Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sock it to me!

I made 7 pairs of socks yesterday!! I started off just with the idea of being somewhat productive – getting rid of a bunch of leftovers and filling in a few spots on my Christmas list.
Anyway, a few years ago, I had rashly dipped into my sock yarn stash to make ‘Two Left Feet’ and used up about 25g of yarn from several ‘sets’ of socks – just to clarify, sock yarn is usually 50g balls and you need two balls for a regular pair of socks. Some sock yarn is put up in 100g balls – very nice, makes sense to me because if you need 100g for a pair, that’s how it should come, but you can suffer a bit of sticker shock at the cash register. Let me explain –  my sock yarn stash came about from when I would travel and people would take me to their LYS and introduce me to the shop owner, I felt compelled to purchase something and it was an easy way out to just pick up 2 balls of sock yarn – let’s face it, I’m a machine knitter and I’d rather buy machine knitting yarns on cones, but you know, when in Rome…so, here I am in Cocoa Beach this one time and I picked up a couple of balls of ‘Tofutsie’ – without reading or checking the label of course, never mind a price tag, it just looked pretty. At the cash register, expecting this purchase to be less than $20,  when the clerk said, ‘that will be $40’, I almost choked, but to save face, I dug out the cash, thinking what the? When I got home, I realized they were 100g balls and had a list of specialty ingredients, so, no wonder it was so pricey. Socks? to heck with that - for that money, I needed something more!
I decided to see if I could make a summer sweater out of the 2 balls – yes, I could! See Knitwords No 49, ‘TuttiFrutti’.
Now, somewhere along the line, I ended up with 2 more ‘odd’ balls of Tofutsie, one in a pink/grey and the other grey/ivory/black. This is nice stuff and the grey\ivory\black made up beautifully – I made a shorter-cuff version like the summer socks (June 2011) I did last year ( I never did give them to Barbara) and figured I could get TWO PAIRS from one 100g ball with a little mix and match. The first pair has 20 rows of the 2X2 rib and the second pair has 40 rows of rib matching the pink/grey. I had my little postal weigh scale nearby and kept weighing the finished sock and the remaining ball to see how far and what size I could get out of my leftovers. By the end, 52g to 68g of the regular sock yarn, like ‘Regia Cotton’, ‘Schoeller and Stahl Socka Color’ or ‘Regia 4 Jacquard’ will make a pair of 7.5 to 9.5 ladies with 40 rows of cuff.
My circular sock pattern is on my website under FREEBIES – as a free pdf – I call them ‘Warmup Socks’ because I used to make a pair as a warm-up for me on the ribber before tackling a ribber project if I hadn’t done any ribber stuff for a while!
PS - If you put ‘socks’ into the SEARCH at the top of the page, it will bring up a lot of these references, plus others! Just for fun, I put ‘warm’ into the SEARCH – it was fun!!
PPS – I was going to continue and make 2 more pairs today, but my shoulders are killing me!! Back to baking…

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Light bulb moment

I’m working on my next Knit’nStyle project. I have Berrroco Linsey, a ‘self-stripping’ DK yarn, a cotton/linen blend that looks real pretty in the skein - it’s a new colorway and there was nothing on their website to show me what it looked like knit up and there are no instructions as to how to use it or anything… It’s for the June/summer issue and I’m doing a summer cardigan with the body portion sideways knit and the yoke knit up and down, in an attempt to use the yarn to its best advantage and control the color placement. First thing I did was to wind the skeins into balls that are useable on the machine – I have an old cone winder that puts the yarn onto a small plastic cone so you can knit some and then take it off the machine without breaking the yarn and rewind it onto the same cone without having to go to the end of the ball…
Looking at the skein itself, there is no way to tell which end you should begin with, but once it’s on the cone you can tell by the outside colour – you have a 50/50 chance of getting the same colour to start…and of course, you can rewind from the outside to change it...notice that random blue one...
I started off knitting one entire ball, experimenting with stitch size to know what tension works best. Then I knit another full ball with my stitch pattern and actual tension swatch and felt like I knew what to expect from this yarn. There seems to be no repeat through the ball. So I made the body back (sideways), beginning with a ball that had red/pink on the outside and  miraculously, one ball took me to the centre of the back, ending with yellow. So, for the other side to match, I used the next ball beginning with yellow. I  got lucky and it looked good. 
Now, for the fronts to match, I thought I should plan a little more. I figured it would be reasonable to make each front from the centre to the side to get them to match. First side done, took about 1.5 hours with the patterning. Second side, reversing direction and flipping patterning, so they would match, another  hour and a half – the pattern matches but the colours don’t… Pick another cone that I’m sure will match the side I want to keep…it’s looking good – an hour and half later I have 2 matching left fronts…arrgghhh!!!
The light bulb goes on! Oh, gosh, golly, why didn’t I think of this before?  It only takes 10 minutes to knit the ball in stockinette same width as the piece I’m going to knit and I could tell if the colours are working out before having to put all the work into the patterning. Bang my head on the wall, knit each ball in stockinette and  pick the correct one for the next piece – get them all made and life’s good, I'll make that deadline  – somehow I don’t feel like Einstein though! Hope this saves you some time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Knit’nStyle #183 is out – I haven’t received my copy yet so I’m not sure how my garment faired in the photo shoot – I’ve only seen the snippet on their website. I shipped it off to them in late July, but I did get to re-make it in my size, to check the pattern, and because I liked it so much and I had enough of the same yarn which is luscious, BTW (Rowan felted tweed aran DK). We photo-ed  when I did my mini-shoot for the Fall Pattern of the Month.

