Monday, October 31, 2011

Alex's Santa Vest Project

This is such a cute gift for a young nephew:

Video of LK150 Doing Intarsia

Here's a nice video from fixthissite showing how intarsia is done on the LK150:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dallas Ft. Worth Seminar

Barbara and I spent the day at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Seminar!  We have finally figured out that if we put the El Fenix restaurant, which is on the same parking lot but facing a different street, into the GPS unit instead of Stacy's Furniture, we can navigate to the place.  This should end our tradition of wrong turns as we try to find Stacy's.

It's a nice-sized crowd, about 25 knitters. and the teacher is Carole of Carole's Country Knits and Rocking Horse Farm, near St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Carol's home page is Rocking Horse Farm and they have pretty much a full-service knitting machine dealership.
We were obviously delighted to find books, yarn and tools for sale. 

Barbara, Rose, Mary and I from Austin were so happy to see all our DFW buddies!  There really is something special about the camaraderie among knitters.  I got Carole's permission to blog about her and proceeded to take copious notes.  What a wonderful day!  Those of you who don't attend seminars are missing out.  It's even worth it if you have to travel.  Barbara and I drove about four hours last night to come to this one, and we're having a fantastic time.

Photo is a pretty red hat made on the Passap that is one of Carole's samples.

Carole's first demonstration segment was all about tuck stitch.  Carole has a whole series of scarves, tops, vests, shawls and sweaters utilizing a very pretty single bed tuck technique, complete with a little scalloped edge that stays pretty even after washing.  Of course, I had to buy that book, Versatility Tuck, and Barbara had to get one, too.  A lot of Carole's things have simple shaping and yet are very wearable and classy.

Pictured:  A delicate tucked cap-sleeve sweater in lavender.

Carole is a warm, genuine, funny, practical down-to -earth demonstrator who gives a lot of interesting tips.  She knits items to sell, and has some good ideas about that business; in addition, she has lots of machine tips to share.  She gave us great handouts - a folder of goodies for everyone - and she explains how things were made in some detail. 

We had a wonderful potluck lunch and lots of fellowship.

After lunch, Carole showed us some socks she knitted.  She likes to knit them flat and put a seam along the inside of each foot.  Carole knits her heels and toes a little tigher than the rest of the sock.  Here's a typical Carole tip:  if you can break the yarn with your hands, it's probably not going to wear well unless you add something to it to reinforce it. 

Carol demonstrated her Infinity Scarf with ribbed edges.  She demonstrated her yoked shadow-lace skirts, and I especially found her blocking procedure interesting.  She demonstrated a nifty wriggle-lace vest, and showed us a great many more samples of fun things to knit.  My favorite afternoon session was her discussion of how to take care of a garter carriage so it will hold up for a long time.

Here's a closeup of Carole's tuck stitch knitting - check out that scalloped edge -

When you go to seminar, you get to see the other knitters' pretty garments - check out Linda's beautiful coat (with an amazingly perfect set-in zipper).  She did Kool-Aid dyeing to make the yellow/orange/red yarn!

We had seminar until about 5 p.m., then Barbara and I met my son and his fiance (my son lives in Richardson, so I always try to see him when I'm in Dallas for any reason) and we had a lovely dinner at Olive Garden. 

I'll put up more pictures tomorrow!  The slow internet connection at the hotel is challenging my patience.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Goodies for Our Troops - Please Help, and Kudos to Laura

My colleague Laura wanted to help out with our "knit for the troops" project, where we send a little love and warmth to guys and gals being deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Hood, Texas.  Laura doesn't knit, but you don't have to knit to help!  Look what Laura made:

Laura sews and crafts, and these are thick fleece scarves that she made with a rotary cutter!  The edges are lovely, and they won't fray because fleece is knitted.  I wrinkled them up on my desk at work to try to show how long they are in the photo.  They're about 60" long (5 feet), but sometimes she makes them 72" long.  It just depends on what she can find.

The blue one was made from 60" yardage.  Laura says she got 5 scarves out of a yard of fabric, cuttiing so the 60" is the length of the scarf.  (If you frequent fabric stores, sometimes you can find wonderful remnants, too.)  After she cut the blue scarves, she used the rotary cutter to make the fringe.

The pink scarf was made from a throw she found on sale around Valentine's Day.  It was already die cut along opposite ends with the cute scallops and tiny hearts, and with the size of the throw, she was able to make 7 scarves.

And here's Laura, modeling the scarves she made for the troops!  I think in the photo with Laura, you get a better idea how thick and cushy the scarves are.

