Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!


Friday, March 29, 2013

A Finished Object

 I filmed the making of this sweater as a part of the Knit Leader course, tucking in quite a few techniques and details to add value to the experience of learning to use your knitleader.
Of course, there is quite a bit more to do, since the course also needs to cover using the Knit Leader with the bulky machine, using it for Intarsia, making plus sizes on the knitting machine, and using the Knit Leader for crafty, non-garment projects. 
Here is the vertical buttonhole used in the sweater, the inset pocket detail, and the sleeve and the shoulder and armhole seams assembled on the machine.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Straightening Some Yarn

I knitted through a whole cone of yarn on my current project, and probably won't have enough on the cone to do the button band of the cardigan.

From time to time, I reuse knitted yarn.  It's generally not a great idea to mix straightened yarn and fresh yarn, but if I do the button band with all straightened yarn, there won't be a variation in the finished knitted texture.  Lots of people take apart sweaters to unravel or unravel unfinished projects and reuse the yarn by straightening it with steam.

You can buy gadgets for this, but you don't need a gadget.  I just use my stove and a pan of water.  The water boils in the pan, the lid is propped up with two silicone spatulas.  You could use wooden spoons, or whatever you have.

It works best to unravel and rewind into kinkly little balls first, then do the steaming from a nicely untangled ball.  Then you run the yarn under the lid and into the yarn winder.  Wind the yarn into a ball S L O W L Y, and you've got nicely straightened, ready-to-use yarn.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marg's Jodie Raymond Sweater

I always enjoy Marg's blog posts, and this latest one, in which she made a round neck, top down raglan sweater in the Jodie Raymond book, is a very nice example of the design.

Ah, Marg, you do lovely work.

I have that book.  It's such a super idea; I always have liked hand knitting raglans from the top down.  I never did like the open holes on the raglan seam, though.  It might work well to run I-cord through, or twist all the loops to close them somewhat, or hmm, what else?  Let me know if you have a great idea.

Plugging Away

My friend Barbara shared with me one day that she was knitting through television commercials, and it was surprising how much knitting she could get done that way.  Just getting a little done every day adds up!  Barbara is a big-hearted and prolific charity knitter, plugging away and getting a lot done.

Everything takes longer, at least for me, than I ever estimate.  It's true for me at work, where I think I'll do a couple of small projects by lunch, and find that I did one and handled three interruptions.  It's true when I knit, as well.  I have never done needlework of any kind rapidly, but always use it as a way to relax and take my time.

As I plug away on the Knit Leader course, today was typical.  After work, I did a few chores and then headed to the project.  I steamed the back and the two fronts lightly, looked at the clock and saw that 15 minutes had gone by.  Went to the machine thinking I'd put one shoulder together, but I put both shoulders together, and 45 more minutes had gone by.  Tomorrow, I'll hang an armhole and start a top-down set-in sleeve.

By the way, I put my shoulders together this way.  I like the shoulder join to be sturdy, but not too tight.  

I elected to do the sleeves top down (like the video I put up recently) works just fine with a Knit Leader pattern.  I hope to add value to the Knit Leader course by including lots of techniques.

Besides, doing the sleeve from the top down means I'll do decreases the sides instead of increases.  Decreases are a little quicker to work.  I'll do the ribbing last, too, which is always a good technique to teach.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What's New...

I have been working on a KnitLeader course, trying to do a little every day.  Most days, I've come home from work and got just a little more done.  Currently, I have about an hour and a half of videos showing how to do a classic cardigan with inset pockets.  There'll be more videos to finish that project.   Because I want the course to be all about "getting the most" from this device, I have plans to show how to do several more things effectively with the KnitLeader:
  • Making large-sized garments, items too big for the knitting machine needle bed
  • Using the KnitLeader to facilitate intarsia
  • Using the KnitLeader with the bulky machine
  • Using the KnitLeader to do crafty, more unusual projects
My primary frustration so far with my project is trying to get good pictures on a standard gauge machine.  The needles and stitches are tiny when it comes to filming, however, for most fashion knitting, which is probably the primary use of the KL, you're going to use a standard gauge machine.

