Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hi from SoCal

I'm at my mother-in-law's house in San Bernardino, California. We have driven around our old environs quite a bit - and it made us both a little sad: we miss it and it's gone and changed and gotten less familiar. There are two primary changes in my mind: first of all, many of the houses here burned down a few years ago. Most have been replaced with all kinds of styles of houses, but it certainly looks different. Seconly, the city, especially the business districts, has been getting gradually more run-down, and we are always surprised when we visit to see dead shopping centers and businesses and more bars on the windows of residences than before. Still, it is just gorgeous here - very hot during the day but cool in the evenings and the mornings with a bright blue sky and wispy clouds. We have the brown foothills to look at, and more distant mountains, and bouganvillea in bloom, and the whole landscape dotted with Q-tip palm trees.

The house where we were married has a dead lawn, in fact, no surviving landscaping at all. The front lawn tree is a large, branched stump. It sits in a lovely neighborhood, a forlorn rental among nicely-kept homes. We drove to our last house, which we adored and has a wonderful view of the whole valley. It's surrounded by rosebushes and well-kept. We stopped to visit our dear neighbor to find that he's been ill, has split from his wife, and has caregivers. Things change, especially when it's years and not months. It was great to visit with him, though, and enjoy his upbeat, fun personality.

John is having a try at fixing his mom's broken sewing machine, and I'm on their dial-up internet. This neighborhood isn't wired for DSL. In fact, I was browsing the internet on the Kindle a while ago, that's what an addict I am! I edited two videos yesterday and am just not sure they're what I want, but I might upload them when I get to a good connection. I need to look at them again with a fresh perspective. It's a challenge to put the right information into the videos.

My MIL Barbara and SIL Laura have all kinds of adorable pets, including one of the most gorgeous dog's I've even seen, but also the most fearful and standoffish. She arrived starved and hairless and Barbara and Laura brought her back from the brink. She turned out to be a stunning blonde, some sort of golden retriever mix, spectacular and teddy-bear-like even after being clipped for the weather. It took a day for me to persuade her to let me rub her neck. She let us walk her last night, and I just can't get over what a beauty she is, and so sweet-natured.

I had a comment on YouTube from a knitter who has had a tough time knitting the back of the V-neck child's raglan. I hope it's going better for her! My dream is that people are working the lessons one at a time and feeling some genuine mastery.

On to more adventures.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ribber Videos

Whoo-hoo! Did a couple videos (maybe it's three, I'm not sure until I edit) before going to the airport! My hubby encouraged me to do that because the editing and uploading take the longest. I can edit on my trip. If these are okay, I will have some of the very beginner lessons uploaded at the next place where I have high-speed internet!

The most interesting thing here is something that is NOT in your manual - it's called an e-wrap ribber cast-on. I hope my filming turned out and I can put it up, away from my knitting machines as I will be.

I'll be visiting my sister and her family in Orange County, California in a few days. Her son is an internet wizard, THE Thomas Zwaagstra of MySpace fame, who wrote some wonderful software and has had a successful internet business since he was 15. My sister is very supportive of my teach-everyone-to-knit passion, and I'm sure they'll let up upload if I've got something ready to go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My First Ribber Lesson Video is UP!

I appreciate the kind comments and the people giving suggestions about the videos. It's certainly fun to get to the ribber videos, and although I'm going out of town soon I wanted to see if I could get one or two done.

Here's that first ribber lesson - definitely for beginners, but these will get more interesting as I go:

Your ribber adds tremendous capabilities to your knitting machine. For one thing, you go from having 200 needles on your standard machine to have 400 needles! You can do ribbing plus a lot of other textures; circular knitting; double jacquard, a kind of fair isle doubleknit; extra-wide knitting. There are just more options than you can count.

Here's something interesting, a very fast baby blanket that I make on the standard ribber:

A good place to start is with with casting-on, in fact, with a regular circular cast-on.

Most ribber cast-ons are variantions of the circular cast-on. The procedure is to have a zigzag row, where one strand goes from a main bed hook to a ribber hook to a main bed hook, and so on across the row. Then you know one row on the main bed only from left to right, one row on the ribber from right to left, and finally, one more row on the main bed from left to right.

