Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inspiration at Marnie, Speak!

Very interesting hand knitted lace shawl.  This is one I can't picture converting to MK.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Word Verification on Comments

I had turned off word verification on comments - you know, those annoying groups of letters that are hard to read and have to be typed in before you can post a comment.  I figured, why require that when I moderate all comments?

Now I have turned it back on; I was getting more comments with unsafe links embedded with it off.  I suppose they're sent en masse somehow, and having to type in the words stops it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grump, Grump.

I moderate all comments, and lately I'm deleting lots of toxic little bombs that say something innocuous and then have a link to trouble - undoubtedly some evil site that will install malware if you click it. 

The bad guys are getting better at this, which means that's is more difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys.  When I'm in doubt, I have to delete.

If this is happening at my quiet little blog, you know it's all over the web.  Please watch out and don't carelessly click the links in comments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Inspiration from Art Machines

Wow, such beautiful knits in the photos Ana has shared at Art Machines.

Have a look!


Felted Slippers

I wanted some felted slippers in colors to photograph for "Footnotes," since up to now I have made them with Lion Brand Fisherman Wool in neutral colors.  When Paton's Classic Wool was on sale at Joanns, I purchased three colors, pink, teal, and a blue/pink/lavender variegated.  I had no idea how the variegated would look felted, but I actually like it very much.  The two pair I have done, pictured on my washing machine, aka felting machine, are women's sizes.  I'll get the teal knitted later.  I am getting a pair out of a skein of yarn, but just barely; if I go up even one size, I'll need to purchase a second skein.
The Classic Wool felted very well.  I knitted the slippers very large and shrank them deliberately.  When I first put them in the washer, nothing seemed to happen.  They agitated in hot water a whole cycle with me checking every 5 minutes, and were still huge, but once they started to felt on the second time around, I had to check every minute, because they were shrinking so fast. 

"Footnotes" is coming along; I filmed and edited the Summer Mocs, and I think the video is very clear and instructive.  First I filmed the mocassins in an energetic, chipper mood, and when I finally got down to editing I realized I had gone too fast and occasionally, I accidentally covered the work with my hands.  Last night, I filmed again tired and slow, and it was actually much better. 

Help Needed

Can someone assist Janice in obtaining an Empisal Knitmaster 305 manual?  She has acquired this machine with no manual!

If you can scan one and email me or send me to a (safe, please :)) link, I'd appreciate it and share it with her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wonderful Knitting Pictures

Joe let me share a picture of his beautiful Entrelac blanket a while back, and now he's made the whole set to match and photographed the set on top of the blanket!

With the outfit on top of the blanket, I can see what a nice, big blanket this is.  I prefer slightly bigger baby blankets generally, just in case the kid keeps using it as he gets older.  The fair isle and stripes dress it up, and he has such beautiful workmanship!  Thanks for sharing the picture, Joe!

And Tom, bless him, has been testing my new No-Sew Slipper, gave me some great suggestions and corrections for the book, and shared pictures, as well.  He is such a good sport, diving in and trying out a pattern with peculiar assembly and no video, just a first draft narrative and a cryptic chart.

The first picture is the slipper with a black outside, looking good, and the right-hand picture shows it inside out.  Tom remarked in an email that he likes it inside out, that he thought the holes made a nice pattern, and in his color scheme, I agree. 
This came up in our knit-in here - could these slippers be made 100% reversible?  I think you could, if you were willing to take extra time to make full-fashion increases in the lining as well as full-fashion decreases in the outer, if you matched the tension and didn't mind it rolling at the back of the heel (the inside will be too big and will roll out), and if you did a very tidy job on the sew-as-you-go process for the lining.  You might get some wrinkling inside the toe, too, which would be uncomfortable, but since I haven't tried it, I'm not sure, and it makes me want to try one.  I guess I finally was satisfied with the slipper and stopped changing it.

Finally, are any of you QR Code users? They're a fast way to get to a website without doing any typing, and a possible knitting convenience.  For instance, if you have a smart phone with a QR Code reader installed, you could scan this, and it would go straight to a knitting video of the transfer tool bind-off with the chain edge, which you could watch on your smart phone while sitting at the machine.  As a matter of fact, I can point my IPhone at my screen, and the scan works.  I picked up QuickScan, a free QR code reader from the app store for free.  Try it!

