Tuesday, January 2, 2018

eighties ladies...

It’s okay to laugh!  I am! All this reminiscing about the 80s - I came across this – my first headshot, from 1987 – look at that Elvis thing happening on top of my head! But, I was wearing one of my very first machine knit sweaters! It was Bramwell’s Montana 2 ply cotton used double-stranded and I knit a design that was in Modern Machine Knitting, a magazine from the UK.  
 And, OMG! I still have that issue! I’ve done a lot of purging but for some reason, I did save my first collection of MMKs, from 1986 to 1989. It was a monthly machine kitting magazine and I read those things front to back and knit the heck out of them! I would pick something I liked, knit it once and then knit it again, improving something until I got it just right. The written patterns were relatively simple, not much reading there but the diagrams were so full of priceless information and each issue had several articles of techniques and swatches, so you could learn about the various aspects and options for your machine.

That magazine was specifically for Knitmaster which was sold as Singer, Studio or Silver Reed in North America so I learned everything I possibly could from those – I always thought the second or third time making the same thing was invaluable, especially for a beginner because it reinforced the lessons. I remember practising and learning so much about necklines because I am not a scarf-wearer - I was always certain they used scarves and big jewelry to hide any glitches! :-)


Friday, December 29, 2017

stranger things...

I’m gearing up for New Years and that means getting my ducks in a row for the resolutions. You know that procrastination thing I mentioned the other day – well, that’s top of the list. It’s probably not as serious as I’m making out but I was finishing up Janet’s church pullover – it’s been hanging on the LK since forever and, I thought, I think I mentioned to you, yes, I did:   http://knitwords.blogspot.ca/2017/10/multiple-choice.html - sheesh, that was back in October when I confessed that I was having to use 3 row counters with my LK150 because none were working properly and I said I was going to order a couple new ones. Didn’t do that.
So, before getting into knitting the last two pieces, the side panels, I went on-line to Peter Smith Trading in Toronto www.sewknit.ca – he has a pretty good website for ordering Silver Reed/Studio/Singer parts. He has all the parts catalogues for the individual machines, so you can look up the part, find the number you want and then go back to the parts order page, locate that number and put it in your cart. I did that for the row counters and the curl cord that I wanted,  ;-) , but I knew there was something else that should have been on my list - I couldn’t think of it so I abandoned that and went back to knitting – you won’t believe this but that freaking row counter that was adding 19 rows instead of moving only one number? suddenly, it’s working perfectly! Like I said, ‘stranger things!’ I’m Netflixing that show! Usually, anything remotely sci-fi is definitely not for me but the nostalgia value for the 80s, the music, ugly cars, hairdos! I’m loving it! and those kids are so cute!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


There I was on Christmas Eve day, seaming up the ‘cold/bold shoulder’ top that I made for Rhiana, which she requested a few weeks back – I still hadn’t gotten around to making her that cardi for back-to-school – OMG! I have never been this disorganized or am I turning into a procrastinator?
In my defense, although the actual knitting of this top is quite quick, I have been pattern-writing every step of the way. I’ve had so many requests at seminars for this design that I figured if I were making one for her, I may as well write it up for everyone at the same time and this would be my test garment.
If you want to see the backstory, check out this link:
On Boxing Day, while I was giving it a final steam so I could get her photo in it before she went home, Rhiana was looking through a copy of Knitwords #53 – Her beautiful mom, Agnieszka was the cover girl and Rhiana and her brother Nathan were also there – he remembers but she doesn’t as she was only 4 years old back in 2010I!

Anyway, my girl was happy with it. She put it on, threw a few poses and said we could do a photoshoot, just like in the magazine days! After admiring herself in the mirror, she declared 'I really like this!' She always was a great, little model!

Happy Holidays, all the best to you and yours for 2018, and may all your knitting projects turn out this nice!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

sox talk...

