Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Facebook in Ten Minutes a Day

I was advised that the best platform for my virtual seminars was going to be Facebook.

I rebelled at that.  I don't think social media brings out the best in a lot of people.   Also, Facebook has so, so much power over our lives and our used-to-be-private information.  

I studied alternatives, investigating a number of streaming platforms.  They were either expensive, complicated, or both.  

I ended up using Facebook because it lets you leave the video up in the private group so people can watch it whenever they want while the group is operating!  That is a fantastic feature.  Also, you can post all sorts of documents and links that keep all the necessities for a seminar together.  

I used Facebook, and it worked out just great.  Yup, I'll use it again.  I liked everything but Facebook "Rooms," which is like Zoom but not as good, not at all as good.

With me doing the seminars on FB, a lot of you are now communicating with me on FB.  I had to stop ignoring Facebook and start keeping an eye on it.  My friend list is longer, so I get more of everything.  If there's anger or negativity, I don't want that in my head because I will keep thinking about it.  

I especially want to manage my time, too - you know, more knitting and less nattering!

I have developed a deliberate system to deal with Facebook daily in 10 minutes or less.  I'm getting better at it, too!

Step One:  Open Notifications

  1. Check friend requests, and if the person is not a knitter, delete the request.  When my FB friend group got so large, a bunch of handsome older men with blank profiles wanted to be my friends.  These are fake scammer pod people.  An actual knitter usually has several of my knitting buddies on their friend list or pictures of their knitting machines or knitted items.  
  2. I love knitting posts, especially if they have pictures.  I only answer if I think I can add value somehow, perhaps answer a question or make a suggestion someone else hasn't already given.
  3. If the post is political, religious, sentimental, or any other kind of non-knitting, I might read it and I might not.  I am training myself to look at the picture and read the first sentence or so and make a decision.  This is most of the forwarded content and it's easily identified!  I spend no time on those whatsoever.  
  4. I do pay attention to family pictures and updates, of course.
  5. If the post is mean spirited, I spend no time on it.  I hardly ever see these, though, since most of my friends are knitters, an awesome group of people.  
  6. If the post is non-knitting and it's in a knitting group I administer, I delete it.  It's usually just a mistake.  For those groups, I posted "knitting only and be nice" rules, rules which also apply to me.  
Step Two:  Look at Messages

  1. If the message has a clickable link, I don't click it.  It might be malware.  I learned this the hard way.  :(  
  2. If the message is from a knitter or customer, I will do what I can to help them.  If it's a simple question, answer; if not, give them my email address and ask them to write an email.
  3. If the person wants to "chat" or "say hello," that's nice, but I do not respond.  
  4. If the person is writing in a foreign language, I do not respond.  I don't know why I get so many of these, but it looks like they sent them to a boatload of people and they're not really for me.
Does anyone want to spend less time on social media in 2021?  You might make your own strategy to burn through it faster.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Inspiration from Eme

One of my knitting friends, Eme, sent me two photos of an absolutely beautiful baby blanket made using the Little Twist Cables technique.  I love the color!  Look how great her borders are, done in the ribbing!

Here's the video where I teach this easy cable:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wishing you a very merry Christmas!

We attend a wonderful church, and we have been able to attend lately (as they have social distancing, masks, etc.).  The services are also broadcast over the internet and available to view later.

This was my favorite sermon this Advent, a lesson tht gets to the heart of what God gave us for Christmas.

I hope you all have a beautiful, meaningful holiday!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Choosing a Brother Knitting Machine

 I was asked a really terrific question recently.  If I were starting out, what standard gauge model Brother knitting machine would I choose?

I'm going to limit these comments to Brother machines.  Even limiting to the one brand, this is a very tough choice and a long essay.  

Do think about what you want to knit and what gives you joy.  

The Variety Knitter:  Speaking for myself, teaching and designing is the most fun, and that dictates that I teach and design on a the most popular models so you will get the most out of my books and videos.  But even if I weren't teaching, I would still design.  I always have a thing in my head I want to make.  I do knit other people's patterns, but I nearly always change at least a few things.  And, I constantly chase new ideas and different patterns.  

Are you like me?  If so, my workhorse standard gauge machine is the 965i.  Why?

  • The electronics give me lots of flexibility, which allows me to change things like the stitch design without punching a card.  I can make any design size I want, even if it's a multiple of 7 stitches or an isolated 92 stitches.  Electronics allows me to get the prep done quickly and start knitting.  Oh, by the way, I don't like punching cards, especially the noise my card punch makes.
  • The 965 has a big, big memory.  You could have a humongous picture that you put in its memory, but in my case, the big memory is handy for holding a lot small designs with individual pattern numbers.  
  • My "perfect" setup also includes a motor, Knit Leader, garter carriage, color changer, ribber and Design A Knit plus cables.  
  • Why not the 910, 930, 940, or 950?  No real reason, I like them all.  The 940 has the bigger memory.  The 965 is quite good with several patterns across something, so it's excellent for personalized items where you put in names.  Do you sell things or make gifts?  People love personalized items.  It's also great when you want borders.
I'm fortunate in that my husband (aka Mr. Fixit) deals with electronics quite cheerfully and effectively.  Sure, he's rather work on an antique motorcycle than fix a knitting machine, but he's fixed plenty of knitting machines for people.  John tells me to go ahead and have electronic machines, since I like them so much, and if they break, he'll try to fix them.  If he can't fix them, he'll help me find a replacement. Truthfully, I've had very, very few problems with my electronic machines.  I don't move them around a lot, I keep them inside and covered, nd I avoid shipping them.

Comments on the 970:  The 970 was the fanciest electronic machine Brother sold in the US, and they are indeed very feature-laden.  These are more expensive than the other models.  My biggest gripe is that they are harder to learn, and I keep meeting people who never learned the 970 and find themselves still knitting on a previous model.  

Charlene Shafer has good materials to help you learn the 970.  I also like the information on the Daisy Knits website.  

I do have one, and it's very nice to use.  However, the tiny display is hard on my eyes.  Also, these displays gradually dim and the luminescent panel will need replaced.  John puts a brighter light in them than the original, and other people do the job too.  I know Michael Becker does them.  

It is a great machine if you really love double jacquard in up to 6 colors, for instance, turning photographs into knitting.  

I've been told about the new console for the 970.  I haven't played with one, but I imagine I would really like it because I'd be using a big screen.  Hmm, I should look for one of those, although I really should only teach on the console most people have.

The Punch Card Lover:  Not everybody wants to fool with electronics.  Knitting machines can be quite frustrating, and if you don't love electronic gadgets, perhaps you'd rather not add learning to "program" patterns into the electronics.

Some knitters prefer punch card machines because they will never have to cope with broken electronics.  One of my friend's engineer husband told her to always buy punch card machines because he will always be able to fix them.  In her situation, I would definitely do that.