Lesson 14 - Latch Tool Bind-Off with Chain Edge

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Saturday

In Texas, one weekend a year is designated as a "sales tax holiday," so people can go do back-to-school shopping, and this is the weekend.  We took Steven to the mall, since he needed some new clothes to take back to college. 

I am not an enthusiastic shopper.  We had fun today, though, especially since Steven is always so appreciative when we take him to buy clothes, and we enjoyed getting good deals.  Steven is just as thrifty as we are; he often picks things up at vintage and resale shops.  Steven likes jazzy cowboy boots, croc, and snakeskin and ostrich, and he has gorgeous vintage ones he's found in his shopping adventures for only the tiniest slice of what you'd pay for a new pair.  He has also found a wonderful little custom boot shop where bootmakers do excellent repairs and make 20-year-old boots look great.

All the stores have end-of-season sales and tax-free weekend specials, and all three of us shopped.  I bought several tops, to look a little more polished for work.  In addition to jeans, Steven bought shorts, slacks and polos for less than half price. 

It felt a little odd to cruise the mall with a dark bruise on my face from my dental surgery.  Nobody asked me about it, but I saw people looking, probably wondering if someone struck me in the face, or I wrecked my car, or perhaps I got something black on my cheek.  Thanks, all who wrote; I'm doing better. 

I have a great weakness for quality handbags, and I saw a beauty on sale in a brand they seldom mark down.  I really struggled over whether to buy it, with both of the guys teasing me about it, but John suggested I get it for my birthday present.  I'd be happy, he said, and he'd be "off the hook" for trying to find me a good gift.  It's all wrapped up!  I have one of those big birthdays next week; not to go into the shocking details, but I wouldn't care to buy that many packages of birthday candles, let alone ruin a cake and set off the smoke detector with that many!

Kiddie sizes
My birthday wish is to finish up the Footnotes project, getting the video shot and edited.  I am currently working on the English Rib slippers, only charted down to the standard gauge.  Most of the projects in the new book are in 12 sizes and 3 gauges (standard, mid-gauge, and bulky), which requires 36 different sets of numbers for each style.  No problem, it's only arithmetic and I have a calculator.  I did my usual color-coded charts, which I guess are becoming a personal trademark, and am getting slightly better (I have gone from awful to tolerable but not comfortable) at getting the colored charts into Word.  I like to make the charts a sort of ready-made "cheat sheet" so you say to yourself, "I'm knitting the yellow size," and your eye goes quickly to the yellow column.  The charts are so wide with all those sizes that I am simply laying out the whole book in landscape, that is, the wide way, with the binding at the top, and I like it, so far.

I was fascinated at the slipper knit-in to see how my friends do "cheat sheets" for the lined slippers.  Several people routinely make some kind of summary map to help keep track.  Rose has a very clever system, with the numbers for the size she was making marked on the schematic diagram PLUS stickers on the needle bed to show how far to decrease the toe and how far to increase the side of the foot. 

I like these English Rib slippers on the standard machine best if I use really good sock yarn.  It comes in all sorts of nice self-striping color schemes and is a joy to use on the standard machine.  You don't need much; these adult ladies' slippers only took 50 grams.  You'll waste a little yarn, though, if you're having to match broad stripes like the ones in the photo.  I'll probably make some of these with scraps of two colors, and stripe them deliberately.  Good sock yarn is expensive, and I try to use it all.

Finally, a request:  does anybody have a manual for a Brother CK-35?  I have a reader who is thinking seriously of buying one of these, and she needs a manual in English.  Wow.  I've never seen this industrial machine and don't know a thing about it, so if you're able to help, please email me!

Inspiration at duBedare

What a beautiful child's sweater!  I just love this:


Of course, I'll really have to think about how to accomplish something like that with the knitting machine, and how many ends there would be to hide!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Slippers from Scraps

I've been using up some worsted weight yarn making more slippers for soldiers.  I think it's more fun to use scraps and change color at the narrowest part of the short-rowing to get "color-blocked" slippers.

These are so much fun to knit that I have to make myself stop and work on other things!  I am running out of scraps, so that will stop me if I can't find the self-control to move on.  Barbara is collecting slippers for about one more month, I believe. 

