Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Halloween festivities are about over in my neighborhood.  I can still hear kids giggling and shrieking in the yard behind us, but our doorbell has been quiet a while.

While there are very negative aspects to this holiday, John and I completely enjoy the cute little kids, saying hello to my neighbors, and the whole community aspect of the evening.  We had more kids visit than ever this year.  For several years, we were lucky if we had a half-dozen kids come by in the whole evening, but tonight there were about 60, based on the number of  items we gave away.  More families with children have moved to our area, plus, we try to be very welcoming and give the kids unusual items.

A number of years ago, when my own kids went trick-or-treating, some families gave the boys something other than candy, and I copied the idea of giving out non-candy treats.  The kids enjoy these items so much!  First I discovered the miniature Golden Books - exactly like the traditional ones, but tiny and inexpensive.  The kids loved those, but I haven't seen them in the stores for years. I would love to find those again, if they're still being printed.  After that, I found other things, searching for fun items (little airplanes, tiny cars, high-bounce balls, necklaces...)  Just the last few years, we started purchasing cheap plush toys from Oriental Trading.  Kids get a huge kick out of getting something surprising.  This year, we had bright colored stuffed snakes (always the MOST popular, but getting a little expensive now with more kids), little stuffed Halloween bears, and some toys called "Smiley Face Monsters," a peculiar assortment. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Does Anyone (Besides Me) Love Karen Kingsbury Books?

Karen Kingsbury writes Christian romantic novels, and I discovered her fairly recently, as I downloaded a tried out authors on my Kindle.  Her books are extremely popular, with hundreds of reviews and usually 4-5 stars. 

Her books are on special, today only, at Amazon for $1.99.   Her stuff doesn't go on special much, so I just treated myself to the ones I hadn't already read.  (I am a K3 user, and often listen to books with the mechanical voice, while I drive or knit.  How eccentric is that?  It sure has improved my boring, surface street commute with all the red lights).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Interesting at Rett Og Vrang

Here's a pretty little blanket that looks like "card #3" tuck.  But I'm not sure exactly, nor do I quite understand the very attractive waffly variation, since the browser translator made such a hash of Norwegian to English.  Some pages translate better than others, and this time, Bing couldn't find the words.

I just love Card #3.  I know it's not very original of me, but I like to change colors for the rows of bumps for contrast.

Any insights on what I'm missing in the translation?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Marg Modifies the No-Sew Slipper!

Cool - I so approve!  Make my patterns - and everybody else's patterns your own!  Do come up with improvements, and do exercise your own instincts. 

I always feel like a kindred spirit when other people, like me, can't ever leave a pattern alone.

I like the cuff and I like the idea of anchoring the lining.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pretty, But...

This is a lovely handknitted lace knit along project shown at Marnie, speak! 

As nice as the lace is, some thoughts from a hand/machine knitter -

1.  I like bigger shawls.  I don't "get" these garments that are less than a shawl but more than a scarf...they look like the knitter lost patience and quit early.

2.  This would be so lovely blocked!  I really think I'd like it smoothed out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vanda Teaches Us a Beautiful Edging

Have a look at this very dainty baby sweater and then watch the video showing how to make the "bordo smerlato," such a nice scalloped edge along the bottom of the sweater.

Gorgeous as usual, Vanda!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seminar in Dallas

I just did something very luxurious - I went to a knitting seminar in Dallas with four friends from Knit Natters.  I'm hoping to describe what it's like to go enjoy a seminar with knitters.  Maybe I can get some of y'all to try it!

I took a half day of vacation Friday so I could get on the road, and Barbara and I drove to the countryside near Burnet so we could meet up with Norma and Mary and ride with Mary.  Mary had her comfortable Suburban detailed and off we went into the countryside on a perfect autumn day (warm, sunny, blue skied Texas perfection).  Mary drive the scenic route along 281 through hilly country dusted with yellow wildflowers under live oaks.  We spotted horses, donkeys, buffalo, goats, and sheep.  We chatted, we laughed, my friend Barbara who is recovering from back surgery got to doze a little, and we had a rest stop at a fascinating gift shop/cafe/candy store about halfway there.

We stayed in a hotel right next to seminar (which the last few years, has been held at Stacy's Furniture in Grapevine), where we had a room that easily held four of us, and went for a nice dinner, also walking distance, at Olive Garden.  Next, we watched Blue Bloods (a little dose of Tom Selleck is always good) and I went down for the count while the others watched the news shows.  I'd had a hard week - not so much because of work, but peppered with evening events and medical checkup stuff), and I was thrilled to get away from it all.

