video, because I got a chance to demo ravel cord, hems, and another cast-off.  This is a good one if you're a USM beginner.

I also knitted the beautiful orange and white yarn I found at Tuesday morning into a scarf.

I have a shortage of yarn for something, and am being "creative," making a triangle shawl and then I'm going to try fun fur to go all the way around and make it bigger with velvety edges.  I hope this turns out; and if it does, it'll be a pattern.  But I didn't film the work because it's black and not all figured out.  Triangle shawls are problematic on the knitting machine since they generally need to be bigger in some dimension than the width of the needles.  Y'all would be shocked at how many attempts are invested in my pattern ideas before I think something is good enough for you.

Got ready for the Knit Natters annual Christmas party later today.  We always have a gift exchange, and I made that item.  Can't say more yet..  So I did that, and picked out some simple friend gifts to take along.  I am leaning toward bringing a veggie tray since I know there'll be sweets.

I helped hubby John fix the couch.  It's one of those reclining ones with the footrests, and it broke - I bent a part - when I was leaning it back.. John acquired a part for it, but he set it aside  and bent it straight, which actually lasted until this week, when I bent it again (It's on my spot, you see).  So I helped him tip it over and he took it apart.  There was our couch, upside-down in pieces looking like rubble, and he removed these evil steel things that looked like torture instruments.  My job was to hold these awkward gizmos while he took out the old ones and put in the new ones.  Good as new!

At the end of the day I thought I should have gotten more done, but to actually knit and film a video in the same day is very unusual, and I got to knit, so this was another good one.  I am definitely glad I am using my precious vacation time in this way.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 11 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 11 "25 Days of Diana"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Score! Pretty Yarn at Tuesday Morning

Among the things we found at Tuesday morning were two skeins of Turkish yarn, about half superwash wool and about half nylon.

This is dreamy-soft, feel-to-appreciate fiber, but definitely a novelty yarn, bumpy and fussy.  I knitted a scarf out of it on the USM.  Since I only had two skeins, it's not a super long scarf, but a 5-footer using only 38 stitches and keyplate 2.  It's actually orange and white, even though on my monitor it looks like red and white:

December 10, Luke 10

Here's Luke 10 for today.

I ELIS HUS: Her er hun / Here she is

I ELIS HUS: Her er hun / Here she is

New Video - Make a Cast-On Rag for Your Ultimate Sweater Machine

Admittedly, this video isn't very glamorous, but it shows how to do a hem, how to use ravel cord, and how to do a different cast-off.  The main point of the video is to give you another option to use when casting on just a few stitches.

When I use theit USM it always seems like I need some cast-on options other than the long cast-on cuff.  Yes, you can buy a short cast-on cuff, but why not knit a cast-on rag?  It doesn't take very long, and since I've included a hem at the bottom, you can use that hem to put in just the right amount of weight for whatever you'd like to knit.

You can stuff rolls of pennies in that hem, or fishing weights, or sewing weights, or metal bars, or you can just use the cast-on rag to hang other knitting machine weights.  Once you make the rag, you can use it over and over.  I use cast-on rags sometimes on the other machines, as well.

Most knitting machines come with ravel cord and explain ravel cord's uses, but if you're a USM user, you might not have used this method, and it really is a very good time-saver.  By buying Omega nylon cord at Hobby Lobby, you can have a pretty much endless supply of very good ravel cord (for your other machines, too).  I noticed it is on sale this week.  I use this stuff, rayon yarn, or even whatever waste yarn I'm working with, for ravel cord all the time.  If you can't get rayon or nylon cord, well, crochet cotton isn't a bad alternative - just not as good as the slippery rayon or nylon.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 10 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 10 "25 Days of Diana"

Day 2 of Holiday Prep Staycation

We headed to the post office with a couple orders and our pile of Christmas cards to mail, then shopped together.  At Tuesday Morning, I found sock yarn!  It's a 75/25 blend of wool and nylon, which I prefer, in good colors, and at a nice price.  I was amazed at how much electronic gadgetry there was for John to browse through in that store.  We also purchased some assorted gifts.

