Wednesday, March 21, 2018

swatch hack...

 Grabbed several cones and made a quick swatch!
Cast on 25-0-25 sts on the main bed. Put #21 needle on each side out of work – this will mark the centre 40 sts all the way up without having to hang yarn marks. Did a quick, hung hem. I am using T7, based on my vast (;-)) general knowledge – I know the gauge will be 29-30 stitches and 39-40 rows to 10 cm - and I want the narrow stripes to be about one inch, so, picking the colours randomly, knit 10 rows of each. This eliminates the need to make marking rows to keep track of the 60 rows to measure for the row gauge – just count off 6 stripes. All the yarns are Forsell Pure New 4 ply Wool, except the tweedy one which is my favourite here – it is an oldie, NLA of course, called Rutland Tweed (also by Forsell) and it will knit at the same gauge as the plain wools. I chose it because it has the little flecks of khaki, grey and black that I think will tie all these colours together.
My vision has khaki for the bottom edges and I see it as a circular hem, meaning that it looks like plain stockinette but it’s done on the double bed. Much quicker, no waste yarn, no rehanging stitches, just transfer up to the main bed at the end. I do have another reason for opting for the double bed technique – the front bands are going to be the automatic long stitch facings that I love and since you need the ribber for that, may as well get it going from the beginning.
I find that knitting up stripes like this gives a better perspective of how the colours blend and mix together and if there is a colour you don’t like, it’s easy to fold that stripe out of the swatch and put other colours side by side without having to reknit it all.
I got so excited, couldn’t resist jumping right in. You know it, I made the Sleeves while I mull over what I want on the Back. I looked up an old bell-sleeve pattern (KW# 35, Made to Fade) that I knew would serve (not too big or exaggerated) and put that sleeve schematic in my KR11.
The circular hem is beautiful and so easy! I wanted one stripe of the tweed on the narrowest part of the sleeve and here’s the thing – I always like the purl side of this tweed better – the little blobby spots show up more, and I thought, why not? Never one to shy away from an RTR or two, I took it off, turned it, knit the tweed, turned it back and finished off with the olive. It's adds another dimension and I like the added detail of the little dotted line from the first RTR. This may come back to bite me as the fronts will have the long stitch facing but I’ll deal with that tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I paged through the episode, hunting for shots of Wendy’s sweater coat. I’m not sure what attracted me - the stripes (rather random, not matching), the colours (olive, grey, khaki, black, I thought), the shape (belted in back, long-ish, bell-sleeved, open front and is that a sailor collar?), the fact I was sure there was a ribbed, long stitch facing on the fronts or, the pockets (block, patches)? I may never know but I spent the weekend thinking of it and then today,  punched ‘laura linney ozark sweater coat’ in Google and got a ton of stuff. Wading through all the images – there were pages and pages of stuff - I finally found this!
OMG! It was from Anthropologie, sold out, of course, called ‘Angel of the North’ and it actually said that Laura Linney/Wendy Byrde wore it on ‘Ozark’. It said it was wool knit, green, yellow, navy (???), 32.5 inches long with a removeable belt and had been $169 – I liked it better on the show, but it gave me more of a starting point. Believe it or not, I have a fair stock of wool in the brown, slate, khaki, gold -ish tones, some full cones, some leftovers...

Friday, March 16, 2018

silver lining...

So glad I made that mis took the time to knit that prototype of the collar! It was way too big! I had the cardigan all put together, shoulders and side seams joined and sleeves on – so I put that on and then held the collar around my neck and I could better judge the actual size needed. Took 10 stitches off each side, reknit the whole thing, (placing the N1 correctly ;-)) and it’s perfect! Added bonus, I could use the longer edging from the outside of the first collar to judge how many stitches needed for the front bands.
OMG! You’re not going to believe this, but I re-purposed that band. I kept holding it up to the front and measuring and it seemed like the exact length that I would need for the button band. I pulled off the lace part until there were 2 rows of stockinette left above the ribbed edge that I had before beginning the lace patterning. I rehung into the row below which worked perfectly because everything was well steamed, and stitches set, leaving one full row of stockinette across the entire piece. I removed the last row, did an RTR and knit a row so I had that nice garter stitch ridge, took it off on the garter bar, hung the left front, turned the band and rehung it and presto! my button band! I did do a swatch of the buttonhole and I went with the 15mm (smaller), 2-stitch hole rather than the 20 mm, 3-stitch hole. I thought it suited the size/width of the band better than the larger one.
 BTW, you know how I like to name my projects, this one is called ‘Pocket Change’.
P.S. I'm watching 'Ozark' on Netflix - I'm really liking it and I'm becoming obsessed with a long cardigan that the Laura Linney character is wearing in the 7th episode - watch this space!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

just between you and me...

