Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inspiration at Smoking Hot Needles

Galactic Melt Mittens, fingerless gloves in a very attractive fair isle.

Thoughts on Gauge & Gauge Conversions

What is more dismaying than making a whole project only to find that the fit is terrible?  If your gauge is off even a quarter stitch in an inch, you get that "shock and awe" moment when you realize that your project is ruined.

We machine knitters have a fantastic advantage when it comes to fitting our garments because we can very quickly knit a nice, big gauge swatch.  You see, the bigger the swatch, the more accurate the measurement.

If a pattern gives the gauge in stitches per inch, or even stitches in 10 centimeters (common in international patterns), whether you're hand knitting or machine knitting, you want to measure a larger area than just a few inches (10 cm is roughly 4 inches, by the way).   Our typical swatch size in machine knitting is 40 stitches by 60 rows, and in fact, we knit the swatch bigger than that and mark a center area to make it easy to measure that size rectangle. 

Here's a video showing how to make a good gauge swatch:

Lesson 28 Gauge Swatch

The eyelet holes mark the tension setting, and the colors mark the block to measure.  You'll be able to measure in several places and you won't have to try to count individual stitches.

If you are working on a bulky machine, you can knit your swatch 20 stitches and 30 rows.  Go ahead and block and launder your gauge swatch in the same way you plan to block and launder your garment, as those processes will change the size of the stitches. 

Still, bigger is better!  Waste a little yarn to make the whole project turn out much better. 

Now, to move from inches to centimeters, just multiply by the number of inches by 2.54.  If you would rather use a conversion table, here are a couple of them -

And rows...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's New?

Today, I did a little business housekeeping - created a new shopping site that loads fast, works great, and has my new products, Footnotes, my slipper book, and Wear Your Diamonds, the circular Entrelac book.

I noticed a discussion about the 7-minute and 14-minute slippers over at the Fun With Big Brother Yahoo group (a terrific group).  I made a bunch of those clever slippers myself back in the day, but I think the Footnotes slippers are better, since there are now lumpy gathers.

I've been quiet lately, but I am getting back to blogging now.  I was in the throes of budget season at work, always very busy, and in the evenings, I've been working on a group of hand knitting patterns for grafted round dishclothes that are just beautiful.  I thought it would be cool to try and get more hand knitters to come over to this site and get some exposure to knitting machines - a lot of them don't even know home knitting machines exist.

Knit Natters is meeting the second Saturday in October at Crystal Lake Baptist Church, and we'd love to meet more Central Texas machine knitters!  Join our Yahoo group Knitnatters and get on the mailing list.  In late October, a group of us is carpooling to the seminar at the DFW guild, and then in November, we're carpooling on the 2nd Saturday to the Kid 'n Ewe fiber festival.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Footnotes: Goodies to Machine Knit for Happy Feet

The new Footnotes book is finally finished and available!

I apologize that this project took so long, even as summer becomes a memory and we approach slipper weather, but I am very pleased with the final book and DVD set, which has my best slipper patterns ever as well as a sock pattern. 

Slippers are just wonderful to knit for gifts.  These are quick, inexpensive projects, personal and homey like apple pie and grandma hugs. 

So, what's in the book?  Well, I have five slippers, all with 12 sizes apiece (children, women, men), and most of them in three gauges - standard gauge, mid-gauge, and bulky gauge. 
No-Sew Slipper
I did my usual charts where you pick out the color for your size and follow that column.  In addition, I have narrative explanations of the techniques and a section with Kitchener and mattress stitch seams.  The standard gauge slippers are knitted with typical hand knitting sock yarn; the mid-gauge ones use sport weight yarn, and the bulky ones, worsted weight yarn.  Odds and ends from your knitting stash can become cute small projects.

The first pattern is the "no sew" lined slipper, which comes off the machine all assembled.  This slipper is a nice, smooth fit and absolutely addictive to knit.  My knit club made bunches of them for charity, and I selfishly pulled a few out of my pile to give to loved ones.

