Saturday, May 26, 2018


After the dust settled on Lipstick and Smoke, the remaining yarn tally of my Cotton Tale 8 was charcoal, 194g; silver, 292g; black, 350g; white, 400g. The garment weight of L&S is 750g. As I was finishing up, I was pondering my next project. White is the largest single amount and you know I love lace. I still did not have a really perfect white summer cardi. I want to take my raglan shape, add the extra wide full-fashioned decreases from Rich Raglan (Serial Stuff 2), use the lace stitch pattern of Sampler Lace from KW#12 and the variable here will be the bands. I am picturing a nice, half sleeve raglan cardi in a mixed-up version of the lace sampler with white or possibly black or red bands all round. My pattern for Rich Raglan is based on the fact you may not have enough of the main colour for the bands so they are all added after in case you need to switch colour.
I made a quick swatch of the lace at T7 with the lace carriage – just to be clear, this yarn is so nice, I really do love it – it is about the same weight as Bonita (I have used extensively with lace carriage!) which is a mercerised cotton but this washes up very soft and seems a little thicker than  Bonita, so in comparison, Bonita was at T6 with my Silver Reed lace carriage and I’ve decided to try T7 with Cottontale 8 (Bonita in stockinette at T8 and CT8 at T9). Got the quick swatch made with little issue and got right into making the first sleeve. You’d think I was a beginner! oh man! I laboured over that sleeve. Stitches were dropping, hanging up, not knitting and the air was blue! Got it done in three hours. Should have been maybe one hour with a coffee break in there! I didn’t know what was wrong. I was ignoring that voice in my head that always says if you’re having trouble, stop and figure out why…

Next morning, I felt like a brand-new baby duckling, fresh into the world, no knowledge or experience and repeated the same thing again! At the end of the second sleeve, I was worn out and I thought that maybe Cotton Tale 8 was not for lace. Suddenly it dawned on me – what would MAO tell someone else who listed all those issues with lace – she would immediately say, ‘how’s your sponge bar?’ OMFGG!
Replaced the sponge bar – it was pretty flat – oh and by the way, I always keep a somewhat used sponge bar to put in for lace – if you put a brand new, super firm one you’re just asking for more trouble – it will hold the needles too tight and close and you’ll have almost the same experience as the well used, almost flat sponge! Got the remaining pieces done in record time! Bonus, there is 90g white yarn left – just enough for narrow 1X1 tuck hems (#32 Band Practise) and stockinette bands for neck and fronts. Here’s me, super happy! I’ll be placing an order for more CT8 soon – Charlene sent me a printed shade card – thanks!

P.S. I’m giving you a rest from my knitting for a while – I’m off to Ireland with sister Janet for a hiking tour – back here on June 21!

Join us on our trip at for travel, food, fun and hiking stories and tips.


Thursday, May 24, 2018


It was like the old days - we had a blast! I wanted to show you my three long cardigans – if you`ve lost track, I did Pocket Change first [] – it is lace carriage in brown 4 ply wool.
Then Ozark, [] also 4 ply wool stockinette and finally Lipstick and Smoke in Cotton Tale 8, 4 ply cotton stockinette.
The shape of the garment basically is the same in all three but Ozark is shaped/decreased from hem to the waist and the other two are A-line, shaped from hem to underarm.
All three have 8 rows of shortrows to even out the hemline so it does not look shorter at the centre front and back – I love all three!
And I’m taking Lipstick and Smoke to Ireland with me – we’re leaving this weekend – it will be my travel wear – I always like something cuddly and cozy for a long flight – it will be perfect for that and I’m sure Dublin and Killarney evenings will be cool enough that I will get plenty of use out of it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

alterations already?...