Video about my mid-gauge model

This excellent YouTube video by thewoolendiva is absolutely my favorite explanation of this very unusual mid-gauge machine.  I have one of these, and used it for the Entrelac child's hat in pink:

I bought this little machine so I'd have a midgauge handy, and it can go with us to seminars for use in a hotel room, as well!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ways to Improve Your Knitting - Get the most out of the upper tension unit!

Yep, I'm talking about that rabbit-ear thing.

Machines that have a proper upper tension unit are much easier to use than the ones that need the yarn hand-fed or only have a short post and eye to hold the yarn.

Imagine trying to sew without the tensioning device that approaches the needle.  It would be a disaster, wouldn't it?  I don't know about you, but my machine has been threaded wrong a few times, and having poor tension on the incoming thread makes the job impossible.

Your knitting machine's upper tension unit has a very similar function to the tensioning device in the treading area above a sewing machine's needle.  It has the following important jobs:
  • Hold the yarn up high enough so that the yarn travels a long way from the cone or ball.  This distance helps the yarn to feed well. 
  • Feed the yarn through a pressure dial to apply a little even tension to the yarn.  These are the little tension wheels at the base of the rabbit ears (take-up springs).  You can tighten or loosen the tension here.
  • Provide an device to apply some wax to the yarn.  (I use wax to knit most of the time.  I cut up candles and make my own disks.  'Nother blog post, 'nother day.)
  • Feed the yarn through the take-up spring, which swoops down as you pull the carriage across and pops up at the end of the row.  That popping up is critical - it helps to avoid the dreaded edge loops!
Okay, so I exaggerated - edge loops aren't exactly the black plague, but they aren't fun, either.  I get lots of emails about miserable edge-looping problems.  Once you have looseness at the side of the knitting, you've got yarn catching on the brushes and getting tangled up, you've got dropped stitches and all sorts of frustration. 

So, what can you do to make your upper tension unit work better?
  • Observe the yarn traveling through the unit.  Tighten the tension enough so that the take-up springs (previously disrespectfully referred to as "rabbit ears") have a little tension on them, but not so much that the yarn doesn't feed smoothly.
  • Consider replacing your take-up springs.  I have replaced mine when they lost their bounce, and the difference in the functioning of the machine was just wonderful.  As knitting machine parts go, the cost wasn't terrible.  Check with a dealer about getting new springs. 
  • Clean out yarn fuzzies that get caught in the springs or tension unit.
  • Use yarn in cones or rewind your yarn properly.  To me, it's done right if there is virtually NO tension on the yarn when you lift some out of the ball.  It also means that I am careful to not wind knots into the ball - I untangle anything that needs untangled as I wind, and I cut the yarn if I get to a manufacturer's knot.
  • Do use wax.  Almost all the time!  I put the yarn in place first, so it runs over the wax holder, then set the wax on top.  The wax ring rotates as the yarn goes over it and applies a little wax as you knit.
Well!  I'm off to pack for the DFW seminar.  I'm so looking forward to the weekend, to seeing my friends, to seeing a teacher I haven't seen before.  My girlfriend and I are leaving right after work tomorrow, so I need to be completely ready tonight.  The girls will have fun, and our hubbies will probably eat pizza.

Inspiration at Art Machines - Plated Hat

I like the very subtle color scheme of this hat.  The ribbed plating is just enough variation to look interesting.  In the past, when I've played with it, I thought it was funky-looking, but I was using yarns with too much contrast, i think.  Anna's is rather elegant.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ways to Improve Your Knitting - Use a Better Table

Did you know that the wrong table or stand can cause you a lot of aggravation?

Here's what I look for in a machine knitting table or stand:
  • Sturdy construction - forget about cheesy folding card tables, TV trays (horrors!), cheap ironing boards, etc.  You want something that will hold a heavy knitting machine plus weights and withstand  sideways forces.
  • Skinny enough to hold clamps securely.  If you have to use a table that won't hold clamps, you can use rubbery non-slip shelf liner.  Lay a long strip under your machine.  However, for a machine you use often or for use with a ribber, you should clamp to the table.
  • A way to put yarn on the floor.  Yarn feeds into the machine much better when you put it on the floor and let it have the extra dangling distance up to the machine.  Therefore, avoid tables that are up against a wall or so wide that the yarn has to be put on the table or slide a long ways across the top of the table.  (I've been rather crazed by the paint roller fad for circular sock knitting machines.  They mount a paint roller on their table and then let the yarn roll from the roller.  It tends to roll too far and add too much yarn, or it adds tension, and it's feeding from the top of the table, not the floor. I watch people knit with them, and they're constantly reaching out to fiddle with it.  What a nuisance!  I actually have my antique sock machine on a table with a big hole in the middle, through which yarn feeds.)
  • Room for tools.  This isn't essential, but it certainly is helpful.  Metal stands often have brackets designed to hold the machine lid.  In addition to putting tools on the table, I often have a surface at the side where I put tools, as well.  I am partial to the inexpensive rolling units with drawers.
I am especially fond of stands that are designed to go from flat for main bed knitting to tilted for ribber work.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Adult Shaped Entrelac Hat

