Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nedelina's Dressed-Up Circular Baby Blanket

Check out Nedelina's Circular Swirl Baby Blanket variation.  She's added some cute crocheted flowers in the center. I really like it.  She only has six sections, so perhaps she changed the numbers to make this work.  Or, maybe the knitting, which is so stretchy sideways, simply stretches this way.

The YouTube video for my blanket pattern:

Best Posts of 2015

Happy New Year's Eve!  All is well at this house, where we are enjoying a few days off.  John and Steven worked on a cool muscle car all day yesterday, and I knitted in the nice, warm knitting room.  Then we went to our favorite restaurant for dinner.  The car is a long way from finished, so Steven stayed the night and they're going at it again today.

I am very blessed to have this social outlet for my machine knitting obsession, and this was a fun year!  Not only did we go on marvelous jaunts to seminars, I persisted in putting up a video each month, which is a great motivational kick in my pants.  Some of them were very useful to readers, and some were just ho-hummy things.  Selfishly, I won't go into the so-so stuff, but I'll point out the good ones, and mention a couple of other favorite things I found on the web:

I started the year with a video showing how to give your machines a quick clean and oil.  Guess what?  You probably need to do it again...after every project would be good.  Once a month would be good.  It only takes a few minutes!  How about NOW?

In the spring of 2015, when I finally finished "Finishing School," I felt "finished."  This was my most difficult project to date, taking me nine months and turning my knitting workroom into a giant heap of chunky samples and my video editing computer into a vast wasteland of outtakes.  I wanted it to have a very large amount of information on how to do excellent project assembly, to be meticulously detailed and comprehensible, and to make it MINE.  I showed the ways that I do things, which is very often not at all the way other people do things.  What I discovered in the actual process was the relentless need to redo sections to make them clear and to struggle to find better ways to explain how the grafts and seams work.  Being able to do it is not the same as being about to explain it!  The final result was about 4 hours of video (it could have been 20 hours, but who would want that?), more of a reference work than a course. The feedback from knitters has been wonderful.

In June, I linked to another blog that had an explanation of my favorite provisional cast-on.  I use this all the time!  It's great for hand or machine knitting:

In October, the video I put up (seashell stitch, above) was very popular.  This is a very unusual stitch pattern, do-able on almost any flatbed machine, and after you knit it a while, has a rhythm and becomes habit-forming.

September's video, the Slant Lace Circle Scarf, is another don't miss item.  If you haven't played with this stitch, you ought to give it a try.  It biases tremendously, and that's the whole point.  You end up with a trapezoid shape, and self-striping yarn gives you bias stripes.  I made several of these scarves, and always get comments when I wear them.  One of my scarves was made with a goofy assortment of small leftovers from socks.  Oftentimes, scrappy projects just look junky and overly busy, like alphabet soup, to me, but that was one of the best uses I've found to this particular common leftover (my women's medium socks never take a whole ball.  Good sock yarn is lovely, a bit expensive, and just too good to waste).

Well - this was a little nothing of a video, just a quick edging, but folks loved it - an anti-roll edging.  I play around with edgings quite a bit, and my first clue that this was a really good one was when my local knit club liked it so much.

Tom updated his whitening formula for yellowed plastic:  I haven't tried it yet, but Tom says it works even better!  It has less ingredients and looks like it would be easier to do.  I used his original formula just once and was astonished at how much better the vintage machine we treated looked.

Tomorrow - a sneak peek at the videos for 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Have You Seen One of These?

Look at this vintage toy knitting machine over at Yet Another Canadian Artisan:

I remember these being advertised in the 1960s.  I didn't have one...but wanted one, of course.  Somehow knitting has just always fascinated me.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fascinating Information at Marzipan

Mar has knitted some very cute photo pillows, and she's explained how she did it - with something called Gimp and Design-A-Knit.  Go have a look!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Inspiration at Knitting Up A Storm

Every time I start to think that knitted gifts aren't all that cool, I do a bit of shopping and am surprised at how many beautiful items are featured in the stores during the holiday season.

These hand-knit fair isle gift hats are really cute:

If you read the article, you'll see how very long these took to knit.  But we're machine knitters, right?  One option would be to machine knit most of the hat (and save lots of time), and then take it off and hand knit the shaped crown.  Why not learn to shape a crown with the garter bar?  Check out how it's done in the golf club cover videos:

This all works best if you can sew a really nice mattress stitch seam.  Or, you can make seamless hats with the self-patterning "fair isle" yarn, providing you have a ribbing attachment.  See the Tom's Troop Cap videos:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December Videp - Lace Oranment Project

Oh, I know y'all are busy in December!  Why, it's nearly madness, the way we run around, and then we wonder why we haven't much holiday spirit left.  My blogging is almost nonexistent lately, with all the appointments and obligations I've had.

Even if you don't have a lot of time, how about treating yourself to a knitting session and making some fun ornaments? 

You can do this on a Brother electronic. Rather than go through all the business of starching the lace ornament and having it hollow, I just covered plain, shiny red balls.  They don't take very long, and I plan to demonstrate this next weekend at the Knit Natters holiday meeting.

This particular lace fascinates me, because it has double-sized holes - they're two stitches wide!  It's very unusual, and it gathers up for an interesting look on top of a Christmas ball.  In the YouTube face photo, I'm sewing the lace ornament cover off to gather the top.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you're having a terrific day!

At our house, we didn't feel like having turkey or ham, so we ate a non-traditional meal - pork roast, Elgin sausages, garlic potatoes, chocolate pudding, big salads, broccoli, and homemade rolls.  With my food plan, I was able to have some of everything but the pudding and homemade rolls, and it was plenty.

Now it's quiet.  Steven's watching a game.  John's walking the dog.  Diana's poking around the net...good times.

I've been knitting quite a lot this week, getting next year's videos for YouTube ready to go.  I'm really happy with them, and now my attention goes to the next pattern book.  I've been quiet on the blog - just got over a nasty cold, so not much energy for extras for a while.  Glad that's out of the way; hope that's it for the winter. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Video - Add Mock Ribbing at the End of a Knitted Piece

This is fairly simple, really, just a way to add mock ribbing at the end and have the transition from every needle to having some needles out of work look good.  It's a great technique for any machine.

Consider subscribing to my YouTube videos, and you'll get an email every time there's a new video!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dallas Seminar - Next Weekend! And, machines for sale...

My last 2015 machine knitting seminar is in Dallas near the DFW airport.  Anyone looking for information about the upcoming Dallas seminar can look here:

Next year, I have a spring schedule, and plan to go to Denver, Anaheim, and Albuquerque.

I have some machines for sale.  If someone is interested, please contact me through my email.  Email me by clicking on the email icon on this blog.  Scroll down, and it's on the left, looks like an envelope.

The good news is, my prices are very reasonable for these machines, John cleaned and oiled them, and I inventoried them to make sure they're complete and purchased any missing parts for them.  Bad news:  we don't want to ship them.  They're work to pack and expensive to ship, plus several are multi-box packages.  I can bring a machine to sell with me to Dallas, if that's closer for you.  I'm in Austin, about 3-1/2 hours south of Dallas.

