Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yanna's First Sweater

Yanna lives in Cyprus, and sent me pictures of her first sweater!  It's that beginner sweater again, in a child's size.  Great job!  I believe we have another sympatico knitter in our midst.

I really get excited when someone so new to machine knitting accomplishes so much with a few YouTube videos and my child's raglan pattern.  Check out the pix:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Resurrection of Diana's New Computer

We decided to put a solid-state drive into the new computer, since we had to go to the trouble of reimaging it. 

I had performed this trick at work, where I took a slow, barely booting 5-year-old computer and turned it into a smoking-fast Windows 7 machine by putting a fresh image on an SSD.  You use the SSD for your C drive, booting Windows and opening your often-used software from it.  It runs much faster than a spinning disk drive. 

At home, John installed the SSD and then installed Win 7 in my new computer, and I finished up when I got home from work today.  I installed several drivers that were missing, then installed my editing software and edited that Tam video, which is going to be my June YouTube video. 

I am thrilled! My new computer edits the huge hi-def files like they were small; opens the editor in a flash; and even boots in a flash.  No more lockups, no more problems!  What a relief!  Tomorrow, I'll put on the other software essentials.

Oh, and I've invented a new tam pattern.  Maybe I'll get a photo up tomorrow.

UPDATE:  I was asked for plain-English directions.  You'd be a lot better off following the directions on various computer-savvy websites rather than having me write directions.  I can give you an overview and a few warnings, though. 

Basically, there are two approaches to this - duplicate your hard drive onto a new, solid-state drive.  You can get software with detailed instructions for that, and it's a good way to go if you don't have a problem computer.  As I understand it, that's easy-peasy, and you end up with a lovely, familiar computer.

If you do have a problem computer, you have to wipe the computer clean and reinstall Windows, then all your software, which is what happened here.  (A customer support tech guy told  me today that my original operating system load was probably corrupted.  It isn't a universal Win 8 problem at all, just something that happens sometimes when they load new computers.)

Warning!  Before you start, go through the files on your computer and save what you need!  You are going to wipe the hard drive clean with a reformat, and if you don't save your data, it will be gone.  Every single time I do this, I miss a few files and wish I had them later.  On these solid-state installations, I can keep the old disk, put it in a hard drive enclosure (cheap at the electronics store), and it turns into an external USB disk drive.  Then I can get files off it that way, and later on, use it for extra storage.  (This, by the way, is a great tip when the computer is so sick it won't boot.  You could still recover many files this way, and I've had to do it a few times.)

For a redone machine, you get to choose and purchase an operating system, or else reload your original operating system, assuming your computer came with a disk.  I used to like to load XP Professional, but Microsoft doesn't support it anymore, so Windows 7 is a good choice.  You could load Windows 8 or Linux, it's up to you.  I've always wanted to play with Linux, just haven't done it yet.

Then you need to be able to find all the drivers, which have to match your devices and your chosen operating system.  Drivers are files of instructions that let your computer use its devices.  If you can't find a driver, you might have a network card, wireless card, USB slot, video card, audio, or other device that does not work, and it'll probably be a device you need badly!   If you go through your Device Manager ahead of time and write down exactly what each device is, maybe even copy your drivers, you'll have a better time of it.

I call myself an "accidental systems administrator" because I do this at work, but my main job is accounting. I am experienced, but reimaging computers still scares me. I've always found drivers, but it can take me hours.  At work, I buy Dell computers, and they have drivers on their website that you can find by putting in the tag number for the computer - usually.  Once in a while, I've still had trouble figuring out the drivers, for instance, if they put several different kinds of network cards in the same model, I won't know which one to use.  I always get them in the end, but as stubborn and nerdy as I am, I still get very frustrated.

My husband, a lifelong computer programmer, isn't at all intimidated by these processes, and he finds drivers much more quickly than I do.

These last two I worked on were easy, but warning, this isn't always easy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Suzanne's Child's Sweater

Once in a while, I get an email like this one:
"Dear Diana 

Thank you so much for your wonderful machine knitting lessons for beginners! I have only had my machine a few weeks but am so delighted that I have been able to make the child's sweater following your instructions..."
Check out Suzanne's first project!  She did a great job, didn't she?

Giving Up on Windows 8

Today I was going to take advantage of the extra day off to edit my latest video, a redone Diana's Tam.  You're gonna love this video, I think, which will show how to do the sew-as-you-go assembly which works so much better than my original pattern.

