Friday, October 11, 2019

male order...

Last week, Manfriend asked me to make him a sweater like one he saw downtown in  a shop window. I was curious to see what caught his eye. We drove down on Sunday, thinking I could see through the window without being too obvious, but they were open. We went in and took a closer look. I asked him what it was that he liked. He said the colour. From outside it just looked like your average, dark coloured, plain ole pullover.
Closer inspection revealed it was a very plain pullover with a set-in sleeve and the yarn was a tweedy-looking navy-ish with bits of gold, plum and maybe a bit of teal.
I told him to try it on although I had my doubts as to the sizing. XL was the biggest size in this store, and I was fairly certain it would be too snug for his liking (or mine ;)). He did try on a bomber-style jacket that fit like a glove and declined to try the sweater.
Back home, I went on-line and found the store sweater described as ‘heavy knitted sweater, regular fit, knit in an acrylic/wool blend (90/10 – whoop-de-do!) multi-coloured slub yarn finished off with a rolled hem and neck opening’ and was $119 (Canadian).
I switched to my favourite handknitting yarn source, I found out they were calling this month “Socktober” which I thought was very cute. I found a DK weight tweedy something from Berroco, showed him the colourways, he chose one and I placed the order. Later he asked how much it was, and I said $104 US, but I got free shipping (so added several skeins of sock yarn). He said wait, if it cost that much and you still have to work to make it, I should just go and buy the one in the store. Patiently, I explained this yarn was far superior to what the ready-made thing was and with my expertise he would get a priceless garment! Stay tuned! LK150 project!
Have a great weekend! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 7, 2019

bragging rights...

top section with waste yarn on bottom
I posted that photo of the ‘dogs’ on the ivory background a couple of weeks ago. A brief recap – these baby afghans were originally published in Knitwords 34 and 35 and were the brainchild of Mar Heck (see previous posts for the links to that part of the story). I’ve made them several times since and think they are brilliant. Now, Mar’s originals were done with a dark colour background and she advised “choose saturated, high contrast colours so the designs show up. Make the background in a darker colour than the designs”. Here, I had a new stock of the brights in CottonTale8 from Knit Knack Shop instead of the old acrylic stuff. Had one new cone of navy for background of the first two and enough leftover black for the third one. Wanting to keep using up the brights, I paired ivory (CT8 in stock) for the background, just to see. Happy with the first two dogs of periwinkle and red, I picked up the ‘bright yellow’ and began knitting. After the fourth row, I stopped, gave it a long, slow look and pondered. This might not be quite right. Stood back and looked again. Was there enough contrast? Considered ripping it out but then I thought, ‘ah, you’re being too critical’ and quickly finished the whole thing. With it laying flat out on the floor, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic, but again thought, ‘no big deal, it’s a freakin’ baby blanket!’ Left it there, finished up the other blankets, went away for a week, came back and hated it.
You may have heard me boast about my skill at grafting stitches…

re-knit section with waste
What makes it even thinkable here is there are two plain rows of the background between the different motifs so, I can take out the middle yellow one that I don’t like and re-knit that in another colour and then graft the pieces together. First, rehang the plain row above the persimmon dogs. Find the row below, cut the yarn (leaving a tail of the ivory to darn in later) and pull on it to separate off the bottom section. Make sure all stitches are on needles, waste yarn it and drop it off. Rehang the bottom section, picking the second plain row above the red dogs. Yank off the yellow portion, unravel the last plain row to make sure all the stitches are good and re-knit that plain row.  Set up the pattern for row 147 (first fairisle row of what was the yellow dogs) and re-knit that section using the best contrast colour left which is denim (not really but that's what the  label says...), stopping after the last fairisle row of the motif. Waste yarn this. Now, my grafting row, in ivory will complete the correct sequence of two plain ivory rows between!
Sometimes you gotta do something just to prove you can do it! (never mind brag about it! ;))
You know, if this didn’t work out, I never would have said…
Hey, anyone interested in a kit of ‘brights’?
P.S. finished both of these with a 5-stitch slip cord - that extra stitch does wonders - it looks great!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

shoulda, coulda, woulda...

You know me, I almost always have a back-up plan! When I decided to make one of these fairisle blankets out of cotton, my first thought was, ’the kid won’t be dragging this around very far, it’ll weigh a ton!’ Before the yarn even arrived, I was thinking about maybe lining it with flannelette. That was Plan B.
I weighed the first cat top. It was 375g alone. To put off pursuing plan B, I kept on knitting fronts. After the fourth one (more on that later!), I began to add up the reasons not to sew on a backing. The biggest issue was that the blanket top needs to be washed to shrink it before sewing…all those long floats! What to do?
Since there was still a ton of the bright coloured yarn left, I knit the lining for the first dog one and then the liner for the second cat one.
So what if the thing was going to be so heavy the kid wouldn’t be able to move under it? It would be like that X-ray blanket they put on you in the dentist office - that might be a good thing!
I did the I-cord binding on the dog one, with 4 stitches, playing with the stitch size. I found that T5 worked nicely for the width/stitches edge and T8 for every other row of the length sides. Finished it up, looked nice, but needs to be washed before giving it out. It weighed 650g. I’m not sure what the acrylic blanket weighed.
Now was my chance to commit to plan B. A trip to the fabric store brought me up short. Crikey! Have you seen the price of flannelette? I was expecting five to six dollars per metre. Ouch! the really cute printed ones were like $20 plus! One of the nicer sales clerks told me some of them were going to be on sale on the weekend for like 40% off – not the really cute ones, of course, but there was a plain navy with a stripe that would run me about $12 total for what I needed. In the meantime, I came up with a plan for washing the single-layer cats. Folded in half, it fit nicely in a pillowcase. Using safety pins to secure the corners of the blanket into the corners of the pillowcase and a couple in the middle so it wouldn’t all ball up, I put it and the finished doggy one in the washer and then the dryer. Wow! that worked well. Laundered the piece of flannelette with some jeans – I didn’t want to put it in with the knitted pieces in case it shed a bunch and caused some pilling.
With still an abundance of the bright yarn remaining, I made a fourth front, dogs again using ivory as the background – curious to see how much of a difference the dark backdrop really does. I’ll admit, this was purely avoidance.
I started finishing the second cats with a 5-stitch I-cord, just for comparison, using the same tensions – this looks good!
Okay, grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak, today is the day. Do it or get off the pot! Got it done. Even though I do consider myself a decent seamstress, this was not an easy job. Lots of pinning and re-pinning and straightening and re-
stitching. It is done. Likely most people would think it acceptable. Timewise it was a little less than the totally knitted project. Finished weight, 510g.
Was it worth the anxiety or time?
No, and I’ll likely just keep this around for when my brother comes to visit with his dog and see if Jersey will sleep on it…

Thursday, September 12, 2019

bet ya didn't know...

one of the problems when knitting fairisle with long floats, it’s hard to get it perfect,
bad cats, sad cats!
especially with Silver Reed machines. The second colour that isn’t knitting, over more than eight needles, begins to feel left out and wants to jump in on the backside of the second colour, especially predominant when there are a few bent needles. Not even seriously bent, just latches that are maybe a little sticky! On the first cat blank, I had sort of forgotten this – you don’t really see it while you’re knitting unless you’re aware and really looking  for it but when the thing comes off you can see a few places where it makes a vertical line on the front of the fabric. I’m hoping it’ll wash out. Ha! ha! We know that never happens! Anyway, it’s not serious enough to rip out or abandon the whole thing - other people, a.k.a non-knitters, won’t even notice.

good cats on left
2nd cats after needles changed
Toward the top of the piece, I did spot these vague lines and made note of the needle numbers. Swapped out ten or so needles and did a little work on the stitch pattern to eliminate some of the larger solid colour areas. The second bunch of cats came out much better. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t toss the needles – there was nothing really wrong with them and, even though I’ve been to your house and see that you put the bent needles back in at the end of the bed and I’ve made fun of you for that, I just put these aside and they will be my backup stash – no point in putting them at the ends as I’m using the full width of the needle bed!
Oh yeah, and if you’re going to be knitting 200 stitches wide by 350 rows at T9 fairisle, you should stop halfway through and check the clamps. At about row 250, fortunately the carriage was almost to the end of the row when the right-hand side clamp let go! I was quick enough to realize what was happening, grabbed the ribber, held it up and got the carriage to the end without dropping anything! Thanked the machine-knitting gods, re-adjusted and re-tightened everything and continued! Repeated this between each fairisle piece!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

it's raining...

cats and dogs! And there’s a baby ‘xplosion  going around here! My niece Karen, just had her second baby - I had no intention of knitting but she was over for a family gathering recently and specifically told me how much big sister Bryar loves that Edu-Taining Dog blankie I made for her in 2017…she drags it around everywhere! Rats! If you want to read the back story, here’s the link to three past posts about this project:[]

Feeling sort of obligated, I promised to get one made for the new boy but I would go with the cat theme and use cotton this time (which they had originally requested, unbeknownst to me…)!
The front of the blanket is knit in fairisle and needs a substantial weight, knit at T9, so, CottonTale 8 it is. Whoa! I’m in for $160 for a baby blanket? Need five bright colours and one dark background, taxes and shipping! I justify it by saying I can make a couple, three or four, maybe…my sister’s granddaughter is having a boy – her first great grandchild! That should rate a pretty nice blanket.  And a couple of close friends are expecting first grandchilds…
And, have been meaning to knit a big project where I need to use DesignaKnit and knit-from-screen. Earlier this year, I had issues and Mike Becker came to my rescue, saving me from having to purchase a new expensive cable []
Wanted to give it a good workout and I think this will do that and prove that it works well!
It does!!! Mike, you're the best! More later!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

now I know why...

they call it camouflage! I love this! Got it finished up – didn’t want to bore you with the sewing details but it’s done. Put it on and it is SO comfortable! Fits perfect and I think I look taller and slimmer! What a deal!
I might be trying this again with denim!
Hope you're enjoying this summer! Not much knitting happening here - it's too hot! Maybe next month!

Monday, July 15, 2019

backup plan...

Sorry for that spelling mistake ;( my bad!
After knitting the side panels, I blocked them, took one, pinned it in place and tried the jacket on again. It all looks good. I was going to get back to sewing but then realized that my cone of yarn looked smaller than I had hoped. I’d better knit the sleeves before sewing anything more just in case. Got the first one done and gosh, I’m almost at the end of that cone.
Luckily, I did have a backup – I had a 3/4 sleeve of the chocolate brown that I’d made back in the Granville days…
There is nothing more gut-wrenching than to be knitting away, watching the cone quickly dwindling and the row counter slowly racking up – OMG, what was I worrying about? I could have made it at least more 10 rows! ;)

Monday, July 8, 2019

nothing gained...

I calmed down, thought some more and figured I’d be further ahead to actually cut my new shape out of another fabric and baste it in place to see if it worked. It would be easier to fine-tune the knitted piece that way as I did want to be able to sew it in place with finished edges without having to resort to serging alterations, or worse, having to re-knit because it was too small!
So glad I did! With the pieces basted in, I could try it on and adjust little bits here and there  to get the fit I wanted! Pretty pleased!
BTW, another deciding factor on the yarn, I had a leftover part cone of WCD in chocolate (234g) that should be just the right amount – didn’t want to break into a full cone of something for this!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

nothing ventured...

Heh, heh! Hope you didn’t think I was gonna do intarsia or anything silly like that!
I cut out as many pieces of the jean jacket that I could get from that fabric, leaving the sleeves and side panels to be knit. Then I started sewing. Got it to this point to make sure that I liked it before really getting to the down and dirty. Figured if it wasn’t working for me, I could abort and never tell anyone. :-)
Notice the pattern pieces for the sleeves and side panels that I didn’t have enough fabric for. I plan to knit them in a solid colour. I drew them on my knit contour/shaping device, in half-scale but simplified slightly. For the front side panel and the back-side panel, instead of two pieces, I joined them to eliminate the side seam so there would be one underarm panel on each side of the jacket. The sleeves are two-piece as well, but I made it into one, keeping the cuff opening at the back side to simulate what happens in sewn jackets. I do have camo fabric cuffs to sew on.
When I started sewing, for some reason I did all the top-stitching with black, thinking that the knitted pieces would be black but once I got the collar on and was able to ‘put it on’, I changed my mind to brown being the contrast. With all the pieces sewn together, it looked a bit different. Because the fabric is not symmetrical, I kept picking the brown-er pieces for the outsides.

In choosing the yarn, I wanted to emulate the thickness of fabric – it isn’t a twill bottom weight but it is a sturdy, woven fabric so I was leaning to a mercerised cotton because, WCD (wool crepe deluxe), the correct weight, might be too stretchy in stockinette?? Oh, who am I kidding? I might need the stretch!
Suddenly gung-ho to knit, I almost began knitting one of the underarm panels – it is more important structurally than the sleeve! Realized I hadn’t planned out the hem! Took another break to think it all through more carefully…

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


I think I’ve subtlely admitted that I kinda, sorta have  this thing for camo. You had to be paying attention. I also have a thing for jean jackets.
Anyway, lately, I’ve noticed camo fabric clothing showing up all over. On Project Runway, twice, Nina was wearing something camo, not counting what the contestants and others  were sporting! The young woman on the afternoon show out of Minneapolis has a camo jacket she’s worn a couple of times and I seriously covet it!
Finding the right fabric can be somewhat of a challenge. I have an old piece, leftover from the early 90s, that’s, in my mind, just right but I know there isn’t enough to get an entire jacket out of it. But, what if I knit a couple of pieces? Hummmm…
You can laugh and snicker now! I'm fine with it! You won't be able to see me anyway! ;-)

Friday, June 28, 2019

progress report...

Where did June go? What have I been doing??

Bit by bit, I finished the striped hoodie for Vickie – I think that was a record for things hanging around my workroom! I started it on May 9 and just finished it up this week! Good thing I wasn’t worried about a deadline! What can I say? The weather has improved and it's nice to be outside! Now to find a box and get it to the post! ;))
Also managed to get Rhiana’s grad cardi done just in time – yesterday was the graduation - she looked lovely, so grown up! It was too hot for the cardi but it’s all good – she likes it and can wear it later with jeans and a white tank.
I changed out the original design a bit – the edgings that Ev used were really nice but a bit time-consuming, especially considering I was using the brushed mohair and there’s nothing like that type of yarn to make one feel like a newbie knitter again! The hairy bits get caught up in the brushes and when you’re shortrowing, talk about loops at the edges!! Ripping out the row carefully and pulling up on the yarn at the beginning of each row became necessity! The easiest part was the two lace panels! I started off with waste yarn, knit the two pieces of lace for the skirt, separated by waste yarn and ravel cord, and added my favourite tuck hem, #33, XOXO Trim from Band Practice and used it for all the finished edges.
Now, I’ll be back to doing something for me! Stay tuned! Happy Canada Day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

graduation alert...

or should that be ‘Grama alert’? It kind of snuck up on me! Rhiana, 12 years old (already!), is graduating from Grade 6 at the end of the month. She will be changing schools and going into a Junior High so they make a big deal out of it – there’s a fancy luncheon and ceremonies. She showed me a picture of her dress, ordered from the internet – it’s sleeveless with a white-eyelet yoke and a printed fabric skirt (large multi-blues flowers on a white background) in two layers, kind of her fanciest dress yet and I’m sure it will look great. 
Leafy Lace, KW#53
The ‘Grama (and knitter)’ in me thinks she should have a cardigan to go with just in case the weather is cool – this is Thunder Bay after all and so far our spring has been kind of miserable! I have two weeks so it’s not like panic city, but I can’t really afford to waste a lot of time.
Between us,we decide on a light blue (I have a partial cone of periwinkle blue in a fuzzy-look yarn from way back that will be enough) and I quickly come up with a plan – you know I do love lace  and it brings to mind a really cute girl’s cardigan that Ev McNabb did for our final issue of Knitwords, #53 – called "Leafy Lace", a smock-style cardy with lace skirt, made in two pieces without side seams, buttoned at centre back and front, just perfect for Rhiana's tween-age! The bodice is a raglan with vee neck in stockinette. I'm changing that to a set-in sleeve because that will be quicker to make than the full-fashioned raglan.
Swatching now so I can get started tomorrow!

Friday, June 7, 2019

a bucket list?...

I don’t really have one but if I did, at the top of the list would be a cruise to Alaska! You can imagine my excitement when I got an email from Morgan Hicks/All Points Yarn from Seattle, WA entitled ‘Cruise Alert - ALASKA 2020’!
Check it out!

“Along with the great adventure of cruising, fine dining, gorgeous views, exciting ports of call, and the many ways to enjoy and relax on board, you will have the opportunity to socialize and learn with fellow knitters and crocheters.  The class schedule will follow in the coming months.
You can travel with your knitting and crochet buddies, or fiber-friendly family members and get the best of both worlds, Entertainment, and Instruction!”

I love it! But wait, how about some machine knitting? Hey Morgan! I’ll come, bring an LK150! We’ll do a bunch of basics and demo some techniques like shortrowing, neckline shaping and sleeve caps. Throw in MAO’s exciting trunk show and do some trims and edgings! Put on your joggers and we’ll talk mk-ing design as we do laps on the Lido deck – just kidding (about the jogging, but it could be an option! Work off that fabulous food!)! But really, doesn’t it sound like a great time! Call or email me or Morgan! Let’s make this happen!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

how long has it been...

since you had a new machine? Oh my! Some getting used to! The stitch dial on my old carriage, it was so loose, I could turn it with the side of one finger. This new one, I almost feel like it needs two hands! Switching from stockinette to tuck, pay attention! Say nothing of the extra elbow grease to pass the carriage back and forth! Oh well, enough whining! It works! Did I mention that Mike’s yarn spray is my new best friend?
You may remember my problems with patterning and what I tried  - here’s the link if you want the story from mid February -
In the end, I have a new, slightly-used demo machine, an SK840 (Studio) carriage that works on my old SK580 (Singer) needle bed and the electronics on the old bed (they were built-in) work with the ‘new’ carriage.
To get DesignaKnit to work, I was told by the North American distributor that I would need to purchase a new cable because my old SL4 would not work with DAK8. I do have DAK8 on my Windows7 laptop and was not really wanting to spend the money to get the new cable, mostly because all the old stuff works and I don’t really need DAK unless I want to download a large stitch pattern and knit-from-screen (last time I did that was for a picture baby blanket and I’m so over that!
When I was chatting to Mike at and giving him my tale of woe, he told me he had a software upgrade that would allow the SL4 to be used with DAK8. OMGG! He mailed it to me, I did the install, easy-peasy! It worked! Mike is my new best friend!
Seriously folks, if you need help or are considering Designaknit or cables for whatever reason, call him!

Monday, May 13, 2019

as I was struggling...

to knit with this reclaimed Wool Crepe Deluxe, I thought back to another time. The following is my editorial from KNITWORDS  #13, March 2000:
In January, I went to London, England and participated in the 'Knit, Stitch and Creative Crafts Show'. It was a lot of fun and very different from our North American knitting machine seminars in that it was mostly a selling show, not a lot of teaching like we normally have here. I had a booth next to Elaine Cater and I gave a 25 minute 'talk' once a day for the four days. It was a bit different without a knitting machine to hide behind, but it was kind of cool to have people come up to me and tell me they liked my Canadian accent. The first few times, I tried to tell them I didn't have an accent, but soon realized I was fighting a losing battle. One of the best things, I was in charge of what they call the 'knitting clinic'. It was twice a day for about an hour each time. It would be announced over the sound system that “Mary Anne Oger from Thunder Bay Canada, blah-blah blah would be in 'stand' 78” and anyone who had questions, problems or whatever about machine knitting could come and talk to me and it was my duty to either solve the problem or offer suggestions as to where the knitter might go to get help. By far, the most interesting lady was an 83-year-old, smartly-dressed machine knitter who told me a lengthy story about how she had knit a skirt from one designer's pattern. It had turned out so nicely that she chose a different designer's pattern and made a 'blouse' to go with the skirt but wasn't happy with the result. The fit wasn't quite right. She had knit it using 3 strands of a very fine bright acrylic (Bramwell’s Silky). I was politely listening to her story, waiting for the moment I could jump in and solve her dilemma. She began relating how she 'unpicked' this thing and put it into hanks. She then washed it and hung it to dry, adding weights to it to remove the kinks. Much to her dismay, when dry, it was still crinkly. By this time, my eyes began to glaze over, and I was clamping my teeth in an attempt not to scream out, 'throw it in the 'dust bin'!'. I managed to retain my composure and sanity as she then went on to say how a friend asked her if she had tried the microwave. My mind was gone! Gripping the edge of the table, hoping she couldn't see my white knuckles, I faintly asked, 'huh?' Anyhow, dubious herself, she then wound the used, crinkled yarn onto plastic cones, which she assured me, she fully expected to melt in the microwave (they didn't); added a cup of water and stuck in the 'mike' for 8 minutes. It worked out beautifully! Did I have any suggestions on what she could now knit with this reclaimed acrylic?
She then purchased one of my books and, finally able to speak, I asked her if she subscribed to the magazine. She, very politely, told me that she had seen a copy or two and didn't like it as there was nothing in it that was of any use to her.
After she walked away, I realized I hadn't found out whether the recycled yarn was still triple stranded or not.
Oh, by the way, the topic of my speech was 'The benefits of working with natural fibres.'

Friday, May 10, 2019

even i had my doubts...

LBD, new neckline!
I mentioned re-making that EFK from a pre-knit project that I didn’t like. To get myself in the proper frame of mind, I did redo my LBD. I took some photos but as you may know, black does not show up well but it was a very successful, relatively easy project and I now have a new LBD! (happy, happy!)

knotted yarn
With that under my belt, I bravely jumped into undoing the silver-gray Wool Crepe Deluxe. Now, don’t get me wrong – the ONLY reason I’m re-knitting this used yarn is because it is very expensive and rather than trash the whole thing, I’m opting for this salvage operation.
hole appears -yarn break
Re-using yarn that was knit in stockinette is one thing, but if it was knit in tuck or lace, and blocked or pressed, there is likely to be thin, possibly damaged spots in the yarn so this is not something to attempt if you’re short on patience and it’s not exactly foolproof. I’m offering a few tips to help you out if you need to do this. And, planning to re-knit in pattern is just asking for more issues so be sure of your skills!
Rewinding/unravelling yarn – put a little pressure on it to stretch the yarn out as you’re winding, to sort of straighten the yarn, (don't worry about the kinks, they will press out after the piece is knit) but also if there’s a weak spot in the yarn, you’ll want it to break now rather than halfway across the row as you’re knitting. If it does break while winding, I just tie a granny knot, leaving about an inch and a half ends, and then deal with it after the row is knit. I let the knot knit through and then un-pick the couple of stitches where the tails of the knot knit in, fix up those stitches, omitting the tails and then darn in those ends after.
Front and Back, fresh off machine
Knit slowly! Trust me! The yarn is likely to break somewhere and if youre moving slowly there’s a chance you can save the piece before it all drops off…like here (above), where it knit fine across the row and then the yarn broke and opened out. I was able to rehang the dropped stitches, rip back five rows, reprogram and re-knit again.
Pressed Back and Front
If you’ve stopped or paused, maybe to increase or decrease, pull up on the yarn at the beginning of the row so the kinky part doesn’t get caught in the brushes and cause a loop at the side or worse…
I knit the Back with the pre-used yarn and had enough un-used yarn to make the Front. This photo (above) shows each piece as it looked coming off the machine, no pressing on either piece. I’ll admit, the Back did look like a nightmare!
This photo (at left) shows the two pieces after pressing to size, shoulder line joined, and Sleeve made with pre-knit yarn.

Monday, May 6, 2019

when good gets better...

The new and improved pump spray for ‘s Super Industrial Yarn Spray!

I forgot to tell you – when we were driving to Pigeon Forge, TN, back in March, I realized that a small detour would take us to Mike Becker’s shop in Aurora, Indiana. I had never been so called Mike to make sure he’d be there and made an appointment to stop by. It was fun, should have got a photo but didn’t think about it until we were back on the road. But anyway, we had a great visit, caught up on the news and as we went to leave, Mike said he had a gift for me. I felt a bit bad because I had nothing for him but quickly got over that feeling when he gave me a new bottle of his SIYS - I was so excited to see that it has a new pump button instead of the pistol grip trigger one. I could hardly wait to get home to try it out.
Finally got around to it last week ;-), made a pair of socks for nephew’s birthday – I use the yarn spray on the 2X2 ribbed section where you are grading the tension tighter to make sure the ankle fits snuggly, and this makes it knit like warm butter. Oh man, that little press-down button makes such a difference – it’s so easy to use, I love it – thanks Mike!


Tuesday, April 23, 2019


The Waynesboro, PA thing was great – I came home on a big high! Everyone was so nice, and we had a lot of fun! Thanks to Susan and Elizabeth, the shop owners at The Knitting Cottage, for bringing me there and thanks to all who came! It was great to see some faces from the past and it was awesome to see so many younger, newer knitters! Paula took great care of me and her husband gets special mention – now, I think I have everything! Look at this! It’s a toilet paper roll holder for ravel cord! OMG! It sits on your table; you just grab the end and it just reels off! Hope you’re green with envy!
Spring is here, the snow’s gone and I’m having a hard time getting into the knitting rhythm so thought a list might help…
My friend Vickie heard about my Juxtapose hoodies and she wants one with just the small stripes on the sleeves and hood, with solid colour body – I’ve knit for her before so it’s ok, I can do that but what do I have in Bonita? That hot pink colour that she likes but do I have enough navy for the stripes? Will that ivory look ok or maybe the light blue? Oh gosh, I may have to swatch a bit…I did drop by the fabric store to check out zippers and they have plastic-tooth separating in the pink…
UFO cold shoulder
The Waynesboro people liked my E Fisher Knockoff and want the pattern so I could work on that. I have a UFO of light gray WCD that I could re-use. I only have dark colours and don’t want to waste good stuff on another prototype. The reason this is a UFO, I think, is the colour. I could always over-dye it...I was making that cold shoulder top on the standard gauge, like the one I made for Rhiana, Hers was Yeomans Panama and I had decided to try it in the gray WCD. Had made it for myself previously in a marsh print WCD, loved it and wore it a lot. People wanted the pattern. Had it almost done in my size and hated it. Hence the UFO. This could be a teaching moment - how to knit with used WCD…
Well, before I get to that, maybe I’ll practise on something else. Before going to PA, I tried on my LBD from Knitwords #52. Haven’t had much opportunity to wear it and I thought I might put it on with Becca but I don’t like the neckline now, so didn’t take it with me. I’m thinking maybe give that a revamp. Rip it back to the underarm and reknit with a higher, closer-fitting jewel neckline…

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

odds 'n ends...

Got the E Fisher Knock-off done, washed and dried and it fits! Funny thing, I made a new swatch after the fact! Ha! you say! What good is that? The first one with the old 580 carriage read 26 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm. With the 840 carriage (same stitch dial number, same overhead tension, same weights) it says 26 sts and 56 rows to 10 cm! Let it rest overnight and it was the same as the first one. The pieces looked big when I steamed them  (they always do before it gets a chance to relax), fresh off the machine, and it was a little big after the putting together because I couldn't wait. Washed and tossed in dryer for 15 minutes - it was perfect, no steaming necessary! Love the shape of it and the way sideways knitting and the one-row-tuck patterning controlled the colour distribution of this 'variegated' yarn.
The point of making the second swatch was to have a baseline for future use.
Now I have something brand new to take to Waynesboro, PA for this weekend!
This really was a super-quick project, virtually no finishing - I'll have to make another in a solid, light colour when I come back and explain a few more of the details. 
Before that project, while I was still pondering the fact the lace carriage still worked, I dashed off a couple of pockets for Uptown. Used my ‘patch pocket with chained edge method’, washed and dried them several times, just tossing them in with my vacation laundry loads, pressing them in-between to add some wear and patina. Pinned the pockets in place and tried it on. Because I couldn’t get the placement with matching the pattern, angled them slightly – works for me! Stitched them in place with the sewing machine.
Finished off the second Juxtapose Hoodie – switched back to the 580 carriage just in case – just needs a wash before sewing in the zipper.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

new-to-me machine...

You might have been able to read between the lines and see that I was in a pickle – my beloved SK580 that I purchased brand new back in 1989 – yeah, like 30 years ago! and it has like the equivalent of a hundred thousand million miles on it, gave up the ghost. Tried everything I could think of but, finally, reality sucks! What to do? what to do? I could just continue knitting stockinette and stripes and the lace carriage still works but I will really miss that one-row-tuck technique that I used for the E Fisher knockoff and for many other lightweight garments.
Made some calls and there is no cheap fix, but long-story short, finally settled on a used SK840 which is the same machine as mine, without the built-in electronics. I thought what that means is I have to go back to knitting with DesignaKnit for patterning, I think and, that means purchasing a new cable…
I’ll be honest here. Before I left, in one last attempt to figure out what was wrong, I actually knit a swatch (you hear that, I did make a swatch!) for my own E Fisher knockoff (Wool Crepe Deluxe in Tacoma – love the fabric and the colours, sort of camo-ish), everything worked fine. I made the sleeves (no longstitch, just main bed patterning), everything worked fine. When I set up to knit the Back, and engaged the rib bed, nada! Tried that several times, ate half a jar of peanut butter. Changed up and was going to use different edgings that did not require the rib bed. Several more attempts, the rest of the PB, and had to face the fact the carriage was dead.
Back to yesterday and I have this ‘new’ machine. My mind is telling me that the 840 carriage will work on my old 580 bed but I can’t find anything in print that says that. I reasoned that the LC580 lace carriage works on both beds so why would the knit carriages not be interchangeable.

Plug your nose and jump in! That’s what I did. Rather than take the time to dismantle the whole 580, I just took the ‘new’ carriage, plugged it into the 580 bed and began knitting! It worked! OMGG! Got both the Back and Front made, no problem! I had briefly considered making a new swatch but in the excitement, tossed caution to the wind! As I was putting the pieces altogether, it did seem a tad bigger than I thought but oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained…it’s knitting in pattern! So happy!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

mileage thoughts...

There was a lot of driving/riding…It’s like 1500 miles, one way to Pigeon Forge and although manfriend did the driving, I feel like I did but worse, if you know what I mean. That’s a lot of thinking time! So many things and ideas, like why didn’t I ever try putting a longstitch self-facing for the sloped edge of a pouch pocket? Will the carriage from the SK840 work on the SK580 needle bed? I need pockets on that Uptown long duster. Will the patch pocket technique work for lace? Will the dye-lot show? Oh wait, it was never dye-lot-ed…will that make a difference? The age of the yarn, the number of times the original had been laundered? Where it’s been pressed/ironed? Why do some drivers think they own the left lane? Oh gosh, I never told them about angling the latch tool to get a larger stitch for that chained edge…should I sew up the vent at the bottom of the sleeves on the Juxtapose Hoodie?
Big thanks to the Tennessee Valley Machine Knitters! The venue was great; attendance was superb (they came from all over); lots of great questions and feed back! Becky, the AV lady was fabulous; shout out to Eloise, my timekeeper, and Sonia for taking care of my sales; to Margy and the rest of the TVMK organizers, thanks to all! The food and the weather, pretty awesome but it’s great to be home!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

couldn't help it...

Wanted so badly to wear this!

Not to worry, I made another so I could demo the zipper for the Tennessee Valley Machine Knitters!

How to choose what colours? By the proper zipper? I have quite a stockpile...Works for me!
My new strategy for yarn consumption for 2019 is one for me, one for another person. I can’t possibly make everything for me and I do have a raft of sisters, nieces and girlfriends! That way I can also use the colours I’m not really crazy about and give it away!
Road trip – talk to you in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

juxtapose hoodie...

Just finishing up the hood. I changed it up a little from the Manfriend Hoodie pattern. Because I decided the hood would be nicer in the 4-row, narrow stripe sequence, I thought the front edge would look neat with a narrow stockinette band around the face instead of the folded-inside hem which forms the casing for the drawstring.
The stockinette band would enclose the edge where the second colour is carried up the stripe and made a little smaller to naturally draw in the hood, so no drawstring is required, like Omega  (from Serial Stuff #4)
is done and like you’d do for a child since drawstrings around the neck are now frowned upon. Also grafted the shortrowed top of the hood and managed to get it looking just like the 4-row repeat!
Attached the hood according to my original instructions.
ready for the wash
The ends are all sewn in and it’s ready for the wash, just one final thing.
done except for sewing zipper
with the sewing machine
The centre front edges have had no finishing because that’s where the zipper goes (it all needs to be laundered to get the shrinkage out of the way before that) and the pocket isn’t joined at that side.I do a running basting stitch through the two edges to ‘attach‘ the pocket – I find this makes it a bit easier to deal with after the wash/dry process when you have to hang that edge.

This is so cute! And I’m so proud of it! Wish you could see it! Oh, yeah, you could! Come to Pigeon Forge! I’ll have it there, showing you how to sew in the zipper!!

Friday, March 8, 2019

no yarn marks...

hang 2nd side, matching stripes
One of the bonuses of knitting matching stripes!
 You know I do everything I can on the machine – it makes a much better job than trying to mattress stitch seams by hand. Notice, the ends are mostly sewn before this. To do the underarm/side seam, it’s too long to hang the whole thing at one time. Hang the side from hem to underarm seam. Pick up the whole outside edge stitch, hanging evenly without stretching. Hang second side, matching stripes and filling in between.
close latches, knit tight row
 Now, basically I want a really tight row to make the seam and close it up snug, so the second colour isn’t peeking through the seam at any point. Carriage at left – going to knit a tight row (T0 – told you, tight!).

chain off loose row
The trick here is to bring the needles out and close the latches before knitting across. With the latches closed, they won’t catch into the closed/selvedge edge and cause a jam. But, first, measure out about 3 yards of the yarn and leaving that tail at the left, knit tightly to the right. Manually knit a loose row over this (don’t cut the yarn) and chain off, right to left to last stitch.

hang 2nd section without cutting yarn
Holding the last stitch on the latch tool, move it to the right end of the needle bed, along with main yarn. Now hang the sleeve underarm seam from right to left, matching stripes. Knit the tight row from right to left with the tail you reserved at the beginning, remembering to close the latches. Now, manually knit the loose row, again from right to left with the threaded-up yarn. Chain off and look at that beautiful seam!