The garment is A-line shaped. The fronts are sideways knit from centre front to side and the A-line is accomplished with shortrowing. The back is just a rectangle, knit from top to bottom so the ribbed shawl collar matches with the front edges. It is a bit of a different shape and I thought it was fun to make – looks like lots going on because it is made on the LK150 (as are all my KnS designs) so all the garter ridges, the cabling, and the ribs are all hand transferred. The weather here finally turned cooler (it’s inevitable, believe me) and I did design this as an outdoor weight jacket, so I was able to wear it a couple of times last week and got surprising compliments (all good) from non-knitters, noticing that it looked good and it looked unique!!  See ‘blame it on the weather’ Jul 20, ’12, for a close up swatch and some other fun details! 
I want to give a shout out to Michael Hale of Toronto, who's design in KNITWORDS No 48 was my inspiration for this garment - his was a large rectangle poncho that he had made on his tricked out Ultimate Sweater Machine - he had 2 machines put together along with a 30 needle extension kit, so his poncho was 228 stitches by 220 rows - I had always wanted to make a smaller, more fitted version.

Nipigon nylons...

Ever heard of them? Back in the day,  girls/women/ladies wore nylon stockings with a garter belt to hold them up – what a pain…anyway, pantyhose came out and we put that garter belt stuff behind us. Yeah, I know,  I’m showing my age, but it’s all good… The point is, the ‘nylons’ thing…during my high school days, I lived in a rural area and took the school bus. We were referred to as farmer kids or country bumpkins and as a real insult, on cold days, other kids would say things like, ‘oh, you wearing your Nipigon Nylons today?’ Nipigon is a small community about 100 km north of Thunder Bay and it was like the ultimate hick town and the NN’s were referring to old men’s work socks that were grey, ribbed, with a red stripe on the top and maybe a band of ivory between the stripes. Well, later, someone in Nipigon decided to lay claim to the fame of the socks and you can buy tee shirts with a NN slogan on it and I’m sure they  sell the socks too. It may be just a regional thing, but you can google it and see what they say…

So, back to boot cuffs - I do have this lovely ragg wool (like standard gauge weight, perfect for ribbed socks) on my shelf,  in several colours, red/ivory, black/ivory, plum/ivory and teal/ivory, but no grey…I wanted to make Nipigon Nylon boot cuffs. So, I do have a freebie sock pattern on my website – just use the cuff and put some stripes in it…It’s 2X2 rib in the 2X1 needle arrangement to make it nice and stretchy, you’ll need it bigger that the ankle cuff size, so I tried 50-0-50 n’s at T8/8, 70 rows total – I love ‘em and don’t they just look perfect with my red John Fluevog Operettas?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boot cuffs

Last week, my daughter-in-law asked me if I could make some legwarmers that weren’t really legwarmers, just the top of legwarmers... She had this idea that her new boots needed some dressing up and, a knitted, cable-y thing might just be what she wanted. I said sure, if you have any more info, send it to me and I’ll see what I can come up with.

Well, who knew? Call ‘em fake legwarmers, boot toppers, boot cuffs, whatever, they are all over the internet! I did a few googles and whatever, to see what they were all about and then sat down with her with some yarns and old swatches to see what she really had in mind. The swatches were mostly from some of my KnS projects because I thought she was looking for the mid gauge weight of yarn and she really liked the look of the ‘Cable Gal’ (#176 Dec 2011), colour, fibre, thickness and stitch.  We determined that she wanted to tuck the bottom portion into her boot and have 2-3 inches above, so I settled on planning it to be 13-14 inches in circumference and at least 6 inches long.
I got the first pair made and she loved them!! She has 2 pairs of boots and this set looked good with boots!

Then, in true MAO fashion, I went on to quickly dash off a few more sets, based on recent KnS designs.
On this pair, I used some of the cables from KnS #183 ( I just checked their website and it’s out – more on that later) 'Parallels' - the various cables are outlined with a tuck rib and the top/bottom is my version of a ‘cheater’ garter stitch for the knitting machine – the yarn is Wagtail 12 ply mohair/wool  from Australia that I had leftover from KW#39 – in true, lazy, machine-knitter manner, I wasn’t into making swatches first, I just used  my original tension and gauge and hoped for the best – after all, legs come in all sizes, they’ll fit someone!!

This combo is using Rowan felted aran tweed and the stitch pattern border from KnS #182, Dec ‘12 (Lace Medley tunic) – I thought they could be worn either way with the top folded down over the boot or just straight up to the knee, depending on how tall the boot is. I did decrease after the purls and eyelet rows (which creates a nice fold) so the inside part (just stockinette with a narrow band of 1X1 rib to stop it from curling) would be narrower than the top cuff part.

How’s that for recycling - the patterns, I mean…
Oh, I have an idea for the standard gauge…


It felt good...

Several weeks ago, my friend Cathy asked if I had any old sweaters that would be felt-able, that I would be willing to part with…well, of course, she knows that I’ve always loved natural fibres and if I hadn’t almost always used pure wool, no one would, right? Believe it or not, I had bins of sweaters! Her sister Janice, was into making felted mittens and  wondered if I had anything she could use. She had been making the rounds of local thrift shops, eagerly buying things and then, holding her breath as the washer stopped, hoping for shrunken treasures.
I sorted through stuff and found more than I could believe I still had. She came by today to show me what she’d done and to give me a finished pair. There were several for me to choose  from and the set that immediately caught my eye was one of my most favourite  fairisle designs from my ‘Casual Classics’ booklet back in 1995. Photo at right is Cathy modeling the original sweater.  The khaki and black, short-float geometric, called ‘squares and diamonds’, knit in Forsell’s Pure New 4 ply Wool, felted tightly and beautifully and formed the back and cuff of the mitten.  Janice paired it with pieces of two other solid coloured garments that I recognized as my work also. The inside of the mitts are lined with fleece, cozy and soft. A button on each cuff with a strap of recycled old-skirt-leather hold the pair together.
Nice job, Janice, thanks so much!  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Omega - is that another word for ohmigawd?

