Monday, April 24, 2017

some cheats....

There I was, all anxious to get going but I didn’t want to waste the yarn or the time to make a swatch (kids, don’t try this at home!) but I knew that would be incredibly foolish. With the angora, I had cast on 20 stitches and knit a few rows to get the tension that I wanted – slightly loose but not too loose - to make the yarn go farther and have the resulting fabric drapey and thinner - angora will be quite warm anyway and I didn’t want it to be like a quilted vest! I settled on T7. I unravelled that so as not to waste a drop!
 I had some alpaca that looked like the same thickness so I made a quick swatch with it. Technically, for a swatch on the LK150/6.5mm machine you want to measure 30 sts by 40 rows with the orange gauge, so I cast on 16-0-16 stitches wide and knit one full pattern repeat which is 28 rows – I was using pre-knit yarn from a previous practice swatch (😉). Pinned it out, steamed it, released it and then measured it, roughly a 6-inch square, to obtain a starting point, of 18 stitches and about 22 rows to 10 cm. So, I plugged that into my KR11 knit contour and found the mylar sheet with my original half-scale schematic from 1999! I’m ready to knit for real! I get going and I’m planning to mark my stitches on the real thing to be able to do an actual gauge as I’m knitting the back – (see ‘cheating at swatches’ http://knitwords.blogspot.ca/2008/04/im-packing-up-to-go-teach-at-cardiknits.html). I’m not sure if I ever told you this but how do you hang yarn marks on the 16th needle on each side of 0 when one or both is out of work? You just count over to the next needles that are in work – on this particular row, #16 left is out of work (I pulled the #16 needles out for this photo so you could see) and looking at the right, #16 is in work but then there are two needles to the right of that out of work, so I need to count over 3 needles to the right on each one to find a working needle each side that will mark the 30 needles (NOT stitches) required for the correct measurement -OMG, hope that makes sense! Then I take a yarn tag, tie a knot in it so it won’t inadvertently pull out and hang the loop over the needles I want to mark – don’t pull this through or it will spoil your piece – you want to be able to cut these off the inside without loosing a stitch after you’ve done your measuring!
I hung my stitch tags on row 19, 40 and 61 so I have 40 rows from bottom to top for the row gauge. At row 70, I took the whole thing off on waste yarn and let it rest overnight before measuring for the final, more accurate gauge and oh my! Just like the professional I am, it is 18 stitches by 22 rows! 😉
Oh, and one more thing, on this pattern, I have set it up so when my carriage is at the right, the transfers are done, check that the correct needles are in or out of work and then two rows knit. If you are stopping to take a break, stop when the carriage is at the left. That way, you won’t make the mistake of just knitting two (more) rows before making the transfers! This is not exactly a fun pattern to rip back 20 rows because you didn’t spot the error sooner ;-(.
Hope you’re coming to Raleigh to see this thing – it’ll be your only chance!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

what's a shrug?...

