Sunday, July 31, 2011


I am looking forward to the end of my current busy-ness.  Since we're moved into the new office, it should quiet down.  I have a vacation coming up pretty soon, too.  This means y'all will hear from me a little more often soon.

Today, Sunday, I slept in to 7:30, then went to church with John (who had been up long before me), then ran an errand at the store.  After that, we had lunch with a very fun couple from the Model A Club at a lakeside  restaurant in Volente.  I had never been there before.  There is a small water park there with low prices, and we watched children riding the water slides as many times as they wanted, since there were virtually no lines.

Next, we stopped at home for a few supplies, and John and I went to my office, where we ran into the Dabbs family (my boss, his wife and their super cute little girl).  He's been spending a tremendous amount of time at the new office, getting ready for opening tomorrow.  John helped me with setting up a computer, while I updated some data files so we can use only the new server.

After that, we grabbed fast food and then bought groceries.  I normally cook almost every meal, but this last week, I only cooked breakfasts.

Finally, we came home and packed book and DVD orders. We were very excited to see quite a few orders today - someone must be spreading the word, maybe online, about my knitting products.  The Beginner Course is doing well, which means it was something people believe is useful, a pleasing development.

One day a few months ago, in a fit of grandiosity, I thought to myself, "I want to teach more people to machine knit than anybody ever has!"  How's that for a completely wacky goal?  Of course it isn't a competition at all - it's a effort among enthusiastic hobbyists, dealers, teachers and designers to help people get the most out of these wonderful machines.  When I teach someone to knit, hopefully that person will buy products from other people, get involved with charity knitting, attend a knit club and generally help our craft.  Maybe that person will become a designer, teacher, or dealer, too!  I am making my dent with about a 1,000 free video views a day, emails from people who have either learned from me or at least learned something from me, and now this beginner course is selling steadily.

I plan to edit the new slipper video and pattern and post that, hopefully in the next few days.

Fascinating Lace Sweater at Art Machines:

Art Machines: With the insertion of a spectacular

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Almost Ready to Open

I work for Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America in Austin, Texas, but I don't really blog about my job much at all.  This blog is about knitting, almost entirely how-tos and patterns, but big stuff is happening at my work, so I'll touch on it.

The past few weeks, I've been working on getting our office on a new server and also on getting ready to move, then moving.  The server project has been complex, and I've worked evenings and weekends, plugging away to overcome each issue that popped up.

Our Council's board has raised money for the last few years to build a badly needed new training and service center.  Dozens and dozens of people, who firmly believe in Scouting as a character-building program for young people, gave money and volunteered services to make this happen.

The new Frank Fickett Training and Service Center is absolutely unique and beautiful; in fact, yesterday the construction supervisor told me about bringing his wife through the site because he had never worked on a project to compare to it in his long career - and she agreed!  Because of one very generous donor, the late Mr. Fickett, the building is sited in a fantastic location near the interstate, yet a pond behind the building and clever landscaping and hardscaping give it a wonderful, peaceful feel.  Our new building has enough room for a greatly expanded Scout Shop (where you buy uniforms, handbooks, literature, camping supplies, and advancement supplies) and a large training facility.

This week, we closed business at the old location on Tuesday evening and stayed closed through the rest of the week.  We are opening for business on Monday, August 1, and while small fixes go on and the decorators won't be entirely finished, we'll open on time.  Then in September, people can attend terrific grand opening community events at the Center.

I've been down there with the phones and network and pitching in with the move, like everyone else.   Our phone installer and I did manage to set off the new burglar alarm and have a nice chat with a police officer and bring my tired boss, who had driven partway home thinking he was the last one out, back to the office to re-arm the alarm one evening!

I plan to take some pictures and put them on the blog.  This really is a big event in my life, plus in the life of our community, as we have 25,000 young Scouts served by our Council (made possible by 8,000 adult volunteers and our small staff), and the new facility will be considered a local landmark, and I would assert, a treasure for the Scouting families who will use it.  Working at a non-profit is very exciting, with the terrific variety of work and the opportunity to work alongside amazing volunteers who do so much and give so much for others.