Saturday morning, we breakfasted in the hotel, and here came our instructor for the weekend, Marcia Hauser.  If you haven't gone to one of Marcia's classes, well, you're missing out.  An inventive, out-of-the-box, artistic thinker, Marcia creates high-impact looks with elegantly simple techniques.  Marcia says we've all let machine knitting get too complicated, and then she does one cool thing after another we've never tried before.

The general format of the day is like this:  munch out on yummy potlucked breakfast (yes, I know we just ate at the hotel, but we didn't let that stop us).  Browse the  many free, giveaway magazines and snatch some favorites, then browse the many, many door prizes while sipping strong coffee and watching Marcia set up her many, many displays and sample garments and jewelry.  Catch up with nice friends whom we haven't seen since the seminar last year.  Drool over Marcia's great displays and then settle in for her high-speed, high-content demos. 

I scribbled notes until I realized that I was missing content trying to write everything down.  I often take notes as a way to stay focused and not get too bored, but Marcia isn't capable of boring me.  She does one thing after another, working so quickly that you really don't want to look away.  I knew right away what I wanted to buy - her three big basic technique books and her two jewelry books. 

We broke for lunch at some point and had another excellent potluck meal, visiting at round tables and continuing the catching-up and meeting-new-people pleasures. 

In the afternoon session, almost everyone ended up clustered around Marcia.  I got a great vantage point over to one side and soaked up the remarkable way she approaches knitting problems. 

I meant to take a bunch of pictures, but the seminar was too content-rich, and I didn't like to take my attention away from the material.

Marcia is a hard-blocker.  She blocks her garments smooth with pressure and steam, so you get that elegant high-end drape; obviously, it's no surprise that she likes dress yarns.  Marcia has a great capacity for designing timeless yet creative, eye-catching garments that look great on real people. 

Saturday evening we hit El Fenix and gobbled up as much Mexican food as we could handle, then returned to the hotel for more nattering and watching telly. 

Sunday morning is check-out time.  We downed coffee, got our stuff out of the room and to the car, settled up with the desk clerk, and had more coffee and breakfast.  I got into the warm cinnamon rolls I had managed to resist on day one.  We were excited because Sunday was jewelry day, and we wanted to see how to knit with wire.  First, we reveled in the knit weaving - a technique I really ought to do more often.  Then Marcia showed us "rag knitting," in which she applied all sorts of separate trims and pieces to the work as she knitted.  The jewelry was exciting enough that I purchased three colors of wire (and when I got back to Austin, I hit Hobby Lobby for a little hammer, some pliers and more beads.).   

On of the things I find very difficult to describe is how enjoyable the crowd is when you get a big roomful of knitters together!  It's great fun to see what other people have been working on or making.

We hit the road about 2:30 in the afternoon.  I don't know when seminar ended, but we had a long drive home. 

I pulled into my own driveway about 9-ish.  I had brought home yarn, books, jewelry supplies, free magazines (old but very good), someone else's yarn (oops!  gotta return that), and a suitcase full of dirty clothes.  Ah, Austin.

Clogs at Knotty Knits

Nice slippers over at Knotty Knits and Naughty Kids.  Classic Wool felts so beautifully and comes in great colors!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Seam Article at Knitting for Profit

Do you watch this blog?  I have mixed feelings about it, since they run how-to articles that promise more information than they actually deliver.  It does have a brief description of how to kitchener from two knitting needles (instead of waste yarn):

If this website had more useful content - diagrams and pictures of examples - I'd send people there more often.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ooh! Cute at Rett Og Vrang

Check out this cute color-blocked child's sweater at Synnove's blog, rett og vrang

When Synnove has a new project photo, I always go and have a look at her beautiful workmanship.  I like her blog title, an allusion to making your work look good on the inside as well as on the outside. 

By right-clicking on the blog, Internet Explorer lets me choose to translate from Norwegian to English, so I can do more than just look at the photos.  It takes a while, but I find it quite helpful to read what she had to say about making her project.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Knit Natters Meeting Today

We had fun today!  In addition to many of our regulars, Joan was back, and Norma was there!  We met at the church in Leander, so we had lots of space, good lighting, and a television showing a camera close-up of the machine.  It did start pouring rain outside, but only after we were all set up and cozy.  There are worse things than munching cookies, drinking punch, and talking knitting on a rainy day.

I showed that demo with the vertical Fair Isle, and most of the attendees tried it.  I think everyone liked the technique, especially being able to make vertical designs with several colors (and no floats)!  I also showed how to make the picture frame blanket edging.