Along the way, I have also got videos ready to put on YouTube through July.  I had wanted to put some technique or other on video each month - kind of like an internet knitting club.  Each time I get a decent idea, I go film it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

New Video Today: Machine Knitted Bunny

I contacted Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer at and asked for her permission to make a YouTube video showing how to machine knit her hand knit Easter bunny pattern, an adorable design that she offers for free on her website.  She very graciously gave permission, and here it is!

If you haven't been to Jackie's website, go, look, and shop!  Her patterns are just beautiful, creative and practical.  A few minutes of browsing should kick up your inspiration level quite a few notches. 

I had promised to try to put up a video each month this year, and this month with Easter in mind, I decided to feature a treat to make in plenty of time for the holiday. 

This little project is a real pleasure to knit and to give.  You can make it in almose any yarn, and it doesn't take much.  So far, I did it on the standard gauge machine with a very thin yarn (60 stitches, 90 rows, ears 15 stitches to begin), on the mid-gauge machine using sport yarn (40 stitches, 60 rows, ears 11 stitches to begin), and on the bulky machine (30 stitches, 45 rows, 9 stitches to begin ears). 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Knit Natters Met Today

...and we had fun!

First of all, it's fantastic that Sylvia is serving as President.  She's lining up programs, refreshments, and planning our knit-ins for this year (we're knitting hats for charity in 2013).

Barbara did a Passap seamless hat with that in mind.  She gave us all detailed instructions.  She casts on and knits circular on every other needle, then after a while goes to all needles, which makes the gathered part at the top of the hat smoother.  These are doubled, lined hats, so you knit them like a torpedo shape - a tube that's smaller on both ends, then put one end inside the other.  The only real finishing is hiding a few ends.

I demonstrated the Easter bunnies I've been blogging about.  I was fairly organized with the bunny, making a blank, than making a marked blank, then marking a mostly-sewn blank so I could show the steps quickly.

After the bunny, I had brought a whole year's worth of Sunday funnies, which my husband John saved faithfully for our knit club so we could make funny-paper Easter baskets.  We used them all up, too, since we have a bigger group now.  I forgot to bring staplers and tape, but fortunately, the church lent us some supplies.  After two demos, not everyone was up for the rather frustrating job of weaving strips of newspaper, but some finished it and some took it all home to do.

We had "show and tell," and one big highlight was the gorgeous shawl Margareth made using a hand manipulated fan lace that Greta taught us last year.  Another amazing item was Pat's bobbin lace wire dragonfly, oh my!  I'm hoping my friends send me some pics that I can include in the blog (I am just not good about getting pictures on the same day that I teach).

My favorite thing today was seeing all the hats piling up for charity.  Mary is making an earflap hat she says came out of an old News and Views.  Sylvia is experimenting with all kinds of novelty yarns.  I had no idea you could get such long eyelash yarn through a bulky machine!  Again, wish I had pix.  Barbara is whipping out the Passap seamless hats.  I missed last month because I was in San Diego, but am happy to jump aboard this year's charity project. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Any Gauge Easter Bunny?

My friend Laura hunted through her craft supplies for possible bunny makings and brought me a care package to help me get ready for knit club Saturday.  Here is a pink bunny, next to my prior effort, in fuzzy pink yarn in a worsted weight.  What you can't see in the photo is how very soft the pink yarn is.  It's kind of like a chenille.

All you need for these cute little chubby bunnies is a knitted square piece of fabric (using just about any yarn), a needle, and a little fiber fill.  For a different gauge like this worsted, you just knit a square about the same size, but with less stitches, and make it in the same way.  The shape is all in the sewing (see the pattern at

I did a few things differently on the pink bunny:  I sewed the legs on the sewing machine, which was fast and looks nice.  I just pinned right sides together and helped advance the thick knitting through the sewing machine, sewing across the point at the corners so I wouldn't get such pointy front paws this time.  I hand sewed the head shaping and the tummy (after stuffing), and that's the extent of the hand sewing! 