Have you ever had one of those times when you’ve regretted that generous offer you made to do something for someone? Well, it’s not like I am begrudging my time or efforts but I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to come up with something she’d like. Let me backtrack a bit and tell you the whole story. Manfriend’s son is getting married and I thought, it’s kind of like family and seeing as how I’ve been making things for the brides in my family, I could offer to make something for Shannon. She showed me a photo of her dress - it is beautiful with an illusion neckline and a plunging back. The wedding is mid-June and I know it’s going to be cooler in the evening at least and the venue is an old barn/farm setting that isn’t likely to be heated. Her dress was called blush but it isn’t really – the lining is blush but the lace overlay is ivory. When I made the offer, I thought I could dash off a rectangular stole easily – my thought was thread lace - and use it as a sample in one of the classes I am teaching at the Carolinas Guild Seminar (May 4, 5/17 in Raleigh, Carolinasmkg.com ).
I got out all my white/ivory/ecru/beige yarns and asked Shannon to come over and pick out the yarn. And the thing is, for some strange reason, I included this cone of French angora that has been on my shelf for at least 15 years and it’s a mid gauge thickness, 3/10– all the rest were standard gauge weight. I had a couple of garments near to show her choices of tuck lace, lace carriage laced, thread lace and my hand-transferred lace Church Cardi, done on the LK150. Wouldn’t you know, she zeroed in on the angora and the leaf and Battenburg stitch patterns of the Church Cardi and then I had to make it worse by saying that I didn’t really like shawls anyway because you have to hang on to them and it might be nice to have something more like a cape style that could be buttoned at the neck and leave your hands free. Cripes! I’ve been sweating for the past two weeks, worrying about how I was going to do this. First of all, I have only 10 ounces of the angora and I’m already worried about running out. Then, I’m thinking, sideways knit, okay but these stitch patterns are not really going to look that great sideways and add in some shortrowing and I just wanted to throw my hands in the air and say I give up!
But, you know I’d never do that… and then, yesterday, in a flash of brilliance, I remembered this cool shrug from way back in Knitwords #9, summer of '99 – I called it ‘a different shrug’ and it was knit in one piece and could be the perfect canvas for any of those lacy patterns – the cast-on edge at the lower back is curved and drapey, there are darts at the shoulder to create a cap sleeve and omg, I’m so excited! Now, if I can pull this off! ;-)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

yarn bombed trees...

So there I was…
Sitting in an outdoor food court in Sydney, Australia and I couldn’t help noticing how well-dressed the trees were!
I took a closer look and, darn, if these yarn bombs weren’t machine knit! I recognize that cast-on – the 'every other needle, hang the comb and bring all needles to work' one that I use on the LK150!
The main trunk of the tree was covered with one piece up to the first fork and very neatly seamed and then, the extra, thinner limbs were simply wrapped with a narrower piece but the graded colours and stripes were very nice with some thought going into the making! The added little motifs of crocheted hearts were the perfect extra touch!
If I had a tree in my back yard...

 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

from the land down under...


Oh, that's kind of catchy - they should use that in a song! LOL!
Spotted in the Sydney airport...
3D sweaters! Some of you, not naming names, may remember these as coogi sweaters from like 15 to 20 years ago and they were all the rage in machine knitting circles, mostly done on Passap. In fact somewhere in a really old Knitwords we maybe had an article?? About a lady (I think her name was Delores something from the west coast) who made them...These are very, very fine gauge, much lighter than they were before.
Anyway, I am in Australia, heading for New Zealand. If you'd care to read about my adventures, maybe get a few travel tips or better still, what not to do, check out
travelwithmysis.blogspot.ca

Will be back here at the usual location sometime after March 17 which is our return date to Canada.
PS we are going to a sheep ranch where we get to see a sheepdog herding sheep and see a sheep-shearing done the old-fashioned way. I'm so excited!

PS. I just checked my index files and in KW#23, we had an article from Dolores Faulkner and she called her version 'Patience', made on her Brother 940 single bed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

critical....

involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc.;
What is it that happens to me? Just because I made it, I no longer have any sense of critique and just because I made it I think it’s beautiful? What’s that all about? Is it the same thing as with your own cooking? You like your dish better the way you make it and you think you’re the great chef! Or is it the same as you know your own grandkids are the cutest, most talented, smartest, most loveable??
I do admit, I had reservations about this olive garden/rosemary/camo hoodie. But as so often happens, I think it turned out awesome, no question! Now, if you don’t agree, please don’t burst my bubble – let me revel in my own illusions!
If I could just get my zipper orders working as well – I’ll soon have enough stock to start my own eBay zipper store with more on the way! LOL! The green zipper (cedar green with brass teeth, 22 inch) that I thought might work is too short, right colour though.
I have five  light blue zippers and not one is the right one. Blue jay and crayon blue are just as far off as the sky blue. I could install the silver-tooth sky blue – it’s a little short and too bright for my swordfish WCD but it’s the best choice colourwise – after all you’ll only really see the silver teeth when it’s zipped but may not look so great if left open. I have two more coming, a ballet blue and a comet blue both in 24 inch which is the correct length. Those tiny little squares of colour on the zipperstop website are not too accurate – the names don’t seem to help either! I’ve taken to cataloguing the orders because they come unmarked as to colour or length and sometimes the only way to figure the colour is to check your order and hope there are clues there. I have received some errors – too long and a white bottom on a crayon blue zipper – what’s that all about? But as each zipper is about two bucks, it’s obviously not worth returning – we’re talking cross-border shipping here and that’s why I have been ordering 4 or 5 when I really only want one – is that how a stash evolves?
You may have noticed that I edged the front of the navy/swordfish hoodie with the pale blue - I could have done it with navy and just used a navy zipper but I like the look of the contrast vertical line - call me crazy, call me vain, call me pathetic, but I think it makes me look taller and thinner!! Besides, that one's for Janet ;-) - remember when we used to say VBEG for very big evil grin - I think I like that better! But I digress. I did the same thing with the camo one - used the contrast for the dividing front line - I promise I'll post live-wearing photos later to prove it!
I mentioned earlier that I was invited to do the 29th  Monroe Area Knitting Seminar at the La-Z-Boy Center in Monroe, Michigan – that’s near Detroit, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan, all within about 35 miles – be sure to check it out – July 21 and 22, 2017 - should be fun and I’ll be ready for hot, warm or cool weather! I wonder if Brooke Shields will be there? (she does those cute la-z-boy commercials and that was a joke, ok. ;-))
If that wasn’t enough excitement, I just heard from the Carolinas Guild – they are having their seminar May 5 and 6, 2017 in Raleigh, NC and they’ve picked me too! I’m so excited! Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

camo...


Waiting for the zipper to come for Janet’s ‘Omega’ and I just sorta unconsciously or maybe it could be said involuntarily, started knitting again without a definite plan – that’s what I was telling myself anyway! I still had the sleeve chart in the knit contour, didn't need to bother with a swatch for gauge and I had this cone of ‘olive garden’ wool crepe deluxe that had been kicking around my knitting room for the past almost two years that I couldn’t quite decide what to do with. I had ordered it back when Janet wanted a new dress in a print and there must have been a sale or clear-out or something because I had 3 cones of variegated stuff that I usually avoid at all costs unless it’s for socks. One was the ‘watercolour’ (royal, navy, peacock), that I did her dress in (and later managed to eke out a TLR cardi for her as well
http://knitwords.blogspot.ca/2016/03/plan-b.html
 - I was sure it was colours she really likes and that I do not - I hate when I make something for someone else and it turns out spectacular and I must give it away! And, I admit, I do sometimes get carried away when placing a mail order - I think of the time waiting for it to arrive and if it's not what I really want, then I have to wait that long again for the second order to come so I might as well go all out and have a few choices in the first order, right? That's how I ended up with the olive garden (plum green, beigey-pink that she might like) and my third choice, 'tacoma' (quite dark, browns, black and a bit of green that I probably could like, just in case - of what, who knows?)
Back to the olive garden WCD, I did knit a couple of  small samples – one in stockinette and one in that Tuck Lace Rib and I couldn’t say yay or nay, it just was not speaking to me…
You might be asking, MAO, what do you have against variegated yarn? Well, it’s the patches or spots or weird diamondy things that happen in stockinette when you aren’t really wanting it to, especially in larger pieces and they won’t ever be the same, especially with different widths/number of stitches. When I made Janet’s dress, I’m sure that I just got lucky and the diamondy things appeared from the waist to just under the bust and looked nice when the dress was on.
I thought of the usual ways to avoid the spottiness, like sideways knitting and mixing in another yarn but again nothing was really appealing to me. While I was knitting Janet’s hoodie, it crossed my mind that I’d been noticing yoga wear hoodies with saddle shoulder sleeves in a print fabric, with solid body and that’s when I just started to knit the sleeve of Omega, figuring there might be enough shaping all over the sleeve to really change up the colour stacking and maybe offer something that would work for me without having to actually knit fairisle which would make the sleeves thicker than the rest of the garment and I didn’t want that. By the time I finished the second sleeve, I was hooked on this fabric – it sort of reminds me of a ‘camo’ print and if I do the body plain – the leftover ‘rosemary’ WCD looks nice with it and I just happen to have a zipper that may work too! Bonus!
Notice the flat hood at the bottom of the photo – it is basically a straight piece, same width all the way up with no increases or decreases and see how the fabric ends up with short, little stripy bits and no splotches or diamonds until the shortrows at the top, whereas the sleeves have both splotches and diamonds randomly throughout because the width of the knitting is constantly changing. When the sleeve is formed into a circle that won’t be so in-your-face noticeable as if it were on the front of the garment. Fingers crossed! I made the sleeves a little extra long in case I don't end up liking it and have to give it away..

