Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pretty Lace Patterns at Art Machines

And, she's promising us a punch card chart later:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Afghans For Our Troops - Passap E6000 Pattern by Barbara Deike

Barbara Deike not only is setting an example for us knitting for the troops, but she's sharing her pattern for afghans on the Passap E6000.  You should see and feel these wonderful, double-jacquard afghans!  These are some of the actual afghans she's finished to send to our soldiers in Afghanistan!  Knit Technique #186 makes a DJ with a back that "shadows" the pattern front.  These are washable, warm, soft and colorful. 

Afghans for Our Troops

Using PASSAP Knit Technique 186

By Barbara Deike

These are very easy Afghans to do. Over the years I have purchased or have been given yarns that were not appropriate for a sweater but will work very nicely for an afghan. The yarns I used were about the thickness of Bramwell Duo Magic. This was my favorite yarn, when it was still being made. My 8 year old granddaughter and I looked in the E6000 pattern book and picked out what we thought would make a great afghan for Afghanistan!

So far, we have tried patterns 1146 and 1151. These are 40 stitches by 40 rows (40X40). Pattern 1151 can have a border on it. Also, we chose 20 stitches by 20 rows (20X20) patterns 1149 and 1150. I played with the math to get the size I wanted.

Yarn needed is about 10 oz each of any 2 colors of your choice.

Stitch size 5 on both beds.

Racking cast on #3

I used math to decide how many stitches to cast on for pattern 1151. I knitted two; one with a nice border (knits a little narrow), and one without the border. Also, I wanted to knit complete patterns, not have a partial design on each side, so again, I used math to work out needle numbers for complete patterns. Math is so much fun! So, here we go.

Pattern 1151 and 1146 without a border:  Cast on 160 stitches (-80/80). This = on the right and left of 0, 1-20 stitches is ½ of the pattern. 21-60 is one complete pattern and 61-80 is ½ of the pattern. That gives you 3 compete pattern and a half-patterns on each end.

Every 160 rows = one pattern. Knitting 7 patterns = 1180 rows. Cast off with a loose cast off.

Pattern 1151 with a border (this will knit a little narrow):  Cast on needles from 62 left and 61 right. Look at the diagram, and you will see that on the left there is 1 column of main color and on the right there are 2 columns with main color only. That will give a 3 stitch border - see black and red afghan. This will give you 3 compete patterns.

Patterns 1149 & 1150 are 20X20 in size.  Cast on 160 stitches (-80/80) this = on the right and left of 0, 1-10 is ½ pattern 11-70 is 3 compete patterns and 71-80 is ½ a pattern. This = 7 compete patterns across and ½ pattern on each end.

Every 80 rows = one pattern. Knitting 12 patterns = 960 rows. Cast off with a loose cast off.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Reading Obsession & Free Kindle Books

I love to read and have a huge weakness for books.  After a while, the shelves and tables are all filled, and the damage to the budget mounts up, but one thing that really works me is using a Kindle.

I'm on my third Kindle.  Let's see, there was the K1 that I gave to my husband because (1) he kept borrowing mine and (2) I wanted a K2.  Then there was the K2 I bought used, but I broke the screen by dropping it.  Now I'm on the replacement K2. 

I listen to books on my Kindle, almost every day, as I drive, as I knit, and as I do housework.  This is a very nice thing for me, because I do close work all day and should rest my eyes, and I sit at a desk all day and should get up and moving.

Of course, you don't need a Kindle, or any e-reader or smart phone, to read Kindle books.  You can download free Kindle software for your computer.  There are some things about that Kindle program that are even cooler than the Kindle device - like the full-color book covers.
So far I have collected 1,098 Kindle "books," and 99%+ of them were free.  I get them free from Amazon.  When I first got the Kindle and read The Kindle Cookbook, I got a lot of books from other places, but now I get almost everything from Amazon.  Since I like old books, I used to get classics from Gutenberg and other sites, but now just about all of that is on Amazon.  My favorite site for finding books is Free Books for Your Kindle, which Laura at work told me about. You have to grab the books quickly, though, since they often stop being free and you miss them.  Therefore, I simply check the site about once a day and look at the latest free books.

