Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus changes everything!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Another Video for December - Candy Cane I-Cord

I've done so many things with I-cord. Haven't we all?  It's good for edgings, trims, drawstrings, handles, and straps.  I've been fascinated for a while by variations on I-cord, and this video is a small example of that.

You can use you a little of your excess stash by making gift wrap bags and ties that you can reuse.  It saves money and reduces trash! 

Knitted cords often are much better than the fuzzy yarn ties you can purchase.  Cord knitted with sturdy yarn will hold up a long, long time.  For fun, you can mix different strands, colors, textures, and even add shiny run-along yarn.  In the video, I used the patterning system on the machine to make a candy-cane type of stripe. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December's Video: Slanted Pocket

I had a request a while back for a video showing how to do a slanted pocket. Thanks!  These requests help me come up with teaching ideas.

This is a slanted pocket, and just to make it more interesting, it's also curved:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Video for November - Knit Both Sides of a Neckline at Once

Well!  I've been going, and going, and going, like the Energizer Bunny, but this morning I found a little time upload the November video, which shows how to knit both sides of a neckline at the same time.  A simple little thing, but a useful shortcut sometimes!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Take the Ronnie Challenge!

Ronnie generously put me up when I was teaching in Chicago recently.  Mary S. was there, two, and we were just three relaxed, happy, knitting ladies hanging out together. They were so sweet to me - I was tired and didn't have much voice left at the end of those days, but they made me feel incredibly at home.

Ronnie, a dedicated charity knitter, takes on the challenge of working with all kinds of donated yarns.  She says she like to leave them out where she can see the skeins and "let them talk" to her.  Sooner or later, she figures out just what to make of them - and she makes some very nice things.  I'm sure you all realize, as I do, that unfamiliar, "mystery" yarn can be tricky to use, requiring lots of experimenting and adjusting.

At one point, she got quite a mish-mash of interesting yarn and crochet cotton donations.  Here's Ronnie's pool table, stacked with yarn donated for charity knitting:

And, here's Ronnie's pool table, after she turned all this material into knitted goodies:

Ronnie says that she used it up, right down to the last yard or so of each ball.  As a matter of fact, she made this inventory of "before" and "after:"

White Cotton
Little Mended Hearts
Preemie Hats
Blue – Rose
Purple Eyelash
Orchid Eyelash
White Eyelash
Blue Eyelash
Green Eyelash
Pink Eyelash
Black Eyelash
Brown Eyelash
Brown - Black Eyelash
Red – White Eyelash
White Angora

I don't know about you, but I'm dazzled by this accomplishment.

So, here's the Ronnie Challenge - and I should take it myself.  Instead of yarn coming in and taking up semi-permanent residence, let's make soft, warm, useful things from it that someone needs and will truly enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

MORE Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Yet another beautiful mini-mitten!

You should look at them all.  I've only linked to them occasionally, but there are 19 tiny, beautiful mittens pictured on the blog now!

New but Old - My Sock Knitting Videos on YouTube

For various reasons, I'm taking down the old sock knitting videos on YouTube, and putting up new ones with the music stripped off.

This is something I had been meaning to do, and getting it done this morning reminds me that these lessons were a very cool ribber exploration.  These are a little long, but spend 30 minutes watching, if you'd like to get more out of your ribbing attachment, or if you're thinking about getting a ribbing attachment, or just for a review:
  • This video shows a very practical use for circular knitting with a ribber.
  • This is a darn good sock.  The foot and ankle is seamless, which saves you sewing time and makes a more comfy sock.  I used regular hand knitting sock yarn, which is easy to find and produces the best socks, IMO.  I show how to do each step.
  • The book that goes with this, "Knitting Socks on the Standard Machine," has twelve sizes, from little babies to big guys.  I put a lot of tips in to help you get a good fit and make nice seams.   The book, which comes with a hi-def DVD, is available here.
Here are the videos!  Popcorn not included...

Mary Anne Oger has a new book!

This IS exciting!  Mary Anne Oger is a fantastic machine knitter, who for many years published the incomparable Knit Words magazine.  I have gotten so much over the years from her patterns and other books, and I hope you'll consider picking up a copy of her new book at Amazon. 

Right now, Amazon is showing it in stock, eligible for Prime, , and if ordered now, it would be delivered on 9/27.

Click here to see it at Amazon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What I'm Knitting

I've actually been knitting quite a few things!  I'm plugging away at a mid-gauge book.  I wanted to include a warm scarf.  Even though the book is written with beginners in mind, I didn't want the usual beginner's scarf - an ordinary rectangle.  I wanted it to be interesting to knit and interesting-looking, as well.  I wanted for fellow knitters to say to the knitter, "How'd you DO that?"  I also wanted it to be easy, not to require a tremendous amount of hand-tooling.

I decided to go diagonal and use a self-patterning yarn.  I like this alpaca blend from Hobby Lobby, "Fair Isle." One day I saw the yarn in the store, and the next morning I had the idea and went back to the store to buy some.  The geometry was great fun - the whole thing is slanted, and initially, I wasn't sure how to get nice scarf ends.  The way it's folded and sewed together solves that problem. 

I am also getting ready to teach at two seminars.  I'll be in Milwaukee weekend after next, and then in Chicago in October. 

Later in October, I'm attending Mary Anne Oger's seminar in Dallas with my girlfriends.  I'm excited about that, as well, since I haven't yet attended one of her seminars and I loved her magazine, "Knit Words."  I hear she does a terrific seminar.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

New Video - Picture Knitting Without Intarsia Carriage

I try to do a new video every month, and I keep hunting for ideas.  Luckily, readers send good questions, and this video is in response to one of those questions:  Can one do picture knitting on just any machine?

Intarsia (or picture) knitting is a multi-color technique.  It differs from Fair Isle, which is a technique where you carry colors across at the same time.  In Intarsia, you pick up a color, knit it into the part of the row you want that color, drop it, and pick up the next color. 

Yes, Intarsia can be made on just about any knitting machine!  I suppose there might be some unusual or antique machine that simply won't slip past needles, but the knitting machines I know have a setting that lets them slip.  You turn on that slip (or part, or Russel lever) setting, and only selected, that is, pulled-out needles will knit.  That way, you can easily knit pictures.

Intarsia carriages and Intarsia settings make this quicker and easier, but some machines don't have that option.  You can still do it, though.  Here's how:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Scrappy and Blended Handknits

I actually do this a lot - I will use a number of different yarns to hand knit something.  I have made several afghans using different colors and textures for something beautiful -

Here's a very pretty one at Yet Another Canadian Artisan - listed under "Easy Chair Stash Busting."

It SO hot here - I vote for the easy chair!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Video for August - Beautiful Buttonholes on a Folded Stockinette Band

Sometimes we overlook doing a plain folded buttonhole band, but it gives a great result.  It does not require a ribber or any fancy stitches, so you can do it on any machine.

I've seen a lot of different buttonhole techniques for this situation over the years, but I want my buttonholes to look perfect, or at least, look so good that if something's wrong you won't even notice it.  I do not want any lumps, bumps, tight or loose spots, or changes in texture.  Over the years, I've tried all kinds of things and I've finally come up with two preferred techniques that give the effect of the knitting just continuing right inside the buttonhole.  This is the one for a band knitted vertically. I have a little different way to do it if your band is knitted sideways, and I'll put up a video about that later.  It's grafted, and the buttonholes look incredible. 

Yes, this buttonhole can be also used for hand knitting. 

Best of all - if you can do a Kitchener graft from the wrong side, you can do this - it's easy.  And if you don't graft, this buttonhole is do good that it's a great excuse to learn how.

More Adorable Advent Mittens

Over at Rhythm of the Needles, there are several more cute advent mittens:

I really do admire this project!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mini-Mittens at Rhythm of the Needles

Here's a little hand-knitting inspiration - cute little mittens that make a garland for aChristmas tree.  Have a look!

I admit, I knit a lot of crafty things, but I doubt I'd have the patience to knit a whole garland of these cute little mittens.  Scroll through the blog - I've been looking at these as she puts them up - and each one is different, all beautifully made.  This looks like something I'd much rather machine knit than hand knit.  I love small projects, but you'd have to make quite a few of these.  I suppose, if you ran out of patience, they'd be really cute hung on the tree singly.  As a matter of fact, I have little hats and mittens my girlfriend made that I hang on our tree every year.

While these must take a long time to hand knit, the machine would knock out the little Fair Isle mittens quickly.  I'm impressed at her patience and beautiful workmanship.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mid-Gauge Shawl Finished

I've been ever-so-slowly working on a new book for mid-gauge knitters, and just finished one of the pattern items for the book. 

This is a large triangular shawl, just the thing for some of the overly-air-conditioned meetings I sit in.  It's made from a slubby mohair blend.

To give a sense of the size, spread out, it's longer than my queen-size bed, and had to be partially blocked, moved and then steamed again.  Steaming was all it needed.  Perhaps it should be brushed a bit to bring out the nap.  Because it's so large, I've been knitting on it, a few minutes at a time, for about a week of found moments. 

The shawl was made in two sections with an invisible Kitchener graft in the middle along the center point.  I started on the tip at one end of the machine and increased as I worked.  The piece was scrapped off when I ran out of needles.  That folded end showing the purl side has a little bit of a rolled look - well, it's not rolling, it's actually a built-in I-cord style slipped edge.

The lace edge is worked as the shawl is knitted, not sewn on later, a hand-tooled increase along with a full-fashioned lace to make a three eyelets each row.  It's easy and goes fast using the triple transfer tool.  I liked the way it looks and the way it lies. 

The mitered corner where the lace changes directions match beautifully, and all I did was Kitchener that center seam.  Even though this fussy yarn hides flaws, it really does look perfect.  Maybe next time I make it, I'll use a plain yarn so the lace shows more. 

This book is intended to be like The Goldilocks Challenge, my bulky beginner project book, but this time, for LK150s and other mid-gauge machines.  The patterns will be accessible to beginners, with the easiest things in the book first and moving to more complex items.  Each project will teach techniques.  I am creating a whole new batch of different, gifty projects.  So far, I have an afghan, baby blanket, baby pants, baby sweater, baby kitty cat hat, sock, earflap hat for all sizes, tam (yes, I'm repeating the good ol' tam, for the folks who have been asking for it in mid-gauge - I do love it for teaching short rowing!), a mitten, a shawl, and now I want to get at least one classic garment for multiple sizes prepped for the book.  I may add another item or two - don't know.  I am subject to bursts of enthusiasm!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wonderful Short Video

I hardly ever do non-knitting posts, but I enjoyed this so much I just had to share it -

A short video, Kurt Vonnegut on the "shape of stories."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Inspiration at Rhythm of the Needles

Really pretty socks at Rhythm of the Needles.

I sure am glad somebody besides me is blogging about knitting this summer!  It's been awfully quiet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Video for July - Intarsia Cable

I think this contrasting two-color cable is pretty enough to get you to try out your Intarsia (picture knitting) carriage!  Have a look at how Intarsia is done.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fouth of July!

I'm going to have a great Independence Day - going to knit a bit, and we'll attend an amazing fireworks show this evening!  I hope you have a wonderful day, too.  To get you in the mood, here's Josh Groban!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Miscellaneous Updates...

I haven't blogged much lately, but I do keep on cooking along.

Our club decided not to do a seminar in August. As a matter of fact, Knit Natters is in flux with our president resigning because she has too much going on, and attendance down for the summer.  Gosh, I've known since I had my own yarn shop that most folks don't knit during the summer, just us crazed diehards. 

Barbara and I are very concerned about the general downturn in attendance.  We're going to have the July meeting at my house.  That way, we don't have to carry anything to a church.  My knitting room is upstairs, but I think everyone who is active right now can handle the stairs.  I better clean it up, though!  And see if my poor Passap is stuck tight.  I haven't had time to knit on that one in a long time.  We are going to finish up the Raggedy Ann and Andy demonstrations.

