Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8(??) days to...

did you catch Ashton Kutcher's cardigan sweater on Ellen last week? I don't really care about Ashton and in fact I don't watch Ellen that often - it just happened to be on when I came downstairs to do a little hand stitching and get a cup of tea. Back to the sweater - it was  a cardigan and not just any cardigan, but a shawl-collared cardigan in a printed pattern - I say that because I've become obsessed with trying to decide whether it is fairisle, jacquard or tuck mosaic - I'd be happy with any of them but I'm hoping for the latter - anyway, I love it and not just because it's gray on grey  with an accent of red, I'm thinking alpaca and mentally  planning/designing/knitting in my head but keeping it in my mind until I can really attack it after Christmas...more later and I'll also give you an update of my last minute gifty things! oh yeah, something I just learned, if you look at my pictures or anything on the internet, with the ipad or ipad mini or whatever touch screen device you have, the photos can be greatly enlarged, better than with the computer... yeah, I know you already know that but give me credit for figuring it out on my own!

Friday, December 12, 2014

what's a few less stitches...

So I had two 100g balls of Diamond Select Footsie sock yarn. When you look at the ball of multi-coloured sock yarn, you don't really know how it is going to knit up, you just hope for the best. The colours here, navy, green, white and grey don't look all that bad in the ball, but what happens when it is knit? Well, I have to admit, I wasn't too impressed with the first pair and left sock knitting for a couple of days, putzed around with some other stuff and kept thinking, who can I give these to? someone near the bottom of the list...that's not really fair and in reality, anyone getting them will probably like them just fine - it's only me being extremely picky, but that wide white stripe really bugged me. I had made it for size 8 wide, which is like my standard size, 36-0-36 sts for the  cuff. When I decided to get it over with and use up the rest of the yarn. The next pair, I made slightly narrower and went with 34-0-34 sts. I was mildy pleased with the result, the 'white stripe' was a little thinner. For the final pair, I purposely made these for my niece who is a size 7 narrow and went with 32-0-32 sts - wow, who would have known? I love these! And the way a diamond pattern appeared in the ribbing because of the tighter tension! 7 pairs down!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ideas and inspiration?

We have a very good farmers market here in Thunder Bay - it runs virtually year round - I think they are off for maybe a week beginning of January, but open every Saturday morning of the entire year and the cool thing is it's not just farmers with produce and meats - it's actually called the Thunder Bay Country Market - but many local artisans, bakers, craftspeople and any one with the courage to put something they've made up for sale - you can find a full breakfast or just a snack in a variety of ethnic cuisines; get farm fresh eggs and local lamb; sample and buy local cheese or wild boar sausages; get all sorts of fresh breads and baked goods, preserves and other goodies; and check out what other people are doing in the way of crafting. There is a stained glass lady who purchases handmade snowshoes from somewhere and then cuts out the centre portion and she adds in one of her own local scenes, like her rendition of the Sleeping Giant, in stained glass - totally cool! A shout-out to the Pie.ology girl who makes butter pastry turnover-pie things filled with either sweet or savoury fillings!
This past Saturday, I found a cute old guy who was selling a basic pair of homemade wool socks for $7.50 - WHAT? How can he do that? The sock yarns that I'm buying, a 75% superwash wool/25% nylon blend, are costing me $18 to $22 (with the tax) for the raw material! I took a closer look and got to chatting with him - he has an old Harmony sock machine and he uses Briggs and Little sock yarn Durasport, 80% wool, 20% nylon - it comes in a 4 oz/430 yds skein in 7 colours (24 sts to 10 cm) - he told me he takes the ecru and dyes it with Kool-aid! I almost fell over! This guy is like a hundred years old! His variegated ones were quite pastel-ly pale green, orange and yellows and not really my thing, but I did buy this pair of denim socks from him. I don't particularly like the length of the top on them - they come up too high and the cuff isn't really stretchy enough and I have to fold them down twice - I'm pretty picky, and, sensitive about my chubby calves, so I like the 2X2(2X1) rib that I use on my socks better, but for $7.50, OMG!
So, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat... You know, this is the time of year I become fixated with socks - I have been collecting sock yarns for my Christmas presents and I don't know about you, but it seems to be harder to find pretty colourways - my favourite is still that Schoeller Stahl Fortissimo in the denim-y shades but not sure if that is discontinued or just the shops I have gone into just don't have... Anyway, it is getting to be quite an expensive habit, this sock-giving thing and I have 20 pairs on my list this year - I have an order in at my LYS for some B&L - they don't stock it because she says the hand knitters want the fun, softer stuff! I ordered oatmeal, denim and some of the ecru - Kool-Aid man, look out!
I told a couple of my regular sock-receivers that they would have to hand wash these socks because it's not superwash anymore and they said  hey, we never put these in the dryer anyway - didn't want to risk it! LOL!
I have found that by buying 2 - 100g balls of the same shade, I can get 3 pairs of ladies 7-9 size out of the 2 balls - previously there was quite a bit leftover, but not enough for a pair. By making the cuffs 45 rows instead of the 60 rows in my original pattern (can be found under Freebies on the knitwords website). I can use the leftover Opals from last year to make the feet and use the B&L denim for the ribs...