Then, we had a business meeting.  We're getting all uptown with officers, a new location, holiday party plans, and plans to carpool to the local fiber festival, Kid 'n Ewe.  Barbara has diligently watched our money to build up a kitty.  Maybe we can hold another seminar next year.

Five of us are carpooling (goodie - next week!) to the DFW Machine Knitters Guild seminar in Grapevine, where Marcia Hauser is this year's instructor.  We're renting a big hotel room next to the seminar and sharing for a hen party/slumber party and sharing the cost.

My one disappointment was that we ran late, and we didn't get to go through Barbara's Passap E6000 lesson with two forms of long stitch and two other very attractive doublebed techniques.  Longstitch, which can be done on Passaps AND Japanese machines, makes great sweater bands, because you can make it too long and trim away the extra on the bottom without it unraveling.  Next time we have a demo she'll do it.

Problems with My Shopping Site

I apologize that we were having problems today with the PayPal buttons one of our shopping sites.  I replaced all the "Add to Cart" and "View Cart" buttons, and it seems to be working fine again. 

I am sorry for the inconvenience, and a bit baffled, since it was working fine a few days ago.

If you still are having any problems, email me. I appreciate knowing there's a problem like this that I need to fix.  Just scroll on down the left-hand side of the blog and look for the big envelope icon.  Click on that, and it brings up an email window.

Friday, October 12, 2012


On a personal note, today we celebrate the 39th anniversary of our first date, which was on Columbus Day, October 12, 1973.  My husband is a sweetheart, my sweetheart.

Now:  Let's get a little Knitting Related - let me give you a link over to Marg Coe's blog, which somehow or other, I have not been following up 'till right now.  I'm fixing that now and following.  I already knew about Marg and her wonderful knitting, but I had no idea she had this great blog.

Marg emailed - she's knitting my Footnotes No-Sew slippers, and has a nice post and photos of that slipper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Inspiration at Knit Flix

Check out the spectacular lace shawl!

Now I know this link won't work properly in a few days...I couldn't figure out how to link to the individual post in Knit Flix, but do go have a look.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Demo for Knit Natters

I've been a busy bee, but not necessarily machine knitting.  However, this weekend, the haze finally cleared, with my taxes done and our club website mostly fixed, and I got to knit.  I needed a demo for knit club next weekend.

Feeling rather blank-brained about what to demonstrate next, I went flipping through my knitting magazines and found something interesting in Machine Knitting Monthly's January 2012 edition.  The magazine calls it "Magic Fairisle," but it is hand-manipulated and a little slow going.  All the same, I went off and practiced and found it quite cool.

The first sample on the left looks like the pattern in the magazine.  Basically, you cut a length of contrasting color and fold it in half.  You hang the middle of that piece of yarn on the stitch that you want for the bottom of the diamond and knit it through.  Then you push the needle all the way back to out of work position, knit 2 rows.  After the 2 rows, you bring the needle back into work, pulling the yarn a little to adjust the stitch so it isn't too loose.  Then you take the yarn to the right and knit it through the next needle to the right and knit the needle to the left with the yarn hanging on the left, push 'em both all the way back out of work, and knit 2 rows.  You bring those needles back into work and adjust the contrast stitches, then do the next two to the left and right.  And so on...

The magazine cautions that you should practice before you do a project, and I very much agree.  The writer warned against getting the stitches too loose, but I was making them too tight at first. 
Look, no floats to snag anything!   Have a look at the closeups, front and back of the work.  You're carrying a thread vertically, and if the design works with that, you don't have floats.

I played around with different kinds of patterns.  It's great to get to use several colors vertically, not so easy with conventional fair isle.  I found I could make a vertical line, but wasn't crazy about how it looked.  It seemed to help to use a heavier yarn than the background yarn for things like a vertical bar.

I could make a horizontal line, but that gives a float.  Sometimes you do need a horizontal line in a design, but it's tedious to adjust the tension of the stitches when you put the needles back in work.  Go experiment and see what you like!
I decided it works very well with skip-one kinds of designs and diagonal lines.  Since it's hand-manipulated, I liked it best with the bulky and mid-gauge machines, because bigger stitches work up faster. 

Saturday, I promptly got busy making a crib blanket with the technique.  I had some leftover sport weight pale pink and some white, and some rose colored worsted weight yarn.  I did horizontal rows of the pink and then the white, and zigzag columns of the hand-manipulated fair isle technique. 

I put a picture frame edging around the blanket.  I have done these for years, but haven't seeen other people doing them.  It's doubled with mitred corners, a fold on the outside edge and sewed to the inside. 