You could get by with 2 rows circular instead of three, but what the heck, the Japanese manuals say three, so let's do three.

The circular cast-on works with k1 p1 ribbing and with full needle rib (k1 pl closer together). It also works with k2 p2 and k2 p1. For those odd ones, it's simply necessary to get the needles arranged to make the zigzag row.

After the circular rows are done, you change to regular tension and knit every needle and go on with the knitting.

When you get to k3 p3 and other variations where you can't do the zigzag row, the correct procedure is to do either K1 P1 as 1x1 or as full needle rib, and then immediately after the cast-on, move the stitches to the desired layout.

The other minor challenge with circular cast-ons is getting the tension just right. I strongly recommend that you swatch before every garment to get your tension the way you like it. Your ribber tension will be work up looser than you expect because of the distance between the beds. While you're at it, measure the ribbing for gauge, too. I like to do some ribbing, then transfer the stitches to the stockinette setup and main garment tension and see how that looks and feels.

You will find that the zigzag row needs to be tight, the circular rows need to be looser than that but tighter than the regular ribbing. You can, if the bottom edge is stubbornly flaring out, use scrap yarn and a ravel cord so that the comb isn't holding the stitches out so widely and get a tighter tension on the zigzag row, but I do not normally find that necessary.

U. S. Debt Clock

Food for thought:


Losing Weight

At Weight Watchers last night, down 1.8# more for a total loss of 16.2 pounds.

I’m nervous about going out of town though!  I hope I can travel without gaining weight.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to School

I took my college-age son to the airport so he can return to NYC in time for school. He's flying to New Hampshire to see a friend, and then he'll go on to school.

It's bittersweet. I'm very happy that he's doing fine in college, but we'll be a long way away and we'll all miss each other. He's a sweet, fun kid. Time rushes past, and baby boys grow whiskers!

He certainly has overweight luggage. I could fit in the ice hockey goalie bag with at least one small friend. It's enormous! He needs about 55 to 60 pounds of goalie gear, and he can't do without any of it - no spare stick, no spares of any kind. Usually when he travels, he puts 50 pounds of that in his hockey bag and his skates and helmet in with his clothes. That isn't possible this time. He has a bag stuffed with clothes and necessities and a backpack jammed with a laptop computer and more clothes and necessities! In addition, he has a long goalie stick, which is in its own long bag and usually gets taped to the goalie gear bag. We have him on an airline that's famous for being nice about luggage but we expect to pay an extra fee.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Last Video in GB Series - Transferring Ribber Sts to Main Bed

Here's the new video:

I found that I could, fairly easily, transfer large blocks of stitches from the ribber to the main bed, using the garter bar. It's just the shortcut for when you're switching from ribbing to stockinette.

I also discovered that it didn't matter if it was 1x1 ribbing or 2x2 ribbing, or whatever pattern, it transferred up okay.

However, in my experimenting before I prepared this video, I didn't find it easy to transfer from the main bed to the ribber. If you have it conquered, give me some pointers!

Taking Stock

In a few days, I'll be travelling and away from my knitting machine. After making all these videos, that'll feel very strange! After my trip, I have plans for more videos.

In winding up the garter bar videos, I tried one last idea - transferring batches of stitches from the ribber to the main bed. It worked fine on my standard, so I tried it twice more without and problems. I need to try that on the bulky, and if I think it's a video, I'll make one. I didn't want to do things that were too difficult, or impractical. I did 1x1 ribbing so I was transferring every other stitch, but it would work for whatever stitch layout you have.

My usual disclaimer: please practice!

The next videos are ribber lessons. An awful lot of this is going to be too simple to people who are already comfortable with the ribber, but since I am trying to help beginners, I want to cover basics.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Garter Bar Lesson 13 - Vertical Weaving

Use garter bar to guide several colors of yarn for weaving:

New Garter Bar Video - Using GB to "Park" Stitches and Shape a Neckline

A common task, shaping a neckline, is faster and easier with the garter bar! You put the stitches on it that are for the other side of the neck and hang the garter bar on the machine while you shape the first side. Then you put the stitches back on the machine and shape the second side.

Garter Bar Lesson Videos UPDATE

Lesson 1 - Getting Started - learn to adjust stopper, compare bulky and standard bars, and use garter bar for a stitch holder.