The entire garment is done, buttons on and I’ve decided the sleeves are just too long. I would rather they be too long than too short, but because of the bell shape, nothing to hold it back, the bottom edge is skimming my middle knuckle and it just looks way too long. Many times, I do make the sleeves longer than I need because if I’m giving it away after wearing a few times, the sleeves need to be longer for regular sized people, but I want to keep this.
When I put a cardigan together, the sleeves are the last thing added and when I am darning in ends, I always keep the tails separate so the sleeve can be easily removed without too much trouble. It’s a chain stitch, so simple enough to unpick the last loop and pull it off. Undo the underarm seam – only need to go about halfway, so the sleeve will open out to rehang the same width of the needles as stitches at the underarm point – again when I was seaming this, I plan so the tail end is at the top of the underarm just for this event. Rip back the sleeve cap to the underarm and I want to shorten it by 10 rows so rip back another 8 rows. Hang the 10th row and pull out the 9th row that was holding the stitches and then rip out the tenth row so there are no split or partial stitches. Now, because the whole garment was already washed, I can’t reuse that yarn to make the sleeve cap again - the gauge won’t match but fortunately I have enough of the charcoal, new and unused! From the notes I made on my schematic, I know exactly what row I was on and how many stitches at the underarm point so this isn’t guesswork and if there was one or two decreases in those last ten rows, it’s not really going to effect the width of the sleeve enough to bother going further down and trying to re-shape to exactly what was there originally – the sleeve cap is the important part here and it worked fine so the new one will be the same. I will wash and dry all parts again (in the photo you can see the line where the new, unwashed yarn is but that will disappear with the next laundering) before reattaching the sleeves – actually the front bands are still unwashed at this point.
I don’t remember ever showing this little trick of mine for finishing the ends of a stockinette band like the new front bands. I take a long straight pin and thread it through the outside edge of the stitches, repeating with a second pin on the other side, to take the curl/roll out of the end. Then I steam this, so it lays relatively flat. With a tail of the yarn, beginning at the inside, stab stitch - don't whip stitch or back stitch - go in two stitches, through both layers, then go up and out the next two, staying in the centre of the outside row - neatly to sew up the end invisibly. Hope you can see this!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

back to the drawing board...

That’s bound to happen once in a while! Good thing I never wanted to become an engineer – obviously my mind’s eye is rather shortsighted! Ha! that tubular band that I so enjoyed knitting – 2 pieces of 1000 rows each – wasted! and darny darn! those buttonholes were in exactly the right place! But at least my collar works!
Next idea – obviously a vertically knit band does not work here because I need to encase the edge where the collar folds back, otherwise the seaming is ugly. This means a horizontal band. To make it long/wide enough (100cm/39.5 in) it either needs to be done in 2 pieces or do it in a full needle rib and attach it by hand but that is still iffy, and I never do that. A stockinette band would match the bottom hem – the width of the back hem is 65 cm, but the tubular knit is very difficult to make a horizontal buttonhole in – I remember trying it on the past and making myself a sticky note to remind myself this does not work – I have a short memory for bad stuff, what can I say? I have a drawer of awful hair products that I’ve tried, and they don’t work and if I just throw them out, I’ll end up buying them again but at least if I keep them it reminds me they didn’t work – we all have flaws – that’s how I deal with mine! ;-)
Back to the band, the width of the bottom band tells me I can get a stockinette band that is long enough to go from the hem to the neckline join and then another shorter piece (30 cm) for the edge of the collar – this seems the best bet and having the join in the band at the same place as the seam between the neckline and the collar makes the most sense.
I looked through the last few issues of KNITWORDS to see if I had used a band like what I want here and yes! No 52, Purple Purls (it’s always so much nicer when someone else has done all the work for you!) had a graded tension stockinette band that encased the edge – I use stockinette bands many times but they are mostly hemmed and attached to the front but I want the band to cover up the edge stitch so there is no seam/chain line. My new band is made (10 rows, beginning at T9 and grading one dot tighter per row to T6, a loose row of T10 for the fold, and then grade back up from T6 to T9 at RC021) and then an RTR (remove, turn, rehang – which gives a nice, little detail in the finishing, looks like a garter stitch ridge between the band and the garment selvedge) and then removed on the garter bar. The selvedge edge of the front is hung (right side facing here), the band is turned and rehung, pulling the open stitches of the band through the garment edge. Now the hem is hung, and a loose row knit manually to join and chain off. Looks fabulous from inside and out! OMG! Why did I not do this in the first place?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

design notes...

 If you were at listening to me at a seminar, you may have heard me talking about shortrowing at the hemline to add a curve to the bottom to compensate for the Aline – basically A-line shaping means decreasing evenly spaced up the side seam from the hem to the underarm, which creates an angle and makes a longer line than what you will have at the centre front/back of the garment. To avoid that pulled-up or shorter look, I usually add extra rows in the centre of the Back and Fronts, depending on the overall length and width of the garment. On Pocket Change and Ozark, it was 8 rows beginning right after the first row of main colour on the main bed, after the hem. Doing it on Ozark was the first time I did this on a striped garment. Only after the cardigan was totally finished, I was wearing it and admiring myself in my full-length mirror, did I realize that because of the stripes, this was noticeable – to me anyway – not likely anyone else. To avoid that in this striped version, I spread the shortrows out in several stripes. Instead of making 8 shortrows one after another, I did 2 rows in the charcoal, holding 30 sts at centre, twice, then on the silver stripe, I held 40 sts twice, with 50 sts in the next large silver stripe and ending up with 60 sts in the red stripe. Hope this makes sense!
Balancing the colours – my plan was to have red all around the edges, with the bands. I kept the hemline the same Back and Front and the top is all charcoal. I thought this would keep it from looking too wild.
The patch pocket – the one in Ozark works well, no sagging or bagging - I made this one slightly larger and revised that method from March 28. I realized I over-complicated things for the final cast-off and the top of the pocket is finished with an easier, double stranded loose row that is just chained off – I edited that post to reflect the change.
Had to re-engineer the collar slightly and compensate for less width at the centre front – Ozark had an overlap and the longstitch facings, so this collar is not as wide overall and the angle from the neck to the shoulder had to be changed.
Using button/buttonhole band from Geezer Chic, KW #50 – I made a swatch of the tubular band, using 6-0-6 ns, a little narrower because of the larger gauge with this yarn. I got a row gauge (after washing and drying!) of 80 rows to 10 cm. How to figure out buttonhole placement? I was chuckling as I did this – at the Spring Fling seminar some one brought up the question of how many buttons should be on a garment and someone else said they had heard that an uneven number was the ‘rule’. Well, I had never heard that, and it was quite funny because as I put each garment on during my presentation, they could see there is apparently no rhyme or rule to the MAO method of buttoning a garment. My only rule is, because I have a large bust, the most important button for me is at the bust point and I work from there. The bust point is usually at the same spot as the beginning of the underarm shaping – convenient but, I’m talking about my patterns, remember. I like my armholes high, whether it has a sleeve or not. So especially for a vertically made band, this is easy to figure – I look at my schematic and take the side seam measurement, add in the hem (and any shortrows) and that is my starting position (58 cm). Then, based on the width of the band and the size of the button (I will usually have purchased buttons by now, taking my swatch to the store - the number of buttons on a card and the price will play a part here) I can determine where the buttonholes will start and finish. 4 in/10 cm between buttons is good for the 7/8 in/23 mm button I have chosen, so I add the size of the buttonhole to the 4 inches and round it to 5 inches between the start of each vertical buttonhole. Based on my swatch, I can work back to having the first hole start at 20 cm from the bottom of the hem, and 5 holes will do it, with the top one likely never being buttoned and the 4th one exactly at my bust point/underarm.
OMG! I just realized in that pattern, Geezer Chic, I never told how to finish off the band – either no one ever made it, or they figured it out for themselves! I’m going to go with the latter but here’s what I do. Knit the number of rows for the band and at the end – don’t cast off. Just close the end by switching to full needle rib/zigzag, tighten the tension to about T4/4 and K3R. Cut the yarn and drop from the machine. Being cotton, this needs to be laundered before attaching the band. I put it together, except for attaching the sleeves and the bands (and the patch pockets). Darn in the ends on the sleeves, side seams etc. but not the centre front edges – these tails can be drawn into the tubular band after and save some time. After laundering, pin band in place, try on and check that it looks good. The end can be ripped back to the required length. Then, simply take the tail of yarn in a darning needle and thread it through the loops, one from each side across the row to the other side and secure it to the desired width. No point in trying to cast off as it will just widen, stiffen and look bad. Do this after the band is attached - I just took  this photo to show you how to do it.
 I’m calling this Lipstick and Smoke!

Friday, May 11, 2018

error correction 101...

oh man! how did this happen? I’ve been power knitting, I’ll admit – when I get excited about a project, it’s hard to slow down - I can’t wait to see the final thing! Two sleeves, one back and two fronts knit – did I forget to mention this was random, nothing matching? Pinned them together, tried on and was happy with the result.
Took the pins out and began the seaming. I always seam the bands/hems by hand and then hang the long seams on the machine or the linker. Did that for the sleeves, excellent result. Did the right front to the back. Good to go and then brought the left front hem to the back, butting them together and OMG! The front hem is slightly narrower than the back! I must have fudged the row counter – for this double bed hem, after knitting the waste yarn and circular ravel cord, I place the carriages at the left and knit the first row of main yarn, zigzag from left to right. Then, set to circular, and turn the row counter to 000…whatever, the front hem is only 18 rows as opposed to the other 20 rows! Arr-g-g-h! Two options come to mind…re-knit the entire right front? Go for the save by re-making the hem and grafting it onto the bottom first row of stockinette? There is really no contest here, I have to go with the graft.
The first step is to remake the hem correctly and transfer it up to the main bed. Knit one row in red to close the hem as usual and then remove it on waste yarn. Next, get the hem off the front – I am going to pull the last red row thread that joined the hem, leaving the loops of the first row of charcoal. Carefully rehang those charcoal loops on the machine on the same number of needles as hem was. Carefully unknit that row, from the side with the tail of yarn – it takes a bit of picking and undoing but it can be done. The yarn of that row is what I’m going to use to graft the two sets of stitches back together and the row of grafting replaces or duplicates the first row so you won’t be able to tell there ever was a problem. Knit this piece off on waste yarn, make sure you have a good inch on each piece. Now, sit somewhere comfy with good light and from the purl side, perform the graft.
BTW, so totally impressed with this yarn – it knits beautifully with a minimum of weights and no knots!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

random stripes...