So here's what I have that's ready right now:

1.  A lovely Brother 900 electronic with ribber (and KnitLeader, too, if you want).  It's not the most common machine, but I'm actually tempted to keep it, as it's sweet to knit with and easy to program.  We gave it a good  going-over.  It patterns beautifully, has a lace carriage, and the carriage features are the typical Brother ones.  It has some stitch designs built in, and you can put in your own with the input keys.  It holds stitch patterns up to 24 stitches wide (for instance, you could have a repeat of 17 stitches if you wanted).  It has variation keys, including the one for double jacquard.  The ribber is the typical modern ribber with lili buttons.  The ribber and its accessories are in a plastic Plano shotgun case.

2.  A Brother 890 with ribber (and if you want a KnitLeader, that can be arranged).  This one is the 24-stitch punch card machine with lace carriage. 

3.  A Brother 350.  This machine is a reliable plastic bed mid-gauge.  Patterning is manual, the machine is delightfully portable (I've taken these to fiber fairs and knit club), and it knits very smoothly. 

4.  Does anybody want a sturdy metal stand?  I have a couple extra ones.  One tilts, and one doesn't.  These are older, but built like tanks. 

I have other units that aren't ready yet, most notably, there will be a Brother 970 and its  ribber.  This is the most advanced Brother electronic machine, and it has a good CB-1 with an original clear display (many of them need new backlights by now).   It appears to be in great shape, but I haven't inventoried it for possible missing accessories yet or done the clean and oil job.

One more announcement:  My John changes the displays in 970 CB-1 boxes.  He has a reasonable price for that, and he also fixes FB100s that need a belt (you might fix that one yourself.  I did a video here) and Passap E6000 consoles with dead batteries.  Email for details.  John's not going to Dallas, but he'll do these at seminars if you let us know so he'll take his tools and parts. 

Finding the Right Tension

I had a great emailed question today from a lady who is about to get a new machine.  She's already enjoying knitting on a simpler machine (the wonderful, affordable Brother 350), and this nice bulky will make it possible to knit heavier yarns and easily make fancy stitch patterns.

Her question was about what tension to use for Aran yarn.  Well, she's in UK, where the REAL Aran yarn is available, but I've certainly hand knit with some good "Aran" yarns, or at least I was told that's what it was...Hmm. Is her stuff like the lighter, softer Aran, or is it like the stiff, hard-twist yarn I used once that was thicker? I don't know.  But it got me thinking about this whole tension question, and what I've learned about it over the years.

I mostly learn knitting the hard  way.  I do what doesn't work, repent, and try something different.  And repeat.  And gradually, I learn all sorts of details that help me out later.  This blog is about having them help you out, too, if you haven't yet fallen into some particular error I've experienced.

To me, tension is all about FEEL.  The machine should knit the yarn easily, that is, the carriage should slide smoothly across.  The resulting fabric should feel good, not packed tight and not sloppy-loose.  This means you have to experiment.

The "experimental swatch" has a different purpose from the gauge swatch.  For this swatch, you knit a row of contrast for a marker, set the tension dial to a possible setting, knit a few rows, make an eyelet for each number of the dial (so later you can see what tension it was), knit maybe 20 rows, knit another marker row, and try another tension setting.  You'll feel the difference with your machine.  Ironically, sometimes a looser tension (larger stitch size) will be easier to knit and sometimes a tighter one (smaller stitches) will be easier to knit.  You're looking for the "sweet spot" for that yarn.  Make a note of what tensions were smooth and easy.

See how photographed experimental swatch gets bigger as it was knitted with bigger dial numbers?  Note that I made a section for T3.  Too tight.  T4.  A little too tight.  T5 - starting to feel good.  So, I did a section of T5.1 (see that extra hole) and T5.2.  Finally I did a section of T6. 

When the experimental swatch comes off the machine, you give it a vertical tug and let it rest.  Then, block it in the way you plan to block the garment.  You should launder it, too, whatever way you plan to launder the garment.  Yarns can grow, shrink, soften, or fall apart in the wash.  Even well-behaved yarns can change size by 10-15%. 

You go do something different and return to the swatch with Serene Objectivity, then examine each section and decide which tension is best for that yarn.  In case Serene Objectivity isn't living at your house that day (she often fails to show up when I need her), show it to a friend or family member and collect an opinion or two. 

The best tension will be easy to knit and produce the look and "hand" you want in the fabric.

If you're doing a pattern stitch, do the swatch in pattern.

Warning:  If the yarn is miserable to knit, the carriage hard to push, or too scratchy, or too splitty, or whatever, don't use it in your machine.  You can damage your machine, or simply end up frustrated with a very disappointing finished project after investing hours of time and handfuls of money.  This goes back to the told truism that a cheapo yarn results in a cheapo sweater.  Its true nature will come through, despite skilled, meticulous workmanship.  I am referring to quality, not price; some expensive yarns can be disappointing just like cheap ones.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I've just taught a two-day seminar in Princeton, Minnesota (Thank you, Cindy Schmatz and awesome knitters).  This was a grand experience.   We have beautiful weather here in Minnesota, and we're planning on a nice Sunday drive today.  We've already seen some spectacular fall color.

One of the things I've noticed is that a lot of knitters like to keep up to date on my new videos and blog posts, but they miss them.  You can subscribe, you know, and be notified of each new video!  Go down the left-hand side of this blog to subscribe.

I am still doing a YouTube video every month.  This month was an interesting shell stitch.  To subscribe to the YouTube videos, and not miss any of them, go here:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New Video for October - Seashell Stitch

I had a knitter email, linking a picture and asking about a stitch like this.  Then I saw a number of posts about stitches like this on one of the knitting lists.  After that, I couldn't get it off my mind.  It looked fairly easy; rather like the triangles, argyles and other designs we used to do with short-rowing.

After thinking it over, I decided it would be a good thing for a bulky or mid-gauge in a 12-stitch version.  Of course, you could make it on just about any machine, and it would be gorgeous in standard gauge, but I liked the idea of it working up quickly on a bulky.

This morning, I had a chance to play with some ideas.  I ended up with a very simple 12-stitch shell, s simplified so you don't have many ends to deal with, you can do a quick, no-wrap short-row, and you don't have to do much counting or mark the needle bed. 

You're going to see a very interesting texture - the bottoms of the shells are raised.  You can block that into flatness if you want, but after making, oh, at least four swatches today - I decided I like a very light blocking.   Also, notice how the variegated yarn makes curves? 

After you watch the video, you'll probably realize that this could be done automatically using slip stitches, with an electronic machine that would hold a large enough pattern.  However, you'd have to pass the width of the knitting every row, even if it's just a two-stitch row, so it's a job for a motor attached to an electronic machine.  I might try it...but not today! 

Nope - this weekend, John and I are getting ready to go to Princeton, Minnesota next weekend.  I've going to do a two-day seminar, and I've got a very busy curriculum planned!  I believe Cindy Schmatz still has some space in that seminar, if you'd like to attend. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Spring Fashion Trends - New Colors

Hat tip to My Blue Heaven knits:

I like these colors!  First of all, we're going to have plenty of color this spring.  Remember a couple years ago, when it was all so neutral?  I also appreciate that these are gentle colors, flattering on lots of people.