My brand new computer for editing video is absolutely deluxe.  We did our research and purchased a very good brand, which has lots of memory and an exellent motherboard and video card. 

It is also "blessed" with Windows 8.  Windows 8 has a reputation for being more difficult to use, but I simply decided to learn to use it.

However, ease of use is not the problem.  We have only had the computer turned on over about three occasions, but all it does is crash. 

Copy a few files, lock up.  Start my video editing software, lock up.  Try to open Task Manager, lock up.  Open a "My Computer" window, lock up.  Try to shut down and restart, lock up.

Now, crashing isn't so bad if you have worked for hours and saved your work, but this beastie crashes in less than five minutes.  It is absolutely unusable. I was considering returning it to the store, since I haven't even cleared away the packaging, but John believes the problem is Windows 8.

John is patiently installing that older operating system.   Fingers crossed, toes crossed...hope it works! 

Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Look at the adorable baby dress and then read the story.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My (Brief) Life of Crime

About a month ago, I got a speeding ticket in a tiny Texas town.  I was driving home from a non-profit conference.  The regular road speed limit is 70 MPH, but when you enter a town, they typically go down to 55, then 45, and some towns, to 35.  I knew the pattern, since I'd done it several times in a row, but I didn't see the sign as I entered a town.  John tapped me on the shoulder, and I realized I'd missed seeing a sign and slowed down, but too late.

In the next couple of weeks, our family went into crisis.  John's brother was hospitalized, went downhill when we thought he could be treated and get better, then died.  About a week after losing Tim, I found the ticket papers to check the deadline to request a driving safety course, which keeps a minor violation off your driving record.  I had missed the deadline by a few days.  I hurried and turned in the paperwork, the fee, and a letter of apology.

The little town's court clerk phoned, saying I needed to go back to their town and talk to the judge in person, so I made an appointment.  Then, I called her back and asked what he might decide to do, since I failed to appear on that speeding ticket.  She ran through several possibilities, but said he didn't know what the new judge might choose.  I was grateful none of the possibilities involved incarceration!  (Did y'all know I am rather a high-strung, nervous soul?)

I spent the next week, until the appointment, mentally kicking myself about my own mistakes.  (A major problem with stupidity is it isn't highly curable!)

On meet-the-judge day, John drove me.  If it went badly, I didn't want to drive back (about 45 minutes) in an emotional state.  It turns out the city has one building, a small converted brick house next to a tiny but nice park.  The judge was very pleasant, the sort of older guy who's probably be a nice neighbor, and he simply accepted my request to do the safety course.  Whew.

I took a horribly boring online class.  Five hours plus breaks are required.   The class is cheap and convenient, and I could listen to the material rather than read a textbook.  I'd get home from work, start it up, and knock out an hour before John arrived home from work.  I hand knitted my way through the class and have a small pile of round dishcloths to show for it.

I'll be out of trouble as soon as the town receives my paperwork.  I certainly hope this is the end of my life of crime!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Virginia Seminar is Sold Out

Diana Guenther let me know that the Virginia seminar is completely filled.  She cannot accept any more registrations, and wants me to help get the word out so she won't have so many checks to return.

I am having more seminars this year, and will put an announcement up soon about the next one.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Seminar Prep - New Bonus Disk

I just created this DVD, which is two hours of demonstrations, as my bonus item to take to seminars.  We always like to give out a little something extra for our seminar customers, and I was feeling that my old demo disk was out of date.

I had a good time choosing items to put on this.  It certainly is nice that I have so many demonstrations ready to stick on YouTube in the coming months, in keeping with my resolution to load one a month.

What else is going on?  Well, the Knit Natters met Saturday, and Barbara did the most wonderful demonstration of lace using the U100E as well as drop lace.  I did a figure 8 cast-off demo.  We had a HUGE pile of hats for our current charity project, many of them Fun Fur (and similar yarns) fluffy things for chemo patients.  The show and tell was wonderful with all kinds of good stuff.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Finally Ready: The Knit Leader Course

We were waiting on packaging, and now we have the Knit Leader courses available for sale!   Want one?  You can purchase one from the blog, here, or from

This course consists of two high-definition DVDs, about 4 hours of video time. 

