Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Strange Photo

More than one pattern tester suggested I include a schematic for the shaped Entrelac book, and I couldn't picture how to do a useful schematic with numbers with so many sizes.  Because I have sizes from toddlers to large men in both bulky and midgauge sizes, my pile of charts is actually 2" thick. 

To show the shape, though,,I could use a photo like this, which is one of the sweaters spread out before sewing up.  I leave the waste yarn in place like this until the thing is literally basted and tried on.  It certainly shows a clear delineation of the place where the yoke joins the sweater.

The yoke is very three-dimensional, sort of a dome shape.  It's quite curly along the sides of the body and sleeves, because I don't want to flatten it with a hard blocking (and there's SO much stockinette).  The back raglan seams are longer than the fronts, on purpose, and the sleeves are deliberately lopsided to match.

What this photo makes me think about is the many hand-knitting books in which the authors seem to be deliberately seeking out strange shapes to knit, and they include peculiar photographs of their twisted baskets or strange pre-felted items. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Putting Knitting Pattern on Kindle - At Ozlorna's blog

As a big Kindle fan myself, here's how Ozlorna puts patterns on her Kindle.

It's hard to picture myself distilling a pattern down into those few notes when I could just take it along and read it, but on the other hand, what a great way to study a pattern before beginning to knit.

My Kindle is nearly always busy when I machine knit, because I use earbuds to listen to books on all the boring stretches of knitting and handwork. 

I have thought seriously about putting hand knitting patterns on the kindle, though, since it's with me all the time.  I have also thought about publishing to the Kindle for my customers, but right now, one of my distinctives is that I mail out a real book with a lie-flat spiral binding and lots of clear photographs, usually in full color (most of my books are color all the way through), along with a DVD that shows hands-on techniques needed for the items.  I personally prefer to take a real book to the knitting machine with me, and I often add post-its and margin notes to the book as I work.

I have also thought about putting continuing education books, which usually come to me in .pdf, on my Kindle so it could read that information to me while I knit.  But so far, I haven't had that kind of ambition.  Having my Kindle read mostly fun things to me is a lovely way to make commuting, housework, and knitting multiple samples more enjoyable. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Knitting Friends

Sylvia and Greta are two of my knittin' sisters who attend our local knitting club, Knit Natters, and I believe they won't mind my sharing photos they sent me this week. 

Greta was working my "EZ Entrelac" book, and after making a good-sized sample,she phoned and said she was going to make a purse with it.

Isn't it cute?  Looks like a very nice size for a purse.  And there's a tam to match!

Greta drives all the way from San Antonio, which takes a couple hours, to come to Knit Natters, and we all love to see her and to see what she's making.  She does a great many needlecrafts, and wears a lot of beautiful things she made herself.

Sylvia, who also attends Knit Natters, and is an expert machine embroiderer and intrepid KMer, has been a great sport about testing the shaped Entrelac hat.  She ran into a number of issues, including a mistake in the draft that made the hat a little too small.  Sylvia worked hard to help straighten my pattern out, so that the rest of you won't have problems when you work from my patterns!  Sylvia has great color sense and I love the pink and green in her hat.

Why I Prefer Electronic Machines Instead of Punch Cards

I was corresponding with a reader last night and this morning and got into a whole discussion with my John over breakfast about electronic machines versus punch card ones  John said it would make a useful blog post.  So I'm taking some pieces from my note about electronic machines and writing a post.

Here's why I spend all that extra money on electronic machines, even though I am a thrifty (cheap) accountant who  hates to overspend:

1. I dislike the noise of punching the cards, I have to go off by myself because nobody else likes that noise, either, my hand gets tired, and I get bored. 
2. They take me a half hour each to punch - I'm probably slow, but I always feel that I have to mark and double-check the card first because mistakes are a problem.

3. The punch card machines come with a couple dozen cards, and the electronic machines come with 500+ patterns. Many electronic machines are designed to let you use part of a chart, or double it, or reverse it, varying it so that you effectively have a great many more designs.

4. I make a lot of mistakes punching cards, and it bugs me to have them taped over or mess up so badly that I have to use more cards.

5.  I don't like buying blank cards, and I even have a tendency to hoard them instead of punching them up  (dumb, now that I think about that).

6. I am very inventive and experimental about patterns and usually decide that the pattern would look better or work better with an extra row here or this closer together, etc., and then I have to punch another card.  I am just one of those people who wants something very specific in my patterns and will fiddle and fiddle.

6. Punch cards limit you to 24 stitches. That’s a lot, but not enough and sometimes too many. For instance, suppose you have an adorable grandchild and you want to make a sweater with his name across it and under that, a parade of different cute dinosaurs. We’re talkin’ 150 stitches wide…this is the kind of unusual knitting I would do. Or, I often knit things with borders, which can be 200 stitches wide with pattern in the middle plus borders, or multiple patterns across. Doing borders as part of the pattern is easier and looks better than sewing them on later.

7.  Some of the newer punch card machines let you put just one or two patterns where you want them by using a gizmo called an "isolation cam," but the older ones put them all across.  Also, some machines have the ability to always or never select the end needles, a wonderful option because I find it difficult to always stop and remember to check my end needles.  If the end needles are wrong, you can get raggedy side edges and/or ugly seams.  With electronics, you will generally be able to isolate and move the pattern to whatever needle numbers you want.  Some electronic machines don't have a setting for the end needles but have cams under the carriage that you can change.

8. Beeping in a pattern into an electronic machine or drawing it on mylar is almost as tedious as punching a card, but still not as bad. I use software and cables to store a zillion patterns and ideas in my PC and then download them into the machine, but that’s also expensive.  There are some cheaper software options than DAK but the cables are definitely an investment.

Everyone is different.  Some people a very happy to stick to the patterns that come with a machine, or they find that they don't use a lot of patterning.  Certainly they aren't as headstrong about how they specifically want the patterns to look (the patterns that come with the machine are already attractive).  You've got to know yourself, or be willing to have fun getting to know what matters to you.

Sometimes we find ourselves buying a series of items because we haven't bought exactly the right one.  I've certainly done that with household items.   Companies know this and constantly release new models, but for instance, I managed to find a sewing machine with just the right features for me and wasn't tempted for many, many years by different and newer models. 
If you have a reputable dealer in your area with brand new machines and free or inexpensive lessons, that is never a bad decision.  Maybe that dealer has a knitting club, a great stock of terrific yarn, or puts on seminars, even better! 

If you want/need a bargain, don't live anywhere near a dealer, or can't take advantage of lessons, there are better deals on used knitting machines than I have ever seen.  You have to wait and watch, but I see deals that make me almost swoon with jealousy on a regular basis.  I have gotten a few amazing deals, from someone who bought all the toys and wanted to keep it all together, by buying a huge package.  That's how I recently acquired a Studio electronic and that's how I got my Brother 970 with all the toys.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Texas Aggie Maroon

Here's my latest yoke, which is unfinished, but I took a picture anyway.  Steven, our Aggie senior, will get this sweater, and I put in a good dose of A&M maroon:

The main color is the charcoal gray.  You have to be careful with gray, which can visually drain the life out of colors near it, but it really works with the strong contrasts of the maroon, black and white. 

I have most of the maroon, black, and white yarn left, and I'll probably use up all the charcoal.  I need to come up with something fun to do with the leftovers.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can You Make Money Knitting?

And the answer is, yes!  I know that, because I know people who do make money knitting for craft shows and consignment shops.  I am certainly no expert, but I have observed a few things about this:

1.  Do not assume you can predict what will sell, because almost nobody can.  I realized when I had my yarn shop that I certainly have no talent for that.  My friend who works at a craft consignment shop has begun to develop a sense of what people will buy, and as she talks about it, I often hear surprise in her voice.

So how are you going to figure out what will sell?  Trial and error is one way.  Another way is working at a consignment shop, or watching one.  Another is checking what items seem to sell on online forums.  You can watch the nice department stores to see what the fashion trends and colors are. 

If you're starting out with craft shows, consider making a wide assortment of things so you can glean information about what will go.  It makes your booth more interestig, anyway.  Start conversations with customers, and LISTEN.

There is no other way to find out what will sell other than working at it, making some mistakes along the way, and being determined to find things that work for you.

2.  Can you make money doing big custom orders or fancy things?  Yes, I believe so, again because I have known people who do it.  Some of them find a niche, some unusual item that people want.  We're talking knitting for terribly hard-to-fit clients, like the lady who is 4'10" and weighs 80 pounds, for whom nothing is short enough or narrow enough, and people on the other end of the range, men who can hardly find a sweater that's long enough.  I've heard of people knitting for movie wardrobes, music festivals, and funky hippie-ish gift shops. 