You would think that with a thousand free books that I'm not at all picky, but there are plenty of books that come up free that I skip.  I don't "buy" books with mainly bad reviews.  Secondly, I avoid vampires, zombies, or werewolves.  I'm finicky about sci-fi and fantasy. What are my favorites?  Well, anything in Christian fiction or life; romantic stories; historical novels; thrillers; mysteries; business, economics and finance; how-to books; KNITTING (who knew?); and almost anything that promises to be funny. 

I have developed several new favorite writers by reading freebies.  Since most authors have websites, I have even sent positive feedback and a thank-you note for making a good book free.  Of course, the best thank-you is to buy more stuff from the same writer, but I've only done that with the best ones because I'm drowning in lovely books I haven't read yet. 

Now, that's a problem - I can't read 'em fast enough!  In fact, it's hard to keep straight which ones I have read.  I put the books I've finished over in "archive," which helps a little.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Diana's In Dallas

But not for long.

We drove up Friday morning and I attended the annual meeting of the Texas Society of CPAs.  That was in Ft. Worth this time.  We had Steven with us, and he dropped us at the (very nice) Omni hotel and went on to visit a high school friend and his brother John in Richardson.  The meeting were terrific.  My favorite things were a party in a friend's suite (the hotel gave her a room bigger than several apartments I've had, with a huge wrap-around balcony on a high floor.  I guess they were just out of ordinary rooms.  We stood on the balcony and watched fireworks!) and listening to Congressman Conaway's talk about the deficit (he's a CPA).

When the meetings were over Saturday afternoon, we drove to Richardson ourselves (just a little northeast of Dallas) to see John and Kelly.  After visiting with them and having a giant burger, we took a needed nap and then John and I went to the movies.  We saw Source Code, enjoyed it thoroughly, and returned to the hotel to find that Steven had gotten dinner and beer samples at the sports bar nearby and then gone down to the pool and made friends from our area.  There's a saying in Texas for people like him, "He never met a stranger."  I think that after I was asleep Steve went back out to see his friend again.

Today we're having breakfast with John and Kelly, and then we drive home.   It'll be nice to be home, too, but this was very refreshing.

Great Advice for New Knitters at Needles to say...: my two cents...

Needles to say...: my two cents...

I would add this: the best machine for you to knit on is probably the one you have right now! People slip so easily into the trap of wanting just a few more features when they really just need to knit, to learn to do everything the machine they have now will do.

The vast majority of my videos show techniques that can be done on almost any machine.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Useful Gadgets - Yarn Clips

Check out these clips for seaming, over at Angelika's:

The problem is, you want to line up two pieces of knitting for seaming that don't match - perfect example is a set-in sleeve or a collar.  You need a way to baste, so the pieces are where you want them, and this is one way.

I wouldn't leave those clothespin-like ones on the knitting for long, though, as they'd crush the stitches.  They'd be good for just the time it takes to sew the seam.  I might try small clothespins, since I keep both the small and big ones around all the time.

Another way is to sew small pieces of yarn from one piece of knitting to the other and then tie a single overhand knot, which I do very often.  I should do some photos.  It really is handy.

Knitting for Troops - Update & Pattern #1

I blew Sunday afternoon knitting a helmet liner.  My son Steven told me at lunch (gosh, we had an awesome Father's Day!) about how the helmet liners sounded like the very best idea.  I had been thinking we'd all knit slippers, scarves, and afghans, but with Steven's encouragement, I decided to try one.

