Saturday, July 30, 2011

pet peeves...

Doncha just hate it when you make a swatch with some lovely natural fibre but you’ve used an acrylic/nylon for the waste yarn and when you go to press/iron (one of the real reasons why I use said fibre) the freakin’ acrylic marker row melts onto the iron!  *#?&%*
Visible gum chewers - at a seminar - think about it - do you chew with your mouth open, gum snapping and popping and the occasional spit ball escaping? How attractive is that? I get a headache just watching you - and you’re sitting right in front, apparently hanging on every word I say and I’m trying not to stare at you, hoping you don’t choke, and still trying to concentrate on staying on topic!! arrgh!!!
Working with a variegated yarn that is supposed to be dye-lot-ed and every piece looks different....
Making something when you have 2 - 500g cones of the same colour, same dye lot and you only need like 50g of the second cone - what are you going to do with that leftover 450g???
Attempting to make something out of the 450g cone and you run out on the last sleeve - bummer!!!
People who email with a question and then don’t even acknowledge the answer, never mind say thank you....
People who email with a stupid question with not enough information for me to answer... and then wait 5 days to reply to me and don’t include the first part of the question....
Trying to be politically correct- yeah, I know, you’re laughing at that one!!!
Those automatic checkouts at the grocery store....
Shade cards/colours of yarns on websites - how useless!
Underarm deodorant that promises to be invisible - yeah, right - and then it doesn’t even do the first job properly!
People who re-use waste yarn! what the heck is that all about? I know you have more yarn than you can ever possibly use in any way...
People who call me Mary...
People who don't really get me....

Monday, July 25, 2011

what's in a number?

When I’m at a seminar, I usually advise people to purchase a new needle number strip for their machine - well, actually I tell them that I use a strip from a punch card machine - why? because I find it easier to position my stitch patterns on the machine from the punch card strip. On electronic machines, they just give you the centre and then count the 10’s out to the edges. It’s like you’re supposed to know everything. And I guess the real reason for this is that on an electronic machine, the stitch repeat can be virtually any number and it can be positioned to start anywhere you want. On a 24-st punch card machine the 24 stitch repeat is set across the needle bed, centring the 24 stitches at zero, between 12 left and 12 right and it cannot be changed. On punch card machines, the needle strip has not only the 24-st repeats laid out across the needle bed, but the halves are marked as well, so, you can very easily see where the pattern match will be at the edges or at the centre and you can decide to add a few extra stitches (or less) to make that match. It also has a nice little inverted vee above #21 on each side to remind you when making a tension swatch that’s the needle to hang the yarn mark on! It doesn’t get much better!!
The past few things I’ve made on my electronic Silver Reed, I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to put things and I realized that the ‘0’ is worn off my top strip - looking a little closer, the strip on the ribber is in tatters!! It’s not that important, but it would be nice to have an even edge on it!!
I changed mine - what a treat!
Make sure to get the proper one for your brand of machine - they differ slightly between Silver Reed and Brother - although they are interchangeable and you could use either one and it wouldn’t really matter, if you’re used to the Brother strip, the number is in a slightly different position from Silver Reed as the SR number is on the outside of the needle (away from zero) and on Brother, the number  is 2 digits, one on either side of the needle. The Brother 970 has yellow on one side and green on the other and I’ve always had a hard time reading the yellow numbers especially. As you can see, the  Silver Reed punch card strip is in this nice bright red - so easy to see! In the photo below, the red strip is for the main bed - the diamonds indicate the 24-st widths; the ‘X’ is the half pattern. Another really cool feature of this strip - you won't be able to see it here (if you click on the top photo to enlarge it, you might be able to see the space), but the outside edge is clear so it makes a line where the white starts that is about 1/8 inch from the edge and that gives me a spot that when I'm manually knitting a loose row, I pull the end of the needle back past to measure the size of stitch... The grey number strip is the electronic one and just fine for the ribber - you never really count stitches on the ribber anyway. You be the judge which one you want.
One last tip: put a tiny dab of glue under the strip at each end  and one in the centre to hold it in place, making sure you have it centred first, of course!! And I don't have to tell you to let it dry before using...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

ideas, ideas...

