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 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 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:


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:

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, 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? 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Inspiration from Marzipan Knits

I love Dale of Norway designs, and Mar was making a scarf, had a problem at 200 rows, and started over.  She made this adorable doggie sweater from the "bad" piece:

Go have a look! 

Friday, January 31, 2020

What a Difference an Edge Makes

I've been making tuck mosaic lately, and made a blanket with hems at the top and bottom but a rather disappointing edge.  It is a great size for a baby blanket, a pretty pattern, and nice colors, but quite unfinished looking.  With tuck mosaic, you change colors every two rows.  Different patterns have assorted tuck stitches across the rows, and you can get this sort of uneven edge.

I'll probably blog about tuck mosiac more later.  It really is an interesting technique, floatless,
interesting on both sides, and wide for the number of needles and yarn thickness.

This very unfinished-looking project sat in a little heap in my knitting room while I went on vacation. 

I got back into the knitting room Monday and spent the day editing videos.  (I put up my monthly videos ahead of time - otherwise, I don't think I'd have one every month.  It is time to do more.  I had some already filmed, got them edited and ready, and am happy with the videos I have for y'all so far.)

Tuesday, I was out in the morning, then came home and did various chores until late afternoon.  I thought, I've got an hour and then I want to cook.  What can I knit in an hour?  My eyes landed on this unfinished blanket.

I started out thinking I'd put a smooth wide I-cord edge up the sides, and I even worked a sample.  It looked okay, but it was slow going and a little tricky to space evenly, with all the tucks confusing what is visible on the back side.

I decided to put a simple worm edging on - just like the one I show on this baby blanket on YouTube. If you go to 19 minutes, 40 seconds, I'm putting the edging on, using 3 stitches and eight rows, which is exactly the edge I put on this blanket. 

On the video, I was careful about what loops I picked up on that blanket, spacing it just right as I made the edge.  On my little mosiac, though, with all the tuck stitches, I simply used the "jab" method and garment tension.  Jab the 3-prong transfer tool in just  after the last place you picked up.  I tried to be about a stitch in from the edge so there were at least 2 loops on top of the tool, which kept my edging along a straight column of stitches - but I didn't always hit that spot.  Any "misses" are not very noticeable because of the edging. 

This went so fast - I was finished in that hour.

I didn't know if I'd get away with "jabbing" - maybe the edge would wrinkle or flare, or the edging would wander in and out along the side - but it looks great.  I haven't blocked it yet, and I'm not sure I'll bother.  The worm edge is awesome in that way.

And I still love the way the worm edge looks, with a nice twisted cord look.  It's especially nice in this project, which was done on the standard gauge machine, because it's small and delicate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Gift Idea - For those who give socks

I haven't had much time for blogging during the holidays, but I made note of things I thought might be interesting.

I have given socks away at my annual knitting club Christmas party a number of times, and it's always nice to give them to women who appreciate the labor and materials in a truly good pair of socks.

I thought that was just getting boring.  I know they like these socks, but where is the surprise?

I once made a "pamper your feet" basket for a silent auction, and I decided to use that idea again, inexpensively.  I bought everything at Dollar Tree, and I tried to color-coordinate the items to go with two pairs of purple-themed socks I had knitted (in a women's medium, which really seems to fit everybody using my favorite sock pattern, which I teach in The Happy Cranker).

The basket was a white wire basket from Dollar Tree, and I had a small manicure package, a bath bomb, some bath soak in a apothecary jar, some nail polish, and a bath poof included with my purple socks.

I loved it, and it went over well at the party.  Maybe this is an idea you could use to dress up a sock gift!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Impressive Charity Project!

This last Christmas, I heard from Alexandra A. from Missouri.  She knitted 100 pairs of warm slippers, which she sold for $15 per pair, payable by check to the Salvation Army.  She raised $1,500 for the Salvation Army!

I am dazzled by this effort!  What a lot of knitting, and what a wonderful charity to help!  I've heard people say time and again that they do so much for so many people in genuine need.

Alexandra sent a photo of her slippers:

The pattern is in the book Footnotes.  Alexandra's yarn is pretty, isn't it?  She says it was regular worsted self-striping yarn from her local Hobby Lobby.  I like the way she changed colors to put different colors on the top and bottom of the foot.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Inspiration at Synnove's Blog

I think this one post is a wonderful illustration of one of the big, big reasons we love machine knitting.  Synnove is making pants, and she didn't have enough sizes in her pattern, so she did the math and knitted and tested her new "recipe" (pattern). 

Trousers are so very hard to fit.  Even if you do very careful math, they may not fit the way the recipient wants them to fit.  And, all our body shapes are so very different.