Next, we went to our favorite restaurant, Reale's, for lunch, where we feasted - and they serve such large portions that we brought half the Italian food home for dinner.  We also bought John mint plants and some more yarn for knit demos.  What I did not find was yarn to knit another drop lace shawl for a certain person...I'd really hoped to find a worsted-weight black mohair-look yarn, but I only saw bulky yarn, and not nearly fluffy enough.   About then, the "Italian valium" hit, and we had to have a nap.  Ah, the slower pace of a few days off!

Next, we cranked up Christmas music on the stereo and decorated the house.  We didn't need to buy anything, just bring all the boxes in out of the garage.  We put up the tree, the lights and garland on the staircase, hung the stockings, hung a wreath my niece made us, assembled the reindeer my brother made, put out two nativity sets (one of which is a miniature porcelain set that my girlfriend made for me, and goes in the window over the kitchen sink.  We put Santa hats on the grandfather clocks.  Our tree is old-fashioned and all-mixed up, with plenty of stories and memories to go with the ornaments.

No knitting happened, but there was yarn shopping, which is always good.  I intend to do some knitting today!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, Luke 9

Here's Luke 9 for today.

Diana Gift Shopping

Nobody in my family reads my blog, since they think knitting is boring.  This means I can share some of my shopping adventures with all of y'all and even get your suggestions.  If someone catches on, well, they can't tell from this what I purchased for whom.

I'm taking a few days off work to get ready for Christmas.  I have a tendency to be ridiculously busy - there were three parties last week - and this time off is something I haven't treated myself to before.  It's fantastic!  John and I knocked out the Christmas cards and most of the out-of-state family gifts yesterday, and still had time for a long phone call with one of the sons and dinner and a movie (D&M at home - homemade enchiladas and  "Crazy Heart" with Jeff Bridges).  

I decided, a few years ago, with so many to mail, so little time, and the cost of postage, to buy almost all of that online and let the companies mail it for us.  I went with Amazon this year because they have such cheap shipping and there are lots of great prices.  Another reason to use Amazon is the ease of finding and reading reviews of products.  There's a big difference between choosing based on how something looks versus reading what other people experienced actually using the item.

Another Sullivan family "tradition" - I buy tamales, which we put in the freezer for quick meals during extra-busy holiday preparations.  Tamales are traditional Christmas fare here in the Southwest, yummy.  Some Hispanic families will get together and make dozens and dozens of them, assembly-line style, as a holiday tradition, but I've never participated in one of those marathons.

Here are some cool things I found:

A cookbook, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt In Your Mouth Cookies  I was sold by the title and reviews.

A tool (good for knitters), 'Flood Light' head lamp  We love these things; of course John and I are always tinkering away, and our eyes aren't getting any younger.  They are also outstanding when you have a storm and lose power.  

For folks to love to grill, Omaha Steak selections.  I've got a couple people I know are hoping I'll do this one again.
For those who have an assortment of ages in the family, this board game  I haven't played it yet, but wow, read the reviews!  

For a musician, a pickup transducer that you put on your acoustic instrument and feed into an amplifier. 

We have some Christmas "traditions" in our little family... the adult sons will get some sort of goofy toy to play with on Christmas day; we did it one year on a whim and they asked us to keep doing it.  Of course we join in!    Last year, it was potato guns.  Cheap but effective - had to have some potatoes on hand for ammo.  The year before, it was tiny remote control helicopters.  As a matter of fact, we've tried about four different kinds of little helicopters over the past few years, and the manufacturers have gotten really good at these - at first, they were awful, but now the guys fly 'em all over the house.  I'm puttering in the kitchen, and there's a insect-like lighted helicopter hovering near my face... Before that, we had the flying saucer set.   Wow, I see that one has gone up in price - we still have ours, still works, same company, but probably not the same model.  The guys had to be careful, though, since it's big enough to be an outside activity, not to lose it in the trees.  The trees here are so tall that you're probably not getting that baby back.

