Wednesday, March 30, 2011

it's all about the shoes...

The final Patterns of the Month are finished and are going out email today and tomorrow.  I think these are both great Spring projects!
‘Simple-icity’, the standard gauge pattern is totally stockinette and the article with it has a ton of information about planning your garment and tips for finishing, such as when do you need to add a stitch for seaming or not and of course, those great patch pockets and details like the buttonholes and even tips on sewing on buttons.

‘Two Step’ is the mid gauge pattern - hand transferred lace with a ton of techniques and the article has tips on hand transfers, planning your lace garment and the actual hand manipulations - it fit Agnieszka perfectly and looks great on her - now, she’s my daughter-in-law and I love her, but, look at this picture! While talking on the phone and setting up this little photo shoot, she’s asking what do I want her to wear and I say, oh, just jeans and a black tank and she says, what about shoes? and then she answers herself - oh, I know it won’t matter because you usually chop it off just below the hem. So, there we are, in front of the camera and I’m saying, ‘what the...?’ We are actually the same height!
Anyway, thanks for subscribing - the patterns can be purchased as singles, either as a pdf emailed to you or snail-mailed on a cd. I've had people asking about renewing for the next batch and I just wanted say that this was a trial - limited to the 3 month deal, so I could judge what I was letting myself in for - I hate to say this but the response was rather poor and I found myself again working for peanuts, so I will not be continuing on a subscription basis. I may have more patterns offered as singles in the future - please keep checking back to see what's up. April is a busy month, with the seminars - hope to see you at one of them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the hood's up...

I had a little time on my hands over the weekend and just couldn’t help myself - I knit the green thing again, for me! I had emailed Sonia at and got her to send me some more yarn, but I couldn’t wait - I had a full cone and a bit of Thistledown Silk in this nice, subtle, pale blue shade - it’s the lighter, fingering weight of Touch of Silk and I used it double stranded - this gave the same gauge as the green one.
Now, I always say ‘I can’t make the same thing twice.’ What’s the point? I guess I need to keep experimenting!’ So, I changed up the stitch pattern slightly - added another eyelet to the top of the motif and took out 2 rows of the plain knitting so this one’s a tad more work, not a big deal and it doesn’t really change the garment too much. Overall, not too many people would spot the difference between them, other than the colour.
Now, the green one is a hoodie and I know, not everyone likes hoodies, but have you seen the younger girl’s closet lately? They usually have 30 to 40 hoodies on the go at any given time, so what’s the big deal? Well, anyway, I decided to add the option of a plain neckline for those who don’t appreciate the hoodie fashion statement and I finished mine with the picot band around the neck, but I did knit the hood and once the photos are taken, I’ll be changing it.
The patterns are almost ready - hope to have them out late next week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

you'll be green with envy...

I’ve finished the green hoodie - it’s so cute! the only thing I don’t like about it, it doesn’t fit me! Because the colour isn’t really me, I made it to fit my daughter-in-law, Agnieszka (cover of No 53 and Mom of Nathan and Rhiana). She’s just enough smaller than me, that it’s too snug, especially you know where. But, I have to say, I impressed myself and I’m going to make it again in another colour! The techniques are amazing and I finished up with coming up with a great little buttonhole that is awesome!
The hem and bands are started with every other needle, for two reasons - to create an easy picot hem, but also to reduce the thickness on the back side of the hem - the EON will make it lay flatter and be less bulky, which was great until I came to make the buttonhole band. I thought bholes would be a snap because I only needed a one stitch hole for the 15mm buttons I had - they are a nice pewter shade and surprise, I happened to have 9 in my stash - because the band is narrow - only 4 rows - I wanted a small button and lots of them would do the job nicely. I already had the holes in the lace to test out for size - what could be simpler? well, think again, MA!
The first swatch, I merely transferred a stitch over on the top side of the band, figuring that with the EON on the back (facing) side, the hole would go right through both sides - Not! On my second attempt, I decided I needed to incorporate the buttonhole into the facing and use 2 stitches - the hole was way too big, lumpy, stretched out and was awful. Okay, so rethink and play around a bit - the lightbulb came on and it was absolute brilliance - well, I’m not going to go on and on - you’ll see when you get the pattern!
Anyway, check out the lace - there’s another special technique here, where, to keep the pattern going near the edge of the knitting, you still want the travelling path of the stitches when they are moved with the 3 prong tool, but you don’t want a hole near or at the edge of the fabric, especially where the front band will go - it will all be in the pattern - I promise it will be ready for the end of March. The yarn I used is Touch of Silk, a DK yarn by Forsell from

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rant 2011

Let’s get some stuff out in the open! For those real mk-ers out there who know and love (?) me, regarding my ‘contributions’ to Knit’nStyle....
Ya know, it’s not just the fact that reading is mandatory, but, you should be semi-conscious when you do read! And as for just looking at the pictures, don’t you think it’s kind of weird that there are no photos of the MAO version of the HAND KNIT PATTERN....that’s because I did NOT design that garment - I did NOT KNIT that garment - I did not even test knit that garment or that yarn - chances are, I’ve never seen the yarn!!!
I am given the hand knit pattern and a photo of it on a hanger and asked to re-write it so machine knitters might be able to use it! In most cases I do get to choose which patterns to CONVERT or REWRITE and that’s usually based on:
1. whether it can actually be machine knit EXACTLY as the hand knit one, providing the user is able to match the gauge given and the gauge is one that I think can be achieved on a machine with the specified yarn.
2. whether I think a mk-er would actually knit it - I may be able to come up with the translation of a lace pattern but are you going to do 400 plus rows of hand manipulation? - I think not - that’s why we have machines - we’re lazy!
3. the gauge of most of the hand knits are either mid gauge or bulky, which means hand transfers - not that I have anything against a few here and there (see previous post)  but if it’s going to take as long to machine knit as hand knit, why bother?
I have tried to add a few machine knitting techniques, like the use of shortrowing and waste yarn for shoulders, but due to space limitations, I’m not allowed to make too many changes - and why would I? I’d sooner start from scratch and give you a true machine knitting pattern, hoping to be able to inspire you to get outside of your comfort zone and learn a little something, expand your mk-ing repertoire...
Here’s a clue - if my name is at or near the top of the page in large letters or my picture is there somewhere, and it says, 'design by MAO' you can bet I did it all by my lonesome!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On designing....

When I’m drawing a blank on what to make next, I fall back on my old standard question - what kind of garment would I like to pull out of my closet right now? How can I put a different spin on yet another cardigan on the mid gauge? Spring is coming, I’m sure, and I love lace and doing it on the mid gauge means hand transfers. Therefore, I don’t want anything too complicated. I looked through some old hand knit magazines for some inspiration for a lace pattern - I wanted to avoid vertical and horizontal lines and have a pattern that wouldn’t take forever to do.
I found a fairly simple one that in hand knit was a 12 st X 18 row pattern - in hand knits they do yarn overs and K2tog, which make the eyelets, on every row. In machine knitting, transfer the stitch to the next needle and leave the empty needle in work does the same thing. As a machine knitter, being basically lazy, I generally try to set up patterns that require transfers on every row - I find it’s easier to follow, less chance of error and it gets the job done quicker when you can knit 2 rows between the work.
So, my first try resulted in this (the blue) - it looks very close to the hand knit version, but I found it
kind of boring - after I got the piece off the machine to really look at it,
I’m thinking, what can I do to spice this up??
I decided to go with a 2-step full fashioned transfer - so, in the green swatch - still did the very same eyelets, but took the 4th stitch from where the hole was to be, moved it one needle toward the hole needle, then took 3 stitches with the 3 prong tool and moved them together away one needle space to make the first hole (like what I call an 'outlined 4 to 3 full fashioned decrease'). Knit 2 rows. Did the same thing on either side of the single hole, K2R and repeated that again to make the bottom V. Then on row 8, put 3 sts on centre needle of the motif, making 2 more eyelets. Then knit six rows (this can be varied, less if you want more holes in the piece). Repeated the motif but offset it to be between the first set of motifs. Notice how the travelling stitches between the motifs create a new dimension to the fabric - it reminds me of paper lanterns. I also played with the bottom pattern to make it match better with the overall pattern. My overall pattern ended up to be a 12 st X 24 row repeat with transfers on 8 rows, so it is still a pretty quick knit but with a nice overall effect.
Now, shall I do make it a hoodie or not?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Button detail