Here’s the thing…I’ve got my current KnS project almost completed on the LK150 – ‘almost’ being the operative word – it’s relative - the garment is almost complete (a gansey-style pullover for the April ’13 issue – more about this at another time, I promise), but the pattern writing is another story – 5 sizes and all those stitch charts, what was I thinking?…it’s due next week and I have to factor in postal time...I’ve got to finish up the pattern writing for the October POM (Rectangles, see last post) and add the last details to the techniques article for that one. And I was starting to feel the crunch of what the heck am I doing for the third garment for the Fall ’12 POM???
In the back of my mind, I want a hoodie – a nice one, mind you and I’ve got all sorts of conflicting things to think about and consider – what yarn to use? I want something special – what style? I’ve been favouring a raglan. Are people going to say, what, another hoodie (maybe that was just for kids)? But then I haven’t done one for the standard gauge for a while and not in the ‘Serial Stuff’ stuff…
While I was doing my Jillian workout this morning, it hit me (I had a hard time finishing up and to be honest, I blew through the cool-down--let me say, I’m doing my workout, staring at my shelves of yarn, between the huffing and puffing…)…
I’ve seen virtually everyone in town wearing a ‘Lululemon’ (google it if you have to) hoodie – I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t have one – on girls and women of all ages, and my friends tell me of people they know who have several – I’ve only looked at them on the ‘net – they start at $125 and I can’t justify that
You may know I do have this affinity for WCD (wool crepe deluxe) – a hoodie will take a considerable amount – most WCD  cones currently are in the 18-19 oz/550g range and I feel that is probably not enough (get real, MA, you KNOW it’s not enough!) and that's when it hit me – I have a bunch of part cones that aren’t enough for too much of anything – how many camis can I think I’ll need/knit? One of my pet peeves is a two-colour garment that looks like they ran out of yarn or were trying to use up leftovers, so I don’t want that effect and I’m not totally sold on the ‘new’ colour-blocking thing…
So,  I’m not trying to duplicate the ‘omega’ symbol that is the ‘Lululemon’ motif, but by making the raglan sleeve into a type of saddle-shoulder…well, you’ll just have to check back soon for developments!
I’m going to Germantown, WI  to do a one-day workshop on October 20 – OMG!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

breaking news...

Got finished with the final details of proofing and correcting the pattern for ‘ Two Way’ – if you’ve subscribed to the new POM (Pattern of the Month, if you haven’t been following me) I’ll be emailing the zip file of the pdfs & DAK stitch patterns before the end of the week.

Knit’nStyle has the newest issue, #182 on their website – check it out! My mid gauge pattern, Lace Medley is a tunic (see blog post June ’12) with border lace and motif patterns, hand-transferred, of course, because it’s done on the LK150 and my techniques article for that issue is dealing with seaming on the machine – hope you find it helpful!
Here’s the first preview of the next pattern for POM for October. I call it ‘Rectangles’ because the back and fronts are simply that - rectangles, so no shaping - most of the edges are finished as you go, with longstitch that knits automatically on the front side using a few stitches on the rib bed, while the main bed is knitting One-Row-Tuck. I think this is a really  quick knit, even though it looks like a lot of fabric! The finished garment is totally fun to wear – I made two versions – the ivory was the first one, made with Silk Bourette from Yeoman Yarns and could be called the  ‘budget’ style or the ‘tall-girl’ design and it has a collar. I loved it but wanted another one, a little shorter, a bit more casual-wearing, maybe with jeans or something simple – both of them look great over a dress – anyway, the green is Wool Crepe Deluxe and could be called the ‘upscale’ model – my girlfriends loved both of them! I’m working on the patterns, almost ready for proofing and there will be the usual 5 size range in the two lengths with tips for choosing yarns, combining length size with widths and different finishing techniques.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

good news...

I have a new standard gauge pattern-of-the-month.
The subscription means that you pay $25 in advance and then each month for the next 3 months (September, October, November) you will get the new pattern with the techniques article emailed to you in pdf format. The subscription can be purchased now and the first pattern will be emailed on the 15th of the month or whenever you subscribe. It’s easy to get it from our website, (go to www.knitwords.com - refresh your browser if it doesn’t come up right after the opening page). You can use Paypal OR visa or mastercard through Paypal.
If that doesn’t work for you, you can send a check/cheque or money order, along with the order form (found at the bottom of the bookstore/back issues page - click on the appropriate icon and print out the order form, make sure to provide your correct email address, and write in NEW POM, please).
The pattern for September is called Two Way, a lace, swing cardy (A-line) with single button (actually hiding the snap) front closing. The accompanying article has lots of tips and techniques for completing the project and for future reference on lace carriage knitting. I’ve made mine using Silk City Fibers Mini Dina 1049 - check out www.knititnow.com  - Tamm Diamante or Yeoman’s Panama could be used as a substitute.
Hope you like it and keep checking back here for more updates!