Some knitters have fantastic punch card collections and favorite patterns that use the punch cards.  I admit I haven't used extra wide patterns nearly as much as I thought I would when I went from punch card to electronic.  What I use is the flexibility and speed of putting in new patterns.

Are you an RV enthusiast?  Punch card machines don't need electricity.  

Punch card machines are less expensive and widely available.  The 24 stitch cards fit in multiple brands of machine.   

If you want a punch card machine, try to get one with pattern isolation.  Brother had little cam strips you put on the bed only where you wanted a pattern.  That was a very nice feature.  It's also really nice if you get one that works with a garter carriage - the older ones don't.  

The Prolific Knitter:  You might be doing some craft shows or knitting some volume for charity.  What machine you need will depend on what you make.  If you are running machines hard enough to wear them out, you would want to keep an eye out for a spare machine in great condition.  Most of all, I think you would want to use a machine you find easy to use.

I have never worn out a knitting machine.  I knit a lot, but not all day or every single day.  With a little care, these machines last a long time.  

The Beginner Knitter:  Many beginners make one of two humongous mistakes:

Beginner Big Mistake #1 is to purchase a cheap but awful machine to save money. Here's an example:  a knitter I knew purchased an old-time metal knitting machine from Germany with sinkers.  These were curved teeth that pulled down on the yarn as you went across with the carriage instead of using weights or a more sophisticated sinker plate.  I could not work that machine!  I really tried, but it constantly jammed.  

Now don't fuss at me in the comments that you loved that machine and you could have taught her.  At the time, I couldn't find a person who could teach her.  How could she, a beginner, manage that machine?  She tried incredibly hard over a period of time, but became discouraged and gave up the hobby entirely.  

I don't want to bad-mouth any particular machines here, but I urge you to avoid old, old machines, especially pre-punch card models.  Get a "modern" punch card or electronic machine.  I greatly dislike some of the new cheapie machines.  You want a machine that knits quickly and smoothly and has a proper upper tension unit.  If you want a plastic bed, get an LK150 or a Brother 350.  Are you a beginner considering some model or other?  Send me an email asking about the model you're considering, and I'll tell you what I know if I'm familiar with it.  I am NOT a dealer.  As we say in Texas, I don't have a dog in the fight.  I am focused on your knitting success.

Beginner Big Mistake #2 is to try to go it alone.  I prefer to learn things on my own, at my own speed and with nobody watching me fumble, but I didn't really master my machine until I found other knitters.  This isn't a good hobby to learn on your own.  There is just too much information that is not in the book.

Do yourself a huge favor and buy from someone who will will help you start or join a knitting club.  If you generally don't like to join groups, you might be quite surprised at how pleasant it is to be in a group of machine knitters.  Most groups are meeting virtually now, which means you can join a club thousands of miles away if you want.  I'm very happy with my remote membership in the San Francisco Bay Area Knitting Guild. I recently had an email from a knitting friend asking if there were a club near her.  It turns out she lives near one of the best clubs in the country! They will really help her out. 

You can learn from videos, too.  You can watch my instructional videos on YouTube at my channel, dianaknits.  I have hundreds of brief video classes, where I try to show and explain each step, and they're free!  I was one of the first people to do this, but LOTS of other knitters are doing it now, and they do good videos.

Finding a Machine:  I've written about this before, but a few fresh thoughts come to mind and a few things are well worth repeating.

Did you ever buy a lemon car?  Remember how expensive that was?  Well, on a knitting machine purchase, keep in mind that your biggest financial risk is buying a bad machine.  If you do find a deal at a yard sale or a thrift shop, don't spend more than you can afford to lose.  Some great machines have been found this way, and some had to be discarded because they were broken or the missing parts cost more than replacing the whole machine.  

Brother machines are getting quite old, and you don't know what they've been through with their prior owners. That's why I recommend buying from a dealer if you can.  Some of the dealers have amazing used Brother equipment for sale at very affordable prices.  A dealer who wants to stay in business cannot afford to sell you a bad machine.  That's why they go over used machines thoroughly, ensure that everything works and the parts are all included.

If you are hunting for a good machine, try searching for a local machine knitting club.  Most clubs have people who need to sell machines and some clubs have a person or two who loves to find homes for machines.  Here in Central Texas, we have no dealer, but if you contacted our knitting machine club, our members could help you find a good machine quickly.  

Monday, December 7, 2020

New Video - Bias Striped Gift Bag

 I have come to really appreciate holiday gift bags.  They're a time-saver, and reduce waste and mess since they can be reused.  

Here's one you can knit, and while you're at it, you'll practice working with bias knitting, making knitted cord, and sewing a grafted seam.  Have some fun with it - change the size, make it in striped cake yarn, or scrappy stripes, or run a fair isle down the bias - whatever you like to do with whatever you have on hand.

Do you like my videos?  When you watch this on YouTube, click on Subscribe and Notify.  I do at least one every month and really try to vary the topics.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

My Next Virtual Seminar

 Hey, everyone, I'm working on the next virtual seminar for early next year.

The ones I did in 2020 had four half-day sessions and picked four big topics.  I plan to follow that same general format.

So here's my question for you, and giving me answers is the very best way to help me:

What sort of projects and techniques would you most like to have covered in a knitting seminar? 

Leave a comment here or send me an email.  Down on the left-hand side of the blog is an envelope icon where you can email me.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Brand New Video - How to Use your Tilt Stand and Tilt Safe Brackets

When I taught the Rib It! seminar, the knitters really noticed my tilt stand and how I use it.  There are a lot of advantages to them:

  • Tilt stands are very sturdy.  I have had really old ones (like 30+ years) and they are still rock solid.
  • Tilt stands don't rock or wiggle.  The four legs are spread for a wide base.  The legs have thick rubber pads on the ends that stay put.
  • These stands have a holder in the back for the lid of your knitting machine case.  That lid holds a lots of miscellaneous necessities for machine knitting.  Mine are chock-full of items, and I'm grateful to have them right there within reach.  I might have to stand up and peer over the back of the machine, but this holds a lot more tools and books than a flat table, unless you have an enormous flat table.
  • Tilt stands have a relatively small footprint.
  • If you want them taller, you can put each leg on a bed riser and then stand to knit.  I just put them on the floor, and use an adjustable office chair that I move up and down to change my body position from time to time as I knit.
  • They are just the right thickness to hold machine clamps.
  • They're expensive, but you can find them used, since they last so long.
  • Best of all, you can go from slanted operation with your ribber to flat and back again in seconds!
I was surprised at how many questions I got about tilt stands.  This new video covers those questions.

Also, I originally had the very old style ones, which did not have a security bracket to hold the clamps. When I treated myself to a new one I discovered that the new ones come with these brackets.  I promptly decided that the safety brackets are an absolute necessity.  Without them, with the stand tilted, you could have your machine slip right off onto the floor or your lap!  The machine is both fragile and heavy.