It’s buttonholes time...some people dread this and actually make it much more difficult than it really is - they try formulas and all kind of math things that are way too hard. I find the easiest way and stick with it!! No calculator needed, I guarantee it!
So, I’m doing a stockinette hemmed band, knit horizontally - so you know exactly how many stitches in the length of the band. Make the button band first to be sure it works and then you know you’re not experimenting with the length of the band and putting all the work of buttonholes into it if it’s not going to be right (been there, done that!)
For this style (and to make it even easier) I’m going with an uneven number of buttons - that means a centre one and the end ones are going to be the same distance from each end (this will give you a little room to adjust if necessary) - I think you call that symmetrical but I didn’t want to get too complicated-sounding.... it’s easy so far... so, I pull out those needles slightly so you can see where they are. On the end ones, making them the same distance from the end means you don’t need to worry about which is the top of the band and which is the bottom...
So, I’ve got exact placement on 3 of the 7 buttonholes and 2 more to go between the end and centre on each side. Rather than counting (and re-counting) needles, I use the ruler marked on the straight side of the needle selector to measure the spacing between needles - it’s much quicker to adjust and get the spacing exact this way. Now all I have to do is finish up!!
Maybe I should tell you, this is going to be the March pattern for standard gauge - tons of details to make planning, altering, knitting and finishing go easier, like when do you need an extra stitch for seaming or not. The yarn is Yeoman Yarns Brittany, used double stranded, so get 2 cones! I see Sue at is going to be bringing Yeoman Yarns to the US  - Pat Holbrook at  in Canada.
About those buttons, I know what you're thinking - what's she thinking? - I had 7, the approximate size, but I agree, they really don't anything for the cardigan... wait and see!!

(bet you didn’t expect to hear from me again so soon! oh, and in case you haven't figured it out yet, if you click on the photos, they enlarge.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fourth time’s a charm...

I’m working on a patch, I’ve made them before and I want it fairly basic - it’s just plain stockinette, so I’m curving the bottom corners, by shortrowing - oh, I should say that I began with a chained cast-on, using the yarn double stranded because I know it will look nice - the top of the pocket is finished with a narrow stockinette band, made separately from the pocket - a few less stitches and a slightly tighter tension to draw it in a bit so the top won’t flare out.
The first pocket was not wide enough.
The second one was just right, but as I looked at it I thought, G! that chain would look really nice if I could make it go up the sides too.
Then, I measured the chain from the bottom, to figure out how long it needed to be to go up the sides and added that to the width of the pocket. So, instead of casting on 18-0-18 n’s, I cast on 25 sts extra to each side, chaining across using the main yarn double stranded. Then K1R, single strand. Then I took off the 25 sts each side on waste yarn. Now, I’m knitting the pocket, shortrowing the bottom corners for the curve, 1 stitch on every other row, 4 times for each side. Okay, row 9 and now I should start adding the chain up the sides....think about it for a bit and I want the chain to be on the front, like the bottom, (when the knit side/side away is the right side, what you put on first will be on the outside - like doing a cable, the stitches put down first will be on the outside) - so, I take the end stitch off, hang the next stitch of the chain and put the end stitch back on. Yes!! it works! I soon realize it’s easier to do each side on opposite rows so you’re not fighting against the yarn on the carriage side - no big deal, I was joining it on every other row anyway. As I get closer to the top, I realize I have too many chained stitches left - G! Can I attach it to the edges of the top band?? The band is made separately and hemmed into the bargain, so this method of attaching won’t work... I take the pocket off and make the band, pondering the problem as I make the band on auto-pilot. Attach the pocket to the band and yes, I have it! Hang the end of the band, pick up the stitches holding the chain, pull them through, cast off and Bob’s your uncle!!
Heh, heh! still a few extra stitches of chain... no problem, just knit a new one with less chained stitches - really think about it this time - only need 1 chain stitch for every other row of the depth of the pocket and don’t forget, you shortrowed those 4 sts/8 rows and the band was 8 rows=4 stitches - just happens to be the same as the shortrowed part - have I lost you yet??? The pocket was 40 rows, so all I need is 20 chained stitches each side!!!
I love a challenge!