Friday, August 27, 2010

Dream Coat Notes - day 1

I’ve settled on a wide rib - 7 stitches for the main bed rib is more conducive to a variety of hand transferred lace and cable stitch patterns than an even number would be, especially for the lace.
So, actually the needle arrangement on my main bed is 7 working, 5 not and with half pitch (H-5), the rib bed is 6 working, 6 not - it makes sense to me.
Now because of the 7/5 on the main bed, and to have 3or 4 needles in work at sides on main bed for seaming, I like to even it out by beginning with an even-number-stitch rib at the very centre (6 sts, 3-0-3 n’s) so the same needle numbers will be in work at each side - the ribs will then match at the shoulder without having to worry about using an uneven number of needles and then remembering to flip the needle arrangement used on the back for the front.
This way, I think it is easier to check that you have the correct needle arrangement and not one skinny or one wide rib somewhere randomly - putting it in the centre (not shown in my swatch) will not be noticeable and for the front where the piece is divided, it gives you the same number, even stitches for each centre front edge.
To lay out the needle arrangement, I begin by bringing 3-0-3 n’s on MB to work. Then, working to right, 5 out, 7 in, 5 out, 7 in to edge - the width of your garment may be decided by where you can end with 4 in work - in my case, I want the width at the bottom to be 30 to 32 cm, so I’m either stopping at #84 or pulling another 12 n’s (96) to end with the 4 in work again. Another way to do this would be to simply add the 4 needles in work at the outside edge for the width you want, regardless of the needle arrangement but I like the look of my way because I am shaping the sides - A-line-ish.
I want to have a no-hem look, just use the manual wrap cast-on, but over this needle arrangement, it could be tricky, so I’m going to cast on with waste yarn (WY) and ravel cord before using the main yarn for the wrap - this way, I can hang the comb and weights in the waste yarn without worrying that the wire/comb will damage the yarn in the cast-on row, making sure everything is working before getting to the real deal. I am not going to hand wrap the WY (too much unnecessary work) and if I cast on full needle rib, there’s too much transferring up and down and making up new stitches and then worrying about the needle arrangement being correct again - Here’s the trick - after setting up my needle arrangement, I rack the rib bed (RB) until the needles on RB line up with the in-work ones on main bed (MB), to get a zigzag row....H-11 does it. Now bring up one needle on the RB at the left of each group of in-work needles and at each end look at what needs to be brought into work for the ends. WY, T5/5, K1R. Hang the comb and 1 weight. K1R. (this sounds ugly and clacky while you’re doing it because of the wide space of needles out of work - not to panic!) Rack one space to H-10. K1R. Begin getting rid of the extra unwanted needles at the ends by transferring the sts back up or down after each row. By the time you’re back to H5, it begins to sound better and you should just need to transfer that one extra ribber needle of each group to be at the correct arrangement. Check it a second time, add extra weights to balance everything out and end with the carriage at left. Knit the ravel cord ending at right. Bring all the n’s out, manual wrap with the main yarn and Bob’s your Uncle!!
If you want a review of this cast-on and decrease method, see Ribber Rules 5 & ‘Just Ribbing’ in in KNITWORDS No 50.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

reading is still mandatory

One of the most repeated comments from your letters and emails from the past 2 months is that you’ll miss reading my editorial - I always hesitated to call them editorials because I felt like it was just my opportunity to say whatever - some think of it more as a rant.... One of the most commented ‘editorials’ and my personal favourite, appeared in No 17, Spring 2001. I felt it was appropriate to let it go again - here it is:

WARNING: the editor wishes to advise that failure to read the entire contents of this magazine, from cover to cover, including all advertisements, patterns and articles will result in the suspension of your subscription. Skimming will not be tolerated. No just looking at the pictures!

I was recently doing a two day workshop, where I have a captive audience and they have to listen to only me for the duration. I really like doing this type of seminar because it gives me a chance to show off and entertain and generally have fun. I usually show a few garments, talk about them and the features and then knit a bit and demonstrate some of the techniques. I try to mix it up so no one gets too bored or boggled or whatever. Anyway, at this particular show, during the coffee break on the second morning, one of the participants comes up to me and said she had some 'constructive criticism' for me. Sometimes I don't take this very well, but she doesn't know that yet. Caught off guard at the word 'criticism', I struggle to remain calm and try to appear interested and open to what she has to say. She tells me there is a big problem with the magazine and I need to let people know they have to read it. I am sort of puzzled. You mean, the readers aren't really reading, they are only skimming or worse, just looking at the pictures? Yes, it seems she herself is guilty of this. For example, I had just held up a nice turtleneck done on the double bed and explained all the techniques in the garment and another knitter, writing furiously, wasn't keeping up with what I was saying. I told her not to worry, it was all written in the pattern already. Well, apparently they didn't know the patterns were full of tips, techniques and generally great stuff. Now the 'cc' lady is explaining the reason she just looked at the picture and flipped the page, was this particular garment was sleeveless and she would never be knitting anything without sleeves and had therefore missed all the good stuff in the pattern. By this time several others have joined in and are nodding; they too have been guilty of the same thing. Now, how can I possibly save this situation? They are telling me that I have failed to tell them they need to read the magazine. It puts me in mind of the warning labels on certain products and of the concessions made to handicapped people. I know, we'll offer the magazine on audio cassette, for the visually impaired, taped in the voice of either Truman Capote or HG Wells. This will be a limited time offer, redeemable for 246 bar-coded labels from your favourite natural fibre coned yarn, along with a dead sponge bar and six broken needles from your least-used knitting machine.
Now, seriously folks, it's also come to my attention that you didn't know about our webpage or the fact that all the stitch patterns from each issue are available for the current issue for free download in Designaknit format and have been since issue 12. HEL-LO! it's me, Mary Anne...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things I'm doing...