The Moc
The second pattern is a cute little mocassin complete with a rather sentimental story about how it is a variation on the first pattern I ever wrote.  Teaching someone to knit?  This one has a hem, an eyelet row, an idiot cord, short-rowing, and even a bit of sew-as-you-go edging, truly an interesting little pattern to make up.

Quick And Cozy
For ribber fans and high-volume charity knitters, I have an English Rib slipper, the Quick and Cozy Slipper, that knits up super fast and is warm.  The Knit Natters made heaps of these for the soldiers.

The last pattern is a sew-as-you-go slipper sock in bulky and sport weight yarn.  But - if you want a regular short gym sock, make it up in regular sock yarn on your standard gauge!  I did this sock a long time ago in a women's medium in a video, and folks have been asking for it in all the sizes since then, so finally, here it is in written form.
Felted Slipper
If you use wool to knit the last pattern two tensions too big and two sizes too big and then felt (shrink) it, you have the warmest, thickest slipper of all.  In case you are hesitant to try felting, this is your chance to get your feet wet, literally.  Try these incredible shrinking cuddlers on your feet while they are still wet!

The book is all in color, has lots of photos and diagrams, 32 pages, plastic spiral bound so it'll lie flat, as usual (that's what I like, so I'm sticking with it).  The whole book is laid out the wide direction because of all the charts.  There's also a detailed DVD, high-definition and close-up, showing how to do everything. There's no story, plot, scenery, or characters, just a long stream of up-close knitting techniques. 

Don't forget to add some non-slip treatment to the soles.  I just scribble a little silicone seal or puff paint on the bottoms for safety.

Many thanks to Tom Panciarello, who did testing and suggesting, the Knit Natters who are my most beloved guinea pigs, testing and suggesting, and my sweetie, John who proofread and helped with duplication. 

Ordering Information:  You can order here with our usual prices and shipping - $25 for the book and DVD set, $3 for US shipping, $8.50 for Canada, and $13.50 for other countries.  Shipping additional items in the same order is free.  If you want to look at other products, you can use an "Add to Cart" click, and add other items to the cart if you wish (see other products at )

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Charlene's Entrelac Blanket - Wow!

Isn't this great?  It's Entrelac, made using three widths of 60 stitches, and then the borders are tuck stitch, a clever way to widen the borders and make them fit with the Entrelac.  I think the white is quite elegant.  Of course, when Charlene sent this picture, I asked her about the yarn she used - and how much it took!
She used two full skeins of RedHeart Super Saver, 7oz each, for the three panels.
60 stitches wide, and the end result of the 2 skeins was 10 triangles up each
side.  Three more skeins used with a punch card to do the three side borders.  That's a total of 9 7-ounce skeins, or nearly 4 pounds.  Kee
p in mind that bedspreads are much larger than ordinary afghans and laprobes.  Try laying afghans on a bed sometime, and you'll find that to get the necessary length and overhang, you need a larger blanket. 
When I had the yarn shop, we used to estimate 3 pounds of yarn for a typical, generous-sized afghan, and much more yarn for a bedspread.  Crochet takes quite a bit more yarn than knitting, unless the knitting is done with deeply textured stitches. 


104 Pairs of Slippers

Today, we had 3 more bags of slippers turned in - not just my pile, but two others people with big piles.  Now our club has 104 pairs of slippers to send to the troops, in addition to some hats, scarves, and afghans.

Inspiration at Rett Og Vrang

Very nice child's sweater:

I admire her finishing; such lovely work in all her pix!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Knit Natters Meets Saturday (Tomorrow)!

Here's my shopping bag from the Microsoft Store, and it's not a dainty little bag.  It's photographed sitting on top of one of my not-so-dainty kitchen chairs, and to give the picture scale, I threw a pair of full-size scissors on the seat of the chair.  A toddler could probably hide in this big bag.  In other words, this is a great bag for yarn, very big and fairly sturdy.
The bag is filled about halfway and bulging with slippers that I have knitted, most of which I'll give to Barbara tomorrow for the soldiers.  And, these are only the adult-sized slippers I knitted to test my patterns.  I also knitted a gob of kiddie sizes, which I'll have to donate somewhere else.
I will swipe a couple samples out of the bag for when I go to seminar and teach the techniques in the new book.  I've had an awfully good time writing this book, and all that is left (that I know of) is to do a little more filming and editing.  Then we're ready to print, burn disks, and advertise! 
Whatever my next project will be, it will be completely different.  I like to change things up.

