Thursday, August 3, 2017

girl crush...

When I was in Munroe Michigan last week, I met Julie. At first she was just an attractive, attentive lady in the back row of my first class. I found myself talking to her and she was nodding appropriately like she agreed with everything I was saying. I had to keep reminding myself to look away and talk to the rest of the room! At the end of the first class, she came and told me she would be staying in my class because she had seen the other instructors several times and I was totally new to her. As the day progressed, we had little interaction – she wasn’t a question-asker, at least in a group, though she continued to be attentive. At the end of the day she came up to tell me she did a knitting podcast and would I allow her to interview me for it. I said yes, and the next day at the end of two long days of teaching we found a quiet spot and began talking. Oh my, I think I said, ‘you’ll probably want to edit this out but…’ several times. Anyway, we had fun – she is very calm, has a lovely speaking voice and seems quite thoughtful before she says stuff which I like. I have no idea what this will sound like when it finally airs but, fingers crossed! I hate the sound of my own voice and I kind of cringe when ever I hear a recording of myself so I hope it isn't as bad as I think!
When I got home, after the dust settled with unpacking and getting caught up I decided to check out her podcast and have a listen. She’s a vegetarian – I’m not but I do have some really good recipes – I can’t wait to tell her about what I can do with quinoa and kale! She comes from a large family (mine’s larger but not by much) and, OMG, her mom’s name is Ruthie! My mom was Ruth too!
She refers to her husband as ‘the spouse’ which I think is hilarious – maybe it’s a Canadian thing but I’ve always thought of 'spouse' as a generic term to avoid having to be specific as to gender and anyone I’ve ever heard use it is doing so in a slightly derogatory way. But he does sound like a real prize – I’m kind of jealous! She’s not afraid to admit she loves Judge Judy and tells us why and I look forward to her ‘likes and dislikes’. We have a lot in common!
I have listened to several episodes – I started at the beginning with episode 1 - and although there is sock machine and hand knitting stuff there that I don’t really care about,  as well as some machine knitting, the perspective she offers on life in general is what I’m hooked on – I love it!
I did listen to her last episode  from July 10, 2017 and she mentioned she would be going to the Monroe seminar and that I would be there…she pronounced my name wrong – ow! It’s Oh!Grrrr! just like Shrek. Hope she gets it right in the interview so I can still like her!
Give it a listen ;-), Bing (or google) ‘Julie Boylan podcast’ or ‘Hand Y Machine Knitting
Oh, and I've been invited to Charlene Shafer's Knit Knack Shop Spring Fling in Peru, Indiana next April! I'm so excited!!! More later!

Friday, July 28, 2017

home alone...

I know it wasn’t you on the road but do you know what a two-lane divided highway is for? It means you drive on the right and move into the left lane to pass and then get back in the right hand lane! It does not mean that you get to ride in the left lane because you are too lazy to switch back and forth!
Now I got that off my chest, what a fun time! And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen almost 100 machine knitters in one place! What a turnout! Many thanks to Cathy and Larry and Chris for putting on such a great venue for us – good food, good friends and great knitting! What more could anyone want?
It was great to see so many Canadians, eh? And have a nice little catch-up with Eileen and Pat and their Burlington guild gang!
I got things put away and all my zippers properly sewn in. Here are the pictures I promised – everyone loved ‘Canada, eh?’ and I’m really happy with finishing up the blue-grey 1RT Hoodie – summer arrived while I was away but I’m sure there will be a cool night or two  so it will still be of use as summer wear, but overall, a great indoor coverup!

Monday, July 17, 2017

road trip...

I’m ready for Monroe! Got all my knitting done and my bags are packed.
The ‘Canada, Eh?’ lace pullover turned out great – can’t wait to wear it! and I promise to post a real, live photo of me in it!
And I did make another IRT Hoodie,  [ ] using Yeoman Yarns Sari – it’s a 50 cotton, 25 linen, 25 acrylic blend of a very lightweight slub yarn – I’m calling it ‘Whisper’ because it is so thin and lightweight! To give you an idea of how fine it is, I had used it in the past for a tuck stitch on the fine gauge machine at T5 with a gauge of 36 sts and 72 rows and for this, I knit the one-row-tuck at T9 and got the same gauge as my brown linen one, 25 sts and 38 rows to 10 cm/4 inches.
One of my classes in Monroe is on seaming on the machine and using the sewing machine to sew in the zipper, so this one is ready for that. I have a white zipper with silver metal teeth that I have pinned in place. The colour of this hoodie is sort of blue, kind of greyish and I did order a couple of greyish zippers but they aren’t here yet and for the demo, it will show up better with the white zipper tape and I’ll do the sewing in hot pink, again so it shows up for the demo and then I’ll pick it out when I get home and install the appropriate one.
I do have another Girlfriend Hoodie in the red Bonita cotton, all knit, still in pieces, all set to seam for the class too! Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 30, 2017

rainy weather...

Today is cool, rainy and yucky! I was supposed to be going on a nice, long hike but that isn't going to happen. No better day to spend at the knitting machine!;-)
I got one sleeve done and you know I’m not writing this pattern, but if you want the sleeve schematic, just say – it turned out awesome! But spoiler alert, there is a lot going on here, especially for lace carriage knitting. I started off with waste yarn and the bottom edge has a curve in it which meant reverse shortrowing, ravel cord method. Once that was done, the side edges were decreased quite rapidly. I then shortrowed the underarm decreases to get that nice smooth curve on each side and at the top, there is a slight curve - you guessed it, shortrowed again. The top edge is finished on the machine before you take it off, like my neckline. The bottom edging, another one of my crochet-look trims, knit on the machine, is added after the fact. In the excitement of getting this done, I was tempted to just put it right on to the sleeve without testing it out first but held myself in check and did test it out on my swatch before adding it to the sleeve. On the swatch I did one half using 2 strands of main yarn for the chained picot part and 3 strands for the second half so I could decide which to use. I opted for the 2 strand side and it matched the width of the lace fabric stitch for stitch. I may stay up all night just to finish it off!
And I just remembered one of my classes in September for the seminar at Rocking Horse Farm is ‘making a statement sleeve’ – this will be a great addition!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

sheer mania...

I am currently obsessed with sheer fabrics! And with those ‘bold shoulder’ sleeves! It’s almost Canada Day – not only Canada Day, it's our birthday, 150-year celebration!
I should admit I do remember the centennial - fifty years ago in 1967… there were centennial projects all over the place although I didn't do anything specific, must have been too young! ;-)
Now, we, in Canada have been hearing about the 150-year thing for almost a year and I have been thinking about it a bit - the other day, I had an epiphany! I could make a Canada Day sweater and call it 'Canada, Eh?'! It will be red and I could be finished it by Canada Day, maybe! Not that it really matters because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d be wearing on Canada Day for fireworks out in the boonies – for that I usually need an overlarge hoodie and tons of bug spray! But I can always show it off when I go to Monroe, Michigan for the 29th Monroe Area Knitting Seminar (so excited!) – you know how I always like to have something new especially for such an event!
Mark your calendar! MAO is making a pullover! It doesn't happen often but that's what this is! I'm using my favourite yarn, Wool Crepe Deluxe which I have in passion red. After my  success of using the rayon yarn at a very loose tension with the one-row-tuck pattern ( I wanted to try using WCD with lace at a very loose tension.
 -actually, I don't think I told you but I had made the hoodie again using sage linen and gave it to my friend Cathy who loved it for the thinness and being so lightweight.
Normally, I would stockinette knit WCD at T5-6, getting a gauge of 33-34 sts and 50-54 rows to 10 cm and for lace knitting I would use T4 which results in a gauge of 31 sts and 50 rows (I'm using my Silver Reed of course and the lace carriage knits looser than the main carriage). To get the sheer-look that I want, I am using T7 (gauge is 25 sts and 40 rows!!!) and it's knitting perfectly. I am using the shape of 'Gossamer' -love the lace and the extended A-line which makes those dipped points at the sides (  but making it a pullover instead of the split front of the cardigan – got the back and front knit perfectly, so happy! And look at that front neckline – it's beautiful even if I do say so myself!
Now, I'm going to draft the sleeve same as I did for my sewn dress ( from a few weeks ago…2 days to go!
P.S. Janet got her 'Sydney' and was pretty impressed! ;-)


Monday, June 19, 2017

bouclé blues...

Putting together/seaming with this bouclé/slubby yarn was a real bug! The slubs make little knots and curl back on themselves, making casting off extremely painful! What I did and what I recommend if you’re knitting with a yarn like this is to use a smooth yarn in as close as a colour match as you can find to do the seaming. It also allows for easier darning in of the ends as they mostly occur at the beginning and end of each piece which means there is a chained seam of the smooth yarn that you can use to run the bouclé ends through. Other than this problem, this was a pretty quick knit but I’m not too sure of the final result. It is soft and cuddly and lightweight which is mostly what I was looking for and the yarn has very good yardage – I still have 155g left from the original 545g even though I had to make the front ‘bands’ twice (the second time because it laid/fell nicer with the knit side as the outside and there was no salvaging after they were attached! ;-)) - but I’m afraid that the finished garment biased slightly – when it’s on you don’t really notice it but it’s not a yarn I would go out looking for again which may be an indication of why it was discontinued…but I kind of like ‘Sydney’ – the shape is great - and I may remake it for myself with something else! You’ll be the first to know!

wedding finery...

The day turned out quite nice weatherwise, the setting rustic, rural and fun and the food was great. The bride was lovely, the groom nervous and everything seemed perfect. About 11 pm it did start to cool quite quickly. My black Battenburg/Legacy  cardi [ ]was just right  with my dress and Shannon was exquisite in her wedding shrug. I was so proud and she did tell me she was looking forward to wearing it again many times because it is so versatile – much better than a shawl! ;-)

Monday, June 12, 2017

done shruggin'...

I finished! ( )And it’s beautiful! And lovely and soft and so feminine! I can hardly wait to see it with her wedding dress! Got the second sleeve done and then all that needed to be done was make a band of the same edge as I used for the cast-on to trim the front edges and up around the back neck – I was able to do it in one piece and it looks perfect.
The wedding is this next weekend so Shannon came over to try it on and/or pick it up – she’s happy, her mom’s happy and I’m so pleased!!
I do hope to get a photo of her wearing it at the wedding so you can see how it looks with her dress but you know how these things go...

Is it bad of me to hope for cool weather?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

shortrow tips...

 Finally getting around to working on ‘Sydney’ – I did make another swatch at one number higher, (T9, 24 sts and 48 rows to final washed swatch) and tested out my hem – I like  the simplicity of a full needle rib hem, especially when working with a wide fabric like this and on my swatch, I did a racked cast-on {} but after the laundering, I could see that it was rather wavy and messy looking so I opted for 6 rows of circular graded tension, followed by 8 rows FNR at T6/6 for the hem.
hand knit ravel cord
hang cast-on worm
At the point where you need to begin increasing for the underarm/sleeve, to make it a nice, smooth seamline, set it up to reverse shortrow. With this stitch pattern and shape, I need to cast on over #72Left to #12Right of 0 – and there is fabric hanging on #13Right to #72Right – I don’t want to mess with having to re-read or download the pattern again. Here’s how: end with carriage at left and move the carriage over to the left side. Take the main yarn out and set it to the right out of the way. Bring the new needles to work and remember those waste yarn worms I told you about {}? Take a long one and from the cast-on side of it, press it over the new, empty needles – no tool needed, just hold the edge up and push the needles through – you’re trying to hook the straight thread from the weaving cast-on over the needle and if there’s an extra stitch here or here, no big deal – it doesn’t matter, you’re just making something to hang the weights for the tuck patterning.
When you have that hung, bring the needles out and hang some bar weights on the waste yarn. Now, hand knit a ravel cord through – so you will be able, later, to pull this out to separate the waste yarn. After the ravel cord, bring the main yarn back into work and wrap the needles – same as the e-wrap, but this time, going from right to left.

e-wrap with main yarn
Put the yarn into the feeder and knit the row - the patterning will continue on the right-side portion and you will get a nice row of stockinette on the new e-wrapped needles. With the carriage at the right side, place the left side (#72L to #11R) to hold (and set carriage to hold), knit, wrap, knit. 
reverse shortrow new stitches

Return the next two needles (#9, 10R) to upper working position, knit, wrap, knit etc, shaping and bringing the new needles back as required. The carriage has been set to tuck throughout, the pattern is continuing and there are no extra ends to darn in from the cast-on or anything!
shortrowed underarm/sleeve
 Oh, and at the end of the top of the shoulder-line (which is shortrowed also), normally I would say to knit a row of stockinette over all and remove on waste yarn so you have a full line of open stitches to make the seam with the front piece later but because this bouclé yarn is really quite fine and bubbly, I decided to cast it off rather than worrying about having to re-hang it from the waste yarn and the seam will be stronger because of it – and I’m doing reverse (outside) seaming on most of the pieces.
Notice in the photo of the two backs – the one on the right looks a bit smaller – that’s because I made it yesterday and the ‘rest’ overnight allows the yarn to relax and regain some elasticity. Both pieces are still much bigger than they will be after the final assembly and laundering to shrink to size.

Monday, May 29, 2017

cross training....

‘the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise to improve fitness or performance in one's main sport’.
I do think of machine knitting as my main sport, and I haven’t been blogging for a bit because I haven’t been knitting too much lately…that last project I had in the line-up – I did name it ‘Sydney’ – I wasn’t jumping right into it, because, you know, that ol’ ‘fear-of-running-out-of-yarn’ feeling, but I’m up for it now – my friend Jeannie, the other day, after reading my post, sent me a message saying she had 2 cones of that same yarn, the cotton crepe from Silk City - she seemed to know it was 1900 yds/lb and she gave me her dye lot – exactly the same as mine! Wow! And she offered them to me if I ran short – I will have to get going on it now!
Anyway, what I was working on is sewing a dress and I wasn’t going to bore you with the details but then I decided to tell you anyway because it is sort of tied into my machine knitting, kind of like cross-training and if you didn’t want to hear about it all you have to do is stop reading!
Way back, sewing was my main sport before I took up machine knitting but it had fallen by the wayside. I have this June wedding to go to and thought I would like to have a sewn dress to wear instead of knits because nobody there will be aware of my position in the machine knitting world and if they did, Shannon’s wedding shrug will be enough to represent if you get my drift.
My friend Cathy has an extremely impressive stash of fabrics – I’m pretty sure she will take that competition hands down - you know that one about the one who dies with the most stuff wins - and she is always telling me to check with her before purchasing any fabric or patterns. I mentioned to her that I had an idea to make a  princess-seam dress with a vintage-like print fabric with a dark background and maybe leaves or floral but nothing too wild and I could wear my black Battenburg cardi with it if the day turns cold. She brought me a bag of 4 choices, about 5 yds each and a selection of patterns!

I really liked two of her offerings and one of the patterns seemed to be just what I had in mind. It was a bias-cut slip with a floaty-looking dress of the sheer fabric over it. I made the slip using a good Bemberg lining fabric in black, no sweat and then I cut out the dress using my second choice. It was incredibly time-consuming because each piece was bias-cut singly and then needed to be flipped and cut out again, requiring you to mark the right sides of each piece and keep track of the backs and fronts and the skirt had four pieces – arrgghh – and then it all had to be basted together to check the fit before actually doing any of the final sewing and, after the basting together and trying on, I really didn’t like the way it was going so I abandoned it – OMG! A UFO for MAO! Honestly, that never happens! But I do know when to cut my losses.
I really liked the black fabric and didn’t want to screw up. I searched through my old patterns again and found this jacket pattern that I’d never used but figured I could make it work by lengthening it, adding a zipper to the back, cutting the front on the fold and raising the neckline – sounds easy if you say it fast. I didn’t want to bother with facings that would show through so I cut bias strips of the lining fabric to use to finish the neck and arm edges. Also, the real tie-in to my machine knitting was that I wanted to design my own ‘bold/cold’ shoulder sleeve for this. I took the sleeve pattern tissue, folded the top down just above the underarm notches, leaving a half-inch for finishing, and curved the bottom hemline to create a loose drape at the elbow.
I’m pretty happy with my results and knew you’d want to see and I couldn’t wait for a photographer to show up so I took this selfie in my hall mirror! Check out the vintage skirt marker – I almost forgot I had that thing!
And through this all, it just re-enforced to me anyway that machine knitting is way easier than sewing!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I’m finishing up the watermelon GFH for Janet (I had it all made and took the pieces to the Raleigh seminar to use in my seaming class) – I need to finish the side seams and do the zipper. Am also working on the sleeve for the wedding shrug but because it is all hand-transferred lace, I like to have something else, not requiring such full concentration, to do, to give myself a break.
My next project has been percolating in my head for the past month. Janet (travel and hiking sister) wants a summer cardigan – we saw a lady wearing one that caught her attention when we were in Sydney – she was walking toward us and we both turned around to catch a look at the back of it - it was a handknit (popcorn stitch), but not too thick or heavy; sort of slouchy but not sloppy; casual but too casual with a partial shawl collar; three-quarter sleeve that was the underarm/shoulder extended, no sleeve seam; slightly longer in back with curved hemline ending just under the butt, and I’ve been day-dreaming about how to make it ever since.

The yarn was presenting the biggest problem because I want to make it on the standard gauge machine because of the popcorn-look. I figure I can use that basic tuck stitch to simulate the texture. I was planning to use the knit side, but so far, my swatches all look better to me on the purl side. I have a big cone of Softball cotton 2.2 in a neutral shade – we had discussed colours and she has a lot of jewel tones in her wardrobe but wanted to get away from that and try something different but she’s not sure what – I suggested pale gray, ecru, ivory…keeping it on the lighter, neutral shades that would kind of go with anything. I did swatch up the softball but it is knitting at T9-10 and after washing is like a piece of cardboard. Scratch that. My next option is a large cone of a cotton bouclé that I’m not sure where it came from (I’ve had it that long) but the label says Silk City Fibers Cotton Crepe – they don’t even show it as discontinued so I’ve no idea of the yardage…I made two swatches of tucks, one at T7 and one at T8 – they both look sort of loose and soft and it’s not washed yet. I weighed the swatch – it’s 28g and I have 540g left on the cone. I took out a largish, long cardigan of mine and lay the swatch over the back – 6 swatches would make the back, double that for the front and 4 for the sleeves portion, so 16 X 28g is 448g – this might work! The swatches are in the dryer – watch for updates!

Monday, May 8, 2017

good karma...

I got to Raleigh, NC for the Carolinas Guild seminar with a few delays but I got there, only two hours late! With my luggage! That was my big fear. I had heard some bad things about air travel lately, especially going through Toronto – they are re-doing a couple of runways and between that and the weird weather, lots of cancellations! I was thanking the air travel gods for getting me there.
We had a blast! Thanks to Cindy, Rita, Sandra, Reba, Mary and whoever else pitched in to put together a great show! My buddy, Mike Becker from Distinctive Knits, was there to teach and had a great selection of tools, accessories and stuff. April Mills drove all the way from the west coast to teach and share her knitting expertise. My friend Sonia Burda came up from Florida; Kay (aka Grace) drove down from NY and it was like old home week! Annette Dirlam, a subscriber to Knitwords from day one was there and we had fun remembering the old days - she even brought a sweater that she had made from one of my original books from 1995 (Casual Classics, her version of Sage & Navy), I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of her in it - she wore it in the fashion show and it was a big hit! And Sandra England wore her 'Fit'n'Flare' which was her own design, submitted and published in Knitwords No 14 from  Autumn 2000 - proving that knitware does stand the test of time!
I got some great suggestions for what I should be doing for my next publication – I’ll let you know what I decide on!
To fill my travelling time I read ‘Testimony’ by Anita Shreve – 5 stars! I had read ‘Sea Glass’ and ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ in the past and enjoyed them as well and now I’ll have to search out more of her titles.
Am currently Netflixing ‘Last Tango In Halifax’ – it is heartwarming, heartbreaking, ridiculous, hilarious and I love it!
Going home seemed like a piece of cake and everything went smoothly but there was no luggage when I arrived in T Bay. No big deal! I didn’t have to carry it and they delivered it to my door this morning!
Oh and I forgot to tell you, Jason called me from Rockinghorse Farm in St Cloud, MN  and invited me back to their two day seminar in September (the 15th and 16th) –  I had such a good time there in 2015 and am thrilled to be asked back – I think they might like me! :-)  I’ll be working on something special for then – I’ve got four months!

Monday, May 1, 2017

progression of a design...

I have the base piece of the shrug knit and I’m really happy with it – it’s lovely and soft and the angora has a beautiful drape to it. I wanted to be sure that it would be long enough in the back before going any further so I decided that it would be good to get Shannon here to see how it was actually going to work for her – she’s like half a minute in size but reasonably tall and I thought this would be the time to see if maybe I should/could add a sleeve to it – after all, the date in June (the 17th) could be quite cool – there are no guarantees with our weather here and we’ve just had one of the worse ice storms at the end of freakin’ April so who knows?
Anyway, Shannon came and she was on the same page, that a sleeve might be a good idea – I told her I could make one, with a very snug fit and we could try it and then re-evaluate – the yarn is holding out really well - I have more than half left so I don’t expect any issues there – stay tuned! I'm heading to NC for this weekend and I have a few more samples to knit and some packing to do so I won't get to it until next week at the earliest...

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’ 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, ).
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

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


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


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
 - 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...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

i was wrong...

again...I don’t plan to make a habit of it, even though the past few weeks may seem like it! What I’m talking about this time is, I was wrong thinking that the brass zipper wouldn’t look good in my brown linen 1RT GirlFriend Hoodie…I mentioned last week, when I was multitasking, that I hadn’t liked the way was the zipper was and I washed it after removing the nylon tooth zipper. Yesterday, re-evaluating the front edges of the hoodie after being laundered, I decided that I had installed a-too-short zipper. I pinned in the nylon 20-inch one (same length as the one I shortened) and put the hoodie on and it did the same thing as the old one, buckled out like I had major stomach issues. Yikes! Took that one out and pinned in the remaining brown 22-inch with brass teeth, put it on and it looked excellent! I sewed the zipper in properly , put it on again and it’s perfect. I wore it all afternoon/evening and it was still fine. I put it on again this morning, with a white tank underneath, hoping I could get a decent photo to show you. I went over to son Derek’s after lunch and asked him to take a photo – I have a goofy look on my face, like I must have been talking, but who cares? You can really see the garment well and what's more important? I was hoping that putting white underneath would show how thin/lightweight/see-through-ish the fabric turned out and it shows up very nicely. I held out the bottom so you could see how the A-line shape is – I really like this! I know you’re going to get right on making yours now!

Monday, January 23, 2017

i was in denial...

I didn't really look closely at the second front - I was on a roll, knitting pieces like no one’s business, hand stitching the cuffs and bands, joining pieces and admiring my progress! Right down to the end, collar and hood are on, all pieces seamed, ends darned in and then, funny, it seemed that one front was longer than the other. Maybe I was too enthusiastic when I pressed it? In my haste to get this done and be able to order the zipper (yes, even though I do have 2 light blue options, I’m not completely happy with either even if the length is right) - I made the chained edging for the shorter side and completely ignoring the fact that the other front edge appears to be a good 5 cm/2 inches longer. (On that last blogpost photo, I bodged the pieces and hid the longer front under the cast-on edge of the hood – who was I kidding? like you knew?) I even attempted to hang that side on the same needles, hoping to 'ease' in the excess but had to abort! It just wasn’t going to work. So, still with the utmost confidence, I figured I'd wash it and that would fix the obvious problem - I must have stretched it in my original pressing when it came off the machine.
good to go!
Nope, that didn't work! Facing the fact that I must have followed the Back instructions instead of the Front, I now, very calmly with no swears, began picking out the seam between the sleeve/shoulder, hoping against all odds that I could salvage this operation...OMG! It worked. With the undoing of that single seam, I was able to unravel the left front back down to the start of the underarm  - I know how many stitches and what row I should be on -  a piece of cake!
 Fake it till you make it!

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! ;-)