This was difficult to photograph, because it is curved (dome-shaped), and does not lie flat.  It fits quite well, and it looks nice.  I did not plan the colors, just used a self-striping worsted weight yarn, worked in circles and let the colors go wherever without any ending off of the yarn.  It looks light on my monitor, but it's really autumn colors with deep reds, greens and browns.  It's Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Yarn."  It took less than one skein and was knitted on my Brother bulky.

This project took less than two evenings, working a couple hours each time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday - Shaped Entrelac Hat

I've been knitting Entrelac on my seldom-used mid-gauge, working out this hat shaped by making smaller and smaller Entrelac squares.  It took a little while to get the relationships right on the ribbing for a decent transition, and it took a while to get used to a different machine.  There is something hypnotic about Entrelac.  I can knit for hours and not realize time as gone by.  Of course, I'm listening to a book while I work. 

Sweaters for Penguins

Do ya wanna knit sweaters for penguins?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Now y'all give ME advice, please?

I bought an embroidery machine.

Would those of you who do this hobby share your favorite tips? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cute Hand Knit Scarf Pattern at Rhythm of the Needles

Easy - here's one a beginner hand knitter:

And, a lovely yarn choice.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Progress Report

Working on my prototype shaped Entrelac project.  Here it is, messy and no seams sewn yet, except for the joint between the Entrelac yoke and the body pieces. 

I worked out the neckline issues posed by the Entrelac, and now I've got the ribbed neckband attached and am quite happy with it.  It fits over the head just fine, and the ribbing is doubled, for a soft, warm stretchy band.

I expected the neckband to be more difficult than it was.

After that, I knitted two sleeves, which were also okay.  The back, however, was not good - I made a shaping error related to that challenging transition between the wide Entrelac gauge and the regular gauge. I redid it.  The front will be just like the back.

I plan to sew a trim over the edge of the yoke where it meets the stockinette stitch.  Because the Entrelac is slanted, wide, and textured, that's always a problem area.  I think a distinct edge will look nice there.

Even Prettier On

Whoa!  Look how nice this is - I linked to it before, but it wasn't on a model:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Nice, classic cardi - helps if you're skinny, though! Horizontal stripe alert...

Inspiration at Right or Wrong

Check our Synnove's lovely slouch cap & cowl!

A morning to knit

Ah, a lovely Saturday, with John off with his Model A buddies and me knitting.  I'm working on a project that has been sitting here since before the Knit Natters seminar.  Here's my progress so far -

I knitted this round Entrelac sweater yoke in a circular fashion. The only triangles are at the top and bottom.  I love the look of round yokes, and I like the fit too, since they are actually a raglan variation.  This yoke will have cream-colored ribbing at the neck instead of that brown waste yarn, and the sweater will be the forest green color.  Of course, the lavender is waste yarn.

On my screen the forest green isn't showing up terribly well, but in the actual knitting, it looks great. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspirationn at Tathy Tricot e Crochet

Wearable crochet lace - isn't it pretty!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lagniappe - Something Extra For My Customers

I love this Cajun word:

lagniappe - An extra or unexpected gift or benefit.

Pronounce - Lan - yap.  But, according to the sometimes wise internet, it was adopted from a Spanish phrase; interesting - so much Cajun language comes from the French.

Nope, I'm not from Louisianna.  I lived there for a while, as a young military brat, and I've visited...isn't it wonderful the different "worlds" we have just a few hours away!

What's more, as a friend, or as an employee, and as a businesswoman, I like to operate by it.  I have my funky little home-based side business where I sell MK disks and books, make friends and teach knitting, and I hope to always give you some sort of positive surprise.  I might upgrade the shipping, I might tuck something in the package, I might ship before payment clears...and I haven't ever been sorry yet.

