Monday, February 24, 2020

my process...

Gather up all the yarns in selected colour family. Toss in a few accessories for added inspiration and let it percolate. Knit a few swatches to try out the stitch patterns to get a feel for the proper direction.
Here’s the thing, you don’t want to waste the ‘good stuff’ swatching, use the ‘it doesn’t matter/throwaway/giveaway/never use anyway’ stuff – another way to diminish that stash! ;-)
Swap the yarns halfway through the swatch so you get a better feel for the background versus the print. Stand back and look at it. Hold it up in the mirror – you will spot anything wrong or that you don’t like quicker that way.
Settle on the yarns and stitch pattern. Knit a sleeve without a band – you can add it later and still not be committed at that point. The sleeve looks pretty good - my ‘final’ stitch pattern was 40 sts by 60 rows and I realize I could tweak it forever. Make a few adjustments and before knitting the second sleeve, I ‘shuffle’ the stitch pattern – I don’t want anything matching here because that will take away from the idea of skin print, in my mind anyway.
Notice, I’m now calling it ‘skin print’ – leopard would technically have three colours…hope you don’t mind ‘cuz I don’t!

Friday, February 21, 2020


You know how you get that bunch of ‘news feed’ highlights from Google or whoever? If there’s a fashion thing or a food thing I am usually tempted to click on it. The other day there was a spring fashion forecast for sweater jackets, and you know I clicked! There it was, my dream sweater! Why you ask? Hello? Mostly because it was a leopard print! But the article went on to say how the cardigan, sweater jacket or knit jacket (my life is flashing before my eyes!), ties in with the current menswear-inspired trend - like, is that ever not a trend? That particular blazer sweater/cardigan connected through to Nordstrom with a price tag of $150.  
That isn’t happening, but suddenly, I’m all-fired up! I could make that! Not that it would be exact, but I start by analyzing the situation.
The fabric is a 3-colour jacquard if it’s actually a knit fabric (the close-up does show it, the yarn is quite fine and likely done on one of those fancy industrial machines and involves cut and sew, not my favourite technique) which I’m not going to do but how about a 2-colour fairisle print with the third colour for bands or edges? I have a skin print 24-stitch punchcard pattern that I designed back a zillion years ago and never made anything with. I’ll dig that out and experiment a bit, making sure it’s a short-float repeat. I am using DAK for this.
The notched lapel is making it seem more complicated that it needs to be with facings and all that…I really love the shape and fit of my brown lace jacket, Pocket Change from Feb/March 2018, especially the collar and yoke idea.
And I do like my camo jean jacket - yoke, collar, etc. too! I got a really short haircut again and the collar idea works better for me in that situation!
How about a solid, stockinette yoke, print collar edged with the contrast/yoke colour with print body, hip length? And some sort of pocket of course! This could be my ‘Pigeon Forge’ new garment – so excited! It’s just a month away! Hope to see you there and show off!

BTW, did you catch those knee socks Karlie was wearing on the tuxedo revival challenge on Project Runway? Solid grey colour but one only had a couple of narrow stripes on the calf, like on a varsity jacket sleeve…I can see that in my future! But gosh, I’ll need to order more sock yarn – I have no solid colours! It’s a vicious circle this knitting business!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

the good stuff...

Save it for good? Why do we do that and when is good? I have two full (and two part) cones of this tweed yarn (Forsell Rutland Tweed Exton) that I just love. Over the years, I have used this colourway (ivory base with flecks of gold, grey and black) several times but never managed to get a finished garment for me, but I still have the yarn. A few times recently, I’ve looked at it and said, no, not yet! Admittedly, I’m at the point where I’m also saying, don’t need anything new and, what’s that all about? Yeah, I’m not going out and spending money unnecessarily but what gives? Why shouldn’t I have a new poncho? I did make several last year for my female family members and kept wearing my old one from 20 years ago and I’ve seriously wanted a new one so why not?
For the new ones, I added a hood and pouch pocket – and
called it Thunder Bay Poncho
I was seriously tempted to make myself a red one (another couple of cones of pure new wool that have been saving for good!) but got through last spring wearing the old tweed one and then forgot about it.
The sad reality, most of my yarn stock is stuff I’ve been saving for something special and I know I have far more that even I can knit through!
Here’s me, going in, making a start with the good stuff!

P.S. maybe I never told you about this before…this EasyCut thingy – I have one stuck on every carriage I've ever owned. I did get that new machine last year and I’ve been seriously missing the thread cutter…it took me this long to find my very last one and install it. You can still get them at
Tell ‘em MAO sent ya!

Monday, February 10, 2020

tickety boo...

