Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2012

Here are my favorite machine knitting posts of 2012:

And, my favorite non-knitting post!
In 2012, my "baby" Steven graduated from A&M!

Gratitude and a Great Link

This morning (John and I are still on staycation), we took the Brother punchcard down, put it back in its case with all the parts in the right positions in the case, and then we dug out the Silver Reed 700 and set it up.  I'm going to see whether automatic lace edgings will work on that machine.  I couldn't find the manuals.  My girlfriend who sold me the machine included manuals, but oh well, I finally decided to see if I could download them. 

There are a tremendous number of manuals at this site:

I downloaded the manuals I need and am very, very grateful, once again, for that site owner's hard work.

Every time I go there, it's even more impressive than the time before!   So.  Much. Information!  If you haven't visited About Knitting Machines, treat yourself and go now. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Automatic Lace Edgings on Brother Punch Card Machines

Jan King in Australia very generously wrote and explained her own method for converting the Enchanted Edgings (automatic lace edgings) for Brother punch card knitting machines.  I had done it another way, adding two blank rows, one before and one after the knit carriage punches.  However, Jan's method knocks the socks off my method, since she reduces the number of carriage passes.  You do more passes than an electronic knitting machine requires, but only two more for each lace group.  My method took 4 extra passes.  I'm sold, of course, since it's always nice to do less carriage pushes and get more lace knitted in less time. 

I figured out the patterns and punched cards yesterday, and look, in the last two days I knitted all these Enchanted Edgings laces on a Brother 890 punch card machine:

They're spread out on a towel, drying after steaming.

The next job is to take down the Brother 890 and set up the Silver Reed, just to see what can be done about these edgings with that different knitting setup.

But you know what?  For once, I'm tired of knitting.  Time to goof off.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making Punchcards & Homemade Lightbox

I have just worked out a good solution so Enchanted Edgings can be knitted easily on the Brother punch card machines.  These are the self-shaping scalloped edgings that I published a couple of years ago for the Brother Electronic machines (one shown in photo, above). 

My next challenge will be to see if they can be done on the Silver Reed, which has a completely different issue to investigate.

For the Brother punch card machines, the individual patterns require a modification, which I've done to each of my DAK files.  I'm printing out templates and punching cards to test.  I did the first couple by taping the template and the blank plastic card to a window, but I got tired of reaching up to draw the dots.  After that, John made me a quick, free lightbox with items from around the house.

My fancy new light box consists of a cardboard box, a fluorescent shop light, which stays cool, inside the box, and a piece of glass.
Of course, not everybody has a piece of glass around the house, but if you look around, you might find a translucent cutting board, a piece of glass shelf, or some other piece of glass or acrylic you could use.  We taped the glass to the box on one end to prevent it slipping off an breaking.  You could also use a glass-topped table with a shop light underneath.  Make sure you don't create a fire hazard by using a light that gets hot near paper.  This little setup isn't that different from an Easy Bake oven, which uses an incandescent light for heat.
I taped the template to the glass, stuck the box in a chair to put it at about the right height for comfortable tracing, and I'm marking the blank punch cards with a washable marker.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your loved ones
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
John and Diana Sullivan
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  --Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sewing on Christmas Eve

I had to hurry up and get this Entrelac yoked sweater sewn together so I can give it to my son tomorrow.  It's not a surprise at all.  Our Aggie likes tthe Texas A&M color scheme.  We haven't had any really cold weather yet, but it's coming.
If this project is familiar, it's because I worked it up for a sample in my "Wear Your Diamonds" book and photographed it as I worked on it.  When the book was finally finished and I had knitted piles of samples, this sweater was tossed into a knitting bag for sewing up later.  Much later, it turns out.
The back and front of the sweater are different - the neck is higher in the back, as it should be.  To make it easy for him to find the back of the neck and pull the sweater on correctly, I embroidered a little chain stitch inside the back neckline, in lieu of a label.
I hope you are having a beautiful, meaningful holiday, taking time to let your loved ones how much you treasure them, and especially, experiencing the love of our Savior.
Merry Christmas, dear friends!