I saw one of those makeover spots they do on daytime television and they were featuring a long cardigan and the stylist said that short girls should wear these too, don’t be afraid and the longer the better! Just to know I’m on trend feels good!
I’m doing the collar now and I’ve used this technique many times – basically knitting a rectangle, starting off with the edging, in this case, the ribber trim. I don’t want it too heavy looking, paired with the lace, so I’ve deleted a couple more rows from the pocket top and the trick to have the same edging for the ends of the collar, you cast on more than needed for the width of the collar, enough extra on each end to pull around 90 degrees and handstitch to finish off the ends. Sounds more complicated than it really is, but it works! 92-0-93 needles is what I cast on, knit the ribber trim, take off 22 sts at each end on waste yarn (for the end trim), switch to lace and knit the depth of the collar (8 cm). I tried something extra here – I added a little bit more for the back neck area, so the collar would fold over and lay better, hopefully. I got to about row 10 of the lace and it dawned on me I forgot to put in the N1 cam to centre the stitch pattern. Take a couple of days off and it all goes to hell in a handbasket!
I knit a few more rows just to be certain that it wouldn’t look right – the ends of the collar come together, right under your face – who’s not gonna notice that? I debated whether to rip out the lace and start again but decided it wasn’t worth it - I could say this is a prototype to make sure it wasn’t too large/too small. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!  

Friday, March 9, 2018

i had a lump in my throat...

I found another one of those ‘editorials’ – this one was in KNITWORDS #32 – I am preparing for a few new classes for some upcoming seminars and one of my topics is ‘up-dating old classics’ – there were some great designs back in the early issues and I am exploring how best to tell knitters to go about re-sizing, particularly  sleeves, for a closer-fitting garment. Back in 1997 we were wearing over-sized things with 4-inch ease. A few years later, styles were changing, and store-bought stuff was becoming much more fitted. I was looking through the old magazines to find what I called the `first shoulder pad-free issue` and it was No. 32, Spring 2005. Previous to this, I went to the photoshoots armed with at least 4 pairs of shoulder pads in varying sizes and I remember Bill, our photographer, noticing halfway through the shoot that I was no longer shoving in the pads and adjusting everything accordingly! It was a banner day!
My editorial, as it appeared:

Of all the tasks of my job as editor of Knitwords, this one is usually the hardest and I always save it for last. The time when I sit down and talk to you, one on one. I think of you as friends, some of whom I’ve never met. Many of you I’ve spoken to, when you call to renew your ‘prescription’ or ask a question. I always get such a kick out of hearing, Is this really Mary Anne? What are you doing answering the phone? Like, I’m only supposed to knit or write or edit. I can cook too, you know! In fact, one of these days, I’m going to put in a recipe or two and see if anyone notices.
I like getting photos of your family, dressed in ‘our knits’ with little notes indicating who’s who. ‘Here’s my granddaughter in the pink poncho. The guy is my husband.’ I get postcards from your holiday travels and I know you took KNITWORDS because you had the correct address! Your renewal forms have nice little notes jotted around the edges and on the back. I put these treasures on my fridge door, just like moms do with the kids’ drawings and school work. My family and friends have fun checking out the new stuff posted on the fridge ‘bulletin board’ along with my hopeful lottery tickets.
The delivery of this, our 32nd issue, will complete eight years of KNITWORDS. Back in our first issue, I listed my reasons to knit:
-To learn more about the operation of my machine.
-To make garments that complement my lifestyle.
-To develop techniques that produce a good-looking finished product.
-To combine an interesting technique with a new shape.
-To change the old rules.
-To design garments to inspire other machine knitters to explore their machines
- And most of all, to enjoy myself.
Well, eight years later, I look at that list and I could have written it yesterday. And I’m still having fun!
Thanks to all of you for your continued support and for being my inspiration.

