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.