Monday, May 13, 2019

as I was struggling...

to knit with this reclaimed Wool Crepe Deluxe, I thought back to another time. The following is my editorial from KNITWORDS  #13, March 2000:
In January, I went to London, England and participated in the 'Knit, Stitch and Creative Crafts Show'. It was a lot of fun and very different from our North American knitting machine seminars in that it was mostly a selling show, not a lot of teaching like we normally have here. I had a booth next to Elaine Cater and I gave a 25 minute 'talk' once a day for the four days. It was a bit different without a knitting machine to hide behind, but it was kind of cool to have people come up to me and tell me they liked my Canadian accent. The first few times, I tried to tell them I didn't have an accent, but soon realized I was fighting a losing battle. One of the best things, I was in charge of what they call the 'knitting clinic'. It was twice a day for about an hour each time. It would be announced over the sound system that “Mary Anne Oger from Thunder Bay Canada, blah-blah blah would be in 'stand' 78” and anyone who had questions, problems or whatever about machine knitting could come and talk to me and it was my duty to either solve the problem or offer suggestions as to where the knitter might go to get help. By far, the most interesting lady was an 83-year-old, smartly-dressed machine knitter who told me a lengthy story about how she had knit a skirt from one designer's pattern. It had turned out so nicely that she chose a different designer's pattern and made a 'blouse' to go with the skirt but wasn't happy with the result. The fit wasn't quite right. She had knit it using 3 strands of a very fine bright acrylic (Bramwell’s Silky). I was politely listening to her story, waiting for the moment I could jump in and solve her dilemma. She began relating how she 'unpicked' this thing and put it into hanks. She then washed it and hung it to dry, adding weights to it to remove the kinks. Much to her dismay, when dry, it was still crinkly. By this time, my eyes began to glaze over, and I was clamping my teeth in an attempt not to scream out, 'throw it in the 'dust bin'!'. I managed to retain my composure and sanity as she then went on to say how a friend asked her if she had tried the microwave. My mind was gone! Gripping the edge of the table, hoping she couldn't see my white knuckles, I faintly asked, 'huh?' Anyhow, dubious herself, she then wound the used, crinkled yarn onto plastic cones, which she assured me, she fully expected to melt in the microwave (they didn't); added a cup of water and stuck in the 'mike' for 8 minutes. It worked out beautifully! Did I have any suggestions on what she could now knit with this reclaimed acrylic?
She then purchased one of my books and, finally able to speak, I asked her if she subscribed to the magazine. She, very politely, told me that she had seen a copy or two and didn't like it as there was nothing in it that was of any use to her.
After she walked away, I realized I hadn't found out whether the recycled yarn was still triple stranded or not.
Oh, by the way, the topic of my speech was 'The benefits of working with natural fibres.'

Friday, May 10, 2019

even i had my doubts...

LBD, new neckline!
I mentioned re-making that EFK from a pre-knit project that I didn’t like. To get myself in the proper frame of mind, I did redo my LBD. I took some photos but as you may know, black does not show up well but it was a very successful, relatively easy project and I now have a new LBD! (happy, happy!)

knotted yarn
With that under my belt, I bravely jumped into undoing the silver-gray Wool Crepe Deluxe. Now, don’t get me wrong – the ONLY reason I’m re-knitting this used yarn is because it is very expensive and rather than trash the whole thing, I’m opting for this salvage operation.
hole appears -yarn break
Re-using yarn that was knit in stockinette is one thing, but if it was knit in tuck or lace, and blocked or pressed, there is likely to be thin, possibly damaged spots in the yarn so this is not something to attempt if you’re short on patience and it’s not exactly foolproof. I’m offering a few tips to help you out if you need to do this. And, planning to re-knit in pattern is just asking for more issues so be sure of your skills!
Rewinding/unravelling yarn – put a little pressure on it to stretch the yarn out as you’re winding, to sort of straighten the yarn, (don't worry about the kinks, they will press out after the piece is knit) but also if there’s a weak spot in the yarn, you’ll want it to break now rather than halfway across the row as you’re knitting. If it does break while winding, I just tie a granny knot, leaving about an inch and a half ends, and then deal with it after the row is knit. I let the knot knit through and then un-pick the couple of stitches where the tails of the knot knit in, fix up those stitches, omitting the tails and then darn in those ends after.
Front and Back, fresh off machine
Knit slowly! Trust me! The yarn is likely to break somewhere and if youre moving slowly there’s a chance you can save the piece before it all drops off…like here (above), where it knit fine across the row and then the yarn broke and opened out. I was able to rehang the dropped stitches, rip back five rows, reprogram and re-knit again.
Pressed Back and Front
If you’ve stopped or paused, maybe to increase or decrease, pull up on the yarn at the beginning of the row so the kinky part doesn’t get caught in the brushes and cause a loop at the side or worse…
I knit the Back with the pre-used yarn and had enough un-used yarn to make the Front. This photo (above) shows each piece as it looked coming off the machine, no pressing on either piece. I’ll admit, the Back did look like a nightmare!
This photo (at left) shows the two pieces after pressing to size, shoulder line joined, and Sleeve made with pre-knit yarn.