I was a little out of it yesterday with my dental adventures and appropriate medication, so making these familiar slippers last night was comfortable and easy.

Today I have blue bruise on my cheek - it really looks like I have a dirty face - but I'm feeling good again, went to work today, and tonight I'm back to doing more meaningful tasks, especially working on Footnotes so I can share all these slipper patterns.

Inspiration at Stephanie's Studio

Aren't these hats and scarves nice?


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free Kindle Books

Laura got me started with this wonderful site:


I go here about once a week and look for great free books for my Kindle.  I have found the most terrific free books; some are free for a long time, and others, for only a day or two.

My routine is to use the options at the top of the page.  First, I filter so I only see the books that are new since my last visit to EReader IQ, and then I sort by "Stars and Reviews."   Today, it came up with 1,538 books to choose from. 

Today, if I turn off the "since last visit" filter, I have 4,148 books to choose from. 

I have my little quirks - NO werewolves and vampires, and very little fantasy and sci-fi (although I liked fantasy and sci-fi as a kid, I usually don't care much for it now).  I get lots of free cookbooks, Christian books, how-tos, business books, and novels.  These are modern books, not classics, but you can find and read a zillion classics at other sites, including Amazon.

What has this got to do with knitting?  Well, my Kindle reads to me, and I listen to it while I knit.  Machine knitting is noisy, so earbuds are very helpful.  I can knit a long time waiting to hear what will happen next!  I have also downloaded .mp3s from Librivox.org, which are audio books read by volunteer readers, generally very popular classics. 

Updates and a request

Does anybody have a great shrug pattern to recommend to Julia from UK?  That's my request for the morning; I know I've seen some good ones but where slips my mind.

I am home today after dental work, more than the dentist originally planned to do, yucky stuff I won't describe.  I am taking advantage of the tooth situation to indulge in some fattening homemade potato-cheese soup.

I'm continuing work on Footnotes lately.  I am knocking out a slipper or two, most evenings.  For the book, I plan to add more finishing instructions, check math again, design the cover, and add the felted slipper pattern.  I adore those warm, felted slippers for cold mornings with our tile floors.

With those things done, I'll have the book, but the DVD still needs more filming and editing.

Footnotes will teach a lot of techniques.  I went after the best slippers I could develop, practical to knit, and they make up beautifully.  I incorporated interesting methods for the best possible finishing, and I'll show all those details in the video. 

At the Knit-In my friend Pat told me she had an 860 available, and I purchased it from her as fast as I could!  John and I had been searching for one for a while, and this one is in wonderful shape.  I have already tried it out with a pair of slippers.  I have a long way to go to learn this machine, and I've got another machine I need to learn, as well, so I plan to set it up instead of my more familiar machine in the same gauge.  That ought to get me to learn it! 

Our lovely neighbor Amber ran into John, who was out walking our little dog.  Amber ran across my blog when she was Googling information on how to whiten plastic.  She plans to try out Tom's whitening recipe on a yellowed high chair. 

My son Steven, who is home from college right now, suggested I finish my hand knitting book and make it available.  I have a hand knitting book of round dishcloths I devised.  I have no idea how to market a hand knitting book, but I guess I can put video on YouTube of how to do the provisional cast-on, graft the invisible seam, etc., and catch the eye of some of the young hand knitters. 

One more goodie: Laura shared photos of the knit-in, and I'm putting up some of my favorites!
Barbara, Carl & Tiffany
Sylvia & Doug
Laura's First Slipper
Doug, Sylvia & Me Setting Up

Margareth & Pat

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Knit Natters' Knit-In

We started yesterday about 9 a.m., just setting up machines in a very large room at Crystal Lake Baptist Church in Leander, Texas.  This is the second time Crystal Lake Baptist has let us use space, and once again, we had two big rooms and their kitchen.