I don't understand how color trends happen.  I suppose some designer hits a home run and companies copy the nice theme and combination.  I do know that mysteriously, clothing, furniture, and all sorts of manufactured goods will follow the prevailing trends. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Upcoming Seminars!

I apologize that I haven't done a very good job letting blog readers know where I'm teaching and when.  I only do a few seminars a year - still working full-time at a job I love, so I do them on vacation days.  It's always a shame when I hear from someone in an area where I just taught who is looking for a seminar and missed one!

I'm about to do two more seminars in October:

October 9 and 10, I'm going to Princeton, Minnesota to teach for two days.  Information is here:

October 24 and 25, I'm teaching a two-day seminar in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area - in fact, right next to the DFW Airport.  Information on that one:

Now, for those of you who really plan ahead, here's some 2016 news:

February 2016, in fact, Valentine's Day weekend, I'll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I haven't been there before! This will be a two-day seminar, but I'm not sure whether it's a Fri-Sat or a Sat-Sun just now. 

March 11-13, Newton's Spring Fling, in Anaheim, California.  That seminar is a real experience, with lots of people, lots of teachers, lots of excellent shopping opportunities.

April 30, I'll do a one-day seminar with Generic Knitters in Denver, Colorado. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Good Question - How can I avoid dropped stitches in lace?

I had a good question the other day in my email.  The knitter has a Studio 700 (nice punch card machine with an excellent lace carriage), and stitches keep dropping, frustratingly, in lace knitting.

So - I asked if the lady was a new knitter or if the machine used to work fine and it was just a new machine problem.  Turns out, she's fairly new to knitting.  Then I thought it over for a while and wrote a little list of things that might help.  Readers, I'd appreciate your comments as you think of additional tips I didn't include.

Hmm.  Ways to avoid dropping lace stitches:

1.       Knit some waste yarn (two inches, maybe) before casting on and starting with the lace.

2.       Try tightening tension.  Doesn’t work?  Try loosening tension.   If too loose, big loops fall off.  If too tight, stitches don’t slip off and onto needles well.

3.       Make sure the upper tension unit take-up springs are not too saggy.  You don’t want any edge loops.

4.       Make sure the little brushes/wheels under the sinker plate (also called fabric presser, the silver thing attached to the carriage) are clean underneath.  Those little wheels should spin freely, but if fuzzy stuff often gets under them, they don’t spin.  That causes edge loops, which catch and cause dropped stitches.

5.       Start with easy yarn.  You’re looking for medium thickness that the machine knits effortlessly, probably acrylic with a little elasticity.  Thin wool is also usually good. Avoid cotton, linen, bamboo, mohair, angora, spandex, slubs, kinks, bumps, super thin or thick yarn, at least until you're more expert.  The thickness is “fingering weight” or a 2/12 kind of thickness. I have driven myself nearly crazy trying to machine knit “lace” weight yarn.  It’s really a little too thin for the machine.  I can do it, but I have to be really careful.

6.       Start with easy stitch patterns, that is, the ones that do not require “full fashion” lace and just happen right as you knit without changing the carriage settings or unthreading.  Why?  Because full-fashion lace pulls the stitches farther and puts more strain on the fabric.

7.       If dropped stitches are intermittent, you can put in a "lifeline," that is, sew a piece of thin string through all the stitches.  You do this every inch or two.  Then, if you drop stitches, you can go back to that.  NOTE:  I personally virtually NEVER use a lifeline, but other people swear by them.  Why don’t I?  I do big swatches and make sure my machine likes the yarn before I attempt the lace project.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Slant Lace Circle Scarf on a Different Machine

When I did the September video, it was a long video already, and I didn't explain much about how to do this lace stitch on a different machine.

This can be done with either a Brother (Knitking) or Studio (Singer, Silver Reed) machine that has a lace carriage.

The pattern is this, where X is punched or black and O is blank or unpunched:

O  O

X  O

If you have a punch card machine, you need that all over.  Not in the mood for punching and punching?  For a Brother, you can use card #1 and lock the row so it doesn't change (or any card that is punched out on every other needle).  Two passes with the main carriage, then two passes with the lace carriage.

If you like it, I think you should punch a card.  I'm not keen on having the lace carriage move all those empty needles unnecessarily on the second pass.

If you have an electronic machine, input the pattern.  Two stitches wide, two rows tall.  Bottom row:  black, white.  Top row:  white, white.

Whatever machine you have, set it up so the end needles don't transfer.  You want two plain needles on the end on the lacy rows, with a hole next to the end needle.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Brother KH 900 and KR 900 Ribber

Here's the Brother electronic, model KH 900, with it's ribber, the KR 900.  I had mentioned to y'all that I had never seen one of these before.  John was really getting into this by the time we started on this machine, and he removed and soaked all the needles, took the carriage all apart and unstuck the middle button, and made a repair to the upper tension unit, as well.

John is fascinated with how the machines work.  I can understand that, but I'm not one of those folks who loves to clean and adjust my machine.  I want to knit!  And knit some more!  So, to testing the machines after John has them humming is just my cup of tea.

The 900 was easy for me to use.  The carriage buttons and levers are familiar.  It also has a very simple electronic control panel.  It just has 50 different stitch patterns built in, and you push the Pattern Number button, then the up and down arrows to find the pattern you want.  Then you poke the Pattern Number button again, and you're ready to go.  You can also use the input keys to put in patterns.  I actually use very few large patterns, and 24 stitches is usually plenty of design space, especially in this situation, because if you want a smaller number, you don't have to use 24 - it could be 11 stitches, or 5 stitches, or whatever, but repeated on across the bed.  Another cool thing about 24 stitches is that I have several books of 24-stitch punch card designs that will work with this.  You can get books with hundreds and hundreds of patterns!  There are a few simple variation keys, and I tried those.  There's a double jacquard key.  There's a way to position or isolate patterns, but I didn't play with that, at least not so far. 

There's a door here with some electronic contacts, for a PPD.

I believe this model was not originally sold with a lace carriage; if you wanted one, you had to purchase it separately.  I tried the one from a Brother electronic.  Some lace patterns knitted fine, but one miss-patterned in a certain spot.  The main carriage didn't miss-pattern that lace chart.  Hmm.  So maybe these machines are pickier about which lace carriage that I expected.  My girlfriend has a spare lace carriage from an earlier electronic that I'm going to try with this machine. 

We put the ribber on, and it wasn't working well at all.  After puzzling over it, I realized that the ribber brackets - those little gizmos that you install on each end of the main bed, and from which you hang the ribber - had been installed incorrectly, back under the front edge instead of butted up against the front edge.  We hadn't looked at those, just left them where they were when we got it.  That made the ribber ride too low and too far back, just enough to cause trouble. John and I moved those, and had instant success with the ribber.  I'm curious how this ribber differs from the KR 850.  I notice it does have "lili" buttons.

One of the things John and I talked about as we fiddled with this machine was its possible age.  He thinks perhaps the 900 model was not necessarily before the 910, but was a less-expensive option or something while several other, fancier electronic models were also being sold.  I really have no idea.  I was a dealer when the 910 came out, and I thought it was a great innovation.  At the time, the new technology was very exciting.  This was the time when the garter carriage came out.  I was certainly paying attention to each new product!  When the 930 came out, I truly was in love with that model.  I had that machine when I sold my shop, kept it, and it was my one-and-only for years.  I moved up to a 965i and a 970, but truthfully, my 930 was just a sweet machine, and I kind of miss it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New Video for September - Slant Lace Circle Scarf

This month's video is a fun stitch, a very simple lace that biases automatically.  I've joined the slanty beginning to the slanty end to make a circle scarf.  I like the geometry!  It's a nice little accessory to wear, doesn't take much yarn, and I think you'll be as fascinated as I was with the stitch:

I admit it, I got a little obsessed.  I don't know how many circle scarves I've made this way.  I used fancy patterned sock yarn for them, and one of my favorites was made with a bunch of scrappy leftovers that I put together using the Russian join.  When you get a pretty item out of such small bits, it's like getting something for nothing!

I believe you can do this on any machine with a lace carriage.  You just want every other needle to select, and you'll transfer them all with the lace carriage.  You'll do two passes with the lace carriage; then do two passes with the main carriage.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Brother 900 in the Knitting Machine Hospital

I'm not very good at mechanical things, but John is, and he's been helping me clean and lube an assortment of nice, but used machines that have wandered into our lives. 

There's nothing elegant about turning my kitchen and dining room into a knitting machine hospital.  I find myself cooking in a tiny corner while my 6-foot kitchen island is covered in junk. However, it's also an indescribable feeling, so wonderful to get one of these babies running like silk.  Later, we hope to find them homes.

There were two Brother Profiles donated to our knit club.  These are older, push button machines, and they are very cool.  They both needed sponge bars, then one needed cleaned and oiled, and the other needed quite a bit more work, but now every button is unstuck, every needle lubed.  We even whitened the plastic a bit!  There's a ribber and knit leader I haven't even looked at yet.  I've knitted a bit on each, and they're terrific, but of course, you have to think more when you're pushing buttons to make a pattern.

Then there's a Brother 890 John and I purchased at a garage sale, a 24-stitch punch card machine  This baby was in pretty good shape, but it needed the plastic treatment, a sponge bar, cleaning and lubrication. 

They always need sponge bars.  I keep ordering more sponge bars! 

This is the bed from yet another acquisition, a Brother 900 found on Craigslist.  This is the only 900 I've ever seen.  Perhaps they were more common in other countries.  It's an electronic model, preprogrammed with just 50 patterns, but you can put in more with the input keys.  Patterns are only 24 stitches wide.  We tested it at the seller's house, and it worked pretty well, despite having a totally flat sponge bar and a stuck button on the carriage.  John is currently putting the carriage back together, after getting the center buttons unstuck and everything cleaned and lubed, and I'll get to play with it a bit and see what I think.

The 270 we worked on has found a marvelous new home with Bev, who read a blog post where I mentioned it. 

The biggest problem we've seen with second-hand machines is missing parts.  When you buy one, be sure and compare the machine parts pages in the knitting machine's manual to the items being included with the machine.  Parts are expensive, and sometimes, you can't find a particular item at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Helen Griffiths New Website

Go visit Helen!  She's got a new blog, selling site, links, patterns and recipes!

Those of us who've been lucky enough to attend one of Helen's seminars or knit her patterns know what a talented designer and teacher she is, and what a charming person she is, as well.  Helen and carries the EXCELLENT ribber comb wires that I'm always showing y'all at seminars.  I told Helen this week that I need to inventory all my ribber combs that have crummy wires and stock up. (John and I keep bringing home homeless knitting machines to fix up and place for adoption, and they always seem to need these good wires.)

Helen is also working on Knitter's Edge these days.  Linda's getting busy with that site, which had gone dormant.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Post About Cooking

Most of you know that I slimmed down.  Seriously! I went from a hefty plus size to a 6-8.  Some of you have asked for details, and I sent ya'll to the group that helped me.  If you are curious, too, about what I did, just email me. 

A few knitter-friends have slimmed down, too, using this method, and have been giving me menu ideas and cooking tips.

I've always liked to cook.  Now, as I follow this very health-oriented food plan, preparing food at home is the way to go.

In the bad old plus-size days, my meals were skimpy and my snacking was habitual.  Today, I eat three meals, and nothing in between, which means that once dinner is finished and dishes washed, there is no more hanging around in the kitchen for the evening.  The evening is mine!  My meals are big, especially heavy on the veggies, including a big, big salad with supper.

For a person who has major problems with being over-scheduled, the time I spend cooking and cleaning up might seem like a waste.  It's worth it, though.  I get so much more done than I used to, because I feel so good.

John is a good sport and eats whatever I'm cooking.  He says he enjoys the food plan.  Since John doesn't have a weight issue, he eats the same foods but he doesn't weigh or measure his food.  He actually likes smaller servings than I measure and eat.  John adds a little beer and peanuts to his menu, though!

For breakfast, I usually do eggs, oatmeal, and chop up fruit.  The fruit varies according to what's in season, of course. It's not that I have to eat eggs and oatmeal - these are just foods that I like that match with the specific food groups for breakfast.

Keeping up with the program meant that I had to get organized, so on Sundays, I pack weekday lunches.  Again, following food groups, most weeks, I cook a brown and wild-rice combination for my grain servings, measure and pack that in plastic tubs, then pour in enough frozen veggies for my veggie requirement.  (At work, I nuke the tubs in the office microwave.)  I also get my raw vegetables, fruit and a protein bagged and piled in the fridge.  Often, my protein is string cheese or cottage cheese, because I like those, but some days I pack leftover protein item from the night before into my lunch.

I especially like gadgets - no surprise there!  Recently, on a whim, I purchased an Instant Pot from, an electronic pressure cooker/steamer/slow cooker.  This cooker has a big stainless steel cooking pot inside that comes out and goes through the dishwasher. 

I've always liked using stove top pressure cookers.  I have a regular one and a low-pressure one.  With the stove top kind, though, you hang around the kitchen, wait for the pot to reach pressure, then listen to the valve jiggle to make sure the pressure is regulated properly.

With this gizmo, I can come home from work, load something in the pressure cooker, set it up, and I don't have to watch it.  It has a timer and beeps loudly when it's finished.  I have had a learning curve, but gradually improved in my use of it.  I've pretty much eliminated using my crock pot and pressure cookers, and this summer, I've hardly used the oven.  Yesterday, for instance, I set up the Instant Pot with chicken, wandered off and knitted.  I've been making Origami Sweaters.  My first one is in the photo.  I'll write another post about them, I think.

I checked my watch and came back when it was time to make the salad and cook the side veggies.

I like it for cooking rice using the low pressure setting.  I was doing my rice in the microwave, and it was difficult to keep it from bubbling over and making a mess.  I could do rice perfectly on the stove, but that means staying in the kitchen and keeping an eye on it. 

A friend at my weight control group told me she has one, and how she uses it to cook pieces of chicken right out of the freezer.  I tried that myself, with surprisingly good results.  I'm still figuring out cooking times, especially if I put in something frozen, but it works for me to underestimate, then put the lid back on and cook more as needed.  Eventually, I'll master the timing.  I've been visiting some websites with pressure cooker advice and finding those helpful.  There are a lot of foods I haven't tried cooking.  I tend to shy away from the ones that might bubble up and clog the valve.

