Wednesday, February 28, 2018

the good ole days....

Talking about that blue ‘Uptown’ reminded me of this story I wrote for the ‘editorial’ page from Knitwords #27, Winter 2003:
Some people think my life is glamorous, travelling all over, having fun. Here’s a day from last week. The flight out of here at 7 am (means I am getting up at 4:30 am) arrives in Minneapolis at 7:30 am (I hr time difference). It’s a 35-passenger aircraft. Upon arrival, the crew and passengers are taken from the plane by bus to the Customs area for clearance and there is a guy in charge of this, like a duty officer. So, we go into Customs. Now, I always try to dress nicely, mostly so I look the part of visiting royalty upon arrival at my final destination, in case they have called the press, like they are supposed to (I did make the front page of the Alaska Highway News in Fort St John once). So, although I do have jeans on, they are hidden by this long, ankle length, blue lace coat (knitted, of course, a re-make of ‘Uptown’ from No. 24) that is accessorized with the sweetest dark red leather shoes and matching small shoulder bag. It’s my turn and I go up to the Customs guy - they are usually very gruff and almost nasty, probably because they have to come in early for this crumby little job - there are only 17 passengers and one agent and he’s just totally ripped up the young man in front of me and sent him off to darker regions to the ‘interview room’ and we in the line are all certain the poor fellow will be returning to Canada on the next flight. Anyway, he says to me, ‘Where are you going?' and I give my standard, keep-it-short-and-sweet answer, 'I’m going to Connecticut.' 'What for?' 'Visiting friends and going to a knitting show.' (just in case they decide to search my bags and wonder why I have 24 knitted garments for a two day stay in 75°F weather)
'Where did you meet these friends?'
(Arr-g-g-gh!) 'At a knitting show.'
'You go to a lot of knitting shows, don't you? You were here two weeks ago, and I talked to you!' he says accusingly.
'Uh-h-h, yes, that was me.' (My heart has stopped and I'm expecting to be taken off to the Inquisition or the hospital.)
He says 'Well, have a nice time!' and smiles as he scribbles something on the customs form that I must turn in at the other end of the hall after retrieving my bag (which is huge and weights 64.5 lbs). Wow, feeling more than a little apprehensive, I make my way to the other end of the very long, empty room where these two guys have been watching my progress, it seems, every step of the way (mental note, try to look calm, cool and innocent). I look at the form to see if I can decipher what the agent has scribbled, but as usual, it must be in code and I have no clue. I make the choice to go to the guy on the right and he greets me with, 'I’m so glad to see you again. When you were here last week, (it really was two weeks ago, same day, same flight) I wanted to tell you how nice you looked, and you look fabulous again today. It's great to see someone all dressed up, especially on this flight. Usually people look like they just rolled out of bed.' My mouth is opening and closing, and I don't know what to say, afraid to take a breath. He, too, tells me to have a good time! I feel like I’m in the twilight zone!
I go through the doors (I’m free, no one has grabbed me from behind!) to put this bag on the conveyor to be checked through to Connecticut and the agent from the bus is there, grinning at me. ‘I guess I’m doing this a little too often if the Customs guys are recognizing me.’ I say.
‘Oh, I remember you too! Love your coat, it looks great!’
I finally arrive in Hartford, via Detroit, at 4 pm. The press isn’t there. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

rescue mission...

I wasn’t going to tell you this story – I felt like I not only had egg on my face, but it had dried! But I got an email the other day from my friend Tom – he had test knitted the Manfriend Hoodie for me and his new puppy chewed the cuff of his red one. When he was opening the sleeve seam to take the cuff off and replace it, he inadvertently snipped the wrong thread and now he has to re-make the entire sleeve! He was talking circular needles and stuff! LOL! Misery loves company!
the evidence!
It brought this back to my mind. I was preparing for the Maritime seminar in Charlottetown, PEI and one of my classes was seaming on the machine so, killing two birds with one stone, I had all the pieces done for a denim blue hoodie that I was making for my friend’s hubby, Ray, so I could show the actual seaming in the class. I had knit like a mad fiend to get it all ready in time and must have been working on autopilot. Usually when I complete one piece, after taking it off the machine, I roll it lengthwise, yank to set the stitches, unroll it and give it a steam or press, depending on the fibre, to casually flatten it out and then look it over to make sure all is well before proceeding to the next step. Somehow, either I omitted this step or, ignored the fact there were ‘lines’ across this half of the front. I had the shoulders joined and one sleeve on to take to the seminar. When I was in the middle of the class in PEI, I sort of noticed them a bit but said to myself, ‘that will come out in the wash, proceed with the demo’. I put the other sleeve on, seamed the underarm, attached the hood and the stabilizing trim for the centre front, ready for the zipper. Technically, I wouldn’t have done that until after I washed the assembled garment but did it in the interest of presenting as much as I could.
When I returned home, I somehow overlooked the laundering – I guess I figured that this was like my 7th or 8th remake of the pattern at that point and I could guesstimate the number of stitches for the front edges without the shrinkage factor. I went ahead and finished the whole thing, even sewing in the zipper before I put it through the laundering, still not paying any attention to the ‘lines’. When I took the hoodie out of the dryer, it was like I’d been punched in the stomach! OMG! it was horrid! how could I have overlooked this? There were obvious flaws in the yarn that looked even worse!
I spent the rest of the day berating myself and the machine knitting population of PEI! Nobody said a word – that damn quintessential Canadian politeness!
The next day, facing reality, I re-knit the front, checking several times that I was indeed making the right one, the left! Luckily, I had extra yarn and I keep very good notes of everything I knit. After it was done, I picked out the zipper and began the process of removing the left front. I realized the good thing about this pattern was there were only open stitches on the top of the sleeve and that RTR row after the shortrowing saved the stitches well enough so I was able to rehang it right on the machine and reknit only that row. And of course, the shoulders, but that was a piece of cake after the sleeve cap – everything else was totally cast off individually so removing the hood was not jeopardizing the neckline in anyway. Got ‘er done and back together in no time and didn’t admit it to anyone until now! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

battery operated? ...

After checking over my wardrobe, I made a few lace swatches using Forsell Pure New Wool. Referencing my only lace design in that yarn, ‘Uptown, # 24, I made the first swatch at T6 (driftwood/tan), using a lace pattern that I knit several times in the past (KW#40, Lacy in Red). It seemed rather stiff in the knitting and sure enough, the pattern did not come off as cleanly as I am used to – seems funny as you’d think there is more give/elasticity to the wool as opposed to the 4 ply mercerised cottons I usually used. I did add a lot of yarn spray hoping to help it out but by the time I finished the swatch, I didn’t like the stitch pattern or the ribbed hem (full needle rib with racked cast-on, same as above) so moved on.
My next swatch, again trying a previously used stitch pattern was from ‘Comfy, #28 .
I’ve mentioned that I have a very old system – Silver SK580 electronic with PE1 and the PE1 design controller came with this nice little memory card on which you could save the stitch patterns and call them up to re-use. I have three of them and knew that this day would come sometime, but it’s been like 30 years! There is a small battery in the card and way back when I was a dealer, we were told that the battery would need to be replaced at some point. I, like a good little Do Bee, went and purchased the proper battery from Radio Shack for that eventuality.
I used to keep a record of the pattern number, and description for each card so I could recall anything ever stored in the card but over the years lost that practise so now, I still had the mylar sheet of my original and I went to read it into the knitting machine and save it on the PE1 card and I got a message saying ‘change cel’ – OMG! I tried another card, unused for a few years, before going into panic mode and got the same thing. When I tried to pull up a design for that card, it said ‘no data’. Ar-rr-g-g-gh!
Then I remembered that I thought I had an old ‘new’ battery but where on earth was it? Well of course, it was with all my other batteries! In spite of my swelled head at the thought of my amazing organizational skills, I was able to replace the battery – I had a very vague memory of using the end of the single prong tool to push the lock button over on the end of the card and using tweezers to pull out the end to bring out the old battery – OMG, it was the one I thought, a CR2016! Put it in, re-read the pattern and Bob’s your uncle! it worked! My ‘comfy’ swatch in medium brown came out beautifully at one dot higher than the last swatch – check out that ribbed hem – it’s from ‘Frame of Lace’, #17 – a little intricate-looking but fairly easy to do with a few racked rows.
Bands, adapted from 'Knitting on the EDGE' by MAO, #35 Racked 1X1 Look Rib.
Side facing is right side. Swing H5. Arrange ns for full needle rib, end ns on RB. CAL. T1/1. Knit zigzag row. Hang comb and one weight in centre. Set to circular. T2/4, K2R.  T4/6, K2R. T5/7, K2R. Swing P. Transfer to EON on RB only, by moving sts to MB, empty ns out of work.
  l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l
  . l . l . l . l . l . l . l . l . l.
Cancel circular, set to knit both ways. Swing H. RC000. T5/7, K2R. H3, K1R. H5, K1R. H7, K1R. H5, K6R. H3, K1R. H5, K1R. H7, K1R. H5, K2R. RC016. Transfer all sts to MB. T8, K1R. RC017. K1R. Lace carriage, eyelet row, K1R. Stockinette, K2R. RTR. RC021.
I looked at the note that said, ‘side facing is right side’, said to myself, why would you do that when lace knitting is side away right side? In the ‘Frame of Lace’ pattern, there is a bit more happening and I did have a few RTRs (remove, turn, rehang) in there. Decided to chance it, this is a swatch after all! I didn’t want to have any RTRs because that would mean taking out the ribber comb in order to use the garter bar to turn the work and I like to have the ribber comb in to evenly weight the work for lace knitting…instead of transferring to every other needle in work on the rib bed, I did that on the main bed and it worked, the side away is the right side! that’s why I got paid the big bucks! ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

project fog...

I may have mentioned that I’ve been in a knitting funk - I can’t decide what I want to make. I’d think of something, get semi-excited about it, go and look at my yarns and then it would fall flat. I put groups of yarns in the middle of the living room floor and studied them from different angles but, nothing! I started watching ‘Mad Men’ but it wasn’t really grabbing my full attention. I putzed around, made those pockets, fixing up ‘Omega’, made a Man Friend Hoodie for my baby brother and sure, I did things, but it was all on auto-pilot. I was still dreaming of my next knitted vision.
I finally went to my closet and began to drag out some of my all-time favourite pieces, trying them on and examining techniques to see if I could get inspired. I discovered that I particularly like lace (major surprise! ;-)) and I like that longer length A-line, like ‘Geezer Chic’ (#50), ‘Tumbleweed’ (#53) and ‘Lacy in Red’ (#40). My hairstyle plays a big part of what I currently like – I have this habit of growing it out, to shoulder length or slightly longer and then chopping it off, seriously regretting that and then growing it out again – it sounds quick but not really. Anyway, right now I have the chopped, very short version and with this, I prefer collared garments - the neckline is much more important than when I have longer hair. Go figure – it’s taken me a lifetime to come up with this!
I also made the discovery that even though I have used a lot of 4 ply wool in my knitting career and I currently have a pretty big supply of it – I really stocked up when The Knitting Gallery was clearing out their Forsell Pure New Wool – I do not have a lace garment in that yarn and in checking the Knitwords index, I see that I have only ever knit one cardigan in that yarn! It was in No 24, Spring 2003, called ‘Uptown’ back when full length cardigans were fashionable. This one, I made for Lindsay, our model, in her size and I liked it so much, I made one for myself in a denimy blue Bonita cotton, loved it and wore it quite a bit – that was one of the ones I dug out and I’m putting it back into my wardrobe rotation for spring (if it ever gets here!). It has a fabulous full needle rib shawl collar that I was extremely proud of and the hem band was a combination of circular knitting with a 1X1 look  that was the perfect weight to add swing and drape to the bottom of the cardigan.
So, I’ve made a couple of swatches, in lace, trying out some of those great double bed bands that I loved so much…more later!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

decreasing hack...

me, original, 2012
Just been putzing around, I am having a tough time deciding on a project, so just to be busy and stay out of the fridge, I am making pockets to put on my ‘Omega’ hoodie (Serial Stuff 4) from a few years back. It is a fitted-body, zip front, saddle-shoulder cardigan that I have re-made several times since then and just love, but this red and black one, my first, I don’t wear as much because, I think, it doesn’t have pockets. I didn’t put the front pouch pockets in at the time because I thought since it was fitted, I wouldn’t want pockets to add bulk to my mid-section. Since then, I have re-evaluated life and figure, who cares? and if there is a bulky looking mid-section, maybe I can blame it on the pockets? Anyway, I am making patch pockets - it’s the only way to add them without taking the entire garment apart and that isn’t happening!

2017 camo version, with pockets
I still want the same shape pocket with the slanted edge to the outside and I will stitch in in place, along the top of the hem band and beside the zipper band so all edges need to be finished and similar looking. I started off the bottom edge with a double stranded chain cast-on and knit up to row 36 to begin the sloped edge. Always in the past I have used a 3-prong tool outlined decrease on every other row to make a neat, slightly rolled edge that is automatically finished but does take a little more time. I decide to see what happens if I just shortrow the decreases – much quicker and worry about the finishing off later. After all, if this does not work out, I can re-do it the old way, right?
manual loose row variations
At the top of the pocket, same row as the decreases/shortrowing are done, I need to cast everything off with a finished-look. Cancel hold and knit a row over all to clean off the held stitches Using the main yarn double stranded, I hand knit the final row, making the sloped edge, held stitches extra large, almost right back to A position and on the ‘top of pocket’ stitches, knit them back halfway between A and B – they don’t need to be as large as the sloped edge stitches. Chain them off and wow! I’m happy!

almost finished, pinned in place
To finish the straight selvedge that goes up the centre front, which was 90 rows, I chained over 45 needles, double stranded – use the latch tool from the mid gauge machine to maintain a loose, even tension – wrong side facing you, hang half the outside edge stitches – the bar between the knots of the selvedge edge and then single strand, knit a loose row to chain off the two sets of ‘stitches’ – this puts that chain cast-on on the outside edge of the pocket! Do the same thing to the shorter selvedge side on 18 needles - BTW, this is WCD at T6, gauge is 34 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm/4 in.
  That’s so machine-knitter-ish! I’m boondoggling and still looking for a shortcut!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results!

And there I was, trying to knit in pattern and ripping out the row that didn’t knit, over and over. What the hay? I feel like I’m caught in a time warp and the sense of déjà vu! wow! then it dawns on me, I have been here before!
Arr-r-g-g-h-h! And how about that new year resolution? I know what happened, I didn’t place the order, so I don’t have a new curl cord and I wasn’t even using DAK, (though, in my Einstein moments, I did set it up and tried the same pattern on it, didn't work) so I can’t blame it on that. I was in a deep funk, my knitting career was over and then, as so often happens, somehow in the middle of the night, it came to me! I have a fine gauge machine packed up, stored away and there will be a curl cord in there! It’s sure to be working, I can’t have three bad ones at one time!
Success! Two perfect pieces! Yay for me! I swear, I’m placing that order!