Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspiration at My Machine Knitting Patterns: Ballet Neck Jumper

My Machine Knitting Patterns: Ballet Neck Jumper

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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Update: Goldilocks Challenge

Did you think about getting a Bond knitting machine (Ultimate Sweater Machine)?  If not, think about it again.  This week, Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon.  No affiliation, I just like Hobby Lobby, and they carry this machine and lots of nice yarn.

Now, some tips for when you bring it home:

  • Did you know there's a great video in the box?  Pull that out and watch it!  You might even want to watch it twice, if you're not a machine knitter.
  • You've got to find an appropriate table for it.  The video shows what kind of table you need.  If you're really going to be happy knitting with it, you need a good, flat surface where you can clamp the machine.
  • Because I knit on other machines, I have a longstanding habit of cluttering the area behind the machine with my tools.  Don't do that with a USM!  Try to put your tools down at one end of the machine, because the best way to feed the yarn is to follow the video - lay the skein down on the table behind the machine and pull out some lengths of yarn before you knit each row.  Tools and odds and ends will catch on the yarn, and when the yarn gets caught, the machine stops.  
  • If you're a handknitter, you probably don't even think about pulling a little yarn out at a time and then knitting.  But - the USM knits at a furious rate and you'll need to pull out about a yard of yarn for just one row of knitting a foot wide!  Get used to the idea that now that you have a knitting machine, you have to feed it!  Chomp, chomp.  In goes the yarn, and out comes the knitting.  If you forget to pull out some yarn before a row, the machine gets hungry and beastly and refuses to knit any more.
  • Expect to be very uncomfortable at first, even if you're a machine knitter.  This machine is different.  You need to practice knitting with this one, which requires NO tension no the yarn (versus most other machines, which deliver yarn at a steady tension) and which requires more weight than we're used to on the other machines.  Also, you have to pull up the yarn at the beginning of each row.  Now, if you're a hand knitter, the whole thing is awkward, so give yourself a little time.  Suspect judgment until you have your first beautiful object knitted, okay?
  • Also, if you're a hand knitter, you're going to go through the whole machine adjustment.  The differences between hand knitting and machine knitting are enormous, so don't try to convert your hand knit patterns right away.  Instead, check out some of my patterns that are written for knitting machines, or the patterns at Bond America, or the scarf pattern which is my first effort in this challenge.
  • Hand knitters may balk at knitting so much plain stockinette at first.  However, this is the beauty of knitting machines:  if you want a big stockinette project, you can zoom it out; if you want complexity, you can do a little more work.  Either way, you will be knitting much faster.
  • The scarf is an IDEAL first project because, (1) it's a very simple rectangle, and by the time you knit it, you've gotten lots of practice, (2) some hand-tooling at the end makes it look super special, and (3) I managed to make it up with some very interesting yarn that I would not attempt to knit on my Japanese bulky machine. 
  • Need yarn for the scarf?  Okay, for your first one, PLEASE do yourself a favor and buy smooth yarn. Caron Simply Soft, or I Love This Yarn, or some other worsted 4-ply will make that first project easy.  We're saving the bumpy or hairy yarn for later.  Got a lot of leftovers around the house?  Well, start with worsted or thinner in a smooth yarn.  
  • Trying out the USM after using a different flatbed machine?  Well, please understand that the USM is much slower.  You really must stop often to pull out yarn.  Pulling a whole bunch at once can give you tangles.  You need to push more slowly, too.  However, you can go steal some nice tools from your regular machine stash - for instance, some claw weights, weight hangers, and perhaps a cast-on comb.  
  • Wanting to jump ahead of me on this?  Well, watch my Beginner Machine Knitting Lessons.  You can find them by scrolling down the left-hand side of this blog.  Almost all of those lessons apply to the USM, and watching them will get you thinking in machine knitting concepts and jargon.
  • What can you make with this machine?  Well, check out my bulky patterns, such as the warm, lined slippers in lots of sizes, a marvelous pinwheel round baby blanket, and the short-rowed baby hat.  More ideas at Heidi's Knitting Room, Knitting Today, and many other sites.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Calling All Hand Knitters to the Goldilocks Challenge

Diana's husband was relaxing, reading his Saturday morning paper, when he was suddenly surprised by the spouse, who is subject to fits (of enthuasiasm about knitting):

"I'm going to Hobby Lobby!  Want to come?"