We are also having a big SALE at the KNITWORDS website - see the link above – Buy 3, get 3 – there is a special button to pay $30 for 6 (North American postage included in that price) and then you need to email me and tell me which issues you want – I also have some others that are not listed in the bookstore - #15, 25, 29, 31, 32, 33, and 34.
I have a full set, #1 to 53 – that were on my ‘wall of fame’ in my office that I am willing to part with – email me if you are interested in that!
And, my ‘rainbow’ books, the techniques books with the coloured covers are on special, buy 3, get 1 free for $75 – there is a paypal button for that deal and again you need to email me with your choices.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I really did finish that ‘antique lace’ cardigan – I finally got to wear it a few weeks back when I went out for dinner. It is really nice and I felt very feminine, comfortable, elegant and sophisticated all at the same time! It’s very lightweight and is really the perfect, warm weather cover-up – just what I was aiming for. When I did the sleeves, I was, at first going to do a short or elbow-length. After thinking about it, I decided that by making a 3/4 sleeve, I could still wear this  year round, especially for a holiday occasion and I’m glad I did.

I got my girlfriend to take some photos yesterday at our local Hillcrest Park, overlooking Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant (although I’ve probably cropped out evidence in these photos, but we also photo-ed two of the garments for the upcoming Fall 2012 POM – I’ll show those off later in the week and make sure to leave in some of  our local landscape!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

to clear my name...

Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and wondering how to handle it…still not sure, but I think I should say something…the October issue of Knit’nStyle (#181) is out and usually I try not to be too picky – you know, so long as they spell my name right, I don’t really take offense to too much else and even if they miss the ‘e’ off Ann occasionally, I’m not really upset. And the hyphen thing, I just have to look the other way…and sometimes when they hand-knit-ify something, I do grimace a bit.
But I gotta tell ya, I’ve NEVER used the term ‘bind off’. I know that’s a strong word – never- and I have learned that it can be shorter than you’d think so I use it rarely - never, I mean.  I must admit, I don’t always read word for word what they’ve done to my stuff ‘cuz it can make me crazy, but this time, it's hard to miss.
Let me explain…my techniques article in the current issue…oh, let me go back a bit further… I did start a new series of articles back in #178 which I titled W-5 (What? When? Where? Which? Why?) and explained that I would give three or four methods of some technique (the what), then explain when and where to use which one and why and/or why not. I guess they didn’t get my Canadian humour of the W5 thing and they left that out so the articles just ended up with sort of lame titles, like ‘single-bed machine cast on methods’ – oh wow!! That’s a real MAO title (heavy sarcasm)!
So, when I sent in this article (cast-off methods which they shanged to 'bind off methods for mking'), I never thought (there's that word again!) to make sure they didn’t change anything important – I don’t get a final proof copy and I only get to see it when I get my comp copy about 3 to 4 weeks after the subscribers. The reason I’m saying this now - I mostly use a rather specific CAST OFF method that is an important part of my finishing techniques and a very crucial part of a lot of the trims and edgings that I’ve developed. If this MAO-approved method of CHAIN CAST OFF is not used, I am not responsible for whether your trim or edging lays flat or not. I do describe it in each pattern – the last row must be knit loose enough so when those stitches are chained off, it does not restrict the width of the finished edge. Though I have given other methods in this article, here’s the important part and what it should have said:
Chain Cast off
With practice, this is the quickest method and produces the softest, least-bulk cast-off. Basically the final row is knit by the carriage, providing an even stitch size and those stitches are chained off to finish the piece. Knit last row at a much looser tension, 2 to 3 numbers higher (for mid gauge machines) than the main tension. This should give a loose enough row to chain off without making the cast-off row too tight. A looser row can be obtained by removing the yarn from the overhead tension, dialing the loosest stitch size and hand feeding the yarn for the final row. If the main knitting is at a large stitch size and there is not room for the carriage to make the looser row, hand knit the final row, bringing the needle butts back appropriately to achieve the required stitch size. After knitting the row, break the yarn. Push all needles out with the work behind the latches. Beginning at the side away from the tail, with the latch tool, grab the first stitch and remove from needle. Push this stitch behind the latch of the tool and pick up the second stitch from the next needle. Pull the second stitch through the stitch on the tool, casting off the first stitch. Pick up third stitch and pull through second stitch on tool. Repeat across row, being careful not to pull the work off before all stitches are chained off. At end, pull tail of yarn through last stitch to lock. The evenness and stretchiness of this cast off relies on the size of the last row which must be loose enough to prevent unnecessary restriction. It can be used in any application, providing the last row is made in a suitable size. The chain of the final row will lay on the knit side of the work. If it is necessary to unravel this, it is very quick to release last loop and rip out.

Friday, July 20, 2012

blame it on the weather?

It’s been too hot here for too long and I’m not used to that… Or do I just have too much time on my hands? Whatever… I have just finished my next KnS project for the third time…Third time? You say. Yeah, third time and I’m packaging it up right now and sending it off before I have time to change my mind again. Sheesh, this never used to happen. 
But I did learn a few things – the best way to make a buttonhole in a single layer fabric – you’ll see when the pattern comes out – I feel absolutely brilliant – no sewing, no pick-ups, no tails to darn in.
 – when you need to add a new ball of yarn, move the carriage to the other side and start it there so the tails are on opposite sides – if it’s a sleeve, this is like making yarn marks for aligning the seam (good stuff) and if it’s a cardigan front, having the tails at either side means weaving them in at either side instead of having two tails to get rid of in the same place.
I also learned that there is no point in trying to use the garter bar to make half a row of garter stitch – I won’t explain that because it’s just makes more work, trust me... and I learned there is no point trying to have straight hair in this weather…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Update (better late...)