Here I am with five colours that need to be used together somehow…why did I choose these? A couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend had on a hoodie – it was Tommy H – I should have known! and it was a couple of grey colours with a red stripe and some white or ivory I think and that’s been stuck in my brain and when I saw two shades of grey, I went all in. I wanted five cones – I thought that would give me a fair shot at determining the quality of this yarn, so I’ll admit, it was an easy pick. It was hard to choose from the website as the colours don’t always look like what you’ll get so adding in the black was last minute and I figured it would go will all the shades no matter what – same reason I chose white over ivory (although I’m totally excited they have ecru, vanilla, and pearl) I may have to order one of every colour! I did find a page on their KKS Facebook [] that has all the cones together but no names on them – I guess you can’t have everything but it’s easier to compare when they are all together.
I have been wearing Ozark every time I go out of the house lately and I’m enjoying it – it’s wool and one of these days, it’s bound to get warmer, so I thought I’d do a cotton version. I’m still hooked on that ‘sailor’ collar – I’ve been re-watching Downton Abbey and I never noticed it before, but those ladies did rock the sailor collar over and over! Going to stick with the A-line shape for the body instead of cutting it in to the waist as I did in O – going to try out more random stripes and colour blocking – this may be a bit out of my comfort zone, but, really five colours is, so why not? My basic plan is that it will be outlined in red – I’m going to use the same circular hems but instead of the longstitch facings, make tubular bands in red going up the centre fronts, added later, and I’m thinking that way, I can use the knit side as the outside of the collar – it works in my mind right now anyway! As usual, I start with the sleeves…
Don’t be too shocked! BTW, if you are one of those multiple brand machine owners, the Silver Reed/Studio is the best choice for a project like this – the jam release gives a super-quick free pass for those odd number rows of stripes, or to move to the opposite side for the next colour so you don’t have two ends to darn in at the same place. Also, the fact there is no need to be closing/opening the gate each time the yarn is changed makes for quick progress. If Silver Reed is your only brand, bask in the glory!

Monday, May 7, 2018

not your grandma's cotttontale8...

I told you I was in Peru, Indiana a couple of weeks ago.  Charlene Shafer and her family, the Knit Knack Shop, are the US distributors for TAMM  yarns and Cotton Tale 8. It’s always so busy for me when at a show like that, I never get a chance to check out what anyone else is doing or selling. I heard they had revamped Cotton Tale 8 – my only experience with CT8 was like 15 years ago from the old Bonnie Triola Yarns days – never liked it, harsh feel, too many knots and lots of thick and thin spots. When I got home I checked the KKS website – wow, nice colour range and great price, $22 for a one pound cone. I also noted that it is close to the same yardage as Bonita cotton which I have used extensively and is now discontinued. I ordered white, black, red, silver and charcoal, thinking I could make a striped manfriend hoodie (not) or new girlfriend hoodie ;-)!
Got  my parcel on Saturday afternoon and whipped off a couple of swatches before dinner. I made the striped one at T8 (unwashed gauge, 30 sts and 38 rows to 10 cm/4 in – after machine wash and dry, 30 sts and 46 rows) and stockinette charcoal at T9 (unwashed, 28 sts and 36 rows – washed 29 sts and 43 rows). Anxious to give it a good trial, I put both swatches in a sink of hot water and dish soap and swished them around – definitely colour safe! Rinsed them and rolled in a towel. Tossed them in the dryer on cotton/hot setting with a load of tea towels and tablecloths. WOW! I am so impressed. This is soft, silky, smooth and lovely, no pilling! I may have found my new favourite cotton! I can hardly wait for you to see what I’m making!

Friday, May 4, 2018

what do you call a hoodless hoodie?...