Pat knitting on a bulky and 2 E6s ready to use
Sara, keeping the electric winder busy
I brought a friend, Laura, who hadn't ever knitted but was willing to wind yarn - or whatever - to help us make things for the troops.  Laura had already made dozens of fleece scarves, which are also going to this project.  Barbara and Carl were there, having already been very hard at work delivering perhaps five huge tables of cone yarn, which they are selling for an old friend who used to be a dealer in Temple, and bringing and setting up three machines plus food for lunch.  I brought two machines and bags and bags of junk I thought we might need.  I thought we might somehow run out of yarn.  Not likely, since everyone who came brought yarn.  If we had a knit-in once a week for the next three months, we might knit up all the yarn we brought yesterday!

Laura running manual winder

Sylvia and her husband Doug set up her Brother 260 (punch card bulky) in the corner, and she dug in with my new lined slipper pattern. 

Carl and Doug kept helping knitters with machines and tables.  After a while we had the large room filled with machines and activity.  Bea, Margareth, and Tiffany manned the Passap E6000s, making the fastest slippers, an English Rib pattern that Barbara has down to a science (it's fast, and you make strings of slippers, but you have to add sewing time later).  Tiffany (age 9) has that pattern memorized and kept rattling off the lock settings for Margareth.  I ran my mid-gauge, and part of the day, my bulky in between answering pattern questions.  Pat set up a bulky machine and her daughter Sara got busy with the electric yarn winder, and Laura was working the manual yarn winder, getting us fixed with yarn.  Rose and Mary brought bulkies, too, and cranked out slippers. 

Laura, knitting the first time ever
As the day wore on, Laura, Stacy, Sara and I were sewing slippers, but we had so many slippers to sew that Barbara ended up taking a pile home to sew later.  Several people had brought slippers already made or ready to sew.  At noon, we took a break, and the pastor prayed over lunch, which was burgers from chef Carl and all sorts of potluck goodies the knitters brought, plates of fruit, cakes, a pie, brownies, veggies, potato salad, and muffins.  In his blessing, Pastor Michael referred to our "knitting ministry," and we were excited to think of it that way.

Laura's First Slipper
At some point, I arm-twisted Laura into trying knitting, and she's a natural.  She made some English Rib slippers on the bulky, and I took a picture of her knitting and a picture with her first-ever knitted slipper. 
I didn't take nearly enough pictures.  Many of the best pictures are on other people's cameras, but I'm sharing the ones I did get.  We were goofing around and cutting up, and Carl got some of that on videotape.  I was busy knitting, not the worst excuse for not taking more pictures. 

At the end of the day, we posed as a group, holding gifts for the troops.  Barbara told me this morning that she has 83 pairs of slippers, ready to go. 

Back row - Sara, Rose, Stacy, Mary Diana, Pat, Bea; middle row, Sylvia, Tiffany, Barbara, Laura; in front, Margareth

Inspiration at Ozlorna's Blog

Check out her hand-tooled socks, made with the Passap!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Joe's Entrelac Blanket


Knit-In for Soldiers

The Knit Natters knit-in is today, at Crystal Lake Baptist Church in Leander.  I have a mountain of junk to haul to the car, including bags of yarn, two machines, and some finished slippers.  We already have quite a few slippers, and we're going to knit all day and see how many more we can make to send to our troops in Afghanistan (where nights are cold, and soldiers with warm feet sleep better).

This is our first knit-in. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


"Footnotes" is the working title of my slipper book.  John just makes a face, but I like the title, at least until I think of something better.  I'm not ready to call it a slipper book, because I have a sock in the book as well.

I'm busily, happily knitting sample slippers in the different styles, tuning up my patterns in the evenings.  This is a silver child's slipper (would probably fit a 9-year-old girl).  It only takes a dab of yarn to make these mocassin-style slippers, and this is leftover from the evening bag.  No, it's not terribly scratchy yarn.

Little girls like glitz.  I suppose the one thing that would make this better for most little girls is if it were pink and purple metallic.  Hey, why not indulge!

I am sentimental about the mocassin slipper pattern, because this is a little tweak on my VERY FIRST original pattern, cooked up just a few weeks after I got my very first machine (in the 1970s!).  The main thing I did to improve it for this new book was adding the I-cord as a finish around the back of the slipper (sew-as-you-go style), and it also threads through a beading row in the upper so you can adjust your slipper a little for fit.  'Way back then, what I did was use the sewing machine to zigzag on elastic.  This is easier and works better.