3.  You have to love it.  Seriously, you have to be as-wacky-as-me.  You have to like to knit while the TV runs (and pester the husband with questions about what just happened, driving him nuts, like I do).  You have to crave a knitting session when you're tired, or troubled, or just need to feel it in your hands.  And then, watch out, because your knitting can turn into work if you accept too many deadlines.

4.  This is not a business model that can bear any overhead.  You will want to do it from home, and you will need to be very careful about what you spend on materials, getting wholesale deals on supplies once you know what you can sell.

5.  I don't believe in keeping a client who wears you down, who won't pay a reasonable amount for your work, or is never satisfied.  I had an employee with a different philosophy:  she was fine with them being difficult, but she always charged those clients a lot more so she got paid for the stress. 

6.  I hear stories about people making big money, but that's almost as rare as unicorns.  This is probably not going to pay as well as a day job, especially if you figure by the hour, but it can work for knitters with compelling reasons to work from home

So - tell me if I'm wrong about this!  Fill me in, and share your wisdom...there are a lot of folks out there who really would like to knit some yarn into gold.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Teaching a Child to Machine Knit

I'm feeling the need to brag about our machine knitting club's youngest member, whom we'll just call Princess.  She lives with my friend Barbara, her grandma, and has been knitting since she was tiny.  Most of my readers have seen the video she and I made where she knits a hair scrunchie:

As time goes by, she continues to knit, very often for charity. She has made blankets for the troops as well as helped with hats and scarves.  Mostly she made square things or helped with the  plain stretches, getting a bit of help from Barbara with tasks like binding off or decreases.

Now Princess is making an actual sweater and has already knitted the 3-month-old sweater, front, back and one sleeve, from the Goldilocks Challenge book, which has patterns for bulky machines and a DVD that shows the process, step by step. That baby sweater is really going to be an accomplishment for a 9-year-old!  Barbara figured that Princess would have an easier time with the bigger needles.  Their routine is to watch the DVD for a little while, and then Princess does that part of the project.

She has actually reached the point where she tells Barbara not to help her, that she can figure it out for herself!  She has declared increases and decreases "fun," and she's planning to make a hat from the book next.

If this doesn't inspire us, nothing will...

Linda Graves tells about her experience knitting for children in Afghanistan here.  Look what she was able to accomplish in a year!  If you close your eyes, you can just imagine the kids on those warm, cheerful sweaters.

Yes, one person can make a difference.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tom's Entrelac Yoke

Tom is one of the people helping me by testing the shaped Entrelac book.  Check out Tom's great-looking Entrelac yoke:

A very masculine look, almost an argyle look, but you also have that wonderful raised basketweave texture that you get with Entrelac.  Tom and Sylvia, in particular, have found typos, goofs, and unclear spots in the patterns, and are a huge help in my producing a quality pattern.  And Tom has suggested tips to make it easier.

This week, I'm re-knitting the pattern in maroon, white, gray, and black (charcoal gray is the main color) for my Aggie, Steven, filming as I go.  (It's pretty much the school colors.)  It's just a round and a half from finished, and then I'll photograph it.  I'm thoroughly enjoying this latest color scheme.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Video Today - How to Latch Ribbing at the End of Piece

One of the things that comes up quite often in machine knitting is the need to do the ribbing last.  For instance, for my shaped Entrelac patterns, you do the fancy round yoke first, and then you rehang the yoke and knit the body working upside-down, that is, from the yoke toward the hem.

This is easy if you have a ribber, but lots of knitters don't have a ribber.  Some models don't even have a ribber available.  Often, people avoid doing the ribbing last when they don't have a ribber, because it's difficult to unravel exactly the right number of rows.

No problem.  There's an easy way to do it, and while you're at it, you can put on a good-looking loop-through-a-loop bind-off at the end.  Here's the new video:

By the way, this is my first video on the LK-150.  I'm enjoying this little machine, and can see why it's so popular.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Faith

Mmm, here's a post that's not about knitting.  I wrote out my "grace story," trying to explain a little about what I believe and why.   It's a .pdf file, so click this link to get to it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Various Updates

Lately, I'm in one of my ideas-popping-out-of-my head moods, and am very anxious to finish current projects and start working out all those ideas, which for now, I just scribble onto lists.  First, though, I need to finish some things.