Other people had the same thought.  Ronnie in Chicago has a source for these safety clamps that I put in the video description, below the video on YouTube.  The ordering links are here, as well:


There are two sizes, 1" and 2", so look at your stand and see which ones you need.  I do not have an affiliation to "feature" these items - I simply am very happy with the 1" ones I bought and I want to spread the word and support vendors who are willing to manufacture items we need and can't get elsewhere!

Important: Do not overtighten your machine clamps!  Gradually, over-tightened clamps spread and then no longer hold the machine securely.  I don't have great grip strength, and to tighten them, I grab a short dowel or chopstick for a little leverage.  You could use a screwdriver shaft or a longer stick, but don't overdo it!  Also, I avoid using the racking handle for tightening.  It is probably strong enough, but I'd hate to damage it.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

My Two 2020 Seminars - USBs Available

 Now that the two 2020 virtual seminars are over (whew!), I wanted to announce that their contents are available on USB flash drives.  We have caught up on these and have plenty in stock. 

This is VERY new and different for me.  Let me tell you the Readers Digest version of what happened.

In the springtime, with the pandemic, machine knitting seminars all over the country were cancelled.  I was very disappointed, since I had some great seminars planned, and I started to think about doing a virtual seminar.  I asked several very knowledgeable people about how to go about it and whether it could work for me, and then I recruited my son and husband to figure out the technical set up for the knitting video.  Gradually, it started to look quite possible, and with just a few announcements on social media, the first seminar, Summer Seminar 2020, filled up.  

As the summer went by, we solved our technical issues, putting a studio setup in the house with a new video system and a new sound system.  I figured out how to run the seminar on Facebook, how to enroll people, and I worked to create an experience, not just a class.  We had vendor advertising and discounts, online discussions, socials on Zoom (after trying and abandoning Facebook Rooms, which didn't measure up to Zoom at all).  I put on extra sessions both before and after the main curriculum, and we worked out all sorts of minor technical issues.  

Summer Seminar ended up huge - four planned half-day sessions plus two long bonus sessions, detailed handouts for everything, and a bunch of free patterns.  The knitters were amazing, sharing all sorts of ideas, photos, patterns, links, and friendship on the Facebook page.  A number of knitters asked me to put out the videos later without editing so they could have a permanent copy of the materials.  There were so many hours of video that we had to rule out DVDs and downloads and I finally came up with the USB flash drive idea.  

To my astonishment, the USB flash drives were quite popular.  Feedback and reviews have been great!

When Summer Seminar was well underway, another club asked me to do a virtual seminar on the ribbing attachment.  I went to work on fresh curriculum and offered that one (Rib It!) in early fall to that club and others who wanted to participate in a seminar specializing on the ribber.  This was really different material, much more specialized classes, and it turned out great.  A lot of knitters don't get nearly as much great knitting out of their ribbers as they could, and I am quite proud of that curriculum.  We had four half-day sessions again and a bonus session, plenty of free patterns, detailed handouts again, and all those hours of video and documents went on another 64GB USB drive for sale at a deep discount to seminar participants.  

If you couldn't make either seminar, the USBs are both available at www.dianaknits.com.  

These little USB flash drives go into an envelope and I just drop them in the mail like letters.  Since that's cheaper to mail than the padded envelopes we usually use for books and videos, we've been able to offer them with free shipping.  

Keep an eye on this space - I am planning my first 2021 seminar for early spring!  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

New Video - Tower Cable

 Every so often, I get a bit obsessed with cables!  There are just endless variations.  Sometimes, you want a BIG cable to anchor your design.  Here's one!

And now, a word from our Sponsor.  ME!

I finally got all my products onto USB flash drives.  This is an option.  If you buy a book and video set, you can purchase the coil-bound book and the DVD(s), or as an alternative, you can get the USB flash drive.  The flash drives are very nice for people who don't play DVDs anymore.  But mainly, they're good for our international customers, because I am shipping them for FREE (instead of the current minimal shipping of $17 beyond the US and Canada).

I used the USBs as a way to make video and handouts available for my two 2020 virtual seminars, and I have gotten very positive feedback about it.  I wasn't so sure...it was new and therefore a bit unpredictable, wasn't it?  So these look like little credit card or business card sized flat plastic things with a swing-out USB piece.  In fact, the front of it is my business card art and the back has a sticker with the contents.  You push it in your USB port and the video is .MP3 and the documents are .PDF. files.  

For such a little thing, they're are fairly large data capacity and more costly to me than the previous products, books and DVDs.  I've kept the prices the same, though, for at least an introductory period.  I have to see how this goes.  

My international knitters have been asking me to do digital downloads for years.  I can easily create patterns that are just written instructions and do that, but I want to include the videos of how to do everything, which has always been the heart of my patterns.

DVDs have chapter markers so you can pop over to the video you want.  MP3s don't.  As a solution to that, I created a READ ME file with a list of all the demos and where to find them on the video in minutes and seconds.  

Some Apple products don't have a USB drive.  If that's what you have, you'll need an adapter.  

Friday, November 6, 2020

New Video - Surprise! Cable Join

 OOPS!  Somehow didn't announce October's new video on this blog.

Actually, I know how I forgot.  I have an interesting new product line coming out, and I've been crunching away, working on getting that ready.

Anyway, I promise this is a VERY cool video.  You end up with a "cable" join for two knitted panels that is:


* Introduces another color, if you want

* Well-closed and warm

* Best of all - it looks like a braided cable!

So have a look:

Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Video - Playing with the Kris Krafter Needle Beetle

Over the years, I've come to admire Kris Basta's commitment to machine knitting.  She's the lady who manufactures and sells the nice Kris Krafter garter bars. She makes them in gauges that we can't get anywhere else.  

Kris now has a new product.  It fits right into that same category of needed but very difficult to find machine knitting gadgets.

This one is called the Needle Beetle.  What the Beetle does is select needles on your LK150, LK140, LK100 or GK370 knitting machine so you can more easily make pattern stitches.  You pick out the first 8 needles on the right, you slide the Beetle along, and it picks out the needles on across the needles in work, copying those first 8 needles accurately.  I found this was much easier and more accurate than hand-picking all the way across the needles in work.  

The Beetle works on 6.5 or 9 mm gauges.  You have to unscrew and flip over the cam inside to go from the 6.5 gauge to the 9 mm gauge.  I haven't done that myself, as I don't have a Studio 9 mm plastic machine.  I do have an LK150, though, and I had a blast playing with this new toy.

You can use this for tuck, slip, lace, tuck mosaic, slip mosaic, and fair isle.  I tried quite a few stitches, but not wanting the video to go on forever, this video shows a tuck stitch and a slip stitch.

Here's my video:


Things I learned along the way:

1.  The Beetle goes from right to left, only.  You'll move it into position on the bed each time you want to select needles.

2  The Beetle does not work on other machines besides the ones Kris named.  It's a slider, folks - it has to fit the needle bed size.

3.  If you want to not tuck end stitches, you've got to move them back yourself.  If you want to not slip end stitches, you need to move those, too.