OMG! This is 2018 and I think it all pretty well still applies!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

it went to my head...

 The success of that pocket! So, this morning, I powered through the left front, anxious to confirm my technique and get the same result from my pocket notes. Marked the pocket opening, remembered all my 10 cm yarn marks, got the front off the machine and just as I was going to start steaming it, realized that I only knit to the underarm when I took it off the machine! Now I have to go back, rehang it, find the correct row of lace patterning…never pays to get too cocky! How to figure it out? Well, I know I was at RC240 when I ended and I started with row 1. The stitch pattern is 38 rows by 24 sts, so keep adding 38 rows until you get close to below 240 and at 228, I can see there are 12 rows to RC240. That should mean I am going to knit row 13 of the pattern. Give that a try and hope to heck I had my point cams and N1 cam where I thought I did (fingers crossed!)! OMG, I just got really, really lucky! It pays to keep good notes!

Monday, March 5, 2018

a pocket in lace? ...

Here I am, with the radio on, listening to a little Chris Stapleton singing about broken halos (why am I identifying with that?), and I’m at the point where I am either committing to this pocket thing or not. The method I use would be to put a manual row of ravel cord for the pocket opening only, so like 30 stitches in the middle of the row, but you need to be sure you have a clean row of stockinette below that and then again above that to be able to pick up the stitches and add the actual pocket patch and the band to finish it off  later. With regular patterning, like tuck, fairisle, slip or whatever, that just means to bring out those needles only that you want the stockinette on, knit the row and the machine will continue the patterning on either side - bringing the needles out cancels the patterning and produces stockinette only. But this is lace and you cannot bring the needles out as they would then automatically transfer on the next row and you’re screwed!
hand knit ravel cord
hold sts for later
You’ve never heard me say this and probably never will again, but it would be easier on a brother machine! Hah! I said it! Yes, on a brother machine, the lace carriage transfers only and in the space where you want the pocket opening marked with stockinette you would simply un-select those needles, pushing them back to B position and then you would get the desired stockinette. But, I’m using my beloved Silver Reed lace carriage which transfers and knits all in one pass so that does not apply. Now, I could get out the instruction manual and find extra point cams and set this up as a single motif thing but by the time I do that (and it would likely mean re-reading the row, yada, yada, yada), I’ve decided the easiest thing to do is simply lace knit the row and then un-transfer the few stitches in that 30 row space. I did that and then hand knit the ravel cord from #23-52, knit a lace row, unknit and un-transfer only the few lace stitches, reforming them to stockinette and then just continued. The actual pocket is added later.
first pick up, row below top of ravel cord
second pick up
both attached, inside garment
Before getting to this point, I made the patches (ewrap bottom edge, knit 52 rows and take off on waste, reserving a tail of main yarn to cast off with later) and the pocket tops/bands, each/both 32 needles wide so there would be an extra stitch on each side of both the patch and the band, compared to the opening. For the bands, I made the hem to just after the first set of racks is done and then transferred it all up to the main bed, knit a row of stockinette, and then an RTR (remove, turn, rehang) and another row (this will make a nice garter stitch row that shows on the outside, making a nice dividing line between the band and the lace fabric),then took it off again on the small piece of the garter bar, reserving a tail of yarn about 4 times the width that should be enough to do the attach and cast-off without adding a couple more ends to darn in. What you want to happen is to add the open stitches of the band to the row of stockinette below the ravel cord and cast it off, add the open stitches of the patch to the row above the ravel cord and cast those off. Then, if done correctly, you pull out the ravel cord to open the pocket! Ta-da! The band folds up to the front on the bottom of the opening and the patch is hanging behind with the top nicely covering everything – all you need to do now is catch-stitch the outside edges of the patch onto the back of the fabric as neatly as possible…OMG! I feel like a rocket scientist! ;-o   P.S. if you want the handout with the method for your techniques folder, email me!

all done, inside
outside, finished

Friday, March 2, 2018

do i take a chance? ...

I’ve been quietly knitting this longish, lace cardigan that I mentioned a week or so ago in the medium brown wool. I started with the sleeves – I always feel this is a good thing to do – it gradually gets me and the machine in the groove for lace carriage work before the heavy stuff of knitting lace across the whole bed, like for the back. I can practise my ravel cord shortrowing on the sleeve cap and think about the other details of the design. I took a chance without making a whole new swatch (kids, don’t try this at home!) and deleted a few rows from the hem band, as it seemed a little deep, two less after the circular rows and two less between the racks, so 20 rows total instead of 24 and it looks nicer.
While knitting the back, the widest piece, I took my time and broke it up into 44-row spurts – that’s my row gauge, so it reminded me to hang the yarn marks at the edges for seaming and it gave me a breakpoint for the yarn spray which I found worked better when I left it sitting on the cone for a few minutes before proceeding. My method: put the cone into a larger, soft plastic bag with the opening at the top. I opened the bag, gave a couple of squirts and closed the bag over it for a second or two and then went back to knitting or took a coffee break.
While knitting the back, I sorted through my initial concept and decided to break up the back with a yoke across the top, going sideways and contemplated putting pockets in the fronts. I’ve never done this in lace before, so I was going over it in my mind. After I got the back off the machine and pressed out, I knit a 4X5 inch stockinette patch that would be the inside of the pocket – I figured an inside patch would be the better option here as a bag-style can pouch out sometimes. I do have a back-up plan, to sew a small snap inside in the centre of the pocket top opening, if necessary. Where does the 4X5 inch come from, you ask? Just my own idea of how big a pocket in knitting should be, basically the width of your hand across the knuckles and the depth from fingertip to the fork of your thumb. You don’t want it too big or it will bag and sag – to me the point of a pocket is to hold a credit card/money, maybe i.d. or your hotel room key and that’s it.
I pinned the patch inside the back where it would be positioned on the front and held it up in front of me, with a light-coloured backing on, so the brown lace fabric would show up better, to the mirror and I think I can live with this! I’m going for it!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

the good ole days....

Talking about that blue ‘Uptown’ reminded me of this story I wrote for the ‘editorial’ page from Knitwords #27, Winter 2003:
Some people think my life is glamorous, travelling all over, having fun. Here’s a day from last week. The flight out of here at 7 am (means I am getting up at 4:30 am) arrives in Minneapolis at 7:30 am (I hr time difference). It’s a 35-passenger aircraft. Upon arrival, the crew and passengers are taken from the plane by bus to the Customs area for clearance and there is a guy in charge of this, like a duty officer. So, we go into Customs. Now, I always try to dress nicely, mostly so I look the part of visiting royalty upon arrival at my final destination, in case they have called the press, like they are supposed to (I did make the front page of the Alaska Highway News in Fort St John once). So, although I do have jeans on, they are hidden by this long, ankle length, blue lace coat (knitted, of course, a re-make of ‘Uptown’ from No. 24) that is accessorized with the sweetest dark red leather shoes and matching small shoulder bag. It’s my turn and I go up to the Customs guy - they are usually very gruff and almost nasty, probably because they have to come in early for this crumby little job - there are only 17 passengers and one agent and he’s just totally ripped up the young man in front of me and sent him off to darker regions to the ‘interview room’ and we in the line are all certain the poor fellow will be returning to Canada on the next flight. Anyway, he says to me, ‘Where are you going?' and I give my standard, keep-it-short-and-sweet answer, 'I’m going to Connecticut.' 'What for?' 'Visiting friends and going to a knitting show.' (just in case they decide to search my bags and wonder why I have 24 knitted garments for a two day stay in 75°F weather)
'Where did you meet these friends?'
(Arr-g-g-gh!) 'At a knitting show.'
'You go to a lot of knitting shows, don't you? You were here two weeks ago, and I talked to you!' he says accusingly.
'Uh-h-h, yes, that was me.' (My heart has stopped and I'm expecting to be taken off to the Inquisition or the hospital.)
He says 'Well, have a nice time!' and smiles as he scribbles something on the customs form that I must turn in at the other end of the hall after retrieving my bag (which is huge and weights 64.5 lbs). Wow, feeling more than a little apprehensive, I make my way to the other end of the very long, empty room where these two guys have been watching my progress, it seems, every step of the way (mental note, try to look calm, cool and innocent). I look at the form to see if I can decipher what the agent has scribbled, but as usual, it must be in code and I have no clue. I make the choice to go to the guy on the right and he greets me with, 'I’m so glad to see you again. When you were here last week, (it really was two weeks ago, same day, same flight) I wanted to tell you how nice you looked, and you look fabulous again today. It's great to see someone all dressed up, especially on this flight. Usually people look like they just rolled out of bed.' My mouth is opening and closing, and I don't know what to say, afraid to take a breath. He, too, tells me to have a good time! I feel like I’m in the twilight zone!
I go through the doors (I’m free, no one has grabbed me from behind!) to put this bag on the conveyor to be checked through to Connecticut and the agent from the bus is there, grinning at me. ‘I guess I’m doing this a little too often if the Customs guys are recognizing me.’ I say.
‘Oh, I remember you too! Love your coat, it looks great!’
I finally arrive in Hartford, via Detroit, at 4 pm. The press isn’t there. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