I just caught the tail end of an episode of ‘The Closer’ - I like the show - never seem to catch the whole thing though - not sure when it’s on - I think she wears some weird stuff sometimes... too fancy and fussy for me and I’m not sure it really suits her profession or her personality... but in the final scene, she was talking to her mom and she was wearing an awesome sweater!!! It was camel-coloured, and soft looking, like it was cashmere or at least a fine alpaca...and the stitch pattern was a fashion lace design - very pretty! It had snug-fitting, long, set-in sleeves and a shawl collar, (I love shawl collars!!) but the collar was made of the same fabric/stitch pattern as the rest of the sweater - quite unusual - mostly a collar on a sweater like that would be a ribbed thing, worked horizontal, but this was knit my gears spinning...stay tuned! I told you, I’m on a lace kick!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The perfect black cardigan! the ultimate in knitting, right up there with that LBD thing. My LSA in black is pretty perfect (Sep 6/09 - what's happening) - I love the yarn - wool crepe deluxe from Silk City Fibers in 002, jet black - and the style, but you can never have too many of a good thing, so, my quest for the ubiquitous black cardigan persists and now that I have the perfect black yarn...
In the past, I avoided knitting with black - when making something for a pattern and publication, there is no point in using black because the detail does not show up in photos. So, I knit in other colours simply for the need for detail in photography. The thing about a black garment - you want it to stay black and, many yarns, especially with a cotton content, will become charcoal or
gray-ish, no matter how careful you launder them.
Looking at past patterns I would have liked to have in black - I’m on a lace kick right now and the cover garment of No 20, Spring 2002 - wow! my notes say I made that one on Nov 22/01...Anyway, that garment was knit in a mauve shade of sable crepe and I was doing a plus-sized series, so that particular ‘Lacy Twin’ was made for someone else. I did re-knit it at the time, in the black sable crepe in my size and loved it the first time I wore it. The love affair was short-lived...the thing about acrylic, that one did stay black, but it also became fuzzy...and fuzzier and was soon relegated to the back of my closet - not sure why I even kept it (probably to remind myself never to use that again!).
So here I am, today, knitting a black lace piece on the standard gauge electronic and then changing it up with a stockinette piece on the LK150 - really what I should be concentrating on - my next project for Knit’nStyle... the yarn is ‘Boboli’ from Berroco, so colourful!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Knit’nStyle #175 is out!! The new issue is on their website and again, I’m happy! My design, ‘Lacey Blues’ (well, actually, they changed it - I called it ‘Lacy Blues’) looks great. Of course, I’ll have to wait to see the actual magazine in print, which should be on the local newsstand pretty soon, before I’m totally satisfied. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Tonas Pima Silk, a cotton and silk blend, DK weight that knit beautifully and had a very pretty bluesy colourway. The yarn was in 100g hanks, which is great - less ends to deal with and I like that! I loved the feel of the finished fabric - adding silk to cotton is a really good mix because the silk is less heavy than cotton and it makes a lighter garment than pure cotton.
The accompanying article on manual lace patterning has some great tips for following the charts and what to do to make the edges and seaming go well with lace patterning but I had more to say than they had space for so I’m throwing it in here!
Just a short note on that Every Other Needle Hem - to make sure you are hanging the right stitches to the correct needles, start a little bit over from the right and say, on the fourth loop - pull the bottom edge down and follow the hole up to the correct needle, hang that one and then back track to the right - you don’t want to be out even one stitch because that will make the hem hang crooked. So, the loop you’re picking up should go on the stitch/needle directly above the hole/empty needle of the picot. Hope that helps!

Friday, July 8, 2011

a true oxymoron?

Now, seriously! is it 'ravel' or 'unravel'? 'ladder' or 'un-ladder'?
I’m working on my article on cables for Knit'nStyle - this will be in #176, Dec 2011 - I’ve made an cute cuddly cabled cardigan using some absolutely awesome alpaca from The Alpaca Yarn Company ( - they will actually cone up your order for you!!! no ends - get it? How good is that? Anyway, I made the garment, wrote the pattern and now am trying to finish up the accompanying article - making a bunch of swatches to show different cables on the LK150, of course, and mulling it over in my mind - sometimes it’s good to do a little research...I go on the ‘net and check out ravel and unravel - it doesn’t seem to be clear - you’d think one would be the opposite of the other, but not really. I decided 'unravel' must be an oxymoron - usually it takes two words to make a true oxymoron, but, checking the list, ‘unravel’ is not there - no knitters were on the selection committee - but, ‘unthaw’ is! So, even though ‘un-ladder’ and ‘ladder’, ‘ravel’ and unravel’ are almost exactly the same, I’m clearly confused. In my unbiased opinion (it’s really an educated guess) it’s the same difference and my only choice is to make a deliberate mistake, act natural and rephrase.
Some of my favourite oxymorons:
- ribbed stockinette
- stockinette rib
- natural synthetic
- loose knot
- user friendly
- one size fits all - ha!
You can probably tell I'm wasting time....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

you'll love this

I do! Rhiana, my granddaughter, is such a cutie! and a real little clothes-horse! I showed her this new cardi and she begged to put it on immediately - even though summer finally arrived and it’s pretty warm here (and the buttons are not on yet)!
This is a version of the coat/dress (see May 17/11 - Previews) that I made for myself to wear in Portland. I did another adult version - long sleeved, tunic length - that will be part of the fall ‘serial stuff’ and I thought it would be a great ‘school’ cardigan for Rhiana - she’s going to JK in the fall - wow, where did that time go??? Anyway, I also thought it would make a great trial pattern for knitters who are new to tuck ribs - it’s actually a pretty quick knit, with tons of techniques, to get you up to speed with your double bed and a slew of putting-together-on-the-machine stuff - I’m writing up the girl pattern in 3 sizes (4, 6 and 8 yrs) and it will be a free-bee along with the adult version. Mine is done with Yeoman Yarns Panama in green/khaki (name pending - Green Geezer; Shrek-ed Out; Green Is Not Just For Ogers).
I do like the idea of using the child-size pattern to get you ready for the adult version - it is a little stripped down to ease you into the full-blown techniques of the ladies’ cardi and besides the tuck rib thing, topics include seaming purl side fabrics, both by hand and on the machine; tubular band with vertical buttonholes, attached on the machine (you’ll be amazed); tips on making one cone of yarn go farther and using leftovers; and more...
We had a movie night - Shrek the Third - it was a winner!
PS - this is my 100th blog-posting!! more fireworks, please!