Here's what's going on with the Entrelac book:

1.  The patterns are charted and written and sent to knitters for testing.  Lots of errors are popping up, but I can fix those, and I believe I am actually finished changing my mind!  I do think of additional information I ought to add to the book, but that's easily added.  This will be a fat book, about the size of the "Goldilocks Challenge,"  because I'm including all the sizes from little kid to big guy, the main limitation being the number of needles on the machine. I don't know yet whether it'll be one video or two.  Hopefully, just one. 

2.  I filmed and edited a hat video, which teaches the basics of shaped Entrelac, at least the way I do it.  There are always other ways to skin the cat (no animals were harmed in the making of this video), but I have this down to absolutely the simplest, easiest, nothing-to-keep track of strategy possible.  It took me several tries, but I am very happy with this video, which unfortunately is 26 minutes long.  That is much too long for YouTube, and shortening it would not work well at all for the free video I usually do at launch.  My plan is to edit a shorter video, showing some basics but not all the techniques and details for YouTube, and I'll use the longer, detailed video for the DVD that goes with the books.  Such long, detailed video is going to need "chapters" to make it navigable.

3.  I have to prepare for two seminars, so we're restocking product.  John and I are making this our project for today, as it rains steadily, figuring out what we need and gettiing a lot of things ordered in proper quantities.  Poor John has just headed to the garage to empty the printer's "waste toner" container, a truly messy job.

4.  I have a list of favorite demonstrations to do at Charlene's Spring Fling, the more challenging of the two seminars because she has so many people.  I have wanted to go visit her shop for many years, and I get to go as a teacher, the downside of which is I won't be able to attend the other sessions (taught by Susan Guagliami, whom I have also always wanted to see).  This ought to be a fantastic seminar.  Charlene is going to print the handouts for me - what a nice thing to do! - and I need to get them to her.  So here's my list of fave demos for Spring Fling, and please, feel free to disagree and make suggestions:

Day One - Bulky Machine - Flat with ribber off - 5 lesson times
  • Favorite knitting shortcuts - Quicker cast on, loop-through-a-loop cast-off, shortcut picot hem
  • Garter bar basics - stitch holder, increase evenly, decrease evenly, garter & Quaker stitches
  • Garter bar dazzlers -cables, fancy cables, move selected stitches, and speed ripping
  • Fave bulky projects, featuring circular swirl baby blanket, SAYG slipper (& sock), and of course, the tam that people like so well
  • Entrelac & shaped Entrelac - I tried out the shaped Entrelac demo at our local knit club, and everyone was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was. 
Day 2 - Standard gauge bed, ribber off in morning, on in afternoon
  • Lace techniques - scalloped edges and automatic scalloped lace (Enchanted Edgings)
  • Mirror image lace for Brother machines
  • Socks, knitted circular except for welt, and using regular hand knitters' sock yarn
  • Unusual ribber stitches - quilting stitch, fancy tucked ribs, trims if I have time
  • If we have time, bubble stitch & condo knitting
Please weigh in with comments - I very much appreciate suggestions and ideas from people who know what they like to get from a seminar or have seen me teach and formed opinions about these demonstrations.

5.  For Raleigh, I plan to do the usual booklet, which can contain more items than I will probably have time to demonstrate.  With a smaller group, we can be a little more flexible.  I'll build it around the Spring Fling demos, though, because they're my best ones.

6.  Last, but not least, in response to a challenge from my pastor, I have been writing my "grace story," and it's almost ready to link to this blog.  Something y'all can read if you want to know me a little better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yikes - I got phished!

I do most of my knitting biz through PayPal, and tonight I had an email that appeared to be from PayPal that said that my credit card had been changed.  John was standing here, and I showed him the email and asked him if he changed the account.  We talked about whether that card expired.  Then I clicked on PayPal, logged in (!) and it went to a "site not found" page.  About that time, John pointed out that the url was not http://www.paypal.com/, it was http://www.paypai.com.au/ ...a fake.  The "paypai" looked like "paypal" because the font was very plain.  The fake site had undoubtedly recorded my password that I had just typed in and was ready to plunder my PayPal account and help themselves to my credit card on file!

Shakily, I hurried over to the real PayPal and immediately changed my password and moved all my balance out and into my bank account.  Now they can't get into my account because I changed the password.