Monday, May 6, 2019

when good gets better...

The new and improved pump spray for ‘s Super Industrial Yarn Spray!

I forgot to tell you – when we were driving to Pigeon Forge, TN, back in March, I realized that a small detour would take us to Mike Becker’s shop in Aurora, Indiana. I had never been so called Mike to make sure he’d be there and made an appointment to stop by. It was fun, should have got a photo but didn’t think about it until we were back on the road. But anyway, we had a great visit, caught up on the news and as we went to leave, Mike said he had a gift for me. I felt a bit bad because I had nothing for him but quickly got over that feeling when he gave me a new bottle of his SIYS - I was so excited to see that it has a new pump button instead of the pistol grip trigger one. I could hardly wait to get home to try it out.
Finally got around to it last week ;-), made a pair of socks for nephew’s birthday – I use the yarn spray on the 2X2 ribbed section where you are grading the tension tighter to make sure the ankle fits snuggly, and this makes it knit like warm butter. Oh man, that little press-down button makes such a difference – it’s so easy to use, I love it – thanks Mike!


Tuesday, April 23, 2019


The Waynesboro, PA thing was great – I came home on a big high! Everyone was so nice, and we had a lot of fun! Thanks to Susan and Elizabeth, the shop owners at The Knitting Cottage, for bringing me there and thanks to all who came! It was great to see some faces from the past and it was awesome to see so many younger, newer knitters! Paula took great care of me and her husband gets special mention – now, I think I have everything! Look at this! It’s a toilet paper roll holder for ravel cord! OMG! It sits on your table; you just grab the end and it just reels off! Hope you’re green with envy!
Spring is here, the snow’s gone and I’m having a hard time getting into the knitting rhythm so thought a list might help…
My friend Vickie heard about my Juxtapose hoodies and she wants one with just the small stripes on the sleeves and hood, with solid colour body – I’ve knit for her before so it’s ok, I can do that but what do I have in Bonita? That hot pink colour that she likes but do I have enough navy for the stripes? Will that ivory look ok or maybe the light blue? Oh gosh, I may have to swatch a bit…I did drop by the fabric store to check out zippers and they have plastic-tooth separating in the pink…
UFO cold shoulder
The Waynesboro people liked my E Fisher Knockoff and want the pattern so I could work on that. I have a UFO of light gray WCD that I could re-use. I only have dark colours and don’t want to waste good stuff on another prototype. The reason this is a UFO, I think, is the colour. I could always over-dye it...I was making that cold shoulder top on the standard gauge, like the one I made for Rhiana, Hers was Yeomans Panama and I had decided to try it in the gray WCD. Had made it for myself previously in a marsh print WCD, loved it and wore it a lot. People wanted the pattern. Had it almost done in my size and hated it. Hence the UFO. This could be a teaching moment - how to knit with used WCD…
Well, before I get to that, maybe I’ll practise on something else. Before going to PA, I tried on my LBD from Knitwords #52. Haven’t had much opportunity to wear it and I thought I might put it on with Becca but I don’t like the neckline now, so didn’t take it with me. I’m thinking maybe give that a revamp. Rip it back to the underarm and reknit with a higher, closer-fitting jewel neckline…

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

odds 'n ends...