I'm undecided this year.  I am thinking about marshmallow guns, marshmallow crossbows (yes, I was envious of the Cub Scouts who earned these by selling popcorn.  They are awesome.), a flying toy from that company that makes such good flying saucers, and my guys all like paper airplane kits.  Any other suggestions?  Action-packed and silly, I hope?

Another Sullivan custom - since grandparents and relatives, many out of state, send the kids money to shop, and since there are such lovely after-Christmas sales on clothing, they hit the stores together.  My boys have a really good time shopping together.  They'll shop together right before the holiday and pick up gifts, then hit the sales afterwards.

My son is serious about a lovely young lady.  Gift ideas, anyone?  I know she wants another drop stitch shawl.  She's tall, and it's a generous-sized, easy-to-knit project.  I'll have to go find appropriate yarn.

Today I hope to decorate the tree, which is sitting there naked, and do some knitting.

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 9 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 9 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 8 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 8 "25 Days of Diana"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, Luke 8

Here's Luke 8 for today.

Closing Sock Toes

A recent discussion on the circular sock knitting machine list brought out the fact that your hostess here is OPINIONATED about how best to close a toe!  Let's have a smooth toe and invisible seam, most un-lumpy, put together with Kitchener stitch.  It's so easy, and the results are so terrific, I really must draw you in to the Kitchener toe fan club.

So, I thought, why not do a video on how to do it?  Well, I already did one.  This final video in the flat bed sock series shows how to do it, beginning at 7:27...just pull the slider over to 7 minutes and 37 seconds and watch how to close the toe. You haven't learned until you practice, so close a couple toes right away.

Note to flatbed knitters:  I do have a sock knitting book and DVD with 12 sizes of socks - baby to big guy - for sale.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 4 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 4 "25 Days of Diana"

Inspiration - Lovely mittens at Smoking Hot Needles

These are very pretty - probably would be warm enough for Texas!

Smoking Hot Needles: Maia mittens II

December 4, Luke 4

Here's Luke 4 for today.

New Videos Today - USM Tam

The USM Goldilocks challenge isn't over yet!

Are you new to this site?  New to machine knitting, or to the Ultimate Sweater Machine?  These videos build a little on knowledge, so here's what we have so far:

The easiest - scarf to knit.
Step two:  knit the hat to match.

Appreciate all the free lessons, patterns, etc?  Well, they do take truckloads of time.  Help me keep doing this  by doing your Amazon shopping through the search box at the left. They have quite a bit of interesting stuff for knitters these days.

Step 3 in the USM challenge is a fun little beret to knit as a gift item.

Knitting a tam on the USM (1 of 2)

Knit a tam on the USM (2 of 2)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 3 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 3 "25 Days of Diana"

Holiday Special, While They Last

We have some special DVDs that contain a group of easy gift projects.  I have already been including these in recent orders, and I gave them out at the Dallas seminar with orders, so if you order and already have the 2010 Gift video, let me know, and I'll send you some other surprise.

While they last, I'm including a DVD in each new order.

Thank you, everyone who ordered from me this year!  The business of selling some books and DVDs and doing a few seminars has really helped to make my endless knitting teaching possible.  And, I appreciate everyone who comments or emails - I draw energy from you, and you help me to do a better job!

December 3, Luke 3

Here's Luke 3 for today.

Eli Made the Bulky Lined Slippers - On EON with Standard Machine!

They look, great, too, don't they? Good photo of the U-shape you get until your fold them into slippers.

I ELIS HUS: Bulky Lined Slipper.

She photograhed some more socks, too - see the contrast between the little kid's sock and the big man's sock?