4.  Hold the knitted fabric against the bed as you slide.  Fabric can come toward you if needles are being moved toward you!

5.  Use your row counter to help you keep track of charts.

6.  The Beetle would be fantastic in conjunction with the Fair Isle carriage, but those are rare.  I don't have one of those.  For Fair Isle, I did it a color at a time.

7.  Have you got two LK150 carriages?  I do!  You can feed one color in one and one color in the other for color work.

8.  The Beetle does 8-stitch repeats.  You'll be amazed at how many 8-stitch charts you can find.  In particular, Kris sent me to machineknittingetc.com to download some of the old Jones 8-stitch pattern books.  You'll also be surprised how many of the stitches in the newer pattern books use a 2-, 4, or 8-stitch repeat.

If you want one of these, go to www.kriskrafter.com and have a look.  Kris has an introductory price right now, so if you want a deal, you need to get your order in before that special ends.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Update on Virtual Seminars

I did two virtual machine knitting seminars this summer.  It was a fantastic experience!  I was able to offer far more content than I've ever been able to do in a seminar, we had a little community in a Facebook private group for each seminar, and the back-and-forth, including pictures of member projects, was inspiring and energizing.

Summer Seminar is winding up.  I had a couple people who hadn't been able to see the content, so I left it open for an extra 48 hours. Tomorrow, Thursday), the Facebook private group closes.  If you are a member and still need to see some content, go there today.  

The Rib It! seminar live sessions are over, and the Facebook pages will be up all of September.

Both seminars are closed to new members.

The 64 gigabyte USB drives with the seminar contents from Summer Seminar 2020 were incredibly popular.  We sold out of these but have more arriving this weekend.  You can order the Summer Seminar ones, and I will fill orders in the order they were received.  It will take me up to a week to catch up on the duplication.

Later, I will offer Rib It! seminar USBs. 

I'll make update announcements here.

New Video This Month - Embossed Diamond Cable

 Here's a cable for any machine.  No ribber required, no patterning required:

Friday, August 7, 2020

Another Virtual Seminar Coming Up

I got great feedback on Summer Seminar, and with a favorite knit club requesting a seminar focused on the ribbing attachment, I've decided to do that one virtually.

This one is four sessions that focuses on using your flatbed knitting machine ribber.  This is more in-depth teaching than I usually get to do on the ribber.  This is NOT a general interest seminar - you'll really need a ribber so you can practice and benefit.

It's  held in a Facebook private group, so you'll need a Facebook ID and some patience with the quirks of Facebook.  The reason I've used that is it lets us record the sessions and you can watch them anytime as long as the group is open.

It will be next weekend and the weekend after, but as I said, you can watch them live or watch them later.  There will be detailed written handouts.

Registration for the seminar (and a very detailed description of curriculum and dates) is available here:  www.dianaknits.com


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

New Video - Playing with a Sister Wonder Knit Knitting Machine

I saw one of these at our knitting club, and I just had to go find one.  Here's my video:

Wow, when I was a little girl, I'd have been crazy for a toy like this.

Now that some people have seen this video, I'm told that I should take it apart, then clean and oil everything and install a sponge bar. It actually was very clean, but I do want to take it apart.  One lady said that there is probably an old rotten bit of felt inside that I could replace, and then the needles wouldn't flop around.  Maybe when the dust settles from the virtual seminar I'm doing, I'll play with my Sister some more.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Favorite Lace Videos

Today I'm putting the finishing touches on this weekend's seminar session, which is about making lace.  I can't put in half of what I'd like to include, but I want to share videos of some of the other cool techniques.

I've always been crazy about Brother knitting machine lace.  Here are some of my very best YouTube videos about lace:

Slant Lace Circle Scarf:  Let's start with the ridiculously easy slant lace technique!

Did you realize that you can make mirror-image lace on Brother machines, and when you have a design that is asymmetrical, the effect is fantastic?  This one is easy, too!

Now, how about a video showing exactly how to do short-row shaping in lace?

In the next video, I teach exactly how my automatic scalloped lace edging designs work on an electronic Brother machine, and I also teach how you can do something similar with certain Stitch World patterns.  Enchanted Edgings, which is my book of automatic lace edges, are just for Brother and Knitking.  They do not work on Silver Reed/Studio/Knitmaster machines.

You can also do Enchanted Edges on a punch card Brother, but you do have to use the charts for punch cards in the back of the book:

How about a lace ornament made with an unusual, extra holey lace?

And finally, a super cute lace to do on Studio/Silver Reed machines:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Wow - I made a Top 5 Blog List

My little blog is in the top 5 for machine knitting:  https://blog.feedspot.com/machine_knitting_blogs/

This really went to my head.  (Nah, it's marketing.  It's like being in "Who's Who Among High School Students," which gets your parents to buy the book.)

You should see Dear John making fun of me.  First he said, "You mean? There are five?"  Well, I am sure there are a few more than five...I follow quite a few, but most of us don't post often.

I certainly don't have such a good blog now that I haven't had much time to post.  At least I'm getting my monthly video posted. 

I might have picked some different blogs, and I knew some of these, but the best thing about this is I checked out a couple blogs I didn't know about, and they are awesome!

I especially like these:



Thursday, July 9, 2020

New Video - Studio 150 Chunky Overview

I like to film different machines.  I think new knitters can benefit from seeing various machines demonstrated and getting ideas of what they could do, even with a non-patterning machine. 

Here's a nice Studio 150 Chunky with a ribber, and I made a rather long video.  I showed how the built-in Intarsia works, did a little tuck and slip and hand-picked a little fair isle.  Then I did a very brief ribber demo. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Reopening Registration for Summer Seminar 2020

I am reopening registration for Summer Seminar 2020 – Diana Sullivan Machine Knitting Seminar.

After having so many people sign up early, I closed registration.  It really bothered me to turn anyone away, but with this being a virtual seminar, I wanted to make sure the new equipment worked well and that everyone would have a great experience. 

In the Summer Seminar private Facebook group, we have now completed two Facebook Live Video classes including a 3-1/2 hour Garter Bar session.  The sound and video were good, and participant feedback was excellent.  Everyone gets a look-over-my-shoulder view like the one in this screenshot! 

These existing sessions are recorded and available on the Facebook private group to participants for watch at their convenience.  Eventually, I'll take it down, but everything will be left up until at least September 8.  

Starting July 11 we will begin the regular seminar curriculum.  There will be four Saturday morning classes from 9:30-12:30 CDT with a variety of machine knitting demonstrations.  All the sessions can be watched live or watched later because they will be recorded.  Detailed handouts with a number of free patterns are included.  There are vendor discounts and specials just for seminar participants.  Doing the seminar virtually has allowed me to offer it at a very reasonable price. 

If you are interested, there are a lot more details at https://dianaknits.square.site/, and you can register there.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

New Video for June - Review & Demo of New Comb for Ultimate Sweater Machine

Have you got a Bond, or an Ultimate Sweater Machine, or an Incredible Sweater Machine, or a Fashion Knitter?