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about knitting socks all year, not since last Christmas! To be honest, I did sort of think I probably have worn out the topic, but you never know. Here I am feeling I have something more to say on the subject.
The other morning, we had a snow storm and the power went out. I was already in my workroom, preparing to knit and thought, oh, I don’t want to waste the impulse – it was bright enough in the room that I didn’t need power for the lights but to make something that didn’t require the electric for patterning? I grabbed an already-coned-up skein of sock yarn in an aqua and pinks colourway and began to knit. It just happened to be a new-to-me one, Lana Grossa Meilenweit – I placed a mail order last February when there were some things on sale at loveknitting.com – I had spotted this one called ‘stretch Malibu’, thinking it was a great deal at $10.89 for a 100g ball, never got round to it till now. It looked a little finer than my usual Regia sock yarn. Ignoring that thought, I threaded up and began knitting (using my regular double bed sock pattern – see ‘freebies’ at www.knitwords.com – last December I updated that with all my little extra tips along with men’s and ladies sizes and offered it as a pdf – still available, email me at knitwords@shaw.ca).
The power came back on and I never even noticed, just finished off the pair, going for a ladies 8.5 size. I was on a roll and took the next most appealing one, Regia 4 fadig color in reds with a bit of white, orange and yellow call ‘Rio’. Used the same exact size and when I compared the two, the Malibu stretch turned out a full size smaller that the Regia pair. Hum-m-m, interesting. I read the label and the Malibu is 45% wool, 35% cotton, 13% polymid, 7% Elite (PBT) – who knows what that might be? It says, ‘machine washable, non-felting, hard wearing’ (I like that!). And the yardage (sounds better than meterage) is 460 m to 100g! The other sock yarns, merino or superwash wool/nylon are 420 m to 100g.   
I got this great pair of Fluevog boots that I love – they have great grips on the bottom and I wanted them to be my winter boots this year but they are a bit snug with my regular merino wool socks and skinny jeans leave my ankles kind of bare and cold – not to mention matching the colour! using the blue/grey colourway, knit up one size smaller than my regular 7.5, went back to a longer 60-row ribbed cuff to take care of the ankle issue – they are just that bit thinner and perfect! ;-)
P.S. if you think it's hard to take a selfie, try photo-ing your own feet!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

and the saga continues...

Last Sunday, I was able to get the back panel of that thing made – it went quite quickly, no sweat. And over the next few days, I did the joining of the two panels by knitting a 4-stitch slip cord all the way around all four sides. I broke it up in several half hour sessions so it wouldn’t seem so tedious – my eyesight is not what it used to be and picking up the half edge stitch from each side – one being dark navy, same thing as black, yikes, not exactly easy or relaxing, but I got ‘er done! Darned in all the ends and put it through the washer and dryer ‘cuz that’s what Mom will be doing. Got it out of the dryer and I was shaking it out to smooth it and what the? there’s a freakin’ hole in the back in the middle of the lime green stripe! It’s not a dropped stitch, it’s a hole, like the yarn broke in the middle of the stitch. Some bad words were said, I tossed it in the corner and pouted for a few days.
After cooling off, I looked at it again and figured I could rip out the last part of the slip cord, unravel that colour and at least see if I could get into the middle and try to repair the row where the hole was. That accomplished, I calmy reknit the slip cord and finished it off.

In the middle of telling you about it, my computer crashed. I lost the story. After a cup of tea, I restarted, got the story done, photos included. Checked my email – an invitation from Karen’s family (BTW, she had a girl, 8lb 4oz, natural birth on her due date) inviting me to a ‘sip and see’ next week  – I guess this is the current version of the baby shower with a list of local and on-line baby registries and a note saying they preferred organic items…did I mention this was all acrylic crap?

Friday, November 17, 2017

ever have one of those days...

It was early  afternoon, a cold, dull day and I thought, hummm… I can go up to the workroom and knock off the front of that baby blankie for Karen, my niece. It’s her due date tomorrow and I want to commit to this before I know the baby gender (we don’t know at this point, but it shouldn’t really matter as it’s all bright crayon colours on a navy background) so I’m not second-guessing my colours after the fact. I’m figuring I can do the front in about an hour and a half, should be no problem. I already have my yarn all in place. Get cast on and yes, I’m still using the orange waste yarn. Now the blanket is a creation of Mar Heck’s from Knitwords #35 – I’ve made it before, so I think I know what I’m doing