Irma Conquers Enchanted Edgings

I was thrilled to see this post. Irma in Brazil had purchased Enchanted Edgings - and she is a Portugese speaker who is deciphering my English book and my English DVDs.

You have to know, reading my blog, that I'm a big fan of Irma's. Her blog is an absolute inspiration with great photos of the creative knitting she does.

Irma punched the cards and figured it out anyway! That's one trait I love in machine knitters, the decision to plow right over minor obstacles, like a foreign language, and a different machine, and make it happen.

She's got a batch of lovely photos of the edgings here:

Knitting Machine: lovely embroidery - ENCHANTED edgings

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 2 "25 Days of Diana"

Machine Knitting Fun: Day 2 "25 Days of Diana"

Inspiration - Beautiful Scarves at My Brother and I

My Brother and I: Scarves finally finished!

I always look at the puppy pictures...

I believe God made dogs to teach us how to love.

Smoking Hot Needles: Hoofprint's Styria Maggie Purl Molly

December 2, Luke 2

Here's Luke Chapter 2 for today.

I ELIS HUS: Swirl baby blanket.

I ELIS HUS: Swirl baby blanket.

Advice, Please on Packaged Gifts

This time of year, I send an assortment of things to out of town relatives - for instance, chocolate gift baskets, pecan trays, and so forth.  We have a big family, and we usually send a box of goodies the whole family can enjoy.  These are things I order from companies and are shipped straight to the folks.

I don't get to see what the companies sent, and of course everyone expresses appreciation, but I really don't know what the best stuff is.  Also, John and I are not very clever at making our minds up about gifts.  So - does anyone have any fantastic, killer suggestions for things that are great to receive?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mittens to Match

2 New Videos: Hat on Ultimate Sweater Machine

Hi, USM knitters!  Hope your Thanksgiving weekend is lovely.

The hats to match the scarves turned out great!  There is about 20 minutes of instruction, which takes two YouTube videos.  The first video includes a detailed description of how to latch up a ribbing with a stretchy rolled edge cast-on for a very professional edge.  This particular latched-up ribbing isn't in the beginner course.  I like it and have wanted to include it in a video for a while..

To sew the hat up, you can use mattress stitch.  I've got a lesson on that here showing how to do it on the knit side.  This is a reverse stockinette hat, so do this mattress stitch with the purl side up, picking up the horizontal purl bars (the seam bulk is on the knit side).  If you seam isn't perfectly straight, it doesn't really show on the purl side like it does on the knit side!

Video 1 of 2:

Update:  Video 2 of 2

Why I Am Like GM - Clair Berlinski

Here's a great essay:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Compare Hand Knitting to Machine Knitting

What's the difference between machine knitting and hand knitting?  Is hand knitting better?   What, exactly is involved in going from hand knitting to planning a project on a knitting machine?

In hand knitting, stitches form as you pull a loop from one stick over a loop on the other stitck.  With a little practice and some decent teaching, hand knitting is interesting and relaxing and there's pleasure to be found in the gorgeous colors and textures of yarn and the creativity of the designs.  Plus, when you finish, you have knitted an item - maybe a useful, beautiful item.  I hand knit, and am fairly fast.  A hat takes me an evening.

In machine knitting, stitches - configured exactly like hand knitting stitches - form on latch hooks mounted on some sort of frame.  Machine knitting is very interesting, and with a little practice and some decent teaching, machine knitting can be extremely pleasurable as you enjoy the gorgeous colors, textures of yarn and the creativity of designs.  And, when you finish -  a little sooner than in hand knitting - you have knitted an item.  I machine knit, and a hat takes me 15-20 minutes.

Neither process is better - just different, and used for different purposes.  A few hand knitters look upon machine knitting with great disdain.  The machines just do an inferior job, they say.  Most of those folks are just snobs, and fortunately, knitters are very nice people and very few are snobs.  Snobs are people who miss out on the joys of getting to know other people because of some dark internal motivations. Stop that already - nobody likes a snob, and learning about something new is very good for the brain.

