Friday, July 20, 2018

couldn't help it...

I was going to take this to MSP, basically in pieces and use it for some of my demos, of seaming and doing that second pocket but as I got closer to the end, I just couldn’t stop. Rationalizing, my thought was that it would look so much nicer finished up, washed and dried and I could model it – you know how I love to show off! And let’s face it, a unshrunk cotton garment can be pretty scary…I’ll just make a couple extra swatches for the demos.
For the hood, I used the method and schematic for KW#40, Lacy in Red because the shape was suitable and I wanted the face to be framed with the rib and not have a seam on the top of the head, so the rib and lace look nice when the hood is down which will be 99.9% of the time.
Dropped by the fabric store the other day  to check out buttons and gosh-darn there was next to nothing. Had decided I wanted a one inch/25 mm button or even 1 1/8 inch/28 mm would do but slim pickings! I did find a card of 28 mm that was almost ok – I figured I could doctor the colour with nail polish or paint – there were 2 per card at $3.80 and I need five or six  buttons – I was about to purchase - did the math and came to my senses - figured I’d better check my at-home button stash! Yup, I actually had better choices already, but only 5 of the one I liked colourwise. Usually I don’t pick shiny buttons but I’ll be ok with these, I’m sure. To make a swatch of the buttonhole prior to the actual band - the rib is a 4-stitch repeat; on the main bed, three needles in work, 1 out all across, with Swing P and on the rib bed, only every fourth needle in work, opposite the needle out of work from the main bed and this stitch is tucking every other row – I did that so the single stitch on the rib bed wouldn’t disappear in the fold and the tuck adds a bit of width to the whole thing.
Back to the buttonhole, my experience tells me that I need to cast off about 5 stitches for the size of the chosen button (25mm) so the big question is where to best position the buttonhole in the rib for it to look and perform the best. Make two and then decide.
Here’s the needle arrangement:
l l . l l l . l l l . l l l . l l
. . l . . . l . . . l . . . l . . .
I made one with the rib stitches at each end and one with the rib stitch in the centre and it looked the best – the one at the top, the first one opened too wide and just looked like a big hole whereas the centred rib stitch seemed to control the depth better so I went with that one – they were both 5 stitches wide.
Got the bands made and attached; put most every thing together and darned in most ends – didn’t attach the hood in case the front bands weren’t right – not that I didn’t have confidence, just that, as you can see, the unshrunk cotton garment can be deceiving – a horizontal band is going to shrink the opposite way to the vertical length of the garment and if necessary, it will be easier to remove and replace the bands without having to take the hood off as well.
Wash and dry and whew! looks great, must have planned that! Final photos later!
Calling this one Milky Way.

Friday, July 13, 2018

in the pocket....

I am so glad those blues didn’t work out because this cream lace long cardi hoodie is gonna be gorgeous!
marker row for pocket
One of the big things about knitting lace is bad needles and the horizontal line stitch pattern will show everyone, because it uses every single needle to transfer one way or the other. On my sleeves, everything behaved perfectly but when it came to the wider Back, every time #63 Right transferred to #62, when the carriage was moving to the left, it dropped. This happened every 6th row. After fixing the dropped stitch a few times, to prevent the dropped stitch, on the 5th row, I transferred that stitch manually and left the empty (#63) needle in work and the subsequent row would be perfect. At the end of the piece, I replaced both #62 and 63, because you don’t know which one was messing up. BTW, do me a favour and throw out those needles – there’s no use saving them – you usually can’t tell by looking at them and you’ll only have messed up stitches again by re-using them! I’ve been to your house – I know you keep them!
Of course, there are pockets! No question, but I’m going to do an inside-bag pocket – the Minneapolis Founder’s Fest (July 28, 29, 2018 - ) knitters are bound to be impressed. In fact, I will leave one off, to complete as part of my demo for them! Not sure if I’ve told you this already or not, but, where to put the pocket opening? For patch pockets, you can pin them on after the fact, try it on, change your mind and move them, but with this one you need to know ahead of time. What I do - I want the opening of the pocket to be below-the-waist/high hip area where it feels comfortable to have your hand in a pocket so measure down from the underarm 35 cm, a little lower than I explained because there is a 2 cm pocket top above this point, added after.
swatch with marker row
hang first side
If you remember, there needs to be plain stockinette above and below the marker row of where the actual pocket is to be attached. Last time, to get that stockinette, I unknit the lace and untransferred the stitches to make it stockinette and here, over the 32-st width of the pocket opening, it took some time. For the row above the marker row, it was easier to hand transfer the stitches that were supposed to be lace, leave the empty needles in work, turn the cam tto stockinette and let the carriage think it was knitting a whole row of stockinette - I felt like a brain surgeon for figuring that out! Just remember to switch back to lace for the next row. When I turned the work for the next pattern, for a minute, my heart dropped like a stone - I thought the pocket was going to be on the wrong side! False alarm, it's all good! 
hang pocket top, wrong side facing
hang bottom edge after knitting bag