Monday, January 30, 2017

confessions of a waste yarnaholic...

I know you’re going to think I’m totally weird. After all, I’ve been beating you up about not wasting waste yarn for years. I’ve been at hands-on workshops where people were spending more time re-winding waste yarn than they were actually getting any knitting done. I harassed you about it, I admit - it just seemed so unproductive, time-consuming and increased the probability of things going wrong.
I used to purchase a couple of cones of Bramwell fine 4 ply (100% acrylic in a nice T6-8 weight that works well for almost anything, great yardage, lasts a long time) per year to use specifically for waste yarn and of course, toss it! Because that’s what waste yarn was for – to waste! In fact, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, I was overheard by a member of the Bramwell family - when asked my opinion of that yarn in a workshop, I proudly stated it made great waste yarn – I still turn red thinking about that! No regrets though, it was my honest opinion! They didn’t call me the natural fibre princess for nothing!  
a bed of worms!
And, it still does – make great waste yarn, I mean, but I have succumbed to the necessity of re-using it. Oh, you can think badly of me, I don’t mind! But I have found a way to make it easy to re-use, without the necessity of re-winding it.

rehanging stitches from waste yarn
remove ravel cord to make worm
Make a worm: start off with the weaving cast-on for single bed knitting. Select every other needle, put the weaving brushes down, place one of those clippy things on the tail (it will look after the end, freeing up your hand), lay that end over the selected needles and then thread the other side up into the yarn feeder in the carriage. Knit several rows as you would for that cast-on. Gradually tighten the tension/stitch size so that the last 2-3 rows are at one number lower than the main tension for your project. This will make the stitches of your first row that you will be picking up pop out and be easier to manage. Now knit a row of disposable ravel cord. I have this cone of a hard-twist rayon yarn in white, that is quite strong and slippery. I knit a row of that and cut it off so I have about 6 inches at each end, for easy removal. Now begin the main yarn, whether it is a fixed edge cast-on or just working off the open stitches already there. Get your piece knit. After you rehang the piece and join it to something else or whatever, pull out the ravel cord to release your waste yarn worm.


holding worm up so it unravels
using worm for weaving cast-on
Use a worm: Set up for the weaving cast-on again as above. Now holding the ‘waste-yarn-worm’ in one hand, use the other hand to move the carriage across, and lift the worm with your other hand, holding it above the carriage so it doesn’t get caught up or tangled and it will unravel as it is needed. Adjust the tension, gradually tightening it so your last two (or so) rows are one number tighter than your main tension will be. When you almost run out of yarn from the worm, that’s the end of your waste yarn rows – don’t trim the tail. Now to re-use it, it’s quite easy to see which end was the weaving cast-on – take the other end because it will unravel freely and repeat the above. I have several worms, for full-width cast-ons, like the back of the garment and some smaller ones that can be half the front or a cuff – you want to make sure you have 8 to 10 rows of waste yarn, but more is better and when re-using them they are more versatile with a few more rows rather than less…
At the end of a piece, normally I would just knit the waste yarn because it unravels from the top but then you'd have to re-wind it - to make a worm, knit a row of ravel cord before the waste yarn and then the ravel cord can be pulled out, resulting in a new worm! ;-) I'm not trying to squirm out of this...