Today, a group of us is heading back to the Fickett Center to finish up an assortment of small things so we can open smoothly on Monday.   I really must run, grab my shower and some comfy jeans and a T-shirt and get on my way.  I simply wish this post could convey my excitement.  Well, wait until I post some pictures!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tom's writeup about knitting for the troops at Knitting Paradise

Have YOU been knitting for the soldiers?  Why not send your first package to Barbara Deike, who is organizing this project and acting in faith that enough knitters will help to serve 3,000 troops:

Barbara Deike
615 Deer Creek Lane
Leander, Texas 78641

Big Fat Oops on Tom's Troop Cap

I got a comment on the new video about the full-fashioned decreases on the last few rows, letting me know the math didn't work!  Well, I didn't notice - sorry.

Those should have been double decreases!  I didn't do it that way, not that my caps aren't okay, but doing the double-decreases is certainly going to give you a better outcome.  It's one more clever thing Tom did with the cap pattern.

Will I film it again?  I don't know; I'm rather tired today from the office move, an ongoing adventure, but I can do some sort of correction.   I might just re-film the decrease part.  I want to try knitting it that way anyhow and see how much difference it makes in the crown shaping.  I bet it makes quite a significant difference.

To do a double decrease with the triple transfer tool, you transfer the stitches to the 3-prong tool in the usual way and then put the tool in the hooks so that the first needle at the edge has one stitch on it, the second is doubled up, and the third is doubled-up.  Bingo - 2 stitches decreased instead of one, and you can still seam one stitch from the edge and not have to sew through a double-up (no seams on this hat, though).

If you do the double decreases, you'll do the 32 decreases specified in the pattern.

Inspiration at Machine Knitting Fun - Knitting for Preemies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Videos - Tom's Troop Cap

Here are the videos showing how to do Tom Panciarello's terrific hat pattern.  This is an ideal pattern if you want to knit for our troops, and I also recommend it if you'd like to learn more about circular knitting:

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Things are crazy right now - a terribly busy weekend, and yet, I'm continuing with knitting as therapy.

I only had a few minutes this evening as John was busy on the computer (which I have dibs on next for video editing) and I sat down and knitted this scarf on the ribber.  It's for the troops - I know this is rose colored, but some of our soldiers are ladies, and I had lots of rose in light worsted yarn.  Now we're going for warm patterns, folks, and this long scarf is quite warm.  An odd thing to work on in Texas 103 degree heat!

I did a circular cast-on and a smiles-and-frowns bind-off.  I'll write out a pattern later.

This might work rather well in a sport yarn, too.  This one took 6 ounces, but it would certainly take more in a thicker worsted yarn with less yards-per-pound.  It was T5 on a bulky in a racked ribber arrangement.

The pattern stitch only shows to advantage if you block it gently horizontally.  You don't want to kill it, just spread it a little so the waves show, and steam lightly.  If you don't block it at all, it just looks like slightly irregular 3x1 ribbing.

Fun, huh?  I have other plans for this stitch (rubbing my hands together).

In my never-ending quest for ways to photograph knits, I conscripted a chair for a scarf model.  I wanted to show the overall dimensions of  the scarf.

Gotta run - Time to cook dinner!

Inspiration - Alex's Machine Knitting: Blanket weave stitch sweater finally finished

Alex's Machine Knitting: Blanket weave stitch sweater finally finished

Tom Panciarello's Troop Cap

Here's the written pattern for Tom's hats - and the video is coming.

Tom's hat pattern uses circular knitting to avoid seams.  It's generous-sized, with a hem that folds up to cover ears in lots of warm layers.

Today I was all thumbs with the video filming, and consequently, I knitted several hats as I worked out the filming issues.  I had already knitted a few...  Well, more for the soldiers!  These are a pleasure to knit, and a good project for self-striping yarns:

Here's the directions:

Materials:  4-ply worsted yarn, 2 ounces
Machine:  8 mm bulky with ribber

Set racking to H3
Set machine to plain knitting
Main bed - needles 17L to 17R
Ribber - needles 17L to 16R
With tension 0 knit zigzag row, hang comb and weights
Set machine for circular.  I used T6 on both carriages, but Tom used T8 - and our machines are very similar.  My machine will not close a hem on T8 - it jams - so I had to adjust. On T6, it closes fine.  If you run into this problem, you can keep working on your hat by hand knitting that first row after hanging the hem.
With waste yarn, knit about 20 rows (10 rounds).  Mark the first stitch on the main bed, which will help you fold the hem without twisting the knitting.
Knit 2 rows (1 round) with ravel cord.
Row counter to 000
Change to main yarn and knit 50 rows, if adding contrasting stripes.  Continue to row 88 to fold hem.  (if you can use Tom's looser tension, it will be 44 rows/76 rows). 
Remove weights and comb, and open up space between beds to furthest "click"
Bring up the waste yarn you knitted first from the bottom through the center.  Hang the stitches from the first row of the main color on the main bed, beginning at the end where you put a marker.  Hang all the main bed stitches, then all the ribber stitches - a second loop on every needle.
Hang weights, using weight hangers (Tom and I used 4 large weights!  You need lots of weight on circular knitting.)
Knit circular to row 68 (56 in the looser tension).  Lengthen or shorten here, if necessary.
Tighten carriages one whole number.
On each bed, do a full-fashioned decrease with triple transfer tool (decreasing 8 stitches per round).  I found Tom's tip helpful: do one row's decrease and put those 3 needles on each end in hold before knitting the row.  
Do the same for the next three rounds, decrease tension one full number.   After four rounds of decreasing, which is 8 rows on the row counter, you will have decreased 32 stitches, which makes a nice taper to the crown.
Knit 6 rounds (12 rows) waste yarn and release from machine.  Remove waste yarn in cuff of hat and close top by gathering up stitches.  Hide ends.

Look, no seams!  You're finished!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Project Photos

One of the things I couldn't get to lately was posting some photos.  There are some knitters who are kind enough to email me pictures of projects.  I enjoy looking at them, and know you will, too.

Joe DeRoche made a cardigan from the Goldilocks book, then added a hat to make a set.  Love the cheery colors and the sports buttons.  

Note:  If you need to get past the buttonhole barrier, this is a really easy one-stitch-transfer buttonhole. 
Marius Brusdal in Norway knitted these booties, a first project with turned cables.  She needed a baby gift, and said that after having worked the picot cuff, the stitches that are not in the cable were moved over to the ribber, with the tension on the main bed to number looser than on the ribber. The foot is worked using "my" method with circular knitting with the ribber (I didn't invent it, just used it in the sock book). Gorgeous, huh?

Katy Hill made this Entrelac tote.  She also added clever twists to my pattern.  She put cables on the side gussets and along the handle, and she used a library tote bag to line it, since it had a nice polished-cotton look in a sturdy synthetic.   

This is not a fast project, but looking at Katy's photos made me want to knit another.  There's something about doing the Entrelac that becomes almost hypnotic.

Tom Panciarello in Las Vegas is knitting for the troops, and he invented this hat pattern.  It's completely seamless, knitted circular on a bulky with ribber, very generous in size, and super warm (4 layers over the ears).  Tom also has a clever way to shape the crown to reduce bulk.  It doesn't take much yarn, and when you take it off the machine, you only have to gather the top and hide two ends.

Here are some Tom knitted:

I got fascinated with Tom's ingenious hat pattern a week or two ago and knitted several myself.  Tom gave me permission to film the technique.  We are recruiting a few good volunteers to knit for the troops!  I know it will be more fun if I can share some interesting patterns, and this is a really great one.  Tom and I have been experimenting with good ways to weight the knitting, and I'm hoping to work on the video this weekend.

I like Tom's striped ones, but I didn't do stripes because the yarn I had on hand was a slow variegated (Impeccable from Michael's).  It did an interesting spiral thing on the actual hat.  Here's a photo of one of my hats with Tom's pattern:
One of the reasons I've been so quiet lately is a big work project with a looming deadline.  We're moving to a new office - and a new server.  The network is my responsibility, and I've been doing some weekend and evening duty to change things while people weren't trying to work, plus working during the day, and still not getting nearly enough finished.  I came home one day this week, just worn out from not quite enough sleep for several days and the emotional wear-and-tear of not getting the project done nearly as quickly as I expected, even as the deadline is coming at us.  The IT consultant is perfectly cool about it, but I am just not used to this sort of thing.  