A noodie! LOL!  not sure that will catch on, but I’m loving mine! I wasn’t going to say anything because you already know I can be a bit obsessive. I was just going to quietly knit this thing and keep it to myself but I’m also somewhat of a show-off, I’ll admit it! With my Girlfriend Hoodie pattern in mind, I started off making three pockets - oh, did I say three? Yeah, I was doing that decrease hack and loving it - it's so much faster than that old, outlined full-fashioned decrease and it truly looks nicer and lays flatter - but in my excitement, I must have been operating on auto-pilot and thinking of other things and on the second pocket, I ended at RC078 instead of the 82 rows of the first one - somewhere in there I didn't knit two rows between the battenburg transfers - easy to do when you are shortrowing at the same time and there is something happening on every row instead of just every second, and not concentrating! I made the third pocket (16g each, by the way), paying full attention and got it perfect.
before washing
 In my haste for glory, I hadn’t weighed my cone at the beginning, just took the old information from that old post and acted like I had the same size cone (1.2 lb/520g) as the plumberry one. In my mind I was making a half-sleeved hoodie (do you like that ‘half-sleeved’ term – I saw it for the first time on something the other day and decided to use it a few times just to see if it catches on!), knitting the half-sleeve in the battenburg lace, the body a little longer than the  original version, with narrower bands to compensate (those deep stockinette bands do take more yarn so that was a consideration) and of course a hood, because, after all, this is a hoodie, right? 

After both sleeves were knit (I did weigh them, 46g each), I jumped right into making the back, determined to get it made plain before I could reason my way into jazzing it up unnecessarily. I kept saying to myself that people behind my back would notice the beautiful half-sleeves without being distracted with random patterning up the back and though I got it done quite quickly, was rather dismayed to notice the diminished size of the cone! ouch! The back was 84g so that meant that much again for the fronts and I still had bands to do – the hood would take about half the weight/yardage of the Back and I began to readjust my vision. By the time I had the Fronts done I saw this garment as a zip-front, summer cardigan with picot hems and neckband with half sleeves in lace. Final tally, 42g left, good thing nothing was written in stone! Oh, and because of the shrinkage factor, when I first tried it on before laundering, it was like, yuck! this is way too big, but sure enough, the machine wash and dry sorted it out fine!
P.S. The hems were ‘Knitting on the EDGE’ #3 – I used the neckline technique from Borderline, KW #25 and added 8 shortrows to centre back and fronts (but not to pockets) to even out the A-line.
MSP here I come! I'm teaching at Founders Fest in Minneapolis, July 28, 29, 2018.
Google Midwest Machine Knitters Collaborative for more information and registration! Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 27, 2018

beat at my own game....

Got this email and photo from Karen B. from the Kansas City area – she and her friend Susan (both very good, active knitters) were at the Spring Fling in Peru, IN two weeks ago.
Hi Mary Anne,
Thanks so much for sharing all your wisdom at the Knit Knack seminar this year.  It was great to see you again.  I love your new patterns and just wanted to share with you my newest creation.  I wanted something for summer, so I made a sleeveless Girlfriend Hoodie (adding the hand-transferred lace like your blogpost: and am very pleased with the way it turned out. I shaped the armholes just like the pattern and finished with #2 from your ‘50 ways to love your knitter’. Now the difficult decision - what to make next!
Thanks, Karen
Gosh, that was fast, and doesn’t it look great! Impressive job, Karen! I love hearing how I inspired someone else to knit! I feel like the gauntlet has been thrown down! She used a full repeat of the ‘Battenburg’ stitch pattern up the front – I only did half on either side of the zipper…oh, how the ideas spark! I do have a cone of red ‘Bounce’  [ ] that I’ve been hoarding for the perfect project – a summer hoodie would be just the thing since I know the yarn won’t do a full-on long sleeve one. Hummm…I’ve been wanting to try that decrease hack again!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

the sound of silence...

Have you ever had the yarn break on you when you’re knitting across the row? Sometimes there is a weak spot and it will break and of course, you don’t see it happening or notice until it’s too late. Usually everything ends up on the floor or at least half of it. I have my machine positioned so the back of the table is just out a little from the wall about a foot – easy enough to reach in behind to change yarn or whatever needs to be done back there but close enough so if the yarn breaks, the auto-tension snaps back and hits the wall with a big ‘thwack!’ and it alerts me to quit immediately – the important thing is to stop before you get to the end of the row because more than half of the work will be dropped but if you were able to stop in time and the last side is saved from dropping, it will be much easier to salvage and rehang the work - if it’s single bed work! Double bed, give up and go drink!
The afghan is done! I did take the pieces over to Derek's just so I could be sure the colours were right - not that I was going to do anything about it if they weren't! It looks great, feels great, he likes it!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

you'll never guess...