Lesson 2 - Decrease Evenly Across Row - how to decrease with garter bar, and how to calculate where to put decreases when pattern says, "decrease evenly across row."

Lesson 3 - Increase Evenly Across Row - how to increase, and how to place increases

NEW: Lesson 4 - Make Garter Stitch - REVISED - Don't miss, I think it's a lot more understandable as I flip the knitting and make garter stitch.

Lesson 5 - Quaker Stitch - Uses the garter bar to turn the knitting to make a very interesting reversible, stretchy stitch.

Lesson 6 - Gathering with the Garter Bar - a useful technique. I make a cute little ruffle in this one.

Lesson 7 - Getting stitches back in the hooks + plus speed ripping!

Lesson 8 - Making a vertical dart

Lesson 9 - Eyelets (2 Parts) Move ONLY Selected Needles!

Lesson 10 - Turning Cables

Lesson 11 - Woven Cable

Lesson 12 - Using Garter Bar to "Park" Stitches & Shape Neckline

Lesson 13 - Garter Bar Used for Vertical Weaving - Multiple Color Weaving Threads

Lesson 14 - Garter Bar Used to Transfer Ribber Stitches to Main Bed

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Garter Bar Video - Woven Cable

Lesson 11 Woven Cable is up.

This is a fancy cable that is greatly simplified by using the garter bar.

Steps to the pattern:

1. Knit 2 rows.
2. First transfer: put 10 stitches in the center on the garter bar and cross them in pairs - right over left. To do that, move the stitches to the right one needle and put the second from right one on the first empty needle, then skip a needle, then put the next on the needles, skip one, put one on, across. Pick up stitches still on garter bar, lift and move 2 needles to left to cross the stitches and put the remaining 5 stitches on the remaining empty needles.
3. Knit 2 rows.
4. Put 8 stitches in the center on the garter bar and cross them in pairs, this time, left over right. To do that, move the stitches to the left one needle and put the rightmost stitch on its needle, then skip one stitch, put the next on its needle, and on across. After those 4 are moved, pick up the garter bar and move 2 needles to the right, then put the remaining 4 stitches on the remaining 4 empty needles.

Repeat that for the pattern.

Changes in Credit Card Law

Here's a law that will help a lot of consumers get out from under their credit card debt. Sometimes people have found that their credit card interest rates were suddenly raised to a level where paying off the debt was all but impossible.

The new Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009 becomes effective in several stages, and some new rules became effective yesterday (Thursday the 20th).

Now, credit card companies have to warn consumers 45 days before an increase rate increase. In case of a rate increase, customers may choose to close the account and pay off the balance at the old (lower) interest rate. In the past, credit card companies only had to give 15 days notice that the interest rate was being raised.

In addition, the credit card companies have to mail statements at least 21 days before the payment is due. That time period used to be 14 days.

There will be additional provisions of the act that become effective in the future, including restrictions on marketing credit cards to young people and regulations over fees and rate increases.

The most important part of a plan to reduce credit card debt is including strategies (like cutting them up, or maintaining an emergency fund) so you don't grow a balance again. A quote from Orison Swett Marden: "Unfortunately, Congress can pass no law that will remedy the vice of living beyond one's means."

New Garter Bar Video - Turning Cables

Last night, I did a new video on turning cables using the garter bar.

I love cables, but don't particularly love hand manipulation. I like to go FAST! I like to type FAST! and knit FAST! I notice that the typing fast shows up in some of my posts as typos.

You will find that using the garter bar and your stopper makes cables a lot easier and faster to turn. You need your stopper on this one. Without your stopper, the needles are going to move and getting the garter bar onto the hooks will be more trouble than it's worth.

A key concept in these last few videos is that you can easily put only the stitches you want to move on your garter bar. Here is the procedure:

1. Pull the needles for the stitches you're going to move all the way to hold. This gets the stitches behind the latches.
2. Holding the knitted fabric against the gate pegs, pull the stitches you're not going t0 move - the ones you want to stay put - out far enough that that the latches open but not so far that there's any danger of the stitches going behind the latches.
3. Push the needles from hold gently back to line up with the others.
4. Hang the garter bar on all the open hooks and pull toward you - both knitting and needles go toward you and the ones in the latches stay in the latches and the ones behind the latches stay behind the latches.
5. Place the stopper.
6. Tug the stitches on the garter bar. Only the ones you selected in the first step will go onto the bar because the others are inside the hooks.
7. Move the stitches as desired.