I decided to knit, even though I was tired.  I had a slipper in my head that needed to get designed.  John might have preferred some company, but always the good sport, he said, "So, you're going to the 'knit pit'!"  He has renamed the guest room where I have the bulky machine.  I trotted up there and knocked out a slipper.  The first slipper attempt was surprisingly decent, considering that I was a mental turnip and didn't even do any math, and afterward, I worked out corrections, gauges, sizes and all that jazz.  Sometimes, you just need to doodle!  Tom had been corresponding with me about soldier hats, and he volunteered to test the latest soldier slipper pattern.  Here's his slipper photo (he's wearing it over a sock he made):

I like to test all the sizes, and make little tweaks to my patterns, which gave me an excuse for a trip to Hobby Lobby for more yarn.  I was pooped out that evening, too, but I threw a big bag on the stairs to go up and felt all warm and fuzzy because I had new yarn.  I don't really like to shop much, except for yarn.  My mother had a similar affliction - she didn't really like to shop much, except for plants!  The way I used to moan, "Oh, no, not the garden center!"  Is highly similar to the way my boys moaned, "Oh, no, they have yarn there!  Keep her out of the yarn section!"  

Here are my first few samples - as usual, I like to test all the sizes:
I hope to get a video up soon on this slipper, as well.  This is the fastest slipper I have ever knitted, and it's thick, squishy and warm, as well.  Takes about 4 oz. for a pair.

See the slipper on the far right?  That space-dyed yarn that was so awesome for a hat was not nearly so pretty in the slipper with that tucked rib.  But second-from-right is Lion Brand Tweed, which is a very slow color changer, and it's marvelous in the slipper.

Also working on, for the troops:  an afghan pattern and a scarf.  Tom has been working out scarf ideas, as well.  Stay tuned!

Inspiration at Needles to Say

Mary Anne's adorable granddaughter in a new cardigan pattern:

Needles to say...: you'll love this

Art Machines: Простая кофточка

Very pretty lace top with a knitted flower "brooch," and Anna included the punch card:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ozlorna's Knitting Blog: Loz's Slip Stitch Heel Flap Socks

Ozlorna has a lesson for us on doing a slip stitch (reinforced) heel flap sock on the knitting machine.

If you're not following her blog, you should be!

Ozlorna's Knitting Blog: Loz's Slip Stitch Heel Flap Socks

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Video for Brother 970 Knitters

I had questions about how to knit Enchanted Edgings (my automatic lace edging patterns) on the Brother 970.  It seems there was confusion about which way to put in the charts, and whether to choose "lace carriage," and whether to do "memos," and so forth.  In view of the difficulty explaining all those things with only words, I just did a video:

Executive summary:

  • Put it in as a 2-color fairisle chart, black and white dots
  • Enter the chart exactly the way it looks in the book
  • Choose regular carriage, when you're "positioning" the pattern
  • Make sure (same as any other machine) that you turn off end needle suppression on the lace carriage
  • Make sure that you only have one carriage on the needle bed at a time.
  • Don't fool with "memo" or any of that - just use the lace carriage when scattered needles are selected and use the main carriage when blocks of needles are selected.
Yup, I know I'm still supposed to try it on Studio!  I did acquire a machine for that purpose, but haven't had a chance yet.

All Kinds of Updates

Happy Saturday!

John is doing brake work on his car, which means I'm on my own a while, so I might as well do some projects. Here are some updates and miscellany:

1. I've had a very good response to the beginner course DVDs. I've already shipped quite a few, and John just carried a bag to the mailbox (domestic orders - international will have to go out on Monday, 'cause he has to go inside and pay for postage). One of my readers went all the way through the material already, and told me that it is clear, like looking over my shoulder, and that there was new material on there even for an experienced knitter. I'm very, very happy that I did the work to redo the beginner course - people want it and it turned out well.

2. I keep plotting ways to get more knits for the troops. Hey, join us! Knit a little love! Tom (Las Vegas Tom, the man with the RECIPE for whitening your plastic machine) has sent me a pattern I intend to try today while John's busy, and it's an extremely efficient watch cap for keeping our heroes' ears warm. I think it will make a good video - stay tuned. And, it only takes a few minutes and a little bit of 4-ply yarn on your bulky machine with ribber.

3. We're moving at work (Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts), so my workdays have been crazy. I need to get a new server and network running there - so it's back to the office for me later today to see if a big file copy worked. Thank goodness we have an expert to help me figure this out! In two weeks, we're in a new building, so we're close enough to the deadline that I guess it's time to panic. Putting that on my calendar: Panic, 9:00 a.m., Monday. No, make it Tuesday. Mondays are hard enough without scheduling a complete Panic. Our new facility is fantastic.