These are 8 mm machines, that is, the needles are 8 mm from the center of one to the center of the next.  This is a different spacing from Japanese machines, a Japanese tools and accessories don't fit.

Kris Basta makes garter bars for 8 mm machines, as well as stoppers, and now she has a new product, which she asked me to review.  It's a cast-on comb.  At last!  I really wanted a cast-on comb for my Bond.

So basically my review is I just loved the thing.  I thought it was so wonderful that maybe I lost all objectivity.  I love that she manufactures things we knitters need and can't find elsewhere.  I love that her stuff is well-made and polished so stitches slip properly and your fingers don't get cut.  I love that the spacing is just perfect, and it's sturdy enough to not get bent easily.

If you're too busy to watch it, well, that's the executive summary. 

However, before investing in a set, you might want my up-close evaluation of how it was made.  You might wonder how best to use it.  You might wonder whether to screw the two sections together (I didn't - I like them separate).  You might even want to see what I did with it - I didn't film 100% of the cast-ons I did with it, but I did the quick utility cast-on, the e-wrap cast on, the latched cast-on, and the double-strand cast-on.  The one in the video was the double-strand cast-on, which I really like and think we could all use more often.  It's fast and easy, too. 

I chose that one because I wondered if the 8 mm knitting "community" uses that cast-on.  Besides, I'd love to draw them into my channel world where they can learn all kinds of MK techniques that work just fine on their machines.

Note:  you will need some elastic thread for this item, just as you do for the vinyl "hem" that came with your machine.   You can pieces of thread more than once, but you'll want to keep a spool of the stuff in your Bond things.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Closing Registration on Summer Seminar Wednesday June 3

The response to the Summer Seminar has been absolutely, wonderfully, overwhelming!

I have had a lot of discussions with my friends and family, about whether having more people will affect the seminar's quality for each person. Would having too many people mess it up? Probably not, because everyone will have a good picture and good sound. We are bringing in special equipment to enhance that. Will having a nice-sized group be fun? I think it will, the way we're using Facebook.

I had no intention of closing registration early; however, as the registrations continued to grow, I decided to be cautious, close early and limit the number of people this first time. This will allow me to focus on learning the platform, equipment, and software, testing everything, setting up the rest of the group features and events, getting all the materials and freebies posted, and then, of course, preparing to do a great actual event presentation.

Therefore, I'll close registration Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Summer Seminar 2020

Most of the live machine knitting seminars have been cancelled, so let's have a virtual seminar! 

I'm excited to use technology to offer a high-value, content-rich Summer Seminar on a "virtual" platform. If you've never attended a seminar, here's a crazy-easy opportunity to see what the excitement is about. You don't have to travel, stay in a hotel, or eat in restaurants. You can spend your time and money knitting, instead!

I'm doing the teaching, four morning sessions of machine knitting demonstrations.  This will be the equivalent of a good weekend seminar, but I am able to add LOTS of features by using technology.

What will I cover? This seminar will include a nice blend of machine knitting basics and fresh new demonstrations. There are four sessions: a hand-tooling session, a joins and edges session, a lace session, and a ribber session. In each session I have a basics section, a variety technique section, and then I'll present a free pattern and show its key techniques. I will be demonstrating on a Brother bulky, a Brother standard gauge, and a Studio mid-gauge machine.

What else do you get?  In addition to the live seminar you will receive:
  • Membership in the private Facebook group, Summer Seminar 2020, from your registration date until September 8 (after Labor Day). This group will have all the materials and photos, which I'll be posting from now until the seminar. You can make new MK friends, reconnect with others, and share your progress, projects, and machine knitting tips, challenges and ideas.
  • The ability to watch the live sessions again, or watch later, if you miss a class (materials available through September 8).
  • My usual detailed seminar handouts in .pdf format.
  • Free patterns that are taught in the seminar sessions, also .pdf.
  • A 10% limited-time discount coupon code for any of my mail order products. I have never had a sale before, in fact, it is my policy not to run sales.  This is a special one-time event!
When: Four Saturdays, beginning on July 11: 7/11, 7/18, 7/25 and 8/1, from 9:30 a.m. CDT (GMT -5) and running until about 12:30 p.m. John and I will begin a little early to help make sure people are getting access to the seminar. If you can't make some of the dates, no worries! The video will be posted after the session on the Facebook group, and you will have access to all the other materials through the Facebook files.

Where: You'll be home on your device, and John and I will host from my home knitting studio. John's going to help with technical issues and facilitate any Q&A that's necessary for the group experience. I have a lot of content, and you might find it helpful to print the handout for that session ahead of time.  I try to write handouts with enough detail so you very seldom need to take notes.

Pricing: Registration is $50, with early bird pricing of $40 available until June 10.

Requirements to Attend: You will need a Facebook ID and login, a device for viewing the sessions and viewing the electronic files and photos.

Register at:

Summer Machine Knitting Seminar 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

May Video - Seaming Garter Stitch

There are plenty of ways to seam garter stitch - but what are the very best ones?  Can we get an beautifully reversible seam?  How about an invisible seam?  How about a very flat seam?

After a whole lot of experimenting - trying out all the methods I could find, then tweaking them - I've made a video to show you what I think are the two best methods:

Friday, April 24, 2020

New - I did a quilting video

I locked down rather early, because of some of the reading I'd been doing about this virus that wasn't quite in the general news yet.  We've had a really easy time with lock-down at our house.  John is working part-time from home.  Our kids are fine, our house is comfy, and we try to be sensible and avoid too much news.

Best of all, we both have great hobbies, and we love to work on them. 

After a while, the machine knitting seminars where I was booked to teach cancelled.  I was faithfully working on my next MK project, knitting and filming a rather cool new pattern collection.  I put a whole bunch of my monthly videos up ahead of time.  I did some de-cluttering, but not too much, wouldn't want to go overboard.  I watched other people's how-to videos on some of my favorite subjects (cooking, crafting, sewing, quilting, traveling, and decorating). 

As I cleaned out, I ran across at least a half dozen unfinished quilt projects from over ten years ago!  Let's face it, I just put everything else away when I got so involved with teaching MK back in 2009.  I looked at them, knowing how many quilts I DID finish, and thought about why each one of these sad little orphans ended up on a drawer or basket.

Maybe a project was super fussy and I was just tired of it.  Maybe I was convinced it would be difficult to put together.  Maybe I didn't know what I could make out of a few blocks that I did just to try something new.  By and large, though, I realized it was perfectionism - if I wasn't sure it was going to turn out great, I'd set it aside.   

I looked at them with fresh eyes and decided these projects weren't so bad.  I had been too critical...perfectionism is just another kind of fear, anyway.  I decided to finish each one and find it a home.

I had done practically no hobbies other than machine knitting for over ten years.  Why not take a little vacation from MK and finish these quilt UFOs?  