I took a bit of a hiatus from knitting and designing, not intentionally, just too busy with work and life. 

Our son Steven purchased his first home, and we are excited for him.  It's a great house, close to his work, and we were busy for several weekends with helping him pull it all together.  We even showed up to help him move, but he has a roommate who generously helped out.  The two young, fit guys almost made it look easy - except that it was a very hot day, and their clothes were soaked through.  Steven has so much left to do!  His washing machine is leaking and needs a repair, the house hasn't got a single window covering, he wants a contrasting rug for the living room to add color since everything in the room now is dark brown, some furniture needs moved, bathroom hardware needs installed, and a light fixture needs fixed.  He plugs away at it.

As thousands of people have moved to Austin, home prices here have risen quickly and there is very little for sale.  In order to afford his house, Steven will have roommates. 

I continue to be busy with my weight loss group.  I'm in this non-commercial, volunteer program that helped me lose all my extra weight, and now I'm hoping to help other people as well as stay motivated to keep up my own new habits.  A while back, some of us started a group in my own neighborhood, so I've added that to my schedule.  Then there's a study group I attend and a weekend meeting, as well. 

In September, I'm teaching a seminar in Milwaukee.  When I get the surveys back, I'll build the handout book.  We haven't been to Milwaukee, and John and I are looking forward to it.  It will still be very hot here with that classis long Texas summer.  We're trying to get in a trip to Southern California to see family, and we also have another fun trip planned for November. 

My hope is to get back to my main knitting project soon, a mid-gauge book.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kind of Fun - Prngle of Scotland Animated Video

This is a fun little video that I picked up at the Rhythm of the Needles blog, and I thought y'all might enjoy it.

Of course, I went over to Pringle's website to see what this spring/summer collection looks like. 

Hmm.  A lot of these don't look like knits.  At least, not the sort of knits we make!  Maybe they're very finely knitted fabrics, cut and sewed.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Matched Socks from Self-Striping Yarn

Getting your socks to turn out like a matching pair isn't always easy in self-striping yarn, especially if it's a large repeat of various color stripes.  The other day, I was looking down at my feet and realized that this pair I had made for myself matched up just about perfectly.  Not only that, but look how random those stripes look, since it's such a long time before the pattern repeats again.

So, goofy as I am, I rolled up my pant legs and took a picture.

Yes, there's an element of luck in this.  If you are unlucky enough to get yarn that isn't dyed evenly, it isn't going to match up.  However, most high-quality sock yarn that is dyed in stripes will  have the same length stripes each time the striping pattern repeats.

When you start the sock, start just at the beginning of a new color, that is, try to make that first stitch be knitted in that first bit of the new color. When you start the second sock, you have to wind off enough of the yarn to get to that same point in the repeat, and then use that same color for your first stitch.  That starts both socks with the same stripe, and the rest follows along.  Yes, it usually wastes some yarn, but you can use that yarn later for something else.  I find that when I purchase two 50-gram balls of yarn for a pair of socks in my size (ladies' medium - I wear a size 8 show) that I always leftover yarn.

One more thought - if you rewind the yarn before knitting the socks, make sure that you rewind each ball the same number of times.  That is, if you elect to wind the yarn more than once - for instance, because you think it's wound too tightly or you had to rip out, well, rewinding will reverse the direction of the yarn. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Great Article About Tension at Susan Guagliumi's Site

Ahh, learn from an expert:

When I was struggling with my first knitting machine - and lost, since the manual seemed like a poor translation from the Japanese and its sketches were, well "sketchy," I phoned my father-in-law.  He came over to have a look.  He was originally trained as a textile engineer, and he gave me one great piece of advice:  with machinery like this, the tension is critical!  Get the tension right, and everything else is easier.