Almost all hand knitters are at least curious about machines, and they know as well as anybody that whether it's an "inferior job" depends on the knitter, not on the sticks or machine.  Did the knitter use inferior materials?  Did the knitter know how to finish the item attractively?  Did the knitter do sufficient planning?  Was the knitter patient enough to rip and redo, as necessary?

Machine knitting is not "cheating," unless washing my clothes in a washing machine instead of on a rock is cheating, or using a sewing machine instead of hand-sewing is cheating.  The machine is a tool.  I combine it with the lovely yarns and what I know or can learn, and I make things.  Sometimes I combine machine knitting with hand knitting, crocheting, or sewing because I like what I can make.

Sometimes people think that MKers push a button and a sweater comes out.  Machine knitting is still challenging, though - it has quite a learning curve! - and a bunch of us are hooked on how varied and interesting it is.

The easiest stitch to knit by hand is garter stitch.  The easiest stitch to knit on a flatbed machine is stockinette.  Stockinette CURLS.  You will need strategies to deal with pieces of machine knitted fabric curling.

When you knit by hand, the stitches slide on a stick, but when you knit by machine, each stitch has its own needle. That sliding quality to hand knitting is dandy for things like increasing or decreasing evenly across a row, but has drawbacks, as well, like the way all the stitches can slide right off and begin to unravel.  There are ways to increase or decrease evenly across a row in machine knitting, but it isn't the most elementary thing and we teach that a little later on.

If you have stitch tension problems when you hand knit, you will love the evenness of machine knitted fabric.

The stick technique is good for flipping over the work to make garter stitch.  We can do that on the knitting machine, too, but it takes extra devices or extra work.

Can you tell the difference between a hand-knit and a machine-knit garment?  Not always, but some stitches we knit by hand are just too much trouble to be practical by machine, and some stitches we knit by machine are too much bother to knit by hand.  You can take advantage of the differences between the methods to add to your knitted effect repertoire.  

Hand knitting is portable. I love to take it along with me.  Having hand knitting to do transforms a long wait at the airport, or the tedium of sitting on a bus.  It can even help redeem a poor television show, and it certainly softens the harshness of the news.

Machine knitting requires not-so-portable equipment.  It's best to leave at least one machine set up for sudden bursts of creativity.  Machine knitters usually carry around a knitting bag, though - filled with items that need sewn together.

As a hand knitter, you follow charts and patterns to make interesting stitches.  If you can acquire a machine with "brains," (punch card or electronics), fantastic fancy patterns can be created with the machine tracking all that.  However, even a very simple machine without a punch card or electronics (like the Ultimate Sweater Machine) can do fancy patterns - but you'll do more work keeping track.

The machine's speed, a primary advantage, can be leveraged in a number of ways:

1.  Sizing:  by knitting lightning fast, you can make great, big accurate gauge swatches and knit your garment pieces exactly the right size and shape.

2.  Experimentation:  It's hard to express the value of trial and error in my knitted designs.  If I make a mistake or a change, ripping out a day's worth of work isn't nearly so difficult as ripping out a month's worth!  I'll often knit several neckbands or other details before I'm satisfied.  After a while, you develop a steely-eyed willingness to rip, which great hand knitters know is essential for truly excellent work.

3.  Productivity:  got a slipper pattern you love?  Knit a pair for everyone on the Christmas list!  I once knitted 17 pairs of slippers in neon colors for my entire department and other colleagues at work on my antique sock machine.  Another Christmas, I cooked up a thread lace afghan in white chenille, and knitted four of them for my siblings.

4.  Beat boredom:  sometimes in hand knitting, I get tired of the object before I get finished with it.  In machine knitting, you can knit something and move on quickly, so boredom's not such a problem.