If you machine has patterning capabilities, like a punch card or electronics, you could use the patterning to help pick out the correct needles. Just food for thought.

When I say I love cables, I'm not kidding. I usually do them with the garter carriage or the ribber, and they add a wonderful texture and dimension for more of a hand-knitted look. I'd like to do a series of lessons on cables, but feel duty bound to move on to the ribber after I finish these garter bar lessons. So, it goes on the to-do list, which currently is quite long.

Here's the url for the new video:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Garter Bar Lesson 9 - In Two Parts

This is an unusual lesson. You select certain needles and the garter bar moves only those needles! The technique is used for lace and cables.

If you combine this technique with the patterning capability of your machine, you can shortcut hand tooled patterns.

Part 1 of 2 - Eyelet rows (every other needle transferred)

Part 2 of 2 - Typical pointelle pattern (every third needle transferred)

Cool Projects

Today I was working on two interesting projects.

One was compiling proposals from audit firms. We have had the same auditor for several years, and our board wanted to go to bid. This Request for Proposals was electronic, now a common practice, creating a .pdf out of the RFP document, emailing it to the audit firms, then having them bid with a .pdf. A couple of the bidders told me it saves them time, too, to do it in this paperless fashion.

I used an email questionnaire to the references - the fastest possible way to get references done, and not my own idea but an idea from a colleague. You write it once, send it to all the references (for whom emails were requested to begin with). Most of them emailed something back in less than 10 minutes, and I have a record of what they said, not what I thought they said. And you're fair, because you asked everyone the same questions.

You could do almost any bid process this way.

The other cool project - that I didn't work on much, merely followed an email discussion, was the Austin CPA chapter's committee to create a free training day for our members, who like me, are controllers. We had a great discussion by email about what classes we want and where to find speakers. It's going to be an excellent program. My one contribution is I'm going to interview a possible speaker on credit and collections in the morning - I want a class on that!

Newest Teaching Videos

I just put up a garter bar lesson video (#8) on making a vertical dart.

The next video is absolutely essential if you want to get the most from your garter bar!  It’s the eyelet lesson, which sounds like no big deal, but what this lesson is really all about is being able to select certain needles for transfer and then transfer those stitches for the length of the garter bar, all at once.

I will be using this technique, moving selected stitches, to do several things, including cabling and multiple-transfer lace in upcoming lessons.  After that, imagine all the “hand-tooling” you can do quickly with your garter bar!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weighed In Last Night

Down another little bit - 14.4 pounds total. Last week I learned that a "stone" is 14 pounds, and since I had lost 13.2 pounds at that point, I decided that next weigh-in I wanted to be down a whole stone.

A stone really sounds like something! It's certainly less to lug up and down the stairs at work all day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fears of Obamacare

Last night, as I finished up some video editing and watched a little TV with John, I felt ill. I had a headache and saw a few flashes of light in the periphery of my vision. I thought maybe I had a migraine coming on, but I haven't had one of those in a long time.

When I got on my way to work this morning, I wasn't feeling a whole lot better, and out in the sunshine I could see a great many black specks. I realized that the spots were a tiny amount of bleeding in my left eye - only a tiny amount, but I thought it would be a good idea to go to the eye doctor.

I have a wonderful opthamologist in Austin, who is part of a group with two offices. He did cataract surgery on me several years ago - in my family, we get cataracts very young. I was in my 40s having a terrible time seeing because of the cataracts, and was very grateful to have them fixed. I have also had an episode of bleeding once before, which turned out to be no big deal. This was no big deal again today - the doctor says the inside of my eyes looks fine and will recheck me in a month.

So, my point here is this: because I had a disturbing symptom, I phoned and got into see my doctor the same day. I was examined by a thorough assistant using high-tech equipment. She put all kinds of information about my medical history into a very cool computer recordkeeping system. The doctor took some time with me and examined my eyes carefully. He could see information about my prior episode in the computer system along with my other history.