One last thing - I know you still haven't tried my pattern but I live in hope that someday you will and here's another little add-on. (I got this tip from Ev McNabb's Passap sock pattern that was in KW#49). At the end of the sock, when you have 5-0-5 ns in work on each bed, to take the corners off the final grafted end seam, before removing on waste yarn - transfer rib bed end stitch up and knit through end stitch on main bed on each side - then take off on waste and do your grafting however you do. Mucho bueno or however you say that!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

zipped off?

So, just because I forgot to post doesn't mean I haven't been knitting! I did make another  WCD Omega - I switched the light and dark - made the body black and used dill for the sleeves and hood. I made this one using the A-line shape instead of the fitted body and added pockets - sort of patch pockets but attached as you make the front. I think I told you about this method back in the spring (May '14, why re-invent the and tan hoodie) when I did this pattern out of the Honiburd cotton.
For some reason, maybe because I was free styling for the pockets, I kind of forgot to continue to read the pattern, thinking that I knew what to do - when it came to knitting the stay for the neckline, I went with FNR instead of the tubular band that I used for the original and I didn't realize it was wrong until it was too late - already had the hood attached to it and to the neckline and had the front bands on - basically finished...oh well, it's one of those things that even though it's not the best, it does the job and almost no one else  would know it was a mistake unless I pointed it out - so why am I telling you now? Just to make a point...
The other thing - remember, my button friend?  Apparently the place where she got the buttons is supposed to have the best zippers - here's the link...
It seems that they have separating zippers in various weights and you can custom order them to a specific length - I was so excited I never really paid attention  to the cost and I hadn't quite finished the garment before I punched in the length I wanted (based on the length of my first Omega) so I ordered a R1R1 number 4, 21 inches in antique silver and it was only after I hit the' buy now' button that it dawned on me I paid $16 for a freakin' zipper! plus postage! Ar-r-r-g-g-h! The good news is, it IS beautiful!  lovely, the perfect weight for WCD, soft and pliable and it does not bulge out like a firmer, heavier one would. The pulls are pretty and small, the teeth are small and single, metal pieces, not a coil which is hard to determine from their website which is not exactly full of explanations. I'm just sayin'...
I have worn this already a ton of times and the price of the zipper, well worth it for the quality of garment that I have! me, totally happy! thanks button-girl!
oh, yeah - I almost forgot - just in case you're really interested, this Omega, dill weight was 338g; black used was 312g, 2nd size made.

Monday, December 1, 2014

i didn't really forget to tell you...

all 4 pieces
but, life gets in the way, sorry! I can give you all my excuses: computer virus, lost the cable for my digital camera, just too busy with other things, and then I couldn't access my blog, yadda, yadda...
back of RTR cardi with dress

front of RTR

twilight tweed Granville

Back of Rib'nShrug

Front of Rib'nShrug

I did get Jan's wardrobe sent off in October and she was very happy with it. In the end, I made the French navy WCD shift dress, the twilight tweed WCD Granville with the beautiful cables, the RTR Cardi in sage green mercerised cotton and  the Rib'nShrug in Thistle 4 ply wool. All of the cardigans can be worn with the dress or with anything else and dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. I did get a few pictures taken before I sent everything off, but I wasn't able to check the quality of the photos, but here is the best of the lot so you can have an idea of what I did.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

a bird in the hand...

or my 5-button-dilemma…
Have you ever had someone in your life who keeps doing the same thing over and over and it kind of bugs you for whatever reason and you don’t know how to stop it? Now, this may sound petty but my friend loves to give me buttons – she travels and buys them for me as a keepsake or souvenir – and I know it’s the thought that counts but she always buys them in fives… and they are usually like 5/8 inch and I need eight or nine buttons of that size for a cardigan. My mother would say, ‘beggars can’t be choosers…’ or ’don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ (I never really got this one) but, here I am with two perfectly nice cardigans and some perfectly nice buttons that aren’t enough for either one.
Heavy sigh…oh, how ‘bout this? I’ll use two sets of the metal-looking ones for the ‘poppy’ cardigan, alternating them so it will look like I planned it and just buy eight new ones for the ginger cardi…
and I  got my pound of yarn knit for this week!
All’s well that ends well…

Friday, October 10, 2014

what next….

All my finished things soaking in Eucalan at this minute – I feel so productive! 5 garments in 5 weeks (and that pattern!)! or, 5 lbs of yarn in 5 weeks! I need to keep this momentum! Not that I actually keep track, but the other day, just out of curiosity, I counted the number of ‘good’ cones I have (by good, I mean enough of one colour/dyelot for one garment in yarn I  want to use, in colours I like) and I have enough yarn to keep up this pace for the next 2 years! Wow! Yikes! but now what to do next?
My current list, just off the top of my head, in no particular order…
1. the good wife cardi ( from last spring, blogposts April 2014) there may be a new pattern here…
2. another two-colour ‘Omega’ – the last one turned charcoal and paperbagtan fuzzballs – lesson learned: do not use two colours of soft cotton in same garment…
3. another 1RT Raglan - I’m pretty sure I’m giving this poppy one to my s-i-l who is same size as me…her birthday shortly…
4. lace raglan like the 'comfy' remake, in Bonita mercerized cotton just because…
5. maybe some Christmas presents – I haven’t made Nathan a hoodie since his 8th birthday and he’ll be 11 in February…

Thursday, October 9, 2014

to WY or CO? that is the question...