The Knit Leader is a Brother accessory that has been around forever, is widely available used, doesn't cost too much, and works best on Brother machines, although you could use it for other machines and hand knitting if you wanted to advance it by hand.  I have been surprised at how many people have one and don't use it!  It's a wonderful shortcut to making garments that fit.  You draw your full-sized pattern on the mylar sheet, load the sheet in the Knit Leader, set the stitch and row gauge, and the Knit Leader guides you along the way, sort of a GPS for machine knitting.

This course would transfer well if you have a Toyota Knit Tracer, because that one's very similar to Brother's unit, but I don't recommend it for Silver Reed half-scale equipment, which is too different.

I broke everything into segments.  Since there's absolutely no plot, unless you think knitting swatches, a sweater and a hat makes for a story, and because I go rather slowly, you'll be glad to skip over to the technique you need to see.  These disks have menus so you can skip around.   Here's what I show on the course:

Disk One:
  • Making a standard gauge swatch
  • Making a measurable ribbing swatch
  • Making swatches to solve problems, like the planning of the buttonholes, the transition from ribbing to garment, and the best color scheme
  • The Knit Leader, its essential supplies, and other helpful things you can purchase easily
  • Using the Knit Leader with sewing patterns
  • How to choose the correct stitch scale
  • How to set the row gauge
  • Shaping an armhole with full-fashioned decreases
  • Shaping a shoulder with short-rows
  • Divide and shape a neck
  • Inset pockets
  • Join shoulder seam on machine
  • Join armhole seam on the machine
  • Making a sleeve
  • Shaping in Fair Isle and matching up the pattern
Disk Two:
  • Knit 1, purl 1 button band
  • Good-looking, easy vertical buttonholes
  • Short-rowing a curved hemline
  • Short-rowed horizontal bust darts
  • Making vertical darts, with and without the garter bar
  • Knitting a tidy, folded waistband at the top of a skirt or pants
  • How to use the Knit Leader with your bulky machine
  • Crafty uses for the Knit Leader
  • Knitting larger and plus sizes
  • Monkey Hat project planning
  • Intarsia with Knit Leader
  • Monkey Hat kntting details
As with all our products, we ship every weekday and charge $3 for US regular mail, no matter how many items you order. We ship all over the English-speaking world, but international shipping costs more. If your country charges customs or fees, that will be an additional cost to you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hand-Tooled Lace at Ozlorna's Blog

Great-looking lace, don't miss it!

New Video Today - Figure 8 Cast-Off and Graft

The May technique video is a cast-off you probably haven't tried - I certainly hadn't.  A reader sent me directions and asked me to demonstrate it with a video.  It's always fun to learn something different.  :)

This cast-off is great for situations where you need lots of stretch, when so many other cast-offs have no give at all.  Try it!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The Knit Leader Course filled two DVDs.  First I filmed a cardigan sweater with fair isle, button bands (vertical rib), shoulder and armhole shaping, and inset pockets.  I wanted to get lots of techniques into the course, since I don't think there's all that much to using the Knit Leader.  (1)  Make an accurate gauge swatch, (2) Draw a good pattern, (3) Knit, following the line and realizing that one stitch or one row doesn't matter. 
However, it worked out that there was plenty of information to include in the course.  I put in a section on knitting bigger sizes, on making crafts, and doing bulky machine Knit Leader projects.  Since the cardigan was sedate in green, brown and beige, I added a wacky Knit Leader bulky intarsia project, my version of a sock monkey hat, inspired by the one the San Diego ladies taught me, but with double-lined earflaps and head, intarsia face, and shaping shortcuts.  Then I went back through everything to see what I missed, and decided the course needed to teach a curved hem, vertical dart, waistband, and bust darts, so I added those demos.
It was great fun until I started editing.  Now that I've suffered through the most difficult editing sessions ever, I broke down this weekend and bought a screaming fast, loaded computer.  I hope that helps!  The editing software really was too much for our old computer, which was quite powerful, but nothing gobbles up memory and processor like editing high-definition video.  I probably should have done this sooner. He set it up for me today, and now the question is whether I will adapt quickly to Windows 8.  John has promised to load Windows 7 instead if I hate Win 8. 
I put the general schedule up for Northern Virginia seminar last week, and am very excited.  The books are almost done, too.
Thanks, everyone, for the prayers for our family!  My husband and son returned from their very sad California visit (John's brother died a week ago).  I didn't go to California myself because it was too late - we didn't realize Tim was dying.  Steven, our son, was already there on vacation, and John flew there because he was worried about Tim's illness.  He didn't make it in time to say goodbye, but they both were able to help John's mom and sister for about a week. 
I had been very busy at work all week, and did CPA chapter things as well, including helping with a nonprofit seminar one evening that was the high point of my week.  Most of the people there were Austin Police Department Blue Santa volunteers.  They take Christmas to 3,500 needy families in our area.  I met Santa and Mrs. Claus and some inspiringly big-hearted officers.
I hope you had a very good Mother's Day, or your mom did!  The boys gave me cards, poetry, and flowers, and John installed my new computer, so it was a very nice day.  It was so good to talk to my incredible mother-in-law, Barbara, who is sounding good and holding up okay after her difficult, very sad week.  Thanks again for the prayers for the family.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Upcoming Northern Virginia Seminar