I know I have an old system - I’m using DAK7, Windows 2000, SL4 and my Silver Reed SK580 – now, if you’ve been reading me for awhile you may have twigged to the fact that I’m not exactly the biggest fan of DAK – it’s probably my own unfriendly aura that DAK senses and the machine knitting gods do too. And I haven’t used DAK in awhile – I only use it to download large stitch files to the machine and knit-from-screen and as this particular stitch file came as a DAK file, 200 sts by 356 rows, this is really the only way to knit it other than drawing it out on 6 Mylar sheets – totally out of the question, never gonna happen. I have done some tuck patterning recently, using the built-in electronics, no DAK, and everything worked fine. 
On the blanket, there is a solid colour border, so 23 rows plain navy at the beginning – I’m not putting a name in – and there are 10 plain stitches of border at each edge – the picture is knit as a single motif and Mar has explained, on a brother machine, how to have extra yarn ready to wrap the edge stitches so there are no holes at the edge of the picture, before the border. Being the Silver Reed expert that I am (in my own mind anyway), I know this is much easier on this machine. Because the needles do not select (come out like the brother machine), you can wrap the next to the end-of-the-pattern needle with the second colour at the beginning of each row and using the yarn separators, everything works beautifully. I have learned in the past that I don’t need to use the yarn separators – they prevent the second colour from getting tangled in the background yarn until the second colour is required in the patterning of the next row – I simply wrap the needle with the second colour, leave it in B position, and with my hand, hold the second colour yarn slightly below the brushes/arm of the carriage just for the start of the row and it works well.
Back to the work at hand, knit the plain border. On row 23, set to fairisle, add in the second colour, knit the first row of patterning, everything’s fine. Knit the second row - somehow the second colour is knitting at the edge, in the border. Gosh, darney, darn, darn! Rip out the row, reset everything and try again. Same thing happens. Rip out, re-read DAK, knit, same thing. I very calmly take the carriage off, examine the undercarriage and decide that maybe it’s time for some cleaning and maintenance. Get out my tool kit, remove all the brushes and wheels and sure enough, there are a few bits of gunk and mashed up yarn and the transparent plastic round brush covers have a few marks on them, so I replace them. Wipe out the tiny dust bunny babies from the channels, oil it all, put things back on the machine, reset the pattern and I get two rows this time before the mistake. Check the end cams, here’s a thought, maybe they are not in the right position – it is kind of hard to decide it they are set at 100 or at 99…I go back into DAK and delete one stitch from each side of the file so it’s now 198 sts wide. Go through the whole deal again and same thing. I look closer and see that what is happening is that the second colour is actually knitting a row of stockinette which means that the DAK signal has dropped and there is not fairisle needle selection. Okay, this could be serious. I now realize this is an electronics issue and fortunately, I have new end cams and a new curl cord which I swap out – do that and same thing – it’s like freakin’ Groundhog Day! My two-hour window has disappeared, and I am defeated. I face the fact that my Silver Link 4 is quite old now and I am not up to replacing that. Turn everything off, drop the jinxed border from the machine – I’ll go drink my sorrows away!  I'm Netflix-ing 'This Is US' - what a show, makes you forget all your troubles!
This morning, after a good strong coffee, I go up to face reality. Turn on the computer, call up DAK and the pattern and I do a dry run – no yarn, arm off the carriage, set to fairisle, load the pattern and knit, listening to the sound of the clicking needles and watching the winking red/green light on the DAK link box. Ha! It is all working! Make 20 passes like that, all systems go! Still apprehensive, I leave the pattern on, cast-on and get the border knit to the point of row 24, first row of patterning. Re-read DAK for row 24, add in the second colour, set to fairisle, knit, check – it’s all good! Wrap the needle, hold the yarn below, take a deep breath and knit – it works! OMG! I keep going, not daring to take a break – sure enough, within the hour I have the completed front! Victory!
Moral of the story, when using DAK, when you need a re-start, always turn off everything! You know how your computer tells you this may require a restart after you add or remove a program, DAK really needs this – unplug the link, turn off your computer and restart everything before going into panic mode!  Also, Silver Reed people, if you do not have a spare new curl cord and point cams, order them today, just saying!
Have a great weekend!  XO, MAO!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

what I did...

I took my schematic from ‘Sidesteps’ and put it in the KR11. The ragg yarn is a little heavier than what I had used (4 ply wool at T7,  29 sts and 44 rows to 10 cm) and I knit the ragg at T9 (28 sts and 39 rows to 10 cm). Plugging  the new stitch and row gauge into the KR11 took care of all the new calculations. I added 10 sts at the hemline to make it the longer length I was looking for. I put the ravel cord line for the pocket opening just after the gore (on the centre front side) in the front (the gores from 'Sidesteps 'turn the sideways square body into a more flattering A-line), using the pocket technique from the old pattern.
I lowered the vee neckline and stopped knitting the front 5 cm before the actual centre front to allow for the 6 cm bands of the new version. I used the same 2X2 (2X1) ribs of the old pattern for the hem, cuffs and pocket bands. On the front band, like the old pattern, I used full needle rib, changed the circular cast-on to my newer version of the racked cast-on (so the outside edge was stretchy and didn’t have the restriction that is typical of the circular cast-on), went into the 2 working, one not, needle arrangement on rib bed only, so that it would look the same as the other bands, did the grey stripe and then the shortrowing  for the shawl collar as the final step. Now you know how too!