If you would like my handout on this pocket technique, you know the drill – email me!

-MAO, aka pocket scientist
P.S. I shouldn't have to tell you I'm using my Silver Reed, but all this can be done on a brother machine too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

moving on...

Got DAK7 going with old desktop computer; bought new battery and PE1 is working; received new shipment of CT8 – ordered two cones each of ecru, vanilla and pearl – the colour names don’t help but I’m going to make my long lace cardi hoodie in ecru (should be called cream) – looks exactly the same as pearl, so check your dyelots ( and FYI, vanilla should be named  tan or putty, IMO anyway!).
I told you what I was looking for – textured stripes of lace. For the horizontal stripes I did a couple of variations of eyelets – every other needle on every third row so the eyelets were transferred in opposite directions; every other needle on every fourth row (saw a upright diagonal here and possible biasing); every other needle on every fifth row (meaning sts were transferred in alternate directions, no bias but the lines were too far apart); and every third needle on every third row (didn’t give horizontal lines). Settled on the very first one but it doesn’t hurt to explore all options.
For the vertical lines, I was going for one of my favourites, that faggotting lace stitch (KW#45, Mazatlan) but with a few more plain stitches between the upright stripes – on one, the transfers were going the wrong way, too close together; 4 plain stitches between correct lace faggots and then 3 plain stitches – this one works for me.
On the ribbed  bands, I chose 3X1 rib with tuck every other row on the single stitch on the rib bed for the deep hems and front bands but I beefed up the cast-on by doubling the yarn for the manual wrap only, with success – good to go, so I then made an actual swatch for measuring, cheating a little bit. Instead of making three 60 row swatches, one for each technique, I just did 30 rows of each stitch and then used the green gauge to measure each section twice to add up to what the 60 rows would be – hope you get what I mean. In the end, after washing and drying, the ribbed row gauge is 50 rows to 10 cm; the horizontal eyelet is 45 rows and the vertical line is 40 rows. What I will do is figure out how deep I want each hem/band and multiply it by the 5 rows to 1 cm. For the body parts, average out the two gauges (45 + 40 = 85 divided by 2 = 42.5 to 10 cm) and use 4.25/cm. Stitch gauge is 2.7 st/cm for all three.
Here’s me, making a sleeve…:-)

Friday, July 6, 2018

drama queen...