I cooked salmon in it the other day.  (I'm crazy about salmon.  So is my dog, go figure!  When I am cooking, he usually ignores me, but if it's salmon, he comes and stares at me with his big, soulful brown eyes.  It works - he gets a little after supper.  We buy him salmon-flavored dog food, and that's the kind he will always eat.)  I've been poaching salmon for years with water, lemon juice and lemon pepper, because that produces moist, tender fish.  I found that using the same mix in the electronic pot actually worked okay.  I didn't know how long to cook it.  You're supposed to be careful not to overcook fish, but my first guess wasn't quite long enough, so I poked at it with a knife and cooked it some more time.

I'm still thinking about buying a spiralizer for cutting my veggies.  Next experiment, I guess!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015


Updates - John was gone this week, and I was on my own. 

Tuesday, our dog Sammy had an appointment for a one-shot radiation treatment on a spot where the vet had removed a small, but cancerous tumor.  This was to happen at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine, so on Tuesday, I took a morning off work and off I went.  Oops! It turned into the whole day.  It's a teaching hospital, and that takes a little longer, but the primary delay was the procedure wasn't going to happen until they did their own evaluation, their own blood work, and lined up on the anesthesiology schedule.  They needed to keep him a while afterwards.  A&M is two hours away, and Sammy doesn't mind road trips if he can roam the car.  This is Texas country driving with high speed limits, and I needed him to not roam all over my body (I had nobody to help me with him), so I put him in his crate for the drive, which he hated.  It ended up being a 12-hour day, including the 4 hours on the road. 

Perhaps because he was knocked out for the procedure, he was off his game afterwards.  He whimpered the whole way home, yet when I stopped the car and checked him out, he seemed okay.  When we finally got home and he seemed to have no appetite, I was worried, but after a day or so he was his old self. 

I haven't done much knitting, just a little "doodling."  Some more knitting parts arrived, though.  I had ordered a bunch of odds and ends to fix up a couple of machines that were donated to our knit club, a 270 with missing parts, and a 970 with a missing CB-1.  I haven't found - and may not find - a CB-1 (has anybody got one for sale?).  Parts came for the other machines, and it's always fun to have knitting items arriving, and they're going to turn out just fine.  However, not sure I want to do this very often; I'd rather knit that fiddle with machines.  In fact, I'd MUCH rather knit. 

Whenever we "adopt" homeless machines, we get to fix them, store them or sell them or find them homes.  We obviously don't have time and space for this, so why keep stumbling into it?  Well, for years, I wanted that first machine, but I couldn't afford it, and when I finally got one, it was like a dream come true.  Then, I kept wanting to add accessories and upgrade, and add different gauge machines, and it was always expensive.  I was always thrilled when I got the newest item and was able to do more because I had it.  John totally understands my emotional history with these machines (he was there and bought me my first one).  He also gets sucked in to the challenge of fixing up anything mechanical.  We're a terrible influence on each other in this area.  :)

I have two more seminars this year, Princeton, Minnesota and Dallas-Ft. Worth in October.  In 2016 I'm going to teach a seminar in Albuquerque next Valentine's Day weekend.  Some other 2016 seminar possibilities are in the hopper.  I'll let you know. 

You know, I love to link to knitting blogs, but I don't see much activity this week.  Tip me off - am I missing some good, new blogs?  Some my favorite blogs to follow don't have much knitting lately. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inspiration at Anna's Blog

Anna's blog is in Russian, but oh, the pictures!  You can use a translation app to translate the blog, which works quite well with many languages, but with Russian, it comes back with near-nonsense. 

I really like this pullover - the 3/4 length sleeve with the deep ribbing and the simply raglan style:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crib Blanket at Roz's Loft

Check this out:

Condo Cable

Life's been very hectic, but lately I really want to at least knit a few minutes in the evenings.  Even if I only get to doodle, make swatches, try out ideas, and don't have time for a whole project, I want to fit it in. 

I'm calling this evening's experiment a "condo cable:"

Condo knitting is a technique with larger loops for some of the work.  Sometimes we MKers call it "release lace." 

I programmed the Brother standard gauge machine with the chart, above.  It's 12 stitches wide and 16 rows tall.  It could work with a punch card; you'd just have to repeat the pattern.  The programming is just to help me keep track of when to put ribber needles in work and when to cable.

The pattern is a multiple of 12, plus two extra stitches on the side edges.

The ribber is set up, but cast on 50 stitches on the main bed only for the swatch.  I was using tension 6 and a large, 1-pound ribber weight.  It's always harder to get stitches to knit off when you're doing single bed with a ribber, and weights help.  Machine is set to N, not H on main carriage.

Knit a few rows, then engage the machine's needle selection (KCII; if you can't suppress end needle selection, ignore a selected end needle.  Also, ignore the two needles that sometimes select on the edge.)  When the machine selects 6 needles in a row, I put the ribber on half pitch and brought up 5 needles on the ribber bed, just below the 6 selected ones.  Knit 1 row.  It selects the same needles again.  It will have laid down yarn in the ribber needles.  Drop the ribber stitches by uncoupling and sliding the ribber carriage across and back.  Move the ribber needles back down out of work.

Now, the selected needles have long loops and are the ones to cable.  Use two 3-stitch transfer tools and cable 3 over 3.  Because of the long loops, they'll cable just fine, even though they're groups of 6 stitches.  After you cable, bring the cabled stitches out to hold so they'll knit through more easily.

Keep knitting (main bed only), until machine selects groups of 6.  Once again, bring up 5 needles on ribber below those selected 6, knit 1 row, release ribber stitches, and put ribber needles back out of work.  Then cable the selected needles.

Repeat.  This is easy and fun!  A few thoughts:

1.  Be careful not to get the long condo loops stuck on gate pegs.
2.  Bringing the cabled needles out to hold really helps stitches knit off.
3.  No reason you couldn't do this with your bulky - in fact, I think it would look terrific!

Maybe I'll make a video out of it. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Video for August: How to Use Blocking Wires

I admit, this one's a teaser for "Knitter's Finishing School," my latest DVD course (available at  I want every knitter to be able to get excellent results as they put together their projects!

I'm Ba-ack!

The itinerant machine knitting seminar nut is back in town.  Whew.

We arrived at home with head colds starting up - of course, I blame airplane germs - and I'm still sniffly.  But, now that I've been back a few days, I wanted to share the seminar experiences with you just a bit.

First, John and I went to The Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, to teach a two-day seminar on Friday and Saturday.  The Knitting Cottage is a MUST SEE if you are ever in that area.  This is an immaculately clean, beautifully organized knitting shop stocked to the brim with beautiful, high quality yarns.  It's nestled in a lovely farming community.  Susan and Elizabeth have a big workroom in the back - also clean, fresh and organized - that usually has knitting machines, but they cleared the back and ussed it for the seminar venue.  We had about 26 knitters in attendance.  Waynesboro isn't a bad drive at all from D.C. or Baltimore, and several people drove to come.

We zoomed through the curriculum and I taught other things, as well.  With two full days to teach, I did a big fat variety of different knitting techniques.  The knitters are terrific; a few of them get a lot more knitting done than I do!

