Sunday, January 27, 2013

Christmas in January

Our older son and his wife didn't make it to Austin for Christmas.  Instead, like so many people this year, they got stuck at home with the flu.

We came to Dallas this week to get together and exchange gifts, and my DIL Kelly gave me one of the cleverest knitter's gifts I've seen.  Just have to share it with y'all so you can see her idea:  It's a good-sized "book" box, and inside is sock yarn and sparkly yarn in pretty color schemes:

Kelly knew I needed two balls of 50 grams each for a pair of socks.  The silver and gold yarn she purchased on general priciples - it's pretty and the right weight for machine knitting.  This is just the stuff I used for the Entrelac evening purse a while back, and there's a lot of yardage here, so I'm thinking about what it will turn into.  It would make very pretty scarves, or maybe I'll explore a different evening bag (I'm working on a technique that is smart-loolking in two colors).
I like the elegant book box, and I can hide away hobby clutter there.  It is also big enough to hide away loose paperwork.  Wouldn't this book box also be nice for giving someone tea, or coffee, bath products or building some other posh gift basket? 
We laughed about the fact that they received knits and gave me yarn; ours is a a symbiotic relationship!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Seminar in San Diego!

I am very excited to be going to San Diego to do a seminar the second weekend in February.

First reason to be excited:  John is coming!  He's going to cashier, help with luggage, rent a car and drive us to see folks, and I guarantee you, make me laugh.  We really don't have plans for him to fix anything.  I know, that's a change, since John replaces batteries in Passap consoles and has been willing to "take a look" at all sorts of situations, but no particular plans this time.

Second reason:  We're taking a couple days first to run around Southern California and visit family.  John and I are both military brats who moved around a lot, but we lived in SoCal longer than anywhere.  Here's a chance to pester the sibs, marvel at those grown-up nieces and nephews, glimpse the ocean, and have a look at the rental.

Third reason:  It's winter here.  Mild, I realize, compared to places with the real thing, but it is colder here than there.  (At least generally; my sister did tell me about a rare, freaky freeze recently right at the beach.)

Fourth reason:  We're staying with a knitter!  I always make friends at these things.  It's not that I go through life meeting kindred souls at every turn, but knitters and CPAs are my flavor of people.

Best Reason of All:  I have the program planned, and it's good!  I'm including the no-sew slipper and several other things I just haven't done before at a seminar.  I have, of course, already guinea-pigged my very good sports at Knit Natters with some of these demos.  I put more in the handouts, as usual, than we can possibly do in two days, and we'll do as many of the "bonus" demos as we can.

I confess, I have no idea whether they have the seminar filled or there's space, but if anyone wants to find out more, email me at the link and I'll find out for you.  It would just float my boat to get somebody hooked up with a great knitting club because they first got acquainted at one of my seminars.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Laundromats Have Sure Changed

Our dryer was tumbling but not heating, so John and I found ourselves with two loads of wet clothes and about five more small, sorted loads of things to wash.  We had to wash before there'd be time to fix the dryer, so we needed a laundromat last evening.

I pass a laundromat every day on the way to work, a Washutopia in an older neighborhood.  It looked large and nice from outside, and we didn't know of any other laundromats nearby. 

So - we get there, and this very nice employee helps us with a couple carts and teaches us to use the fancy new washing machines.  The place mostly has 2-load, 3-load, 4-load and 5-load washers, absolutely gobs of them, and we could both probably crawl into one of their enormous dryers.  It's clean, cool, and has free wi-fi, hot coffee, softened water, seating areas, magazines, and big screen televisions all over the place.  The attendant was very sweet to us, an absolute paragon of great service...what an experience!  We were in and out with the whole mess done in about an hour and a half.

Inspiration at Machine Knitting Fun

Isn't this sweater fun with all its lovely color and pattern?  It's a coat-length fair isle sweater that looks really cute on Lynne, even though she points out it's big:

And, she says it's light and warm.

Sweaters were madly popular at the time of this pattern, and we were still seeing oversized sweaters that looked best on ladies who want to look a whole lot bigger.  I think this sweater would look even better if the shoulders were corrected, either by using a set-in or raglan sleeve or just insetting the square sleeves to get the shoulders in the right spot. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Attention, Enchanted Edgings Customers

I made an announcement on one of the really big Yahoo lists recently, and now that I'm stocked up again, time to make that same announcement here.

We republished "Enchanted Edgings" with punch card charts. The new edition has both electronic and punch card Brothers covered, and comes with a DVD that includes DAK files for both and video for both punch card and electronic machines.

Got a Brother punch card machine?  If you purchased Enchanted Edgings and would like the punch card pages, please email your postal address to me, and I'll mail you the extra pages and a new DVD free of charge! You can email me using the envelope icon on the left margin of this blog. We have already sent quite a few free packages out.

This covers the Brother machines, both punch card and electronic. It doesn't work with machines without a lace carriage. It doesn't work with Silver Reed machines.  


