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! :-)


Friday, December 29, 2017

stranger things...

I’m gearing up for New Years and that means getting my ducks in a row for the resolutions. You know that procrastination thing I mentioned the other day – well, that’s top of the list. It’s probably not as serious as I’m making out but I was finishing up Janet’s church pullover – it’s been hanging on the LK since forever and, I thought, I think I mentioned to you, yes, I did: - sheesh, that was back in October when I confessed that I was having to use 3 row counters with my LK150 because none were working properly and I said I was going to order a couple new ones. Didn’t do that.
So, before getting into knitting the last two pieces, the side panels, I went on-line to Peter Smith Trading in Toronto – he has a pretty good website for ordering Silver Reed/Studio/Singer parts. He has all the parts catalogues for the individual machines, so you can look up the part, find the number you want and then go back to the parts order page, locate that number and put it in your cart. I did that for the row counters and the curl cord that I wanted,  ;-) , but I knew there was something else that should have been on my list - I couldn’t think of it so I abandoned that and went back to knitting – you won’t believe this but that freaking row counter that was adding 19 rows instead of moving only one number? suddenly, it’s working perfectly! Like I said, ‘stranger things!’ I’m Netflixing that show! Usually, anything remotely sci-fi is definitely not for me but the nostalgia value for the 80s, the music, ugly cars, hairdos! I’m loving it! and those kids are so cute!

Happy New Year!