I’m making an afghan! And yes, it is for a very special person – my son Derek. I helped him last year to renovate his living room. It’s quite modern and sleek looking. He has this grey leather sofa bed that doesn’t exactly say comfy, cozy, and I thought he could use an afghan to soften it up. He has always liked alpaca and I have a bunch of left over cones of Forsell’s Naturell in shades from black, through grey, beige and ivory with peach thrown in as an accent – he already has a couple of pillows in cream and peach-ish shades. My original idea was to do a sort of log-cabin quilt motif using tuck stitches and had made a swatch where I rehung each piece/next colour the opposite way, so the knit side/purl side added texture. When he saw it, he liked the colours and textures but thought it would look too folk-art for his desired aesthetic! I said I would work on the design. Dodged a bullet there as it was extremely labour intensive!  
To be honest, I started this back late last fall and was hoping to get it done as a Christmas present, but it was easy to put off. Now, getting back home without a real to-do list, I figured I’d tackle this now and get it done (remember my new year resolution about procrastination?).
I did make several swatches before but somehow lost the paper that I recorded the info on so, although washed and pre-shrunk, they are somewhat invalid but I was experimenting with tuck patterns that would give me texture, extra width and bulk up this thin yarn, so I had a row of plain with maybe 3 tuck rows – now it all made sense – if I double the length of that 4 stitch X 4 row pattern, there will be lots of texture and 2 rows of stockinette that I like the look of and I can use that as my division between colour changes. My pattern is set up so it begins and ends with one row of stockinette – I am turning the work between colour changes so the clean row of stockinette at the end allows for a plain row to use the garter bar to pick it off easily. After the turn, I am using the next row to fix in the tails on either end by ewrapping them so I don’t have to go back and darn in later, just trim them. And, I don't have to be continually re-reading the pattern - it is working continuously!
Oh yeah, I also weighed my cone before and after knitting the 180 sts width by 56 rows so I know I need 20g for each stripe.
 Seven shades, seven stripes. Cast off. Hang the side selvedge and repeat. This is definitely long enough – I’ll make at least one more panel the same and attach it the opposite way…

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

have pillow, will travel...

You know how one of the best things about doing a road trip is being able to take your favourite pillow with you. In the past, even though I do it, I’ve always been somewhat embarrassed to be seen carrying that pillow into a hotel. I just returned from the Spring Fling in Peru, Indiana, put on by Charlene Shafer and the Knit Knack Shop. The drive home was through pretty wicked snow/blizzard conditions, but I made it safely. We had a fun time at the seminar and Charlene gave me the perfect gift – a beautiful Vera Bradley bag just the right size for my pillow – I’ll never feel awkward again!
Everyone loved Ozark and Pocket Change, my two newest projects. Charlene and her family put on a major event – there was something for everyone and it was so much fun renewing knitting acquaintances and meeting new ones. I had a blast and I hope they invite me back!
A shout-out to Barbara P, we’re all thinking of you, fingers crossed for a speedy recovery!
P.S. Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of my first blogpost – who knew I had so much to say! Hope you've had as much fun reading as I've had saying!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

finishing touches...

You might grimace at this, but it works for me! installing the pockets can be a bit of a pain – do you hand stitch? with yarn or sewing thread? who’s to know? Based on my previous experiences, I used the sewing machine and just top stitch them in place! 
Now, you do need to have a fairly good match on the sewing thread. Taking the swatch pocket to the store is a must but you can’t trust the lighting, so I always get two options and then judge at home. I stitched on the swatch to check and felt confident in my selection. Pinned the pockets where I thought I wanted them, sort of in the centre of the half front, over the double stripe, and then put it on. Wasn’t quite right. I found moving them almost to the side seam looked better. I really like how it breaks up the lines and adds to the detail. Took all of 10 minutes to stitch them in place, using a relatively long, straight stitch, following along the inside of the chain stitch edging.
I made the belt, knit tubular, and hand made loops at each side seam at waist level to hold it in place. This may be abandoned at some point, but I had to try it. I like the whole thing, especially the sleeves – that little bit of bell shaping feels nice, kind of feminine, and I like the way it snugs up to the elbow. The way the fronts overlap just right and fall nicely without opening wide as I wear it, makes the belt is rather unnecessary and I prefer the line of the whole garment without the belt. The weight of the longstitch facings is perfect!

Friday, March 30, 2018

the moment of truth...

All put together, just need to figure out the collar and which colour pockets to use…I did cut a fabric collar (sorry for the black fabric – it obviously doesn’t photo with great detail but hopefully you get the idea), pinned it in place, made a few adjustments and a snip here and there on the sample piece. I drew it out on my knit contour mylar - then remembered to turn it around and draw it the way I would knit it, from the hem at the back toward the neckline!
Pinned the knitted piece in place around the neckline, tried it on (makes a difference!). Decided I wanted it a tad wider, and a bit longer on the back part. I also added about 8 rows of shortrowing to curve the bottom as it looked shorter across the back of the shoulders. Made the second version and it looks good – Here’s me impressed! I thought I'd have to make it at least three times to get it right and, was prepared to!