I pulled the post about the copyright violation.  I normally don't pull posts, but am doing so pending possible cooperation from the individual.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Video Today - Twisted Fringe

Here's that video on how to make machine knitted, twisted fringe:

Twisty Fringe

After a very hectic week at work doing year-end closing tasks, I snoozed through an old movie, then went to bed for a long sleep. I woke several times during the night with knitting ideas.

This morning, John encouraged me to write them down.  One of them involved a twisted fringe.  I had been thinking about twisted fringe a while.  I like the looks of fringe, but it tends to get frayed quickly, and I don't like to use a finish on my knitted work that is bound to look scruffy soon.  Generally, twisted fringe holds up better that cut fringe.

I tried knitting it this morning and wasn't crazy about the original idea, but after a few tries, came up with this sample.  I have found an easy way to do this.  Here's a macro shot of my "play" sample, warts and all, made on  my mid-gauge.  Maybe I'll make a video.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vanda teaches us baby booties

Vanda has very cute little yellow booties in her post, and she also has a brief YouTube video showing how they were done.  You don't have to speak Italian to understand her nicely-done video, which illustrates sew-as-you-go so well:

I like doing booties. If you like this sort of pattern, I have some free patterns, for instance this one, at (the knitting club I belong to has a website).  Mine use the same general sew-as-you-go upper, but there are other things that are different.  There are just so, so many ways to do things:

That trim at the top is NOT crochet!  It's a slick trim I learned from Anne Bayes' book, "A New Concept in Baby Booties."   She's an Australian knitter who worked some amazing booties out for the KH910 Brother knitting machine, an incredibly inventive lady.  I don't know her and can't find her book for sale anywhere, but she gave a copy of her book to my friend.  My friend lent it to me and asked me to figure it out.  I studied the book, which was difficult since it was based on a machine I don't have access to any more.  I had so much fun once I understood her general concept that I made up several different booties incorporating my own ideas (like using the garter carriage for Quaker stitch) for the newer electronic machines. 
Sometimes I look at my collection of booties, tucked in a shoe box with tissue, and think about doing something similar for mukluks (no idea how to spell that word).  You know, warm, high-top slippers for us grown people.  Here's a muk luk slipper for sale at Nordstrom's, in case you need some warm-foot inspiration (it's a looong time 'til spring!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

And, while we're "counting the cost..."

Here's another post about hand knitting that just militates for the use of knitting machines if you're trying to charge for your knitting!

I have always shied away from knitting to order.  The deadlines freak me out; things always take far longer than I anticipate, and lots of things can happen to make the customer less than satisfied. 

But look at these numbers of hours!  I used to figure 40 hours for a hand knit sweater, a fairly plain one in a fairly bulky yarn.  Of course a more detailed sweater, or one in a thinner yarn, is going to take 100 hours to hand knit.  75 hours is a reasonable number for a lace shawl. 

I can knock out a very pretty lace shawl on a Saturday on my knitting machine.  I can do a complicated sweater in a weekend.  If I don't have all weekend, it might take a week of puttering in my evenings.  When I was hand knitting more, I figured a full month for a sweater, and that's serious knitting every day. 

What's more, machine knitting is easier for accurate fitting and predictable results, since we have charting devices and we can whip out big swatches to double- and triple-check our gauge, the look of our yarn, how it launders, and any other issue that we might need to solve. 

Makes me wonder why she doesn't use a KM

Do you ever read Yarn Harlot?  I do.  I do love hand knitting, but here's a HK project that would put me in a coma.  I think the boredom is getting to her... 

Great reason to own a knitting machine with a garter carriage!

It's a garter stitch Dr. Who scarf.

UPDATE:  link fixed.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How we spent our weekend...

One the larger old microwave oven and wall oven were removed, a scorched area was revealed.  This picture shows the new microwave sitting there without its trim kit, which fills in the hole, and the nasty burn marks.  

The varnish was scorched, so we sanded the burned area down to bare wood and refinished it.


 Below the wall oven (near the floor), we had a hole because the old oven was 3" longer.  Wall oven sizes have changed since this house was built!

We talked about filling it in with either a board painted black or a board finished to match.  We purchased stain to match at the hardware store and finished a piece of oak.
Here's how it all looks now that it's finished.  It's not quite as bright as the picture up top.  The camera flash is lighting it.

We purchased and refinished an oak board for the bottom.  Home Depot cut the bottom board for us.  We asked them to cut it about 1/8" to long and John sanded it smaller until it was a tight fit.  It takes forever to sand oak!

Our local store will cut a board twice for free, and 25 cents a cut after that.  What a huge help!  The 3-1/2" lumber needed narrowed (ripped with the grain) down to 3" and we don't have the equipment.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

NOT Knitting

On Christmas Eve, the oven broke.  For a long time, we had wanted to replace our old built-in oven and microwave, but we knew new ones would not fit the cabinets, because wall oven sizes have changed since our house was built over 20 years ago.

The new appliances were installed Thursday.  They are wonderful.  The wall, however, was a total eyesore, with a big gap below the oven and scorched varnish from some long-ago mishap now revealed between the two units.   That area will only be partially covered by the microwave trim kit and the lip on the oven. 

We went to the hardware store Thursday night and purchased supplies to fix the cabinets, including a stain that matched very nicely to a drawer we took along, plus polyurethane and a piece of oak. 

