Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fame AND Fortune!

I’m kind of excited - for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have an announcement to make - well, actually, maybe a couple... KNIT’nStyle magazine has my name in it!! Honest, it’s there, under the masthead credits, in the February 2011 issue,
Machine Knitting Technical Editor
Mary Anne Oger

Spelled right and everything! I’ve even received my first pay check from them and have signed contracts!! In case you don’t know, KNIT’nStyle is an American hand knitting magazine that is distributed worldwide and can be found at almost any newsstand, magazine rack, virtually anywhere - the grocery store, Wal-Mart, all over - I haven’t seen it in airports but I’m working on that! It is available on subscription too.
They have asked me to do a new column on machine knitting for the coming year in their magazine. This past year, they have been featuring Kathy Perry and the Bond knitter. Now, I’m taking over - well, actually starting with the next issue, No. 172, April 2011, which will be on sale January 25, 2011 - I will have a column called ‘Mid Gauge Machine Magic’ and a garment to go along with the article. So, starting with basics, it is an introduction to the LK150 which is the best little hobby machine and a perfect segue from hand knitting to machine knitting. Also, they have decided to add some machine knitting to the magazine by translating some of the hand knit patterns to machine knitting - so that’s why my name is in this issue already, because I was responsible for giving machine knitting instructions for three of the hand knit patterns. Bear in mind, I’m working with what they give me and space limitations - I hope you can give me some support in this and let the editors (and me, of course) know what you think and what you’d like to see more of.
Secondly, I am currently tossing around a few ideas, like a ‘pattern-of-the-month’ club kind of thing - still in the development stages but I just wanted to put it out there that I am percolating a few things and hope have them available for January 2011 - I am open to suggestions.
For starters, there will be 2 different series, one for mid gauge/LK150 and one for standard gauge knitters. As a trial, I will be offering a 3 month or 6 month sign-up, prepaid - price TBA - the patterns will be in pdf format, emailed to you, keeping it simple, but you can expect the same quality and detail of pattern that you know from me - well, maybe a little more detail - I’m not restricted to page limitations anymore, so the sky’s the limit! Watch our regular website at for more details, coming soon!

Oh, and one more thing - with the holiday season coming up, remember others less fortunate, please! Last year, instead of stressing out and spending big bucks on stuff for my grown children who are well-able to buy whatever they want/need for themselves, I spent that money on providing a local CAS family with their Christmas hamper, anonymously, of course - when I told my kids what I was doing, they all jumped in and added to it - it was a great feeling and resulted in further family bonding and certainly boosted my holiday spirts. We are doing it again and getting a lot of joy from it. Please share in what ever way you can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September update

Sorry, I’ve been kind of busy, but thanks for coming back! I know I left you hanging on several projects I was working on and I do apologize....

I went over to Bill’s (our KNITWORDS photographer - he shared the cover of No 34 with me) this morning and got some photos re-taken for my newest project, a couple of sideways knits that I’m doing up the patterns for to have ready for Cleveland - you know, that hair and make-up thing still gets me!!! it is much easier working with models than being the model myself - actually I’m probably way more critical of my own photos than of anyone else, but oh well...
Things worked out and I had finished up the dream coat this past weekend  - figured I’d give you a bit of a preview - too bad if you’re not coming to Cleveland and can’t see this for real, but I’m totally happy with how it turned out and I figured it would 'kick it up a notch' for the ribber workshop. It actually didn’t take that long to make, but I had to put it aside for the paying projects - this was just for fun!
The bottom has a border of the little lace motifs and the 3X2 cables and I made a chevron/yoke effect in the back and front with the cables, bordered by the lace motifs - if you click on the photo, it will enlarge to let you take a closer look - lots of things to remember and lots of stuff happening at one time, but I’m really pleased with the outcome - now I just need to get it to fade a bit!

Also, I did promise, way back in June, to show you my finished ‘woodstock’ version of ‘A-shirred’ - we had such a warm summer that I really didn’t get to wear it till now, almost forgot about it, but I brought it along to Bill’s to get a couple of shots to share with you - hope you like it, but I really can’t say it will matter if you don’t because I do and Bill loved it, so there ;-))!

Hey, I’m walking the half-marathon on Sunday morning - pray for no rain, please!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dream Coat Notes - day 1