What would my experience have been like in Canada or England, where they already have socialized medicine? Would I have gotten in the same day? Would I have been examined with the superb equipment by an extraordinarily cheerful and careful technician? Would there be doctors with this amazing amount of training and expertise available to regular people like me?

I read about the uproar in England when their nationalized health system was denying macular degeneration medication to people who hadn't yet lost vision in one eye. They did back off on that, but only after people went without and there was a big controversy. I know what it's like to be losing one's eyesight - the cataract was a pretty tough experience for me - and that story bothered me a great deal.

Of course I'd like to see solutions for the uninsured, but do we have to dismantle what we have, or squelch innovation, or drive talent to other fields? I was creeped out by this weekend's trial baloon by the Obama administration that they'd drop the public option. I believe the public option will wipe out private insurance, and I had my hopes up when they hinted they'd drop it, but no, it was some kind of political ploy.

Two More Garter Bar Videos

The speed ripping video is up. It also includes a practical piece about getting stitches back in the hooks when they're messed up:

But here's the one I'm dying for y'all to look at - I came up with a whole new approach to lesson 4, which was how to knit garter stitch. I wanted to answer some questions that came up and address the problem of how to make it easy to see what's going on.

I start out filming normally, then film from underneath the machine so you can see the needles catching the stitches after the flip, which is the part that most people find hared to understand. After that, I did a bunch of rows of garter stitch, and for fun, speeded up the video of the repetitive steps so you can see enough rows to form a nice swatch of garter stitch.

Agnes' Blue Ribbon Sweater

Picture from Agnes Heckelman (Milan, OH) of the sweater she knitted for her six-month-old granddaughter on her White 1602, using a bright turquoise cotton yarn. She entered it in her county fair and received a blue ribbon plus a $5 premium!

Agnes worked from my "almost seamless" baby sweater pattern. Here's where that pattern is:

Garter Bar Videos

There seems to be a great deal of interest in the garter bar videos. I'm not surprised by that, since the instructions that come with them are skimpy.

Tonight I hope to get a very short video done on "speed ripping" - how to unravel your knitting very rapidly while it's on the needles. It's a short video because speed ripping is unbelievably speedy and easy.

I received a comment about the garter stitch video, that people have trouble learning to rehang the stitches and not also get the garter bar eyes on the hooks. That's a mess when it happens, and I'd forgotten all about it! Maybe somebody has a terrific solution for this, and if so, please share it. I can only recommend that you practice and get the "feel" of setting the bar, grooves on hooks, down horizontally, and then sliding it toward you and then downward (rolling around the hook curve), but not dropping its eyelets onto the hooks.

Next - vertical darts, eyelets, just working my way down the rather long garter bar technique list. The technique for the eyelets and cables and the like, where you transfer some but not all stitches, is very interesting!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beginner Project Videos - Updated - All Up Now!

#1 Either Standard or Bulky - Buy & Prepare Your Yarn

#2 Either Standard or. Bulky - Get the Gauge

#3 Standard - Knitting the Back

#4 Standard - Knitting the Front 1 of 2

#5 Standard - Knitting the Front 2 of 2

#6 Standard - Knitting the Sleeve

#7 Bulky - Knitting the Back

#8 Bulky - Knitting the Front

#9 Bulky - Knitting the Sleeve

#10 Either Standard or Bulky - Steaming Garment Pieces

#11 Either Standard or Bulky - Sewing Raglan Seams

#12 Either Standard or Bulky - Making Neckband - Part 1

#13 Either Standard or Bulky - Making Neckband - Part 2

#14 Either Standard or Bulky - Finishing, Part 1 of 2

#15 Either Standard or Bulky - Finishing, Part 2 of 2

Learning to Use YouTube

In just a few weeks, I've put up the entire beginning learn to knit course, the beginner project videos, and about half the garter bar lesson videos.

Wow. Did I learn a lot doing this! And, there's a lot more to learn.

I learned that my camcorder has a terrible hum if the power is plugged in. I have to record with it on battery, and charge the battery whenever I can.

I learned that yarn needs to be medium colored - both light and dark colors photograph very poorly. I learned that lighting is a problem, because bright light bounces off the metal parts and washes out the picture, and poor lighting is bad, too.