4. Charity:  Knit for a good cause!  Project Linus, the Guideposts Sweater Project, Chemo Caps, or any of dozens of other organized charities, hospitals, shelters, and ministries can use your knit goods.  Your knitted baby blanket may be the only one the mom receives, and she marvels that anyone would actually knit for her. My friend Mineloa Grumbles used to say that she loved knitting for children served by local shelters and ministries because sooner or later, she'd see her knitted items being worn by those kids.

Sew As You Go Mittens

I originally imagined the Goldilocks challenge gifts as a hat, scarf and mittens.  I had some sew-as-you-go mittens all planned for the USM and found that it was being a real pill for short-rowing.  It kept dropping the stitches near the short-row wrap.  I could short-row if a I used a ravel cord technique, but it wasn't a positive experience; in fact, I came to the conclusion that if I lured any hand knitters to try machine knitting, it would be a terrible experience to try to short-row this mitten shaping on the USM.  I will probably call the Bond help line about it, but for now, I wanted to try out the mittens, so I trooped over to the standard gauge and whipped up a pair - much, much smaller because it's a 2/12 yarn on tension 5 instead of the worsted weight yarn used on the USM.

I may yet come up with a Bond mitten, but not short-rowed. 

For the other machines, these are great!  You've never made a mitten this way...they're finished, thumb and all, when they come off the machine, except for a half seam at the place where the cuff joins the mitten and the side cuff seam.  Those two seams take only a few minutes to put in.  

This sample pair is about a child's size 6.  One of them was lying on my Dell Mini 10, and it struck me as funny to photograph these tiny mittens on the netbook, which is my tiny, really child-sized 10" computer I use for blogging.  

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Handsome Model

This is our son Steve, home from college for Thanksgiving, wearing the man's hat and scarf that I made on the USM.  I needed a model, and isn't he a cutie?  We are ridiculously proud of Steve, who is a fantastic student and a truly nice guy.

He said the nicest possible thing to me:  "Could I keep this?"  So, now he has a warm hat and scarf to wear in his convertible.  His current project?  Trying to score tickets for the UT/A&M game tonight in Austin.

Yes, he's in a short-sleeved T-shirt!  It was still warm here, but the temperature is dropping fast, and it's supposed to freeze tonight.   If he gets those game tickets, he can use the hat and scarf. 

Happy Thanksgiving

We plough the fields & scatter 
Thanksgiving Hymn
We plough the fields, and scatter 
the good seed on the land, 
but it is fed and watered 
by God's almighty hand; 
he sends the snow in winter, 
the warmth to swell the grain, 
the breezes and the sunshine 
and soft refreshing rain. 

Chorus All good gifts around us 
Are sent from heaven above 
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord 
for all his love. 

He only is the maker 
of all things near and far; 
he paints the wayside flower, 
he lights the evening star; 
the winds and waves obey him, 
by him the birds are fed; 
much more to us, his children, 
he gives our daily bread. 

We thank thee then, O Father, 
for all things bright and good, 
the seed-time and the harvest, 
our life, our health, our food. 
Accept the gifts we offer 
for all thy love imparts, 
and what thou most desirest, 
our humble, thankful hearts. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Next USM Item - Hat to Match Scarf

The hat to match the scarves turned out great.  It's disappointing how this yarn, which is mostly dark chocolate brown, photographs like it's light and medium brown.  This Lion Brand Tweed yarn, however, is very dark, rich and masculine-looking (chosen by DH, after all).

Here's how to do it:

1.  Cast-on over 81 stitches on every other needle, knit waste yarn for 6 to 8 rows, then switch to the Tweed and knit 2 rows with Keyplate 1.

2.  Change to Keyplate 2 and put the in-between needles into forward working position and make sure their latches are open.  Knit 12 rows on all the needles.

3.  Drop every other needle.  Latch up by putting the latch tool behind the work, grabbing the 3rd bar up, bringing it down and in front of the first 2 bars and then latching on up the bars above..