I can't believe they got me!  I'm always fighting viruses at my office and I'm always suspicious of any email that suggests that you click on something...oh dear, better run and do a complete virus scan next.  And maybe a system rollback.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Great Resource

In this whole manual search, I ran across a wonderful site, http://www.aboutknittingmachines.com/, one that ought to be in your favorites list.  I've been a fan of her site, but hadn't looked at it in quite a while.

She has a tremendous number of OOP (out of print) and public domain manuals for machines, plus instruction books and magazines.  Let's help her get the rest of the manuals that she has listed as missing.  If you've got an old machine manual that isn't up there, why not scan it to  a .pdf and send it to her?  You could indirectly bless someone who has acquired a nice classic machine and wants to learn to machine knit.

She as a non-commercial, completely free site that, as far as I can tell, exists just to help us all out!  For instance, I read her "preferred vendors" list an found several of the vendors I think are absolutely the most helpful and trustworthy.  She included me, which is an honor, and I can attest that is not a paid ad - it's just her sharing resources for knitters.

She has some very high-quality essays and reviews, as well.  Her site is very well-designed (oh, I wish my web skills were up to that standard), and she's very practical in her advice and approach to MK.

Gradually, my site morphed from a "free help" site to include a small mail order business, because I now sell books and DVDs.  I work extremely hard on my products, making them as good as I possibly can, and I also spend a lot of money on printing, supplies, equipment, and so forth, and that's why I started selling.  However, at the same time, I constantly work on making the blog a great "free help" site at the very same time.

I very much want anyone who has a "free help" site to know that I appreciate you very much.  The same goes for anyone who is running a knitting club, whether or not they have a dealer to help.  When you help other knitters get going, you are also helping every one of us who sells patterns and equipment and you're helping the knit clubs keep going. 

I am actively seeking ways to popularize machine knitting.  I keep coming up with ideas, and a few of them float.  If you have ideas about how I can help popularize MK, let me know. 

The Online Machine Knitter Community is Amazing!

The last couple of days, I had a number of interesting emails and was happily writing knitters back about this or that when I heard from Will, who needed a manual for a Passap Goldy.

There are so many machines out there that I've never even heard of, and all I know to do is Google them and see what I find.  I had the link Will sent with a picture of the Goldy and I found a few more pictures.  It is a nice quality, plastic, standard gauge, single bed machine with an overhead tension unit, and I liked what I saw.  It's not something we can buy new now, as far as I can tell, but there are used ones on the market in nice shape. 

Off topic here, but I believe there has never been a better time to buy a nice machine if your budget is limited.  Some of the used machines I see today for under $1000 went for over $5000 originally.  My first machine, which cost about three house payments and worked like a charm, can be found for a couple hundred dollars including a ribber (which was another house payment back then).  Nearly all these machines were built to last, and with their high cost and the characteristics of knitters, most of them were well cared for and a few were not used much, because the owner either got discouraged or it was a second or third machine.  I even advise people not to settle for the older stuff, since they can get punch card units, electronic units, and accessories, if they'll shop a while.

I've been corresponding with several people this very week who got fantastic buys on machines with all the expensive accessories that we used to save up for months to buy.

Anyway, I put one request for a copy of that missing manual on one internet Yahoo group, Passap Knits, and had about four people help me within a few hours.  I even picked up a couple of other rare manuals that will be a blessing to someone else. 

Will has his manual, thanks to Mark, and he also has a lovely basic pattern book that was produced for that machine.  Mark advises that the Goldy is a fantastic machine. 

What was even more fun to hear was back from Will, who already has the machine knitting and likes it extremely well (Will started on a Bond).

Do you have any rare manuals?  If you will send me a .pdf, I promise to keep it in my fairly extensive manual files and send it out to knitters who ask.  Certainly, we could share these things on an .ftp site, but the new knitters don't know about all the places knitters stash files. I probably send out a manual every month or two. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Great Cut and Sew Photos & Instructions

Over at Machine Knitting is My Life, here are terrific instructions and plenty of photos showing how to do a cut-and-sew neckline and neckband for a scoop-neck top.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Great Tip from Lena O'Brien of Dublin, Ireland

I was reading a post from Pauline on the Passapknits list, and I loved her very clever tip from her mom.  I wrote her and got her permission to share the tip, and since she tells the story so well (yikes, I've been through this almost finished and the yarn is on the floor misery), here it is, in her own words:

"Hi everyone.

