Monday, June 19, 2017

bouclé blues...

Putting together/seaming with this bouclé/slubby yarn was a real bug! The slubs make little knots and curl back on themselves, making casting off extremely painful! What I did and what I recommend if you’re knitting with a yarn like this is to use a smooth yarn in as close as a colour match as you can find to do the seaming. It also allows for easier darning in of the ends as they mostly occur at the beginning and end of each piece which means there is a chained seam of the smooth yarn that you can use to run the bouclé ends through. Other than this problem, this was a pretty quick knit but I’m not too sure of the final result. It is soft and cuddly and lightweight which is mostly what I was looking for and the yarn has very good yardage – I still have 155g left from the original 545g even though I had to make the front ‘bands’ twice (the second time because it laid/fell nicer with the knit side as the outside and there was no salvaging after they were attached! ;-)) - but I’m afraid that the finished garment biased slightly – when it’s on you don’t really notice it but it’s not a yarn I would go out looking for again which may be an indication of why it was discontinued…but I kind of like ‘Sydney’ – the shape is great - and I may remake it for myself with something else! You’ll be the first to know!

wedding finery...

The day turned out quite nice weatherwise, the setting rustic, rural and fun and the food was great. The bride was lovely, the groom nervous and everything seemed perfect. About 11 pm it did start to cool quite quickly. My black Battenburg/Legacy  cardi [ ]was just right  with my dress and Shannon was exquisite in her wedding shrug. I was so proud and she did tell me she was looking forward to wearing it again many times because it is so versatile – much better than a shawl! ;-)

Monday, June 12, 2017

done shruggin'...

I finished! ( )And it’s beautiful! And lovely and soft and so feminine! I can hardly wait to see it with her wedding dress! Got the second sleeve done and then all that needed to be done was make a band of the same edge as I used for the cast-on to trim the front edges and up around the back neck – I was able to do it in one piece and it looks perfect.
The wedding is this next weekend so Shannon came over to try it on and/or pick it up – she’s happy, her mom’s happy and I’m so pleased!!
I do hope to get a photo of her wearing it at the wedding so you can see how it looks with her dress but you know how these things go...

Is it bad of me to hope for cool weather?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

shortrow tips...

 Finally getting around to working on ‘Sydney’ – I did make another swatch at one number higher, (T9, 24 sts and 48 rows to final washed swatch) and tested out my hem – I like  the simplicity of a full needle rib hem, especially when working with a wide fabric like this and on my swatch, I did a racked cast-on {} but after the laundering, I could see that it was rather wavy and messy looking so I opted for 6 rows of circular graded tension, followed by 8 rows FNR at T6/6 for the hem.
hand knit ravel cord
hang cast-on worm
At the point where you need to begin increasing for the underarm/sleeve, to make it a nice, smooth seamline, set it up to reverse shortrow. With this stitch pattern and shape, I need to cast on over #72Left to #12Right of 0 – and there is fabric hanging on #13Right to #72Right – I don’t want to mess with having to re-read or download the pattern again. Here’s how: end with carriage at left and move the carriage over to the left side. Take the main yarn out and set it to the right out of the way. Bring the new needles to work and remember those waste yarn worms I told you about {}? Take a long one and from the cast-on side of it, press it over the new, empty needles – no tool needed, just hold the edge up and push the needles through – you’re trying to hook the straight thread from the weaving cast-on over the needle and if there’s an extra stitch here or here, no big deal – it doesn’t matter, you’re just making something to hang the weights for the tuck patterning.
When you have that hung, bring the needles out and hang some bar weights on the waste yarn. Now, hand knit a ravel cord through – so you will be able, later, to pull this out to separate the waste yarn. After the ravel cord, bring the main yarn back into work and wrap the needles – same as the e-wrap, but this time, going from right to left.

e-wrap with main yarn
Put the yarn into the feeder and knit the row - the patterning will continue on the right-side portion and you will get a nice row of stockinette on the new e-wrapped needles. With the carriage at the right side, place the left side (#72L to #11R) to hold (and set carriage to hold), knit, wrap, knit. 
reverse shortrow new stitches

Return the next two needles (#9, 10R) to upper working position, knit, wrap, knit etc, shaping and bringing the new needles back as required. The carriage has been set to tuck throughout, the pattern is continuing and there are no extra ends to darn in from the cast-on or anything!
shortrowed underarm/sleeve
 Oh, and at the end of the top of the shoulder-line (which is shortrowed also), normally I would say to knit a row of stockinette over all and remove on waste yarn so you have a full line of open stitches to make the seam with the front piece later but because this bouclé yarn is really quite fine and bubbly, I decided to cast it off rather than worrying about having to re-hang it from the waste yarn and the seam will be stronger because of it – and I’m doing reverse (outside) seaming on most of the pieces.
Notice in the photo of the two backs – the one on the right looks a bit smaller – that’s because I made it yesterday and the ‘rest’ overnight allows the yarn to relax and regain some elasticity. Both pieces are still much bigger than they will be after the final assembly and laundering to shrink to size.

Monday, May 29, 2017

cross training....

‘the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise to improve fitness or performance in one's main sport’.
I do think of machine knitting as my main sport, and I haven’t been blogging for a bit because I haven’t been knitting too much lately…that last project I had in the line-up – I did name it ‘Sydney’ – I wasn’t jumping right into it, because, you know, that ol’ ‘fear-of-running-out-of-yarn’ feeling, but I’m up for it now – my friend Jeannie, the other day, after reading my post, sent me a message saying she had 2 cones of that same yarn, the cotton crepe from Silk City - she seemed to know it was 1900 yds/lb and she gave me her dye lot – exactly the same as mine! Wow! And she offered them to me if I ran short – I will have to get going on it now!
Anyway, what I was working on is sewing a dress and I wasn’t going to bore you with the details but then I decided to tell you anyway because it is sort of tied into my machine knitting, kind of like cross-training and if you didn’t want to hear about it all you have to do is stop reading!
Way back, sewing was my main sport before I took up machine knitting but it had fallen by the wayside. I have this June wedding to go to and thought I would like to have a sewn dress to wear instead of knits because nobody there will be aware of my position in the machine knitting world and if they did, Shannon’s wedding shrug will be enough to represent if you get my drift.
My friend Cathy has an extremely impressive stash of fabrics – I’m pretty sure she will take that competition hands down - you know that one about the one who dies with the most stuff wins - and she is always telling me to check with her before purchasing any fabric or patterns. I mentioned to her that I had an idea to make a  princess-seam dress with a vintage-like print fabric with a dark background and maybe leaves or floral but nothing too wild and I could wear my black Battenburg cardi with it if the day turns cold. She brought me a bag of 4 choices, about 5 yds each and a selection of patterns!

I really liked two of her offerings and one of the patterns seemed to be just what I had in mind. It was a bias-cut slip with a floaty-looking dress of the sheer fabric over it. I made the slip using a good Bemberg lining fabric in black, no sweat and then I cut out the dress using my second choice. It was incredibly time-consuming because each piece was bias-cut singly and then needed to be flipped and cut out again, requiring you to mark the right sides of each piece and keep track of the backs and fronts and the skirt had four pieces – arrgghh – and then it all had to be basted together to check the fit before actually doing any of the final sewing and, after the basting together and trying on, I really didn’t like the way it was going so I abandoned it – OMG! A UFO for MAO! Honestly, that never happens! But I do know when to cut my losses.
I really liked the black fabric and didn’t want to screw up. I searched through my old patterns again and found this jacket pattern that I’d never used but figured I could make it work by lengthening it, adding a zipper to the back, cutting the front on the fold and raising the neckline – sounds easy if you say it fast. I didn’t want to bother with facings that would show through so I cut bias strips of the lining fabric to use to finish the neck and arm edges. Also, the real tie-in to my machine knitting was that I wanted to design my own ‘bold/cold’ shoulder sleeve for this. I took the sleeve pattern tissue, folded the top down just above the underarm notches, leaving a half-inch for finishing, and curved the bottom hemline to create a loose drape at the elbow.
I’m pretty happy with my results and knew you’d want to see and I couldn’t wait for a photographer to show up so I took this selfie in my hall mirror! Check out the vintage skirt marker – I almost forgot I had that thing!
And through this all, it just re-enforced to me anyway that machine knitting is way easier than sewing!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I’m finishing up the watermelon GFH for Janet (I had it all made and took the pieces to the Raleigh seminar to use in my seaming class) – I need to finish the side seams and do the zipper. Am also working on the sleeve for the wedding shrug but because it is all hand-transferred lace, I like to have something else, not requiring such full concentration, to do, to give myself a break.
My next project has been percolating in my head for the past month. Janet (travel and hiking sister) wants a summer cardigan – we saw a lady wearing one that caught her attention when we were in Sydney – she was walking toward us and we both turned around to catch a look at the back of it - it was a handknit (popcorn stitch), but not too thick or heavy; sort of slouchy but not sloppy; casual but too casual with a partial shawl collar; three-quarter sleeve that was the underarm/shoulder extended, no sleeve seam; slightly longer in back with curved hemline ending just under the butt, and I’ve been day-dreaming about how to make it ever since.

The yarn was presenting the biggest problem because I want to make it on the standard gauge machine because of the popcorn-look. I figure I can use that basic tuck stitch to simulate the texture. I was planning to use the knit side, but so far, my swatches all look better to me on the purl side. I have a big cone of Softball cotton 2.2 in a neutral shade – we had discussed colours and she has a lot of jewel tones in her wardrobe but wanted to get away from that and try something different but she’s not sure what – I suggested pale gray, ecru, ivory…keeping it on the lighter, neutral shades that would kind of go with anything. I did swatch up the softball but it is knitting at T9-10 and after washing is like a piece of cardboard. Scratch that. My next option is a large cone of a cotton bouclé that I’m not sure where it came from (I’ve had it that long) but the label says Silk City Fibers Cotton Crepe – they don’t even show it as discontinued so I’ve no idea of the yardage…I made two swatches of tucks, one at T7 and one at T8 – they both look sort of loose and soft and it’s not washed yet. I weighed the swatch – it’s 28g and I have 540g left on the cone. I took out a largish, long cardigan of mine and lay the swatch over the back – 6 swatches would make the back, double that for the front and 4 for the sleeves portion, so 16 X 28g is 448g – this might work! The swatches are in the dryer – watch for updates!

Monday, May 8, 2017

good karma...

I got to Raleigh, NC for the Carolinas Guild seminar with a few delays but I got there, only two hours late! With my luggage! That was my big fear. I had heard some bad things about air travel lately, especially going through Toronto – they are re-doing a couple of runways and between that and the weird weather, lots of cancellations! I was thanking the air travel gods for getting me there.
We had a blast! Thanks to Cindy, Rita, Sandra, Reba, Mary and whoever else pitched in to put together a great show! My buddy, Mike Becker from Distinctive Knits, was there to teach and had a great selection of tools, accessories and stuff. April Mills drove all the way from the west coast to teach and share her knitting expertise. My friend Sonia Burda came up from Florida; Kay (aka Grace) drove down from NY and it was like old home week! Annette Dirlam, a subscriber to Knitwords from day one was there and we had fun remembering the old days - she even brought a sweater that she had made from one of my original books from 1995 (Casual Classics, her version of Sage & Navy), I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of her in it - she wore it in the fashion show and it was a big hit! And Sandra England wore her 'Fit'n'Flare' which was her own design, submitted and published in Knitwords No 14 from  Autumn 2000 - proving that knitware does stand the test of time!
I got some great suggestions for what I should be doing for my next publication – I’ll let you know what I decide on!
To fill my travelling time I read ‘Testimony’ by Anita Shreve – 5 stars! I had read ‘Sea Glass’ and ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ in the past and enjoyed them as well and now I’ll have to search out more of her titles.
Am currently Netflixing ‘Last Tango In Halifax’ – it is heartwarming, heartbreaking, ridiculous, hilarious and I love it!
Going home seemed like a piece of cake and everything went smoothly but there was no luggage when I arrived in T Bay. No big deal! I didn’t have to carry it and they delivered it to my door this morning!
Oh and I forgot to tell you, Jason called me from Rockinghorse Farm in St Cloud, MN  and invited me back to their two day seminar in September (the 15th and 16th) –  I had such a good time there in 2015 and am thrilled to be asked back – I think they might like me! :-)  I’ll be working on something special for then – I’ve got four months!