And, when something goes wrong in a transaction, like the item I mailed to West Australia that wandered back to Texas in about 8 weeks, long after I'd replaced it, you'll know I'm trying to give good service.  'Cause I'm not perfect, and stuff happens.
I need to run another little lagniappe special and clear some extras that are sitting around here and y'all might enjoy. I have some Chicago seminar books left, some Knit Natter seminar books, some of my old "Easy Machine Knit Gift" DVDs, and a heap of vinyl covered measuring tapes.  I just have a few books - this is while they last. 

Let me know what you'd like included with your order - one item for each item you order, up to 4 because I have four freebies...and while they last, this will give me a chance to give you the item you prefer.
When you order at, put a note on the PayPal letting me know what you'd like, or send an email to diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net.  If I don't know, I'll do the books first, then the DVDs and measuring tapes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Using a 930 for a printer!

This video, hat-tipped by Tom in Las Vegas, puts me in mind of the photo-knitting we did with DAK.  However, this guy went at it in another way, and I love his artistic flair:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Machine Survey

Results of our little machine survey: 

Favorite machine -

Brother 74
Silver Reed 46
Bond/USM 16
Passap 10
Other 8

Say, Other Owners - what is your Other machine?  Let us know!

Seminar Aftermath

The seminar is over.  I've hauled all my stuff home.  We helped the Deike's get their stuff home - she brought four machines! - and we went to dinner with them.  Mexican food and debriefing.  I collapsed at home, slept a long night, went to church, had another nap, and I'm a new woman today.

Money:  We raised enough at the seminar with a couple of walk-in registrations and the sale of donated items to cover our donation for the use of the rooms.  Crystal Lake Baptist Church let us use the rooms without any expectation of rent, and the club members were so appreciative.  The church staff and volunteers were lovely to us.  Because our teachers were volunteers (it was our first seminar, and we cautiously kept all costs down) we were able to put the pre-paid registrations into our treasury so that we can get a jump on future activities for our club.

More Generosity:  I sold two of Penny's machines - she donated them to sell for charity - to Mary in San Angelo, who is going to teach two young women to knit.  I threw in a couple of beginner courses.  What's so awesome about that is, in addition to the machines going to such a worthy cause (I understand these young ladies come from a very difficult situation), the money will also go to a local charity and help additional people. 

The charity machines were a bit of a project for me.  I hunted down manuals, inventoried, cleaned and oiled them, repllaced some parts and sponge bars, and generally got to be part of that process.

Membership:  We had several fairly new people who are new to our area, or new to knitting, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them.  I am so looking forward to having these new members.

Teamwork:  Knit Natters rocks!  Everyone pitched in with food, cleanup, door prizes (we had 60 door prizes, fantastic ones!), organizing, cashiering, and all the myriad necessaries for a seminar.  My friend Sylvia guest-blogged yesterday.  Didn't you like her style?  Lots of photos, less chatter.  Go Sylvia!  Having four teachers was great fun, and one of the highlights of my day yesterday was the group seaming workshop.  We had a whole batch of teachers - in fact, some people taught their neighbors one seaming technique and then learned another one!  Ironically, one of our best Kitchener stitchers, Joe, visited with Margaret's friend Mary.  Joe's obviously a man's man (I didn't look outside for a Harley) but he cheerfully sat down and demonstrated great talent with a yarn needle.

Greta brought a bunch of samples, including ribbing for practicing "smiles and frowns," and a bunch of people mastered that stitch quickly.

Big Hair Fairy

Pat's Glitten

Souvenirs:  I cleaned up in the memories-to-keep category with a couple of hand knit items from Pat's donations, some cones of yarn to knit, and my very cute little Texas Belle fairly.  She's going on my Christmas tree this year.

Pat's Dishcloth & Scrubbie

Future Challenges:  As we outgrow Barbara's house, we're brainstorming possible solutions to our meeting needs.  This isn't a bad problem to have.  It's an opportunity, and it's evidence that out club thrives. 

All wet:  After months of drought, it rained and poured.

Inspiration at Stitches and Strings - Maxi Dress

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Liveblogging Austin Seminar Day 2

Good morning!  7:50 a.m., everyone's having breakfast in the other room, and I'm showing Sylvia Moore how to blog for me, since I'm going to be the first demonstrator. -Diana

Some pix of yesterday's fun from Sylvia's camera:

Diana's turn to demo the garter bar.
Everyone is watching closely and listening carefully.  Learning?  Of course.