I’ve settled on a wide rib - 7 stitches for the main bed rib is more conducive to a variety of hand transferred lace and cable stitch patterns than an even number would be, especially for the lace.
So, actually the needle arrangement on my main bed is 7 working, 5 not and with half pitch (H-5), the rib bed is 6 working, 6 not - it makes sense to me.
Now because of the 7/5 on the main bed, and to have 3or 4 needles in work at sides on main bed for seaming, I like to even it out by beginning with an even-number-stitch rib at the very centre (6 sts, 3-0-3 n’s) so the same needle numbers will be in work at each side - the ribs will then match at the shoulder without having to worry about using an uneven number of needles and then remembering to flip the needle arrangement used on the back for the front.
This way, I think it is easier to check that you have the correct needle arrangement and not one skinny or one wide rib somewhere randomly - putting it in the centre (not shown in my swatch) will not be noticeable and for the front where the piece is divided, it gives you the same number, even stitches for each centre front edge.
To lay out the needle arrangement, I begin by bringing 3-0-3 n’s on MB to work. Then, working to right, 5 out, 7 in, 5 out, 7 in to edge - the width of your garment may be decided by where you can end with 4 in work - in my case, I want the width at the bottom to be 30 to 32 cm, so I’m either stopping at #84 or pulling another 12 n’s (96) to end with the 4 in work again. Another way to do this would be to simply add the 4 needles in work at the outside edge for the width you want, regardless of the needle arrangement but I like the look of my way because I am shaping the sides - A-line-ish.
I want to have a no-hem look, just use the manual wrap cast-on, but over this needle arrangement, it could be tricky, so I’m going to cast on with waste yarn (WY) and ravel cord before using the main yarn for the wrap - this way, I can hang the comb and weights in the waste yarn without worrying that the wire/comb will damage the yarn in the cast-on row, making sure everything is working before getting to the real deal. I am not going to hand wrap the WY (too much unnecessary work) and if I cast on full needle rib, there’s too much transferring up and down and making up new stitches and then worrying about the needle arrangement being correct again - Here’s the trick - after setting up my needle arrangement, I rack the rib bed (RB) until the needles on RB line up with the in-work ones on main bed (MB), to get a zigzag row....H-11 does it. Now bring up one needle on the RB at the left of each group of in-work needles and at each end look at what needs to be brought into work for the ends. WY, T5/5, K1R. Hang the comb and 1 weight. K1R. (this sounds ugly and clacky while you’re doing it because of the wide space of needles out of work - not to panic!) Rack one space to H-10. K1R. Begin getting rid of the extra unwanted needles at the ends by transferring the sts back up or down after each row. By the time you’re back to H5, it begins to sound better and you should just need to transfer that one extra ribber needle of each group to be at the correct arrangement. Check it a second time, add extra weights to balance everything out and end with the carriage at left. Knit the ravel cord ending at right. Bring all the n’s out, manual wrap with the main yarn and Bob’s your Uncle!!
If you want a review of this cast-on and decrease method, see Ribber Rules 5 & ‘Just Ribbing’ in in KNITWORDS No 50.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

reading is still mandatory

One of the most repeated comments from your letters and emails from the past 2 months is that you’ll miss reading my editorial - I always hesitated to call them editorials because I felt like it was just my opportunity to say whatever - some think of it more as a rant.... One of the most commented ‘editorials’ and my personal favourite, appeared in No 17, Spring 2001. I felt it was appropriate to let it go again - here it is:

WARNING: the editor wishes to advise that failure to read the entire contents of this magazine, from cover to cover, including all advertisements, patterns and articles will result in the suspension of your subscription. Skimming will not be tolerated. No just looking at the pictures!

I was recently doing a two day workshop, where I have a captive audience and they have to listen to only me for the duration. I really like doing this type of seminar because it gives me a chance to show off and entertain and generally have fun. I usually show a few garments, talk about them and the features and then knit a bit and demonstrate some of the techniques. I try to mix it up so no one gets too bored or boggled or whatever. Anyway, at this particular show, during the coffee break on the second morning, one of the participants comes up to me and said she had some 'constructive criticism' for me. Sometimes I don't take this very well, but she doesn't know that yet. Caught off guard at the word 'criticism', I struggle to remain calm and try to appear interested and open to what she has to say. She tells me there is a big problem with the magazine and I need to let people know they have to read it. I am sort of puzzled. You mean, the readers aren't really reading, they are only skimming or worse, just looking at the pictures? Yes, it seems she herself is guilty of this. For example, I had just held up a nice turtleneck done on the double bed and explained all the techniques in the garment and another knitter, writing furiously, wasn't keeping up with what I was saying. I told her not to worry, it was all written in the pattern already. Well, apparently they didn't know the patterns were full of tips, techniques and generally great stuff. Now the 'cc' lady is explaining the reason she just looked at the picture and flipped the page, was this particular garment was sleeveless and she would never be knitting anything without sleeves and had therefore missed all the good stuff in the pattern. By this time several others have joined in and are nodding; they too have been guilty of the same thing. Now, how can I possibly save this situation? They are telling me that I have failed to tell them they need to read the magazine. It puts me in mind of the warning labels on certain products and of the concessions made to handicapped people. I know, we'll offer the magazine on audio cassette, for the visually impaired, taped in the voice of either Truman Capote or HG Wells. This will be a limited time offer, redeemable for 246 bar-coded labels from your favourite natural fibre coned yarn, along with a dead sponge bar and six broken needles from your least-used knitting machine.
Now, seriously folks, it's also come to my attention that you didn't know about our webpage or the fact that all the stitch patterns from each issue are available for the current issue for free download in Designaknit format and have been since issue 12. HEL-LO! it's me, Mary Anne...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things I'm doing...

I am working on a cardigan/jacket out of BT Yarns Zephyr Marl (guess I’d better get in the program and start calling it ‘Knit It Now’) - I did sort of promise Sue J that I’d have a new garment for her to wear at the Inspiration 2010 seminar in Cleveland in September - that’s the trouble with doing something - you do it a second time and it becomes a tradition ;-)) (I’ve made her things before - in ‘08, we had matching skirts - Tiers of Joy & Just the Flax, a linen cardigan - both were in No 47 and in ‘09 she got ‘Frill Ride’ No 52 & ‘Same But Different, No 51).
But I’m making mine first - that way I can iron out all the kinks, if any, before I get to hers...actually, by making mine first, I know I'll have one anyway - sounds like a good plan to me...
So, this one is a take-off on a ‘designer’ garment that I saw in Macy’s in the spring - it was knit in plain stockinette, straight, low-hip length cardigan, short sleeve with a front piece that sort of acted like a shawl collar - my friend and I both tried it on in our sizes, but strangely, it didn’t fit either of us over the shoulders and arms properly, no matter which size we put on. What was nice? It was beautifully finished and made with a lightweight linen yarn that had a lovely drape.
I figured Sue’s Zephyr Marl, being a fine linen/rayon would make a good substitute. If this were just recreational knitting, I could make it in stockinette on my fine gauge machine, but not many people have that machine, so, with pattern writing in mind, to get the extra width needed, I’m using what I call a one-row-tuck (1RT) stitch pattern - I like 1RT because it adds a nice texture - on the knit side it looks almost like a garter carriage design but flatter and more subtle, while on the purl side the design is more distinct with a lacy touch. 1RT is much more fun to knit than plain stockinette with the added benefit of the tuck stitch creating a wider fabric than stockinette would. At T6, my gauge is 30 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm/4 in, while stockinette at T5 produced a gauge of 34 sts/10cm, making a pretty narrow fabric and limiting the size range. I did an article and 3 garments using One-row-tuck in No 50 if you want to go back and check it out and learn more. It also stops fabrics from biassing and doesn’t look as blistery, bubbly, baby-blanketish as regular tuck.
You know, Zephyr Marl is on sale right now - check it out at
And, you know, I really doing this to stop myself from obsessing about the dream coat, but I've made more swatches - more about that later!
Nathan & Rhiana are coming for a sleepover at Grama's - got to tidy up my sewing room - for some reason, they think it's their bedroom...where do kids get these ideas?
You know, I forgot all about it being Friday the 13th...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

past, present & future

Last night I had THE most weird dream - so strange, I felt like it was really real...I woke up remembering all these details and they’ve been running through my mind all day and won’t go away!! Maybe if I tell you, it’ll disappear and not turn into a fixation.
It started when an old customer - well, I mean she wasn’t old, just I haven’t seen her in years - anyway, she had bought a knitting machine from me with the idea to design her own line of clothing - she was a handknitter and had seen me at a local fall fair, somewhere in the early 90's. She was very talented and artistic and came to her second lesson with a completed kid’s garment - wow!! I was blown away then and always impressed with what she did, but she’d moved away and I haven’t heard from her in probably 15 years, so why did I dream about her??
So, she has a problem with her knitting machine and brings it to my shop (that I had at the time) and I mean, brings it to me - still set up with the ribber and all and half her garment hanging off the machine - just dumps it down and yells, ‘fix this thing!’ I look at the knitting and I'm totally amazed at what she's creating... it’s wide rib with little random cables and hand transferred lace stitches, tons of stuff happening - the whole piece just enthrals me but I'm trying to pretend like I don't really notice - I can’t believe the time she must be spending to make this when she usually does fairisles with like about 19 colours with maybe a little intarsia motif - you know, usually you’re either a texture person or a colour person, not both - she tells me it’s the ‘city style’ that all the girls are crazy for right now - I don’t know what she means but turns out that’s the length of it, just above the knee, so I'm thinking 'Tumbleweed' from No 53 - she’s using a silk wool yarn that I’ve made a couple of things with (but not back then) but have since found it pills like crazy and I won’t use it ever again. And in the back of my mind I’m saying to myself, I’d try something like a denim cotton and, while she’s still there, I realize I’m planning to steal her design!! huh?? what’s that all about? yeah, and I looked like I did back then and of course, so did she because I don't know what she looks like now - crazy, right?
She eventually leaves with her machine - I’m not sure if I ever fixed it or not - and I wake up - now, I’ve got this design playing over and over in my head - it’s like an indecent obsession - okay, I’ll admit it, I do have 2 cones of a discontinued denim cotton I’ve been saving for something special and heck, with no deadlines anymore, what’s to stop me from just playing around with this....and I could use it for that ribber class at Inspiration 2010 in Cleveland in September.
You know, maybe it’s the weather - maybe it’s heat stroke or something...did I mention we’re actually having a REAL summer - days on end of 90F plus - usually, here in Thunder Bay, we say that this year, summer was on Tuesday...
My swatches are amazing!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010


whatever you do, don’t tell Marnie!

I’m taking off next week to visit my little sis (see No 44, ‘Making a Theme Sweater’, ‘DogOn’) in Vancouver for a week, so you know what I should be doing - yep, making a couple of shopping bags (funny - weird, I mean - it’s in No 44 also, ‘Take An Old Bag Shopping’). I still owe Marnie & friend, Anna, one each - they missed out at Christmas time! I find it fun and yet, a bit of a challenge to see that I can get the bag off the machine without forgetting anything and, picking out the right colour specifically for the recipient is most fun. I’m usually bang on!
Anyhow, before I do that I thought I’d also surprise her with ‘A-shirred’ from No 53. I need it a bit bigger than the largest size in the pattern, so I chose a yarn (Yeoman Yarns Twister) just a bit heavier -  a very pale blue I think she'll like -and put my stitch size one dot higher, but did the same stitches and rows as the largest size - my ‘cheating at swatches’ swatch is 29 sts and 42 rows/10 cm instead of the 30 sts and 44 rows the pattern calls for. Because Twister is wool, I won’t worry about the row gauge, it’ll pull up that bit with washing and then the shirring can take care of any extra length.
My friend Cindy told me she made this and it was such a good pattern, she zipped right through it without any questions or problems. It is a pretty quick knit and most of the putting together is done on the machine which makes it neater and faster, I think. The hood is optional - it’s actually all finished, as is the neckline and then just handstitched inside - you might think that was an afterthought, but I did it like that in the pattern on purpose to give you the choice of making the hood or not - and now, it seems like a good idea because I’m not sure how far my yarn is going, being as I substituted and am making a larger size...
Well, there’s not enough yarn to make the hood - maybe Marnie won’t notice...I'm taking my 'painted' 'A-shirred' (see below, Woodstock) - maybe we'll get someone to take a photo of us together!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reno for Spots in Dots