Get the tension wrong, and well...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Post About Maintenance at Canadian Artisan

This post over at Yet Another Canadian Artisan has some nice photos and instructions about cleaning and de-fuzzing your sinker plate to make your machine work much better.

Lint and strings under the knitting brushes will cause terrible edge looping problems and make your machine difficult - or impossible - to use.  Take a few minutes and check yours!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

New Video for June

Knitting machines make lace by transferring stitches from one needle to the next, so it's all about the direction.  Wouldn't it be cool if you could easily flip an asymmetrical pattern so it went in the other direction?  Well, you can.  With an electronic machine like one in the video, you push a variation key to reverse the pattern, and you also reverse the position of the main carriage and lace carriage.

With punch card machine, you turn the card over - right to left, not top to bottom - and then you also reverse the positions of the carriages.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rhonda's Shell Stitch Afghan

I just have to brag about Rhonda's shell stitch afghan.  Check out these pix:

Check out the bumpy texture and the beautiful edging.

I did a video showing how to do this stitch:

And here's a video showing how to do the honeycomb ribbing that Rhonda used for the edging:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New Video - Short-Row Shaping of Lace

This month's YouTube video shows how to shape lace with short-rowing, using a ravel cord.  This is a basic technique for working lace, and once you practice a bit, very straightforward.  It gives a very professional look to the finished garment to shape in this way.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Interesting Knitting Machine

I was going to STOP buying knitting machines.  I had actually done a pretty good job of moving some of my machines on to new homes, but still had a few that I needed to clean, lube, test, and advertise.

Hubby, though, has an RSS feed that sends him a copy of each Craigslist ad with the words "knitting machine" in it.  Sure, sometimes you get an ad with knitting needles and a sewing machine and no knitting machine, but you can eliminate those false positive and you have a clever way to know when there's a machine for sale.  He sees a cool one, sends it to me at my office by email, and I take two minutes to glance at it and email him back that we really shouldn't...yeah, right.

I went to see this Princess Hi-Memory machine.  The seller, who picked it up at a thrift store, was a really nice gal who isn't a knitter and just thought she'd resell it.  She was careful with it, had no idea if it would work (and neither did I, at first).  She couldn't quite close the case.  The manual was gone. She thinks it's an KE2500.  I could only manage to find a KE2400  manual online.  I don't see KE2500 on the machine anywhere.  It looked like the punch cards weren't there, just blank ones, and like the hand tools were missing (I think this is a Silver Reed/Studio/Singer, and they usually used an accessory box).  We made a deal, I paid her, and off I went.

Got it home.  John hadn't seen it yet, but he was fascinated, too.  Right away, we pulled the sponge bar, which was nearly flat and almost rotten.  I had some Studio sponge bars, and the dimensions matched, so we put one of those in.  We couldn't get over how clean it looked.  Had anyone ever knitted on it?  Was it a gift, and the recipient just wasn't interested?  Everything was dry and stuck, though, so we got out our trusty Hoppes Elite Gun oil and started lubricating and playing.

So much of the engineering is different.  On the bottom, the clamps are attached and hinged to the case.  The bottom has rubber pads, which makes it less slippery, a nice feature.  We clamped it to the kitchen island. 

The punch card mechanism is in the carriage, which is something I had not seen before. 

The lace carriage does not select needles.  It's separate, though; it seems to me, although I haven't tried it yet, that it will do simple, single-transfer lace in one direction only unless you pick it up and move it to the other end of the bed.  The extension rails have flat areas like little metal tables for either side of the machine.

By reading the downloaded manual, I could see what the unfamiliar-to-me controls did.  Once you fold the handle up into working position, there's tension slider on the main carriage.  You turn a little knobs and then slide the lever to change the tension.  Plain, slip and tuck are on knobs for each direction.

The one thing we found really tricky was learning to put the carriage on.  It has wheels in the back that need to match up to the right spot on the bed - little tangs go into the larger slots.  It's a little tricky, but John got the hang of it.  If you don't put it on correctly, it just stops.