This makes a nice, firm ribbing with a rolled bottom edge, like a circular cast-on.

4.  Switch to Keyplate 3 and knit 30 rows.

5.  Starting on the right, transfer 1st stitch to 2nd needle, 3rd stitch to 4th needle, working on across so every other stitch is doubled up.  Put all empty needles out of work.

6.  Knit 6 rows on Keyplate 1.

7.  Drop the stitch off the 3rd needle in work, then leave 3 stitches in work, drop next stitch, on across.

8.  Unravel that first dropped stitch.   After it goes down 6 rows, 2 stitches will start to unravel.  As it unravels down close to the ribbing, slow down and pull the loops out one at a time, stopping at the top of the ribbing.  Insert the latch tool in each of the two open stitches at the top of the ribbing - 2 stitches on the latch tool - and then pull the 2 loops above that spot through the loops on the latch tool.  Now latch up, two loops through two loops all the way to the drop of the hat, ending with latching through the last loop and then putting it on the empty needle above it.  Repeat this procedure with all the dropped stitches.

9.  Cut the yarn, leaving a couple feet for seaming.  Thread it on a needle, and run the needle through the stitches on the machine, pulling them off the needles one by one.  Draw up the top.  Mattresss stitch the side seam.

The top of the hat does not look lumpy and gathered - it's nicely tapered, almost as if you did a bunch of shaping.

Tomorrow's turkey day, but maybe I'll get a chance to film the knitting of a hat.

New Videos: USM Scarves (Goldilocks Challenge)

Two videos are up showing how to make the scarves:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goldilocks Challenge: Gift Scarves on the USM

My husband John is teasing me about knitting warm scarves this week.  It's 80 degrees and absolutely balmy here - but I pointed out that it's very cold indeed in other parts of the world.  We'll get our cold weather later, I'm sure; Central Texas has real Drama Queen weather, harsh and changeable, when it feels like it.

Here are the gift scarves knitted on the Ultimate Sweater Machine.  First, at the top, is the man's scarf, the Papa Bear part of the Goldilocks project.  This was knitted with 3 balls of Lion Brand Tweed on Keyplate 3.  It was done over 46 stitches. The yarn is acrylic, required a light steaming so it wouldn't curl, and has a nice, smooth hand.

I thought Papa Bear got the classiest scarf.  It's really beautiful in person.  I do wish the pictures did these scarves justice - they are deeply textured and rich-looking.  Add fringe or tassels if you want.  Papa's scarf didn't curl much except at the edge, and I steamed it lightly.
The second scarf is the women's scarf made in Yarn Bee Baby Boucle.  It took 2 balls (that stuff goes a long way!).  I used 46 stitches again.  This was the most difficult yarn to knit with, thick and loopy.  Don't you dare try it first - use a smooth yarn first and you can deal with loops and hairs  later.  Use Keyplate 2 and 46 stitches.  It's an acrylic/polyester fiber and the finished scarf is rather floppy, not bouncy, and hardly curls at all. If you steam, don't steam much, or this yarn will go limp!  The  yarn is dyed in stripes in gorgeous colors, so no need to change colors.  When you run out of the first ball, try to start the second ball in that same spot in the wide stripes.  

 At the bottom, the Baby Bear part of the project - a child's scarf, knitted with worsted weight I Love This Yarn in a self-striping, random-looking combination of blue, green, peach, cream, and orchid.  It's bright and fun and was absolutely the easiest of the yarns that I tried for the scarves.  Here's your chance to use a bright, fun variegated yarn.  This yarn is a great choice for your first scarf; since it knits so smoothly.  You can go faster and you will definitely have less problems with this yarn!  I only used 38 stitches and Keyplate 2.  

You don't have to shop for exactly the same yarn I used, but I do recommend you start with something smooth, preferably worsted weight.  Look what a huge difference in the scarves, just from choosing different yarns! 