When you haven't done something in a while, you feel pretty clumsy, but after the first few days, my  skills were improving.  I got up in the wee hours one morning, sorted my old quilting scraps and cuts by color and pressed them.  I love scrappy quilts and the challenge of trying to make something from what I have without going to the stores.  I had a pretty good fabric stash, even spare rotary cutter blades, sewing needles, and lots of neutral thread.

I just wanted to get 'em done on my good old Bernina, and I came up with a fairly simple machine quilting routine.  I put binding on some of them, and on some of the charity ones, I simply made a bag with front, back, and batting, sewed around it, flipped it right side out, top-stitched around the edges and tied the quilt with perle cotton, tugged those knots tight and trimmed them neatly.  As I did those, I thought about my grandma.  As a small girl, I "helped" her tie a Sunbonnet Sue quilt - she was crazy about Sunbonnet Sue and I know she made a whole lot of them.  She used to applique a little boy in overalls, too, but I forget his name.  Do you remember? 

My grandma, who raised seven children in the depression, didn't waste anything.  She used an old blanket for the padding in that quilt.    

On several of my UFOs, I used a very simple, shortcut edge treatment.  I know people have done this forever, but I didn't find anyone teaching it on YouTube.  I bring the backing fabric around to the front to form a self-binding, and I've got a very nifty way to make beautiful mitered corners - fast.  Nope, it's not professional.  It's not something you'd use for a quilt show or competition.  It's practical, though, not too bad for a such a rusty seamstress.

I decided to do a YouTube of this shortcut method:

Now, knittin' buddies, I know many of you are quilters.  Got any UFOs to finish?

My quilting binge was a fun diversion for a strange time, but I've got lots of knitting projects and plans to go back to.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Video for April - Brioche Made Easy

My April video is about double-bed work - a simplified machine knitter's Brioche Stitch. You'll knit two rows, change the settings and color, and knit row rows.

This is a useful stitch!  It's extremely wide for the number of needles used, thick, warm, completely reversible and quite flat.  Once you cast on and get a rhythm, this is fast and easy.  Of course, I had to go and do it with Bernat Baby Velvet - now that's a different look and feel!  Have a look.

I know there's a fussier way to do true Brioche stitch (a la Barbara Walker's hand knit explanation), but that takes too much fiddling for me.  I'd like to make a whole blanket out of Brioche stitch, and I probably will.  I think it would look cool to use black or white throughout for color #1 and then use assorted scrappy colors for color #2.   

Give me some help, faithful knitters - Please you go to this video over at YouTube, could you make sure and subscribe, up-vote, and click on the bell to be notified of videos?  YouTube uses all those clicks in their rankings.  I would love for more of my videos, even thought they're about our little-known hobby, to become "recommended" videos.  If we MKing YouTube creators can get more videos "recommended," perhaps we'll get more machine knitters started.

I have done 240 machine knitting videos, beginning in August 2008, and I'm now up over 7 million "views."   I believe I was the first YouTube creators to do free, systematic machine knitting teaching, My goal was and is to popularize machine knitting and teach lots of beginners.  Now there are a number of other MK teachers using YouTube, which also helps reach people. 

I've got plenty of additional MK videos coming.  In fact, I have them planned, filmed and edited through the middle of next year.  Maybe life will change and John and I will travel more, but no matter where we are, pop! here comes another YouTube video near the beginning of the month.


Unfortunate but not surprising news, the Monroe machine knitting seminar is also cancelled.  It isn't possible, in the available space, to keep everyone safe from the virus.

While there are not many seminars going on in 2020, I do have some ideas about what we can do instead.  More about that later!  :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Chicago Seminar Postponed

I was advised last night that the Tech Knitters seminar has been postponed.

Please keep an eye on their website for updates.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Upcoming Seminar - Chicago

As I've stayed home a lot lately, I finished the curriculum for the upcoming Tech Knitters Chicago area machine knitting seminar, May 30 and 31.

Tech Knitters is an amazing group and I am very, very excited about hanging out with old friends and doing a seminar with enthusiastic knitters.

Find out more about Tech Knitters and the upcoming seminar here.

As usual when I do a curriculum overhaul, I start out feeling overwhelmed with thoughts like, "How do I choose new things?  How do I arrange it into the schedule?  How do I avoid doing reruns and still be useful to beginners?  What am I putting in for the most experienced knitters?"

Yikes.  However, getting overwhelmed is not helpful.  What does work for me is to make lists.  I really do have a lot of new stuff, which I list.  Then I reprint the previous table of contents and double-check what I did the previous seminars to avoid re-runs.

[I worked a list for the Monroe Seminar at the same time, since it's in July, and I'll avoid overlap.  Monroe curriculum is not yet finished, but I've got a very good start.  Cathy has three teachers and breaks attendees into groups so you get to see everything every teacher does.  I do less material that way, but still a pretty good chunk of writing, photos and diagrams for that one.  I'll probably blog about that in a next few days as I finish it.]

After I had my Tech Knitters list, I divided it up by beginner/intermediate/advanced and bulky machine/standard machine and ribber/no ribber, and came up with a sequence.

And now I have it - written, formatted, with pictures and everything, and I am HAPPY with my Chicago booklet.

So, what am I doing at Tech Knitters?  Starting off on the main bed, joins and edges, and I've got quite a few new ones that are quite practical, like my Surprise! Join that looks like a braided cable and the cluster edging.  Then I'm doing some hand-tooling (which is good for Chicago because they have an amazing mid-gauge group in the area).  I'm going to teach the hand-tooled lace leaf edge, the feather and fan, the new method seashell stitch, the pinecone popcorns, weaving and intarsia without built-in or special equipment, and a little Entrelac and garter bar.

In Chicago, I decided I really should spent teaching time with a ribber.  I have some cool new demos.  I plan to cover industrial rib, English Rib, English Rib cables, Double English Rib, U-shaped knitting, U-shaped knitting with increases in the middle like I do in one the mitered shawl, Brioche stitch, Half Milano (long stitch), Honeycomb Stitch, and a variety of ribbing finishes.

On the standard machine, I'll do some lace, show how to start lace and short-row lace as well as super easy and striking Bargello Lace and the Ziggy Lace Border.

I have four free bonus patterns picked out for the back of the book.  These are cute patterns worth making more than once.

John is coming!  He'll do some electronic repairs while he is there, particularly FB100 disk drives, E6000 console work, and 970 CB-1 work.

Now for my usual scolding.  Are you fortunate enough to live in an area with a machine knitting group?  If you are, please don't miss out on their meetings and seminars.  If you aren't attending, perhaps you have no idea what you're missing - show up and find out!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

New Video for March - Pinecone Popcorns!

Well, happy Spring Forward day.

How about a popcorn that really pops visually?  And easy to knit, too:

Friday, March 6, 2020

Trying to Improve

I've been watching other people's YouTube videos on topics I find interesting, for instance, cooking, decorating, and quilting.  Some of these folks are much younger and some are very gifted designers.