rescue mission...

I wasn’t going to tell you this story – I felt like I not only had egg on my face, but it had dried! But I got an email the other day from my friend Tom – he had test knitted the Manfriend Hoodie for me and his new puppy chewed the cuff of his red one. When he was opening the sleeve seam to take the cuff off and replace it, he inadvertently snipped the wrong thread and now he has to re-make the entire sleeve! He was talking circular needles and stuff! LOL! Misery loves company!
the evidence!
It brought this back to my mind. I was preparing for the Maritime seminar in Charlottetown, PEI and one of my classes was seaming on the machine so, killing two birds with one stone, I had all the pieces done for a denim blue hoodie that I was making for my friend’s hubby, Ray, so I could show the actual seaming in the class. I had knit like a mad fiend to get it all ready in time and must have been working on autopilot. Usually when I complete one piece, after taking it off the machine, I roll it lengthwise, yank to set the stitches, unroll it and give it a steam or press, depending on the fibre, to casually flatten it out and then look it over to make sure all is well before proceeding to the next step. Somehow, either I omitted this step or, ignored the fact there were ‘lines’ across this half of the front. I had the shoulders joined and one sleeve on to take to the seminar. When I was in the middle of the class in PEI, I sort of noticed them a bit but said to myself, ‘that will come out in the wash, proceed with the demo’. I put the other sleeve on, seamed the underarm, attached the hood and the stabilizing trim for the centre front, ready for the zipper. Technically, I wouldn’t have done that until after I washed the assembled garment but did it in the interest of presenting as much as I could.
When I returned home, I somehow overlooked the laundering – I guess I figured that this was like my 7th or 8th remake of the pattern at that point and I could guesstimate the number of stitches for the front edges without the shrinkage factor. I went ahead and finished the whole thing, even sewing in the zipper before I put it through the laundering, still not paying any attention to the ‘lines’. When I took the hoodie out of the dryer, it was like I’d been punched in the stomach! OMG! it was horrid! how could I have overlooked this? There were obvious flaws in the yarn that looked even worse!
I spent the rest of the day berating myself and the machine knitting population of PEI! Nobody said a word – that damn quintessential Canadian politeness!
The next day, facing reality, I re-knit the front, checking several times that I was indeed making the right one, the left! Luckily, I had extra yarn and I keep very good notes of everything I knit. After it was done, I picked out the zipper and began the process of removing the left front. I realized the good thing about this pattern was there were only open stitches on the top of the sleeve and that RTR row after the shortrowing saved the stitches well enough so I was able to rehang it right on the machine and reknit only that row. And of course, the shoulders, but that was a piece of cake after the sleeve cap – everything else was totally cast off individually so removing the hood was not jeopardizing the neckline in anyway. Got ‘er done and back together in no time and didn’t admit it to anyone until now! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

battery operated? ...