Luke Chapter 24


Sunday, December 23, 2012

John and I are rehabbing sponge bars

All kinds of knitting machine problems are solved by replacing a worn-out sponge bar.  The bar holds the needles down against the needle bed, yet allows them to move and "play" a little bit.

I had reached the point where nearly every sponge bar I had was worn out.  This idea of recycling sponge bars makes both economic and environmental sense, and once in a while, you get a machine for which brand-new sponge bars can't be located. 

Wonderful information on redoing sponge bars is available here:

Over the years, we've acquired our own quirky ideas about redoing sponge bars.

First of all, Kathryn's advice to get rid of the awful petroleum-based gunk that was originally used to stick the foam to the bar is very good advice.  Attaching the new foam with white glue is SO much better!

Secondly, I really do like the interfacing idea on Kathryn's site for the covering for the foam.  I've tried some other things that worked, as well, in particular first aid tape, but the interfacing is very inexpensive and easily cut into strips using a rotary cutter. 

At first, I used the 1/2" craft foam from Jo Ann's that Kathryn recommends, and that worked okay but didn't last as long as weatherstripping that we had tried before we ready Kathryn's great instructions.  We now use 3/8" wide by 5/16" thick weatherstripping for our sponge bars.  We glue the non-sticky side down with the white glue and use the sticky side to attach the interfacing. 

We played around quite a lot with the different foams and thicknesses.  In the craft foam, 1/2" is the stuff to purchase, but in the weatherstripping, that would be too thick.  The weatherstripping is a more heavy-duty foam.

Luke Chapter 23


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Socks at Mary Anne Oger's Blog

Mary Anne is using up sock yarn she's collected on her travels.  I do the same thing - purchase a couple of balls of sock yarn when I visit a new LYS.  I can always use sock yarn, and some of it is delightful.

Honestly, socks make incredible gifts!  Everyone seems to love them and ask for more, especially when you use nice fibers.

Luke Chapter 18


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Inspiration at Vanda's Blog

Here's an elegant suit, not all that complicated.

It's a little tight on the dress form, which is distorting the pattern.  Everyone seems to wearing clothes a little tighter than I prefer...nothing new there.

Luke Chapter 16


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Inspiration at Marnie's

Here's a hat and cowl to hand knit at Speak, Marnie! 

We certainly could do something like this.  My friend Greta was wearing a beautiful cowl that she sewed and he me thinking about making some more knitted Mobius scarves...

Our Son Graduated from A&M Friday

Texas A&M University
December 14, 2012
Steven James Sullivan
Bachelor of Science
Cum Laude
Here's our son, Steven, receiving his diploma Friday morning.  The "cum laude" was a marvelous surprise, since his science major was so difficult, especially these last couple of semesters.
In the photo, he said later that he took a few seconds to tell Dr. Loftin how wonderful the enhancements and improvements Dr. Loftin has begun in his tenure as President of A&M.  Steven isn't bashful, is he?  Later during our day at College Station, Steven told us about some of Dr. Loftin's initiatives and pointed out projects under construction.  Of course, our son was thrilled with this last Aggie football season, and he thinks A&M joining the South Eastern Conference was great.
We're not sure what's next for Steven, who is applying for grad school, researching career options and trying to figure out what will fit best for him, plus working at his little event business.  He claims a haircut is in his near future, but I've heard that one before!  We might have felt sad about him being "all grown up," but Steven has been so independent for so long, that we really weren't feeling that, just nostalgia for the fun we had raising him.  A&M held a beautiful ceremony (they are doing three ceremonies this weekend to graduate over 3,000 students), John got some good photos, we went out for a nice celebratory meal, and we visited with our son at the house he shares with two other guys.  Before we drove back to Austin, he gave us big hugs and told us how much he appreciated us.

Luke Chapter 15


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Scarf and Gloves at Vanda's Page

Vanda's got an interesting project - long lace gloves and a scarf (it looks like it might be a sweater, but she says it's a scarf.