Got the E Fisher Knock-off done, washed and dried and it fits! Funny thing, I made a new swatch after the fact! Ha! you say! What good is that? The first one with the old 580 carriage read 26 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm. With the 840 carriage (same stitch dial number, same overhead tension, same weights) it says 26 sts and 56 rows to 10 cm! Let it rest overnight and it was the same as the first one. The pieces looked big when I steamed them  (they always do before it gets a chance to relax), fresh off the machine, and it was a little big after the putting together because I couldn't wait. Washed and tossed in dryer for 15 minutes - it was perfect, no steaming necessary! Love the shape of it and the way sideways knitting and the one-row-tuck patterning controlled the colour distribution of this 'variegated' yarn.
The point of making the second swatch was to have a baseline for future use.
Now I have something brand new to take to Waynesboro, PA for this weekend!
This really was a super-quick project, virtually no finishing - I'll have to make another in a solid, light colour when I come back and explain a few more of the details. 
Before that project, while I was still pondering the fact the lace carriage still worked, I dashed off a couple of pockets for Uptown. Used my ‘patch pocket with chained edge method’, washed and dried them several times, just tossing them in with my vacation laundry loads, pressing them in-between to add some wear and patina. Pinned the pockets in place and tried it on. Because I couldn’t get the placement with matching the pattern, angled them slightly – works for me! Stitched them in place with the sewing machine.
Finished off the second Juxtapose Hoodie – switched back to the 580 carriage just in case – just needs a wash before sewing in the zipper.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

new-to-me machine...

You might have been able to read between the lines and see that I was in a pickle – my beloved SK580 that I purchased brand new back in 1989 – yeah, like 30 years ago! and it has like the equivalent of a hundred thousand million miles on it, gave up the ghost. Tried everything I could think of but, finally, reality sucks! What to do? what to do? I could just continue knitting stockinette and stripes and the lace carriage still works but I will really miss that one-row-tuck technique that I used for the E Fisher knockoff and for many other lightweight garments.
Made some calls and there is no cheap fix, but long-story short, finally settled on a used SK840 which is the same machine as mine, without the built-in electronics. I thought what that means is I have to go back to knitting with DesignaKnit for patterning, I think and, that means purchasing a new cable…
I’ll be honest here. Before I left, in one last attempt to figure out what was wrong, I actually knit a swatch (you hear that, I did make a swatch!) for my own E Fisher knockoff (Wool Crepe Deluxe in Tacoma – love the fabric and the colours, sort of camo-ish), everything worked fine. I made the sleeves (no longstitch, just main bed patterning), everything worked fine. When I set up to knit the Back, and engaged the rib bed, nada! Tried that several times, ate half a jar of peanut butter. Changed up and was going to use different edgings that did not require the rib bed. Several more attempts, the rest of the PB, and had to face the fact the carriage was dead.
Back to yesterday and I have this ‘new’ machine. My mind is telling me that the 840 carriage will work on my old 580 bed but I can’t find anything in print that says that. I reasoned that the LC580 lace carriage works on both beds so why would the knit carriages not be interchangeable.

Plug your nose and jump in! That’s what I did. Rather than take the time to dismantle the whole 580, I just took the ‘new’ carriage, plugged it into the 580 bed and began knitting! It worked! OMGG! Got both the Back and Front made, no problem! I had briefly considered making a new swatch but in the excitement, tossed caution to the wind! As I was putting the pieces altogether, it did seem a tad bigger than I thought but oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained…it’s knitting in pattern! So happy!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

mileage thoughts...

There was a lot of driving/riding…It’s like 1500 miles, one way to Pigeon Forge and although manfriend did the driving, I feel like I did but worse, if you know what I mean. That’s a lot of thinking time! So many things and ideas, like why didn’t I ever try putting a longstitch self-facing for the sloped edge of a pouch pocket? Will the carriage from the SK840 work on the SK580 needle bed? I need pockets on that Uptown long duster. Will the patch pocket technique work for lace? Will the dye-lot show? Oh wait, it was never dye-lot-ed…will that make a difference? The age of the yarn, the number of times the original had been laundered? Where it’s been pressed/ironed? Why do some drivers think they own the left lane? Oh gosh, I never told them about angling the latch tool to get a larger stitch for that chained edge…should I sew up the vent at the bottom of the sleeves on the Juxtapose Hoodie?
Big thanks to the Tennessee Valley Machine Knitters! The venue was great; attendance was superb (they came from all over); lots of great questions and feed back! Becky, the AV lady was fabulous; shout out to Eloise, my timekeeper, and Sonia for taking care of my sales; to Margy and the rest of the TVMK organizers, thanks to all! The food and the weather, pretty awesome but it’s great to be home!