"Sure.  When?" says the hubby, indulgently.  He already knows what she's cooking up, and in his typical supportive way, thinks it's great.  You know a man is a little love-addled when he's willing to graze Hobby Lobby for knitting supplies.

"Right now!  Want to come?"

"Right now?  I haven't had my shower yet!  Could I have a little more notice?  Can you at least wait for me to get showered and dressed?"

"Okay.  But I want to go as soon as I can."

"Alright.  I'm going to be back in a few minutes, handsome and debonair.  Are you ready for that?"

"Oh, yes, I'm always ready for that!  Hurry!"

Off he went for his slow, perfect shave, his long shower and otherwise meticulous grooming, dressing in a dapper dress shirt and slacks - even on Saturday, hubby always wears a dress shirt.  The man wondered why this was an emergency outing.  Diana was probably in an unnecessary hurry..

He turns up (eventually) and inspects the coupon, which expires today.  "Where did you get this?  It doesn't look like a newspaper coupon."

"You can print them off the Hobby Lobby website!  Are you ready to go yet?" (the coupon is  here).

He cruised luxuriously into the Hobby Lobby parking lot in his vintage white Fleetwood, and parked Daddy's Caddy in a space near the entrance.  He half follows his trotting wife into the enormous, beautiful store, which surely contains more crafting stuff than any tagging-along hubby could handle.  Fortunately, she marched purposefully into Needlecrafts and parked right by to Ultimate Sweater Machine display - almost as if she knew exactly where to go!  She snatched a machine and didn't even put it down while she shopped for essential yarn supplies (for some bewildering reason, the yarn she has is never quite enough).

The coupon is a big discount on the Ultimate Sweater Machine.   Diana's a big Hobby Lobby fan (no affiliation, but not only is it incredibly pleasant to browse, but they give their employees Sundays off to be with their families, which you have to respect), so hubby asked, "Don't you think you're taking advantage of Hobby Lobby?"

"Nope.  The Goldilocks challenge is going to make them money.  Think of all the yarn they could sell if I could get folks using a USM!"


If you choose to accept it, here is your mission, hand knitters:  get yourself one of these Ultimate Sweater Machines.  It's affordable even at full price, and I just gave you a way to buy one on the cheap, just by watching the Hobby Lobby website, plus there's Craigslist and eBay and that other craft store, too. We are going to make beautiful gifts for Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear for Christmas.  Honest, I promise they'll be pretty, luxurious and easy.

What?  You ask, how can we do this for the holidays when it's already Thanksgiving?  Well, put that can of pumpkin pie filling down and think for a minute.  I'm going to show you how, step by step, and while everyone else is in a turkey stupor in front of the football game, you can follow my detailed, free instructions and videos and make these lovely projects.  After that, you'll have given machine knitting an honest try!

Machine knitters:  Your job is to find at least one hand knitter and tell 'em about the Goldilocks Challenge.  And, you can play along with us if you haven't used one of these machines yet.  Remember, the distinctive feature of the USM is that it will knit fancier hand knitting yarn than most other machines!

Texas knitters:  you are hereby exempted from interrupting your football-game viewing to knit, and please do not be offended by the mere suggestion that some folks would rather knit than watch the games.  Of course Texans need to watch their games!  But you've got a few days off, so you still have time to at least make a nice long scarf to wear to the next cold game!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Video - Singer System 9000

Even with all the busy-ness of this weekend, I just couldn't resist trying out knitting on the Singer System 9000.  I haven't even plugged in the computer, motor, or monitor, but I did do the basic stitches in the first manual, and I made a video to share my experience.

UPDATE: The machine was made by Superba, not Madag!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Singer System 9000

Here she is, in my kitchen.

Last night, we started finding all her parts - in several boxes and pakages - just to see if she's complete.  Then John and I just couldn't resist assembling, cleaning, oiling, and really checking her out.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find a motor.  This machine was unbelievably easy to set up, and I have found almost everything. A few small items might be mixed among the other machine knitting things that Penny brought over.