Reading the patterns I could find, I found a number of things I wanted to change, especially if I were going to blog-beg people to knit vast quantities of these.  There were some things I altered before I knitted the item. I moved the seam to the back of the head. I had a few issues with the pattern's math, and I didn't want any hand-knitting to be required, so I had already eliminated the hand-knitting.
After it was knitted, we all tried it on (I have a big head, hubby has a small, and Steven is a medium) and found it a little to long in the cap part.  We all wanted it a half inch shorter, including big-headed me.  Then we all thought it ought to be longer in the ribbed part that covers the lower face and neck.  If it's cold, I'd want mine to tuck right inside my collar.  Stevie wanted it higher over the nose for warmth, and of course, if you pull it up over your nose, it's shorter on the neck.
Most of all, I disliked the way the face ribbing is picked up and knitted.  I found another pattern on the web with mitred corners, but I have something else in mind, and I worked several samples Monday to solve that problem. 
In addition, if we're going to make lots of these, I didn't want folks to do garter bar transfers for an hour or more to shape the crown of the head.  Not that I don't love the garter bar and haven't done my bit to popularize it, but it takes a long time to do ten decrease rows with the garter bar, especially if you leave the ribber on, which I did, because half the project is ribbed.  With the ribber in place, you're fighting gravity unless you have a tilt stand, plus you're having to reach back under the ribber to get your hands on the knit fabric.  I thought I'd come up with a short-row solution like my short-rowed baby cap.
I put the helmet liner pattern on hold now, though - I read on the internet that Operation Helmetliner stopped making and sending them because the army didn't want the troops wearing these anymore, so I have to check with the Colonel Barbara is working with to see whether we should make this item at all!
I'm going to get some other patterns up for the soldiers, starting with a slipper for nice, warm feet at night.  This slipper is a bulky one, fits smooth and close (ideal for bedtime) and goes very fast.  Email me for a .pdf of the pattern at diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net if you want to knit these for the soldiers. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Inspiration at I ELIS HUS: Girly socks og girly jakke.

This jacket is SO pretty.

I ELIS HUS: Girly socks og girly jakke.

Happy Father's Day - and Let's Think About Our Military Guys

Happy Father's Day!  My husband is a good Dad.  I did a little something for him for Father's Day, and Steven and I about to go to church with him and make a fuss over him.  This afternoon, there's a car show to go to (and wow, is it hot here!).

My dad put up with having his birthday and Father's Day all mooshed into one event forever after he had kids.  The two occasions were close on the calendar.  My pop served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years, from the end of World War II through most of the Vietnam War, and flew all those years, often in hot spots.

So, on that note, what I'm thinking about today are all the guys and gals overseas right now.  Some of them have been repeatedly redeployed, and we wouldn't want any of them to feel unappreciated, or God forbid, forgotten.

Please send ideas for our military knit-along!  We need to help Barbara collect an enormous pile of knitted love and appreciation for the warriors.  There's a Lt. Col. at her church who said he could use up to 3,000 items for guys and gals overseas.  When we heard that at knit club yesterday, we were all overwhelmed.  I can just imagine Barbara's round eyes when he said it to her.

If we can't do that, we will do what we CAN do!

Let's make them nice stuff, useful items that make their service in Afghanistan just a little more comfortable.

I went out on the net and read about helmet liners - but you'll need to buy good quality, non-scratchy wool for those.  Synthetics will not do.

We could also knit warm scarves.  Barbara knits colorful DJ afghans for their bunks, and you can do that.  I'm not going to tell y'all what to knit, but I did want to put up video, or use existing video, showing how to do the project and send a .pdf pattern to anyone who requests one.

For the knit-along, I'm leaning toward putting up practical, warm slipper patterns for more than one machine.

I could really use your ideas, though, so lay 'em on me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Long-Short Day

This morning I went to a new CPA swearing-in ceremony near downtown Austin, and this afternoon I attended Knit Natters.  Then, I went home and took a late nap!

Sometimes I volunteer to usher at the swearing-ins, but this time I had only volunteered to work the TSCPA tables at the back.  I wanted to keep off my feet a bit; four hours on concrete has been pretty hard on me in the past.  I knew three people getting their certificates today.  This is always a happy event.  Best comment of the morning - an attractive young woman saw our free "I Heart My CPA" bumper stickers and said, "I hate my CPA!  Well, at least it's over."  You see, by the time people finish the test, which really is awful, and the work experience, most of their loved ones have been neglected a while.

At Knit Natters, I brought a survey created by asking everyone in the Knit Natters Yahoo Group what demonstrations they prefer at our upcoming seminar.  Working with an exciting list of possible demos, everyone present filled out the survey.  I still need to compile them, and then we can start slotting them into a schedule.  By the way, having a Yahoo group works out well for us.