4. Hey, fellow Kindle lovers, I just finished a wonderful thriller by C.J. West, Sin and Vengeance. This was utterly engrossing, with lots of action, plot twists, a truly terrifying villain, and inexpensive for the Kindle as well.  I also read parts of a few other things which weren't worth my time and I promptly deleted them without finishing - I'm getting ruthless!  Currently enjoying What's So Great About Salvation, a Christian book that's short, a very good explanation of what Christians believe about this, and free right now.  If you see a free book you want, you need to grab it, since they're not free for long.  Have you checked out this very good free Kindle book site, Free Books for Your Kindle?

5.  I did some website work.  I updated, my shopping site, getting all the books and DVDs on with the prices, shipping, and tax.  This morning, I changed this blog's layout a little.

6.  Last but not least, I'm coming up on a big anniversary.  July 26, 2009, I put up my first video, "Before Knitting, Threading Machine."  Whew.  That title can never compete with "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," but I sure have had fun.  The 26th, by the way, is the last day that Capitol Area Council is open at our old building (43 years old, actually), and another big day for me.

7.  Getting together with the Deikes soon.  The guys are going to upgrade two Passap consoles to 32K from 8K memories.  The girls are going to work on seminar class schedules.  Don't forget, Knit Natters has a seminar coming up in October, more details to come.  Did you know we have a Yahoo Group, Knit Natters, for our club?  If you're interested in MK and live anywhere in range of our knitting club, you might want to join this group.  You need a Yahoo ID and the rest is easy.

Off Topic - Laughs

Sent to me by a Baptist girlfriend: Don't go rafting without a Baptist in the boat!

Super Cute at Rhythm of the Needles

Sunday, July 10, 2011

NOW AVAILABLE: Beginner Machine Knitting Course on DVD

At last, I have completed the beginner course on DVDs!  They consist of two DVDs and are for sale for $25.  As usual, U.S. shipping is $3 and non-U.S. shipping is $7.50.

I first put beginner machine knitting lessons on YouTube to help people learn because I didn't have time to give personal lessons, and hardly anyone else is giving lessons, either.  People were stranded with machines and no one to teach them to knit.

Many, many new knitters have actually learned to knit from my original YouTube lessons.  With these YouTube videos, knitting machines came out of closets, and knitters who never made an actual project before started turning out all sorts of quality items.

From the very start, I got requests for the beginner course on DVDs.  If you have a DVD, playing it on a bigger TV or carrying a computer or player next to the knitting machine is easy.  Also, some people just don't have the bandwidth to deal with YouTube.

The original videos are okay in a YouTube window, but much too low resolution to put on a bigger TV.

I have now re-filmed all the beginner lessons and added some additional material, using the equipment and software we purchased when we went "professional," in high-definition and with the extra lighting we've learned to use.  I've also made some changes and improvements, using some of the things I've learned along the way.

These are filmed very close-up in sharp detail, and I go slowly and explain everything.  I did everything but the gauge swatch lesson on a bulky machine with big needles to make things easy-to-see.  They are intended for people who never machine knitted before.   In other words, this is several hours of closeups of needles, yarn and hands.  There are no car crashes or love interest, and no story, but you will be able to see exactly how to do each technique.  Here's a sample:

To get the most out of the course, I recommend that you work at least a lesson a day.  Watch it, then knit it. Each lesson takes only a few minutes to watch and a few minutes to knit. Your mind continues to process the information and fill in the gaps between knitting sessions if you do a little each day - it's just something about the way we learn.  After a month or so, you'd have the hand-and-eye movements mastered, have learned the jargon, and be well beyond the beginner stage.  In fact, you will probably know more basic knitting techniques than lots of people who have knitted for years but didn't have the opportunity to learn in a systematic way.

The DVDs are also useful for intermediate knitters who need a reference.  That is, if you need a particular technique, you can go to that lesson directly using the menus on the DVDs and the table of contents on the back of the box.

What's included in the DVDs?

