Monday, January 16, 2017


 I’m breaking in my new hiking boots, copying all my old cds onto my new-for-Christmas iPod, knitting little/big sister Janet a hoodie and laundering/fixing some knitted things. New hiking boots because Janet and I are heading to New Zealand with a stopover in Australia on a hiking trip from Christchurch to Queensland on the South Island - leaving mid-February, returning mid-March and it's her birthday while we're gone so I figured the hoodie would be an appropriate gift. Wearing the hiking boots around the house for a few days before heading out is a good way to break them in, no matter what you’re doing. I am making my Omega (from Serial Stuff #4) hoodie for Janet instead of the GFH for a couple of reasons - she remembered seeing me wearing my dill/black hoodie when we went to Europe two years ago, and wanted one like it. Omega is quite a bit fancier, not only the yarn being Wool Crepe Deluxe, but it is kind of a cross between a raglan and a saddle-shouldered sleeve, more fitted and dressier than your average cotton hoodie. It is thinner and fits under a coat or jacket nicely. Also for packing, a hoodie out of wool crepe deluxe packs smaller than the same thing out of the thicker cotton that I originally used for the GFH. She really liked the idea of two colours and we settled on swordfish blue and midnight tweed - I know she is going to end up wearing it with her French navy dress at some point and at least it will match colourwise! ;-)
Holey-ness is in the laundry along with my brown linen GFH - I wore it a couple of times and love it but the #3 molded plastic zipper (that I had shortened) started to pouch out at the bottom??? Why? I have no idea but I got my second order of zippers and decided to switch out that one for the thinner # 3 nylon coil one.
I un-picked the zipper and threw the garment in the laundry (along with Holey-ness – no point in washing just one) just because - maybe I had inadvertently stretched it out while installing the zipper (?) and washing it would reset the stitches...I'll post again on how it turns out later but that brings me to the Omega I'm working on right now. I have it almost all knit, just need to finish putting it together and I've decided that I want to sew the zipper in with the sewing machine – I find that so much easier and quicker than hand stitching, so I’m using the stabilizing technique for the front edges from MFH/GFH instead of the stockinette bands from the original Omega which required hand-stitching the zip
oh, and I threw in the stuff about the ipod just to make it seem like I'm much more tech-savvy than I really am! ;-)

Monday, January 9, 2017

taking measures....

Have you ever had an idea to do something but you keep putting it off and mentally saying, okay, next time…well, every time I need to measure something quickly, I spend a huge amount of time searching for a tape measure. Now, I probably have at least two tape measures in every room of my house, if I knew where they were at any given moment but those things, I swear, have legs and run and hide every time I want one. And then you take the time to roll it up and put it in a new safe place for next time…and I kept thinking, there’s got to be a way to have a tape measure placed permanently, like you know, in the fabric store where they have them built in to the table top…and it finally dawned on me – on the front edge of my desk! I had briefly entertained putting it on the front of my LK150 table but if you were knitting,
the fabric would be in the way. I toyed with the idea of using a yard stick but mine has imperial on one side and metric on the other so that was out. I wanted to have both centimetres and inches - I think in centimetres for knitting anyway but I always like to have the inch conversion there too so after I found it this time, I took a cm/inch tape measure and glue gunned it to the front of my desk! You can’t miss it – no more searching and wasting time! And it seems like you have another hand - I can hold up my swatch, stretch it and figure out how many stiches I`ll need for the front bands on this new `holey-ness`…

Saturday, January 7, 2017

life lessons...

There I was working on my fourth piece in a row – there is nothing more satisfying than completing one full lace piece without a single hitch or dropped stitch but I had 2 Sleeves and the Back done perfectly. Of course, I got cocky and thinking of you, decided to give you a little ‘shortrows with ravel cord’ lesson as a refresher, you know. Big of me, right? Yeah, I can laugh now…I was perking along, writing a few sentences, going back and knitting a row or two, checking what I wrote, taking a photo or two and feeling magnanimous and proud and suddenly realized that I blew right by the start of the vee neck shaping! ARRGGH!!!
4 perfect pieces!
I turned back my knit radar, row by row and what do you know, I was over by 14 rows – this will be a piece of cake! My stitch pattern is a 14 row repeat so I won’t even have to re-read my lace stitch pattern – just rip back the 14 rows and I’ll be back on track, ready to shape the neckline half way through the underarm decreases which I’m doing with shortrowing instead of casting off each decrease – it makes a much smoother line, is neater for finishing and I usually find it much quicker than casting off at the edge on every other row which ends up with a step line. Calmly, I ripped out the 14 rows - didn’t take too long, and of course, still feeling superior and totally confident, I re-threaded and resumed my lace knitting and shortrowing and shaping at the neck side as well. After about 10 rows, I realized the sound of the lace carriage wasn’t quite right and stopped to inspect. ARRGGH! It was only transferring the stitches from left to right and not the other way. I panicked, thinking my lace carriage was broken. OMG! This is a catastrophe! I was going to drop it all from the machine in a fit of rage but decided to leave it for tomorrow. Man, good advice, MAO – know when to walk away! This morning, down a few pegs, I checked my needle arrangement and saw that in the undoing, I had messed up the 2-working-one-not needle arrangement part way across the row so it couldn’t transfer the stitches going to the left because those needles were now out of work! And now, I had no idea what row I was supposed to be on because I had turned off the machine and reset things before I figured out the real issue. Do I abandon it or attempt to pull off the coup of my knitting life? Ah, what the heck? May as well give it a try…the machine knitting gods were on my side today! I ripped out the rows that were incorrect, guessed that I was now on row 3, programmed it and gosh, darn it worked! Life is good!
To shortrow/decrease with ravel cord and deal with needles out of work:

step 2
step 3
To shortrow at right side, at underarm point, knit to left. At right side, fill in any empty needles that are within plus one of the stitches to be ‘decreased’, e.g., 5 sts. Using ravel cord, knit 4 sts back to A position. Knit to right (step 1). At carriage side (right) take next stitch back to A – this takes the place of the wrapping if you were using holding position and completes the 5 st decrease. Knit to left. The next decrease would be 4 sts. Fill in empty needles within that plus 1 and knit 3 stitches back to A with ravel cord. Knit one row to right. Take the one stitch at the carriage side back to A. Continue in this manner until all stitches to be cast-off/decreased are in A position. If there is only 1 stitch to be decreased per two rows, take it back on the carriage side only, to prevent holes in your edge. When all stitches are held in A position– carriage will be at left. Knit to right. Unthread yarn from carriage and carefully pull out ravel cord from left to right and the stitches and wraps should just pop back up into the hooks of the needles. 
 4- pull out ravel cord
5 - manually knit same size row

Take the main yarn and hand knit those stitches as close to main tension as you can get, going from left to right. Now, on those same stitches, hand knit a loose row (larger than main tension) right to left. Chain off those stitches from right to left, ending at the new edge of the work and place the last stitch on the new end needle to anchor. Re-thread and continue knitting!

6 - manually knit loose row
This gives a nice, smooth curve with a minimal edge that won’t look too thick or heavy in your finished garment, perfect for lace, tuck lace.  
Hope this makes sense!
You may notice marks of the needle bed to indicate every 9th stitch repeat for the ruffly rib - I found this invaluable - use a non-permanent water soluble marker that is easy to remove with a moistened Q-tip.

7 - cast off

Machine knit like you could earn a living at it! ;-)