After checking over my wardrobe, I made a few lace swatches using Forsell Pure New Wool. Referencing my only lace design in that yarn, ‘Uptown, # 24, I made the first swatch at T6 (driftwood/tan), using a lace pattern that I knit several times in the past (KW#40, Lacy in Red). It seemed rather stiff in the knitting and sure enough, the pattern did not come off as cleanly as I am used to – seems funny as you’d think there is more give/elasticity to the wool as opposed to the 4 ply mercerised cottons I usually used. I did add a lot of yarn spray hoping to help it out but by the time I finished the swatch, I didn’t like the stitch pattern or the ribbed hem (full needle rib with racked cast-on, same as above) so moved on.
My next swatch, again trying a previously used stitch pattern was from ‘Comfy, #28 .
I’ve mentioned that I have a very old system – Silver SK580 electronic with PE1 and the PE1 design controller came with this nice little memory card on which you could save the stitch patterns and call them up to re-use. I have three of them and knew that this day would come sometime, but it’s been like 30 years! There is a small battery in the card and way back when I was a dealer, we were told that the battery would need to be replaced at some point. I, like a good little Do Bee, went and purchased the proper battery from Radio Shack for that eventuality.
I used to keep a record of the pattern number, and description for each card so I could recall anything ever stored in the card but over the years lost that practise so now, I still had the mylar sheet of my original and I went to read it into the knitting machine and save it on the PE1 card and I got a message saying ‘change cel’ – OMG! I tried another card, unused for a few years, before going into panic mode and got the same thing. When I tried to pull up a design for that card, it said ‘no data’. Ar-rr-g-g-gh!
Then I remembered that I thought I had an old ‘new’ battery but where on earth was it? Well of course, it was with all my other batteries! In spite of my swelled head at the thought of my amazing organizational skills, I was able to replace the battery – I had a very vague memory of using the end of the single prong tool to push the lock button over on the end of the card and using tweezers to pull out the end to bring out the old battery – OMG, it was the one I thought, a CR2016! Put it in, re-read the pattern and Bob’s your uncle! it worked! My ‘comfy’ swatch in medium brown came out beautifully at one dot higher than the last swatch – check out that ribbed hem – it’s from ‘Frame of Lace’, #17 – a little intricate-looking but fairly easy to do with a few racked rows.
Bands, adapted from 'Knitting on the EDGE' by MAO, #35 Racked 1X1 Look Rib.
Side facing is right side. Swing H5. Arrange ns for full needle rib, end ns on RB. CAL. T1/1. Knit zigzag row. Hang comb and one weight in centre. Set to circular. T2/4, K2R.  T4/6, K2R. T5/7, K2R. Swing P. Transfer to EON on RB only, by moving sts to MB, empty ns out of work.
  l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l
  . l . l . l . l . l . l . l . l . l.
Cancel circular, set to knit both ways. Swing H. RC000. T5/7, K2R. H3, K1R. H5, K1R. H7, K1R. H5, K6R. H3, K1R. H5, K1R. H7, K1R. H5, K2R. RC016. Transfer all sts to MB. T8, K1R. RC017. K1R. Lace carriage, eyelet row, K1R. Stockinette, K2R. RTR. RC021.
I looked at the note that said, ‘side facing is right side’, said to myself, why would you do that when lace knitting is side away right side? In the ‘Frame of Lace’ pattern, there is a bit more happening and I did have a few RTRs (remove, turn, rehang) in there. Decided to chance it, this is a swatch after all! I didn’t want to have any RTRs because that would mean taking out the ribber comb in order to use the garter bar to turn the work and I like to have the ribber comb in to evenly weight the work for lace knitting…instead of transferring to every other needle in work on the rib bed, I did that on the main bed and it worked, the side away is the right side! that’s why I got paid the big bucks! ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

project fog...