Lessons on Disk One:
Thread the Machine
#1 Open Cast-On 
#2 E-Wrap Cast-On
#3 Diana’s Cast-On
#4 Latch Tool Cast-On
#5 Plain Hem
#6 Mock Rib Hem
#7 Picot Hem
#8 Shortcut Picot Hem
#9 latch Tool Bind-Off
#10 Tapestry Needle Bind-Off
#11 Tapestry Bind-Off #2
#12 Loop-Through-A-Loop Bind-Off
#13 Crocheting to Cast Off
#14 Transfer Tool Chain Edge BO
#15 Holey Bind-Off
#16 Increasing and Decreasing
Front & Back of DVD Box
#17 Short Rowing a Toe
#18 Short Row Shoulder Method #1
#19 Short Row Shoulder Method #2
#20 Short Row a Dart
#21 Carriage Jams, Ripping Out,  and Fixing Dropped Stitches

Lessons on Disk Two:
#22 Kitchener Stitch
#23 Mattress Stitch
#24 Shoulder Join Method #1
#25 Shoulder Join Method #2
#26 Idiot Cord
#27 Latched Ribbing
#28 Sew As You Go Seam
#29 Divide & Knit Neck
#30 Gauge Swatch
#31 Turning a Cable
#32 Increase Several Sts at Edge
#33 Decrease Several Sts at Edge
#34 Gather Stitches
#35 Increase Stitches Across Row

Purchase with PayPal:

Beginner Course 2 DVDs

Beginner Course 2 DVDs

Knitting Machine Dealers:  As a former machine knitting dealer, I am certain these DVDs will get your customers knitting and well past any frustration in the shorted possible amount of time.  If you want to purchase in quantity, email me for quantity prices, diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net.


Knit Natters is having a seminar.  It's going to be very good - several volunteers are demonstrating and we voted on most-desired demos.  We have an excellent space in a local church.  There will be two days of teaching, the second Friday and Saturday in October.  The first day is very KM-oriented with an equal mix of Passap and Brother.  I'll do my garter bar thing and others of my best demos.  The second day is very general-interest with some classes for hand knitting, a spinning class, and Sara's Fairies.

If you want to come, block it out on your calendar and email me at diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net.

Barbara Deike is looking for a few good knitters - or sewers, or crocheters.  All right, that sounded catchy, but the actual truth is, Barbara is looking for lots and lots of volunteers to make vast quantities of warm items for soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.  If you email me, I will send you an excellent slipper pattern, fast and fun to knit on a bulky!  Passap knitters - we put a nice afghan pattern up on this blog recently.  Note that it's an interesting double jacquard knit technique that has a negative image on the back instead of stripes or birdseye.

We are getting more patterns together for our soldiers. Don't forget these faithful ones, many of whom have been deployed repeatedly! Stay tuned, or be proactive and contribute patterns and ideas.

Beginner Machine Knitting Course going up for sale today.  I showed it to the Knit Natters gals yesterday and they were impressed with how much information I squeezed into two DVDs!  I think it turned out great.  The hi-def picture, on the TV, is incredibly clear.  This is all technique, all hands and needles, and there's a lot more here than the old YouTube videos.  I'll put up a blog post with a "buy it now" button later on.  It's $25 plus shipping, $3 for US and $7.50 elsewhere (and sales Tax for Texas residents).

This is a great gift for a beginner friend and good to show at your club meetings when nobody has a new demo.  If you're a dealer contact me for wholesale prices.  I'm convinced the beginner courses would add incredible value to your new machine knitting customers' experience.  Finally, an easy, clear way to learn even if it's 1:00 a.m.!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tom's Extreme Machine Makeover - Reassembled & Lovely!

Here's Tom's 891 after reassembly.  Tom thinks the machine is probably 20 or 25 years old.  He's currently knitting socks-

I spent the morning finding the ingredients to make my own batch of Tom's recipe and do my own extreme machine makeovers.  The 40-volume clear peroxide was easy to find - Sally Beauty Supply.  The Oxy Clean was at Target, and the checker told me how she loves the stuff because it launders out kid stains (I have never used it).  She said it salvaged a load of kid laundry that sat for a week while her washer was broken and developed mildew.  The glycerin was super easy - my husband had some in the garage.  The Xantham gum was a bit of a challenge, but I found it at the HEB Plus where we buy groceries - this is a specialty item not stocked at all grocery stores.  If they have it, it's with the baking supplies and it is usually purchased by people who do gluten-free baking.