Little Angel For Your Tree

Little Angel Ornament by Diana Sullivan
She's about four inches tall, transparent and fragile.  In the photo, she's just leaning against a piece of velvet, but if you could see her in person, you'd know that she's really going to sparkle once she's on the tree with the lights twinkling.
Here's how to make her:
This is for the standard knitting machine.  You'll need 30 gauge coated silver and gold wire, wire cutters, and a small knitting needle. You also need 2 cast-on rags or pieces of mesh for casting on the wings.
Skirt:  Cast on 16 stitches with waste yarn.  I used T7 on a Brother.  Knit several rows and affix a couple of claw weights, a big brass weight, or a small ribber weight.  Knit a divider row with either the same yarn to make it easier to later remove the waste yarn.
E-wrap cast on with silver wire.  Knit 30 rows.  You need to go slowly; hand-feed the wire from your lap or the floor.  Pull the wire up as you approach, then have no tension on the wire as you knit slowly across.
Head:  Take the knitting off on waste yarn.  Rehang, putting 2 stitches on each needle so it's gathered into 8 needles.  Knit 20 rows for the head.
Wings:  Snip the wire with wire cutters and knit across with gold wire.  Use a cast-on rag and ravel cord to add 8 more stitches on the carriage side, hang another weight, then e-wrap the gold wire onto them and knit back.  Use a cast-on rag and ravel cord to add 8 stitches to the other side, hang a weight and knit 19 more rows.  Cast off using a transfer tool.  I have backstitched a cast-off, but it's tedious with wire.
Find the middle of the head and twist it so that the top is gathered.  Twist the neck to gather it.  Wind the leftover wire ends around and around the neck to make a shiny neck and cover that twist.  Shape the skirt with your fingers.  I made more of a cylinder with it and stretched and fluted the bottom with my hands, but do what you think looks nice.
You can get your fingers inside the head and shape it round. 
Shape the wings by folding them like a fan and then using a piece of wire to securely gather them in the center.  You can "sew" with the wire by poking it through - you won't need or want a needle.
Make the arms and hands by casting on 7 stitches (using waste yarn, etc., as above) and knitting 30 rows.  Bind off.  Stretch.  Fold in the middle.  Twist the ends for the hands.  Use the beginning and ending wire to connect the hands together if you like.  Sew the arms to the back of the angel between the body and wings with a piece of wire.   
The crooked halo was made by winding gold wire tightly around a very small knitting needle to make a "spring."  I used about 10" of wire for the spring and "sewed" it to the back of the head with the ends, which I left uncoiled. 
You can add a unique personality to your angel.  Perhaps you could add tiny accessories from the hobby store - a music book, a harp, trumpet, package, toy, etc.  How about a tiny ball of yarn and two pins for knitting needles?  You could sew on beads or glue on rhinestones. Maybe your angel will have curly or wavy hair made of wire.  I was a lousy angel hairdresser - my wire springs stood straight up, so I removed them.  Something to try again on the next one!
Attach a loop of wire to the back of her head to finish your ornament.
I have been playing around with knitting wire since attending a Marcia Hauser seminar.  She has wonderful books of instructions and stylish jewelry and lots of supplies at her site:

Luke Chapter Two


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Thoughts

This morning we attended the Lone Star Model A club's 1000th breakfast.  We seldom attend because Saturday is my day to sleep a little later, maybe until 7:30, and to make it every week, we'd need to get up and going about 5:45 a.m. (it's in another town).
Folks were wearing Christmas clothing and Christmas hats, and my favorite was a Grinchy hat covered in sequins that bobs up and down and plays music.  So, here we go again!  There's holiday music everywhere, we have decorations up at work.
I just posted asking how people get it all done, but now let's switch over to my other favorite Christmas subject, which is how to make it the most meaningful and memorable. 
I spend lots of time making it memorable for my family, but to help keep it meaningful for me, it's time again for me to go through the book of Luke, one chapter each day for the first 24 days of Christmas.  
Luke, Chapter One, HERE