You could call me that but how would you feel? My package of 6 blue shades of CT8 arrived and filled with the anticipation of a good Christmas morning, I eagerly ripped it open. Instant deflation! Disappointment personified! OMG, I didn’t like one of them, never mind two or three. I pouted and went into a diva funk…gosh, darn, what to do, what to do? I did take them out several times, placing them differently and looking from various angles in alternate lighting, hoping they changed or maybe I would, but no, it did not work.
In an attempt to re-adjust my machine knitting values and karma, I proceeded to finish the loose-knit dress. Things went swell for a while. I seamed the front and back and finished the shortrowed neckline, using a multi-strand ewrap (#23 from 50 Ways to Love Your Knitter); joined the shoulders and did the same to the armholes; seamed the sides, darned in all the ends and tried it on. Laughter ensued, and I was glad there was no witness. It’s huge, but I was expecting that. Anyway, I tossed it in the washer with a couple other smooth things, on a handwash cycle. Put it in the dryer, monitoring it carefully every ten minutes. When it seemed dry, took it out and put it on again. Aw, darn, it’s a couple inches too long. I purposely had not done any extra finishing on the hem, hoping the 3-strand ewrap would be enough, but in the back of my mind, realized I may have to do something extra. Even tried belting it, but it still was a bit long. Tossing around ways of doing a cut’n’sew to shorten it, I figured I’d try giving it an extreme wash/dry, really kick in the shrink factor – nothing to lose! Wet it down, spun it to eliminate most of the water and put it in a hot dryer this time and let it go! Bingo! it’s perfect! ;-) Minneapolis, here I come! And, it looks fine with the black slip! You’ll have to take my word for it for now – this photo is just to prove to you I did it and you have to wait for a live-model shot!
This dress turned out so nice, I thought, hey, maybe I could use that ‘cold shoulder’ sleeve again – it still seems to be featuring strong fashion-wise and I could put it on with hand-stitching (the armhole is already finished) and then it could be easily removed next year if I don’t like it then…To knit the dress pieces, I had used DAK and interactive knitting, so I turned on my DAK7-Silverlink4-dedicated old laptop – Windows 2000, and  not much happened – it got stuck on the ‘starting windows…’ screen and I remembered last week, it was on and while doing something else, I heard some suspicious ding-dong sounds coming from it, panicked and shut it down. Now, I unplugged, rebooted several times, went to the internet, googled help, tried everything suggested and came to the conclusion that the hard drive was fried. Rats! I have another old laptop that has XP but no DAK7. My current laptop is Windows 7 and I have DAK8 on it but never was able to get DAK8 working with the SL4 (had been advised to purchase an SL5 to conform with the newer system but at an additional $500, drew the line). Double Rats!
Ah! to heck with DAK, I still have the PE1. Hooked it up, filled in the mylar, 48 rows by 24 sts, fed it in, revised and re-read several times before I got it right. Went to save it onto the card and ar-r-r-g-g-h! Just weird numbers and when I try to recall the last pattern entered, ‘no data’. OMG! Is my knitting career over?  A few months ago, I told you I had to replace the battery in that card. A new battery for $8? After all, the replacement was hanging around here for a long time. Could try that, I guess.
One last thought - my old desktop computer, Windows XP, not hooked to internet either – too old, has DAK7, but it’s across the room – do I have the energy to move it? OMG! look at that cord for the SL4 – it’s like 20 feet long at least – I always wondered why? Hah! it reaches! and it works!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

fingers crossed...

Just to have something to do while I’m waiting for my CT8 order without a lot of thinking and prep work – let me back up a bit. The ideas, where do they come from?
On the way home from Toronto last week, I was wearing my blue 1Rt Linen Hoodie - it was quite warm and I was loving the hoodie. I had a black camisole under it with my light jeans and I felt cool and good. I caught a couple of glimpses in mirrors and liked the sheer-look of the fabric and it struck me I could knit a dress of the same fabric. Last year, for a special family occasion, I had sewn a dress of a sheer fabric with a bias-cut slip in black underneath instead of lining the dress and I could use that under a sheer-knit dress.  

So, here goes! In KW#46, I did a four-panel fitted dress called Fit ’n Flare – it still fits me! I dug out the schematic/mylar that goes in my wonderful little KR11 knit radar. I have the exact same yarn, Sari – I originally had two cones of the same dye lot and the hoodie hardly took half of one. I had very good notes of the swatches, both unwashed and washed although, in a purging frenzy earlier this year I had trashed the actual swatches. To check the validity of my washed swatch numbers, I measured the actual garment and checked my row count numbers, and yeah, it looks pretty accurate. The only thing I forgot to note was which stitch pattern I had used. Because it is so loosely knit, it’s sort of hard to tell by looking but I feel certain that it was the one from Big Sister, KW#42 – hope that’s not subliminal just because someone mentioned that pattern in an email recently…
Within minutes of deciding to go for it, I was casting on and knitting! It’s a pretty quick knit, even if there are almost 400 rows to each piece and there is shaping happening all over – I got all four pieces knit in one day and even remembered to hang yarn marks at each edge every 10 cm/4 inches – these are long seams and that will be invaluable in making sure the seams are properly matched. Sort of cheating, instead of the fancy double bed hem, I just used a 3-strand ewrap – the fabric is light and floaty and if that doesn’t work, it’s easy enough to rehang and add one of my other edges to it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

the verdict...