Well, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth – actually I fell off my bike the other day, but that has nothing to do with this…
Guess I just didn’t have much to say – I have been knitting too!
I did finish the ‘Antique’ lace cardigan although it overlapped with my last KnS project. I did the split sleeve, buttoning it over the top of the arm and used another lace pattern – very open, lots of holes with the purl side as the outside. And no, it’s not going to be a pattern of the month – too much stuff happening to write that one up – it will be my own personal one-off. No photo yet, sorry.
For KnS #182 I did a hand-transferred lace tunic – I actually made a prototype for myself, experimenting as I went, of course, and then re-doing it for the magazine in the proper yarn. I used Forsell’s Touch of Silk DK for mine and then used Austermann Alpaca Silk DK in sienna for the magazine – it is a tunic/dress that I picture wearing with leggings or tights – I changed the length twice, re-designed the neckline twice – first had a cowl neck, decided it was too much, ripped it off and just made a roll neck – the mag version has a nice stockinette band finishing the neck - made the sleeves twice, again too much happening; re-designed them again for the magazine version – that one has cute little cap sleeves suitable for younger arms than mine. I was really pleased with both and it will be interesting to see how they photo/style the KnS one. It’s for the December issue which comes out in October I believe and we were supposed to have a bit of a holiday theme to the garment – I thought it would be a nice addition to a wintery wardrobe and have lots of possibilities for accessorizing for the holiday season. With the summer weather here now, it’s hard to imagine wearing either of them but it will be here soon enough!
Oh and KnS (Knit'nStyle in case you haven't been following) has renewed my contracts for another year – guess somebody likes me. And they've asked for small projects as well as the standard garment and article per issue, so, we'll (me and my LK) will be there!
Then I was rummaging through my stash and I found a big cone of cotton denim bouclĂ© that was from the Bonnie Triola Yarn days – I loved that stuff and in fact, made a long, lace skirt (it was in the Sassy Skirts, 2005) that I still wear – in fact, it’s my favourite travelling skirt – I usually wear it when I’m driving long distance – it’s totally comfortable, good for any weather and still looks good when you arrive – what more could you want? It has faded nicely, just like denim should. I debated what to make – another skirt, maybe knee length? Or a summer cardigan of lace – that won out and I love it!! This will be a POM for sure – just need to come up with a suitable yarn…that one was discontinued long ago…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

what’s in a name?

Just returned from the Denver seminar – Hi to all my new readers! We had a fun time and they put on a great potluck lunch - I always like seeing what people in different areas bring and I usually call out for some recipes – the desserts were awesome – Hey Ellen, I’m waiting for the blueberry/oatmeal recipe!

I almost finished up that ivory thing - without the sleeves – couldn’t decide what I wanted but thought I’d take it with me and bounce around a few ideas – they really liked it and while I was knitting, I tossed out a few names, like ‘meringue’ and ‘cream confection’ but they thought it looked like a vintage lace sampler so I’m now thinking ‘Vintage’ or ‘Antique’. I had a back-up plan in case the various shades of cream didn’t work – back in the day, when it was very hard to get a nude-coloured bra, I would soak a white one in strong tea, and it would come out a nice skin-tone but everyone agreed that all the shades were fine just the way they are.

I’ll do a elbow length sleeve with an open part at the top - maybe like ‘Lulu’ (No 43) or ‘Best Bib ‘n Tucker’ (No 46) or a combo of the two ideas – you see that on lots of things lately and I’ll experiment a bit first. I’ll make sure and post a final photo, wearing it, so you can see how light and airy it really is.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

confessions of a machineaholic....

I didn’t wanna be just a knitaholic – too generic! Anyway, you may not want to hear all this so, be warned, you can quit reading now if you’re easily bored.
So, I had this idea and as ideas go, remember it’s just thoughts, meaning I can go anywhere with it. I’m talking about that last sketch ('what's on deck' - Mar 30/12) I tossed out there, with the 7 ivory yarns. I swatched and swatched and then looked, rearranged and looked some more. I call that percolating…I had wide ribs in WCD (not loose enough); tried adding tucks on the main bed stitches (didn’t like what happened to the ribs); changed the ribs to longstitch (really not right and realized I didn’t like the texture of the WCD); switched to a thinner cotton yarn (Yeoman’s Brittany 2 ply), changed the needle arrangement slightly, played with stitch size and one-row-tuck or not and got a winner for the bottom section – it’s 5 knit, 3 purl with a tuck on the 5 knit stitches – so, on the main bed there is 5 in work, 2 out all across and 3 in work on the rib bed in the place of the 2 out of work main bed needles – swing H, of course, side facing on machine is right side.
Made more swatches with some of the other yarns – that darn Silk Bourette and WCD which were my original first picks  got weeded out - not the right thinness or texture even with lace or slip. Added in some Mini Dina that had previously been hiding (you know how that is) and swatched some more.  Threw them all together, moved them up and down, stood back, held them up – arrrggghhh!!! Then I sat back and thought some more. Honed in on the basic idea and realized what I was really looking for was a loose, airy, lightweight cardigan to use as a cover-up for the coming hot weather. Made a few more swatches and thought I was on the right track.

I got knitting the actual project by making all 4 bottom sections of the tuck rib – the back needed to be made in 2 pieces with a centre seam to get the width I wanted for the hem line – so I took each one off on a garter bar piece to save some time with the rehanging of that. Then I hung 2 pieces for the back, did the hand work of Batttenburg; remove, turn, rehang, reduce and knit the slip stitch, RTR’d again; knit some lace in WCD in the opposing blocks pattern, took it off on waste yarn to have a good look at it and saw where it went wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve got now – the bottom tuck/rib, side facing is right side. Then, I threw in a little Battenburg using the 3 ply mercerized cotton – this is a hand transferred lace (see KnS #180 or Knitwords # 39), side away is right side, so the first section needs to be turned and rehung, decreasing across the row to match the width required for Battenburg – not to mention the fact that the stitch and row gauge of each swatch is different – then next section is a slip stitch with Skinny Majesty (side facing is right side) followed by a little Mazatlan (lace carriage, KW#45) and then some more of that slip pattern with the 3 ply cotton to finish off the top. Did I mention that I’m also switching between using my EC1/PE1 for some stitch patterns and then DAK knit-from-screen for the others? To keep track of the shape, fortunately I’ve got the KR11 and just have to change the stitch and row gauge for each different stitch...