Now to knit a belt - 'Wendy' wore hers open in the front with the belt just tied across the back - I'm going to try that and the belt will be knit tubular in the café colour that I've decided on for the pockets.
Just a bit of final finishing and I’m almost ready to show it off – Knit Knack Shop’s Spring Fling, in Peru, Indiana (April 13, 14) here I come! Hope to see you there!
P.S. hoping it is Spring by then!
P.S.S. I'll post a real life modelling of it at a later date!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

size does matter...

Outside patch pocket? can be quick and easy or you could put some effort into it. Here’s my effort version. This one can be a bit bigger than the inside patch pocket from ‘Pocket Change’
Here, we only have to worry about the top of the pocket bagging out so I’m going with 14 cm X 15 cm (5.5  in X 6 in) and because it’s just sewn on top of the garment front, things are a lot more forgiving. 

A long while back, I told you about a breakthrough I had with a chained edging on a patch pocket and I tried it again with fairisle - now I’m attempting to take it a step further. Note about waste yarn – don’t use crap – make sure it’s a good firm yarn that’s at least the same thickness as your main yarn or you’ll be digging for those stitches forever! I used Bonita 4 ply cabled cotton that is slightly heavier than the 4 ply wool I’m using for the main yarn and knit the waste yarn tighter – go with T6 – it will make the main yarn stitches pop up better.
That chain is going to go around the entire patch if I’ve figured this right. Based on my gauge, for the chain, I will need 38 sts for the width and (60 rows divided by 2) 30 sts for each side. To be able to keep track of this, I place the actual pocket  on #19-0-19 ns. Add 30 to the left and 30 to the right for each of the sides #49-0-49 ns. Measure out 6X width of ns in work and double that so you have main yarn double stranded, chain across, going fairly loosely for part that is sides of pocket – you need to build in some room for the drop and then do it a little more snugly for the width parts. Main yarn single strand, main tension +2, knit 1 row. Break yarn. Remove 30 sts at left on WY. Remove another 30 sts at right on waste, leaving 19-0-19 sts in work for pocket. RC000. CAR. Main yarn, main tension, K1R. At right, pick up stitch from chain closest and hang on #20, Pick up #19, move to #20 and take both back to #19. Make sure #20 is out of work. K1R. This puts chain stitch on knit side of pocket edge. Repeat on left, hanging new chain st on side opposite carriage, continuing up to RC060. Each side should be finished now and CAR. Using tail at right and the main yarn from carriage, hand knit a loose row with double strand and chain off.  

Saturday, March 24, 2018


After making the two different pockets, I decided I did like the ‘willow’ colour on the Left but maybe with the stripe proportions of the Right Front. I hate unravelling and I wanted to save the top portion to look at again and compare but don’t need to save the yarn to re-use. The stripes do make it easier to know just where you are. I wanted to take it back to just below where I joined in the ‘café’ brown colour – you may have noticed the width of my stripes at this point were somewhat based on the underarm shaping – I wanted to be able to shortrow it all in one go…

Back to the taking apart. I knew I had 10 more rows of the olive here than on the other pieces before starting the café and just to be sure, I counted them using long pins to mark each 10 rows to find the 70th row of olive. I then snipped the thread of the first row of café at the centre side, knowing I had the tail of that row on the other side. Pulling a little at a time from the tail side, snipping as you need and pulling back on the puckers to get the new end, draw  out the entire row. Note, I had steamed/pressed this well, so the stitches aren’t going anywhere.
Now there are 10 rows of olive left. I unravel 8 rows so there are 2 to play with. Take it to the machine and rehang the main bed stitches, picking up the row below – it’s easier than trying to poke the tool into the actual loops of the last row. Then, pull out that unhung row. Add some claw weights and put the fabric between the beds. Bring up the rib bed and position it to the one notch lower than fully engaged to allow some room to manoeuvre. Hang the longstitch band working gently and one stitch at a time. There is one row left to unravel – pull it out, ensure there are no split stitches from the rehang, ready to proceed with new plan!

Friday, March 23, 2018

kinda busy here...