 Have you ever had a cotton knit sweater that seemed to get heavier and heavier as you wear it and it is actually stretching and lengthening, growing in size? Well, that never happened!
I told you I was taking Lipstick & Smoke with me to Ireland. I did and I was so glad to have it. I wore it on the plane for several reasons. I was trying to pack light and it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase and I knew it would be nice and cozy for the flight. When I travel, I always take a longer cardigan that I can use as a dressing gown and, if there were cooler evenings, I knew I could wear it as a coat. I wore it so much over the three weeks, my sister was probably sick of looking at it but she never said! I kept waiting for it to stretch out but it never did. Even coming back to Toronto where it can be dreadfully hot, it still didn’t and with all that wear and not being washed for so long, it still looked great! AND, not a pillball in sight!
Impressed is what I am with Cotton Tale 8 and I’ve already placed another order for my next project – I’ve asked for 6 shades of blue – even with the printed-out shade card it’s hard to know what exactly you’re going to get and I want two or three shades that go together for my next long cardigan and I know I’ll use the other colours for something! I made a couple of trial swatches yesterday – I’m looking for textured stripes, maybe alternating knit side and purl side. The bands will be rib-look, with 3 knit stitches alternating with a tuck rib that will widen it out to match the width  of the lace stitches…

Saturday, May 26, 2018


After the dust settled on Lipstick and Smoke, the remaining yarn tally of my Cotton Tale 8 was charcoal, 194g; silver, 292g; black, 350g; white, 400g. The garment weight of L&S is 750g. As I was finishing up, I was pondering my next project. White is the largest single amount and you know I love lace. I still did not have a really perfect white summer cardi. I want to take my raglan shape, add the extra wide full-fashioned decreases from Rich Raglan (Serial Stuff 2), use the lace stitch pattern of Sampler Lace from KW#12 and the variable here will be the bands. I am picturing a nice, half sleeve raglan cardi in a mixed-up version of the lace sampler with white or possibly black or red bands all round. My pattern for Rich Raglan is based on the fact you may not have enough of the main colour for the bands so they are all added after in case you need to switch colour.
I made a quick swatch of the lace at T7 with the lace carriage – just to be clear, this yarn is so nice, I really do love it – it is about the same weight as Bonita (I have used extensively with lace carriage!) which is a mercerised cotton but this washes up very soft and seems a little thicker than  Bonita, so in comparison, Bonita was at T6 with my Silver Reed lace carriage and I’ve decided to try T7 with Cottontale 8 (Bonita in stockinette at T8 and CT8 at T9). Got the quick swatch made with little issue and got right into making the first sleeve. You’d think I was a beginner! oh man! I laboured over that sleeve. Stitches were dropping, hanging up, not knitting and the air was blue! Got it done in three hours. Should have been maybe one hour with a coffee break in there! I didn’t know what was wrong. I was ignoring that voice in my head that always says if you’re having trouble, stop and figure out why…

Next morning, I felt like a brand-new baby duckling, fresh into the world, no knowledge or experience and repeated the same thing again! At the end of the second sleeve, I was worn out and I thought that maybe Cotton Tale 8 was not for lace. Suddenly it dawned on me – what would MAO tell someone else who listed all those issues with lace – she would immediately say, ‘how’s your sponge bar?’ OMFGG!
Replaced the sponge bar – it was pretty flat – oh and by the way, I always keep a somewhat used sponge bar to put in for lace – if you put a brand new, super firm one you’re just asking for more trouble – it will hold the needles too tight and close and you’ll have almost the same experience as the well used, almost flat sponge! Got the remaining pieces done in record time! Bonus, there is 90g white yarn left – just enough for narrow 1X1 tuck hems (#32 Band Practise) and stockinette bands for neck and fronts. Here’s me, super happy! I’ll be placing an order for more CT8 soon – Charlene sent me a printed shade card – thanks!

P.S. I’m giving you a rest from my knitting for a while – I’m off to Ireland with sister Janet for a hiking tour – back here on June 21!

Join us on our trip at for travel, food, fun and hiking stories and tips.