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

Happy Easter! And knitting...

I do hope you're having a beautiful and meaningful holiday.

Easter means a great deal to me.  I have lots of Easter memories, and probably the big one was my husband's decision for Christ on a Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter).  Then, a week later, we went to the Crystal Cathedral Easter event with my sister and her husband.  It was her idea - she has the best ideas - and we had our younger son, just a baby, and I recall she helped me find a sitter, too.  I wonder if they still do those amazing shows there?  Gosh, they had amazing costumes, a live tiger, and ladies who ride out on wires being singing angels. 

But no matter what we do, this is the most important Christian holiday and a tremendous reminder of how much God loves me. 

Last year, John and I attended a big, combined multi-church Good Friday service.  This year, we were going to do the same thing.  Because we went to something in San Antonio and figured leaving at 3 would get us to the downtown service at 6:30 with no problems, but then we had long traffic delays, and the service tickets were at home, which isn't on the way, we didn't make it.  Austin is becoming famous for its traffic, and not in a good way.  The town has just grown so much!

As we neared the house, I was searching on my smart phone for a service near our house, and I didn't find one.  Either the churches we are familiar with in our area were part of the combined service or they had already had a service at noon. 

Instead, we decided to watch a movie about Jesus.  When we got home, I searched on Netflix and we chose The Gospel of John.  This had narration directly from the gospel's words overlaid on scenes with actors speaking in Aramaic.  When we went to Israel, I learned that some people still speak Aramaic, in fact, our guides spoke Aramaic.  Some of the movie scenes reminded us of Israel, and some didn't, as it was filmed in Morocco, and the movie scenery is very arid. Israel is that arid in the dry areas - a kind of dry landscape I have never seen in the US.  However, the areas around the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem, where so much movie action takes place, is not so dry.  

I had not seen this movie before.  I enjoyed it, and it gave me lots of think about.

I knitted a little today, and tomorrow, we'll attend a church service.  I have the Easter meal planned, a plan that works for the healthy way I eat now, and also includes some of our younger son's favorites, since he's coming over.  He's thinking about going back to school for a graduate degree, and it's difficult, because he enjoys being out of college and working. 

I'm in the middle of quite a few knitting projects.  The local knit club is making Raggedy Ann and Andy as a learning exercise.  The mid-gauge book I've been working on is only about half done, but hey, it's a good half.  I've decided not to get in a rush.  I don't want to take all the joy out of knitting by letting myself feel as pressured as I get, well, at work.  This is why I don't do custom knitting - I like to take my time, be happy, and not stressed.

I also have the do-it-yourself seminar book I wrote.  It's written, and I like it.  It's about enough material for a weekend seminar, but I think it would be quite a nice resource when you're trying to come up with demos for a club.  I just have to film it, and edit the film.  Oh - and I better come up with a name for it!  So far, nothing has appealed to me more than "do-it-yourself seminar."

And then, there are the attacks I still get where I drop what I'm doing and run to the knitting room to try something.  Today, it was an idea I had about an industrial neckband.

If it were a real neckband, I'd have to figure out how many needles to use.  Typically, you just join a shoulder and stretch the neckline along the machine.  In my case, I just dug around the room for a swatch - I have lots of them - to be a pretend neckline.

Then I cast on the neckband stitches with waste yarn and knitted a few rows, changed to the garment yarn and knitted the rows for the outer covering of the edge, the did a loose row and took the whole business off on waste yarn.  I hung the "neckline" (swatch) on the machine, right side facing me, and then put the large stitches on the hooks, but inside the latches.  Closed the latches and pull then needles back through the neckline.  Then I knitted the rows for the inner neckline cover and picked up a hem!  After that, you can do whatever ribbing you want, just rearrange the stitches onto the ribber.  I think it would be cute to just knit a few rows of stockinette and bind off for a rolled edge.  Maybe I'll use it for one of the projects in the mid-gauge book.  This would make a good video, if I can keep it short.  Hmm.

The other attack I'm having this weekend, which has me off track from the mid-gauge book, was a cardigan idea for some yarn that jumped into my shopping cart recently.  It's a tweedy purple wool (now that I'm skinny, I wear colors), and I have the sideways knitted shrug-ish cardigan all planned in my mind.  Stay tuned!

Say, has anyone played with the new Lion Brand yarn, "Shawl in a Ball?"  Let me know what you think.  The colors are gorgeous, at least on my computer screen.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Inspiration at Rett Og Vrang

Here's an adorable baby hat!  Synnove does quite a few baby garments, all cute, as well as beautiful sewn items.  You might want to follow her blog!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Meet Kris Basta, Devoted Machine Knitter and Garter Bar Manufacturer

I think everyone who follows me knows that I'm a garter bar advocate.  The GB is a great way to overcome some of the basic issues with machine knitting, that every stitch on a flatbed machine is a purl stitch on its own needle.  With the garter bar, you can make garter stitch, Quaker stitch, make rapid cable turns, decrease quickly all across a row, and increase quickly all across the row.  There are other nifty and useful things you can do, too, which you can learn about in my garter bar course.

There's a problem, though.  Garter bars are VERY difficult to obtain for bulky machines, and until Kris started manufacturing her own design, we couldn't get them for our mid-gauge machines.  Kris manufactures a really cool garter bar, which I reviewed in this video:

I have been so impressed at Kris for coming up with a clever design, doing all the work, and taking a risk to manufacture these needed tools for us.  These are made in the US.  I love the quality - beautifully smooth with no nasty sharp edges.  My one concern when I did the video review was that she didn't have a "stopper" at that time.  There are a lot of terrific things you can do with a stopper that are not practical without one.  However, she makes the stoppers now, too!  I am lucky enough to have one of her mid-gauge garter bars and her stopper, and it is a wonderful thing.  Need one?  Look here:

I interviewed Kris, and I think her interview is quite interesting.  Here it is:

Q:  Kris, I’ve so admired your work, especially with the garter bars we all need.  Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your passions? 

A:  I am 53 years old and have been "retired" from a regular job since I was 40.  We owned a family business that we sold.  I have 2 grown kids, son 33, and daughter 21.  Both live within hours of us.  My passion truly is knitting, hand knitting and machine knitting.  I tell people that I knit every day and truly I pretty much do!   I don't even mind ripping things out because I get to knit them again - my mom thinks this is nuts, she is not a ripper outer.  

I also love the outdoors and foraging.  On our Illinois farm I am often seen in coveralls in the ditches or out in the woods looking for berries, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.  (did you know  you can eat cattail pollen as well).  I get poison ivy pretty much every year.  When we are at our farm in Montana I like to take walks, look at the pretty Agates on the ground and interesting geological formations there.  We have a 60 lake on that farm and it is awesome to sit and watch all the geese, cranes, ducks, pelicans, and other birds that land there.  Last time we were there we saw a giant buck deer swim across the water and while we sat on the ground on top of a tall cliff overlooking the lake and we watched a whole bunch of otters doing their crazy thing.  

Q:  Where do you live, and what kind of machine knitting community do you have there?  

A:  I currently live in Illinois.  I was actually born and raised in Illinois up until my senior year of High School, my parents at that time started a business out in Montana and we all moved there in 1981, so I've actually lived most of my life in Montana.  I knew one gal in Bozeman Montana that was a machine knitter, she sold machines, yarn, accessories, etc and was a wonderful mentor.  Aside from that I learned all I knew from my knitting machine manuals, Diana Sullivan videos, Yahoo groups, Ravelry groups, etc.  Just this last year we sold our gigantic home in Montana (kids are grown and gone) and built a smaller house on a lake in western Illinois.  We still own a farm in Eastern Montana where my husband is from and a farm in southern Illinois - so we travel a bit between these.  

Q:  What first sparked your interest in machine knitting?  How did you get started?  What the journey has been like for you?

A: I started machine knitting in 1990 - my husband surprised me with a Passap Duomatic.  At the time I had never machine knitted or had even considered doing it.  I don't know what possessed my husband to buy it for me.  I was a little sparked by it and played with it a bit, but unfortunately at the time it was a bit overwhelming to me, my children were young, we had a business we were running and I was just distracted with other things.  I ended up trading the Passap machine for a large 4-harness weaving loom.  In about 1999 I purchased a Bond Ultimate Sweater machine.  I ended using the heck out of that machine and thus was born my love for machine knitting.  I made a ton of ponchos, scarves, mittens, slippers, and afghans. From that Bond I graduated to Brother, Studio, & Singer machines.  I've owned just about every machine out there.  I've traded, repaired and resold all kinds of them.  Now I have downsized and only use my KH-965i and my KH-270.  It's funny, for all the years that I have now machine knit, and for the fact that I manufacture and sell parts for knitting machines, I am still a very basic machine knitter.  I still make a lot of scarves, hats, afghans, and slippers.  I seldom make sweaters, except for children.  I am also a hand knitter, and as we travel quite a bit I get a lot done while in the car. - but I find great satisfaction in the quick results of using a knitting machine.  