I may have mentioned that I’ve been in a knitting funk - I can’t decide what I want to make. I’d think of something, get semi-excited about it, go and look at my yarns and then it would fall flat. I put groups of yarns in the middle of the living room floor and studied them from different angles but, nothing! I started watching ‘Mad Men’ but it wasn’t really grabbing my full attention. I putzed around, made those pockets, fixing up ‘Omega’, made a Man Friend Hoodie for my baby brother and sure, I did things, but it was all on auto-pilot. I was still dreaming of my next knitted vision.
I finally went to my closet and began to drag out some of my all-time favourite pieces, trying them on and examining techniques to see if I could get inspired. I discovered that I particularly like lace (major surprise! ;-)) and I like that longer length A-line, like ‘Geezer Chic’ (#50), ‘Tumbleweed’ (#53) and ‘Lacy in Red’ (#40). My hairstyle plays a big part of what I currently like – I have this habit of growing it out, to shoulder length or slightly longer and then chopping it off, seriously regretting that and then growing it out again – it sounds quick but not really. Anyway, right now I have the chopped, very short version and with this, I prefer collared garments - the neckline is much more important than when I have longer hair. Go figure – it’s taken me a lifetime to come up with this!
I also made the discovery that even though I have used a lot of 4 ply wool in my knitting career and I currently have a pretty big supply of it – I really stocked up when The Knitting Gallery was clearing out their Forsell Pure New Wool – I do not have a lace garment in that yarn and in checking the Knitwords index, I see that I have only ever knit one cardigan in that yarn! It was in No 24, Spring 2003, called ‘Uptown’ back when full length cardigans were fashionable. This one, I made for Lindsay, our model, in her size and I liked it so much, I made one for myself in a denimy blue Bonita cotton, loved it and wore it quite a bit – that was one of the ones I dug out and I’m putting it back into my wardrobe rotation for spring (if it ever gets here!). It has a fabulous full needle rib shawl collar that I was extremely proud of and the hem band was a combination of circular knitting with a 1X1 look  that was the perfect weight to add swing and drape to the bottom of the cardigan.
So, I’ve made a couple of swatches, in lace, trying out some of those great double bed bands that I loved so much…more later!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

decreasing hack...

me, original, 2012
Just been putzing around, I am having a tough time deciding on a project, so just to be busy and stay out of the fridge, I am making pockets to put on my ‘Omega’ hoodie (Serial Stuff 4) from a few years back. It is a fitted-body, zip front, saddle-shoulder cardigan that I have re-made several times since then and just love, but this red and black one, my first, I don’t wear as much because, I think, it doesn’t have pockets. I didn’t put the front pouch pockets in at the time because I thought since it was fitted, I wouldn’t want pockets to add bulk to my mid-section. Since then, I have re-evaluated life and figure, who cares? and if there is a bulky looking mid-section, maybe I can blame it on the pockets? Anyway, I am making patch pockets - it’s the only way to add them without taking the entire garment apart and that isn’t happening!

2017 camo version, with pockets
I still want the same shape pocket with the slanted edge to the outside and I will stitch in in place, along the top of the hem band and beside the zipper band so all edges need to be finished and similar looking. I started off the bottom edge with a double stranded chain cast-on and knit up to row 36 to begin the sloped edge. Always in the past I have used a 3-prong tool outlined decrease on every other row to make a neat, slightly rolled edge that is automatically finished but does take a little more time. I decide to see what happens if I just shortrow the decreases – much quicker and worry about the finishing off later. After all, if this does not work out, I can re-do it the old way, right?
manual loose row variations
At the top of the pocket, same row as the decreases/shortrowing are done, I need to cast everything off with a finished-look. Cancel hold and knit a row over all to clean off the held stitches Using the main yarn double stranded, I hand knit the final row, making the sloped edge, held stitches extra large, almost right back to A position and on the ‘top of pocket’ stitches, knit them back halfway between A and B – they don’t need to be as large as the sloped edge stitches. Chain them off and wow! I’m happy!

almost finished, pinned in place
To finish the straight selvedge that goes up the centre front, which was 90 rows, I chained over 45 needles, double stranded – use the latch tool from the mid gauge machine to maintain a loose, even tension – wrong side facing you, hang half the outside edge stitches – the bar between the knots of the selvedge edge and then single strand, knit a loose row to chain off the two sets of ‘stitches’ – this puts that chain cast-on on the outside edge of the pocket! Do the same thing to the shorter selvedge side on 18 needles - BTW, this is WCD at T6, gauge is 34 sts and 50 rows to 10 cm/4 in.
  That’s so machine-knitter-ish! I’m boondoggling and still looking for a shortcut!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results!