Big highlights for me:  Having dinner with Stephanie and Judy at the Parlor House; seeing Stephanie's sock machine collection and having dinner with her and her husband Howard; Karen giving me an incredible wedding ring shawl made by hand in Uzbekistan (Karen, I've displayed it on a table to show off the Lily of the Valley lace); staying at the fun Burgundy Lane Bed and Breakfast; attending a Mennonite hymm singing with Susan and Elizabeth (glorious), attending church with Susan and Elizabeth; dinner with Carol and Larry; a day of shopping at Amish businesses in nearby communities with Carol, Mary Ann, and Larry (and purchasing an incredible Amish quilt.  Have you got a yen for a real, handmade Amish quilt?  Have I got a source!), attending the monthly knitting club for a few hours, and visiting the Appalachian Trail for a few hours on our final day there (hello to Pyro Moses, Stretch, and Radar from Knitwit and Mr. Fixit).  The photo is John and I at the Mason-Dixon line on the trail. 

We had worked out a triangle route so I could do two seminars.  First, we went to Pennsylvania, taught there, then had fun for a couple days, then flew to Michigan.

I had never been to Detroit before.  Our plan was to visit the Henry Ford Museum.  Cathy, who organizes the Monroe Seminar, told me I'd enjoy the museum as much as John.  She was right.  We got sidetracked that first morning, though, and went to the Ford Rouge factory and watched them build F-150 trucks.  John and I were fascinated, just mesmerized by the process.  We only got a couple of hours of museum displays in before it was time to go, but no worries, we'd be back Sunday.

I taught the same class three times at Monroe on Friday because there were three teachers, then a different class three times on Saturday.  Since I had a limited time to teach, I featured my newest work, techniques out of the baby blanket book, 100 Ways, and Finishing School.  Honestly, I prefer to teach my little brains out, one different thing after another, but for the participant, these really big seminars with multiple teachers are just incredible.  I wish I could go to everyone else's classes!  Well, maybe I'll have time someday to attend as a participant.  They have all the synergies of size. Cathy and Larry had upwards of 90+ people this time.  What I couldn't get over were all the beautiful, familiar faces in Monroe!  It was so much fun catching up with old friends at the hotel.

Two people I spent a little time with have slimmed down, taking advantage of the same volunteer group I attend.  Curious?  If you email me, I'll send you info on the group.

If you don't go to seminars, you really ought to try it out.  Yes, I know I always say that, and I know I'm nagging, but I hate for you to miss out.  The camaraderie with other knitters is remarkable; it's as if we are all old friends almost immediately.  This helps eliminate the issues that come from being in a big crowd at a big seminar - not just that, but being broken into groups for classes helps participants make friends.  We have so much in common, resonate to the same vibrations or something.  I laughed until I was weeping at the hotel.

I don't have many photos this time.  We are always too busy to take many photos, and sometimes John and I find a friend who take some pictures, but we goofed and didn't do it this time.  Say, seminar attendees, I'd love it if you sent me some photos to share!

I have two more seminars this year, Princeton, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas, both in the fall.  Email if you want details.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

New Video for July - Hand Knitted Buttonholes

Yikes, I haven't written a blog post in a couple of weeks!  I've been madly busy:

I'm teaching in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania this month, and then in Monroe, Michigan!  I am so looking forward to these two seminars!  John and I will simply fly from one seminar city to the next this time.  I've been getting the handouts ready, the travel arrangements made, buying a new PA system, and all that jazz...

John and I also recently taken two weekends out of town.  One was to attend a Texas Society of CPAs meeting and visit with our older son and his wife, and the other was to go to some classes.

Poor homeless knitting machines have wandered into our house.  I have two 1970s Brother push button machines, one with a ribber, just sitting here, that were donated to our local club.  They need some testing and attention before they go back to the club, and then hopefully, find new homes.  In addition, there's a Brother 270 electronic bulky and a Brother 970 electronic standard gauge, and I need to buy parts for each of those two.  I walk by them and I think that I really should not take on all these projects. 

I put up the July video yesterday and then went off to picnic and watch fireworks. This month's video teaches my two favorite buttonholes to hand knitters.

It's amazing the number of buttonhole lessons out there that each a horizontal buttonhole right across vertical ribbing.  C'mon, knitters, try these instead - they look better!  These two buttonholes are easy, look terrific and blend into the texture of the knitting. 

The July YouTube piece has a little bit of material from my newest product, "Knitter's Finishing School," which is for all knitters who want their finished projects to look more professional. 

Want to see how to make that neat-as-a-pin vertical buttonhole on a knitting machine instead of pointy needles?  It's here:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sponge Strip in a Brother 350

Barbara and Carl came over today, and along with John and I, we figured out how to change the sponge strip in a Brother 350.

The Brother 350 is a lightweight plastic bed machine that I find quite nice to carry along as a portable.  It's easy to use, inexpensive on the used market, and fun for beginners.  Instead of a sponge bar, it has a strip, and if it isn't knitting properly, the strip is likely worn out.  It takes some finagling to replace it.

I currently have a couple of these, one of which needs a sponge strip, and Barbara and Carl brought another over that needed a sponge strip.  Foam rubber simply deteriorates over time.  I had looked online to see how to do this, and we dived in and did the job on my dining room table while we all chatted. 

You know, it's kind of fun to change a sponge strip with three other people whom you enjoy!

John remarked that once we did this Brother 350 sponge strip, I could do it again on the one I have that needs a new sponge and film it for YouTube.  I hope to do that. 

We started by turning it upside down and removing all the metal brackets.  There are brackets that hold clamps and brackets that hold the three sections of plastic bed together, and we needed them off so we could get to the sponge strip.  The sponge strip, which was worn flat, was easy to pull it out.

After that, you can flip the machine over and remove all the needles.  We had three of us working on it, so it went fast.  We'd pull the needles out to hold position, close the latches, and pull them out.  Next, John put them in denatured alcohol to soak them clean, and we went to work getting the sponge strip in.  This was the hardest job.  Carl had the bright idea of attaching a string to it to draw it into the little channel, and even then, he had to patiently work it through, doing one section of the machine at a time.  He showed me how the sections clipped together.  While he was wrestling with that and then putting the clamps and brackets back, Barbara and I worked on the needles, with her drying and then me oiling the latch on each one.  We had put our hands in old, worn out cotton socks.  I was using a gun oil that's safe on plastic to lubricate each latch.  The needles had not been very dirty, as there was hardly any sediment left behind in the alcohol.

By then, Carl had wrestled the strip into the 350 and trimmed the extra from the ends.  Carl and I each took an end of the machine and worked in the needles.  As far as we could tell, the machine has just the right amount of pressure on the needles so they'll stay in place but also knit easily. 

One of the things we talked about was how easy it would be to combine two machines to make a very long bed, perhaps to knit seamless afghans.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Knit Natters on Saturday, June 13

Our club met yesterday.  Since our president moved away (Sob!  We miss you, Sylvia), none of us remembered to send a reminder to the list, but bless them, a bunch of people showed up anyway, and two ladies volunteered to start helping with the organizational things Sylvia used to do for us.