Q:  Do you see yourself as a businesswoman, an inventor, or a hobbyist – or are you all of these?  Do you do other kinds of needlework and crafts? 
A: I guess I am all three.  Prior to my machine knitting adventures I was a product developer for our family business.  I traveled all over the world working with different factories to have product produced and worked with artists from all over the U.S. 

As far as being an inventor, I truly have always dreamed of "inventing" something, even as a child I was always sketching ideas out.  

As mentioned above I do love to hand knit.  Sometimes I use my knitting machine for the bulk of a project then I will take it off the machine and hand knit the rest.   I have crocheted my whole life.  I think I learned as a small child but don't remember who exactly taught me, either my mom or my aunt Joan or a combo of both.  I still crochet periodically but don't love it as much as knitting.  (in the 80's I got on a crochet doily making jag - anyone need doilies?)  

I learned to sew at a very young age as my mom was quite a seamstress.  I used to make all of my son's clothes when he was a little boy and made many, many outfits for my nieces when they were toddlers.  I once made a suit coat jacket for my brother.  He was attending a large hunting convention and in attendance was Peter Coors (Coors beer).  The suit coat jacket was made with a camouflage material and it was lined.  My brother was one of the speakers at this convention and the highlight for me was when Peter Coors said he wanted to know where my brother got his jacket!  The jacket was about 40 or so pattern pieces and I guess it kind of burned me out on sewing.  I only sew occasionally now and there are small projects.  

Q:  Do you have a storefront operation, a home business, or is it primarily a web-based business?  How can knitters reach you and obtain your products?

Q:  I don't have a storefront, it is a home business and yes, it's primarily web-based.  I ship my garter bars, yarn twisters and accessories out of our "shop" (garage building).  We have a large pole building on our farm in southern Illinois where I keep my inventory.  

My Website is:

My email info:

Phone is: 406-579-3310.

Blog:  I have freebie patterns here (hand knit, Machine knit, crochet). 

Q:  How do you feel about the machine knitting process?  What are your favorite yarns, machines, and projects?  Do you like to create patterns, or use written patterns?  Do you like to do color work, or textures? Do you like to do garments the best, or crafts, or charity knitting, or gifts…or what?

A:  I seldom use patterns since I am such a basic knitter.  I do make my own patterns quite often. I am definitely more of a texture knitter than a multi color work knitter.  I love space dyed yarns and how they knit up though.  I have also played around with a little bit of dyeing using Kool-aid and food colorants, pretty fun!  

I am also VERY addicted to felting.  I love when someone's slippers finally wear out because then I can make them another pair!  I use a little table top washer called a "Wonder Washer" to do all my felting - works great.  

I used to do a lot of Farmers Markets where I would sell quite a few slippers and socks.  I use a circular sock knitting machine for my sock making. 

I also have done a lot of charity knitting.  My kids went to a small Christian School that had an annual fund raising event.  I knit a lot of items for that over the years.  My mother volunteers at the cancer center at the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, in the cancer center they have a hat tree.  I have knit a lot of hats, mittens and slippers for this.  Cancer patients are often quite cold and when they come in for treatments they can pick something off the tree to wear and keep.  

A few years back I played around with weaving using a garter bar (thanks Diana for the great video on this!!) and plan on playing with that a bit more.  I have a purse idea I'd like to try with it. 

Q:  How did you come to realize that there was a need for the special-sized garter bars?  How did the clever flat design discovery happen and develop?

A:  I had purchased a few large lots of knitting machines through estate sales, I was still relatively new at machine knitting and I didn't even know what a garter bar was.  After coming across some in the estate purchases I tried using garter bars and really struggled.  I tried both the old metal ones and also the plastic ones that the bond company made at some point.  The metal ones were made really well and sturdy and had great instructions, I just found for myself that I had a hard time re-hooking them back on the needles once I turned the work over.  They were also CRAZY expensive at that time and the only way you could get them was used on Ebay because they hadn't been made in many years.  I had also read some pretty bad reviews on how awful the old plastic Bond garter bars were to use and that people were actually trying to make their own using rulers and paper clips. 