I’ve got the perfect beautiful little shell buttons that I bought years ago in England – will need to play a bit again to decide on the neck/bands – I’m currently favouring the tubular band from Geezer, No 50, using the 3 ply cotton – but it’ll be up to the swatches!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

sometimes you don’t have to re-invent the wheel…

I wanted to do a quickie – you know, no fuss, no muss.  I was going to make ‘Gossamer’ for a gift for my daughter-in-law – she tried on the last one, the charcoal Naturell  (see 'rural route') and she really liked it except it was a bit big in the bust and a bit short – she’s much taller than me, like about 5’6 – 5’7 so it would be nice if it were longer and of course, the sleeves should be longer as well – it was starting to sound like a lot of changes and maybe re-drafting the whole thing… I decided to chance it and live on the edge!
I made the smaller size, but set my tension one dot (only one dot, not a full number) higher (looser) than the pattern/gauge called for and it’s perfect!! The finished garment is about 10 cm longer, the sleeves are just right, it’s all good!
While I was rote-knitting this, no thinking involved, I got a better vision of my 7-yarn project and I’m now busy with that  - tell you more, when I’ve finished, later this week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

is it the middle of April already?

Well, I have been doing some knitting – I made about 8 swatches for the ivory project and wasn’t getting anywhere. I made a poncho for Rhiana – using an acrylic yarn and the lace pattern from Gossamer – her mom liked it but she didn’t – said it was scratchy…what can I say – she is a princess, I guess.
I did my KnS (Knit’nStyle) project for #181 – trying to keep track of when and where that magazine is going to show up is just plain confusing. My editor refers to the month that it is for, but is really 2 months earlier, like when it shows up on the newsstand. I know I’m confused! My pay check is referenced by the proposed news stand appearance. My contract is for the work due date which is about 4 months before the on-sale date… so I keep track by the issue number – old habits are hard to break! Anyway, the garment is a mid gauge version of ‘Angled’ and it turned out really well.
I got a new computer – my offspring chipped in for a birthday present and it’s been a bit of a learning curve, new programs, etc – usually I’m like, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it; don’t change anything, I like it the way it is; but they felt it was time for me to move on! It took a few days to get the keyboard sorted – kept getting the French e with an accent instead of the question mark…had to mess around with location and all that – if you say you’re in Canada, they think everyone here should be typing in French, so I’m posing as an American…
Managed to get that pesky year-end bookkeeping done, so good for me!
Then, I realized, I have a bunch of yarn to play with…over the past few weeks, packages had arrived from three yarn companies with supplies for future KnS projects – time to swatch some more!
There are 3 different yarns – now, if you know me, you may realize that I am talking hand knitting yarns that I’m not really familiar with. Most of my knitting is on the standard gauge machine, using machine knitting yarns – a different ball game. Branching out into the world of hand knitting yarns to use on the mid gauge machine is always an experiment. I choose them by fibre content and, going by the manufacturer’s suggested gauge and yardage, try to estimate what I will need for my project and usually add an extra ball or two, JIC (just in case) – that reminds me – what is the difference between a skein and a ball? In Canada, we generally call it a ball of yarn when it is wound into a ball or oblong shape where you pull the end from the centre. If it's in a big loop, twisted and rolled back into itself, it'S a skein or a hank, like when your mom used to make you hold it out on your arms while she wound it into a ball... If it is wound onto a small cardboard tube with the end on the outside, it’s a ball – please don’t answer this, I’m just saying…it doesn’t really matter!
Back to choosing yarn for the KnS projects, I don’t really care what colour I’m using because I don’t get to keep the garment, so I just pick something that I think will photograph well, but I have come to the conclusion that selecting a yarn by the colours on a webpage is not an exact science and am usually glad I was not trying to pick an exact colour or match something. Just for fun and inspiration - even though I have a general idea  or plan of what to make with the chosen yarn, nothing is carved in stone - I need to play with gauge, stitch size and possible stitch designs. Generally I like my finished machine knitting to be tighter in gauge that what is the manufacturer’s suggestion. My swatches here are the temps – just to see what stitch size is going to work best and give the ‘feel’ I want – the ‘lines’ are a loose row between stitch sizes and the holes are for the number of stitch size used. I knit almost the whole ball - to sort of guess how far the yarn is going to take me from this - then, feel each stitch size and decide what number to use - then rewind back onto the cone for the real tension swatch.
Stay tuned! Today, I’m making another ‘Gossamer’ – it’s my DIL’s birthday and I’m behind, again!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

what’s on deck...

