Monday, September 18, 2023

New Digital Pattern "Long Triangles Short-Row Graphic Blanket" and FIVE Technique Videos

Now that I've been making some digital patterns, I wanted to put up one more "Afghan in a Day or Even Less" project.  This one, the Long Triangles Blanket, required either a ridiculously long video or five technique videos.

Once you get the hang of this, it's actually a quite easy project.  To do it the first time, though, I felt that you needed to be able to see the techniques.  I try very hard to make my pattern instructions accessible to everyone, not just experienced knitters.

So, like a lunatic, I put up five technique videos.  I may not do this again!  I put QR codes in the digital pattern, so if you know how to do it, you can skip the video, and if it's new to you, you click on the QR code and see it.

What's new here?  May I recommend the videos of the top hem, which has a super simple marker row, and the corner motif?  There are two ways to sew the top hem - some of you might like the way that matches the bottom hem but takes longer.  There's also a video teaching the side hems.

I am getting the most comments on the corner motif.  Betcha you'll find more places to use it.

And are you wondering, what's with all the hems?  Well, I have gotten very, very fond of hems around my afghans.  The edges get the most wear, and the doubled edges are sturdier as well as more likely to keep their shape.  

Here are the videos.  I turned off the regular YouTube advertising, but I made a brief commercial for my new pattern and put it in.  

Monday, September 11, 2023

New Video: Short-Rowing a Toe Made Easy

 I did this video in response to a question.  I realized that to answer the question, I needed to demonstrate and explain the following things in more detail:

  • Why we wrap as we short row and how to do it
  • How to understand those line diagrams in magazines with the darts on the sides
  • How to do a very typical toe on a sock
Here's the video:

Friday, September 1, 2023

New Videos for August

 This month's new videos were two key techniques from my new pattern set, Bargello Lace Collection.  

The first video, the Double Strand E-Wrap, is an easy, practical cast-on for lace projects.  This gives you a thicker, sturdier edge than a plain e-wrap, and it's ideal for these Bargello Lace scarves.

The second video is a Double Strand Tapestry Needle Bind-Off, so you can do a top edge that exactly matches the cast-on taught above.  Same idea - it's thicker than a typical e-wrap and it's stretchy.  It's just a variation of the backstitch bind-off.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Sponge Bars

Sponge bars on my mind lately, and I thought a little information about them might be useful to others.

So, why are sponge bars on my mind lately?  I have pulled two different knitting machines out that I hadn't used in a year or two, and they both needed sponge bars.  I can push on a needle tip anywhere and it pops up about 1/8".  I know better than to try to knit with the machine like this!  This can result in jams, bent needles, and terrible aggravation.   

First of all, just about every flatbed machine has either a sponge bar, a felt bar, or a spring to hold the needles down against the bed.  If the sponge bar is worn out, the machine will absolutely not knit properly.  It will be absolutely miserable to use, and plenty of people have given up on machine knitting when all they needed was a decent sponge bar.

Sponge bars wear out.  I've had knitting machines where I never had to replace a single part except the sponge bar!  These have foam rubber, and it deteriorates over time.  Also, the foam is squashed all the time, which of course flattens it.  I understand you can prolong the life of a sponge bar by removing it from the machine whenever you are not knitting, but I simply cannot make myself do this.  They're not all that quick to get in and out, and I like to go to my machine and just start knitting.  (But hey, I might as well mention that I've always been the sort who slips off shoes without unbuckling the little straps or loosening the laces, if I could get away with it.   And nothing terrible has happened to me from that particular bad habit.)

The sponge bar is a long metal stick (the length of the main bed) with foam rubber on one side.  It slides in to a slot at the end of the knitting machine near the front of the bed.  There is very seldom any information at all about it in your machine's manual - I guess the manufacturers all assumed we had a local dealer to help us with this.  The sponge bar is installed with the foam rubber side pushing down on the needles.  You need a new sponge bar if your machine's needles are not pressed firmly downward against the machine's number strip.

You can get your sponge bar out with a wooden chop stick.  Push on its end until it sticks out enough at the other end to grab it, then pull it out.  When you install a sponge bar, make sure you push the needles downward with the flat side of a needle pusher as you slide in the bar, because it has to be ABOVE the needles, FOAM DOWN.

Yes, you can refurbish your sponge bar.  There are good directions here.  I admit, I prefer weather stripping to the foam rubber in her directions, but it does take some hunting to find just the right size of weather stripping.  