Did I mention to keep the little weigh scale close? Weigh the yarn/colour before and after knitting so you know exactly how far it goes. On the Back, with this method, I could figure that 56 rows of the oatmeal, 112 sts wide took 100g so I was confident I would have enough yarn to complete the body and sleeves at least. For each of the colour amounts, I'll take my chances, and the hood was totally optional at this point!
Plate or not? This yarn has a heathery, tweedy colour and texture so the slight variations in the dye lots are not apparent. I chanced it and didn’t plate, and it all looks fine, adds to the heathery effect. If working with solid plain colours I would have plated that to avoid striations and definite colour change lines.
Trust your swatch! When this was done, put together and ready for the wash, before doing the zipper, I was debating options for regifting it to someone who was maybe 6’3 instead of the 5’10 man I planned it for because it was HUGE!  No lie, it went from 78 cm from top of shoulder to hem, down to the finished 66 cm I had planned! The reason you make swatches and wash and dry them before measuring! Notice the photo in the previous post, with the zipper just laying on the back, the zipper looks like it will be too short. In the washed/finished garment, the zipper actually goes up into the hood about 1 inch...I was afraid to shorten it too soon and then decided it was okay like that!
Used the same method for zipper installation that I had on ManFriend Hoodie, but I did have to do it a second time – the first one was drawing the front up too much – the difference in the gauge of the machine! The first time, after pinning in the zipper and putting it on myself (like I tell you to) it was all ripply and bunchy. Ripped out the knitted stabilizer edges that are added horizontally up the front edges, re-knit them, adding 10 stitches, so the front edges really were not gathered in at all, re-pinned the zip and that was the trick! Finished, it looks good, I’m happy and he loves it! Even commented on the colours! Another win-win!

Thursday, January 30, 2020


knitting and thinking, thinking and knitting…I think I left you hanging, with me starting each piece, knitting the oatmeal, taking it off, setting aside, starting the next piece…but while doing the pockets, I revised that concept – too much work rehanging and all that, so, went back to a more scientific or maybe I should say, educated, mathematical approach?
Sidebar - Oh man, so frustrating, I’ve forgotten how to spell or is it type? I have no auto-correct on this program and I keep exxcpecting it to fix mistakes like on my iPad!!! Arr-r-r-g-g-gh-h!
BTW, in case I never said this before, knitting at T9 on the LK is not exactly a soothing, walk-in-the-park experience, especially for the almost full width of the bed.
It requires yarn spray, elbow grease and a degree of zen-ness, and, space it out – you cannot power knit something like this. Your machine needs to be firmly anchored on a good solid table that is not swaying back and forth. The one I have is sturdy, quite heavy and not portable. If using lighter weight yarns and T3 to 6, this may not be necessary but for the heavy work it does need to be stable. If you’ve ever been knitting on one of those crummy stands where you’re trying to anchor the legs of the table with your own feet spread out, you’ll know what I mean!
Back to the current event, I draw my schematics out on metric graph paper, to scale, in centimetres. Notice how the sleeve underarm point matches with the underarm point of the body. Because I had 4 colours, I divided the overall length of the body (65 cm) by 4 and came up with 16.25 cm, rounded that up to 20 cm just to make it easy. The bottom of the body, pockets and sleeve with be oatmeal and covers the largest area. The next colour, denim, is to divide the oatmeal and smoke which really don't go together and, to use the ivory, I threw a 5 cm band of it between the 10 cm denim stripes, leaving the top of each piece to be finished of in the smoke/gray. Drawing the sleeve to line up with its position on the body shows me where the colour changes are so it all matches up when sewn together!
Oh man, still firing on all cylinders! The Back is done! I love it and I’m already regretting making this in MF’s size which means I’ll have to give it away! ;(
The Back weighs in at 274g!
Not bad for my 30g swatch times 10!


Monday, January 27, 2020

local yarn shop...

Is there such a thing? Checked on the ‘net. Briggs & Little doesn’t have a website that you can order from and it’s a Canadian brand not carried by my usual US mail order source and I couldn’t find any stockist links. My LYS, where I had originally purchased the yarn, like five years ago, retired and closed shop a few years back. Look in the phone book – nada! Again, checking on-line, there are supposed to be two new local yarn shops that aren’t in the phone book, but have facebook pages…I hate that! Obviously, I haven’t kept up on local hand knitting stuff. Called the first, closer one. She told me she had an order in, currently had none in stock and didn’t expect it to be in for a month at least.

The second one does stock it and has all the colours! OK, back in business! I rushed over and picked up one skein of each of the four colours so now have 1250g total. Not worried about dye-lots – the new ones look surprisingly close, other than the denim but since I’m doing this double-stranded and with stripes, it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ll mix one of the old with a new and that should take care of any slight variances. My plan is to start with oatmeal (which I have the most of - the front pockets will be all that colour) at the bottom and move into navy, with a bit of the ivory and then top it off with the smoke – oatmeal and smoke don’t really ‘go together' but separating them with the navy and ivory should make it work… will see what happens. I figure I can knit the Back up so far, do the Fronts and Sleeves in the first colour and see where I’m at – guess that’s not really stripes – we used to call it colour-blocking, I think. Should have a better idea of how far the yarn is going by that time and adjust as needed…and whatsername has more if I hurry!  Ha! Jumping in now!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

was totally stoked...