If you are curious, I used 60 stitches and 90 rows for the white variegated bunny, and 30 stitches and 45 rows for the pink one.  Since the pattern over at is a hand knitting pattern and calls for garter stitch ears, I wasn't sure how I'd do the ears.  After making a few samples, I settled on this:  The white ears are 15 stitches, *knit 3 rows, decrease both sides, repeat from * down to 1 stitch and end off.  The pink ears are 9 stitches and the same procedure.

I think, after having made a fine gauge bunny and a worsted weight gauge bunny, that I might like an in-between thickness for the yarn about the best.  These make up fast enough (especially with the sewing machine) that I can imagine making several for a charity or for a group of children.

Before the pink bunny had a pom pom tail, I realized how easily this shape could be made into a little green frog.  You'd just change the shape of the face a bit and add some froggy-looking features.  I don't know why you couldn't make him into a bean bag with character, if you wanted.  No reason you couldn't do a dog, a cat, or other critters with various modifications. 

Laura gave me some goo-goo eyes to glue on, as well, which will add personality! 

Hmmm, fun fur...camoflage...tiger stripes...neon...heck, I bet a tiny fair isle pattern would be cute, checks maybe, or polka dots.

Hey, knitters, if you do something fun with this pattern, send me a photo, please? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rabbit for Knit Natters Saturday

I've been wanting to try this since last Easter!  It's a knitted bunny based on the free pattern over at  Although it's a hand knitted pattern, it's easily adapted to the knitting machine.  A particularly pretty adaptation (in purple) is over at Machine Knitting Fun:

And, here's mine, not so bad for a first attempt:

The plan is to show how to do this at knitting club next weekend, along with my Easter basket woven out of funny papers project.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Karalyn Rainey's Fingerless Gloves

Lynne at Machine Knitting Fun has shared Karalyn Rainey's fingerless glove pattern - with Karalyn's permission.

I met Karalyn at the San Diego seminar, and she's a wonderful, talented knitter.  Nancy Davis showed me a bunch of Karalyn's patterns.

So go look - and maybe knit!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Doncha Love Icelandic Sweaters?

And these at Mason-Dixon Knitting are gorgeous:

Handknit, but you could machine knit something similar (worsted weight is heavy enough for here, that's for certain).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Swatch for Success

Here's your typical Knit Leader swatch - just like the gauge swatch in my beginner course:

Note the five eyelets mean it was done on T5 and the many markings for getting the measurement.  The swatch has been blocked and laundered.

What if you are working an all-over ribbed garment?  Here's a ribbed swatch (which I'll use for the ribbed portions of my garment, but I admit, when ribbing isn't the main fabric, I usually just do a small ribbing swatch):

The ribbing swatch, 60 rows long just like a regular swatch, is actually marked at stitch #21 by moving a stitch from one bed to the other for two rows.  This would facilitate measurement. if you had to measure ribbing for the knit leader.

The tricky thing with ribbing all over a sweater is deciding how much ease to use.  Ribbing can be blocked wide, or left tightly packed.

Problem Solving Swatches:

You don't have to make lots of swatches for a project, but I like to fiddle with swatches until my mental questions about a project are answered.  This way, I go into the project confident about my decisions and techniques.  

I had to put my finger in this swatch so the vertical buttonhole in the ribbed band would show at all in the picture.  I think my real bands will be a little wider.  Buttonhole swatches are nice to take along when you shop for buttons.

Here's a swatch I did to make sure my ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, which I'm blocking so there is little pull-in, will look okay:

Here's my first idea of the fair isle color scheme.  I knitted a swatch to check the color combination and the floats on the back.  The sweater will use this border near the top of the front and back.  The swatch led me to change my mind about my color choices - I thought there's be more contrast between the brown and green.  In fact, the photo shows more contrast than the real swatches do:

Instead, I'm using the beige for the Greek key and the star patterns.  (It looks white in the picture, but it's really a light beige.)