I am going to Northern Virginia at the end of June to teach a two day seminar.  This should be especially fun since this group asked me to focus on non-beginner, more interesting, unusual or challenging stuff.

So, I went through my past seminars for the demos that the knitters liked best, then added in some new ones and some bonus materials in case I go fast.  The last seminar I did, I got through everything in my demonstration books, and I really believe people were following along just fine.  I always do bound handouts for the participants.  Here's the plan:

All “As Time Permits” Items are Included in the Handout Book
DAY ONE - June 22, 2013 - BULKY MACHINE:

Machine Knitting Tricks & Tips:
Improve, Simplify Cast-Ons & Cast-Offs
Hand-Knit Look Cast-Off
Cap Sleeve Knitted-In Armhole
Idiot Cord Edgings
Crocheting to Cast-Off & Piecrust Stitch
Practically Perfect Gauge Swatch
Convert Pattern Gauges to Your Gauge
Knit Leader:
Multiple Knit Leader uses, such as knitting crafts, intarsia, use with sewing patterns, use with bulky machine
Happy Feet:
Sew-As-You Go Sock or Slipper
Everyone’s Fave:  SAYG Lined Slipper
Garter Bar – Stopper + Savvy:
Easy, Fast GB Moves
Quaker & Garter Stitch
Increase/Decrease Evenly Across Row & Round Yoke Principles
Easiest Cables & Lace:  Move Desired Stitches
Amazing!  Speed Ripping
As Time Permits Demonstrations:     
Floatless, Vertical Fair Isle
Helix Laid Cables
Twisted Fringe
Shaped Entrelac Hat
Ruched Heart Trim
Diana’s Tam
Standard Gauge Lace:
Stitch World Scalloped Lace
Diana’s Automatic Scalloped Lace
Mirror Image Lace

Improved Cast-Ons & Bind-Offs
Simulated Simulknit
Quilted Ribbing
Mitered Ribbing

Ribber Demos, As Time Permits:
Ribber Sock Techniques
Release Stitch Lace
Bubble Wrap Stitch
Vertical Buttonhole

Bonus Directions in the Handout Book:

            Circular Baby Blanket
            Lined, SAYG Slipper
            Shaped Entrelac Hat
            Scalloped Lace Scarf
            Ribber Checkered Baby Blanket
            SAYG Sock
            SAYG Lined Slipper
            Diana’s Tam

Want to come?  I understand from Diana Guenther, the organizer, that there are still some spaces.  Here's some information from Diana's registration flyer:

Date: June 22-23, 2013 (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 9:30AM – 4:30PM
Place: Sandy Spring Museum 17901 Bentley Rd, Sandy Spring, Maryland 20860
Lunch: Potluck lunch both days! Everybody bring something…or make arrangements in advance
Cost: $60 for 2 days if registering by June 1
$65 for those registering after June 1
Only checks will be accepted. Please make check out to "NVMKC". Registration deadline is June 15, 2013.
Please mail this form and your payment to: Diana Guenther
2917 Peregoy Drive
Kensington, MD 20895
Contact Diana at 301-933-3980 or with any questions


Monday, May 6, 2013

Tuck Lace @ Yet Another Canadian Artisan

I tend to forget all about tuck lace as a technique, and there's an interesting writeup about it over at Yet Another Canadian Artisan.  Makes me want to go run up samples and see what they look like:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Keep Us In Your Prayers

Since we knitters are like family, I feel the need to share this.  My husband John's brother Timothy is desperately ill and has been in the hospital the last few days.  He is so much worse today that now he is not expected to survive.

Those of you who pray, please pray for Tim, John, their sister Laura, and their mom Barbara.

Update:  Tim passed away a little while ago.