Friday, January 6, 2017


So, you might be wondering why, if I still have the original ‘Ruffles and Lace’, would I want to be remaking this garment? The Bonita cotton isn’t going to wear out – I could say that it even still fits but only if I have the old huge shoulder pads that we were wearing back then! I did get it out last year and tried it on when I was looking for something to wear for a family wedding but the sleeve cap/depth of the armhole was just not working for me now. And what a shame because it is still a nice garment! I tried pulling it this way and that and decided there was no reviving it as is – it would have to be taken apart and re-knit and we all know that wouldn’t happen! I love the lace pattern and I love the trim/ruffly rib edging so why not re-do it?
To revamp this and make it 2017 wearable, I am going to change the sleeve to an elbow-length with a more fitted width and depth in the cap/underarm area. I’ll raise the v-neck and shorten the whole thing to high-hip length and add that little bit of A-line shaping to the body that I have become so fond of.
schematic from 1999
The original half-sleeve width at the underarm (I - for my size) was 23 cm, it will now be 18 cm; J changes from 20 cm to 15cm; K goes from 35 cm to 16 cm; H at 12 cm becomes 14 cm – wow, what a difference a fitted sleeve makes. Really the only change to the body is to slope the shoulder slightly by 1.5 cm, narrow the neck and shoulder width by 1 cm each and alter the depth of the underarm shaping, reducing it by 1 cm – which will actually change it by 2.5 cm when you add in the shoulder shaping.
2017 shape
Oh yeah, I changed the depth of the hem and only did 4 rows of the transfers – not just to get it over faster, but I didn’t feel like the shortened length needed to have as much extra weight at the hemline. And my swatch, I went with T5 (2 full numbers tighter than my original T7) for the lace and for the rib went 2 numbers down for all those instructions. The ruffly rib is a 9-stitch repeat so for all my hems, I will plan to be within that for a nice match at the seams. For example, on the sleeve, according to the schematic, I should have 46 sts each side, but the band will match when seamed if there are 45-0-45 ns so I start with the 45-0-45 needles, knit the band and transfer the stitches up. Knit a row  2 numbers higher than main tension to get rid of the doubled sts and allow for that row not to be too tight so the band won’t be kicking out. Then, when transferring to the every third needle out of work for the lace pattern, fudge the edges so you can increase to 47-0-46 ns so there are 2 plain sts at each edge and to make up the extra stitch for the lace pattern to be symmetrical.
I’m going to shut up and get knitting!
 Machine knit like you have a deadline! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


the cover garment
What are the odds? That I would pick a pattern with a mistake in it! Well, actually, maybe I don’t want to know…the fact there was a mistake or that it was never found…does it mean no one actually tried this pattern, maybe…or did they get frustrated and simply give up? I can only laugh about it now and apologize.
back in the day before digital photos!

I had been thinking about lace –  been a while since I’ve used my lace carriage and its always been one of my favourite techniques, especially on the Silver Reed as the single action lace carriage allows one to knit a simple lace pattern as easily as stockinette because this lace carriage transfers and knits with the yarn in the feeder. So, my choice is ‘Ruffles and Lace’ from KW#10 – back in Autumn ’99. I made the original one for myself and did wear it many times. I remember, in particular, at a show in Dallas, while standing in line at the fashion show, Danis McWest commented on it and asked where I got the lace carriage for the bulky machine? I explained that it was done on the standard gauge but every third needle was out of work which made for the larger holes. He thought I was brilliant (or at least that’s what he said! ;-)) The original was made using Bonita cotton (4ply mercerized, 1850 yds/500g, T8-9 stockinette) and though I still  have several colours of Bonita, I wanted something lighter weight – thinking of that summertime thing and checked to see what I had. Going through the index files, I saw I used Yeomans Brittany ( 2ply cotton, double stranded, 3000m/350g, T6-7 stockinette) quite a bit, but had never done an entire garment of lace so that was my starting point. Last week I had briefly entertained the thought of making another GirlFriend Hoodie in lace and was going to try the Brittany. D
Brittany washed
id a quick swatch (no hem) just to test out the lace pattern and make sure  of the correct needle selection. It knit up fine – the holey-ness was excellent but I wanted a better drape than this soft cotton produced.