‘Spots in Dots’ from No 50 - loved the stitch pattern, loved the trim, loved the yarn... You may have noticed I don’t often make pullovers. The reason - they make me feel chubby, so, if I do make one, it’s usually something that is for outerwear and a little oversized.
After the photo shoots are over and I decide who gets to keep what, I really wanted ‘Spots in Dots’, but it was a little snug in the bust and I knew I wouldn’t wear it like that, so, I figured for a challenge, I’d cardiganize it.
Now, a very open lace fabric and cut & sew doesn’t usually make for the easiest thing to do. And, I’d have to come up with a band to cover the cut & sew edge, work in some buttonholes and make it all wide enough to compensate for the cut edges and to add a little extra width in case I did want to button it. I promised the gals at Peru, IN at the Spring Fling in April, that I tell about it here, so now you’ll have the rest of the story...
- find centre of front and run contrasting basting thread by hand to mark it.
- using matching thread and the 3 stitch zigzag at a narrow width with  sewing machine, stitch on column of stitches on either side of basting line and then on next column, either side, so there are 2 rows of zigzags on either side of centre line.
- very sharp scissors, carefully cut directly along basting line. (see swatch - click on it to enlarge - I know you probably still can’t see it very well because my sewing thread was such a good match, but you can see the basting thread and trust me the stitching is there!)
- make button band...see below and attach to left side of front...
- make buttonhole band.... and attach to right side...
- find suitable buttons... or should that have been back at the beginning....

Cut & Sew band - hold garment up to needle bed to determine number of sts, stretching slightly and add 1 stitch each end for seaming ends of band.
Knit a stockinette strip as follows: on same number of needles as length of band, on MB, cast on WY, knit several rows, 1 row ravel cord. MC, T7, K5R. Remove on WY or garter bar.
Button band - (66-0-66 n’s is what I used.) Cast on with WY, 1 row ravel cord. RC000. MC, T8, K1R. Tighten by 1 dot, K7R, to T5... at RC008. T10, K1R. T5., K1R. Plus 1 dot, K1R, knit to RC017. Hang hem. T8, K1R.
Hang stockinette strip on same n's, purl side facing you.
T7, K5R. RTR. K1R. Remove on garter bar - you have an envelope now, to stuff the edge into!
Hang cut & sewed edge, right side facing on same n's, leaving end n's empty.
Turn and hang band, putting right sides together, open sts in hooks. Close latches and pull open stitches through closed edge.
Pick up stitches from strip. Remove WY. Manually knit 1 row loosely and chain off.
Buttonholes, same as used on ‘Purple Purls’, No 52.

Have to say, this was pretty easy, looks great - I can hardly wait to wear it....and I can use this application on another garment I’m planning - maybe something ribber-ish for Sue J to wear in September at Inspiration 2010 - see!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

gossip, gossip, gossip...

The rumours are flying, speculation abounds - some say it's written in stone, they heard it from the horse’s mouth and all that crap!

Normally I don’t pay any attention to gossip and hearsay but again I have to say something.

I don’t want to lay blame on anyone and I’m not mentioning any names but... I’m upset by the misinterpretations that are going on out there.

It has been said that the demise of KNITWORDS is due to the poor ‘Canadian’ economy - I never said that. It is not the Canadians’ fault.

It has been reported ‘With the downturn in the economy, too many businesses stopped their advertising. Not enough ads, means not enough money coming in to continue to afford publishing KnitWords.’ I never said that. My advertisers were very loyal, they were there to the end and I thank them all, again - it was maybe the non-advertisers...

My subscribers and supporters have been wonderful and again I thank them - maybe it was the non-subscribers...

My designers and contributors, loyal and supportive, much appreciated - if I didn't pay top scale, at least I did pay what I said I would and could.

Everyone wants to cry and lament after the fact when, if they said what they had to say when they should have said it and supported good things when they are available, those good things would remain. Get off the internet, quit your bitching and crying, go and actually knit something, stop giving things away for free - what the heck is all that free UTube stuff about?? Stop copying and sharing. Support the remaining good people or you’ll have nothing...

The truth - I stopped the magazine because I simply could no longer afford, both emotionally and economically, to subsidize a magazine for an ever-decreasing audience...

sorry about the rant, but I feel better... there I go, just like a real Canadian, apologizing again...
thanks again...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

If you’re crying, press 3 and leave a message...

The past few days have been very hard. Your responses have overwhelmed me and I feel like I have to say something. First of all, I’m okay - this is not due to illness or accident or anything like that.
I’ve never been a crybaby. I don’t think I’m a whiner. I haven’t given any excuses and I won’t now, other than to say, it is true and KNITWORDS is over.

I thought I would share some of the messages I’ve received by email...

'I am so sad. I hated your letter. There isn't a magazine out there ANYTHING like Knitwords, and I will miss it terribly....’

‘So sorry to hear that Knitwords is no more. I do not need any credit for paid issues, I am sure we all have gotten enough of your blood, sweat and tears over the years. Your patterns were always wonderful and written beautifully. I will miss your editorials and watching your cute grandchildren grow up.'

‘Thank you for your consideration. This is not the first time this has happened to me. The embroidery company that went defunct, which was purchased by another company. The other company, which was suppose to take care of fulfilling the subscription, never did.’