It seemed to be a foot day.  I demoed a bootie (again) but everyone likes that one and it has a lot of cool techniques in it.  Barbara demoed a very clever Passap slipper.  She needs volunteers to help her knit for the troops in Afghanistan, and I'm thinking about organizing an online knit-along for that purpose.  Barbara has been asked for items for far more troops than she can possibly knit by herself, and she's been told that  the knitted items are more than just a little relief from the cold - they represent someone stateside's love and appreciation for them.  So, how about a slipper knit-along?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Off Topic - Music

My parents blessed me with music lessons.  I lack talent, but I certainly enjoy myself.  I made sure my kids had music lessons, too, and my son Steven spends many hours playing guitar, bass, and mandolin.  He goes a little ape, though, collecting guitars and electronic gear, which he usually finds on Craigslist.

I decided recently to play my violin again.

I had given it up for several years because (1) my marvelous teacher had a stroke and stopped teaching (I was heartbroken for him. I felt just so very sad every time I even looked at the violin.), (2) with my cataracts, my ability to read music quickly and accurately was gone, and (3) there's never enough time for everything I want to do.  The sight thing took me away from my piano, as well, but at least I kept playing that a little.

My eyes were fixed quite a while ago, and I have simply been wanting to play.  This is going to be humbling, though.  I haven't practiced for years, so I've lost muscle memory about finger placement or even pulling the bow straight.  I did pick up a nice electronic tuner (kiddo carried off my old one).  This tuner turns green when you're tuned exactly to pitch - so easy to see!

I got the violin out and tuned it. It is a Chinese model with a lovely rich tone.  I don't know when it last had new strings, and a string popped as I tightened it.  My son Steven was home, and he volunteered to change the string, but all we had to put on was another old string. I realized I better replace the strings.

Meanwhile, I've been disciplining myself to only play 5 minutes at a time, because I have no calluses on my fingertips.  After I play a while, my fingertips will grow tough little pads and I won't even feel discomfort pressing down the metal strings.

I bought a set of strings at the music store, and the fellow who helped me told me that he performs clarinet with the Austin Civic Orchestra, which was having an outdoor pops concert last Friday night.  John and I went and very much enjoyed sitting in the fresh air.  Such a casual, lovely evening, with people bringing their little kids, dogs, coolers and lawn chairs, and wonderful music.

On Saturday, with Steven unavailable, I had quite a struggle restringing the violin. I was doing so well - I got three of the four strings replaced.  Then, on the fourth, the tuning peg wouldn't stay put.  It has two holes, and I needed to put the string through a different hole.  After I figured out that issue, I was almost finished when there was a horrendous bang! and the bridge popped out.  It was so loud, I thought I'd broken the violin!  The bridge needs to be positioned just right.  Fortunately, we could see exactly where the luthier put it last time he worked on it.  At one point, I was holding a little flashlight in my teeth...finally, John came and helped me because we needed two pairs of hands.

After it was restrung, it wouldn't hold pitch. After it rested overnight, though, it stabilized. I suppose the strings stretch at first and then settle down.

Crochet Inspiration at Art Machines

Lacy tam, crocheted with pineapple-type design at Art Machines:

Pretty, huh?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Demonstrations - Give Me Ideas?

Have y'all seen the movie "Calendar Girls," where the story begins with a group of ladies who just need one more presentation for their club?  Their last talk was on broccoli, I think, and they were bored silly but still had no idea what else to do for a program.

Well, as prolific as I am, believe it or not, I really struggle with what to demonstrate next at Knit Natters.  Of course, I've done most of my machine knitting demos I do on YouTube or in my books at club, and lots of other stuff, too.  Should I recycle?  Our club as a lot of new people.

I'm not the only one demonstrating, but I demo often and want to keep it interesting.  I need a demo for next week.

Please comment and tell me about some of your favorite demos you've watched or done.  Also, what's your opinion about recycling demonstrations?

Oh, and off topic, Blogger is driving me nuts with constantly giving an error message instead of publishing a post of comment or whatever I ask it to do.  Maybe I'll have to wander over to Word Press...hate to move my blog.  I just wish they'd FIX IT already!

Amazing Site - Knitting Machine Museum

I'm fascinated with, and having a blast looking at this site. Saw it over at Machine Knitting Fun -

Home Page

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not MK: The Simple Dollar » Plastic Flowers

I've gone off topic linking to this - but I do like this site, and I enjoyed this essay, especially as a person who is learning this lesson.