My to-do list has been crossed off, down to one thing - last year’s bookkeeping and I can put that off some more...I did get a red ruffled dress done for Rhiana, but I forgot to photo it before I gave to her - when I brought it to her, she ripped off her jammies right away, put it on and told me she loved it and me too! her Mom promised to get me a picture of her wearing it, so maybe later...
Back in the day, I used to love to have a selection of white blouses to wear - it was in my sewing days and of course, I made most of them. If I didn’t have at least 10 in pristine condition to choose from, there was something wrong. My favourites were what I called collages -some were asymmetrical with varying patterns on each sleeve - I’d have differing yokes - one with wide pintucks and the other, narrower pleats with maybe a fancy stitch embroidered between with a shiny thread - there would be a lace insert here or there and sometimes a variety of fabrics mixed together, but all the same tone or shade of white...it was my version of heirloom sewing. I even did some beading, believe it or not!
I’ve been mulling this over lately and trying to come up with a plan for knitting something similar. I have many off-white or winter white yarns on my shelves. Took some down and narrowed my choices to these, which seem the closest shades to each other. I have WCD (wool crepe deluxe -fisherman), a 3 ply shiny mercerized cotton, Skinny Majesty (putty), Silk Bourette from Yeoman (natural), 3 ply alpaca (natural), a really thin rayon that I got from Bonnie’s eons ago and an elastic ‘yarn’ from even before that - now, I’m not saying they will all be in the finished design but this is the start. I chose them based on thinness and texture as well as the colour and the drape quality. I plan on mixing in stitch techniques, some tuck, some lace, some slip stitch maybe - I really like the bottom angles on ‘Gossamer’ and am going to incorporate that hemline in this one. Here’s my first sketch, subject to change...I’ll keep you posted!

what's a formula?

my knitting room floor is littered with waste yarn debris and defective bands - I just finished my KnS project for the September (or is it October?) issue - I had to make the front bands FIVE times to get two good ones!!! what on earth is that all about??? well, mostly, not paying attention and not using the mid gauge enough - different rules apply - on the standard gauge, pretty consistently, when making a stockinette band, like for the fronts of a cardigan, you simply hold the length of your piece up to the needle bed evenly, without stretching, and that’s the number of stitches needed to make the band (based on a 4 ply weight yarn that is knitting about T7). But, on the mid gauge, this little trick doesn’t work quite as well. Now, I could, of course, do some research and look up what I’ve done before - makes sense, but no, that would be too easy, almost like cheating! So, the first band (estimated as above - 97 sts - an uneven number because it’s easier to cast-on an uneven number on the LK), after attaching, pulls up a bit - no big deal, I can handle that. Add a few stitches and build a new one; get it attached to the other side and look at it - the length is perfect but I forgot to figure on the angle at the neckline - why didn’t I notice that on the first one? Now, to get serious and actually do a bit of figuring and come up with a method that could be used by others: calculate the length of the band - take the number of rows from hem to neck of actual knitting and divide by the row gauge and it gives me 20.75 inches (yeah, for KnS, I’m working inches), multiply that by my stitch gauge and get 114 sts - I know that will be way too long compared to my first attempt, so use a 10% reduction factor, which results in 102 sts - add one for the uneven thing and I have exactly what my second band was. Okay, we’re good! Make the band without thinking it through, decrease at one end for the angle - crud!! that’s the wrong way - need to start with more and decrease to the 103 sts...
I haven’t actually described this band, but it begins with the chain cast-on (after waste yarn, of course), knit 8 rows; RTR (remove, turn, rehang), K1R - for a garter stitch row which makes a join to the edge - this is really a facing that is on the outside of the cardigan front. Then this piece is taken off (TGIHAGB- thank god I have a garter bar); the garment front is hung, right side facing; the band is rehung, pulling the open sts through the closed edge. THEN, RTR (so the chain shows on the outside) again, knit a loose row and chain off...
You know it  - I had a day off in between and screwed up on the angled ends, made the same one twice...then, even though I’m positive I religiously used the row counter, the fourth band, after attaching, looked a little wide - sure enough, it was 10 rows, but I liked it! Very carefully made the opposite one the same but opposite if you know what I mean - it looks beautiful!
I want to see them turn this into a hand knitting pattern! BTW, the yarn here is Plymouth Yarns DK Merino Superwash - LOVE IT!!! this will be my new go-to DK wool for the LK, for sure - it has a lovely twist to it that gives excellent stitch definition and is a pleasure to work with!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hanging my head in shame...

I got the following email this morning: I have made a few of your lace garments and am now knitting Lacey Blue. I enter the lace information in the Memo information. You have to enter either a N for normal lace or F for fine lace on the lace rows and then the even number of rows to be knit in stockinet. I just put N every row until the knit row I put the number. It talks about it on page 44 of the instruction book. Just thought I'd let you know it does work and helps a lot especially on this last one. Thanks for writing all the great patterns. Alice R, ND
Back in the day, I had been told by the so-called Brother experts that there was no way to enter lace pattern memo information in the Brother 970 and I took it on their word. I sincerely apologise. Alice is right; it is right there on page 44 of the 970 manual - couldn’t be easier. The best thing about this is if you’ve input a lace pattern, you can go in and add the memo information anytime - I just did it for ‘Lacey Blues’ and for ‘Gossamer’ and it works!! This totally takes the guesswork out of when to actually knit and when to use the lace carriage.
Now, in the set-up for the pattern, choose the lace carriage (not the fairisle carriage like I previously said) and put in the memo-corrected pattern number and Brother lace knit your heart out!!
thanks Alice!

Monday, March 19, 2012

spoiler alert

I just finished reading one of my favourite authors - Ruth Rendell - murder mysteries are my thing and this was one of the early Inspector Wexford novels, 'The Veiled One'. I found it especially interesting because there were a few knitters in the story - okay, they were hand knitters but same difference, you know what I mean.... Now, the victim was garroted, but the murder weapon was nowhere to be found and they didn’t really know what it was.
So, the knitters - one created the most fascinating, colourful, exotic, original pieces and Wexford thought them inspired and beautiful. Another knitter was one who ‘obviously knitted to produce, without thought and care or pride of workmanship’. Describing the vest worn by the most obvious suspect at that point - ‘it was plainly hand-knitted, but not expertly, the hand of the imperfectly skilled evident in the neck border and the sewing up’. Another time she writes:
‘his pullover (same guy, subsequent police questioning) was of a darker grey shade with a cable pattern but errors had been made in the knitting of the cables. Burden found himself compulsively staring at one of these flaws up near the left shoulder where the knitter in twisting the cable had passed the rib over instead of under the work...’
When speaking of this knitter, Rendell pens ‘she did many things but none of them well...’
By the time Wexford realizes the murder weapon is ‘a circular knitting needle of some high-numbered gauge - that is with thicker pins at each end of the wire’, I’m torn - the slant is somewhat toward the artistic, skilled knitter but I don’t want it to be her! And then, the next chapter biases you to the crappy knitter; then, she turns up dead...I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but I loved the knitting content!
I’ve never had a circular needle....just sayin’...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

rural route

just so you don’t think I’ve been dogging it, I have to show you this picture - I made ‘Gossamer’ for my daughter - the yarn is Forsell Naturell, cusco gray- she picked the colour and I whipped it up last week for her birthday - I love it - she’d better get over here to claim it, like fast. My girlfriend Cathy has become my new official photographer - she claims it’s just a good camera but she’s always had the best photos. Anyway, she lives out in the sticks, a rural setting, and they have this most interesting, antiquated-looking thing in the yard and we both thought it would make a good back drop...

agony aunt...

I have this girl who keeps emailing me for help - no problem, I don’t mind giving assistance with my own patterns and when they learn something, it’s a big thrill for me. Anyway, I don’t know much about her, other than she subscribed to KNITWORDS from the very beginning, right to the last and she’s bought all the POMs so far - I love her just for that! She began asking questions, late last year, about my All Laced Up/‘Lacey Blues’ pattern from the Fall 2011 POM series. She told me she was returning to mk-ing after a long absence and had never really finished anything. Most of the questions just required a little nudge or confirmation that she was on the right track and as the weeks progressed, I could ‘see’ her confidence growing with each message. In early March, she sent me these photos of her finished garment.

Hi Mary Anne - Nope I did not disappear! I actually really finished it! Pics attached....The yarn is linray - ~ 50/50 rayon linen blend from Silk City. Kind of a pita cause it splits easily but the shine makes the lace look really pretty. I never ever would have finished without your help! Thank you! Now that I am on a roll (okay maybe not a roll but at least in the right direction) on to the next! Gossamer - and, of course... I have a question! Someday, I will stop bothering you and fly solo! I found a similar yarn to the Cigno that you used but I am getting more stitches and less rows - okay I am scratching my head - I know what to do if both are either less than gauge or more than gauge but what if I have one of each?? Okay so, pattern gauge is 25 sts and 45 rows per 4 inches. Swatch knit with a brother 970. After steaming the swatch - at T5 I am getting 28.5 st and 41.7 rows per 4 inches and T6 is 26.6 st and 36 rows/4 inches. ARGH! humbled again....ain't machine knitting grand? Learning all kinds of things ... and not just about machine knitting!
Thanks! Lynn
I replied:
Hi Lynn, the tension mast would change it somewhat, but I think it's far enough off that you would really need to recalculate the whole thing. Or find another yarn...if you are happy with the yarn, how about putting the schematic into the CB1 and let it do the figuring for you - that's what I'd do and I'm up for helping on that if you are not used to it - I am a huge fan of using a charting device - then you use my pattern for the methods and techniques only! the Lacey Blues - wow!! great job - I'm so proud of you!! it sure looks nice!! Hope I get to see you wearing it! - MAO
She said: Geez, I did not know you could put a schematic into the CB1 - I will read up on how to do that. If I get stuck you will be the first to know :) Thanks for all your encouragement! Lynn
I said: Okay Lynn, it's a deal - dig out the old Knitwords - back in No.13 to maybe 19 or 20, Peggy Barton wrote a series on learning the CB1 and I actually got my 970 so I could proof her articles!!! and I did learn how to use the shaping (as well as the rest of it) in the CB1 - you'll be amazed!!!

She's going to be a really great mk-er but I'm really green about her dressform - wish I had one...More CB1 stories later...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Granville, done!

Finished up the final version of Granville. I re-did the front bands on my original. I had worn the gray one  (the colour name is ‘mushroom’ but I don’t know where that came from - I always thought mushrooms were shades of brown or taupe, but this is really a greenish-gray) anyway, I wore the gray one, back in October at Newton’s seminar, over a black dress and I was quite happy with no buttons on it, but I tried it since then with other things and decided I would like it buttoned. If you look at my sketch from back in September, the original design had three buttons at the top - so that’s what I did with this one, ‘cept I already had four buttons prepared and used them all - I really like it. The red or ‘poppy’ version, is for my daughter and, running short of yarn at the end, I made the bands a bit narrower and buttoned it from top to bottom which she prefers.
The pdf’s will be sent out to current Pattern-of -the-Month subscribers over the next few days. The accompanying article has notes on the racked cast-on, lots of double bed stuff, the 3X2X3 braided cable techniques, the neckline finish and all the extra details.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Nathan loved his hoodie!! He was quite intrigued with the idea that he has a one-of-a-kind jacket and no one else would ever have the same thing! I really liked the way the hood turned out with the stockinette lining - it looks really nice - I encased the neckline with the hood and the lining so the finshing looks very professional, inside and out. It’s all good!
Rhiana put in her order - she wants a red dress with ruffles... her birthday is next week!