I learned to talk constantly through the video, trying to explain every move, and still missing some details. My voice doesn't sound like "me," or what I thought I sounded like. I've actually gotten used to my own voice, but also am very tired of listening to myself yack. I never meant to take "Diana natters on" so literally.

More than anything else, I struggle to keep the videos under ten minutes. At first, I thought I'd just cut things out, but who appreciates instructions that are missing pieces? Now, I'm having to split fairly simple lessons into two videos.

I learned that Windows Movie Maker, which came with my computer, is easy to use, but the other editors John and I have been trying out have been very difficult, indeed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Videos!

The beginner finishing videos are uploading now. URLs tomorrow, I believe!

I am now doing a series on using the garter bar and have the first few up:

Garter Bar Lesson 1 – Getting Started

Shows what parts are; compares standard and bulky; describes many uses of garter bar (with swatches); shows how to adjust stopper; shows how to use garter bar for stitch holder.

Garter Bar Lesson 2 – Decrease evenly across row

How to calculate where even decreases go and avoid putting them on edges; how to use garter bar to decrease in several places across the row.

Garter Bar Lesson 3 – Increase evenly across row

How to calculate where even increases go and avoid putting increases along edge; how to use garter bar to do increases.

Garter Bar Lesson 4 – Make Garter Stitch

A four-step, reasonably quick, routine for making garter stitch where the carriage free passes, then the stopper and needles are arranged, then putting the knitting on the garter bar grooved side up, and finally, the knitting is hung reversed and a row is knitted.

There will be at least five more garter bar videos – it might take more to cover the basics, since YouTube has a 10-minute limit.


Finished Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. It was an interesting story, and I got a kick out of the descriptions of Utah. I've been in some of that wild country, and it is beautiful.

Began South by Shakleton - story of an Antarctic expedition.

Both were downloaded as .mp3s from (free!).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Winding Up Beginner Project

Last night, I began a video on the seams and finishing of the sweaters. Once that's edited and uploaded, that's the end of the beginner project. If you did the beginner course and the sweater, you're not a beginner anymore! Please send photos!

The upcoming lessons are on the garter bar. Most knitters could use a garter bar skill tune-up, and yet this simple accessory greatly extends your knitting possibilities.

Garter bars are readily available for standard gauge machines (4-1/2 mm needle spacing), and with a little searching, you can find one for your bulky (9 mm). This is a worthwhile accessory for your Japanese machine, whether it's new or 30 years old.

For instance, you can use the garter bar for these purposes:
  • as a stitch holder. You can make garment pieces and put them straight on the garter bar pieces for later pickup.

  • Speed and simplify the application of neck bands.

  • Add stitches evenly across a row to create a nice blousing at the cuffs of a garment.

  • Make vertical darts in a dress

  • Decrease stitches evenly across a row to create, for instance, a round fair isle neckline (see Teddy Bear Sweaters on

  • On a neck shaping job, put half the neck on the garter bar and "park it" while knitting the other half.

  • Turn cables

  • Make lace and other fancy transfer designs

  • Gather fabric

Oh, by the way, you can also use a garter bar to make garter stitch!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weight Watchers

Weighed in Monday night, and down 2# this week, making up for small gain last week.

This week, I learned how much a British stone is: 14 pounds. I hope to have lost a stone by next Monday. Doesn't that sound lighter?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Bulky Sweater Pattern

Child's V-Neck, Raglan Sweater
Bulky Machine - Beginner Level
By Diana Sullivan

This sweater is designed to go with beginning knitting videos on YouTube:
Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Yarn: I Love This Yarn, 355 yards, 7 ounces (100 gms) - solid colors
Quantity Required: 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 balls
Also available in stripes, 5 oz, 251 yards
Quantity Required: 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5
Make sure all yarn is same dye lot; buy more than you think you need
Machine: Bulky gauge (9 mm) flat bed knitting machine, no ribber required
Tension 4 or tension to get gauge
Mock ribbing is tension 2 (or 2 tensions tighter than garment)

Remember, mock rib is 2 tensions tighter
Cast on for a 2 by 1 mock ribbing over 50, 54, 58, 60, 70, 74 needles.
Hem is 7, 7, 10, 10, 11, 11 rows deep (you must knit double that length,
then put up hem) See videos
Change to garment tension
Set row counter to 000
Knit 54, 62, 66, 72, 80, 84 rows
Raglan Shaping:
Bind off 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5 stitches at the beginning each of the next two rows.
Double decrease (2 sts each side) on raglan edges
every 4 rows 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10 times
See video for double decrease technique
Stitches remaining - 20, 20, 20, 20, 24, 24
Row Counter: 80, 92, 100, 100, 118, 126
Remove knitting on contrasting waste yarn.

