Thursday, December 31, 2009

unfinished business...

I wouldn’t want you to think I hadn’t finished up the remake of ‘Little Scrapper’ - in spite of running out of yarn and having other stuff to do... the yarn had come in early December, but I was kind of tied up by then knitting things for No 52 and other editorial chores, as well as trying to get a few presents made - I managed to get the fronts done and get it all put together on Boxing Day - I didn't have anything to box up and return ;~)!
We did a photoshoot for No 52 this morning and since both Nathan and Rhiana were modelling their new duds for Spring ‘10, I figured we’d finish up the shoot with a couple of shots of them in their matching - not exact - hoodies from No 51 for proof. Rhiana has her first big girl haircut and I think she's adorable!
Oh, and I have to admit, I didn’t quite get all my shopping bags done - I did get 12 finished and I lost my list of who they were for - I made a new list and came up with 20 and figured, what the heck? I’m obviously being way too generous - some of them can wait for the next occasion!!
In No 52, we have hoodies for almost everyone in the family, cardigans galore, ruffles every which way, buttonholes like you wouldn't believe and just lots of really good stuff!!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas cleaning?

well, I don’t really want to give you the wrong impression and if you’re kinda squeamish about grunge, click off right now. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you...the other day, I was swatching for a lace garment for the next issue and I was using my favourite machine, my standard gauge Silver Reed - I knit most of my stuff on this machine and if you’re actually counting, that’s at least 20 plus garments just in the past year. Now, lace can be a bit temperamental, I’ll admit, but once you get everything right, it’s a walk in the park.
So, with the lace carriage, if the same stitch/needle is dropping or hanging up over the gate peg, first thing to do is change the needle. Well, I had two stitches, same ones, that kept messing up on the swatch, so after taking the swatch off, I went to change the needles, even though they looked fine. So, pull out the sponge bar, pull the needle forward, close the latch, push down on the hook end of the needle to push the other end up through the needle slot and yank it out... there’s gunk (gunch? how the heck do you spell that word?) on the end of the needle, like fluff, but worse! yuk! oh, oh! (grimace)
I belong to the school that believes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! if it still runs, run it, faster, even! You know, change the odd needle, add a drop of oil here and there; once in a blue moon, you might need a new sponge bar - but save the old one, just in case. So, I do know it’s been quite some time since my baby’s had what you call a deep cleaning where all the needles come out and it gets serious.
Now, coincidentally, I have one of those Dyson vacs that has the clear, see-through canister that you can see all the crud that you’re vacuuming - it’s quite fascinating in a disgusting sort of way at first - and I had (seriously, this is no joke) cleaned IT out, washed the canister and the filter last weekend after doing my weekly household chores - not that I do that on a regular basis, don’t get me wrong - I was probably trying to avoid doing something else requiring a little more brain concentration - and did it just because. The only reason I mention this is I brought the super-clean Dyson up to my knitter, thinking I could just give it a quick suck job and things would be cool - oh my, stuff started coming up, but I could see that it was stuck around the needles - no help for it but to pull them all, because no matter how powerful the suction, the crud is wedged under the needles. I even had to use the latch tool to dig in and hook stuff out... well, after all 200 needles were out and not a single scrap of lint left in the needle slots, I looked at the vacuum and couldn’t believe what came out of my poor machine...
is this what they call over-sharing?
Anyway, the purple lace cardi is done - it's beautiful, and me and my baby are happy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

grinchy stuff...

I’m not exactly the grinch, but I have not liked Christmas for a long time - there always seems to be way more hype than it’s worth and all I really want is to spend time with my family. My kids and their SO’s are all grown and are financially stable and when they want something they buy it so it has become increasingly difficult and stressful for me to put together Christmas, between trying to think of something they’d like, finding the time to shop and all that (not to mention getting a magazine ready at the same time). I decided to simplify Christmas this year and, instead, sponsor a local family through Children’s Aid and be a Secret Santa – the money I would have spent on my family, who doesn’t need it, can be put toward a very needy family. One of the best things about it was when I told my boys and their wives, they were all enthused and asked if they could help too! So we sort of divided up the list of essentials and the secret family’s wish list - the top of the list was ‘food is highly needed’ - and it’s put a whole new meaning on Christmas this year.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dana told me he was going to make shopping bags (Take an Old Bag Shopping, No 44) for everyone on his Christmas list, 20 in all - I thought, boy, that’s a big list and a lot of knitting, but, you know, I think it’s one of the best gifts I ever given - everyone I gave one to has just totally loved it and mentioned it several times, so what? - I’m in! I started making my list of people who would deserve, like, and appreciate one and before I knew it, I had 16 people...I rounded up all my part cones of Cannele and Bonita -some bags may end up striped - but I’ll have depleted a shelf and made room for new stuff! I can make a bag in 50 minutes (45 min. for a boy bag - no picots and usually a darker colour, brown or navy - I’m already out of black - and actually I’m favouring the boy bags myself) so I’ve made a pact with myself to either make one at the start of my knitting day or at the end - and if I don’t have time for the entire bag, I’ll make handles and stockpile them on garter bars - they have to be made before getting into the bag and by doing a bunch in a row, it makes it quicker....6 down, 10 to go...I’ll keep you posted!

I haven’t had a Christmas tree for the past 15 years and guess what? well, I didn’t actually put up a tree, but I went out and bought some fairy lights to decorate something, out on the deck in front of the patio doors. My little ones, Nate and Nana, will love it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A new way to graft...

I was in San Francisco last month to teach a workshop - we all had a great time. I felt like a rock star - no, really - Betty rigged me up with a cordless headset microphone and it was wonderful. Usually at the end of 2 days of talking to a large group, my voice is stretched to the limit, but this was a piece of cake. Met some great people, had some great food, the weather was wonderful - a girl from Thunder Bay in the winter, can’t ask for much more than that!
We also did a one day hands-on ribber workshop, just making samples and learning cast-ons and stuff, finishing off with the making of my circular socks because it is a great way to learn a lot about your ribber. So in preparation for this, I had made a couple of pairs, to be ready to show the finishing, seaming the ribbed cuff and grafting the toe. Of course, in a one day workshop, things never get finished off anyway and I came home with 5 socks that needed grafting.
The sock is started off with 2X2 (2X1) ribbing that makes a nice stretchy, comfortable cuff. Then the stitches have to be re-hung for the circular portion of the heel and foot of the sock, ending with the toe being shaped with full fashioned decreases on each bed, to the point where 10 sts on each bed remain. This is taken off on waste yarn and hand grafted. The small opening and the multi-coloured sock yarn make it hard to find the edge stitches to begin the grating and I had missed the edge stitches on a couple, which you don’t see until the waste yarn is removed and leaves holes at the edges - not good... So after rehanging, fixing and reknitting a couple of times, I thought, there’s got to be a better way of doing, I figured out how to do the grafting on the machine, without the waste yarn in the way to obscure the edge stitches. I think it works great - I wouldn’t want to do more that a small section like the toe, because usually hand grafting from waste yarn works well for me, but this method is foolproof, I think.
So, my sock pattern is in No 39 - try it out and then try this method of grafting:
Waste yarn, K16R. Release from machine. Sock will be right side out.
To graft on machine: turn sock inside out and bring tail of MC to this side. On main bed, hang one side and then hang second side on top of the other, right sides together, with tail of MC at right side. Remove the waste yarn.
Leaving sts on n’s, with tail of MC threaded in a darning needle, go through first front stitch (closest to you) from back to front.
Go though both sts on first needle back to front.
*Go front to back through front stitch on second needle and back stitch on first needle.
Then, back to front through both sts on second needle*.
Repeat * to * across, making each stitch snug but not too tight.
The spacing of the needles will help to keep sts even.
At left, go front to back on back stitch of last needle. Pull off and darn in end.
Ha! 2 Christmas presents down...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wrath of the MK gods?

Well, I said I wasn’t superstitious...maybe I should be or maybe I spoke too soon. It’s probably just the machine knitting gods doing a little pay back. I haven’t said anything for a while, hoping it was just my imagination. BUT... now that No 51 arrived, safe and sound from the printers with no mixed up or missing pages, I can finally talk about it.
Not to alarm you, but it was touch and go for a while. Some things that were promised fell short at the last minute, but we had enough to fill the magazine, no sweat. Then it happened. Rick and I were in the middle of layout and we both had computer glitches - ohmigosh, talk about a little stress.
He had updated one of the programs we use for layout, to the latest and greatest. Everything was going tickety-boo and all of a sudden, the program kept shutting down. He decided to go back to the original program and I went home early. We re-convened the next night and I spent an hour watching his hunched shoulders and listening to ‘computer-speak’ as he vainly tried this and that to no avail. I went home early again, trying not to panic.
I had sent my desktop computer out the previous month to be tuned up. After getting it back it took a while for me to realize that although it was speeded up there were a few quirks, such as I was unable to burn a cd - it kept telling me that something was unhooked or missing...I had spent a bit of time trying to figure it out on my own to no avail. Needing to make some disks to go out in the mail the next day, I thought to use my newer laptop which had a cd burner but, the information was on the desktop machine. The cd drive on the desktop would read, just not burn with the program that was installed on it. I knew there was a drag-to-disc thing and attempted to use it. Having successfully loaded the stuff on a cd from the desktop, following instructions carefully, I took the new cd to my laptop, got the information installed on the laptop, and checked to see that it was there. Opened the cd record program, told it what to do and then went to eject the cd to put in a new, blank one - got a blue screen with a very scary message - I had heard other PC-ers describe this but never experienced it - the message said to shut down immediately, that everything was lost and if it failed on re-boot, oh well, too bad - or at least that’s what I thought it said. I tried to shut it down - nothing worked, just this awful blue screen with the same words over and over again. Because it was running on battery, I couldn’t even unplug the darn thing. I just left it bluescreening in the dark and went to bed.
Next morning, it was just sitting there, black. The battery had run out. I thought, okay, what’s the worst thing that can happen if I turn it on - it already told me it was done, so I had nothing to lose. I pressed ON and it booted up like nobody’s business and acted just like nothing happened. I burned my cd’s and went to the mail.
Meanwhile, back at Rick’s, he’d finally sorted out the problem and we were able to finish up No 51, leaving it a little tight at the printer’s end to meet our deadline. But all is well and we did it!!
Meanwhile, I realized I had made Nathan’s hoodie (Little Scrapper) too small - what was I thinking? - oh well,I’d make another - it was using leftovers so I didn’t even really think about it - Panama has great yardage, right? I did the back, the pockets, the sleeves and the hood and now, the fronts which are plain, are left and I’m down to the cone showing through and a swatch from his vest from No 49....this never happens to me!
You can see, the ‘happening’ (see below) made our front cover, renamed ‘Preppy’. Hope you like!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

what I learned today...

Well, maybe it wasn’t all just today. I had Nathan over last Saturday - we were supposed to go to a local farm for their pumpkin fest but it was raining, so we spent the day indoors. Anyway, the point is - Nathan had on ‘Nathanware’ from No 39, Winter ‘06. Although it’s close to getting a wee bit short, it still looks nice and what impressed me most was the zipper still looks really good, lays nice and flat and it works fine - he can zip it up and down, and start it, no problem. He’s now 5 1/2 and No 39 was 3 full years ago. Got me thinking! I examined the zipper and saw that it was metal. Strange, mostly I use the plastic ones because somehow I thought they were sturdier and although they always seem to end up with lumps and bulges after the garment has been washed a few times, I took that as just a fact of life - heck, even bought garments are like that! So, when I took him home, I asked to look at the other ones I’ve made him. Sure enough, all the ones with plastic coil zippers had buckled - the only other one with a metal zipper was nice and flat like this one, even though I always wash the garment and the zipper before putting them in. I came home and checked my sweaters with zippers and same thing - only the metal ones stayed flat. I had even taken some out and restitched them in an attempt to make them flat, but it never seems to work after the next washing.
So, guess what I made for Nate for this next issue? Yep, a hoodie, with pockets and a zip front! He loves hoodies and he loves pockets and I thought, okay, I can come up with another one, a bit different from any of the others, can’t I? (I’ve made him 9 different hoodies since No 29.) I did and he likes it - but he’s such a nice little lad that he’d act like he liked it even if he didn’t.
I had just put the zipper in and by co-incidence, the only zipper I could find locally was a metal tooth one that was just a bit too long - well, truth be told, the metal ones are much easier to shorten...
Use a thin, flat blade screwdriver to pry/loosen the top stopper on each side and gently pull it off - be careful not to damage them - use needle nose pliers to pluck off the extra teeth on each side and then replace the stoppers at the new top on each side, using the pliers gently to squeeze them back on. Leave the tape long - I just sew it along inside the neckline - if you cut it, it frays and it’s hard to sew it neatly if folded under.
Pin the zipper in place, making sure to match each side. I always handstitch the zipper (the garment and the zipper have already been washed and dried same way as it will be later on), with a stab stitch and sewing thread - so the stitching is invisible from the outside - close to the zipper teeth and then whip stitch the edges of the tape to the inside of the garment to stop it rolling in.
Final step, with the sewing machine, stitch up and down through the band and the zipper at the bottom of the zipper - it’s usually too heavy or reinforced with something, to be able to hand stitch through. It helps to begin sewing toward the bottom so as not to pull up the knitting from the bottom edge of the zipper.

Here’s Nate in his new hoodie (Little Scrapper) - what was I thinking? It’s too small! oh well, I have plenty of yarn to make another and this one’s sort of unisex, so Rhiana can wear it! They’ll be matching.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What’s Happening?

I’m having one of those days, I call it puttering around - you know, at the end of the day you don’t really know what you did, but you were busy all day doing’s Sunday, not that it makes a difference, but it’s Labour Day long weekend and not that that makes a diff either, but...
I’m doing odds and ends with a little multi-tasking at the same time - you know, teeth-whitening, breaking in my newest pair of shoes, writing, sewing on buttons, getting ready to go out to my next workshop... Westchester, NY , next weekend.
I’ll be staying with Grace. Actually that’s not her real name - I met her a while back - usually I’m quite good with names and faces - people are amazed at my good memory, usually. Well, one day, I was doing a workshop somewhere in CT - it was in a lady’s house, the room was packed, like about 35 knitters seated closely, in the livingroom. This gal came in a bit late and the only room left was up at the front, beside me. I recognized her, welcomed her and called her Grace all day. At the end, we’re saying goodbys and I told her it was really nice to see her again and she said yes, me too, but my name isn’t Grace! OMG! I was mortified, but it really was funny. Anyway, the story spread and Grace has remained Grace to me and her knitting friends to this day. It’s funny, I have never even ever known anyone named Grace - I’ve always thought it was a lovely name and she looked like a Grace to me - that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
So, back to the puttering, I have a couple of new workshops I’m doing for this fall season and I get to try them out on this NY gang, so I want to look my best, of course. I have most of my knitting done for No 51, which isn’t due out till November 1 - it seems like a long way off, but it’ll be like, tomorrow... anyway, one of the new workshops is on facing techniques so I’ll be taking garments from the past few issues that I’ve used facings for collars, and front edges - I have a new cardigan that might get into No 51, that has a whole lot of things happening - in fact that might be a good name for it... 4 colours of yarn, different stripes on body and sleeve, different ribs on hem and yoke, raglan top with great shaping detail, hidden sewn snap closing (I might fake it with buttons sewn on top just for show - there’s another good name - Faked or Fake Out) and front facings that I did in intarsia because of the black/white top/bottom...
I very rarely use black for knitting something for the magazine, because it’s so hard to see and photograph and show good detail, but I really love black clothing - it goes with everything...I’ve been meaning to tell you about a re-make. It’s called ‘Let’s Swing Again’ - in black - I’m wearing it in the photo with Nathan on our welcome page this time - the original was in No 44 and shown in a variegated rayon from BT Yarns - although I’m not a big fan of variegated, I did like the autumn colourway so I made that cardi - I really wore it a lot, but unfortunately the yarn did not stand up very well, it got a bit fuzzy with wearing and washing and it stretched some - what can you expect from a $19 cone? - so I reknit it using black Wool Crepe Deluxe, one size smaller because the first one seemed a bit long - I used the exact pattern, got the same gauge from my swatch - the WCD is not as soft and drapey as the original yarn, but that's one of the great things about WCD and it’s become my go-to standby for where ever, whenever...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tiger’s eye & tobacco pizzaz...

I know it doesn't have the same ring to it!
There was a lull in the action here yesterday and I had a few moments to knock off a scarf. Now, being a small town girl from Northwestern Ontario, it’s taken me a while to get my head around wearing a scarf as a fashion accessory, rather than a winter necessity - here, winter usually means close to 6 months of the year, so by the time you can leave that winter scarf off, it’s not soon enough!
I really liked Ev McNabb’s ‘Shiraz Pizzaz’ from No 50 and I loved the weight the beads added to the ends. Last week, I knit one in Panama, same as Ev’s pattern, but I used a tuck lace of my own, same number of needles as hers. Mine turned out too wide because, instead of every other needle like Ev’s, my needle arrangement had 2 needles out of work in some spots and 4 together in others which made mine heavier and wider. I liked the resulting look, but needed it to be thinner yarn. Experimenting with Yeoman’s Janerio, I found it’s perfect! (3750m/500g cone, quite fine, 50% viscose (rayon), 25% linen, 25% acrylic)
I used the stitch pattern from ‘Cocoa Beach’, No 42, 92 sts wide and 700 rows. It took about 20 minutes to knit and five to steam press it out. The great thing about Janerio is, it really flattens and stays, because of the linen, I think, giving a nice ‘loft’ to the scarf. I had tracked down some beads - it seems the key is to find beads with holes that your yarn will fit through and then, how to get the beads onto the yarn? Ev said she ended up stripping a twist tie to get a thin wire that would loop the yarn and pass through her beads. The beading needles I found were all pretty fine and the yarn wouldn’t go through the eye. A flash from the past!!! we used to use dental floss threaders to show beginners how to thread the loopers in a serger, back in the day... I dashed out and got some - worked slick!!
While watching ‘So you think you can dance, Canada’ - yes, we have our own version and it’s fabulous - after fringing, I put two ends of yarn in the loop, threaded my sequence of beads on the firm, straight end and pulled them easily onto the yarn, knotted it off and Bob’s your uncle!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

rainy day

Went to the movies on Saturday afternoon - it was raining and I didn't feel like knitting- saw ‘Julie & Julia’ - I loved it - made me want to buy a string of pearls and cook beef bourguignon!! Well, actually, I love to cook already and though I’ve never been a Julia Child fan, I think it was only because I had never been exposed to her in the right way, I guess.
Anyway, the movie was totally fun and I went, thanks to Richard Crouse on CanadaAM the other day - he’s my go-to movie critic and I know I can trust him to give an honest review that will tell me whether I should see that particular movie or not - he gave it 4 out of 5 stars, a pretty high rating for him - he admitted to being a bit leery going in, which was my thought exactly. But both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams were very good, totally believable; likeable throughout and loved by the end.
I came home and dug out my one, previously ignored, Julia Child cookbook, 'From Julia Child’s Kitchen' - I think my daughter-in-law picked it up at a garage sale a few years back. I felt like I could identify with her style of writing and explaining what she did - I've always thought writing machine knitting patterns and articles were like making recipes.
I had already invited an old friend to come to lunch on Tuesday and had asked her if there was anything she was allergic to or couldn’t eat. She said no, not really, just she didn’t like spicy stuff. She had called me back to tell me she didn’t like eggs, like not in anyway you could actually identify the egg - I thought it was kind of weird, never had anyone tell me that before and then, in the movie, here’s Julie, trying to psyche herself up for the eggs chapter and telling her husband she never ate eggs, not fried, boiled or whatever - she finally managed to perfect Julia’s poached egg and pronounced it lovely, like eating butter - should I try this with Helen? maybe not...
Nobody said I had to keep this strictly knitting... I was going to give you my new recipe for jellied cucumber salad, but I'm not pushing my luck!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fresh out of pink...

Have you ever had one of those laundry malfunctions where your clothes come out pink? I did a small load of light coloured things, a couple of camisoles, some undies, a shirt or two and when I took them out of the washer, two items were pink and the rest were all fine - how weird is that? I know what happened - I had washed a red satin cami - its third or fourth wash and dye was still coming out -in fact, the dye had been coming off on the top of my jeans and even on my skin - the night before and I’d forgot about it. There was obviously some residue left in the washer and my good white shirt soaked it up and only the trim on an ivory cami. I re-washed them right away thinking that would take it out. Nope.
This happened early this spring. I had hung the shirt to dry and it was still there, with all it’s pink!! I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. I couldn’t even wear it pink because it has a small, random motif screen painted on it in black and gold and the pink really did not go with the print.
The other day, I was in the grocery store and for some reason, instead of doing my usual mad dash from the produce to the meat counter and out the door as quick as possible, I wandered down an unfamiliar aisle and saw a display of RIT fabric dye. Suddenly, I remembered an experiment several years ago when I was playing with bleaches and dyes and I recalled there was a product that would take some dye out of fabric, to make it more conducive to over-dyeing. And there it was, packages of RIT Colour Remover. Oh, I had nothing to loose! Took a package and went home to try it.
Dissolved the stuff in hot tap water in a large stainless bowl and tossed in my pink shirt - there was a chemical odour and a few swishes with a wooden spoon and presto, pink’s gone! I pulled out the shirt and put the cami in - it worked too! I’m so happy, I had to share this!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hand job...

Manual work, non-automatic...when talking about a machine, you expect the machine does all the work, right? Well, yes the machine does the knitting, but how the stitches come out, in this case, largely depends on a fair amount of hand manipulation by the operator.
Don’t know if I mentioned this before, but there are times when a careful eye may notice a link in some of my designs. I have something I like in one way in a certain design and I find myself incorporating it in another way into another design - sometimes I think I work it to death, but I feel compelled to keep using it to get it out of my system.
I told you about ‘Spots in dots’ and how I came up with this mesh knitting thing that made ‘square’ holes - it is every other needle, but there are actually 3 sts on every 4th needle instead of 2 sts on every other needle. I liked the way it raised the column of stitches and it seemed to help hold the fabric more flat, instead of curling around like stockinette does. So, it seemed natural to incorporate EON with 3 sts on every 4th needle into my mid gauge project for No 50. You may also have noticed I don’t often take the easy way out. Why not add an extra little detail to keep raising that bar?
Planning out ‘Midway’ (yes, it’s another hoodie! - the popularity of this item does not seem to be diminishing), I just happened to have this wonderful wool/alpaca blend hand knitting yarn, slightly heavier than regular DK weight - I think anyway - in a perfect olive-y shade - I think anyway - and like, to back me up, the girls at the photoshoot were just loving this little cardy - both Alex and Shanley WANTED it - Alex even said it made her want to learn to knit!! Shanley began imagining where she would wear it and it turned out to be just about everywhere, from camp to partying. I knew we had a winner even though they didn’t realize the intricacy of the manually transferred lace pattern.
Admission - I knit this on the metal bed SK860 because I wanted the ribs to be 2X2 and with the ribber on that machine, it is totally easy, but I think I finally figured out just why I love the plastic bed LK150 so much. Hand transfers are so much easier on the LK150 because there are no sinker posts to get caught up on. The sinker posts on the metal bed - especially when the ribber is attached and therefore the knit bed is angled - make the transfer moves more exaggerated than with the channels dividing the needles on the plastic bed. If I were to make this again, I’d knit the ribs on the ribber, transfer them up to the main bed, take them off on waste yarn and rehang the pieces on the LK and thoroughly enjoy the hand work!!!
Here’s our cover garment for No 50 - ta-da!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Geezer Chic...

What on earth is a ‘geezer’ cardigan? Well, I guess the idea behind it - I’d heard young people were going to Value Village and the Sally Ann, searching out old men’s cardigans to wear. And I thought, well, everyone’s heard of the boyfriend sweater - never sure what it really was other than maybe, kind of like a sweater a young girl might borrow from her boyfriend and not want to give back because she found it comfy for schlepping around... who knows? So, I figured, okay, take the design elements of the old guy’s cardigan and turn it into a fashion statement.
Well, I’d like patch pockets, a vee neck, buttoned front, of course - otherwise it wouldn’t be a cardigan, duh? I also thought - longer than we’ve seen for a while and slightly A-line, instead of fitted.
The yarn I chose is simply gorgeous - Jaggerspun zephyr wool/silk 2/18 which I used doubled, making similar to a 4 ply fingering weight in stockinette - the sheen and drape to this yarn is awesome. The hems are deep, full needle rib, left open at the sides. I did the same depth on the cuff and when I tried it on, after seaming the sides and underarm, I liked the cuff left open as well! The front band is knit in one piece vertically, circular, with vertical slit buttonholes. Getting it all together, the final touch was finding the big black leather buttons, just like the old style you used to see on Grandpa’s sweater!
I wasn’t too sure about using this name, but at the photo shoot, when I gave it to Shanley to put on, and told her I was thinking of calling it ‘Geezer Classic’ or ‘Geezer Chic’, she said ‘oh, it has to be ‘Geezer Chic’! Here’s Shanley! Look for this in No 50!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Needles to say...

You may have wondered about the title of my blog or maybe not...I’m going to tell you anyway. Back in the early 90’s there was a lovely magazine called ‘Machine Knit America’ and I was a fairly regular contributor for most of the 6 years of their duration. Many of the experiences I had with them shaped some of my quirks for K’words - more on that another time!
In Vol 2 No 1 (July 1992), I had a design they called ‘Canadian Cooler’ - totally dumb name, considering the jacket was made with DK wool, nothing cool about it and, in the previous issue, I had a 2 piece threadlace outfit they had named ‘Strawberry Cooler’. I’m sure you may see some of my motivation for the names of the designs in K’words!
They had certain ways of wanting things said and done in their magazine, which is their right, of course and I had to follow their format. Anyway, it was such a popular design that I re-knit it, made a few changes and published it as a single pattern pamphlett in 1995. I had made the jacket many times, having done several hands-on workshops with that pattern, both locally and nationally.
January 1996, I received a letter from a lady in Florida - really just copies of 2 previous letters, reprinted from her computer files, that she wrote to the editor of MKA. The first was dated October, 1993. In it, she explains she made the ‘Canadian Cooler’ and although happy with her finished product, she found the experience to be ‘very hard, frostrating and time consuming to make something and it does not go together very well. I sure hope, that this Lady proofs her Knitting.’ Her letter was so full of errors, it was hard to tell if they were typos, spelling mistakes or just how she talked. She outlined her troubles and, using her own brand of abbreviations and words, told how she fixed the glaring problems in the pattern. Another of her comments ‘Everything was fine until I got to the Nick band. 70 stitches? Even a very thin person would not fit this. I made it 120.’ ( I still have my original notes, using 140 sts, but somehow MKA changed it to 70 sts.) Marie continued to tell of the changes she made to the pattern, and ended with ‘It is very hard and time consuming to make it look nice. Well, needles to say, with my next garment I was smarter...I do hope, this writing does not get too long and booring. I also hope, that you will respond to my letter.’

January 18, 1996, Marie again writes to the editor of MKA, saying she never received a reply to her earlier letter. She had recently attended a seminar in Tampa where a demonstrator had a ‘folder of the very same "‘Canadian Cooler" and when I looked, I found, that there been a lot of improvments in the Pattern, some been my suggestions. Needles to say, I felt very hurt about this. Nobody ever contacted me in any way, and yet, some of my suggestions been used. Again I would like to say "it would be nice, if you would answer your mail. I am sure you get a lot of mail, but in all this time, surely you could had found a couple of minutes to answer. Afterall, I do buy your magazine or at least I did in the past.’

By the time I got to the end of her second letter, I was laughing so hard, I could barely hold the pages and I kept saying, ‘needles to say...I just love that - one day I’ll use it!!’
Anyway, I did send her a hand written note (I kept a copy of it too)
Jan 26/96
Dear Marie, I was very concerned, upon reading your letters, that you have had such an experience. It was never brought to my attention there was any problem with the ‘Canadian Cooler’ pattern in MKA. I must say you seem to be a very determined knitter to have overcome all of the problems. Keep up the good work! I am sending you a complimentary copy of the slip cable jacket as my way of apologizing for the situation. Sincerely, Mary Anne

I never received an answer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The same but different...

Where do the ideas and designs come from? Sometimes they are as simple as needing something to wear with something I already have. Or, in the case of ‘Flouncing Around’, I was given a beautiful handmade beaded necklace - Heather gave it to me last fall after an intensive hands-on workshop in Indiana - she said her Mom crocheted it just for me - it was after my admitted green crisis and I think they were hoping to divert my attention to other colours. It has four strands of beads, in ivory, plum and cranberry, that spiral - beats me how it was made, but it is very pretty and I was totally honoured to receive it. I just happened to have some wool crepe deluxe in black cherry that was perfect for it. Also, in the back of my head was a vague idea of a fitted cardigan with an asymmetrical ruffle. So, I started knitting....basic waist length fitted shape; wide, low vee; button front; elbow length sleeve. I ended up with a flounced peplum of sideways shortrows that looked cute and I added it to the sleeve and decided that was enough for one design. The plain neckline is the prefect frame for my necklace! Thank you, Heather’s Mom! And it goes perfectly with my fairisle skirt from ‘Sassy Skirts’.
That first idea of ruffles on one side of the vee was still in my head, so I re-knit the same basic block using another colour of Velveen, changed the hemline and sleeve by using a 1X1 rib with a really neat chained edging and picot knot (new technique), did a double ruffle (with two more brand new edges!!) on one side only, used my skin print buttons, well-aged and I just love it! I called it ‘Wild Side’. If you think it’s trashy, keep it to yourself, I don’t want to know!
These are two more of the designs in No 50 - I really like this idea - taking a basic block and changing it up with plenty of options - or just try it plain - you’ll see more of this in the future, I’m already working on things for No 51!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Spots in Dots...

I have felt rather bad, almost like I’ve been dissing the brother machine unnecessarily after that thread lace thing - I felt that I should give it another chance. Lace knitting is one of my favourite looks and I love coming up with something that looks crochet-like. I had this idea in mind to make a mesh-like canvas and then have random spots or squares or whatever, similar to filet-crochet without the picture thing. I began swatching on the brother - it was really easy, once I came up with my mesh fabric, to simply push back some needles after passing the lace carriage, to de-select some of the mesh and get a spot of knit stitches here and there. After looking at the results, I went to Designaknit and made a large swatch of the mesh and then used the ‘eraser’ to make spots similar to my swatch, so it would be automatic. Back to the brother and knit 2 swatches at differing stitch sizes to find the optimum. Turned out tighter was better, because of the openness of the stitch pattern.
Now, to knit lace on the brother, it means at least 4 passes of the lace carriage and then knit 2 rows with the main carriage; the yarn stays threaded up in the main carriage. Not really a big deal, once you get into the rhythm, but as I was swatching, I kept dreaming of my Silver Reed, with which I can simply knit plain lace as quickly as stockinette. I couldn’t resist. I re-designed the stitch pattern for the Silver Reed and made a swatch. Hummm...interesting! What I thought was plain lace really wasn’t and the swatch did look better from the brother than the plain lace on the Silver Reed. Might look the same to the casual observer, but the holes stay more square on the brother swatch. To get exactly the same thing on the Silver Reed, I would need to knit it as fashion lace: take out the yarn, change the cam to fashion lace, pass 2 rows, re-thread the carriage, change the cam back to stockinette, K2R and repeat throughout. The re-threading of the carriage can be tricky and if not careful, you can easily dump everything. I decided to stick with the brother.
Cast on 80-0-81 needles. Now, I forgot to say, with this mesh knitting, I found that I liked the edges to have at least 2 plain stitches for seaming, so, while knitting this, on two of the rows of the lace carriage, I need to be watching the end needles and push back any that are selected on the 2nd needle from each side. I have already programmed my shape file into the box, but it’s a fairly simple body, just straight to the underarm. I knit a couple of rows and I realize the pattern has not advanced like it should. Reset to the proper row, pass the lace carriage and I get this error message, something like ‘No 48 error, carriage has not passed row tripper’. Sigh. Go find the manual to see what the answer is - there isn’t one that applies to the lace carriage. I changed the sponge bar, thinking maybe the lace carriage is sitting lower than the regular carriage or something. Try again, no difference. It’s after 5pm, so I won’t find any tech support anywhere right then, so I manually clicked the row tripper after passing the lace carriage and it worked, advancing the pattern to the next row. So feature this - pass lace carriage, check end needles, click row tripper, lace, watch end needles, push one back, click row tripper, lace, end needles, row tripper, lace, end needles, row tripper, knit 2 rows! I’ve got a mantra going - lace ends trip, lace ends trip, lace ends trip, lace ends trip, knit 2 rows. I’m concentrating so hard on keeping all this straight, I’ve got about 40 rows done and the box is indicating that I should be decreasing stitches. The darn thing thinks I’m at the underarm already!! I realize my tripping the row counter is racking up garment rows which the lace carriage does not usually do. Fortunately, I do have a manual row counter on this machine that I use faithfully, as well as the one in the box and I have charted out my shape on graph paper, so can follow that. I manage to complete the garment - somewhere around the middle of the front, the row tripper decides to get back in the game so I never did find out what went wrong, but my finished garment is beautiful and just what I had imagined!!! See KNITWORDS No 50, coming soon!! The yarn is CannelĂ© from Yeoman Yarns and the edging is from ‘Band Practise’, perfect with the filet-knit!
My working title for this was Testing, 1, 2, 3... but you never would have known what that meant!!
PS - yesterday, I went back to the brother. I wanted to make one of those shopping bags (Take an Old Bag Shopping - KW No 44 and see previous blogs) for a gift and, still high on my success with ‘Spots in Dots’, remembering I had thought doing the bag on the brother might be quicker because of being able to use the lace carriage for the transfers to every other needle....NOT!! (for me anyway!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

All Ribbing Aside...

Back in mid-April, I had a few hours between things, I think I was hanging around waiting for the proof copy of No 49 to come in from the printers and decided to use the time to try out an idea. I had seen a girl at the bank wearing a wide rib sweater that was cute. Hers was a chunky knit and it was the collar that interested me. It was a wide rib also, that circled her neck and was buttoned with a large button in front. I often get vague ideas like that, mull them over for a bit and it develops into something to make. I did up a couple of swatches of various ribs, on the standard gauge machine, in a discontinued yarn, Forsell’s Thistledown Silk, even using a colour (pale blue) I didn’t particularly love. I chose the yarn knowing it would steam out fairly flat and it stay that way - I’m not such a masochist that I really wanted a stretchy, clingy ribbed sweater! So, short story, I ended up with a really cute raglan A-line cardy and since I was teaching a class on facings, threw it into my suitcase when doing my Spring seminars and called it my prototype - they loved it!
Back home and settled into knitting for No 50, I had to re-do the 3X3 rib. Having experimented with the facings, one method worked much better than the other and it needed to be made in a current yarn. I chose Yeoman’s Twister in the red/black colourway - actually, there were a couple of cones on the shelf just waiting to be picked. I’ve used this yarn in a couple of double bed garments and found it to be very nice to work with and although soft, doesn’t seem to have much stretch too it, which was one of the properties I was looking for. Twister also has great yardage, 1 cone will do it, with plenty leftover, but I always like to have 2 of one dyelot of anything, just to be on the safe side. It was a very quick knit, with great raglan seams, an excellent teaching project.
I wanted to really check out my pattern and instructions so I asked Cindy from ABQ if she’d be willing to test knit it for me. She likes to learn new things and accepted the challenge. We emailed back and forth a bit, but between the accompanying article and the pattern, other than re-checking numbers - the pattern had not been to my proofreader’s yet - she was able to get her garment finished without extra help from me - she loved the fact it was such a quick knit and marvelled that she usually has to re-knit pieces over - she refers to it as the body count and was pleased she was able to get 5 pieces done only once each! She sent a photo of her completed garment just 10 days after starting. I was impressed! She was able to point out a few things from a beginner’s standpoint that needed more instruction, so we were both happy!.
Along with her photo, Cindy wrote: ‘The way the ribs decrease together at the raglans is really a thing of beauty, Mary Anne. It really fits well too; I guess I need to do the loop and button to finish it up? Thank you for letting me knit this; mostly I had fun and now feel like me and the ribber are friends, after all!’
So, just to give you the head’s up on what’s coming, it’s ‘Just Ribbing’! in No 50 - told you it was a bad hair day...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

absence makes the heart grow fonder?

I know, I know...where the heck have I been?? I’ve got lots of excuses, but why bother, I’m back, thanks to Cecile in Florida! She called yesterday to renew, order a book and to ask me what happened to my blog - she had become a silent, dedicated reader and told me she checked every week to see what I was up to and she’s really missed me - I felt so bad, like I let her down and I promised to get back into it.
I saw a local ad the other day, ‘50 years later and we’re still in business’ - forget the 50 years, 50 issues later and I’m still here, WOW!!
Anyway, we did the photo shoot for No 50 the other day and I’m so happy! It was amazing - you probably don’t realize how stressful the photo shoots can be. Lining up models, figuring out when they can come and then hoping that things will fit and look good. Most of our models are friends, family and friends of friends and nobody’s professional. Sometimes, I get girls showing up that I’ve never seen and don’t even know what size they are. I’ve had it all - someone who tells you they are a size 14 ( you need a 12 to 14) and they get there and they’re really an 18!! yikes, try to be polite and make it work??? Or, just as bad, you need a ten and she’s a two. And, yes, the gal who was an 8 last year and forgets to tell you she’s gained a few...or a girl you just met and she looked fine, but shows up with a new haircut and yikes, what was I thinking!! and you know, they are all doing this for free and doing me a favour and I really do appreciate it.
So, here’s the inside scoop. I went to get my nails done on Tuesday and there’s Shanley (aesthetician, cover of No 41, dark hair, 5’7", beautiful, 30) and Alex, the massage therapist who works with her (new girl, 25, tiny, petite, totally cute). I casually asked them both if they’d like to come and try it out. Knowing they are self-employed, I expected them to be too busy, but after juggling their appointment book, they say they can both come late Thursday afternoon - wow!!, but oh fooey, I’m not quite ready! I’ll make this work if it means staying up all night! Buttons to sew on, final pressing, always a few more ends to darn in and, what to have to go with what???
I generally try to have 4 to 5 girls for 10-12 adult garments, put the same garment on at least 2 girls and it takes some doing, sometimes lasting all day and at least 2 to 3 different days, which means getting everything pressed and ready and shlepping it all over to Bill’s a couple of times. I guess what I’m trying to say, it isn’t just a snap of the fingers.
Okay, it’s Thursday afternoon and they’re due at Bill’s at 5:30pm. The day’s muggy and quite warm, all the requirements for bad hair; mine’s frizzy already and I know fine hair goes limp, yadda, yadda, yadda... I’m worrying already that Alex is going to be too tiny and she’s never modelled before. The girls arrive, and we all hustle around. Bill and I’ve already checked out the lights and his camera settings. I’ve got all the clothes laid out and I have a basic plan of what to start with, until I see how things are fitting and how the girls are posing. 45 minutes later, they’re heading out the door and Bill and I are both feeling like we’re not really sure what just happened! But, we’ve got 340 photos, and all 10 of the adult garments are done and everything looked fabulous!!
Well, the proof is in the pictures!! Stay tuned for a few sneak peak previews of what’s in No 50!! It’ll blow you away!! Now, just the kids to do, later this week and we’ll be all ready for you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy feet

I just know you’re not going to believe what I did yesterday! We finished up No 49 on Sunday night and got it sent off to the printers. I had a bit of office work to occupy the morning and then I was wandering around trying to come up with something to do. I looked at all my yarn and tried to invent a project, but mostly on days like this, I find it hard to focus - kind of like after the sugar rush of putting all my energy into getting the magazine finished and now, what should I do?
I had gotten my bicycle out over the weekend, even though my back yard is still full of snow. So, I went for my second spin of the season - it felt good, in spite of my sore butt!!
So, back in the office, looking for something to get into - not that I really have nothing to do, but, again, the focus thing. What CAN I do??
Here’s the part, brace yourself - I re-knit some socks. Yes, you read right! MAO actually re-knit something! Now, don’t get too excited, I didn’t unravel and reknit - I actually had a couple of pairs of socks (KNITWORDS No 24; No 39) - double bed socks of nice, expensive sock yarn with worn-out holes in the toes and bottom of the feet - I couldn’t bear to throw them out, they were my favourites! Before Christmas, while cleaning out drawers and cupboards, I’d set these aside, promising myself I’d do something, but I really felt I was just prolonging the agony. The tops of the socks are still perfect, nicely ribbed in stretchy 2X2 rib - that part will never wear out. But the holes in the stockinette part - couldn’t even be darned if you even would think of that, which I wouldn’t.
I had leftovers of the same yarn and figured, why not? I cut off the sock, below the rib - it’s still in a circle and it was quite easy to follow a fairly straight line because of the colour changes of the self-patterning sock yarn. Picked out the bits of broken stitches and unravelled a whole row. Then, knowing exactly how many stitches, I hung the rib bed stitches first - this is the trickiest part. Then brought the ribber up and hung the main bed stitches. Threaded up the new yarn and whipped off the new foot - too simple.
Have your sock right side out - that’s the correct way for rehanging! Find the seam that was at the back of the leg and put that part in the centre of the main bed, same place where you are going to shape the heel.
I just thought this - my Dad used to wear ‘Happy Foot’ socks - now I have some!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

trashy or sassy???

Been pretty busy lately, working on No 49, our next issue - it’s our summer publication and is always the most popular, first one to sell out - I guess because new subscribers almost always order a back issue or two and most often, they pick a summer one, maybe because they live in a warm climate. Probably looking for lightweight stuff, I guess - don’t really know, but anyway - summer it is, and actually for me, the most difficult. We don’t get really hot weather here and it will usually only be in mid-afternoon, so not worth too much worrying about. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be happy with what we have - hint - this issue is all about options - intended or otherwise... tell you more about it later!
I’m supposed to be finishing up an article right now on successful yarn substitution and it’s almost finished, but I needed to take a break - actually, other thoughts keep intruding! Hope the boss doesn’t find out! I’m also - in my spare time - working on a few extra things for the seminars at the end of April.
I’ve always been secretly attracted to animal print - I say secretly because it seems sort of trashy - you know like you see some blonde bimbo in a comedy sketch or in a country music video, with tight pants, too tight leopard top and a cigarette, in a double-wide...on ‘What Not To Wear’, there's some poor lady with leopard pants and a furry leopard jacket and you kind of die inside for her because you know what they’re gonna say! I do have a pair of skin print pj’s that I got from VS a long time ago that I still love! and on my recent trip to MSP, I picked up a leopard (??) print cami. You might remember, last Fall I got the cutest animal print pumps that went perfectly with an outfit I’d already made. It’s been winter here for a long time, so they’ve been hanging on a shoe rack on the back of the door to my sewing room...oh, and another confession, my glasses have a tortise-shell frame that's kinda the same thing!
Now,way back in 1996, I bought these sweet skin print buttons, on sale - I was going to knit something to go with them. I did knit a fairisle skin print - not sure what animal it was - that I cut’n’sewed into a vest. By the time it was finished, I decided the buttons would be overkill and had put them away for the next time skin prints made a comeback.
Now, back to knitting - I get a germ of an idea and I play around with it. I saw a cute little cardy last year with a double ruffle on a deep vee neck that’s been in the back of my mind since then. I actually took that idea and somehow it turned into a cardy, yes, with a deep vee neck, yes, but the ruffle ended up as a peplum thing below the waist and around the bottom of elbow-length, fitted sleeves. Totally cute and I love it! But that double ruffle was still playing in the back of my mind. So, to divert my mind from the writer’s block, I began experimenting with this ruffle idea again.
Here’s what I’ve got so far - 3 new edges!!!you’ll have to wait to see the end of the story - will it be in No 49 or be held over for No 50? will I use the buttons or save them for the next time I get an animal notion?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac was amazing!! My friend Donna, and I drove down to St Paul, MN for the concert on Tuesday night - well, actually we went Monday, shopped Tuesday, took in the concert Tuesday night and came home yesterday, a great winter break!
Stevie Nicks looks great, hard to believe she’s 60!!! We loved her costume changes - she had on very high red boots and a black dress throughout - she used several shawls - one was gold, one was red and a black one too!! she didn’t do much moving or dancing, but did a lot of twirling, flipping and playing with the shawls, back-lit, centre stage - very girly-girl - we weren’t close enough to see what they were made of, but the gold one, I felt sure, was knit. Her voice has that great raspy, gravelly tone, even better than her younger days, that I love. Lindsey Buckingham was absolutely incredible - he worked it every second of the full 2 hours the band played. The drummer, Fleetwood, also put everything he could into the performance.
We got to lunch with my friend Mar, in MSP - she took me to a really great yarn shop called ‘Skeins’ in Hopkins - definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area!! Be prepared to splurge!!! And she'd made me a personalized, knitted tote bag - I'll bring it to the spring shows.
For any Canadians who know what it’s like coming back through the border, after a shopping trip, you might like this - you’re driving up to the Customs window - even if you haven’t over-bought or anything, there is still that little guilty feeling of doing or saying something wrong and the fear of them catching you doing something you shouldn’t have...and you never seem know if you’re under your allowable limit - well, we know, but hope we’ll get through without having to pay or worse, a search of the vehicle...anyway, at the window, I see a nice, older guy I recognize - he never acknowledges that he ‘knows’ me, but is always polite and says something pleasant at the end. He asks us our names and where we’ve been. Donna says Minneapolis which is how Thunder Bayers think of a trip to the Twin Cities, but I put in ‘St Paul’ because that’s where we actually stayed, right across from where the concert was. He asks what we’re bringing back and we both say our amounts, a few dollars over the allowable. Then, he says, ‘and the most important thing..’ and pauses - we both hold our breath, wondering what is coming??? He says, ‘how was Fleetwood Mac??’ Thrilled, we both told him how great it was - he asked if we’d go again - hell, YES!!
Safe drive, he says as he closes the window!

Friday, February 20, 2009

what every brother knitter should know...

I’m not going to name all the names, but, this problem occurs every now and then - usually involving a tuck pattern. I get a bunch of emails or frantic phone calls from knitters insisting that there must be a mistake in the pattern. The first question I ask - what machine are you using? but I already know the answer... ‘my brother’...of course.
This time, the pattern in question was ‘Take an old bag shopping’ , our ‘go green’ shopping bag from No 44 (also see April 2008, 'a bag or two'). The original one was done on a Passap by Pat Holbrook - oops, I said I wasn’t going to mention any names - I was so intrigued with the idea of the stretchy, mesh fabric that was created, I converted the pattern for the Japanese machines. But, I never said I was perfect! I guess I figured all brother knitters would know about needles out of work and the end needle selection thing and I forgot to mention it. If this has caused you grief, I apologize.
So, here it is (and a few other pointers) in BLOCK CAPS!!
1. When working with every other needle or needles out of work, such as tuck lace - DO NOT USE END NEEDLE SELECTION - set to KCll instead. If you use KCl, the needles beside the out of work needle become an end needle and you will get no pattern on that needle. So, think about it - this applies to any time you have needles out of work - tuck lace or even a double bed pattern, when there are needles on the rib bed to fill in the empty needle on the main bed... what I do is a dry run or ‘air knitting’. No yarn, bring out some needles. Pass the carriage across to put the needles in B position. Go outside the turn mark, set to KC1 to select the pattern, and move the carriage across. Look at what you have. For a regular tuck pattern, most of the needles will be brought out. These will be knit stitches. The needles left in B will be the tucked stitches if the pattern is properly entered... if it doesn’t look right, you may need to reverse the needle selection or, in the needles out of work scenario, set the carriage for KCll and voilĂ , you have your tuck pattern!! Use this to make sure you have the correct needles in work for tuck lace also.
2. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN ‘read/select’ the pattern from EITHER side of the machine - it does NOT have to be from the left side only.
3. On the 970, when programming in your own lace pattern (i.e. one that is not built-in), because there is no actual option for doing this, enter the pattern or download it as a 2 colour fairisle. You will have no memo information, so you need to pay attention and know when to use the lace carriage for transfers and when to knit rows with the knit carriage. Sometimes you may need to flip the pattern horizontally - DAK flips it automatically for you but you don’t want that for lace. In the patterns in KNITWORDS, we show the pattern the way it should be entered on your punchcard, mylar or screen.
4. That funny little wire thingy on the tension mast - that is a sub take-up spring, used for your fine yarn to add extra tension for thread lace knitting. Put the thin yarn in the left side and then into this spring.
There’s sure to be some other things...stay tuned!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Battle of the sexes...

Summer is coming (sometime, I guess - but it’s been so freaking cold here - if Clinton can use that word so can I!!). It’s rather hard to get my head around cool knitwear - that might be my new oxymoron - you know, I just realized that ‘advanced beginner’ is an oxymoron...gonna have to change that - any ideas???
Okay, so back to planning my summer issue. I do like thread lace and Mar Heck’s Dragonfly shawl pattern and article in No 48 (it's in the mail!!) inspired me to make a new stitch pattern from of a leaf design I’ve been tinkering with. I want something light, airy, cool and suitable for my hot friends in hot places. In going over Mar's article (she does all her knitting on Brother and I do the majority of mine on my Silver Reeds) she had me convinced that knitting thread lace on the Brother was going to work better than on my Silver Reed. You might ask why? Because the machines knit differently. In particular, on the Brother in thread lace, the ‘selected’ needles -the ones brought out - knit only the finer yarn and the non-selected needles knit both threads, so it is possible to get a better edge on Brother, by using the non-selected end needles feature and, if the end needles are selected because of the pattern, you can push them back before knitting the row, resulting in a better edge. On the Silver Reed, in order to make sure the finer yarn knits properly, the end needles are brought out at the beginning of the row, with hold set on one way. This means the end stitches are knit only every second row, with the finer yarn only, making a rather wimpy edge that can be difficult to seam, depending on yarn choice. Even if it knits without bringing out the end needles, moving the point cams still won't make the edge stitches knit with both yarns, in fact the opposite. So, like I said, Mar had me convinced I should use the Brother for this new project. I go to my Brother 970 - I do know how to operate it, but... excuses, excuses...
I have tried out my stitch pattern on the Silver Reed, making a swatch with the yarn I intend to use, a slub rayon (putty) and a very fine cotton rayon yarn in the same light shade. Happy with it! Now, move to the Brother 970. I have planned my shape, drawing it to scale on graph paper in preparation for making notes from which I will write and grade sizes for the pattern for the magazine. It will be a cardy with drapy fronts, and 3/4 sleeve, so the front pieces are asymmetrical. Normally I would draw the shape on mylar for my KR11 knit radar which links to any of my Silver Reeds. I attempt putting the shape into the CB1, something I have not done for quite a long time, but with instruction manual in hand, I get the back shape in, relatively quickly. I entered it as a symmetrical shape, not realizing until after the fact I cannot just alter it to make the fronts and I did not make detailed notes of the places where the program takes over. I have a few choice phrases for the poor CB1 box, decide I will deal with the fronts later, just continue as if only to make the back. I fiddle a few moments, trying to get the ‘box’ to accept my shape file - I begin to feel empathy for poor Steve in the cereal commercial when his wife asks, what else does box say? Box says, shut up, Steve!
The box wants the swatch information and I haven’t made it yet!!! okay, scrap that idea, I’ll put that in later. Download my leaf thread lace into the box, which means, take the box, remembering to take converter and power cord with me, up to my desktop computer which has DesignaKnit and the cord that goes to the box. Do the do, take the box back down, put it on the 970, plug it in, turn the machine on and proceed to make the swatch. Cast on with waste yarn. Knit a row of disposable ravel cord - the only one handy is a light brownish mercerised cotton and, knowing I’ll likely regret this, do it anyway. Remove waste yarn and thread up my 2 yarns - I have 2 tension assemblies on the Silver Reed, so can have waste yarn always threaded up. Knit 16 rows of graded tension hem and sure enough, as I pick up the first row, berate myself for using that beige ravel cord. Half way across, break down and go in search of my work-station bi-focals and florescent lamp. Get to the end of the row, pull out the ravel cord, check all is well with hem. Use next row to join hem and read/select for first row of pattern by setting the carriage to KCll, congratulating myself for making sure I’m outside the turn mark.
Back on the right side, strangely, all needles are selected, instead of the every other I was expecting. Fiddle with the box, make sure I have not inadvertently locked the pattern or something dumb like that - one of those silly little omissions... I push back all the needles and confidently depress both part buttons to get a free pass to re-select and be back on the same side as the this several times with same results, before remembering ‘the box’ sometimes doesn’t know it is really attached to the machine - turn off machine, unhook cable, rehook, turn on again and pass carriage across.
What the?? my hem is dangling in mid air - oh yeah, I forgot, on this fifth time, to push the selected needles back!! Holy hell! another oxymoron, emphasis on the MORON!! The needles are selected for my pattern, though!! But just wait!! Against everything I’ve ever taught and preached and know in my heart, instead of breaking it off and remaking the hem, I decide to rehang it. Why does it amaze me when, at the end of this agonizing row I see I’ve missed the second strand on 10 or 12 stitches??? Still calm though, I fix them, taking pride in the fact I shall use this swatch in a teaching demo some day.
Everything back on, re-select without incident, rethread, set to thread lace and knit several rows. Hummmmm - long floats. Why? check both the centre buttons are properly depressed as per thread lace, click them out and in a couple of times, knit a few more rows. Set it to fairisle, top button only to see what happens. Yeah, it’s different, so the thread lace was working. It dawns on me the wrong needles are being selected. Guess I forgot to check the main and contrast in my DAK pattern before I downloaded it - that screws me over all the time!! Okay, I go to the box, find the variation screen, change it to select the opposite needles, go back to my pattern and knit again. Same thing. Oh, maybe I need to be outside the turn again. Do that. Nope. Still the same. Okay, go back to the variation screen, pick up the manual and see that I need to actually click the solid or #2 key to lock the variation negative ON. (Note to self, oh yeah, back on the knit screen, it will have a (v) to indicate there is a variation working!!!) Fix that, go back to the knit screen, re-select, outside the turn just in case. Humph! it works, thread lace knitting as it is meant to be.
What I’ve learned?? I think the Silver Reed is a female machine and the Brother is a male machine!!

In-betweens...sometime last week...

I usually take this time to do a little ‘practise’ and lately, I like to do a remake of my favourite garment from the last issue, sort of to get myself back in the knitting groove and just take it easy - for me, it’s almost like cheating, not having to think too much and just taking a ‘done’ pattern (not even making a swatch) and tossing it off, so to speak. Yeah, right!! So my pattern of choice is ‘Me-Cozy’ a lace pullover hoodie in alpaca. The one in the magazine that you’ll see soon is gray and I really loved it, but it looks much better on Lindsay than me. I had the same yarn in a denimy blue so I’m making it in the next size up - I must’ve been dreaming to think I’d fit that one!!
Okay, casting on is a snap - gave you some tips about that already -
see ‘Wasted...not!’ And I’m cruising along, knitting lace. I glance down and notice that I have some strange but nice, vertical lines - not the pattern that I’d planned! Ooops! forgot to unlock the pattern and it’s repeating the same row - but it is pretty! So, okay, let’s go with this. I knit a total of 10 rows the same and then release the pattern. Works for me!! I'll call it a deliberate mistake - I love oxymorons - it’s only a mistake if you don’t know what you did - if you can repeat it, it’s a design feature!! How do you think I came up with so many new trims?
Now, I know this will be my favourite go-to garment for the next couple of weeks!! I just love it!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Really fine for '09

Happy New Year! better late than never, right? Anyway, been kinda busy, getting all my stuff done. Got No 48 off to press - it seemed so dragged out this time!! We had a photo shoot back in early December with only about 6 garments - someone wanted theirs back to give as a Christmas gift (you know who you are!!). I don’t usually make such rash promises, but I was caught off guard and I did agree so had to have an early shoot before everything was in and ready and then it was too close to Christmas to try and round up models and oh man!! I hate when that happens!! I knew I was getting a bit stressed when I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that I had completely forgot about sending renewal notices!! rats!! It’s a lick job, but someone has to do it! Whatever! it’s all done and I’m happy!!
What’s in No 48? Love & Kisses, Made to Match, Almost seamless, All-Aruffle, NVee, Blue Ribbon, Ultimate Poncho, Me-Cozy, Barely There, Spring Bling, Crosswise, Threeway, Dragonfly. Can you figure out what they are??
We have a ruffled wrap and a shrug on the mid gauge from Susan G. Eileen M sent a beautiful, hand manipulated lace top on the LK that she had made as a cover-up for her MOG outfit, as well as a shell and lace cardy in velveen on the standard gauge.
We have our very first Bond pattern, a great poncho thingy with sleeves from Michael Hale of Toronto. This is Michael’s first submission, he’s 77 and took up MK-ing as his retirement hobby. He’s planning on sending us something done on Passap soon!!
I did hoodies for Nathan, Rhiana and myself - not matching, and a couple of other cardys.

Evelyn McNabb’s ‘Spring Bling’ made the cover, a vest, wristlets and ankle socks - she designed it for her daughter, Hannah. Our model, Tyra, is such a little cutie and she is developing into a great model. She is a member of my son and daughter-in-law’s ‘Rafiki Youth Choir’, does Ukranian dancing and is a figure skater - not just another pretty face!
We also have Mar Heck’s very popular ‘Do it in DAK’ column with 20 questions (with the answers, of course), an article on lace carriage knitting and lots of other stuff to keep you inspired and entertained.
It will be in the mail for February first.

I even got my last year’s worth of bookkeeping done AND my office cleaned up and ready to go for another year!!

Oh, by the way, in all the fuss, I totally forgot that this is our 12th year anniversary!! Whoo-hoo!! Who woulda thought...