Saturday, May 26, 2018


After the dust settled on Lipstick and Smoke, the remaining yarn tally of my Cotton Tale 8 was charcoal, 194g; silver, 292g; black, 350g; white, 400g. The garment weight of L&S is 750g. As I was finishing up, I was pondering my next project. White is the largest single amount and you know I love lace. I still did not have a really perfect white summer cardi. I want to take my raglan shape, add the extra wide full-fashioned decreases from Rich Raglan (Serial Stuff 2), use the lace stitch pattern of Sampler Lace from KW#12 and the variable here will be the bands. I am picturing a nice, half sleeve raglan cardi in a mixed-up version of the lace sampler with white or possibly black or red bands all round. My pattern for Rich Raglan is based on the fact you may not have enough of the main colour for the bands so they are all added after in case you need to switch colour.
I made a quick swatch of the lace at T7 with the lace carriage – just to be clear, this yarn is so nice, I really do love it – it is about the same weight as Bonita (I have used extensively with lace carriage!) which is a mercerised cotton but this washes up very soft and seems a little thicker than  Bonita, so in comparison, Bonita was at T6 with my Silver Reed lace carriage and I’ve decided to try T7 with Cottontale 8 (Bonita in stockinette at T8 and CT8 at T9). Got the quick swatch made with little issue and got right into making the first sleeve. You’d think I was a beginner! oh man! I laboured over that sleeve. Stitches were dropping, hanging up, not knitting and the air was blue! Got it done in three hours. Should have been maybe one hour with a coffee break in there! I didn’t know what was wrong. I was ignoring that voice in my head that always says if you’re having trouble, stop and figure out why…

Next morning, I felt like a brand-new baby duckling, fresh into the world, no knowledge or experience and repeated the same thing again! At the end of the second sleeve, I was worn out and I thought that maybe Cotton Tale 8 was not for lace. Suddenly it dawned on me – what would MAO tell someone else who listed all those issues with lace – she would immediately say, ‘how’s your sponge bar?’ OMFGG!
Replaced the sponge bar – it was pretty flat – oh and by the way, I always keep a somewhat used sponge bar to put in for lace – if you put a brand new, super firm one you’re just asking for more trouble – it will hold the needles too tight and close and you’ll have almost the same experience as the well used, almost flat sponge! Got the remaining pieces done in record time! Bonus, there is 90g white yarn left – just enough for narrow 1X1 tuck hems (#32 Band Practise) and stockinette bands for neck and fronts. Here’s me, super happy! I’ll be placing an order for more CT8 soon – Charlene sent me a printed shade card – thanks!

P.S. I’m giving you a rest from my knitting for a while – I’m off to Ireland with sister Janet for a hiking tour – back here on June 21!

Join us on our trip at for travel, food, fun and hiking stories and tips.


Thursday, May 24, 2018


It was like the old days - we had a blast! I wanted to show you my three long cardigans – if you`ve lost track, I did Pocket Change first [] – it is lace carriage in brown 4 ply wool.
Then Ozark, [] also 4 ply wool stockinette and finally Lipstick and Smoke in Cotton Tale 8, 4 ply cotton stockinette.
The shape of the garment basically is the same in all three but Ozark is shaped/decreased from hem to the waist and the other two are A-line, shaped from hem to underarm.
All three have 8 rows of shortrows to even out the hemline so it does not look shorter at the centre front and back – I love all three!
And I’m taking Lipstick and Smoke to Ireland with me – we’re leaving this weekend – it will be my travel wear – I always like something cuddly and cozy for a long flight – it will be perfect for that and I’m sure Dublin and Killarney evenings will be cool enough that I will get plenty of use out of it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

alterations already?...

The entire garment is done, buttons on and I’ve decided the sleeves are just too long. I would rather they be too long than too short, but because of the bell shape, nothing to hold it back, the bottom edge is skimming my middle knuckle and it just looks way too long. Many times, I do make the sleeves longer than I need because if I’m giving it away after wearing a few times, the sleeves need to be longer for regular sized people, but I want to keep this.
When I put a cardigan together, the sleeves are the last thing added and when I am darning in ends, I always keep the tails separate so the sleeve can be easily removed without too much trouble. It’s a chain stitch, so simple enough to unpick the last loop and pull it off. Undo the underarm seam – only need to go about halfway, so the sleeve will open out to rehang the same width of the needles as stitches at the underarm point – again when I was seaming this, I plan so the tail end is at the top of the underarm just for this event. Rip back the sleeve cap to the underarm and I want to shorten it by 10 rows so rip back another 8 rows. Hang the 10th row and pull out the 9th row that was holding the stitches and then rip out the tenth row so there are no split or partial stitches. Now, because the whole garment was already washed, I can’t reuse that yarn to make the sleeve cap again - the gauge won’t match but fortunately I have enough of the charcoal, new and unused! From the notes I made on my schematic, I know exactly what row I was on and how many stitches at the underarm point so this isn’t guesswork and if there was one or two decreases in those last ten rows, it’s not really going to effect the width of the sleeve enough to bother going further down and trying to re-shape to exactly what was there originally – the sleeve cap is the important part here and it worked fine so the new one will be the same. I will wash and dry all parts again (in the photo you can see the line where the new, unwashed yarn is but that will disappear with the next laundering) before reattaching the sleeves – actually the front bands are still unwashed at this point.
I don’t remember ever showing this little trick of mine for finishing the ends of a stockinette band like the new front bands. I take a long straight pin and thread it through the outside edge of the stitches, repeating with a second pin on the other side, to take the curl/roll out of the end. Then I steam this, so it lays relatively flat. With a tail of the yarn, beginning at the inside, stab stitch - don't whip stitch or back stitch - go in two stitches, through both layers, then go up and out the next two, staying in the centre of the outside row - neatly to sew up the end invisibly. Hope you can see this!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

back to the drawing board...

That’s bound to happen once in a while! Good thing I never wanted to become an engineer – obviously my mind’s eye is rather shortsighted! Ha! that tubular band that I so enjoyed knitting – 2 pieces of 1000 rows each – wasted! and darny darn! those buttonholes were in exactly the right place! But at least my collar works!
Next idea – obviously a vertically knit band does not work here because I need to encase the edge where the collar folds back, otherwise the seaming is ugly. This means a horizontal band. To make it long/wide enough (100cm/39.5 in) it either needs to be done in 2 pieces or do it in a full needle rib and attach it by hand but that is still iffy, and I never do that. A stockinette band would match the bottom hem – the width of the back hem is 65 cm, but the tubular knit is very difficult to make a horizontal buttonhole in – I remember trying it on the past and making myself a sticky note to remind myself this does not work – I have a short memory for bad stuff, what can I say? I have a drawer of awful hair products that I’ve tried, and they don’t work and if I just throw them out, I’ll end up buying them again but at least if I keep them it reminds me they didn’t work – we all have flaws – that’s how I deal with mine! ;-)
Back to the band, the width of the bottom band tells me I can get a stockinette band that is long enough to go from the hem to the neckline join and then another shorter piece (30 cm) for the edge of the collar – this seems the best bet and having the join in the band at the same place as the seam between the neckline and the collar makes the most sense.
I looked through the last few issues of KNITWORDS to see if I had used a band like what I want here and yes! No 52, Purple Purls (it’s always so much nicer when someone else has done all the work for you!) had a graded tension stockinette band that encased the edge – I use stockinette bands many times but they are mostly hemmed and attached to the front but I want the band to cover up the edge stitch so there is no seam/chain line. My new band is made (10 rows, beginning at T9 and grading one dot tighter per row to T6, a loose row of T10 for the fold, and then grade back up from T6 to T9 at RC021) and then an RTR (remove, turn, rehang – which gives a nice, little detail in the finishing, looks like a garter stitch ridge between the band and the garment selvedge) and then removed on the garter bar. The selvedge edge of the front is hung (right side facing here), the band is turned and rehung, pulling the open stitches of the band through the garment edge. Now the hem is hung, and a loose row knit manually to join and chain off. Looks fabulous from inside and out! OMG! Why did I not do this in the first place?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

design notes...

 If you were at listening to me at a seminar, you may have heard me talking about shortrowing at the hemline to add a curve to the bottom to compensate for the Aline – basically A-line shaping means decreasing evenly spaced up the side seam from the hem to the underarm, which creates an angle and makes a longer line than what you will have at the centre front/back of the garment. To avoid that pulled-up or shorter look, I usually add extra rows in the centre of the Back and Fronts, depending on the overall length and width of the garment. On Pocket Change and Ozark, it was 8 rows beginning right after the first row of main colour on the main bed, after the hem. Doing it on Ozark was the first time I did this on a striped garment. Only after the cardigan was totally finished, I was wearing it and admiring myself in my full-length mirror, did I realize that because of the stripes, this was noticeable – to me anyway – not likely anyone else. To avoid that in this striped version, I spread the shortrows out in several stripes. Instead of making 8 shortrows one after another, I did 2 rows in the charcoal, holding 30 sts at centre, twice, then on the silver stripe, I held 40 sts twice, with 50 sts in the next large silver stripe and ending up with 60 sts in the red stripe. Hope this makes sense!
Balancing the colours – my plan was to have red all around the edges, with the bands. I kept the hemline the same Back and Front and the top is all charcoal. I thought this would keep it from looking too wild.
The patch pocket – the one in Ozark works well, no sagging or bagging - I made this one slightly larger and revised that method from March 28. I realized I over-complicated things for the final cast-off and the top of the pocket is finished with an easier, double stranded loose row that is just chained off – I edited that post to reflect the change.
Had to re-engineer the collar slightly and compensate for less width at the centre front – Ozark had an overlap and the longstitch facings, so this collar is not as wide overall and the angle from the neck to the shoulder had to be changed.
Using button/buttonhole band from Geezer Chic, KW #50 – I made a swatch of the tubular band, using 6-0-6 ns, a little narrower because of the larger gauge with this yarn. I got a row gauge (after washing and drying!) of 80 rows to 10 cm. How to figure out buttonhole placement? I was chuckling as I did this – at the Spring Fling seminar some one brought up the question of how many buttons should be on a garment and someone else said they had heard that an uneven number was the ‘rule’. Well, I had never heard that, and it was quite funny because as I put each garment on during my presentation, they could see there is apparently no rhyme or rule to the MAO method of buttoning a garment. My only rule is, because I have a large bust, the most important button for me is at the bust point and I work from there. The bust point is usually at the same spot as the beginning of the underarm shaping – convenient but, I’m talking about my patterns, remember. I like my armholes high, whether it has a sleeve or not. So especially for a vertically made band, this is easy to figure – I look at my schematic and take the side seam measurement, add in the hem (and any shortrows) and that is my starting position (58 cm). Then, based on the width of the band and the size of the button (I will usually have purchased buttons by now, taking my swatch to the store - the number of buttons on a card and the price will play a part here) I can determine where the buttonholes will start and finish. 4 in/10 cm between buttons is good for the 7/8 in/23 mm button I have chosen, so I add the size of the buttonhole to the 4 inches and round it to 5 inches between the start of each vertical buttonhole. Based on my swatch, I can work back to having the first hole start at 20 cm from the bottom of the hem, and 5 holes will do it, with the top one likely never being buttoned and the 4th one exactly at my bust point/underarm.
OMG! I just realized in that pattern, Geezer Chic, I never told how to finish off the band – either no one ever made it, or they figured it out for themselves! I’m going to go with the latter but here’s what I do. Knit the number of rows for the band and at the end – don’t cast off. Just close the end by switching to full needle rib/zigzag, tighten the tension to about T4/4 and K3R. Cut the yarn and drop from the machine. Being cotton, this needs to be laundered before attaching the band. I put it together, except for attaching the sleeves and the bands (and the patch pockets). Darn in the ends on the sleeves, side seams etc. but not the centre front edges – these tails can be drawn into the tubular band after and save some time. After laundering, pin band in place, try on and check that it looks good. The end can be ripped back to the required length. Then, simply take the tail of yarn in a darning needle and thread it through the loops, one from each side across the row to the other side and secure it to the desired width. No point in trying to cast off as it will just widen, stiffen and look bad. Do this after the band is attached - I just took  this photo to show you how to do it.
 I’m calling this Lipstick and Smoke!

Friday, May 11, 2018

error correction 101...

oh man! how did this happen? I’ve been power knitting, I’ll admit – when I get excited about a project, it’s hard to slow down - I can’t wait to see the final thing! Two sleeves, one back and two fronts knit – did I forget to mention this was random, nothing matching? Pinned them together, tried on and was happy with the result.
Took the pins out and began the seaming. I always seam the bands/hems by hand and then hang the long seams on the machine or the linker. Did that for the sleeves, excellent result. Did the right front to the back. Good to go and then brought the left front hem to the back, butting them together and OMG! The front hem is slightly narrower than the back! I must have fudged the row counter – for this double bed hem, after knitting the waste yarn and circular ravel cord, I place the carriages at the left and knit the first row of main yarn, zigzag from left to right. Then, set to circular, and turn the row counter to 000…whatever, the front hem is only 18 rows as opposed to the other 20 rows! Arr-g-g-h! Two options come to mind…re-knit the entire right front? Go for the save by re-making the hem and grafting it onto the bottom first row of stockinette? There is really no contest here, I have to go with the graft.
The first step is to remake the hem correctly and transfer it up to the main bed. Knit one row in red to close the hem as usual and then remove it on waste yarn. Next, get the hem off the front – I am going to pull the last red row thread that joined the hem, leaving the loops of the first row of charcoal. Carefully rehang those charcoal loops on the machine on the same number of needles as hem was. Carefully unknit that row, from the side with the tail of yarn – it takes a bit of picking and undoing but it can be done. The yarn of that row is what I’m going to use to graft the two sets of stitches back together and the row of grafting replaces or duplicates the first row so you won’t be able to tell there ever was a problem. Knit this piece off on waste yarn, make sure you have a good inch on each piece. Now, sit somewhere comfy with good light and from the purl side, perform the graft.
BTW, so totally impressed with this yarn – it knits beautifully with a minimum of weights and no knots!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

random stripes...

Here I am with five colours that need to be used together somehow…why did I choose these? A couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend had on a hoodie – it was Tommy H – I should have known! and it was a couple of grey colours with a red stripe and some white or ivory I think and that’s been stuck in my brain and when I saw two shades of grey, I went all in. I wanted five cones – I thought that would give me a fair shot at determining the quality of this yarn, so I’ll admit, it was an easy pick. It was hard to choose from the website as the colours don’t always look like what you’ll get so adding in the black was last minute and I figured it would go will all the shades no matter what – same reason I chose white over ivory (although I’m totally excited they have ecru, vanilla, and pearl) I may have to order one of every colour! I did find a page on their KKS Facebook [] that has all the cones together but no names on them – I guess you can’t have everything but it’s easier to compare when they are all together.
I have been wearing Ozark every time I go out of the house lately and I’m enjoying it – it’s wool and one of these days, it’s bound to get warmer, so I thought I’d do a cotton version. I’m still hooked on that ‘sailor’ collar – I’ve been re-watching Downton Abbey and I never noticed it before, but those ladies did rock the sailor collar over and over! Going to stick with the A-line shape for the body instead of cutting it in to the waist as I did in O – going to try out more random stripes and colour blocking – this may be a bit out of my comfort zone, but, really five colours is, so why not? My basic plan is that it will be outlined in red – I’m going to use the same circular hems but instead of the longstitch facings, make tubular bands in red going up the centre fronts, added later, and I’m thinking that way, I can use the knit side as the outside of the collar – it works in my mind right now anyway! As usual, I start with the sleeves…
Don’t be too shocked! BTW, if you are one of those multiple brand machine owners, the Silver Reed/Studio is the best choice for a project like this – the jam release gives a super-quick free pass for those odd number rows of stripes, or to move to the opposite side for the next colour so you don’t have two ends to darn in at the same place. Also, the fact there is no need to be closing/opening the gate each time the yarn is changed makes for quick progress. If Silver Reed is your only brand, bask in the glory!

Monday, May 7, 2018

not your grandma's cotttontale8...

I told you I was in Peru, Indiana a couple of weeks ago.  Charlene Shafer and her family, the Knit Knack Shop, are the US distributors for TAMM  yarns and Cotton Tale 8. It’s always so busy for me when at a show like that, I never get a chance to check out what anyone else is doing or selling. I heard they had revamped Cotton Tale 8 – my only experience with CT8 was like 15 years ago from the old Bonnie Triola Yarns days – never liked it, harsh feel, too many knots and lots of thick and thin spots. When I got home I checked the KKS website – wow, nice colour range and great price, $22 for a one pound cone. I also noted that it is close to the same yardage as Bonita cotton which I have used extensively and is now discontinued. I ordered white, black, red, silver and charcoal, thinking I could make a striped manfriend hoodie (not) or new girlfriend hoodie ;-)!
Got  my parcel on Saturday afternoon and whipped off a couple of swatches before dinner. I made the striped one at T8 (unwashed gauge, 30 sts and 38 rows to 10 cm/4 in – after machine wash and dry, 30 sts and 46 rows) and stockinette charcoal at T9 (unwashed, 28 sts and 36 rows – washed 29 sts and 43 rows). Anxious to give it a good trial, I put both swatches in a sink of hot water and dish soap and swished them around – definitely colour safe! Rinsed them and rolled in a towel. Tossed them in the dryer on cotton/hot setting with a load of tea towels and tablecloths. WOW! I am so impressed. This is soft, silky, smooth and lovely, no pilling! I may have found my new favourite cotton! I can hardly wait for you to see what I’m making!

Friday, May 4, 2018

what do you call a hoodless hoodie?...

A noodie! LOL!  not sure that will catch on, but I’m loving mine! I wasn’t going to say anything because you already know I can be a bit obsessive. I was just going to quietly knit this thing and keep it to myself but I’m also somewhat of a show-off, I’ll admit it! With my Girlfriend Hoodie pattern in mind, I started off making three pockets - oh, did I say three? Yeah, I was doing that decrease hack and loving it - it's so much faster than that old, outlined full-fashioned decrease and it truly looks nicer and lays flatter - but in my excitement, I must have been operating on auto-pilot and thinking of other things and on the second pocket, I ended at RC078 instead of the 82 rows of the first one - somewhere in there I didn't knit two rows between the battenburg transfers - easy to do when you are shortrowing at the same time and there is something happening on every row instead of just every second, and not concentrating! I made the third pocket (16g each, by the way), paying full attention and got it perfect.
before washing
 In my haste for glory, I hadn’t weighed my cone at the beginning, just took the old information from that old post and acted like I had the same size cone (1.2 lb/520g) as the plumberry one. In my mind I was making a half-sleeved hoodie (do you like that ‘half-sleeved’ term – I saw it for the first time on something the other day and decided to use it a few times just to see if it catches on!), knitting the half-sleeve in the battenburg lace, the body a little longer than the  original version, with narrower bands to compensate (those deep stockinette bands do take more yarn so that was a consideration) and of course a hood, because, after all, this is a hoodie, right? 

After both sleeves were knit (I did weigh them, 46g each), I jumped right into making the back, determined to get it made plain before I could reason my way into jazzing it up unnecessarily. I kept saying to myself that people behind my back would notice the beautiful half-sleeves without being distracted with random patterning up the back and though I got it done quite quickly, was rather dismayed to notice the diminished size of the cone! ouch! The back was 84g so that meant that much again for the fronts and I still had bands to do – the hood would take about half the weight/yardage of the Back and I began to readjust my vision. By the time I had the Fronts done I saw this garment as a zip-front, summer cardigan with picot hems and neckband with half sleeves in lace. Final tally, 42g left, good thing nothing was written in stone! Oh, and because of the shrinkage factor, when I first tried it on before laundering, it was like, yuck! this is way too big, but sure enough, the machine wash and dry sorted it out fine!
P.S. The hems were ‘Knitting on the EDGE’ #3 – I used the neckline technique from Borderline, KW #25 and added 8 shortrows to centre back and fronts (but not to pockets) to even out the A-line.
MSP here I come! I'm teaching at Founders Fest in Minneapolis, July 28, 29, 2018.
Google Midwest Machine Knitters Collaborative for more information and registration! Hope to see you there!