Knit exactly as back to armholes.
Divide for Neck:
Bind off 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5 stitches at armhole.
Take off all knitting on waste yarn.
Carriage on armhole side
Rehang half of stitches.
Knit, decreasing at armhole edge 2 stitches every 4 rows,
and at the same time, 1 stitch at neck edge
every 4 rows, then when only a few sts remain, dec to 1 & knit through
(see video)
Decrease to 1 stitch, if not at 1 stitch, k1 row and pull end through.

SLEEVES (left and right alike)
Remember, mock rib is 2 tensions tighter
Cast on for a 2 by 1 mock ribbing over 30, 32, 34, 34, 38, 40 needles.
Hem is 7, 7, 10, 10, 11, 11 rows deep (you must knit double that length,
Change to garment tension
Set row counter to 000
Sleeve increases:
Size 2, increase every 19 rows on each side, 3 times (36 stitches)
Size 4, increase every 17 rows on each side, 4 times (40 stitches)
Size 6, increase every 20 rows on each side, 4 times (42 stitches)
Size 8, increase every 17 rows on each side, 5 times (44 stitches)
Size 10, increase every 14 rows on each side, 7 times (52 stitches)
Size 12, increase every 14 rows on each side, 7 times (90 stitches)
RC 57, 68, 80, 85, 98, 98
Knit without increasing or decreasing to row 58, 74, 84, 92, 104, 106

Raglan Shaping:
Bind off 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5 stitches at the beginning each of the next two rows.
Double decrease (2 sts each side) on raglan edges
until only a few (less than 4) remain

Before Neckband:
Mattress stitch front raglan seams (fronts to sleeves)
Mattress stitch one back raglan seam (leave other one open)

Do neckband:
Set up mock ribbing over 22, 26, 30, 30, 34, 36 needles and cast on with waste yarn
Knit a few rows waste yarn
1 row ravel cord, 1 row garment yarn very loose (6, 7 tensions higher)
Knit 14, 14, 20, 20, 22, 22 rows in the 2x1 mock ribbing (see video)
Knit a few rows waste yarn
Take off machine
Do the same thing again, only over 42, 46, 50, 50, 58, 60 needles
Hang the short neck edge, right side facing, over 22, 26, 30, 30, 34, 36 ndls. Push stitches behind latches.
Wrong side facing, ravel cord side up with looser row of garment yarn
hang shorter mock ribbing over the same needles (you have to skip every
third needle), keeping stitches on hooks
Pull stitches in hooks through stitches behind
Pick up mock ribbing hem
Bind off
Hang the longer neck edge over 42, 46, 50, 50, 58, 60 needles, picking up the back stitches from
waste yarn
Proceed as above, but just before picking up second edge of mock ribbing,
put any empty back neck stitches on needles.
Sew final seam
Sew down neckband (see video)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Status - Beginner Knitting Projects

This weekend, I got most of the beginner project videos put together, but couldn’t keep the internet up long enough at our house to upload most of them.  Hopefully, I can get them uploaded tonight.

I did a complete set of videos to knit the standard sweater – the back, front, sleeves, and steaming.

Then I did a complete set of videos to knit the bulky sweater – the bank, front, sleeves, and the steaming is the same video.

Next, I will do videos showing how the seaming will be done and the application of the neckbands.

This was duplicative, doing both standard and bulky videos.  Simply watch the ones you need, since almost every step and technique is just the same.   If you can’t get a clear enough view of the double decrease, for instance, that turned out HUGE in the bulky video, so you’ve got the other set for reference.  For now, I’ll leave the whole batch up. 