mushroom swatch fresh off the machine
Then, Mina Dina (2200 yds/lb, T5-6 stockinette) popped into my head – it’s a rayon/cotton blend, very nice drape, a nice little sheen, quite a bit lighter than Bonita and I had this great mushroom colour, not brown, not beige, not gray but close. Began to make the Mini Dina swatch and as I knew that this would be the one, I started with the full needle ribbed hem and was shocked to find this glaring omission – not enough information for the average knitter to make this band! I am devastated! I felt simply awful and even after this length of time I feel obligated to share my shame with you! Here is the corrected info (because I, ever hopeful, know you’re going to try this out):
Ruffly Rib
Full needle rib, all needles working. Cast on waste yarn, knit about an inch. Circular, ravel cord, K2R.
CAL, MC, T4/4, knit zigzag row. Set to circular, T6/8, K2R. RC000. Cancel circular, everything knits, T8/8, K1R. Starting at centre, at each side of 0, *using 3 prong tool, transfer #2, 3, 4 , one needle space to n#1, 2, 3. n#4 is empty, #1 has 2 sts. Transfer #6, 7, 8, one space to n#7, 8, 9, #6 is empty, #9 has 2 sts. Repeat like this across row on knit bed only. Leave empty ns in work. Bring needles out, stitches behind latches, both beds. Knit 2 rows.* Repeat required number of times.
Got my swatch knit (see photo above) and even though it looks pretty loose and random, after washing, it looks fabulous! (see photo at right)
mushroom MD washed
Early this morning, I awoke with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach – I have a cold but this was different - that edging would be in one of my trims books…was the error there? You know that ole cut’n’paste trick? The good news - it is in ‘Knitting on the EDGE’ and it is correct, so I did obviously make a new swatch and have the correct information there (big sigh of relief).
Machine knit like you wrote the pattern!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

guilty pleasure...

I have something to admit – I loved Downton Abbey. No, let me say it again, I LOVE Downton Abbey! I just finished watching it again right from the beginning, on Netflix, just in time to catch the season 6 rerun on PBS. Actually, I think this is my third time…I forgot why Mary so hated Edith - I can’t stand her either, always so wishy-washy and desperate. And O’Brien, OMG!
I love the fashions, most of them anyway – the hats, especially. And old Lady Grantham, I adore her! She can do no wrong – my pet quote from her, after Rose’s mother asks for her assistance in telling Rose that her low-back dress is too risqué, Violet says, ‘ In my time, I’ve worn the crinoline, the bustle and leg o’ mutton sleeves. I’m not in a strong position to criticize!’
Last year when Mrs Patmore showed up in a dumb American scam show I was so disappointed in her! And Mosley…he certainly can play that down and out, oh-poor-me character. Thomas, I think in retrospect, is the best actor. A friend once said to me that the job of an actor was to make you believe in his/her role and elicit strong emotions - I totally hated him at times but in season 5 and 6 felt absolutely devastated for him, cried, and – spoiler alert – cheered at the ending. That is a great actor!
I could go on and on but the point is it’s brought me back to re-reading my KNITWORDS magazines and I’ve decided that I’m going to go back and remake some of my favourite projects along with a little updating here and there and maybe tell you about it…

All the best for 2017 and may you machine knit like you own a yarn shop!

Friday, December 30, 2016


They arrived and guess what? In my excitement, I had placed the order before I had finished the front edges against my own advice and, of course, the 22 inch that I originally decided on is too long! I had added a
brass-teeth #5 22 inch as well but didn’t care for the look of the brass with my tobacco brown hoodie so I am attempting to adjust the length of the #3 molded plastic coffee bean one. I need to shorten this by 2 inches which is 17 teeth on each side…I’ve only gouged my knuckle once, not a big deal, I can handle it – no blood on the garment is my standard. The hardest part is prying off the metal stops at the top of the teeth. I managed this with the aid of a little flat-blade screw driver and a small pair of pliers. After fully cleaning the teeth off one side of the tape, I realized that I only needed to get them off about 3/4 of an inch above the new finished length. The easiest part was replacing the stops, using needle nose pliers. Even though I am not totally happy with the colour of the zipper, I’m going to sew this in and then re-evaluate the situation. A couple of days ago when I realized this zipper would be too long, I placed another order with and I have a #3 nylon coil in seal brown coming, along with a few others I thought would be good stock to have ;-), to add to the 6 others – like this jewel green one (not) that I thought would go with the cilantro linen that I couldn’t resist the first time! Glad I still have those old pinking shears! Haven’t used them in 20 years but you never know, do you?

Machine knit like you know what you’re doing! ;-)
P.S. got this all done yesterday and I wore it for the rest of the day…love it! Particularly the weight and texture – can hardly wait for hot weather! And what do you know, Cathy  R. must have known – she’s invited me to do her seminar in Monroe, MI next summer – the 21st and 22 of July 2017 – more on this later!
Happy New Year to all! I’m into mottos lately, like, ‘machine knit like you stole the yarn!’ Or, how ‘bout ‘machine knit like you could write a book about it!’? ;-)