I just though I would pass on this pearl of wisdom. Some of you may already know this trick, but it was a revelation to me, courtesy of my Mother.  I was knitting a 2000 row scarf and my yarn broke on 1994 and as it was running on the motor, I was left with the scarf on the floor. This would have been fine if I had been knitting with cotton, but it was a very fine cashmere, in navy. I tried to do a latch tool cast off, but every time I touched a stitch, it ran a row. I was just about to rewind and start again, when my mother called. She had been a machine knitter for years on a brother punchcard when I was a very small child, over 40 years ago. She now looks at my E6000 like it came from outer space. :-) Anyway, her advice is:  Use the wire from your cast on comb to pick up the stitches and cast off from there. 

WOW, it worked a treat.So just in case you have never heard that one.....

Have a great day!


Pauline says that her mom, Lena O'Brien of Dublin, is still her best friend!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All Nattering and No Knitting...

It turns out that I'm getting to know a lot of knitters.  And loving that, too!

I'm also getting to know a lot of folks who really would like to learn their machines, but they have roadblocks. 

Here are some roadblocks I've observed (and built to stop myself, too):

"I have to know everything."  You know this knitter!  She asks two hundred questions.  She asks some of the same ones over and over.  She's afraid that if she doesn't totally, fully understand how to do something before she even attempts it, she'll mess it up.

We're all dazzled by how devoted she is to learning, but she's creating problems for herself:

1.  She's worrying herself instead of starting.
2.  She won't remember the answers anyway, because she didn't knit and apply the knowledge.
3.  Because she's trying to work it all out mentally before actually starting to knit, she's confusing and overwhelming herself.

Do you recognize yourself?  Take the cure:  I challenge you to make a mess.  Please!  Get in there and knit something and stop over-thinking and over-questioning the process.  The bigger the mess you make (within limits, let's avoid pulled hair and stabbed fingers) the prouder I will be of you.  I challenge you to make messes until you make something, and you'll be amazed at how much you learn!

This may sound completely upside-down and backwards, but one of my strengths is that I dive in make such horrible messes.  I learn by making mistakes.

"I need to make samples first."  Aha!  It's Mr. Swatch!  I identify with him - after all, I'm always telling everyone that I like to solve problems by swatching first.  However, I've also found myself making merely piles of swatches.  In spite of all the lovely ideas I've read over the years about things to do with those huge bags of swatches, I have never made anything out of my bags of swatches.

Swatching is addictive, because there's always one more thing to try out.  Perhaps we need a 12-step program for us Swatchers. 

The cure and the challenge, Mr. Swatch - instead of a square swatch, knit a finished object!  Instead of knitting a swatch, knit a rectangular something-or-other, next time out.  Make a scarf, shawl, or drawstring bag to try out your new stitch or technique. Capisch?  Should you choose to accept this mission, Mr. Swatch, you'll have a finished product!

"I'm a perfectionist."   This one's not a roadblock - it's a black hole.  It's dark in there, too.  Nothing will ever, ever be good enough.  There will always be better yarn.  There will always be mistakes and flaws.  There will always be something about your latest Unfinished Object (UFO) that isn't good enough.  There will always be some other knitter who just happens to make something more interesting or prettier or more impressive than your project.

Challenge to the perfectionist:  Deliberately make something humble and simple and see if it isn't a healing experience for your soul.  This blog is stuffed with simple little projects, and after all my years of knitting, I'm just amazed at how fun it is to make simple little things, especially gift items. 

Next assignment - pick out a UFO and work on it, and get it finished.  If it doesn't fit, give it to a charity.  You might just surprise yourself and like it a whole lot more than you thought you would.

It's like sewing - once you get a pattern that you love, you can use it over and over for great productivity and enjoyment.  You have to make some mistakes and modifications to get there, though.

Now after my confession last night about the many, many absurd mind changes I made on the current book, I just want y'll to know that I finished every one of the prototypes.  They'll get used, and worn, and if they can each be just a little better....so what!

"I think I'm going to knit but I keep running out of steam first."  I have the idea that some of the knitters I meet are so busy collecting machines, and yarn, and shopping, and talking about knitting, and hanging out with knitters, and planning to knit, that they use up all their knitting mojo and the knitting just doesn't happen.

Oh, yes, I'm quite prone to this one, too; my weaknesses are Legion when it comes to knitting.  One of my life goals is to stay off that Hoarders show.  To stay out of the headlines, as in WOMAN SMOTHERED UNDER 5200 CONES OF YARN.  To avoid my friends saying, "She's all nattering and no knitting."