I haven't knitted yet, but with vacuuming, silicone spray and wiping down the plastic parts and Lori Lin spray lube and wiping down the needle beds and carriages, we have all buttons working smoothly, the bed racking okay, and the carriages just glide across, even with all needles in work!  We have electrical problems to solve, but they're not insurmountable at all.

Before I turn on the computer or the motor, I believe I should just learn to do simple knitting.  That's next, but this weekend is not only Kid 'n Ewe, but I have a mailing to prepare for some of my customers... betcha a find a few minutes to do some ribbing, anyhow.

Now, let me tell you about some of the very cool distinctive with this rather rare machine:

  • Built by Madag, I believe, the Passap people, and appears to be very high quality..
  • Has a bed gap adjustment to accommodate many sizes of yarn - never seen anything like that, how clever.
  • Beds are aluminum - you wouldn't believe how light it is, oh, good - it's not plastic. 
  • Operation is very smooth
  • Came with a garter stitch (transfer) carriage, and has a special 1/4 racking setting just for that operation (nope, haven't tried it yet.  I'm a stone cold beginner on this sweetie)
  • Has a very fancy computer system with unbelievable selections of pattern stitches and shape files, plus you can design your own.
  • That flat keypad affair is the computer, with floppy disks and a mouse (machine was purchased in 1991).  There's a floppy with shape files, one with stitch patterns, and a couple others.  These are the 3-1/2" floppies.
  • Motor is also very compact and light, with a Passap-ish rail design.  Maybe 20 seconds to set the motor in place.
  • The buttons markings seem very logical
  • Uses a wheel for a "stripper" on double-bed fabrics (also very clever, but haven't actually tried it)
  • Has a big TV screen which I understand gives you color design capabilities and lots of help and coaching displays (haven't tried; can't yet plug in)
  • Manuals are thorough, detailed, fascinating
  • Has a "jacquard button" (?) and a "jacquard claw."  It has lili buttons, too!
  • Has a 4-color changer...not sure if entirely complete, at least not yet.
I'm an experienced enough machine knitter to really appreciate the many very interesting, innovative and elegant aspects of this machine.  Proof, of course, will be in the knitting operation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Crib-Sized Afghan

In honor of our political season, I guess I'll call this stitch "waffles and wriggles."

Done on the Brother in a 2/12 acrylic.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Calling All Studio Knitters

Do you have a Studio machine that makes lace?  Would you mind letting me know what model number you use?

By Studio, I mean any of the following brands:  Silver, Studio, Singer, Empisal, Knitmaster, Lanofix.  Hmm, are there any others, or did I get them all?

I've been shopping for a good, middle-of-the-field Studio that I would use for adapting my Enchanted Edgings to Studio techniques.  I'm trying to figure out what my readers are using to knit.

And now, for something completely different...world's smallest stop animation

And, there's even a knitting theme - at the end.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seminar Photos

Some pictures from the DFW seminar.

Yup, that's a karaoke machine we used to for a PA system, and there's our setup with a TV and camera so no matter where you sat in the room, you could see.

We had about 37 knitters.  Carl and Barbara Deike came and helped me, and my husband John changed Passap batteries.

It was casual, fun, relaxed, and yet, we squeezed a lot of content into the two days.

 Folks milling doing their own things on a break - the DFW gals have door prizes and lots of food and fun for the breaks.

Huddling together, learn to do crab stitch (backwards single crochet) on edges.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Free Kindle Books

I'm a life-long habitual reader, and for a long time now, a Kindle user.  I had a Kindle 1, which I gave to dear husband, because I needed an excuse to buy a Kindle 2 - which holds more books and reads to me.  I listen to books while I do chores, sometimes while I knit, and very often, while I drive to work through heavy traffic.  No headset, of  course, and hands-free.

Kindle is also easy on my eyes.  The "e-ink screen," black and gray, isn't back-lit and I can change the font size. And, of course, I'm carrying around hundreds of books in my purse.  I get most of my books free.

Fellow Kindle users, check out this special Amazon search - it's a list of all the many, many, many free Kindle books:

Greetings from DFW Seminar

We had a big day yesterday, starting to knit around 9:40 a.m. after setup and working through the cast-ons and bind-offs and several other basics.  Then breakfast - we'd already had dripping hot cinnamon rolls and breakfast at the hotel, but we hit it again with potluck breakfast at seminar.