that I had a plan! Knit up a quick swatch of the ‘Briggs and Little’ Durasport – it is their sock yarn but is slightly heavier that the high-priced, balled sock yarn. It’s a one ply, 80% wool, 20% nylon, 4 oz/113g/430yds skein and although it’s been around for years, there’s only like 8 colours for some reason. I had made myself a hoodie with fairisle stripes , wore it a few times and then abandoned it, not sure exactly why but I chalked it up to the yarn not being as nice as the Forsell 4 ply I was used to. Could have been no pockets, though - got fed up with it by then…
So now, looking at the leftover skeins, I initially thought I’d have more than enough for a jacket for a man. 400 yds times about 8 skeins means 3200 yds and on the standard gauge, you’d have plenty. I had made the swatch on the LK150, double stranded, T9, washed and dried it, liked the look and feel but something held me back. I had also wound all the skeins into machine-useable cones and somehow it didn’t look like quite so much. I was excited to have a plan and wanted to get going – on the bottom of the swatch, I had made a small, quick hem – starting off single strand, every-other-needle, just for the cast-on, then all needles and  at T4, still single, knit about 12 rows. I could see it was not the weight I wanted and that’s when the idea to go double-strand came to mind. So, hung the EON row to make a hem, added the second strand, dialed up to T9 and made the swatch. After laundering, I loved the little single-strand hem, it did the job of making a nice bottom, didn’t pull in too much and was totally easy. The other option I was considering was making 1X1 ribs on the standard gauge machine and transferring them to the LK. Thought that would be less bulky that going with the doubled stockinette bands of the original garment but wasn’t looking forward to the extra work of moving everything from machine to machine if you know what I mean.
Tempted to throw caution to the wind, I could just start knitting and see how far the first two cones would take me but the thought of having to unravel double-stranded knitting stopped me. Decided to be scientific about it. Weighed the swatch. It’s 30g. Took the swatch and laid it out on the tweedy pullover, counting how many swatches would make up the entire area of the sweater – 6 for each sleeve and 10 for each back/front, total of 32 swatches times 30g means 960g total – more than a little shy – considering pockets and hood and a cardigan should be slightly larger than the pullover! Back to the drawing board?
On the plus side, got both pieces made, successfully, for the Rib’nShrug and the pattern well underway! ;)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

you have it in writing...

a commitment! Hemming and hawing a bit more…looking at my yarns from all angles…I have come up with a plan! and am putting it in writing – that way I have a witness! Can’t go back on that!
Remembering a promise from last year, I’m going to write up the pattern for Rib’nShrug. Have made it several times and wrote lots of notes but I do like to re-knit as I’m doing the pattern to make sure I don’t miss anything.
The hardest part? deciding on the colour to use! I narrowed it down by sorting out the single cones - no sense breaking up a 2 or 3 cone dye-lot for a project that should come in under one 500g cone, so I've settled on cinnamon - this is a 4-ply pure new wool. The garment is a sideways sleeve/yoke/sleeve, knit all in one piece in stockinette. The body, also sideways, also one piece, is a random rib needle arrangement with shortrowed gores in the bottom side to widen out the basic rectangle, adding in hip width and creating a curved hemline. Very little finishing, a fairly quick project.
Decided to go whole hog and get another thing going on the LK150 at the same time. I was always much more productive when pushing myself.
Have a bunch of ‘Briggs & Little’ Durasport
that has been well aged. I think I bought it when I was on a sock-tear back in 2014. Really stocked up and then I didn’t really love it.  But maybe enough time has passed, so, I dug it out again. I know MF would like another hoodie, heavier than the Man Friend Hoodie that was standard gauge so here goes! I’m using it double stranded on the LK/6.5mm mid gauge machine. I have some oatmeal, denim, ivory and smoke that I plan to mix into strategic stripes in the top/chest/upper body area. The swatch washed up nicely, looks and feels good – I can think on it a bit more while I work on the top part of the standard gauge project.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

back to knitting...

Yup! We are well into the new year and the new decade! If you’re like me and not really been too committed to machine knitting lately, how do you get back to it?
I started by working out – I treated myself to a new set of videos and some cheap, at-home equipment (3X3 fit) and I like it, kind of a Pilates/yoga/stretching thing. Then I made some crackers – my new baking passion lately; Netflix-ed the 3rd season of ‘The Crown’ and all ‘The Kominsky Method’ and started on ‘Designated Survivor’. All classic procrastination techniques.
While doing those things, thought about my reasons to knit. They have changed somewhat from a few years ago []
Now, I’m more about doing something to keep busy and using up my stash. Asking myself, do I want something where I’m working on autopilot or is it the need to create something useful? It’s probably better to ease into it in stages.
So far, I searched out a couple of UFOs that I had abandoned and almost forgotten – not sure if I even told you about but one was a remake of that striped hoodie from last year (red wine stain that wouldn’t budge) – it just needed a zipper and I couldn’t settle on the right one and the other was that EFisher Knockoff
that I was making in recycled light grey WCD. It was all done except for fixing in all the ends and I still hate the colour – yeah, there’s a dye job coming up! I’ll tell you about this later.
Worked on both of those and thought some more… do I need a project? a commitment? Advice to myself: remake something you’re familiar with, and, it is MF’s birthday in February... Come up with a plan, MA!