Monday, February 15, 2010

Knit Natters Meeting Saturday

We met at Sylvia Moore's house, and I completely embarrassed myself by getting lost and being late when I had perfectly good directions! Too much reliance on Ms. Garmin is my weak excuse.

Sylvia had told us about her Toyota 787, but I was astonished to see this 1970s machine looking like it was sold new yesterday! Gleaming and pristine, and knits easily. I had almost forgotten about the 787 - my first Toyota was the 901, but the 787 had both a 24-stitch punch card and a set of 12 pushbuttons with a "zigzag" wheel. You can move the whole push button design to the right or left by turning the wheel. This was incredibly useful - lots of patterns are only 12 stitches wide, and you can personalize with a name with 12 stitches. Besides, you didn't have to punch a card for single use.

The 787 also had Simulknit, which is a Toyota ribber technique like double jacquard, except that it is plain on the back and patterned on the front!

Sylvia and Doug couldn't find a properly-sized Toyota 787 sponge bar. They're terribly rare, but does anybody have one, maybe a nasty one that could be rehabbed with new foam? They put in one that's slightly long, but it interferes with the extension rails and they hesitate to cut it off with a hacksaw.

I demonstrated the flatbed sew-as-you-go sock, guessing at the tension and getting a stiff little something about right for a 12-year-old, but everybody thought it was interesting anyway. I explained that my purpose with that pattern was to come up with a sock for the people who emailed me and said they didn't have a ribber, couldn't do patterning, etc. This sock requires only a standard flatbed and a couple tools. C'mom folks, try one!

It was a pleasure to have a turn at that wonderful vintage machine, although I made a bunch of mistakes, and everyone was sweet about them. And, Pat was surprised at the quality of the Toyota manual, which was full of details and color photos. I used to wish that we could buy the terrific Toyota manuals from Toyota to sell to people with other makes of machines.

Toyota also had a wonderful every-other-needle weighted comb which was a great favorite of mine, and of course I got to use one yesterday!

Pat had brought her finished Norwegian gloves, absolutely gorgeous. I hope she enters those blue-ribbon gloves in a show. She also brought a geodesic hat (I know, Pat, that's not what you said it is called, but that's what it looks like to me, all equilateral triangles), and a fascinating, utterly personalized hand knit sock pattern and socks. Every time Pat got to a variegation in the sock yarn she switched from knit to purl, and they have a wonderful spiral texture from that. Pat also brought a little heart pillow all made in entrelac. Pat is a wizard and we are so lucky to have her!

We had a very nice new person, Karien, who has a Passap and a Toyota 901 but went inactive when she needed to put them away out of the reach of little fingers. It was fun getting to know her a little - she's a sweetie. We did our best to nudge her back into MK!

Mildred was there, going strong, with scarves and hats she's knitting. Mildred, who does almost any needlecraft and is an accomplished Passap knitter and weaver, has been getting great use out of a Mattel-style knitter and an Innovations machine. I always get a kick out of the way Mildred thinks about some UFO or unusual item and figures out something completely cool to make. She made a remarkably thick, fluffy, hairy hat using the Innovations, which turned out smooth on the knit side and furry on the purl side. She's also knitting diagonal garter stitch scrubbers with some tough cotton yarn of unknown origin - maybe carpet yarn.

I brought along a few things, but the truth is, the main thing I had to show for my knitting month was the little package containing two disks and labelled "Garter Bar Course." I am very proud of that course, which is two DVDs.

Mary brought some fleece, very interesting stuff. She has some surprisingly soft wool fleece from her friend's sheep and some of her own alpaca mixed with bamboo. Mary's alpaca is unbelievable. She's gone earth-mothery with her little spread in San Angelo and her alpacas and other critters, barns and land, and is also learning to spin. She was knitting with some of her handspun, and says she's improving all the time. I sure do love Mary's natural yarns.

Sara couldn't make it, but her mom Pat told us they are driving north to pick up a spinning wheel that Sara's wanted a long time, and they've found it with a private party sale. It's probably too big to bring to club, but maybe we can persuade Sara to have us to her beautiful condo again sometime and show us her latest goodies and her expertly spun yarns.

Sylvia threw a heckofva Valentine's party for our little group - candy goodie baskets made with her Cricket paper cutter (I had NO idea Sylvia did all these beautiful things), bouquets of Tootsie Roll Pops and bright colored die-cut cardstock flowers, pink cherry cake (yum, I'm in trouble at Weight Watchers this week, even without that cake), but let me tell you about the highlight of the day for me:

Sylvia has the most amazing embroidery machine. It's a professional outfit, the size of a desk with hutch. It has a tray about eye level that holds a dozen cones of embroidery thread, and the threads go through a dozen tension and needle assemblies. Sylvia puts the design on her nearby PC, selects all the colors for the needle numbers on the fancy machine, and after just a few minutes fiddling, she pushes a button and off it goes. It makes all the noise you'd expect from a giant sewing machine going full blast, and it starts, sews, and ends each color all on its own. It pads the patches of color by under-sewing and creates the textures. Sylvia can walk way and do laundry, and unless a thread breaks (which makes it beep) the thing sews the entire picture! It has little hoops and giant hoops, even a cap attachment. Fascinating. I stood there staring at it embroidering an apple still life, and Sylvia said, "It's hypnotic, isn't it?" She pulled out her notebooks full of designs and her piles of samples and let us browse. Wow.

Knit Natters has always had a rule that we are interested in what each member is up to, and it doesn't have to be knitting. I think that has helped to make our club so much fun and such a highlight of the month. If my passion that month was a quilt or an event in my personal life, Knit Natters is a place I can share.

We missed you, Barbara, and plan to descend on you again next month!

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