I've read both of his books, read his blog faithfully, and believe strongly in his message of frugality,devotion to family, and financial independence. So check out this entry, and if you are interested in a home finance blog, follow him:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More inspiration at Right and Wrong: Amanda project continues ...

right and wrong: Amanda project continues ...

Synnove keeps on doing beautiful things. Here is a basketweave dishcloth and a really great pair of booties for a preemie or a doll. She's promising us a pattern later on (much of the world refers to a pattern as a "recipe.").

Inspiration at Ozlorna's Knitting Blog: Machine Dutch Heel

Ozlorna's Knitting Blog: Machine Dutch Heel

Ozlorna is a real expert, and we're so glad she's back to blogging. Watch her blog - and learn from an expert.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inspiration at Alex's Machine Knitting

Cute sweater - and lots of work and patience reforming stitches. I'd say it's worth it!

Alex's Machine Knitting

I have used basketweave stitch quite a bit with my garter carriages. I love the looks of it. I understand that it is possible to do this with a g-carriage on every other needle, but I've been able to work with sport weight yarns, and that's been thick enough to suit me. Just an idea.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Inspiration at Knotty Knits...Do You Like Sock Monkeys? I love 'em!

I've never made any sock monkeys.  Hmmm...

Inspiration at Knit Flix

Gorgeous gloves, handknitted on 000 needles -

Memorial Day Weekend and Beginner Lessons

On Memorial Day weekend, in keeping with our decision to have fun on the holiday weekend, we did some rather different things.

We went to Baby Acapulco’s in Austin on Saturday night to enjoy a friend’s band, Back Trax, perform.  They do 60s numbers and we completely enjoyed the music and the wonderful food (Tex Mex).  Inspired by the very hot evening,  I knocked down two frozen margaritas, luscious snow confections that made me completely sleepy.  I’m not much of a drinker.

Steven came home this weekend with a little gray kitten, scheduled to stay at our house a couple days and then go to his friend Sunshine.  He and his roomies began feeding a stray cat a while back who turned out to be a pregnant mama and then had four babies.  At the end of the semester, this was the last kitten to be given away.  The guys set him up in the downstairs bathroom to keep him away from our little dog.  He’s a tiny, spidery gray kitten (born early April) with white socks and dabs of white on his face and chest.  This kitten is quite an adventurer, always moving, climbing, tumbling, and wonderfully healthy and busy.  We enjoyed playing with the cute little clown, but our dog was highly affronted and is quite happy to have kitty gone now.

We also attended the Kerrville Folk Festival Monday evening - a long drive, a hot day, and some great music.  We didn't plan well - we didn't realize it all begins at about 6 p.m. and that it goes on late.  We had time to kill in the heat and we had to leave before the concert was over.  We were newbies.

Over the weekend I also did some knitting.  In fact, I got back to a project I had to set aside.  Ever since I started the internet teaching, I’ve had requests for DVDs of all the beginner lessons, but those old YouTube videos were NOT good enough to sell.  They were done with an old camcorder, which is okay if you have the tiny YouTube window, but they’re not high-definition and on a DVD player they’re extremely pixellated.  We also had sound and lighting issues. 

Still, if you got a new-to-you machine and you try to learn from YouTube, unless you have a good internet connection and some patience, a hi-def DVD would be a Godsend, and various people have kept on encouraging me to get these lessons redone.  Besides, I've encountered a steady stream of beginners at club, at knitting seminars, and online, and my mission, which was initially to be a big resource for beginners, ought not to be neglected now!

I have now almost finished completely refilming the beginner MK course in high definition.  I’m using what I’ve learned along the way to make the classes better – better lighting, more visible yarn colors, small changes to the explanations, close-ups of blocked samples where appropriate, and a pile of extra lessons that I didn’t include in the original YouTube videos.  High definition video means you can show the video on your big flat screen TV and see the knitting machine better than I can!  

I think I'm slightly less tongue-tied, and I'm managing to say "stitches" when I mean "stitches" and "needles" when I mean "needles!"  

I still have to edit and redo a few things and then I’ll finally have a high-quality beginner DVD course to market.  I hope to keep the course to two DVDs and no book, if at all possible, and therefore keep the price down.  It should be affordable to give a set to a friend, or if you sell machines, include a set with the machine and give the buyer a real leg up on learning to knit.  

Markers For Your Knit Leaders

These  will work:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011