I was lying in bed one night thinking about it and wondered who/how could make them.  (Remember I was a product developer in my other life).  It just occurred to me that if the garter bars were flat and if the hole became a open track that you could see through while re-hooking perhaps it would be easier.  I started out by contacting a company that I had read about in our local paper - a group of young guys that were starting a business wherein they could engineer/draft and develop new product.  They had the type of equipment it took to prototype what I wanted made so I started working with them.  They also helped me with all the technical drawings that the U.S. requires to file for a Patent.  I was granted a Patent for the garter bars.

Q:  What were some of the challenges, getting this unusual product manufactured and marketed?

A:  The company that helped me develop the garter bars (needlestoppers, minis, and tools) were great for developing but they did  not have the manufacturing capabilities at all.  With their help we found someone that could manufacture them in quantity.  Lo and behold, the manufacturer was two miles from my house!  The difficulty came when, after the garter bars are cut, they are quite rough.  My manufacturer did not have the equipment for the specialty polishing that the bars would require.  We searched high and low and finally found someone in the state (Montana) that did this type of polishing.  They polished a few batches for me and they were only "ok" not great and not consistent.  After going through 3 different polishers I finally have found one that is great, and it is right here in Illinois where I now live.  I still have my product manufactured in Montana and just have to time my trips back and forth to pick up my inventory.  The other challenge is trying to keep the price from getting too high.  This type of product is darned expensive to have produced due to the rising cost of steel, and I have to produce in quantity to keep the price down as low as I can.  My marketing is quite simple, my website, word of mouth and an occasional mention on others' websites.   It is a small business as you can imagine, but I enjoy it and I especially love getting to meet and visit (via email and groups) other machine and hand knitters.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Central Texas Knitting News

I'm going to teach a seminar the second weekend in August.  This will be a terrific seminar, as far as I can tell - a small group, a well-organized club (I'm just teaching, not one of the amazing leaders), a terrific place to meet, good food, and a reasonable cost.  If you are interested, please email me and I'll hook you up with the organizers.

My email is accessible by clicking on the envelope picture on the left-hand side of this blog.

We are having a seminar with Tom Panciarello next spring over April Fool's weekend!  I know, Tom, the Machine Knitting Guy, will do a wonderful job.   If you're interested in that one, let me know.

Knit Natters members are currently working through the knitted Raggedy Andy doll patterns.  I have my legs and arms done...more to come.  Next month, we're going to work on the faces.  We are not only doing these on Brother machines, Barbara, bless her, is figuring it all out for the Passap machines.  The ladies in the club picked this project because, well, the dolls are absolutely adorable and cuddly, but also because the project covers just about every basic MK technique.  We are a very welcoming, happy club, and I hope you'll consider joining us. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

New Video - Crochet Look Edging for a V-Neck

March's video over on YouTube is an edging you can use with any flat bed machine - no ribber required!  It makes a beautiful, tidy V-neckline, and it's really very easy.  You can use this edging for other things, as well.

Add this to your bag of tricks when you're using your non-patterning LK150 or other non-patterning machine.  I want you to be able to get the most out of the machines you have, even if they don't have all possible accessories and features.

You can use this edging on round necks, as well, and you don't need to go in two directions.  What makes this look so good is it's started in the center, worked to one edge, started in the center again and worked in the opposite direction, and then sewed in the middle for a beautiful mitered V.

Did you know you can subscribe to my YouTube "channel" and know about new videos right away?  Simply click on the "Click to Subscribe" note.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tom's Teaching an MK Group in Las Vegas

This post from Tom Machine Knitting Guy has a list of his upcoming seminars, but there's also some very good news here.  With his friends, they've got a weekly group in Las Vegas now!  If you live there you ought to jump aboard.

Tom's going to be teaching in Austin at our very own club April Fool's weekend of 2017.  I'm really looking forward to it.

I'll be teaching a seminar in Denver in April, one in Austin in August, and in Milwaukee in September.  There's a good chance that I'll teach sometime this year in Anaheim, but I don't have dates yet.  Interested?  Email me.

I've been writing a do-it-yourself seminar booklet.  Lots of demos, and I plan to film videos of each this will be included.  Could someone please send me some clever names for a book and video of this nature?  The idea is that these are demos that can be done on almost any flat bed machine, and they're from my repertoire of seminar demonstrations that are most popular.  Meanwhile, I am working on a mid-gauge progressive project book - same idea as The Goldilocks Challenge but mainly new and different projects.

There's an email icon down a ways on the left-hand side of this blog.  I can be slow and get behind, but I answer nearly every email.