However, I don't refurbish sponge bar anymore unless I can't get the proper sponge bar for that model.  I prefer to buy from a dealer.  Rehabbing a sponge bar takes time, effort, and materials, and my rehabbed sponge bars never last quite as long as the ones I can get from dealers.  If you have a dealer near you, buy the sponge bar from the dealer.  First of all, it supports your dealer (you are so lucky to have one!), and secondly, she can show you how to put it in, and third, shipping these long, skinny things is expensive, so you will probably save both money and time that way.  

I don't have a dealer.  Lately, I've been buying them from The Knitting Closet, here.  When I buy them, I try to buy several at once, to save on shipping.  Sometimes, you can find a friend who needs some, too, and order together to save on shipping.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Latest Video

 I didn't know how many of you would be interested in this, but I've been fascinated with it, so I'm sharing.  I had purchased a TINY Sister toy knitting machine, so small I can put it in my suitcase for an ordinary trip, and it is quite old.  I did a video on it, and someone suggested we replace the sponge.  Well, of course, I should have thought of that!  All old machines need a new sponge or felt.

The sponge holds the needles in proper position for knitting.  It's just foam rubber, and it deteriorates over time.  Modern machines have a sponge bar, which you can simply purchase.  They slide right into the knitting machine, super easy if you know how (sponge above and against needles, please).  I like to get mine at the Knitting Closet, which has an online store.

Older machines, especially small ones, might have a piece of old-fashioned felt or they might have foam rubber.  

In this video, my husband (always the good sport) took this old toy machine apart and figured out what and where the padding was.  Then he replaced it with a home-trimmed bit of foam, to very good results.

Later this summer, I'm posting some videos on making hems with this old, plain, simple machine.  Of course, I think you should get the very best machine you can afford, but you'd be amazed at what can be done with a primitive machine.  Let's not settle for so-so knitting - let's do our very best!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Deadline Approaching for Charity Knitting Grants

 The knit club that I belong to, the Knit Natters, which is a machine knitting guild in the Austin, Texas area, has funds for charity knitting and has decided to offer charity grants.  The grant application (which is short and simple) is due by July 10.  

Yes, the deadline is coming very, very soon!  You can pick up an an application in the files on Facebook in the "Knitting with Diana Sullivan" group.  

Thursday, June 22, 2023

What I've been knitting...Round Tams!

Round Tams

My mother-in-law likes these little berets for her morning walks, just for a little bit of extra warmth.  She is having a birthday later in June, and since she asked for more, I knitted some.

A few comments about this pattern:

1.  They're standard gauge, and made from 50 grams of self-striping sock yarn.  You could use whatever works well on your standard gauge, but I enjoy the interesting designs that self-striping yarns make on the crown.  Besides, I often have 50 grams of sock yarn - sometimes I'll even buy single balls on the sale table in the yarn shop.  50 grams won't make a pair of socks, but it'll make a beret.

2.  These have a sew-as-you go ribbed cuff.  You make the cuff first, using the ribber, and take it off on contrasting waste knitting.  Then you hang a stitch on every other row (as explained in the video).  

3.  I do see one change I like to make to the video - cast on 200 stitches for the ribbing.  That gives you one extra stitch on each edge of the band for a selvedge.  

4.  Obviously, I think they're fun to knit.  After all, I made four over just a couple days!  These three are in the mail to John's mom, and the other one just wasn't her colors.  

5.  I block them over a dinner plate.  I pull the hat over the plate, sew around the ribbing edge with a piece of smooth yarn, and pull it and tie it to tighten the hat.  Then I steam the hat and leave it to dry.

Here's the (old) video where I teach how to make them:

Saturday, June 10, 2023

New Video: How to Add Ribbed Button Band When You Don't Have a Ribber

Don't you think you ought to be able to make very nice garments on a simple machine?  I do!

My video for June is out, and it's a very nice ribbed button band especially for knitting on machines without a ribber - for instance, your Brother 350, Bond, or perhaps your beloved LK150.  And, this isn't difficult to do.  

Saturday, March 4, 2023

New Video - Faster, flatter mattress stitch - Sewn from either the knit side or the purl side

 I have been remiss about posting my new YouTubes here - sorry!  I'll try to do better.

So, this video is specifically to help the Chicago club as I teach seams at their meeting next weekend.  It is the "Faster, Flatter Mattress" stitch (probably my most popular YouTube ever in its original form), but I had to change it up.  The original video showed how to sew it from the knit side, and this one shows that and also how to sew it from the purl side.

Maybe you have never done this stitch - try it!  It will improve your ability to get projects sewed together, and it looks very, very good.  Maybe you've only done it from the knit side, and I think you'll get a kick out of how easy it is to do from the purl side.

And here it is: