Friday, November 17, 2017

ever have one of those days...

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

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

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