It didn't want to knit at all in one direction, because a cam under the main carriage was entirely stuck.  John lubed and loosened that up, and by the end of the evening, we had it "air knitting."  We weren't ready to put in yarn.

An avid knitter, like me, really shouldn't try to sleep with a brand-new-to-me machine sitting in the kitchen.  Questions were popping into my mind.  How did that lace carriage work, since it doesn't select needles?  What should I knit with it to test it thoroughly?  Does it do punch lace or thread lace?  It is like a Juki Hi Memory?  Could I buy punch cards?

This weekend, I really must do other things.  I am, after all, teaching a seminar in beautiful Denver next weekend!  I have to pack.  I have to review the materials, and make sure I have everything I need and I'm not rusty on any demos.  This is going to be big fun - I really enjoyed a prior seminar in Denver, and love to teach and meet knitters anyway.

This morning, the new baby is still on the kitchen island.  I looked at the manual some more, answered a few of my mental questions, and discovered - oh, joy - that the punch cards are actually here, underneath the blank cards, and the hand tools are in a compartment in the bed. 

Though y'all would get a kick out of the pictures, and selfishly, perhaps some kind soul can tell me whether it is a KE2400 or a KE2500 and might even have a manual, if I haven't got the correct one. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New: April's Video is Scalloped Ribbing

There are lots of ways to dress up a ribbed edging, and here's a really good-looking, easy one:

This one is especially pretty for neckline and sleeve finishes.  And of course, I'm hoping you'll get a little more out of your ribbing attachment by using just a touch of tuck stitch!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Jane Raddatz' Wonderful Lesson on Improved Sew-As-You-Go

I'll never get over how creative, clever and generous machine knitters are! 

Jane Raddatz of San Diego has written me and even sent pictures about how she's doing sew-as-you-go knitting in a different way, and with great results.  Here's what she said (and sent), starting with a photo of conventional sew-as-you-go, the way I have been teaching it (simple, right-side up, loop on a needle join):
I think if you look at Jane's photos and read her instructions, you'll agree that she has a superior method!  It's going to be a little more trouble to poke your tool into the knots instead of the loops, but try it - I'm heading to my machine to try it myself.
Dear Diana -- Every description of sew-as-you-go that I've seen, including yours, emphasizes making sure the panels are going in the same direction, that is, being sure you start with the bottom loop of the panel you are joining.

I'd like to question that wisdom.  I've found through experiementation that you get a much nicer join if you purposely join the panels in the opposite direction.

The reason for this is twofold.  1)  Sew-as-you-go results in a one-half stitch overlap of the panels, and 2)  the difference between a right-side up stitch and an upside down stitch is one-half stitch.  These two facts combine to give you a perfect join, with no half stitches involved, if you purposely join the panels upside down. 

If your panels are patterned in a one-way direction, of course, this may not work..  .

I've attached photos.

....In both photos, the join is near the center of the panel. 
....In photo 1-a, the bottom half is done "upside down", hanging knots on the side the carriage is on.

....The upper half of photo 1-a is done "updside down" hanging loops on the side the carriage is on
....In photo 2-a, the bottom half is done "upside down",  hanging knots on the side opposite the carriage
Photo 2-a
....The upper half of photo 2-a is done "upside down", hanging loops on the side opposite the carriage

AND . . . there is a wonderful side benefit to the approach too.  You can proceed from panel to panel without breaking the yarn.  I start with a crochet cast-on, preservving the final loop on a holder.  At the top of the first panel, I do a loop-through-loop bind-off, then use the final loop to start a crochet-cast-on of the next panel.  I preserve the final loop of that crochet cast-on to use as the beginning loop for the next panel's loop-through-loop bind-off.  As long as you make sure to end each panel's bind off with the yarn on the side the next panel will be, you can work with one continuous strand of yarn.  The result is:
..... 1) no extra yarn ends to work in,
......2) an attractive, continuous chaiin across the top bottom of the afghan (cast-on chair leads into bind-off chain leads into cast-on chain...).
......3) a nice sew-as-you-go join between panels.

Jane Radatz
San Diego