‘Say it isn't so. However I can understand as I am sure in this economy, publishing such a specialized magazine just "ain't what it used to be". I am sooo sorry, but I have to say you have been an inspiration to so many. I feel as though I have been with you all these years and feel privileged to have gotten to know you. Good luck on whatever road to plan to travel now-- I am sure you will be a success. Take care-- I do hope you stay in touch with the knitting community.’

‘Have just received a letter about the end of Knitwords and wanted to tell you how sorry I am that such a great magazine has to come to an end. I attended a seminar in Seattle where you were conducting a number of the classes a few years ago and started subscribing. I really enjoyed those classes and the subsequent magazines. I have a grandson younger than Nathan and all the 'boy wear' patterns knitted to your instructions have been a great success. It is not easy to find knitwear patterns that the younger generation is keen to be seen in and the sizing is just spot on. As are all the adult garments I have tried.
I wish you all the best for the future. You will be missed!!’

‘Rumour is going around that you are closing up? Say it ain’t so!! I was just going to send in my renewal and get the two I missed….sigh.’

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Last year, I was in the USA on the anniversary of Woodstock. I was amazed and intrigued by the number of people sporting their tie-dyed shirts - you could tell some were new and some looked like originals, the wearers included, if you know what I mean. Anyway, since then, it seems to me there has been a revival of tie-dyed stuff, some good and some not so good, some psychedelic and some subdued.
I have always been a fan of random prints and batiks but they can be hard to come by. I made ‘A-shirred’, (the pattern is in No 53) in a raw silk yarn  (Yeoman Yarns Silk Bourette) that only comes in the natural colour, with the idea that I was going to get creative and somehow paint/dye/embellish/whatever and do something to my finished garment as my statement on the influence of tie-dye stuff.
Kelly Ripa on the morning show has been wearing this lovely dress by Michael Kors that is a very subtle abstract print blend of pale blues and greens, more pastel-y than I prefer for myself but I found it very attractive. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted the finished product to be, other than an experiment. And I figured, what the heck? if I didn’t like the result, I’d go buy some more ‘Rit®’ and over-dye it (VBG)!!
A couple of good friends who sounded like they knew more about it than I did, took me to a craft store to shop for supplies. After reading labels and debating among ourselves, I ended up with this tie-dye kit (it is actually called ‘Tie Dye Kit by Jacquard, for use with natural fiber fabrics’ - which my friends both seemed to think was a good brand) and a bunch of kids’ paint brushes in various sizes that I could use to ‘paint’ on the dye. The kit chosen, was supposed to, we thought, have red, yellow and blue powdered dye that, in theory, I could use to mix any colour I wanted. At home, reading the ‘fine print’, I had turquoise, fuschia and yellow - yes, those true psychedelic colours!!

Well, undaunted, this morning, with no home-dinner dates planned, I jumped in!

A couple of weeks ago, I had purchased a new grill and while unpacking it for assembly, I realized I could use the plastic bags the pieces were packed in as filler for my dyeing project, so I saved them all - there was one big enough to put over the top of my round dining table for protection. I had an old padded tablecloth, previously ruined in a past experiment (No 32, Leaf It To Me) - that time I was using fabric paints and working on dry fabric, but this one was a wet job. I began by soaking the finished garment, my original tension swatch, and an extra hood - the first was too short and I’d made the second one without having to unravel it. The garment and swatch had been laundered already, but the extra hood had not - I don’t know if it made a difference, but washing out whatever sizing, wax, etc wouldn’t hurt. The kit included a packet of ‘soda ash’ to pre-soak the items to make the dye hold better. We had chosen this type of kit/dyes, because there seemed to be no need to ‘heat-treat’ the final thing. So, while the items were soaking for 20 minutes in the soda ash, I began mixing colours and soon realized nothing much is going to take the turquoise (a colour I loathe) out of turquoise and there was not a great amount of each coloured powder. So, after messing and mixing with tiny, weeny dibs, I came up with several colours, shades of greens, blue, brown and a pinky-red, to experiment with on the swatch and felt that I could live with them.

I stuffed the extra hood to plump it up and practised a bit - I had this vision of sea anemones - I don’t even know what they are, but that came to my mind - that I thought I could manage to paint on my sweater. I’ll admit, it was a fluke - my brush dripped on the first try and I drew a line to connect the dots....

Anyway, I stuffed the garment with plastic bags, I even blew up some zip sandwich bags - that worked really well - because the garment was wet, and I didn’t want it to bleed through, I wanted each layer/side to be separated, stuffed the sleeves as well - then I began painting my vine-y anemones - I thought it was really cool how the colour bled and aura-ed at the edges and I was pretty psyched as the project progressed - the plan was to be able to leave this thing to dry undisturbed for 24 hours, so I had to make sure no portion of it was overlapping - as I finished a sleeve, I wrapped it in plastic so I could manouevre the whole thing, flip it over and work on the back without worrying that the sleeve would infect another part... how’s that for confidence - I actually started on the front - well, really, I had planned to start on the back and work out the kinks - who cares what you look like when you’re leaving anyway? - but in my hurry to begin, I forgot...

I’m finished, pretty happy and tomorrow, I’ll let you know...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

how many sleeves does it take to make a sweater?

yikes...I’m knitting and knitting and getting nowhere fast...yesterday I swatched and swatched and swatched and because I’m working with cotton, I had to make a couple of swatches of my final stitch arrangement at different stitch sizes to compensate for the shrinkage factor. I do keep really good notes of my practises because if you don’t know what you did and what stitch size was used, there’s not much point in swatching - you may as well go for the ‘whoever it fits’ theory.

Okay, so everything was washed and dried and I made my choice of the final stitch and needle arrangement, ready to get knitting on the real thing this morning. I sat down and rather quickly knocked off the first sleeve - I did have to stop and make notes, because I’m going to be using all of this for the hands-on ribber class that I’m teaching at Lea-Ann’s do in Indiana at the end of July - check out if you want more details - she's having some beginner classes running at teh same time as my 2 days and then finishing up with Susan Guagliumi  doind 2 days of her hand manupulated stitches, hands-on too!- so, an hour for a double bed tuck rib sleeve, that’s not bad. Do the final cast-off and take it off the machine - hummm...feels a little stiff...(4LW) I used the wrong tension!! I wanted T8/6, not T7/5. Oh well, what’s an hour...

I did make what I think is an important break-through. As I said, I’m doing a tuck rib, where I have all needles in work on the main bed and a tuck stitch happening and I made up an irregular needle arrangement on the rib bed that breaks up the tuck to add vertical lines on the front of the fabric with the ribber stitches. Oh, and yes, I started with the sleeve because I find that it’s a smaller piece, goes more quickly and if things go wrong while you’re getting used to new techniques, it’s not as bad as making the entire back and then finding out that you went wrong....also, on the sleeve you can work out all the details of increasing and then decreasing and shaping for the sleeve cap.

Getting the correct needle arrangement on the rib bed is key here - screw it up and it won’t look right and it has to correspond with the tuck pattern on the main bed and each piece needs to be the same. On the first sleeve, it’s only 50 stitches wide, so after the hem, I took the time to look at the tuck pattern and figure out the ribber arrangement, but another problem occurs as you’re increasing to make sure that you’re continuing the proper sequence - I had a brainwave and got a piece of card stock, held it up to the existing needle arrangement and marked two repeats (this one is a 15 st repeat) so I could simply move the card along to match up with the next 15 needles to see what would next be brought into work. You could use this idea for anything requiring an odd needle arrangement, like tuck lace...

So, now, I double check my notes and get going with the right tension this time. Finish up and as I’m casting off, look down and see this solid line running up the centre...(several 4LW’s!!) I can see where, on the first row of patterning, I didn’t bother to re-check and an empty needle came up into work, spoiling my pattern....

I hope I haven’t scared you off if you were thinking of taking the ribber class - I’ll have ironed out all the kinks by then! And we’ll use an easier stitch pattern.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Knitting machine = LSD?

I was at a concert last weekend and while waiting for the performance to begin, I couldn’t help listening to the conversation between two men seated behind me. When I heard the one guy say something like ‘I love LSD!’, my ears perked right up! Turns out he was a car guy and was describing ‘stuff’ in his garage that he called LSD - ‘labour saving devices’... it works for me!

Sitting in MSP airport recently, wearing ‘Tumbleweed’ from No 53, with 3 hours to kill between flights, I was stitching in ends on two ‘take an old bag shopping’ bags that I was finishing up to give as hostess gifts (my bag count since the pattern came out in No 44 is up to 29!). Anyway, this gal came rushing over to me to see what I was doing, all enthused to find a fellow knitter. She gushed over my cardigan and was particularly interested in the edging I’d used on the hem and cuffs - she couldn’t identify it. I admitted that I’d made the sweater and it was my own design. She picked up my finished bag, marvelling over the evenness of the stitches. She began asking me questions about where I got my yarn - she said she was from Winnipeg - I admitted to being a fellow Canadian and we shop-talked the Winnipeg knitting scene. She even exclaimed over my use of the thread cutter on my letter opener that I was trimming the ends with so I didn’t have to worry about them taking away scissors. When she asked me what size needles I used for my cardigan, our relationship was over... as soon as I said ‘knitting machine’, I may as well have used bad language in public. She dropped me like a stone, just when I thought I had her hooked! I had put off using the ‘M’ word as long as possible but sadly she was one of those purist-snobs who believe that stitches should only be made the old-fashioned way. As she flounced off, I wanted to yell, ‘yeah, liked me okay at first, before you thought I was a cheater.’
(oh, quick comeback, MA!)
Now that I got that off my chest, back to, knitting with my LSD!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preview No 53

Just got No 53 from the printers! Wow!! I hope you like it as much as I do!
This is my beautiful daughter-in-law, Agnieszka, (yes, she's the Mom of Nathan and Rhiana) on our cover, in Nancy Roberts’ design. I really liked this cardigan the moment I saw it and as I proofed Nancy’s pattern and read over the various techniques she used so cleverly, I liked it even more. I called it ‘The Chronicle’ after that old joke about what’s black & white and read (red) all over...
We have a great variety of knits in our Summer 2010 issue:
- A mid gauge oversized pullover from Susan Guagliumi using the bridging technique from her new book, ‘More Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters’ - hope her pattern and article will inspire you to get your copy soon.
- A new designer, Alice Tang, whom I met in San Fran last fall - she has some great ideas and her ‘Rib’n Shrug’, done on the bulky machine with ribber is sure to be a hit - it could also be done on the mid gauge, but I’m going to use the schematic and try it out on the standard gauge (hope this is not an idle promise).
- Mar Heck, in addition to her regular 'Do It In DAK, came up with a great collection of scarves, not only to get you ready for gift-giving, but they are good learning patterns as well as great stash busters!
- Eileen Montgomery has our most summery features, a very cute cotton top if you want quick and easy, and a nice, short-sleeved cardi in lace with a tie neckline.

That’s all for now, I gotta get finished packing up for the mail out tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The colour Purple - NOT!

'Purple Purls', in No 52 KNITWORDS, is a beautiful lace cardigan with some really nice details, not only a pleasing stitch pattern, but the bands and collar are pretty nice too, if I do say so. The yarn is Yeoman’s Cannele which I have used extensively (I get it from Cardiknits at - it is a crisp, mercerised cotton that has a lovely sheen. In reality, bright purple is not a colour that I would choose for myself. I had been wanting a plum shade, ordered ‘iris’ which turned out to be more of a bright royal blue - see ‘Spots in Dots’, No 50. My next order was for ‘aubergine’ which didn’t thrill me either - it was more reddish wine than eggplant - and I traded it sight unseen, by mail, with a friend in exchange for ‘cardinal’. My friend had described ‘cardinal’ as a really pretty purple - when it arrived, I kind of grimaced and looked at it for several weeks before gathering up the courage to use it. I loved the finished garment, but I still didn’t feel warm and fuzzy about the colour. I forced myself to wear it 3 different times in an attempt to become more purple-friendly. One time was lunch with my highschool girlfriends - they are always very complimentary of anything I wear, probably because they know I made it and maybe just to be nice, but they always say something. This time, nada! Not a word. Hummm....The last time I put it on, my son had taken me out for lunch on my birthday. He doesn’t normally say anything about anything that I wear but at the end of the lunch he looked at me and said, ‘That’s not your usual colour, is it? It seems a little bright for you.’ That did it! I was either going to have to give it away or burn it!
Now, several times lately, I’ve been meaning to experiment with over-dyeing a finished garment. The sour apple wool crepe deluxe of ‘Frill Ride’ (No 51) was going to be in line for the experiment, but Sue J at BT Yarns said she would wear it, so I gave it to her. Anyway, last week when I was packing up to go to the Knit Knack Shop’s Spring Fling in Peru, Indiana, I held up the purple thing and made a snap decision. I dashed to the grocery store and grabbed 2 boxes of RIT dye in navy blue - they only had 5 colours. I read the instructions...put on rubber gloves, got out my very big soup pot, put 8 litres of hot water in, heated it on the stove just a bit, maybe 5 minutes. Dumped in the dye powder from both boxes and a cup of regular table salt - I did debate for a second whether it would make a difference if it was kosher salt - I had a lot more of that on hand, but went with the regular - the water looked black! Threw in the purple peril, unbuttoned. With a old wooden spoon, ruined in a previous experiment, I stirred a bit, maybe 2 minutes total. It looked really black but that was okay by me. I took it off the heat and dumped it into the sink. Rinsed it several times in cold water, until the water was clear. The sweater still looked black. Then I washed it with ‘Eucalan’ like I normally would, rolled it in a towel to remove as much moisture as possible and laid it out to dry. The next morning I was ecstatic to see it had dried to a lovely deep plum.
The knitters in Peru were shocked and amazed!
Boy, do I have plans!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Groundhog Day

I guess you’ve seen our preview of No 52 - I think it looks pretty good. And, I got my subscription copy in the mail yesterday, already! nah, nah, nah-na! So you shouldn’t have to wait too long - I always send myself a copy in the bulk mailing - the Canadian subscriptions are sent out from Winnipeg via Canada Post, and the US subscriptions go out from a tiny place in North Dakota just across the border, via the United States Postal Service, 4th class mail. I always mark the date I receive my subscription copy just to keep track and this is the earliest ever - Feb 2, Groundhog Day! It is usually around the 7th to the 9th that mine comes, so, although I didn’t hear the official Groundhog Day ruling, I’m going to take this as a sign of an early Spring - might as well be positive!
After the dust has settled, my favourite garment is ‘Purple Purls’, After the dust has settled, my favourite garment is ‘Purple Purls’, After the dust has settled, my favourite garment is ‘Purple Purls’ - (I couldn’t resist - I can’t think of ‘Groundhog Day’ without thinking of that movie - Bill Murray wakes up and every thing is repeated over & over...guess you had to see it) - even though it is not exactly my favourite colour, it’s a great cardigan and I’m sure I will come to enjoy the colour because of the garment. The drape of this yarn - it’s Yeoman’s CannelĂ© - and the sheen of it, combined with the stitch pattern makes a really nice fabric and there is a ton of good techniques. On one of the mk-chat lists recently, they were talking about lace and shortrowing and a lot of misinformation was going around - reading this pattern should clear up some of those misconceptions, but the key is (at least) reading.
Actually my thoughts are already focussing on the next issue which is Summer and what do I think of? Lace and lacy fabrics and crochet-look things. I’ve spent the past week or so brainstorming, planning and plotting out the next year of KNITWORDS. I think it’s finally time we have a series on the yarn changer, so you can look for seasonal things, starting with single bed yarn changer, maybe a lightweight shawl or wrap in a mohair and rayon bouclĂ© along with a lesson on getting started with the yarn changer - following issues will take you through projects showing the various techniques and types of double bed jacquard.
Another idea I have is for a series called W5 (or something - that’s my working title so far) - which will be say, 3 or 4 methods of doing one thing (What) and then, When, Where, Why and Why not? to help you decide how to apply it to your knitting - what do you think? any ideas for topics? I got a couple, but I’d like to hear what you think/want to email me if you don’t want to respond here.
This is the start of our 14th year of publication. Today, I’m beginning the knitting on a knee-length lace duster in a light tan-coloured, mercerised cotton on the standard gauge machine - loose and airy with a vertical, viney-looking stitch pattern I’m hoping will add inches to my vertically-challenged frame...

Friday, January 22, 2010

the importance of actually reading...

I told you about the WCD cardis that are in No 52 and how I was going to remake the green one for myself - well, I did do that, using that beautiful light olive colour I had. Now, here’s a perfect example of what happens when you don’t read the instructions because you think you know what you’re doing!
In reality, I made both of the ruffled cardis back in August last year. They were held over to this Spring issue because there were too many patterns to all fit in No 51 and those two were the most appropriate to hold over for the next issue. So, when it came to remaking this pattern, it was a case of - I wrote the pattern, I know what I’m doing! - or I thought I did anyway.
I did make a few changes - who doesn’t, second time around, but the changes actually involved using vertical darts in the body of the sweater - instead of shaping the garment by decreasing and increasing at the side seams, I did vertical darts, to test out my theories and to have another sample for some of the workshops I’ll be teaching this year. I have an article on darts in the new issue, called ‘Darting Around’, dealing with horizontal darts - used in the bust area - and vertical darts, in plain stockinette AND in patterned fabrics - be sure to take a look at it - you might be surprised. Anyway, I made this olive cardi with vertical darts using the garter bar to move stitches over after the decreases and increases - that part went well.
When it came to the bands, I vaguely recalled making quite a few swatches - the bands are knit circular on the double bed and there is a really cool chained edge to it that is actually started off with a very loose row on the cast-on, and chained after the piece is removed from the machine. Anyway, the buttonholes were a bit of a challenge - because of the circular - I think this is my first time to come up with a technique for my no-sew buttonhole that worked for circular on a horizontal band. So, now, I ‘skimmed’ the instructions, made the band, attached it and got the garment off the machine. It was only later when I was chaining the edge that I realized my clever buttonholes had failed! What the ??? I looked at Sue’s cardi (I haven’t given it up yet!!) and her buttonholes are beautiful! Mine aren’t closed up on the last side.
Now, I specifically recalled remaking her buttonhole band and rewriting the instructions - what happened?? I’m sort of panicking at this point - the magazine is printed and on it’s way to me - I can’t change anything!!! I went to the instructions printed from the pfd proof copy I got back from the printers that I used to reknit from - what a relief!! the correct instructions are there - I just didn’t read the whole thing, figuring I knew what I was doing - huh! After casting off the stitches for the buttonhole, I was supposed to bring out ONLY all the EMPTY needles, which would cancel the circular setting just for those needles and give me a zigzag over the buttonhole needles, which would then be lifted off and twisted to ‘e’ wrap back on - this is what closes up the second side of the hole - so watch out! Be sure to read all the directions and apply them in the proper place! Let me know how you make out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

happy new decade!

It’s a new decade! What do we call it? - I’m going with ‘twenty ten’! We’ve come a long way and a lot has happened since Y2K. Did you notice we even have Paypal on the KNITWORDS website?
Knitting has come a long way from what the world thought of as something only grannies did to keep themselves busy - did you know there is an app for knitting that you can get for your iphone or ipod touch? It’s called ForgetMeKnit ($2.99, - I’d guess it’s actually for hand knitting, but I’m sure you could use it as a machine knitter as well - you can keep track of concurrent projects and save notes about each project. Of course, since I neither have a cell phone or even a plain ipod, I won’t be using it, but I have learned to never say never - who knows, I may even get on Ravelry one of these days!
We’ve wrapped up No 52 and got it sent off to print last night, so today’s a ‘clean up the office’ day - boy, I sure have a lot of jobs I don’t really like...stuffing envelopes for renewal notices is another biggie on the ‘do not like’ side...but somebody’s gotta do it.
Right after I get this done, I’m going to do something I do like - remake one of my favourite garments from No 52 - since you don’t know too much about what’s in there yet, you probably won’t be able to guess what it is, but I’ll give you a hint - it has ruffles, it’s a cardi and I made the original for Sue J at BT Yarns - I made sure to use a colour I’d never (there’s that word), trust me, ever wear - it was called ‘sour apple green’ and I think of it as wow, in-your-face-acid-green, but lots of people like it. Sue had it on sale and I was originally going to try and over-dye it, but when she said she liked it and would wear it, I made it for her and now I’m sorry, because I still want one, only not that colour, so...I do have a really pretty, my colour of green (olive, of course), WCD still on my shelf that I know I’ll get a lot of use from, so here goes.
I think I’ll break down and give you a little preview - I actually did 2 little cardi’s in WCD - that’s wool crepe deluxe in case you’re wondering - for No 52 following on the theme from No 50 when I had ‘Wild Side’ and ‘Flouncing Around’ (see ‘the same but different’ below) - then as now, I took the same basic shape, but changed up the bands and edges to show how it could be optioned to make it look quite different. One thing to note about these patterns, they are all interchangeable and you can take the size from one and make the other - for example, 'Peachy Keen' is sized for finished bust at 34.5 (38, 41, 44) inches and 'Frill Ride' is sized at 36 (39, 42.5) inches, which means there are 7 sizes for each
pattern, but I split them up so it would be easier to follow. So, in No 52 we have a fitted round-neck cardi, set-in sleeve with either plain bands and 1X1 rib for waist and sleeve edge or a very nice double bed hem with a chained edge that gives a more tailored look. Ruffles are all the rage right now, so, added bonus - two styles of ruffles that are hand sewn on the fronts so they can be removed later when everyone is tired of ruffles - or just plain don’t make them if you don’t like them - and you’ll still have a great little cardi that’s a true classic.
Hope you like!