Rose is our first brave volunteer.  She did great.

Now Pat will demo weaving.

Pat does truly beautiful work.  Well, she makes it look like fun.

She has our attention.

Pat answers our questions. And we have many.

Pat's woven coat sure looks great on Diana.

Now on to thread lace techniques.

Now that we are back from lunch and really stuffed, Diana will show us how to make a sock on the Passap.

This is indeed a sock and not a mitten.

First we knit the toe.

And here we go.

Diana explains everything very clearly.

For the sake of time Diana knitted only half the number of rows.  Look at the tiny little sock. 
                                                            Ain't we got fun!!!

Our turn to learn how to stitch the seams.  Kitchener, mattress, and smiles and frowns.

Pat explains how to make and use "plarn".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Liveblogging Austin Seminar

9:25 a.m.  All in the room with 4 knitting machines set up, a batch of knitters.  We're all full up with breakfast tacos and Round Rock donuts.  Barbara is talking about Knits for Troops and introducing the first demo - Passap Lock Settings in Plain English.

Samples going around the room.  Munching a donut; no calories at seminar.

Barbara passing around afghans made on the Passap E6000 with deep tucks.
9:40 a.m., Norma from Houston arrives (l o n g drive!).  Joan checks her in, gives her the handouts.

I'll probably only live-blog today...I'm teaching much of tomorrow.

I didn't realize how many mountains of swatches Barbara was doing for the Passap lock settings!

Door prizes in the corner...Mary in charge of that.  Mary says we have 60 of them! 

Carl, John, Barbara and I set the church room up last night.  Like an answer to prayer, Stacy (from San Antonio) was here first thing with tablecloths, chafing dishes, tableware, you name it.  My breakfast taco buffet was rather elegant, thanks to Stacy.
Now she's talking about how to get out of a jammed situation - wriggle out the strippers, go to GX and escape.
She's currently discussing what UX does - one seldom sees anything about UX. 

9:55 - just asked Barbara to demonstrate un-jamming.

10:05 Discussion about orange, blue, and black strippers, what they do, when to use them.  Discussion about the different motors - Barbara has a DM 80 here as well as an E6.  The DM80 was assembled from parts...after they recovered from their lightning strike.

Di door prizes.  Sara won hand-painted yarn from Mary Page's critters.  Stacy won a beginner course and some bright red yarn.  More door prizes later.

10:45 back from break - I just shouted at everyone!

Barbara showing proper form computer swatching. 

10:55 Barbara's showing form computer information.  Oops, discussion about pusher-pusher device.  Discussion about DAK 8.  Back on track - Barbara describing which measurements you can change in the Form Computer.  Going over Form Test.

11:15 Walked us through beeping in the form pattern.  Now she's actually starting to knit; handle up, needles front bed, needles back bed, etc.

Rose is in the kitchen making spaghetti & meatballs.  She has enough meatballs to sink a ship.  We didn't even use all the breakfast ingredients, so we're having breakfast tacos again tomorrow. 

11:40 Barbara is finishing her sample sleeve - lots of decreases for a shaped sleeve cap.  She's about to cast-off.  Discussion going like crazy, steamers, all sorts of subjects.

She finished the form computer demo, even did the steaming.  Putting a pic on the blog...

1:15 Lunch is over.  Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, dessert bread, brownies, fresh fruit platters, green bean casserole and wonderful conversation.

Sara is demonstrating the drop spindle.  She's giving everyone two contrasting pieces of wool just to try spinning the fiber into usable strands.  She's not handing out drop spindles yet.  Now, the class is trying to twist the yarn without the help of any spindle. 
I think I'll go try it!

Next, Sara had us in pairs, one spinning the spindle and one to spin the spindle (Polish jokes are inappropriate)!  Here are Carol and Stacy making great progress! 

Question, can eleven women spin enough yarn for one mitten?

2:10 - I don't know if we have budding spinners, but we certainly have developed our appreciation for Sara's handspun.

Now Rose is drawing numbers for more door prizes.  I just won a hand knit scrubbie and dish cloth, and the last few prizes were handspun yarn.  Now here comes a cute beanie.  Mary did something remarkable for an edging by sewing in ball fringe.  Hmm.  Grab camera...

Finished our fairies - four more people showed up as we were gluing and designing.  They turned out like Southern belles in ball gowns.   My fairy was having a bad hair day, so I ate a brownie and Sara glued an acorn hat on her.

4:15 drawing more door prize names.  I won some fingerless gloves - go, Pat.