I was very excited about my demonstration, a lace circle scarf (coming to this blog later, thank you), but since we meet in a church, I had to take a tilt stand, machine and tools and set it all up.  Barbara had prepared an amazing demonstration of a Passap flared skirt, and when I got to the church, she of course had her machine all set up and the room organized with the camera, television, chairs, tables, and her knitting gear.

I set up my stuff, and when Norma arrived she helped me program my 970 (which hadn't been out of the closet for a few months.  I've been demoing on other stuff, and I have an older brother 965i that's my everyday standard gauge).  The lace is quite an easy beep-in, and the demo went well until I realized I forgot my garter bar.  Bless him, Barbara lives close to that church, and her husband Carl brought me one.

Barbara's demonstration was terrific; I want to make that skirt.

This had to be one of the best show-and-tell sessions in a while, with members bringing in lots of great projects. 

The club has two Brother Profile 588s which were donated to either help a new knitter or sell for the club treasury.  I brought them home to look at - they appear complete, but Carl showed me some broken buttons and rusted needles.  The Profile 588 was a push button machine with a lace carriage, quite vintage, and you just don't see these often.  One of them even has a ribber and a Knit Leader, but that's the one with some rust.  As old as these machines are, parts can be found.  With two machines, we ought to get one working quite well, not even having to purchase parts.  Knitting machines seem to knit forever with just a little common-sense care.  These might make good starter machines for a beginner. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Adventures With Used Machines

A few years ago, I met a wonderful lady at one of the knitting clubs who works very hard for our craft.  She not only teaches (as a volunteer), she repurposes all the poor stray knitting machines that happen in a club - you know the story - the member changed machines, downsized, got sick, passed away, or something, leaving some machine sitting, gathering dust.  They have no dealer in that area, but if you tell her which item you need, she can probably find one for you.

My husband John is extremely supportive of this hobby, and was also very impressed with the same person's efforts.  Over the past few years, he's gone after various homeless knitting machines and we've sought to repurpose them to other knitters. This makes a lot of sense in our community, because we have no knitting machine dealer.   We don't want to be a dealer, but it's kind of fun to clean them up, check them over, and find them homes as starter machines. 

Knitting machine prices are all over the place, some very high and some very low.  There's something bizarre about finding a machine that originally cost thousands of dollars for sale for peanuts.  You do see them sometimes, though.  Some of them are wonderful, some not so good.

We had a little adventure recently.  John saw a Craigslist ad for a machine and we went to see it.  It's a marvelous machine, a Brother 270, but sadly incomplete - missing the case lid and all the hand tools.  The one missing part that's difficult to find is that case lid.  The seller didn't know how to work it, had inherited it, and said the rest of the items were at her mom's house.  It had been her grandma's machine.  We could tell from the assorted odds and ends which were with it that there were other items, so we asked her to let her mom know that we'd be interested in the rest of the stuff.

We went to see the mom a couple of weeks later and bought the rest of the items - well, what she could find.  We ended up with the case lid for that 270 (hooray), just missing a couple of obtainable parts, and a 970 that's missing it's CB-1 (the electronics for the machine), all hand tools, the manual, and I'm not quite sure what else.  I figured the 970 would be a non-patterning machine unless I dug up another control box, but I read online that you can do things with a 970 with a missing box by hooking up to a computer.  I have DAK, and I'll have to play with that.  I already have an excellent, complete 970, so I plan to find a home for this new baby.  I can tell from the piles of parts that the grandmother had a color changer, a garter carriage, ribber, garter bar, and lots of other items, but this family has not yet sorted through the items they need to sell.  I told them to call me if more KM items turn up. 

So, when I get a chance, I'll clean, oil, and test these latest machines and start ordering the parts I can find. 

These old Japanese knitting machines are so sturdy that as long as they're not rusty, they're probably going to knit just fine. 

John found another item this week, and I told him, nope, nothing more for a while, okay?  It's all getting ahead of me; I haven't room to store it or much free time to fix them.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Favorite Provisional Cast On

When I hand knit, this technique featured over at Canadian Artisan is also my favorite provisional cast-on.  This is the one I always use for round dishcloths that I plan to graft invisibly.

It's MAGIC!  So easy to remove, just pull the string.  The important thing is to use the bumps on the back of the crochet chain, leaving the strands that look like a chain alone:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New Video for June - Brother Floppy Disk Drive Repair - Belt Replacement

The old Brother floppy disk drives are usually broken by now, but we need them if we have old floppy disks with patterns.  At the very least, we need to get the patterns off and into a modern computer.

It turns out that most of the time, what breaks is the belt inside the floppy disk drive. This is a simple little part, quite like a rubber band, and John taught me how to change it.  I've made a video of my changing out that belt:

I put this video up because I found it quite interesting, but here's a disclaimer:  I'm not a knitting machine repair person, and neither is John.  Please don't ask me how to fix machines, because I usually don't know what to tell you, beyond the usual clean it, oil it, and put a good sponge bar in it. 

There are a few things John fixes for me, but we're not claiming to be experts.  We don't have time to run a repair business, and we don't have a stock of parts.  If you attempt this yourself, you're going to need to take the usual precautions (unplug the thing, for instance, and keep track of the screws as you remove them).  You'll also need to order the belt, make that company's minimum order, and pay a bit of shipping.  You might prefer to work with one of the several knitting machine dealers around the country who do repairs and would do a terrific job on your disk drive.  I am very grateful that there are still terrific repair people in the business.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

FB 100 Parts

The FB100 disk drive for Brother electronic machines was a very popular way to purchase or store stitch patterns.  Unfortunately, a great many of these are broken now.

John was interested in trying to fix mine plus two of my friend's disk drives, and knitters saw my appeal on the internet and sent us all kinds of useful information.  The most common reason for these to break down is that the belt (which looks like a rubber band to me) gets stretched out and worn out. 

This photo is simply two FB100 belts - my old, stretched one on the outside, obviously much too big and loose to do any good on the disk drive, and a new one that John purchased from Russell Industries (again, thanks to a tip from helpful knitters), which is much smaller.  Five belts cost about $30, including shipping.

Now, he's figuring out how to take the thing apart and replace the belt.  Then, we'll test the drive.  Fingers and toes crossed!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Notice to Beginners: You Can Get Started Learning Machine Knitting for Free

Here's how to start machine knitting - and learn to make very nice things:  Watch a beginner lesson, work a lesson each day, and in a little over a month, you have learned to machine knit quite competently on any Japanese main bed.  It doesn't go into fancy patterning but emphasizes the all-important basics.  The lessons even finish with a child's raglan in both standard and bulky gauges, so you can learn the techniques for an actual garment.

If you want to master something FAST, do a little practice every day.

At the end of that course, you're probably "hooked."  You made a nice sweater in a fraction of the time it would have taken to hand knit it, and you probably made a better sweater than you thought was possible, if you followed the finishing instructions carefully.  Now, there's a world of options available, for instance, my ribber course, other teaching materials from plenty of knitters, free on YouTube, there's this blog and other folks' blogs, there are unbelievably awesome local groups, and there are lots of great instructional materials available for sale at reasonable prices (and from lots of people besides me)!