I've been putting up YouTube videos for ten years, and it's very humbling.  It's hard to get a decent video put together, and I often see problems and issues with my work.  YouTube has added a lot of features and innovative people are doing lots of new things.

I want to improve.  Videos have really helped other knitters learn, and they have even helped get other people interested in machine knitting.

Observations, so far, watching these:

1.  They have much better "thumbnails"  than mine.  Those are the little pictures you see when you're choosing a video to watch!  I actually spent several days replacing most of my thumbnails to have a title so you'd have an idea what the video is about.

2.  They have lots of personality!  They talk at that camera like crazy, I mean face to camera for most or all of a video.  They joke, goof off, and edit in short goofy clips from TV shows.  They use lots of new slang and acronyms, which I have to look up.

3.  I'm pretty impressed by some speeded-up videos of crafts with a clock in the background showing how much time the work actually took!  I want to make progress and love to see how long things take to do.

4.  The openly "monetize" the daylights out of their videos because they actually make a living with videos!  Well, having lots of products you can buy to get the same look, or little built-in sponsorship call-outs doesn't bother me much.  If I love their videos I want them to make money. (But oh dear, the un-skippable, repetitious political ads clipped in all through them right now puts me off watching them.)

5.  They're LONG!   Sometimes you have to take extra time to show something complicated, but a lot of these are just overly talky.  I was listening to one the other day, and the woman said she was trying to get it at least ten minutes long!  Here I thought I needed to keep them under 10 minutes as much as possible.  Huh, there is something I don't understand about that.  I wonder how long my viewers want my videos to be.

6.  They use a lot of music and camera tricks.

7.  My absolutely favorite ones are the practical ones with lots of usable tips and ideas.

Hey, do me a favor and tell me how you think I could improve.  What do you like and not like about knitting videos, generally?

What would you like for me to teach?   More courses?  Does anyone want a course that just teaches a particular machine model?  Are my overviews of interesting (and maybe obscure) machines interesting?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Inspiration at Rett Og Vrang

Check out Synnove's retro baby set!

Oh, Synnove, I wish I had this machine knitting pattern!

I think this would be super cute with bright colors for all those sideways stripes, a real update to the look.  The shaping and sizing looks like a math challenge, though.

Monday, March 2, 2020

When An Awfully Stubborn Knitter Meets Awful Yarn

This mystery yarn was given to me a few years ago.  I love the color.  I don't think it shows up in the photo, but it's lavender with little heathery bits of pink.

This big mess is my multiple tries with the yarn.  It was on a cone, so I didn't rewind it.  It was even bagged with a good name brand on it, but as soon as I looked closely at it, I didn't think it was that brand.  I think it was in the wrong bag.

It turned out that it has knots, thin spots, thick chunks, and weak spots. 

I've been working on a nice pattern book idea, and tried two of the patterns with this stuff, thinking most of us have some thin mystery yarn, and using the ribber I could get nice width, pretty patterns, and no edgings needed.  However, when you use the ribber, the work forms between the beds and you don't see trouble right away.

The ball on top of the pile was from unraveling  150-200 rows after finding two big holes in the work.  The yarn had broken.  I rewound that into smaller balls.  I wondered if my stitch design that put too much strain on the yarn - too much weight, too many tucks, etc.  For at least the first three tries, I was sure I was the problem.  For anyone who hasn't seen me at seminar and maybe thinks my knitting goes smoothly, well, that isn't always the case!

The other messy samples are multiple tries that ended with trouble.  It wasn't the machine, or the ribber comb, or the tension, or the pattern I chose.  It was the yarn, a thick spot, breaking, or having a big fat knot.

One of the chunks didn't knit off, it piled on a needle, and now there's a bent needle in my trash can, too.  I didn't see it, hear it, or feel it soon enough.  At that point, I knew there might be breaks but I didn't expect thick sections.

I'm so DONE with that yarn!  Pardon my bad grammar.  This was certainly frustrating enough to mess with my grammar and my decorum, as well.

There is one option: I could carefully rewind the yarn into little balls, feeling it as I go, and cut it every time I find a flaw.  I've done that before, but this particular cone would turn into 20 little balls.
Nope. I am not rewinding it.

I am not giving it to anyone for "practice yarn" or "waste yarn."  Sounds like a way to annoy a friend!  Goodbye, pretty but evil yarn.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Friday, February 21, 2020

Yarn Scale

Mary Anne Oger has a photo of the small scale she uses in her knitting room.

I do the same thing.  I actually have an old Weight Watchers kitchen scale in the knitting room.  It has both grams and ounces. 

Off topic:  I have another, newer food scale in my kitchen, I still weigh and measure my food, I'm still slim, and no, I'm not a Weight Watchers customer.  I had a previous post about slimming down a few years ago.

 I weigh partial cones, allowing a whole ounce for the weight of the cardboard cone.  I weigh partial and unlabeled skeins, as well. 

I often weigh finished projects to see exactly how much yarn I used.  By weighing a finished project and checking the yardage on the label. I can figure the yardage used in the project, which is very useful for working out whether I have enough yarn to make another.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Shopping Game at Harbor Freight

My husband loves to go to Harbor Freight, which is a tool shop with a lot of low-price specials.  It's actually an interesting store.

I entertained myself on our last trip by looking for things that machine knitters want or need.  I found a bunch, too!  I didn't buy all this stuff, since I already had most of these items in my knitting area, but my machine-knitting scavenger hunt kept me occupied. 

I admit it - I like bargains, and I bet you do, too.  I didn't clean up or crop these photos - I wanted you to see the prices and displays.  The prices are low, and we also had a coupon for some free items and a percentage off on the total purchase.

First of all, lights.  They have lots of different flash lights, shop lights, and work lights.  I use a big LED work light in my knitting room as well as a halogen lamp in my knitting room.  I also keep flashlights handy.  On the last trip to Harbor Freight, I picked up one of these pocket-sized LED work lights on special.  It is also a flashlight and has a little hook.  I've already used it - I hung it up near my lap as I was binding off some ribbing where the waste yarn had unraveled.  It is surprisingly bright.

I noticed at a knitting seminar a while back that a cute little flashlight was one of the most popular door prizes.

I didn't photograph screwdrivers, but Harbor Freight has lots of them, including the small cheapo ones that have interchangeable bits.  You might want one of those if you travel with a knitting machine.  Knitting machines have both standard and cross-point screws. 

I keep a big standard screwdriver, small and medium cross-point screwdrivers, and a pair of needle-nose pliers in my knitting room.  These little tools are mine.  I don't raid John's tools.  (BTW, I've had my own small toolbox in the kitchen for most of our marriage.  It was a gift from John that I thought I wouldn't use much, but I actually use it very frequently).

I also didn't photograph "grabbers," you know those gadgets for old folks who need to reach things up high?  I keep one of those in my knitting room!  It's great for getting things off high shelves, but its best use is moving cones of yarn behind my machine or picking up dropped tools.  It's saved me from lots of crawling under machines.