We had a hi-def TV hooked up with a camcorder focused on my hands and we had a homemade PA system consisting of a big karaoke machine and a wired mic.  Worked great except that every thirty minutes, it would time out and turn off and one of the knitters would hop up and push the button.  Thank goodness we were able to acquire this gear right before seminar - I have a very small voice and there were a lot of people.

Yesterday morning, we went through the cast-ons, cast-offs, and other basics, then hit the garter bar.  I didn't get all the garter bar techniques in the course, but I showed the ones on their request list - move only selected stitches, garter, quaker, round yoke.  Then we started going through all the other single bed stuff in the seminar handout book, such as the circular swirl baby blanket, single bed sock, Norwegian baby bootie, and lace edgings.  I spent some time showing the Entrelac technique - at least the foundation row and the other two basic rows.  I ended the day just thrilled that we got through all the material and the knitters were so pleased.

We had a super-lucky potluck lunch - all sorts of homemade goodies.  I had to taste the potato salad, the meatballs, the lasagna, the homemade tamales, and the chocolate desserts.

I ended the day just thrilled that we got through all the material and the knitters were so pleased.

Supper was pizza, friendship and conversation at our hotel.  Turned the clocks back:  Fall back!  Got lots of sleep.  Here we go again!   I'll try to get some photos today.

Today's going to be ribber-focused.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carl Boyd's Wonderful Aran Tuck Ribs

Okay, try these on for size mentally:


Carl's work is gorgeous and very inventive!  I've played with this technique some, having developed a love for tucked ribs on my Passap and then translating them to the Brother machines, but in addition, Kathleen Kinder has some wonderful ones in her ribber books.  However, for most of those, I had to draw/punch/input patterns.  Carl has pulled these off with Stitch World classic tuck stitches!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Check this out! I ELIS HUS: Fern Lace Scarf.

Eli's knitted a very nice fern lace scarf using that interesting little technique I demoed on YouTube a week or so ago:

I ELIS HUS: Fern Lace Scarf.

I have a cool idea for this technique - can't wait to try it out. Wanna guess what it is?

Meantime - I'm at the hotel next door to Stacy's Furniture in the DFW area, all ready for the seminar which begins in the morning! Our car is all jammed with equipment - knitting machine, ribber, camera, TV to monitor, sound stuff, knit samples, tools, etc. I'm all cranked up and rarin' to go! This is going to be great.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Amazing development - while I am hurrying around this evening, getting ready to go teach a machine knitting seminar near Dallas-Ft. Worth airport (lucky me!), I have to take a few minutes to report that I just received a wonderful large assortment of knitting gear from a nice local lady who wants the items sold and proceeds given to charity.

Okay:  there's a Knitmaster here.  I don't know what model - looks like a nice 24-stitch punchcard machine.  Kewl.  This will require more investigation.

There's a Brother 230 here with ribber!  Wow, who doesn't love the 230?  It was a manual bulky but built like a champ.

Big, fascinating mystery item, at least for me:  a rare model, the Singer System 9000 electronic double-bed knitter.  Please folks, I don't know a whole lot about this Superba-type machine.  It appears to have a TV-like monitor, a separate electronic controller unit, a 4-color changer, and to be a true double-bed. I know it was sold only briefly.  Can you write and give advice?  Is this one I should buy for myself?  Too rare to be of any help to my viewers/customers/students?  Difficult to learn?  How can I learn more about it?  Should I join the Yahoo group?  It's obviously a VERY unusual machine.  After seminar, I'll shoot some photos to post. Y'all will be oohing and aahing at this fascinating machine.

Are you looking for a nice used machine?  I plan to set these babies up, clean and investigate before I sell them, but please contact me if you are interested at diana_knits "at" yahoo "dot" com.

Well  no time to set anything up and learn more about these.  More soon!  Can't wait to see your comments and advice. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beautiful Tam at Eli's House

Didn't this turn out lovely? I'd wonder if I can find yarn like that.

I bet the tam would be really pretty in Kool-Aid dyed yarn. I have a nice cone of sock yarn in natural that I could dye; I'll simply make a hank out of it with the swift.

Monday, November 1, 2010