Tomorrow, the knit club meets at Point of Grace church in Pflugerville, which has generously offered us space for the September meeting.  I'm going to bring my LK-150 and teach the mocassin slipper.  Barbara, who had back surgery recently, will be there, but I don't think she'll be teaching s Passap lesson.  
Speaking of change, I have a brand-new, rather trendy haircut, and I need to adjust to it.  I loved the idea of a different hairstyle coming on the heels of a heavy-duty birthday, but this is a big change, from long, straight hair well below my shoulders to a chin-length, layered feathery messy thing.  I am probably too old to pull it off, but I am definitely too old to pull off the long hippie hair!  Maybe when I get a chance I'll ask John to take a picture and put it  up on the blog. 
I've been quiet on the blog.  We're working on budgets at work, quite a big project, with hours of typing and proofreading, and I'm coming home tired. 

Dyeing Adventures at Knotty Knits & Naughty Kids

Beautiful short-rowed lace shawl, redyed turquoise:

Isn't it a shame that the original yarn was not color-fast?  I used to have a yarn shop, and in my experience, that problem isn't all that uncommon. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hi, Everyone!

I have NOT dropped off the face of the earth - just busy.  I made a vow to work at least an hour each evening last week on the new slipper book.  After an hour, I'm not ready to stop, so I spent far more time than that last week.  Tom pitched in and tested some of the patterns for me, and found some things I need to fix, and he made some great suggestions to improve the book. 

At this point, the slipper book patterns are pretty much written, the slippers-for-soldiers campaign is almost history (I am donating a pile of these most recent samples when I go to club next week), and I'm filming video and doing some tune-ups.

More pictures of recent slippers, which were knitted to double-check and fix patterns:

First, here a couple of the standard gauge samples.  This is actually a pair that fits John (size 10-1/2) and Diana (size 8).  Guess what - the beautiful matching on the blue multi is a complete accident!  I was so low on the yarn when I was making the second slipper that I didn't have enough yarn to attempt a match, and it just happened that the partial ball I had left was perfect. 

For most of the standard gauge samples, I used nice hand knitting sock yarn.  The blue multi is some variety of that, but I cheated and lined them with some leftover Tamm Sky.  I am depleting my sock yarn stash!  The pair on the right in the rose are two shades of leftover Trenzado, which used to be a big favorite cone yarn of mine when we could still get Millor yarns.  Trenzado has some nylon and will probably hold up well.

The light blue slippers are one of a number of pairs I made to test the mid-gauge sizes.  I had a "Pound of Love" of the blue and one of white, so I guess I can make slippers until I am completely unhinged.  I also filmed with this light blue - here's one of my amateur videographer secrets - light blue seems to work very well for photography so that individual stitches show. 

By the way, folks, it looks like Knit Natters club has found a home at the wonderful church where we had our seminar and knit-in, Crystal Lake Baptist Church.  Next week, we meet at Point of Grace church in Pflugerville, and we're moving around a bit until the new year, when we settle in at Crystal Lake.  Our club is so grteful tht the congregation at Crystal Lake decided that they wanted to nurture our charity knitting efforts!

And now, another strange request for the wizards out there.  When I recently acquired a Silver Reed 860 and ribber, it came with the wrong clamps.  Getting the right clamps is not a problem, but I am very curious about these stray clamps.

The little bump sticking up on the slanted bar, near the part where you secure the bottom of your main bed, is unusual, different from every other set of clamps in my shamefully large collection of machines.  Those bumps must fit into a hole on the bottom of the main bed, and between the tang with the tightening nut and the bump, they would keep the main bed positioned  in place.  

I've used the wrong clamps on a ribber before, and learned the hard way that you need exactly the right clamps so your ribber will work properly.  These unusual clamps must be an vital part for some machine or other.

Does anyone know what machine these clamps fit?