We spent hours on the project Saturday.  We went back to the store for a different piece of wood because we decided we wanted the oven to overlap the wood at the bottom.  We got the second piece cut at the store.  They actually ripped a half inch off the whole length of the second oak board and cut the length (slightly big, deliberately) for us for free.  We didn't want to try to rip an oak board with just a circular saw! 

We had to sand the scorched area down to bare wood, and working together, we used up most of John's old sandpaper supplies on the hard, old varnish. We had to restock that, as well.  The wood to fill in the space below the oven was cut slightly large on purpuse at the end (1/8")  and John sanded that with an electric sander until it was just small enough to fit in snugly.  Frustratingly, it took many sandings to remove 1/8" red oak, even with coarse sandpaper and an electric sander.  But, now that's done and snugly, beautifully fitted.

The bottom board needs two more coats of polyurethane.  I enjoyed staining and varnishing the beautiful oak.  Putting everything back will be a snap; the oven is just out a few inches and the microwave goes in with a couple screws.

Blogger won't let me upload photos this morning, so I'll try and post some before and after photos up later. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Try, try again...

After work today, I took my ten little thumbs to the knitting room for another go at the Studio 700 for Enchanted Edgings.  It's such a fun little puzzle, but you would not believe the tangled mess hanging from my machine and the pile of tangled messes lying nearby.

I am running into the following problems:

1.  Neither carriage will read its first row from the left.  They are designed to start on the right.  I suppose I could insert blank rows to get the carriage to the other side, which of course, adds more passes and more possibility of the yarn catching as it's carried from one side to the other.  So far, this is holding me back from using my two carriages idea.

2.  The lace carriage wants to drop stitches if it moves an edge stitch.  It runs so beautifully when the end cams are installed, but take 'em off, and pretty soon a bunch of stitches are pulled loose.  You can't have that with long edgings.  You're not going to want to start over after 400 rows because of an irreparable mess.  Hmm.  I am certainly open to suggestions.

Full-fashion decreases may not have this issue, but at some point there are just so many passes of the lace carriage that automatic edgings become impractical.  I will probably experiment with that.

3.  My Studio likes a little more weight than the Brother, at least while running lace.

I do have two pretty edgings, Fairy Godmother's Lace and Sea Serpent, that are made without end needle transfers.  Those scallops are created by just changing the direction of the transfers in an every-other-needle lace.  I can easily reinterpret them for the Studio/Silver Reed/Knitmaster machines.

I adore the Studio lace carriage.  It grows on me every time I sit down and play with it.  It's sooo smooooth.  The single pass lace is so fast!  That single pass, knit as you transfer lace, might make some very nice edgings with just a little hand manipulation.  That might be a fascinating project for a while down the road!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Silver Reed Enchanted Edgings...

After spending time today playing with a Studio (aka Silver Reed or Knitmaster) 700 and the lace carriage with the full-fastion lace setting, I've decided that automatic lace edgings can be knitted.

I haven't actually done it yet, but firmly believe it can be done, and I do love a puzzle!  It doesn't appear that it will be much different between the Studio punch card machine and their electronic patterning machines.

I'm no wizard about Studio models, but this discussion is confined to machines that worked with the full-fashion-capable lace carriage, not the older models.

By the way, if you didn't require the process to be fully automatic, scalloped lace  could easily be done with a little movement of the needles - bringing out and removing extra needles as required.  If you're happy with the single transfer edgings, this would be quite fast and practical, since the Studio knits and transfers those all in one pass!  However, I'm trying to do fully automatic lace edgings. 

There are many fascinating little differences between the makes of machines, which helps explain why each brand has such fervent adherents.  There's the sturdiness of the Studio, the easy glide, the built-in knit radar; on the other hand, the lack of cast-on combs and some of the funny little charts are off-putting.

I don't know how to knit automatic lace edgings with the Studio lace carriage alone, since it lacks a slip setting.  Instead, I put both carriages on the bed, which would normally be inpractical with the size of the carriages and no extension rails, but works with these narrow edgings.  The lace carriage could be set on full-fashion lace to transfer stitches only, and the main carriage could knit only the desired stitches and slip the rest. 

Do any of y'all know whether Studio made extension rails? 

Anyhow, the carriages don't interfere with each other mechanically, because there isn't a belt.  The one not being used just sits there and makes no trouble.  Just don't bump a carriage off the bed and onto the floor.  Avoid collisions. 

Next, I need to work out the sequence of punched rows.  For an old Brother knitter like me, used to seeing the selected needles, I felt a little lost because the Studio doesn't move selected needles out between rows.   I could figure out what needles were selected by seeing what it did with them.   An easier way to see what's selected is to put the card advance lever on "stop" so that the little gray tabs display the current row's punches.  This led me to do lots of rolling the card around, moving the lever, and looking at the different results.  I got stuck, though, when I could see the current row was a "nothing punched" row and the lace carriage acted like it was an "everything punched" row.   After making the same mistake several times, I finally decided to stop, sleep on this, and try again on a new day.

I think it's possible!