Someone had some problems last week and it set me off on another direction briefly…I do have all four garments done for Jan, but not the final wash and dry, press/steam and add buttons. I left it all to the end because of the two WCD garments – no point in laundering separately, might as well wait and do them all together – I know, I know, you’re thinking, excuses, excuses…I do think it’s valid procrastination!
So, anyway, this knitter, who shall remain nameless, (actually, I’ll call her ‘Lana’) told me she used my ‘Rich Raglan’ (Serial Stuff 2, Sep 2011) pattern and my blog from early this spring to make a 1RT (one row tuck) raglan from WCD (wool crepe deluxe) and it turned out huge! What went wrong?…she made a new swatch, drew a new schematic, blah, blah, blah and ended up with this too-big disaster and was getting pretty depressed – she felt that her machine knitting skills to this point should have been good enough to not let this happen. ‘Lana’ has made the ‘Rich Raglan’ several times and been quite successful, using the pattern yarn and substituting yarn so what gives? In analyzing her bad product, she begins to blame it on my beloved 1RT… I can’t let this happen, I feel responsible and immediately start to make a 1RT raglan, this time for myself – the last one was for my ‘little’ sister, Jan, so ‘Lana’s’ panic starts to give me doubts as well. Did that one really fit what I had planned or was I deluding myself?
I start at the beginning and make a new swatch – I don’t want any come-backs on this. I choose a different 1RT pattern from what I used in WCD previously ( from KW43, ‘caped wrapper’ – I still love this one!) and with a pretty ‘poppy’ WCD, I make the swatch, carefully adding appropriate weights so she can’t blame the problem on too much weight on the garment as opposed to the swatch. I measure it immediately off the machine and get 29 sts and 48 rows (to 10 cm/4 in.). I give it a little pressing with my steam iron which I would normally do with my knitted pieces before assembling and get 29 sts and 49 rows. I wash it, roll in a towel and then think, hummmm, let’s get this show on the road, I’ll just use the hairdryer a bit to speed up the drying ( then, I conveniently block this from my mind)…done. Measure it and now have 29 sts and 56 rows. I proceed with that and make the back. But as I’m making the back, force of habit makes me add my little ‘cheating at swatches’ (blogpost, Cheating, Apr 21, 2008) yarn marks to the centre of the piece. Back done, lightly pressed out, measure the marks and I’ve got 29 sts and 50 rows…WTH? gee, does the tuck make that much difference and should I have let it rest before steaming? It does look pretty big and what do you know – a tape measure to the side seam comes up with 38 cms instead of the desired 32 cms. Huh! Reprogram my KR11 for 50 rows and make a sleeve, adding the cheat yarn marks and what do you know, it reads 29 sts and 50 rows after I take it off the machine. The sleeve, left overnight before touching it with the iron is the exact measurement that I planned.  Make remaining pieces, reknit back all at 50 rows/10 cm. Make a new swatch and let it dry naturally – 29 sts and 50 rows. How’s that for persistence and covering all the bases!
So, I still don’t know what C – er- ‘Lana’ did wrong but this is perfect.
I realized I have changed something from my original pattern instructions and here it is – instead of taking the top of each piece off on Waste Yarn – these would end up being rehung for attaching the neckband but I’ve found it easier to Cast Off the top of each piece (after the shortrowing is done, knit 1 row over all to get rid of the wraps, then knit a loose row and chain cast off) – on fine (or dark coloured) yarn like this, it’s easier to pick up the cast-off edge than try and find all those tiny, wee stitches which sometimes escape and you later find a dropped stitch after the band is attached…anyway, this means a slight change in finishing the neckband. Make the band the same way as the pattern states:
Stockinette Band. Cast on WY and ravel cord. CAR. MC, T5, K10R. T8, K1R. T5, K10R. Hang hem and remove WY. T7, K1R. Right side of band is facing you now.
New method: Now, remove band. Hang garment neckline, right side facing, hanging both sides of cast-off stitch. Don’t worry about the seamed sts – they are cast off and inside the seam. Turn band and rehang, open sts in hooks. Bring ns out carefully, leaving sts in hooks, putting neckline behind latches. Close latches and pull through. Knit loose row and chain cast off.
Looks the same  from the outside, has the added protection of a double cast-off on the neckline and is easier! What could be better! Now I have 3 WCD garments to wash and dry together – I told you there was a valid reason to wait!


Monday, September 29, 2014

deadline met...

Do you know where the term 'deadline' came from? Basically, it originated in prison camps during war and referred to a physical boundary - guards would shoot any prisoner who crossed the line...
Well, gosh, so glad I'm done! It's ready!
The pattern for the RTR cardi, DONE! The last two weeks, I was pattern writing,  knitting some, pattern writing some…and then I figured I can kill two birds with one stone – to really check over the pattern and make sure it’s good, I’ll make one for Jan and that way I can have another piece of her wardrobe done and I’ll feel really good knowing the pattern has all the proper information. So, for hers, I did have 3 cones of Yeoman Yarns Cannele (which is what the pattern calls for) in a pale green – it’s called ‘sage’ – really nice and I’m sure she’ll like it – hers is the second size, but shorter (maybe I mentioned this before, tee hee, she’s under 5’ short) so I shortened the pattern by  about 2 inches and I had to use the third cone for the last 28 rows of the last front band!!!
The pattern – you can purchase it right here on the right side of the screen, there is a Paypal button  - it’s $8 and I will email the pdf to you when I get your payment (thanks!) –
Standard gauge RTR Lace Cardi: High-hip length, open front cardigan, long, set-in sleeve. Shawl collar, knit in hand transferred lace with purl stitch ridges. Back lace inset is sideways knit and A-line shaped with shortrows, softly gathered into the stockinette back yoke with reverse seaming for added detail. The front is combined with side panel, wider at hem and shaped at back side to add to the A-line. Back is slightly longer than front. Six sizes from finished bust 38 to 54”.
The midnight tweed ‘Granville’ turned out perfect – I just need to darn in ends and add the buttons – will show you some pics later in the week. Now, I have one more piece to do for Jan – I think I’ve decided to go my standard gauge version of the ‘Rib’nShrug’ in the thistle 4 ply wool – stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

still grinning...