And there I was, trying to knit in pattern and ripping out the row that didn’t knit, over and over. What the hay? I feel like I’m caught in a time warp and the sense of déjà vu! wow! then it dawns on me, I have been here before!
Arr-r-g-g-h-h! And how about that new year resolution? I know what happened, I didn’t place the order, so I don’t have a new curl cord and I wasn’t even using DAK, (though, in my Einstein moments, I did set it up and tried the same pattern on it, didn't work) so I can’t blame it on that. I was in a deep funk, my knitting career was over and then, as so often happens, somehow in the middle of the night, it came to me! I have a fine gauge machine packed up, stored away and there will be a curl cord in there! It’s sure to be working, I can’t have three bad ones at one time!
Success! Two perfect pieces! Yay for me! I swear, I’m placing that order!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

dirty laundry...

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a new topic but I‘m sure this is something I haven’t addressed here before. You’ve heard me say I love Wool Crepe Deluxe and if you look in the right place(s), I’ve talked about blocking and steaming garments but what happens to a finished garment that is laundered? It looks like this! Yikes!  This is the 1RT raglan in ginger WCD that I made back in October,’14,
 BTW, this isn’t the first time I washed it, just the first time I thought to tell you about it! ;-) OK, a quick review of how I laundered this. I use Eucalan, in warm water, in my top-loading washer, with just enough water to cover the garment – I don’t mean to brag here but I do several similar-coloured WCD garments at one time, so enough water to submerge all. Note, never button a cardigan – it will stretch out the bands and look awful.
After filling, turn off the machine. Swish the things by hand and let soak for 15-20 minutes. If there were any trouble spots/stains, I pre-treat with straight Eucalan before submerging. After the soak, turn the washer dial to drain/spin, full-on and let the machine do the work to take the water out. Eucalan is a no-rinse product, so that’s all there is to it. Sometimes, I add a little fabric softener in there too but not a lot, just like a teaspoon, maybe. Then I put all the items in the dryer, along with a one-yard piece of percale sheeting that I keep especially for this purpose – it helps to make the sweaters tumble instead of wadding up on the blades of the dryer and has no lint. Set the dryer to ‘air’ only for about 15 minutes – this will take out the wrinkles and because there is no heat, no danger of shrinking.
Then I take the things out, lay them flat on towels and let them air dry overnight.
This one-row-tuck looks bubbly and nasty because of the tuck and it is necessary to re-block it (this happens to lace as well). I do it in sections on my ironing board. For one side of the front, put a longer blocking rod in the edge of the front band and a shorter one through the hem band – make this one go about an inch past the side seam so you don’t get a point happening at the side seam. Pin the rods in place – I don’t use a tape measure for this, just eyeball it, but if you’re uncertain, measure and make sure the second front matches in length.
Don’t worry about the side seam - no need to have a rod there, you can hold/stretch that side with your hand as you are steaming with the other hand. On the neckline, I just put a few extra pins to hold it in place without stretching it out. I’m just using my regular steam iron  and holding it just above the fabric until I get some steam into the fabric then I actually set it down for a sec to really steam it. After that section is done, walk away and leave it to cool for a minute or two.  Unpin, move to next section, blah-blah-blah. For the sleeves, I use the sleeve board and no rods. Good as new!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

eighties ladies...

It’s okay to laugh!  I am! All this reminiscing about the 80s - I came across this – my first headshot, from 1987 – look at that Elvis thing happening on top of my head! But, I was wearing one of my very first machine knit sweaters! It was Bramwell’s Montana 2 ply cotton used double-stranded and I knit a design that was in Modern Machine Knitting, a magazine from the UK.  
 And, OMG! I still have that issue! I’ve done a lot of purging but for some reason, I did save my first collection of MMKs, from 1986 to 1989. It was a monthly machine kitting magazine and I read those things front to back and knit the heck out of them! I would pick something I liked, knit it once and then knit it again, improving something until I got it just right. The written patterns were relatively simple, not much reading there but the diagrams were so full of priceless information and each issue had several articles of techniques and swatches, so you could learn about the various aspects and options for your machine.

That magazine was specifically for Knitmaster which was sold as Singer, Studio or Silver Reed in North America so I learned everything I possibly could from those – I always thought the second or third time making the same thing was invaluable, especially for a beginner because it reinforced the lessons. I remember practising and learning so much about necklines because I am not a scarf-wearer - I was always certain they used scarves and big jewelry to hide any glitches! :-)