Today I got a wonderful treat - BJ from North Carolina sent me copies of the Carolinas Machine Knitting Guild Newsletter.  She has some of my articles in the newsletters, and lots of other information, recipes, patterns, and general fun.  I completely enjoyed getting the newsletters.  Isn't it wonderful how hard some club volunteers work to promote machine knitting?  I have written BJ to see how y'all can subscribe, if you choose.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A few more knitting pics

Tom's Troop Afghan
Jim V Cloche
Diana's Teddy Bear
Barbara's Baby Set
Tonya's Q Code Scarf
More inspiration for a hot summer day.  Blogger is quite the pill with uploading pictures, so I'm putting more in this post.

Knitting photos....

Another Sweater for Tom's Mikey
Mary Miller's Doubled Charity Hats
Mar's Lace Scarf
Jim V's Fluffy Hat
Marg's Entrelac Hat
Tom's Mikey in His Sweater
Greta's Slipper Socks

It's Saturday morning, and pretty soon I'll go back to work on the slipper book.  But first, I go to blogger, where I follow about 65 of the best knitting-related blogs I can find (if you know of a good one I might not be following, drop me a line), and what do I see?  Knitting?  A few sewing pictures.

Greta's Hat & Tam

Andrea's Hat
Carol's Shamal Crossover
No worries, I have readers who send me awesome pics.  I've run some of them before, and there are a lot of Tom's pictures (thank you, Tom!), and I know y'all will enjoy some inspiring knitting pictures before you hit your own machines on a hot summer day.

Blogger is misbehaving - too many for one post, more in the next post.
Jan's Baby Set
Jim V's Turquoise Hat

Thursday, August 2, 2012


.  Knit Natters is about to have our slipper "knit in" for the troops, and while I do have some worsted weight yarn to contribute, I also have vast quantities of cone yarns - thin yarns, some industrial, and oftentimes, just half a cone.  I need some masculine colors, so I've been hunting through my cones for combinations.  I do check the fiber content and combine like fibers.  I avoid combining two slubby yarns, because bumps on both yarns seem to happen at the same time and things can get knotty.  I'll combine different textures, though, or slubby with smooth.

I'm using mostly worsted weight yarn for the troop slippers, because it's cold in Afghanistan.  Besides, the heavier yarn knits up very quickly.

The only unknown is how many plies of different skinny yarns to put together to get your gauge.  I simply experiment, putting 2-4 yarns together on a twisting yarn winder (it adds a twist to the various yarns as wind) and then knitting a swatch to see if I can get a worsted gauge.

Here are four ends of who-knows-what brown industrial yarn, and it's a little darker than the picture of the ball.  The color is more true in the picture of the mocassin slippers, down below. 

If you don't own a plying winder, there are other ways to ply the yarn.  You can do it with a spinning wheel, you can stack the coned yarn using a yarn stacker or even milk crates and then thread it directly into the machine. 

To use the stack method, you start with a cone of yarn, put it on the floor and put a milk crate over it, but bring the end of the yarn through the holes in the crate.  Then run the end of that first cone of yarn through the center hole of the second cone of yarn, which you place on top of the crate.  Put that with the yarn from cone #2, and you'll see the yarn comes off in a slow twist.  You can add another yarn for a 3-high stack and feed all this directly into the knitting machine.

I have NOT had sucess with simply putting two cones of yarn on the floor and feeding the ends into the same antenna - one yarn will feed more slowly, and after a few minutes, an ugly tangle forms.

I am going to combine two strands of exactly the same yarn.  In that case, I won't need to twist that because it's the same stuff, so I'll just thread it in the two antennas and knit with the two strands together in the feeder.

If you thread two different colors into the two antennas and use them at the same time, though, you get ugly, irregular stripes.  I think it looks better to get an all-over tweedy look like the slippers.

You can feed 2 colors into the two antennas, though, and use a plaiting feeder so that one yarn is always behind the other one.

And here's my test pair of slippers in the brown yarn:

Now, you don't have to be all subtle and monochromatic about this.  Try out unlikely combinations like hot pink, black, gray, and red, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.  You can also use this technique to tone down obnoxious colors.  I once mixed a shiny ivory with red, orange, and brown, and it made the shiny stuff and the ugly orange quite usable.