So marshall that energy; don't waste it nibbling around the edges with all that thinkin', collectin' and talkin'.  Next time you get the urge to shop, collect, yak, or otherwise massage your knitting cravings without actually making something, go look through the yarn you already have and the machine you already have, and get started.  There's a beautiful challenge in making something cool with the things you actually have.  And get a partner, a knitting buddy, and agree to each knit something by a certain date and time and show it to each other!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Shaped Entrelac for Mid-Gauge Machines

Knitters, I could use one more mid-gauge machine knitter volunteer to try out my mid-gauge shaped Entrelac patterns.  I hope to have them drafted by the end of this weekend - and off to testers.

I kept changing my mind!  Never have I ever, ever done a project where I changed my mind so often.  How many wrong directions can there be?  All I know is, the finished book is going to be much, much better for all this obsessive improving.
  1. I changed my mind from a plain seam between the sweater and the yoke, and went to a transition instead.
  2. I switched from knitting the yoke right-side up and the sweater upside-down to the whole sweater right-side up and then switched back again.
  3. I changed the transitions three times, finally deciding on very squatty foundation triangles.
  4. I switched from a sweater that was the same, back and front, to a shaped sweater with a lower neckline on the front to eliminate ride-up in the neckband.  That was a lot of work - I had to rechart all four pieces of every size!
  5. I completely changed the gauge on the mid-gauge after I got the LK150 and realized how large it tends to knit.  I believe the LK150 is the most common mid-gauge, and that was a factor, but also, I wanted to be able to make the bigger sizes without a seam, and the bigger gauge makes that difference!
  6. I keep thinking of changes to the book.  I apologize, pattern testers, but I'm adding a section about fitting the sweater, a section about hand-latched ribbing for the ribber-less machines, and other items, too.  The book needs more diagrams. I will simply mail my testers the final book as a thank-you!
  7. I'm going to switch from sizing that indicates the finished size to sizing that indicates the body size and include 2" ease.  I didn't do that with the bulky, so I'll shift the charts.  I've decided to loosen the forearms and wrists by adding a little more ease there, too.
  8. Sylvia, bless her, keeps finding omissions and vague-ness in my instructions, and I'm making changes because of her feedback that will really help other knitters.
It's been fun, but I'm itching to move on.  Maybe this weekend's work will be the charm.

If you want to test the mid-gauge, and you have a machine that will do 5.7 stitches and 8 rows to 1" with worsted weight yarn, drop me an email at diana_knits "at" sbcglobal "dot" net.  I'll need your snail address.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Inspiration at Dog Lover's Yarn

Lovely projects in such pretty yarn -


Ribbed Bubble Scarf

I was supposed to be working on the mid-gauge charts for the new book, but instead, I knitted this last night:

This was made on the Brother bulky, and could probably be done on any machine with a ribber.  It didn't take too long, but I did have to pay attention!  I'll put up a video.  I want to make a larger item, a "Bubble Wrap."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tom's Troop Hat - In German!

Thanks, Telse, for creating your video demonstrating Tom's circular troop hat in German! Tom and I've both noticed it, and isn't ours a lovely international community?

I don't speak German, but I can tell from watching the video that she has nice pacing, and subtitles with important details like how many needles. And the close-ups are wunderbar!

I'm a little envious of those weight hangers.  I picked up some dandy weight hangers recently though, and I should take a picture for the blog.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Old Photos of Celebrities

Amazing.  Check out George Clooney, girls!

Great Stuff at Several Blogs - Look!

Great web browsing tonight on Blogger.  I'm reading everybody else's blog!  Happy wandering - check out some of my favorites:

Ozlorna is making fantastic chemo hats - "hairy" ones!  So clever and so kind!

Adorable child in intarsia Elmo sweater - too, too, cute - at Rhythm of the Needles.  (Maybe if I pray really hard, I can get a cute grandchild, too?)  Natch, grandma was finishing it the night before.

More baby and doll goodies over at Right & Wrong!  I enjoy the other crafts at her blog, the sewing and crocheting, as well as the knitting. 

New pattern of the month over at Needles to Say!  I especially like this one, because it's lovely lace.

Lovely HK modular vest over at Knitting Up a Storm.

Update:  Oops, missed one, the Spock Hat at Yarn Floozies.