This next item has been mentioned a number of times on this blog and at seminars - we use it to unstick carriage buttons!  For instance, the MC/thread lace buttons get stuck together in the center of Brother carriages quite frequently.  You buy a bottle of penetrating oil like this PB Blaster brand (John really likes Kroil, but you have to get that one online).  You spray it, using one of those spray straws, as far into the mechanism as you can get it.  Then you set the carriage on your kitchen counter and every time you notice it, you punch the buttons.  It can take two or three days, but you almost always can get the buttons working again.

If you can't fix it this way, the next step is soaking the carriage.  However, we've seldom had to soak carriages for this problem alone.  Note on prevention:  Whenever you finish a project, oil your machine.  Move all the buttons and levers.  Move all the buttons and levers on your other machines, while you're thinking about it, and it will eliminate this problem.

Ah, dental picks.  They have an assortment of different picks, and I like them more for circular sock knitting than for my regular knitting machine, but it's nice to see them at Harbor Freight.

In another place in the store I found these other picks with nifty little handles.  I'd rather have the chunky handle - wouldn't you? 

Not only do I like to have dental picks in my knitting room, I also like to have tweezers.  I got used to using these long, assorted tweezers when I fixed a few laptops at work. 

Okay, the next one is a joke!  I have been teased because I am such a clothespin user as I machine knit.  I didn't see any clothespins at Harbor Freight, although they had clothesline.  What I did see were these crazy clamps.  Sure, they had little ones that would work for a yarn weight, the way I use a clothespin, but this one is ridiculous, so I took a picture.

I don't really have an MK use for this thing.

This is a telescoping magnetic grabber.  These are super to have near your sewing machine and your circular sock machine.  I drop those itty bitty sock machine needles quite often. 

Another item I keep near my CSM is a telescoping "dental" mirror.  Sometimes it's nice to see under and inside the CSM.  Harbor Freight carries those, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New Video for February

Here's the new February video:

I already blogged about this slipper and how I am sharing the technique video on YouTube now.  This little slipper is a good introduction to English Rib and it's a fast, fast cute little slipper.  I especially like it on the standard gauge made with good sock yarn, as shown in the video.

This slipper is in the Footnotes book, in twelve sizes and two gauges.

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel?  It's easy and it really helps!  YouTube does mysterious ranking that determines whether it recommends a video.  I want to teach LOTS of people about machine knitting, and for that, the videos need to attract eyeballs.  If you subscribe, if you hit the bell icon so it'll notify you of new videos, if you hit the "thumbs-up" icon, if you comment, then there are more "views."

Machine knitting is not exactly the most searched-upon topic on YouTube!  I have stubbornly put videos up for us few machine knitters for about ten years now.  My videos that also obviously apply to hand knitting, like the "Faster, Flatter Mattress Stitch," get recommended by YouTube and are my most viewed videos.  I appreciate those of you who subscribe and support machine knitting VERY much.

Also, if you subscribe, you can get notified of the new videos and watch them before I allow YouTube to put on advertising.  I always run them a month or more without ads when they first come out.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Dozen Slippers - Made and Delivered

I was so impressed with Alexandra's accomplishment - 100 pairs of slippers! 

All I needed to make recently was 12 pairs of women's medium slippers, but quickly, for a friend's project.  I told myself to use yarn I already had - no trips to the stores!

I chose the Quick and Cozy English Rib Slipper pattern from Footnotes, which is my fastest slipper pattern.  That pattern is so stretchy that a women's medium will fit just about any lady!  Besides, I was in a hurry, and I could zoom through those.

What yarn to use?  This slipper can be made on a bulky machine, or a standard gauge machine, but requires a ribber.  I could use worsted weight yarn or sock weight.  Even if I chose a yarn that wouldn't make gauge, I knew that with a pinch of math, I could recalculate the stitches and rows and still make it on either of those machines, which are standing ready with ribbers attached.

Here's the video from Footnotes, which I've never shared on YouTube before.  It shows how to make the slipper using sock yarn and a standard gauge machine. 

I wanted them to be fairly thick and sturdy, so they'll last a while, but also reasonably soft.   I wanted them to be a bit feminine.  I kept picking yarn up and then putting it back. 

Eventually, I found some pink sparkly yarn in a drawer.  (There is 'way too much yarn around here.)  This yarn is rather chunky and stiff for a sweater, with enough cotton that it isn't stretchy, yet I knew it would stretch fine knitted in this ribbed pattern.  The yarn was from Newton's Knits a few years ago.  I had been wondering, every time I looked at it, what it wanted to become!

The pattern calls for 4 ounces of yarn.  I round up when I write patterns that only specify a thickness group, because your yarn might have less yards than mine, or you might make small changes.  In this pink yarn, the bulky medium took about 3-1/2 ounces for a pair.   These knit up in 10 minutes or less per slipper.  The sewing takes me another 10-15 minutes, though!  They need a seam at the back of the heel and the top of the foot.  Hide two ends, and you're done. 

Knitting 24 slippers took less than a workday, but I did it in several sessions.  Sewing them up took a few days of indulgent TV time (lately, re-watching "Call the Midwife" on Netflix when I'm doing finishing).

I hadn't made this pattern in years.  I watched my own video to refresh my memory, and it was a good thing, because the seaming method, which I'd forgotten using, was easy and worked great.  You might like to apply these methods to a project like like a hat, that needs gathered at one end.

Once they were assembled, for safety they needed an anti-slip substance on the bottom.  John keeps silicone seal in the garage, where he uses it often, and had a new tube on hand. 

I also stuffed them temporarily, to stretch them open a bit so I wouldn't glue them shut with the silicone seal.  That turned out to not be a problem, though; I ended up putting seal on just the ridges.

Some of the silicone seal I used in the past was runny, therefore, very easy to put on - you just scribble using the cone-shaped applicator.  However,  this one was thick and pasty.  I put nalgene gloves on, squished a blob on my finger and stroked it on each rib in the ball-of-the-foot and heel areas on the bottom of the slippers.  Since my sealant was so thick, it certainly didn't go through and catch the stuffing, which I removed before taking this picture.

The photo shows slippers drying on a trash bag.  The silicone seal gets everywhere, even though I think I'm being careful.  The loose ties you see are just to keep the pairs together.

I think they look like pink, sparkly corn cobs!  They are bigger than they look, because the ribs open up when you slip them on your foot. 

Here are some pictures of them finished.  The sparkle is subtle and doesn't show up in the pix.  Note that is a seam up the top of the foot, blending in and looking like the rest of the ribs.

Here's a shameless plug for my Footnotes book and DVD.  This contains a bunch of other slippers in it, as well, as well as some sew-as-you-go socks.  Everything has 12 sizes and it comes with a very detailed technique DVD.  The slippers are for standard, mid-gauge and bulky flatbed knitting machines. 

I've sold more Footnotes than usual lately.  Usually when that happens, someone has made something very nice using one of the patterns and shared it on the internet.  I don't know what it is - would someone tell me in the comments?