Here's a picture showing a little of the back.  It looks very nice on both sides, eliminates all rolling, and squares up the blanket, but you have to do a lot of sewing, around all four sides on the knit side of the blanket and then all around the purl side as well.  You have to kitchener the beginning to the end of the edging, too.  I spent far more time sewing up than knitting, but I like to sew and I like how it looks!

I like this generous-sized blanket a lot, and now I have my demonstration for Knit Natters this weekend.  I'll do the demo on the LK-150, which is so nicely portable.

Inspiration at Vanda's Blog

Look at this beautiful surplice baby top:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Inspiration at Tathy

I like the sassy green crochet dress very much!

Helping Colombian Orphans thru Machine Knitting

Jane, who is another knitter in Austin, and who serves on the board of the nonprofit Friends of Colombian Orphans (FOCO) met me at my office Thursday, and we went to lunch.  I enjoyed spending a little time getting to know Jane and lunching away from the office. 

Jane and her story inspired me.  I often link to websites with beautiful knitted things, and I mention "inspiration," but just wait until you see the FOCO website!

Jane explained that Colombia has a shocking number of homeless orphaned children, a greater percentage than anywhere else in the Americas.  So many of these little ones have lost their parents to endless war, and they live in desperate poverty - "first world" people can hardly comprehend such hunger and privation.  She says the locals are used to seeing uncared-for, homeless children on the streets every day. 

Jane adopted a Colombian daughter, and as she and her husband experienced conditions there during the adoption process, they began to wonder how they could help more Colombian orphans. 

At the orphanages, IF the children are very lucky, they learn some sort of vocational skill to help them escape an endless cycle of poverty.  FOCO has established a program in one of the orphanages that gives these beautiful girls and boys a chance to learn machine knitting, a valuable vocational skill, so that when they are sixteen years old and leave the orphanage's care, they can find work as production knitters. 

FOCO provides a machine knitting teacher on-site at an orphanage in Bogota and a dedicated knitting room with Brother and Silver Reed machines.   They are constantly exploring ideas to make the program more effective, dealing with all sorts of challenges, like obtaining machines, good yarn, sufficient instruction, funding, and on and on. They're determined to do their best for these kids, and have done wonderful work with few resources. 

Below is a picture of the children having a fashion show in garments knitted by the older children on Brother and Silver Reed knitting machines.  These kids are very talented, enthusiastic knitters, and I hope you'll go look at the website - in particular, there are more fashion show photos at  And, while you're over there, click around, check out FOCO, and think about whether you can help these children, too.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sometimes we win...sometimes, the computer does!

Greta phoned and gave me the latest installment in her figuring out mirror image lace on the 970.  Basically, the concept of mirror image lace on a Brother is that you put the lace carriage on the opposite side, flip the pattern either with a variation key or by turning over the punch card, and you can make lace that's a mirror image of the regular pattern.  This can be very, very pretty when the lace has a diagonal pattern.  Obviously, there's no point if the pattern is symmetrical.

Greta wanted to make a mirror-image shawl, but she was having a problem with the Brother 970's control box.

Not much stops Greta, and she solved her problem.  Basically, she fooled the computer by telling it that the pattern was for the K carriage.  The 970 doesn't know she's using the lace carriage and doesn't obstruct her efforts.

To do the Enchanted Edgings on the 970 (which Greta pioneered, as well - thank you, Greta) you do the same thing.  You tell the machine you're doing fair isle, but you use the lace carriage and the knit carriage both.  The whole thing is so peculiar I put up a video showing how to do Enchanted Edgings on the 970.

We also often tell the Passap E6000 fibs, just to get the knitting programmed and the job done.

I was especially happy to hear Greta beat the computer, considering that lately I've been feeling beaten up by computers.  Right now, I have the Knitnatters club site under construction.  I have put a lot of the old content back up, still have to do pictures, and plan to put up some extra demos, patterns and newer photos to freshen up the site.  Give me another couple weeks, then go have a look.  The other thing I'm doing while I'm in there is emphasizing our Yahoo group. 

Knit Natters is about to have some of the best meetings of the year.  We have the carpool to the DFW seminar coming up, then the Kid 'n Ewe coming up, and in December, our holiday party. 

Why the big, and admittedly overdue knit club website redo?  Because I messed up the old site inadvertently.  I am using Microsoft Front Page, and the software befuddled me. 

I think I am finally getting the hang of Front Page again; however, I may not use it again for some number of months and be just as stupid next time.  I hope not! 

John pointed out this evening that I don't have "Wear Your Diamonds" on the latest shopping site.  This is quite a humbling experience...oh well, a project for another day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012