I am working on a cardigan/jacket out of BT Yarns Zephyr Marl (guess I’d better get in the program and start calling it ‘Knit It Now’) - I did sort of promise Sue J that I’d have a new garment for her to wear at the Inspiration 2010 seminar in Cleveland in September - that’s the trouble with doing something - you do it a second time and it becomes a tradition ;-)) (I’ve made her things before - in ‘08, we had matching skirts - Tiers of Joy & Just the Flax, a linen cardigan - both were in No 47 and in ‘09 she got ‘Frill Ride’ No 52 & ‘Same But Different, No 51).
But I’m making mine first - that way I can iron out all the kinks, if any, before I get to hers...actually, by making mine first, I know I'll have one anyway - sounds like a good plan to me...
So, this one is a take-off on a ‘designer’ garment that I saw in Macy’s in the spring - it was knit in plain stockinette, straight, low-hip length cardigan, short sleeve with a front piece that sort of acted like a shawl collar - my friend and I both tried it on in our sizes, but strangely, it didn’t fit either of us over the shoulders and arms properly, no matter which size we put on. What was nice? It was beautifully finished and made with a lightweight linen yarn that had a lovely drape.
I figured Sue’s Zephyr Marl, being a fine linen/rayon would make a good substitute. If this were just recreational knitting, I could make it in stockinette on my fine gauge machine, but not many people have that machine, so, with pattern writing in mind, to get the extra width needed, I’m using what I call a one-row-tuck (1RT) stitch pattern - I like 1RT because it adds a nice texture - on the knit side it looks almost like a garter carriage design but flatter and more subtle, while on the purl side the design is more distinct with a lacy touch. 1RT is much more fun to knit than plain stockinette with the added benefit of the tuck stitch creating a wider fabric than stockinette would. At T6, my gauge is 30 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm/4 in, while stockinette at T5 produced a gauge of 34 sts/10cm, making a pretty narrow fabric and limiting the size range. I did an article and 3 garments using One-row-tuck in No 50 if you want to go back and check it out and learn more. It also stops fabrics from biassing and doesn’t look as blistery, bubbly, baby-blanketish as regular tuck.
You know, Zephyr Marl is on sale right now - check it out at
And, you know, I really doing this to stop myself from obsessing about the dream coat, but I've made more swatches - more about that later!
Nathan & Rhiana are coming for a sleepover at Grama's - got to tidy up my sewing room - for some reason, they think it's their bedroom...where do kids get these ideas?
You know, I forgot all about it being Friday the 13th...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

past, present & future

Last night I had THE most weird dream - so strange, I felt like it was really real...I woke up remembering all these details and they’ve been running through my mind all day and won’t go away!! Maybe if I tell you, it’ll disappear and not turn into a fixation.
It started when an old customer - well, I mean she wasn’t old, just I haven’t seen her in years - anyway, she had bought a knitting machine from me with the idea to design her own line of clothing - she was a handknitter and had seen me at a local fall fair, somewhere in the early 90's. She was very talented and artistic and came to her second lesson with a completed kid’s garment - wow!! I was blown away then and always impressed with what she did, but she’d moved away and I haven’t heard from her in probably 15 years, so why did I dream about her??
So, she has a problem with her knitting machine and brings it to my shop (that I had at the time) and I mean, brings it to me - still set up with the ribber and all and half her garment hanging off the machine - just dumps it down and yells, ‘fix this thing!’ I look at the knitting and I'm totally amazed at what she's creating... it’s wide rib with little random cables and hand transferred lace stitches, tons of stuff happening - the whole piece just enthrals me but I'm trying to pretend like I don't really notice - I can’t believe the time she must be spending to make this when she usually does fairisles with like about 19 colours with maybe a little intarsia motif - you know, usually you’re either a texture person or a colour person, not both - she tells me it’s the ‘city style’ that all the girls are crazy for right now - I don’t know what she means but turns out that’s the length of it, just above the knee, so I'm thinking 'Tumbleweed' from No 53 - she’s using a silk wool yarn that I’ve made a couple of things with (but not back then) but have since found it pills like crazy and I won’t use it ever again. And in the back of my mind I’m saying to myself, I’d try something like a denim cotton and, while she’s still there, I realize I’m planning to steal her design!! huh?? what’s that all about? yeah, and I looked like I did back then and of course, so did she because I don't know what she looks like now - crazy, right?
She eventually leaves with her machine - I’m not sure if I ever fixed it or not - and I wake up - now, I’ve got this design playing over and over in my head - it’s like an indecent obsession - okay, I’ll admit it, I do have 2 cones of a discontinued denim cotton I’ve been saving for something special and heck, with no deadlines anymore, what’s to stop me from just playing around with this....and I could use it for that ribber class at Inspiration 2010 in Cleveland in September.
You know, maybe it’s the weather - maybe it’s heat stroke or something...did I mention we’re actually having a REAL summer - days on end of 90F plus - usually, here in Thunder Bay, we say that this year, summer was on Tuesday...
My swatches are amazing!!!