I got the cutest text yesterday from sister Jan!
‘Hi there, I am curious about what seems to me to be a new fashion (crime?) here in Toronto. Today I have walked past or by at least a dozen people who have the kick pleat at the back of their skirt, dress or coat basted up. I always thought that stitching was for packing or transporting, not intended as an integral piece of the item of clothing. Isn’t it like wearing the label or price tag?’
LOL!! ‘This has long been a pet peeve of mine! You’re right, Jan! It is like leaving the tag on!’ and usually spotted on the ‘younger’ generation – LOL again, because I’m not talking just the twenty-something  - that now includes anyone under 50!!! It was something that either your mother or the sales clerk explained or, maybe the Home Ec teacher…
It is also used on pockets – a male friend has a double-breasted coat that he wore for a year before I happened to notice that his pockets were inoperable – still sewn shut with basting so the pockets didn’t gape! I always thought the sales staff should take care of this but it seems that the fashion industry has not passed this info onto the purchaser or even the sales staff!
Anyway, I have the first draft of the RTR pattern done! it’s off to my proof-knitter!  I have added a paypal button right here on the blog (at the right side) if you want to place your order, but you'll have to wait  until the end of the month to get it via email!
And I have all 5 pieces of the tweed Granville done with the new and improved 4-row instead of 6-row cables! (fist pump) I am treating myself to a day off – need to go button shopping before making the bands - other button availability will be a huge factor in the selection for the next  garment in Jan’s wardrobe…

Thursday, September 11, 2014

progress report...

Seriously, I’ve been sticking to my plan – pattern write some, knit some, pattern some, knit…I’ve got the schematic done – a little intense – more complicated to size than I originally anticipated – I’m doing  6 sizes from finished 38 to 54” – the point of the original design was to be able to make a plus-sized cardigan with 3 main body pieces instead of 4 so the side panels took a little more thinking than usual…but  I do have most of the pattern written – need to go over it with a fresh eye tomorrow and do some air-knitting of the more intricate shaping.
 As for the next piece in Jan’s wardrobe, I got started on  the tweed ‘Granville’ – sometimes I wish I never talked to my mk friend – when I mentioned my plan of re-making ‘Granville’ to her, she asked if I was going to make the cables closer…what the heck did she mean? then I realized that she meant,  was I going to turn the cables closer together, like every 6 rows instead of every 8 rows?
Let me back up a bit. ‘Granville’ has columns of  braided cables up the fronts and back – and they are made over 8 sts by making a 3X2 cable on the left side at row 4, knit 6 rows, and then turn a 2X3 cable on the right side, so you are actually turning cables every 6 rows. Back to the demise of KnitStyle and the last garment I made for them and never told you about – they had a aran/cable theme for one of the story lines for #195 and my submission was a pullover featuring a yoke of some impressive (for the LK150 machine) looking cables with a outline diamond,  a 3X3 cable and a 2X2X2 braided cable on a background of purl sts. In my experiments/swatches, I found the cables to look much nicer and more rounded by turning them more frequently than I would normally do. As machine knitters, we often are looking for the easy way out and sometimes sacrifice on the finished product. Anyway, I had mentioned  this to my friend back then and darn, she must take notes when we talk because she remembered that – I wouldn’t have – I would have just read my pattern and done what I did on the original!
When she asked me, I said no, that’s way more work and maybe if I were making this for myself I’d do it.
So I started off with the sleeve and it niggled…would it make that much difference to turn them closer or did it only show up in the heavier yarn? You know me - I thought, I could do it on the sleeve – there is only one braided cable up the middle of the sleeve – I could try it and if it didn’t make much difference I could go back to the  quicker way…damn this is really nice – good thing Jan has slimmer arms that I do – I am making it in her size and her sleeve width is a full size smaller than I would make for myself…I’ve got the second sleeve made, I really like this and you know, that midnight tweed is really pretty…I may not mind an extra snug sleeve – they say a fitted sleeve makes you look slimmer….

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

delay tactics...

or should I say ‘wasting’ time? Actually, it’s more like doing something fun instead of the work I intend to do – you know, I really blame this habit on my Mother – when I was a kid and we had chores to do, she would make us work to, say, clean the bathroom and then we took a break and played cards before tackling the next job of cleaning a bedroom… and as the day progressed, the card-playing took up more time than the actual cleaning… Anyway, I admit that I still have a tough time buckling down to get the work done and it’s always been more appealing to do the fun stuff first.
What I should be doing ? Pattern writing – I have decided that I would offer a few patterns for sale now and again – not as structured as the ‘pattern of the month’  but just whenever I felt like it and all summer I have been meaning to write up the RTR Lace Cardi – I did re-knit it already – the yarn is Yeoman Yarns cannele (100% mercerized cotton, 245g cone) -  so, I’m putting it out there – order your yarn ( – you’ll need 3 cones for the 36-44 sizes (4 for the 48-54 sizes) – Sue orders on the 1st and 15th of each month, so if you get your order in for the 15th you should have it in hand by the time this pattern is ready - I promise it for the end of the month! There, a deadline! I never miss them!
So, in between little bits of pattern writing, I’m doing -  what I like best – knitting!
My sister, Jan (lives in Toronto,  has her doctorate in sociology and is very involved in women’s rights and politics) asked me to start her on a knitted wardrobe – she was here in June for 2 weeks and she specifically liked my shift dress and wants a few cardigans to go with so that she has several suitable option for most any occasion.  She already has the 1rt raglan cardi and tank (blog post March 16, 2014) in leaf green that I made for her birthday in March.
My basic shift dress is ‘Dress Up Day’ from Knitwords #16,  Spring 2001 – (what you may not have known - I was Lindsay’s chaperone for the ‘Canadian Search for Miss Universe’ in 2000 – Lindsay was on our cover like 20 times out of the 53 issues and, for the pageant agenda, I was supposed to have a ‘day dress’ for certain functions as well as evening wear, so that was my day dress!  You may have seen me at a seminar wearing this dress – I did alter it once – in 2006 – it had been just hanging in my closet for about a year and I realized that I felt that it was a little short – I still had the exact same yarn, so I cut it across under the bottom of the vertical dart and above the side slit, rehung it on the machine, added 60 rows and grafted it back together! Now it is just knee-length instead of above-knee, more age-appropriate!
Jan loved the idea that I can still wear it 13 years later!!! I made it with 2 necklines – a scoop neck on one side and a v-neck on the other because sometimes you feel like a vee and sometimes not – also depending on what you put with it, you have the option…mine is olive green wool crepe deluxe and of course, over the years I have made many cardigan/jackets that I can wear with it.
My plan for Jan: her  main colour is navy so the shift dress is WCD French navy. I will do: ‘Granville’ (March 15/12) in midnight tweed WCD – I made a stockinette swatch and it isn’t an exact match with the stockinette of the French navy but I’m hoping the textures of Granville will change it up enough to ‘go with’ it;
my wool version of the ‘Rib’nShrug’ from my blog April 28/13 in Thistle 4 ply wool;
and a raglan A-line in a lace pattern in a 4 ply mercerized cotton, mid/dark blue and maybe ‘Tobacco Road’ KW#53 in the same French navy WCD. I plan to have this all done for the end of September too;-)!
The most important things about making a dress that will endure the test of time – choose good yarn and a colour you will love for that long; choose a classic style that will always be in style – mine is plain, shaped sides with vertical darts front and back – or front and front, simple edges easy finishing. As you are knitting, be sure to hang yarn marks at the edges in 4”/10 cm increments – I cannot stress how much this does to help with the finishing and seaming; knit slow and steady and pay attention to your shaping methods and details. Also, I did make new swatches – after all it was 13 years of some pretty intense use on the same machine – my original was knit at T4 with a gauge of 38 sts and 47 rows – I got the same gauge at T5 with this yarn. Now, I want to point out that I’ve had this dress for 13 years and it still fits – not that I am the same size, but because it’s a very good quality yarn I can wash and reblock and resize it to fit whatever size I currently am (15 lbs plus or minus ;-) than I was in 2001)!

Monday, September 1, 2014

happy labour day...

It’s back-to-school time and, though it doesn’t really mean a lot to most of us anymore, some of us are lucky enough to have grandkids who are either starting school or going back.
I’ve had a great summer - even though you could mostly call it a non-summer, very cool, rainy, etc – it’s the first time in forever that I haven’t had a mile-long to-do list and not one single deadline!!! It’s been great – I’ve had family company and lots of outdoor activity to keep me out of the knitting room.  Early in July, my nephew Paul, (son of my brother Brian who was my male model in “Do It On a Double Bed”) who is also my godson, came up with his two kids and we had a great visit. His daughter Bethanie, 11 yrs old, going into Grade 6, was looking through some of my old magazines and spotted ‘Fringe Festival’ (Knitwords #43) by Ev McNabb which is a girl’s tabard-style vest, fringed to the max, along with a 18” doll version –  Bethanie loves her doll and I asked her what colour she would like it in – purple being her favourite colour was the answer. I put that in the back of my mind, not making any promises. So, it was especially cool and rainy this week and I thought, why not?
Ev’s pattern is written for a mid gauge machine with tuck patterning and I only have my LK150 in mid-gauge (manual patterning) and not much in the way of kid-friendly yarns, no matter what the gauge so I decided to make it on the standard gauge instead of trying to hand pull on the manual machine. The yarn Ev used is an acrylic yarn suitable for the standard gauge machine, but she used it double-stranded to make up the difference in the gauge and then also set the pattern up as a tuck lace using every other needle in work, so even thought the yarn is like a double knitting weight, the every-other-needle configuration lightens it up.
My first swatch was Honiburd cotton – I have a partial cone, about 350g of periwinkle, which has a purplish cast to it and I made a swatch single-stranded, T9, on the 4.5mm machine – it seemed a bit wimpy so I made a swatch double-stranded, T10, and it was too tough and nasty. I went back and searched my cupboards and what do you know, I did have a batch of purple hand knitting yarn – it’s Lion Brand Microspun sport yarn ( 6 – 2.5oz/168 yds balls) that a friend gave me several years ago – the perfect colour for Bethanie and most probably the same finished weight as what Ev used in the original. Will it be too heavy for the standard gauge? how much will I need? oh, nothing ventured, nothing gained…I quickly made a swatch – it knit up beautifully at T9 and I knit the entire ball – why stop halfway through the ball? If I need to re-use the swatch, at least it’s all in one piece. Now, of course, I am not trying to match the gauge – that would be too hard and the pieces are just simple rectangles, so a little math with the schematic will tell me the number of stitches and rows I need. I measure the area of the swatch and then figure the area of the size 12 yr garment ( length X width) to calculate the size of the total finished pieces and I should be able get the back and 2 fronts easily from 4 balls – I may even have enough to dress the doll! From my gauge/swatch calculations, I need 300 rows X 54-0-55 sts for the back  (and same again for fronts)and as I am knitting, the first ball runs out at about RC200 so this re-affirms that I will have more than enough.
I start off following Ev’s directions but the cast-on has me doing the chain cast-on, knit a row and then transfer to EON – hum-m-m - too much work! – cast on WY and ravel cord of course, then double-strand main yarn, chain across all needles, then drop every other needle – this cast-on makes a fixed edge, so it’s not going anywhere and I have the correct needles for my tuck lace in work – no need to have to transfer to EON! Thread up single strand, set to tuck and just knit! The back is a perfect rectangle, so just get to the top and remove the shoulder sts on WY and cast off the neck stitches – pretty easy! I get the fronts done, put it together and start the finishing – hum-m-m – Ev’s edging is that 3-st worm trim that takes forever – I did try a couple of samples and maybe because of the different yarn and gauge, I just didn’t like it so I used one of my own crochet-look edges (#5 Shinano from Band Practise or Single Crochet-Look Edge #2 from Mid Gauge Magic):
Added to selvedge edge:
Hold edge up to measure number sts required, gathering slightly.
1. Right/purl side facing, hang edge, picking up half outside edge stitch. Bring n’s out, work behind latches. Close latches.
2. MT, K3R.
3. Pick up bottom half edge stitch of picked up row onto EON.
4. Hand knit loosely across entire row. Chain off.

Much quicker and it looks nice both sides – a little steam and it lays flat! I didn’t put it on the hem edge because the double strand cast-on and the fringe will hold it just fine. Made the doll one and it’s so cute together I decided to make one for my granddaughter Rhiana, too! By this time, my Honiburd swatch has been washed and dried and it doesn’t look so wimpy – being 100% regular cotton, it shrunk and fulled enough to fill out the stitches a bit.
I did find it a bit of a challenge to get those slip cords threaded through straight so with this one, I wove a marker row where I wanted to put the cords through. The stitch pattern is a 3 row repeat with the third row being stockinette and the other 2 have tucking stitches. At the place I wanted the marker row, choosing the stockinette row in the sequence: before knitting the stockinette row, switch the cam back to stockinette/plain. Bring EON (which is every 4th needle) out. Put the weaving brushes down/engaged. Take a strand of mercerised cotton and lay it over the selected needles and hold lightly in place with anchor clips on the tails. Knit the row. Don’t forget to set back to tuck and continue. I did put two marker rows.
I know you’re not going to make either of these but I thought there are a few tips here that might help you out in something else you may make…the tuck lace is really pretty!

Monday, July 21, 2014

bad news...

I just received an email from my Knitstyle editors…they will cease publishing after #193, the next issue, which is due out August 5, 2014. Rats! just when I was getting to know the new format…and I just sent in my garment and pattern for #195 which you’ll probably never see! Even though I was moaning and whining about the colour choice (teal/peacock/kingfisher whatever you want to call it) it did turn out beautifully! They have said they will work with us designers to try and get the unpublished patterns placed with some other publication, but I’m pretty sure they just mean the hand knit designs.
And my garment/pattern for #194! Gosh! Darn! totally upset about that one – I had to fight for the design – when I first submitted it, this is what they said:
On 2/17/2014 7:57 AM, KnitStyle wrote:
“Mary Ann, I love the 2-sided fabric idea, but I'm not sure about the open shoulder for KNITstyle's demographic. Would you be open to doing the same silhouette but with the shoulder closed?  You could show the reverse side as a wide band (say, 8" or more) around the lower edge and the same width around the lower arm.”

WTH? not only do I read this as mk-ers are too what? old? young? to wear this open shoulder? but she’s now re-designing my design!!!
I thought it over and later,
On Feb 17, 2014, at 4:04 PM, MaryAnne wrote:
“well, I guess I have to ask, what is the KS demographic? what does this mean?
(from the request for design info, it said:) 'No limits to the types but I’d like to see designs that are suitable for various ages, from college age through, well, my age…. but think young, no matter the age.'
So, I was thinking young, but appropriate for party wear for the woman of a certain age; not showing upper arms where they droop, but the top of shoulder which still has a sexy look. This is something that I would wear and feel was more age-appropriate for a party look rather than the sleeveless things I see everywhere - [Gail King, Katie Couric, etc - they may be a bit younger than me (I was grouping myself in your age group) but not by much.] And I feel the silhoutte is very current, I've been looking at a lot of fall knitwear lately and a long, flowing A-line top is very in right now, for younger and older.  I'm seeing a lot of silk/rayon type flowing looks and a lot of mesh-look so I was going for a sparkly, drapey party type tunic for skirt or dress pants or even blue jeans, for the younger crowd. I did not mean for there to be both knit and purl side in the one garment, only that either could be used as the right side and I would, in the article, give options for finishing if it mattered.” -Mary Anne

Next day, the reply….
On 2/18/2014 10:24 AM, KnitStyle wrote:
“It's really the ‘knitting demographic’ (especially for those magazines exclusively in print - for the moment) more than which does tend to trend older than regular fashion magazines. That said, you seem passionate about your design, so maybe the KM demographic does trend younger than that for hand knitting. (Unless it's changed, though, I know it also tends to trend larger size-wise. At least it did years ago when I went to KM conferences.)
So go with it.  I'm happiest when I'm proven wrong for something I had doubts about."
On 5/27/2014 5:02 PM, KnitStyle wrote:
“Mary Anne, this is a belated thank you for your great design.  I'm seeing so many more of these shoulder-focused designs - you were so right..... ;-)"
and she sent some photos...

so much for the knitting demographic...why use a 15 yr old model?


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the RTR lace cardi...

I love it and so did my girlfriends! In fact, they both called dibs on it when I don’t want it anymore – funny, they have noticed that I’ve been making longer sleeves on things lately so I can give them away!

Not sure what the real appeal of this design is, because they loved it before I even put it on. Is it the colour? or a combination of the colour and the lace pattern? I guess I’ll have to make it again in another shade just to see. What I really like – the way the back looks, although on the next one, I’m going to make the yoke a little deeper. The slight flare below the waist is very nice. I also like the side view where the back looks slightly longer than the front – I didn’t really plan that, it just happened - it’s because I did the angle shaping on the back side of the front/side panel. I’ll make the front a little narrower, so the front lace panels just meet at the centre front instead of the overlap thing although that’s quite okay… and I’ll fix the front edge cast-on – it worked okay for the bottom edge of the front and sleeve, but went a bit wavy on the vertical drop…

Monday, May 26, 2014

zipper for the black and tan hoodie...

2 zips - which one to use?
Some extra notes on that…I did make sure to put my 10 cm yarn marks on the front edges to help with the zipper placement – it makes a big difference – to figure out the proper length (measuring it after the prewash came to 60 cm) – I pinned in a 50 cm that I had, matching the yarn marks with 10 cm on the zipper and it’s easy to see that  a 55cm is the right length.
chalk markings at 10 cm increments

When I went to the zipper store (lol – if there really was such a thing!) they had both a beige zip with gold metal teeth and a black one with bronze metal teeth – wasn’t sure which would look best because I sort of had in mind to make the bands in the PBT so it would be the same color placement as my original Omega. I bought both in the name of research, I hope you appreciate it. Now at home, in front of the PBT band, I think the black zip works best so I’m going with that.
I put the same incremental marks on the back side of the zipper as the yarn mark points on the front of the garment, using a blue chalk pencil…
For the zipper placement on the front band, you want your sewing line to be right on the T10/fold row so the fold row can still do it job of folding the band in half, but also marking your sewing line. I sewed at 3 for the stitch length, not the longest but not tight so that if it needs to be ripped out, it’s fairly easy – I did use black on the top thread and white on the bobbin so you might be able to see on the underside where the stitch lines are – click on the photo to enlarge it – the top thread should match your zipper tape colour because it does show on the inside of the garment but the bottom colour  ends up inside the casing.
start like this
move the pull behind the foot
When you start sewing the side with the actual zipper piece, have the zipper piece part way up so you can get close to the edge of the zipper teeth. Then after you've gone 4 to 5 inches up, pause with the needle down in the fabric. Lift the zipper foot and move the zipper piece back to the portion already sewn - this gets you past it without making your sewing line go wider to get around it...
stitch second side in same direction
So hang the right front – make notes of where the yarn marks are so you can match the other side. Hang the  male end of the zipper, garter stitch side, wrong side facing you...look back to 'Naturally', blogpost, April 10, '14  for the first set of notes....Oh, yeah, I made this hoodie a size larger than the original because it is a heavier fabric and I thought with the pockets, it needed to be a bit bigger.
Note to self – stop using that 4 ply wool for waste yarn – it felts when you wash it and is a b*%%#@ to remove…

Friday, May 23, 2014

why re-invent the wheel?

Back in February, I mentioned re-knitting Hoods Up using 2 colours because I didn’t have enough of any one colour – well, what was I thinking? (forehead slap!) Omega - it’s a two-colour hoodie  design already (Serial Stuff 4) that I’ve had a ton of compliments on, so, just remake it with the Honiburd cotton!
That’s the best thing about using a charting device – I have the shape already, and I actually did make a swatch in the black.  Often, different colours can have quite drastic differences in the gauge, especially black cotton because of the way it is dyed and, especially standard gauge work because it is finer and the gauge is more crucial than for a mid gauge or bulky garment.
As you can see, I went with black and the paper bag tan. All I have to do is put the new stitch and row gauge into my KR11 and I’m ready to go. I do want pockets on this one – my original Omega is WCD, very fitted, and I didn’t do pockets, but I’ve often thought I should add them, so with this one, I’m adding them in a way to eliminate having to sew them on as patch pockets. I made the pocket from Hoods Up – same number of stitches and rows because it’s the same yarn, but instead of a fixed edge cast-on, I just cast on waste yarn and ravel cord (to have open stitches at the bottom edge) and knit the pocket - two of them actually, one in reverse of the other -  removed on a garter bar and set aside.  Knit the front up to the same row as the top of the pocket. Took the front off on another garter bar, rehung the corresponding pocket at the centre edge, put the front back on and continued to knit.
To join the bottom of the pocket, make the hem band same as in either pattern and hem it - band finished and right side is hanging on the needles. The bottom edge of the pocket - hang it starting from the centre edge and then hang the bottom stitches of the front on top. Pull both/all through band stitches, manually knit the loose row and chain off. The centre edge of the pocket gets joined in the front/zipper band and the only hand stitching to do is that last little half side of the pocket before the slope – so much quicker and neater than hand-sewing-on in any method! And it matches the more sophisticated finishing methods of  Omega  but I will go with the zipper technique from HU!
KR11- Silver Reed Charting Device
HU – Hoods Up
WCD – Wool Crepe Deluxe
PBT – paper bag tan

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

what to do? what to do?

My KnitStyle editors sent me an email to say I would have King Cole ‘Kingfisher’ Merino Blend Aran to use for my next project, an aran-style pullover – oh, I’m sick! who are they kidding? kingfisher? it’s peacock, people!  in all the world there is no worse colour – I would even use pink! I begged, pleaded and whined for any other shade, but no! the yarn Nazi has chosen and I must use the peacock blue.
we want to stick with the teal because we haven't used it lately, it is in stock and is a popular color that will show off the cables.’
Notice how they are now calling it teal? I’ll still hate it!
I must calm down and knit as much neutral stuff as I possibly can before that  arrives…
Should I be making another 1rt raglan for my sister-in-law from Toronto ? My sis, Jan, from Toronto,  is coming to visit in June and can take it back with her and save me the postage…
But the RTR lace…OMG, it’s beautiful – I’ll get a real life photo later in the week to show you – I’ll make it again with some changes – tell you about those then.
In my foray down memory lane last week, I found my first experience with longstitch – issue 1, Lady’s Zip jacket – it was actually my first attempt also at what was to become one of my favourite ingredients to Knitwords magazine (I always thought of it as a recipe or formula for what was going to be in each issue) – I took one of the Passap submissions and Japanese-ified it. Mary Pona had sent in a man’s zip front jacket in 4 ply wool – the body was a double bed pintuck pattern with an allover pattern and the sleeves were plain longstitch and sure enough, I did use the ribber side as the right side because Mary did…

I loved Mary Pona's Man's Jacket, knit on Passap, and knew that owners of Japanese knitting machines would like to make it, so I've made it as close as possible, changing it to a lady's version. The Pintuck rib fabric does not match the Passap technique exactly as the Japanese machine does not have the  ability to pattern on both beds, but this is fairly close. It is a double bed fabric with a pintuck in pattern, made by the back (knit) bed slipping or ignoring stitches, with the front (rib) bed knitting always. This makes a thick warm fabric in 4 ply wool. The sleeves are knit in longstitch. For my waist length jacket, I've changed the bands to 2X2 (2X1) rib to add a bit of stretch in the waistband and cuff and omitted the armband.  Mary's method of putting in the zipper is brilliant and was easy to do although I've added instructions for attaching it on the knitting machine for those who do not have a linker.
And I hadn’t realized that I changed that zipper technique so much – it’s the one I revised again for Hoods Up

Checked my stash, looking through fresh eyes – 4 ply wool is too heavy for TGW cardi, but I may have something else that should work… swatch of Rutland Tweed… this could be it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

I make a deal…

with myself – let me explain. When there is something to do that needs doing but I don’t really want to do it, I try to combine it with something I do like. So I do some of the bad stuff and then some of the fun stuff…I have to finish writing my KS pattern for #194, the December/holiday issue - already mailed off the garment and I’m engrossed in this ‘RTR Lace Cardi’ I’ve been playing around with – it’s turning out awesome and so much more interesting than pattern writing but the deal is, I’ve got to finish the pattern today no matter what.
I have all the pieces of the cardi made, except the last half of the shawl collar and I’m dying to see how it all goes together. So the deal is, I get to join one more piece then I have to finish another segment of the pattern – I know I’m cheating a bit – I did one shoulder and one back/side seam before getting back to the pattern, but it’s only noon…and I just have to finish up the sleeve details, add the stitch chart and finalize the schematic, air-knit one size…
Got the pattern done! and most of the cardi finished up! I’m loving it and already planning a re-knit! You might notice I added a yoke in the back - I thought it would stabilize the shoulders better and I changed my stitch pattern a bit in the shawl collar from the back - I think I'll add pockets and maybe for the next one, add a vertical dart in the front to shape it in a bit more...
Last night, I took my box of Knitwords #1-24 down with me to watch TV  - I know that doesn’t read right – the magazines are not going to watch TV -  I’m going to look through them while I’m watching TV.  I was searching for a particular technique that I’ve used forever and wanted proof that I have told it over and over – couldn’t find it but what a fun time I had reading the ‘reasons to knit’ pages, looking at the models, seeing if I could remember all the names and who was who and oh, gosh, I forgot all about that…