Tom has also warned me that the goop expands and gets runnier in the sunshine.  I'm going to be ready with plastic wrap and tape, as he describes.  I need to keep it off the metal parts, and when I finish, need to rinse well.  Tom disassembled what he could reasonably easily, which looks like a smart way to go about this.  I also asked Tom whether he observed any loss of color (he has some red on the main carriage).  Tom says he puts the solution on everything, white and colors, and he hasn't had a problem.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tom's Amazing Knitting Machine Transformation

Tom P. from Las Vegas wrote about his new-to-him "Ugly Betty" Knitking 891 knitting machine.  He said it looked terrible, but worked great.

This was a little hard for me to process.  No matter how much a machine yellows, I just don't think of it as ugly, because I gave up a long time ago on finding a way to get the yellowing out of a plastic machine.  If the machine is set up near a window and gets any sunshine at all, exposed parts turn quite yellow.

We talked and talked about this on the online MK lists and at club.  Does anything actually work to whiten the plastic?  If it did work, would it damage the plastic?  I decided to not even attempt to whiten my old machines.
Tom changed my whole way of thinking about this when he sent me pictures of this machine before and after he got the yellowing out of the plastic using his special "recipe."   Wouldn't you like for your old machine to look brand new like this baby does?

As you scroll down these wonderful BEFORE and AFTER pictures, you probably have some of the same questions that I had, so I'll pass along the information that Tom gave me.
I wrote Tom:

"Tom,  I've really been thinking about what you did. For years, I've been a coward about trying to do anything to remove the ugly discoloration that almost all machines get on the plastic.  Do you know if it reduces the strength of the plastic or has any other negative effects? 

Who barely survived Chemistry class"

Tom responded that he did this a couple of years ago with some household plastic appliances, and they are both still fine.  He also said he had checked this out with a friend who has a scientific background, and that fellow assured him that there is no change in the chemical composition or structure of the plastic.  The friend actually laughed...

In my next email, of course I begged for the recipe, and Tom said I can share it. Please notice that Tom took the plastic parts off the bed, and then while it was disassembled, he cleaned and oiled the metal parts thoroughly. 

And here, courtesy of Tom from Las Vegas, is the recipe:
1-Cup 40 Volume Clear Hair Peroxide (you can purchase at a beauty supply "Sally" has it)

1-Tablespoon Xanthan Gum powder (Wal-Mart Super Center has it in the baking aisle) - used by folks who avoid gluten, a thickening agent that does not need heat

½-Teaspoon Glycerin (again Wal-Mart in the vitamin area) - this is optional - it is used to help the solution "stick" to the plastic

1-Teaspoon Oxy Clean - any brand of laundry oxygenator - diluted in 2 tablespoons VERY hot water

In a blender, pour in the peroxide and xanthan, blend for approximately 5- 10 seconds. Add the glycerin (if using) and Oxy Clean, blend another 5 seconds. The mixture is done.

I applied to the surfaces of the plastic using latex gloves (hair peroxide is a much stronger version of the one we use on minor cuts) and a silicone pastry brush. Once all areas were well covered, I either placed them in a zip-lock bag or wrapped them in kitchen plastic wrap (to repent drying). Now for the important in the sun! The UV rays that caused the yellowing will now act as the catalyst to remove the yellowing. After an hour in the sun, the difference was incredible. I check for "dry" spots and reapplied if needed. The "baking" process took 2- 4 hours depending on how yellow the piece was. The items can also be placed under a UV light indoors, not a black light.

There are no harmful vapors or fumes and I did notice two nice "side effects" - my porcelain kitchen sink is white as new and the spot or two I dripped on my white tile (and grout) island turned the grout almost new. So, I spread some around, let it sit then wiped up, new looking!

Las Vegas

I also showed the recipe to my husband John, who is very clever about fixing just about anything, including very old mechanical things.  He agrees that the treatment won't hurt the machine at all.  He and I are very enthusiastic about this.  We plan to buy ingredients and mix up some of the recipe right away!

Ribber Carriage - Before Treatment

Ribber Carriage - After Treatment

Ribber Covers Before Treatment
Ribber Covers with Recipe Applied

Rib Covers After Treatment

Bed Parts Before Treatment

Bed Parts After Treatment

Main Carriage Before Treatment

Main Carriage After Treatment