A hand knitter would probably not attempt pants, since there are so many stitches in them.  As for knitting for someone else knowing she might have to rip and start over, she would be appalled at that kind of knitting for a "test."  In contrast, plain machine knitting like this goes so quickly that we can knit and rip as much as we want until we get the garment we desire.  Sure, some of our projects are much too fancy to knit, rip, and re-knit repeatedly, but we can still do if it we get our stubborn on. 

(I unravel things with a vengeance with my cone winder.  The pieces vanish so quickly that there is simply no time to agonize over my rip-decision!  Y'all don't see all my unraveling - you only get the patterns after I work out my issues.)

When you look at her blog, scroll down the left hand side and use the Translate widget.  The English translation can be a little strange, but hey, her work is so gorgeous that I love to look at her blog even if I don't quite understand the narratives.

Synnove's Blog

Friday, January 17, 2020

How to get an MK-70 carriage off the bed

Pamela S.  emailed me and said she needed to remove the carriage from an MK70 knitting machine.  She couldn't find this information in the manual!  I told her I didn't have one anymore (but I am a big fan of that model).

She wrote back:

I asked on Ravelry how to remove the carriage on a MK 70 knitting machine and a lady told me. The carriage only comes off on the left hand side of the machine. You must lift it as you head to the left hand side and off it comes. It must go back on the left hand side.

Well!  I didn't know about this, and I think it could be quite useful for the MK70 users to have this information.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Handy Items for Knitting Room

I keep tools and household objects in my knitting area.

Here are a few I use the most often, and I like to keep handy:
  • A rubber jar lid grabber, which is nice for tightening or loosening clamps
  • A flat screwdriver and a cross-point screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Anti-static spray, plastic-safe gun oil, silicone spray
  • Rags (I like old cotton socks)
  • Washable colored markers
  • A stick the right size for pushing on the sponge bar
  • Credit cards cut in half at an angle for opening needle latches
  • Clothespins
  • A sturdy music stand, which sits by my machine with patterns and notes, and a typist's page holder with a bar to mark the line
  • A cheap voice recorder (for keeping track of exactly what I did when I was working out a new pattern)
  • Pen, pencil, ruler, scotch tape, and lots of cheap spiral notebooks
What handy items do you stock in your knitting room?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Can you straighten a slightly bent needle?

I got this question from Noreen:

Hi Diane,

Just wondering if you can straighten needle latches if slightly bent to use again or do you need to replace them.I look forward to hearing from you.



Yes!  Oftentimes, you can just straighten a slightly bent needle.
  • You need the latch to flip open and shut completely freely.  If it sticks a little, replace this one.
  • The needle shaft has to be totally straight
  • The needle butt can't be open or crooked to one side
  • The hook needs to be the same circle as the others - not partially open or tighter
  • The latch needs to cover the hook when closed, be straight on top of the hook, since yarn has to slide freely over it.
This is a job for pliers.  I like to compare the straightened needle to another good needle.

I am a big believer in having spare needles on hand, and they're not very expensive, but I've also straightened them.

You'll need to test your straightened needle.  Sometimes after straightening, it looks good, but it doesn't work.  Sometimes you can't tell it's bad until you've knitted a while, and you'll see the occasional split or tucked stitch.

If it doesn't work perfectly, you need to replace it.  When in doubt, replace it!

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Video - Single Motif Knitting

My latest video is a lesson on how to do "single motif" patterns and wrap the edges for a beautiful finish.  I did it on the Brother 965i, but you use exactly this same technique on any Japanese machine as you do fair isle knitting that does not go all the way across the piece.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Making a Knee Sock

I happened to have a question from a knitter about converting a regular ankle-length sock pattern to  a knee high sock pattern for an adult woman, and at the same time.

Whether you're working with a circular sock machine (as in my book, The Happy Cranker), or with a standard gauge knitting machine (that book is Making Socks on the Standard Machine, the modification is pretty simple.  

You need to add 12” above the ankle and below the cuff with a somewhat looser tension, and I'll call that the "calf area."  

For the circular sock machine and the "Diana's Favorite Sock" pattern, I take the yarn off the heel spring on the upper tension unit, and that loosens up the tension just for that calf area.  I put it back on for the top cuff, which tightens it, back to normal.  That pattern has ribs up the top and front of the sock, and those ribs make it fit better on wide feet, narrow feet, and wide and narrow calves.  I put a 3" top cuff on and prefer the sewn selvedge I show in The Happy Cranker, because it looks good and is stretchy enough to pull over my calves.

These fit me, and they also fit my friend who is an inch taller and wears a size 2.  She has very slim legs, and narrow feet, and I have side calves and wide feet.  

If you're working with a standard gauge machine, turn the tension up on about 2 tensions on the dial, make a swatch, and figure out the rows to add for the calf area.  Then tighten back up to make a knit 1, purl 1 top cuff that’s about 3” long.  

I like the long top cuff because I fold it over and it stays up!   In a pinch, you could fold it over and sew it, adding elastic, but I haven't had to do that and would prefer not to do it that way.