The beginner course is over here:

After I did these, folks asked for a DVD and high-definition lessons.  I bought the equipment and did that, but what I left on YouTube was these freebies, which were done with an old analog camcorder.  The old freebies are absolutely the same content, but lower quality picture, sound, and editing, as well, since I was a newbie.  Should I replace them?  I don't know; I certainly have sentimental feelings about them, because they led to my whole book, DVD and seminar business and meeting so many terrific knitters in the last few years.

The beginner course DVDs, and a bunch of other products, are available at  All the products that are for sale are high-definition and you can play them on your big screen TV, if you really want to see everything in giant detail. 

But what if you're just curious about machine knitting?  Go watch the freebies.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Inspiration at Ozlorna's Blog

Congratulations to Ozlorna on the arrival of her lovely SK155, which traveled all the way from California to Oz!  Check out the beautiful sweater she has already knitted on it:

She's an expert I'd love to meet someday!

Oops - link fixed!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Great Shawl at Marg's Knitting Place

Check out Marg's shawl, and note that she used my recently-uploaded YouTube lesson on a diagonal anti-roll edge.  It certainly worked out well on this lovely lacy shawl.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Inspiration at Rett Og Vrang

Look at these lovely fingerless gloves that Synnove made!

I know a very cool way to do this color technique.  Hmm, adding it to my video list.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New Video for May - Latch Tool Cast-On Trim

Before I introduce this video, let me mention that I'm teaching at the San Francisco Bay Area Machine Knitting Guild next Friday and Saturday.  I'm excited because I've redone and refreshed my curriculum, and also because I've heard such terrific things about this MK group.

Email me (link on the left-hand side of this blog, just scroll down) if you are in that area and want more information.

Now, for May's video, here's a flat, sturdy (not stretchy), thick edge that I think looks quite elegant.  It's easy to do.  You can put this at the beginning or the end of a piece.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celebrating Three Million YouTube Views and Ten Thousand Subscribers

Today's a big day for me on YouTube -

10,434 subscribers                     3,001,173 views

This may not seem like big numbers for YouTube generally, but for machine knitting, it's wonderful!

Thanks, everyone!

I used to celebrate by buying yarn, but I really must stop that!  And, I used to celebrate by munching out, but that's out of the question, too. 

Instead, I guess I'll just put up another video tomorrow.  Hint:  For May, it's a nifty tailored-looking trim for the bottom or top of knitting, accomplished with the latch tool.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Inspiration at Needles to Say

I love this little girl's cape, and especially like the edge trim.  If you click on a photo, you can get a bigger view and see the nice lace scallops:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Seminar Dates

Thank you, Sasha, for reminding me that I ought to put a seminar schedule up on the blog so folks and see where I'll be teaching this year!  I only do a few each year - I really do love my day job, but it takes all day, you know? 

In case you want to sign up (you do, don't you?), I've included information for the local sponsoring groups. 

If you have not ever attended a machine knitting club meeting, or attended a teaching seminar, you are in for a very pleasant surprise!  Be good to yourself and try one!  If you can't make it to one of mine, there are a bunch of other great ones all over the country. 

You do need to hustle, though; Seminar organizers need you to pre-register so they can plan properly.  Many of them end up having to turn people away because, of course, they have space limitations.

Here are the seminars I have planned for 2015:

San Francisco, California - May 8 and 9.  The Machine Knitters Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area has a website, here.

Waynesboro, Pennsylvania - July 17 and 18.  This one is sponsored by The Knitting Cottage, 6810 Iron Bridge Rd, Waynesboro, PA 17268, (717) 762-1168.

Monroe, Michigan - July 24 and 25.  This one is organized by Cathy Reaume, (734) 243-3016.

Princeton, Minnesota - October 9 and 10.  This is Cindy's Knitting Room Seminar, organized by Cindy Schmatz, (612) 290-1279.

Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas - October 24 and 25.  The DFW club has a website here.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April's Video: Mobius Scarf with Garter Stitch Graft

Most of the time, when we do Kitchener Stitch, we're making an invisible seam in stockinette stitch.  Did you know that you can graft quite a few different knit stitches invisibly?  Garter stitch is particularly easy to graft, and as I taught the technique in "Knitter's Finishing School," I elected to show it with a few rows of waste knitting at the ends of the knitted fabric.  Then, after sewing the invisible graft, remove the waste knitting, and you're set.

Why waste knitting?  Most hand knitters graft from knitting needles using rote memorization of what to do.  Well, by using waste knitting;
  • You can see exactly how much to pull up the sewn stitches to exactly mimic a row of knitting
  • The knit fabric is secure on the waste knitting, and won't slide off the needles or unravel.
  • The row of waste knitting adjacent to the garment fabric actually follows the path that your sewn stitches will follow, so acts as an extra guide.
Why not knit a couple swatches and try this?  Remember the key rules for Kitchener Stitch, no matter what stitch fabric you're grafting:
  • Use a blunt needle.
  • Have enough yarn so you don't have to tie on more in the middle of the row.  It takes about three times the width of the knitting to sew all the way across.
  • Never pull the sewn stitches tight!  Just pull until they're the same length as knitted stitches.  Soft.  Loose.  Relax...
  • Always make sure you're inserting your needle into a LOOP, not just a space between stitches.  If you're not in a LOOP, you're going to have a hole!
  • There are two stitches, even if you can grab them in one push of your needle, on each side.  With garter stitch, on the bumpy side, it's through two bumps; on the leggy side, through two legs.
  • When you take that first stitch on the opposite side, always go first into the "used" hole, where your yarn came out last time you were on that side, then go into the "new" hole. 
Here's the new video:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Knit Natters Machine Knitting Club Today

I'm demonstrating this anti-roll edge at knit club today.  Barbara's also demonstrating, teaching an absolutely adorable Mary Jane slipper on her bulky machine.  She's letting me use her machine for my demo, too, so I don't even have to carry a machine to club.

Here's my little demo, if you want to attend "virtually:"

Diagonal Anti-Roll Edge
By Diana Sullivan 

Here’s an anti-roll edge that doesn’t take a lot of time, is easy and genuinely creates a good-looking, anti-roll edge. 
Using the triple transfer tool, move the second, third, and fourth stitches from the edge over by one needle so that the second stitch goes on the end needle, the third stitch goes on the second needle, and the fourth stitch goes on the third needle.  Using the one-prong end of the tool, pick up the heel of the fifth stitch and fill in the empty needle left by the transfer.
Knit two rows. 
Repeat the transfer after every two rows.
Variations:  You can do this with the 2-prong tool, and that works fine.  It is also quite practical to do it with a 7-prong tool and get a wider fancy edge, as well.
Curious about the yarn in the photo?  It was one of my experiments, just a few yards of some 2000 yards-per-pound (skinny) white cotton chenille that I used for playing around with dyeing in KoolAid.  It’s pinker than the photo, not such a peach, more of a light salmon.  I made a small hank out of it and tye-dyed it with cherry flavor.  This was then knitted on the bulky machine at tension 5, but I think it would be better at about tension 4.  You could get it through the standard machine, and I worked up one project on the garter carriage at the loosest tension. 
I have also knitted this is quite a few other yarns and found that it'll give you a good edge, even in a clunky worsted weight yarn.  Try it!
I did a YouTube video with this demo a little while back.  Here it is: