Monday, January 25, 2016


Hey, thanks to all who responded and signed up for my challenge - I hope you enjoy it and get some satisfaction out of it! Keep checking back here - Monday is usually a good day to blog, so look for more tips and patterns and updates weekly (or so)!
I finished up my circular scarf - I used two and a half balls for a total of 1280 rows and it measures 60 inches in length - it turned out quite nice. I washed it to let the alpaca loft and fill out a bit so that it doesn't look quite so thin-ish. I'll tell you the truth now - I started out to do 20 rows circular, 2 rows FNR and quickly realized that was a bad choice because you were adding 22 for the repeat and it made more sense to knit 18 rows circular, 2 rows zigzag  so that every 20 rows was a full repeat and then I got carried away and all of a sudden had 26 rows circular...I'm not a rip-er-out-er, I admit it - yes, I altered the pattern rather than have to de-knit...AND, I knew it would happen again so I then 'planned' to do random amounts between zigzags, varying from 18 to 28 to yes, some 38 rows between - it's all good! I evened out as I was coming to the end portion so that both ends hanging down together would look the same - in fact, it turned out so nice that if I were a scarf person, I'd keep this one and have to knit another!
But, onto bigger things. On Friday I dashed off a quick to-do list as some things are creeping up on me - I hate to get behind or owe someone something...February and March are big birthday months for me. By this morning the list had grown to more than 8 items - 2 girlfriends who would be heartbroken if I didn't give them a pair of socks; 2 grandkids that kind of look forward to something from Grama (hoodies it is! a red MFH for Nate - he is darn near as tall as I am - I know you're laughing, but he is only going to be 12! and,  something in turquoise for Rhiana); my niece Lauren is expecting (???what to do - her or baby?); 2 sister birthdays and the next red scarf is due Feb 15!! Good thing I'm up with deadlines! I'd better get knitting! ttyl ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2016

are you up for a challenge?

My friend Patsy from Minnesota (see 'power of the press... Dec 7/15) wrote:
"Can we challenge you to come up with  another scarf  pattern by  October???
It was  great for me to learn a new  technique, and for some of our hand knitters to be able to adapt it. And even Dee figured out how to do it on the circular sock machine."
Well, I'm challenging her and you to follow me for 10 months of red scarves! I'm going to start this as a ribber/double bed project and take you through experiments to learn something about double bed work. I chose double bed because every machine knitter always says 'I need to use my ribber more...' and double bed stuff makes fabric that is finished on both sides, suitable for a scarf without a lot of finishing. I'm starting with circular knitting and then will go on to help you explore using different stitch patterns, needle arrangements and stitch techniques  suitable for fabrics for the 'Red Scarf project to AIDS Awareness campaign for 2016' - deadline Nov 15, 2016.
I will do a couple of scarf patterns on the LK150 also, so you'll have to stay tuned for that too!
Get ready to swatch some circular knitting...
If you are joining in, please send me an email to introduce yourself and let me know what machine you are working on and if you have questions now or later, please email me at
warning: the remainder of this blogpost contains technical information. If you are just reading for pure entertainment, quit now or you may be in danger of learning something useful!

Circular or Tubular knitting  Mary Weaver's 'The Ribbing Attachment' states: 'Circular knitting is stocking stitch knitted on both beds at once: the machine is set so when the carriages are moved in one direction only one of the beds will knit and when it is moved in the opposite direction the other bed will knit.' 
On knitting machine with ribber attachment, knits main/back bed to left, knits rib/front bed to right. Circular knitting is worked in a tube with no seam. Size of tube is adjusted in width by the number of needles used. Good for seamless socks, the inside of a bag pocket, bands, strings (4-6 sts) or for waste knitting for ribbing.
The carriages can be set in reverse to the above, but for this pattern for the circular portion we want the carriages at the right, the first pass to the left will knit the back bed and the second pass will knit the rib bed - 2 passes make one row on each bed.
Check your manual for the settings for your machine. In general, Silver Reed manuals state that the ribber carriage should be set 2 full numbers looser/higher than the main bed. Brother manuals are not that explicit but it does say to make a sample circular piece and check that both beds knit to the same tension/stitch size. If they do not, adjust the tension dial on the KR carriage.

Machine: 4.5mm standard gauge with ribber. Mine is knit on Silver Reed 580/SRP60N.
Yarn: red 2 ply Misti Alpaca lace weight, 50g/437 yds (would be T2-3 stockinette) or any light weight yarn  that knits as a 2-3 or fine 4 ply could be used.
My swatches (15-0-15 ns) are royal Bramwell Sable Crepe MT -  would be T5 stockinette; light jade Tamm Perla (a very old cone, acrylic, no longer available but perfect weight for this project) MT -  would be T4 stockinette.
Gauge: Not really critical but 30 sts and 60 rows of circular, T3/5 = 8 cm X 7 cm.

MAO notes on circular knitting - usually requires less weight than full needle rib. Watch that sts are knitting near ends - if there is a bent or damaged needle, it will continually not knit one or two sts in the same place - add more weight in that spot or change out needle - usually only happens on main bed. Knit slowly and watch edge stitches. Move claw weights up on edges every 40-50 rows. For a starting point for stitch size, have main bed set at the stockinette tension for the yarn you are using and adjust from there. I added the 2 zigzag rows every so often to break up the monotony or circular knitting and to stabilize the scarf so it wouldn't bias.
SCARF: 30-0-30 ns, arrange for Full Needle Rib/ZigZag (all needles working, same number, both beds, end needle on rib/front bed on left and knit/back bed on right). Swing H5 (centre, half pitch). Cast on waste yarn, hang comb and weights, knit several rows, ending CAR. Set to circular, ravel cord, K2R. Cancel circular (set back to ZZ).
Place carriages on left side. (This will be the racking cast-on that gives a stretchy, firm finished edge in FNR.)
ZZ (set to zigzag/FullNeedleRib), MC, T1/1, K1R.
Rack to H4. Bring ns out (makes sure everything knits). T2/2, K1R.
Rack to H5. Bring ns out. T3/3, K1R. *CAR. Set to circular. RC000.
T3/5, K18R. Cancel circular. ZZ, K2R*. Repeat * to * for desired length.
(My red scarf is 1280 rows and measures 6 in X 60 in. - I will add photo later!)

Finish as follows: This is a method that I have found to leave cast-off edge with good elasticity as well as looking similar (not exact but close enough) to cast-on edge. Increase tension to T7/9, knit 2 circular rows. (you want to be 4-5 numbers higher/looser than circular tension. If not, pull yarn down from overhead tension mast and hand feed across to get loose enough stitches on these two rows.)  With WY, and circular setting, T5/5, K20R. FNR, K2R. Remove from machine. Steam WY to set stitches. Remove last two rows to open the end. Fold waste yarn out. Use latch tool, start opposite yarn end. Pick up one knit/back bed stitch, put behind latch. Then pick up a rib/front  bed stitch and pull through (having tool at inside and pulling st to centre, turn tool and grab opposite stitch and draw to centre, etc). Continue going back and forth until across row, pull yarn end through. Sew in ends.
Actually, the hardest part of this red scarf was winding the yarn - the lace weight alpaca is so fine and though I do have an electric yarn winder it is difficult to get it coming out of the centre of the ball evenly without tangling. I'm working with this because I have it - if you do not have fine/lightweight red yarn on hand, I would recommend you purchase a cone of Tamm Kitty, Yeomans Fifty Fifty or something similar in a smooth acrylic yarn - you don't want it so fine that you can't see it - something that is about 3000 yds/lb is good - make your swatches in something that you can see well.
Happy going round and round! I'm not really upset that no one wanted the recipe for the turkey pot pies!  ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2016

the final of that 4F thing...

I did finish it and it turned out fine (more 'ef' words!)! The hood is perfect and looks very good when on - frames the neckline, falls nice and flat over the back and looks good if you had to wear it up - what more could you want?
That was the first time I actually knit something planning to do a cut and sew and, for future reference, I'd leave one or two needles out of work at the centre - I did hang yarn marks as I was knitting but, after the fact, realized that a needle out of work would have been more effective (and easier - I'm all about that!) because it would show the centre line on both inside and out.
I used the outside seaming techniques from 'ManFriend Hoodie' for the shoulders and attaching the hood to the neckline.
The finished garment - I soaked it in Eucalan for a half hour and then in fabric softener for another half hour, rolled it in a towel, laid it to dry and then gave it a final block/steam (which you will have to do with any fairisle garment made of pure wool whenever you launder it ;-)). The yarn softened up but it is not quite 'next-to-your-skin' wearable even though I have never had a problem wearing pure wool before but that's okay - it is more like the weight of a jacket anyway.  Love it!