The child's scarf is the bounciest yarn, and also the curliest.  I gave it more steam to take the curl out.

Here is the procedure for knitting a scarf (video to follow - I have filming done but not editing).:

1.  Begin by watching the USM video and practicing so you're comfortable with the machine.

2.  Cast on 38 stitches (child) or 46 stitches (adult).  I suggest keyplate 2 for 4-ply worsted and 3 for a smooth bulky, but if a different plate works better for your yarn, it's okay.  You're going to do this by picking out the stitches for use, putting the green cards behind them, putting the folding hem weight over the needles and centered, putting the elastic cord in the hooks, and folding down the hem weight.  Now thread up a smooth waste yarn (in a contrasting color from your scarf), use the yellow card to push the needles back into "forward working position," open those latches (this machine does not have a latch opener on the carriage, so a closed latch will give you trouble) and knit 8-10 rows.  The waste yarn acts as a stitch holder.

3.  Pull out several yards of the scarf yarn and let that hang down (use to crochet finished edge later).  Now thread up the machine with the scarf yarn and knit back and forth until at least 6 feet in length for a man, at least 5 feet in length for a woman, or at least 4 feet in length for a kid.  Your preference, of course, as to length, but remember to measure without any weight.  

4.  As you knit along, you have to have weight all the time, so when the weight hits the floor (surprisingly soon), you'll have to roll up the knitting around the weight, pin it with a clothespin on each side, and that'll keep some weight on the work.

5.  When your scarf is long enough, you pull certain needles to hold - from the edge, the 3rd and 4th needles, then leave 6 needles in work, then 2 in hold, on across, ending with 2 in work.  Now push these needles back so the yarn drops right off of them and all the way back out of work.  We're unravelling 2 stitches deliberately in several places across the knitting. 

6.  Pull down several yards of yarn again for finishing up with crochet before you cut the scarf yarn.  

7.  Knit 8-10 rows with waste yarn, which acts as a stitch holder, then knit across with no yarn, holding the knitting with your hand, and all the knitting will fall off.    

8.  Using the latch tool, take the first 2 unravelled loops at the top of the knitting, twist them once, then unravel the next two loops and pull through the first 2 loops.  You only twist the first two loops.  Keep unravelling 2 loops and pulling them through the 2 loops on the hook.  I listen to TV or an audio book while I do this.  These loopy chains give a 3-dimensional texture to the scarf and help reduce the curl of the scarf.  Latch up the chains all the way down into the waste yarn at the bottom.

9.  Using about a G or H crochet hook and the yarn you left at the end, crochet in each open stitch (the waste yarn is still there, so you can see the loops to poke into - consult the video) and when you get to a cable, crochet right in the middle of it.  Remove the waste yarn.  Fringe or tassels are optional - I didn't do them, but if you do, you might like the looks of long tassels attached to the cables.  

10.  Use a crochet hook to finish the other end.  Hide any loose ends by sewing into the edge stitches.  

11.  Steam the whole scarf lightly and get the curl out.  If you don't have a steamer, use a steam iron.  Don't touch the scarf with the iron or steamer - hold it above the scarf, smooth with your hands, and don't burn yourself.  Don't overdo the steam - use a little, see if that's enough, then use a little more if needed.  These are synthetic yarns, so steam will change them permanently.  I like to steam the cabled side first, then flip it over and do the smooth side.

You can play around with the latched loop trim.  This is a great trim for afghans and pillows.  It's very nice to rip more stitches, maybe 3, down and latch up more loops, say 3 or 4 at a time, but I use that more for a thicker afghan and not so much for a neck scarf.  You can also do this trim by leaving needles out of work, but you have to leave a lot of needles out of work to make wide enough loops compared to using unravelled stitches for your loops.  The out-of-work idea does eliminate the unravelling step.  

Run into problems?  Please ask questions.  Do you think I left something out?  Bug me, and I'll fix it.