Let’s analyze the situation. Look how I’m including you in this ;-)! I don’t like that large patch of ‘willow’ (gray) on the front above the olive/waist area. I was going to use that colour for the patch pocket…maybe the pocket will tie it in better? maybe have to change that? Actually, the more I look at it, it seems the pockets and belt of the AON coat are fabric but I’m not going there!  And who knew that 2 RTRs could/would change the width of a stripe? Why didn’t I know that? Ar-r-r-g-g-gh!
Issues with the collar are also sneaking in – I know you’re probably not going to like this, but my version of the collar (sort of like a sailor collar) is going to be that khaki circular hem, straight across at the back, the width of the shoulder line, and then black, with the longstitch facings at each edge, coming up around the neck to meet up with the facings from the fronts (which overlap slightly in the centre) and it will look like a vee or shawl collar turn-back when attached to the collar – the part I think you won’t like is the back/purl side of the collar will be showing as the outside but I’m okay with that.
What I’m going to do here is finish/redo(?) the fronts (they will match each other), do some seaming, fit the sleeves in, then try it on. I’ll cut a collar mock-up from fabric that I can pin in place and use to get the right size/feel for it – tell you more later! Good thing I got a lot of yarn!
I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a project! Master class coming up!
P.S. Notes for knitting stripes: for stockinette, make your yarn changes at opposites sides. End one colour, say at the right. Yarn tail at right. Do a free pass and start next colour from left. This way, you won’t have to darn in ends over top of each other. However, when in longstitch mode, make yarn changes on the side opposite longstitch so you won’t have ends to darn in on the open/facing side. XO

Thursday, March 22, 2018

plan D...

I knit the Back, doing all those RTRs quite happily, blissfully even. My dilemma with the Back was whether to shape the waistline, which I did – most everything I’ve made recently has been quite A-line and I felt it was time to get back to shape. I love the final look and hardly paused before jumping right into knitting the Front.
In my mind, all I needed to do was to take the 8-stitch ribber longstitch facing off on waste yarn manually, turn the main bed work with the garter bar and rehang the ribber facing sts at the other side for the 12 rows of the stripe. In reality, the ribber stitches were now behind the main bed side of the purl stitches – no place to hang them! I know you’re laughing now and it doesn’t matter.
I calmly took it off again, turned it back around, figuring I could just reform the stitches to purl side manually after they were knit on the main bed. I messed around with that and wasted the good part of an hour before facing the fact this was an exercise in futility. Though I did learn how best to unravel a row that was reformed, as I abandoned that tactic, you don't need to know how because it was futile! Go ahead and laugh louder - get it all out of your system! I don't mind - I just here to entertain!  I rethought the situation – I was going to go through hell and back to make two purl side stripes in the front that were then going to be mostly covered with a patch pocket in another colour – wow! What was I thinking? It will be just another design feature!
But that longstitch facing does look good!
I did the next best thing, went to my granddaughter’s hockey game. There’s always another day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

swatch hack...

 Grabbed several cones and made a quick swatch!
Cast on 25-0-25 sts on the main bed. Put #21 needle on each side out of work – this will mark the centre 40 sts all the way up without having to hang yarn marks. Did a quick, hung hem. I am using T7, based on my vast (;-)) general knowledge – I know the gauge will be 29-30 stitches and 39-40 rows to 10 cm - and I want the narrow stripes to be about one inch, so, picking the colours randomly, knit 10 rows of each. This eliminates the need to make marking rows to keep track of the 60 rows to measure for the row gauge – just count off 6 stripes. All the yarns are Forsell Pure New 4 ply Wool, except the tweedy one which is my favourite here – it is an oldie, NLA of course, called Rutland Tweed (also by Forsell) and it will knit at the same gauge as the plain wools. I chose it because it has the little flecks of khaki, grey and black that I think will tie all these colours together.
My vision has khaki for the bottom edges and I see it as a circular hem, meaning that it looks like plain stockinette but it’s done on the double bed. Much quicker, no waste yarn, no rehanging stitches, just transfer up to the main bed at the end. I do have another reason for opting for the double bed technique – the front bands are going to be the automatic long stitch facings that I love and since you need the ribber for that, may as well get it going from the beginning.
I find that knitting up stripes like this gives a better perspective of how the colours blend and mix together and if there is a colour you don’t like, it’s easy to fold that stripe out of the swatch and put other colours side by side without having to reknit it all.
I got so excited, couldn’t resist jumping right in. You know it, I made the Sleeves while I mull over what I want on the Back. I looked up an old bell-sleeve pattern (KW# 35, Made to Fade) that I knew would serve (not too big or exaggerated) and put that sleeve schematic in my KR11.
The circular hem is beautiful and so easy! I wanted one stripe of the tweed on the narrowest part of the sleeve and here’s the thing – I always like the purl side of this tweed better – the little blobby spots show up more, and I thought, why not? Never one to shy away from an RTR or two, I took it off, turned it, knit the tweed, turned it back and finished off with the olive. It's adds another dimension and I like the added detail of the little dotted line from the first RTR. This may come back to bite me as the fronts will have the long stitch facing but I’ll deal with that tomorrow!