I admit I’m a novice with videos, and I’ve got a frustrating technical issue right now.  My camcorder is putting an unpleasant hum on the soundtrack (only when the battery is low and it’s plugged in) that I’d like to edit out.  I put my videos together with Windows Movie Maker.  We have an Adobe video editor that neither of us has much skill with, and we have a sound editor, but the sound track and the video track are together.  I don’t know how to split them so I can use a noise filter to get rid of as much hum as possible.  I also don’t know how to get the sound off the track so I could simply voice over it.  If someone would like to give me a lesson, I’d be very grateful!

In the meantime, I think the best thing to do is put up the videos, hum and all, because the bulky videos are so clear and easy to follow.  If I can figure out a way to fix this, I’ll replace them.  I’m under orders from Dear Husband to use that camcorder only on the battery from now on.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beginner's Project

My internet was down, but now I'm putting up several videos. The bulky pattern is coming pretty soon, too.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beginner's Child's Raglan - Standard Gauge

There are two projects - one for the standard machine, one for the bulky. Here's the standard machine pattern, bulky pattern to follow in a day or two:

Child's V-Neck, Raglan Sweater
Standard Gauge Machine - Beginner Level
By Diana Sullivan

This sweater is designed to go with beginning knitting videos on YouTube:
Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Yarn: Baby Bee, 328 yards, 3.5 ounces (100 gms)
Quantity Required: 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 balls
Machine: Standard gauge flat bed knitting machine, no ribber required
Tension 8 or tension to get gauge
For back and front, mock ribbing is tension 6 (or 2 tensions tighter than garment)
For sleeve, mock ribbing is tension 5 (or 2 tensions tighter than garment)
Remember, mock rib is 2 tensions tighter
Cast on for a 2 by 1 mock ribbing over 82, 90, 100, 108, 116, 122 needles.
Hem is 10, 10, 12, 12, 14,14 rows deep (you must knit double that length,
then put up hem) See videos
Change to garment tension
Set row counter to 000
Knit 76, 88, 100, 106, 110, 116 rows
Raglan Shaping:
Bind off 4, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8 stitches at the beginning each of the next two rows.
Double decrease (2 sts each side) on raglan edges
every 4 rows 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18 times
See video for double decrease technique
Stitches remaining - 28, 26, 30, 30, 32, 34
Row Counter: 126, 142, 158, 172, 180, 190
Remove knitting on contrasting waste yarn.
Knit exactly as back to armholes.
Divide for Neck:
Take off all knitting on waste yarn.
Carriage on armhole side
Rehang left 41, 45, 50, 54, 58, 61 stitches.
Bind off 4, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8 stitches at armhole.
Knit, decreasing at armhole edge 2 stitches every 4 rows,
and at the same time, 1 stitch at neck edge
every 4 rows.
Until 1, 3, 1, 2, 2, 2 stitches remain
Decrease to 1 stitch, if not at 1 stitch, k1 row and pull end through.
SLEEVES (left and right alike)
Remember, mock rib is 2 tensions tighter
Cast on for a 2 by 1 mock ribbing over 50, 54, 58, 62, 64, 66 needles.
Hem is 10, 10, 12, 12, 14,14 rows deep
(you must knit double that length, then put up hem) See videos
Change to garment tension
Set row counter to 000
Sleeve increases:
Size 2, increase every 19 rows on each side, 4 times (58 stitches)
Size 4, increase every 19 rows on each side, 5 times (64 stitches)
Size 6, increase every 15 rows on each side, 8 times (74 stitches)
Size 8, increase every 14 rows on each side, 9 times (80 stitches)
Size 10, increase every 12 rows on each side, 11 times (86 stitches)
Size 12, increase every 10 rows on each side, 12 times (90 stitches)
RC 76, 95, 120, 126, 132, 144
Knit without increasing or decreasing to row 80, 104, 128, 140, 144, 150
Raglan Shaping:
Bind off 4, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8 stitches at each of the next two rows.
Double decrease on raglan edges every 4 rows 12, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18 times
Single decrease on raglan edges every 4 rows 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0
Stitches remaining - 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
Row Counter: 126, 142, 158, 172, 180, 190
Mattress stitch front raglan seams (fronts to sleeves)
Mattress stitch one back raglan seam (leave other one open)
Do neckband:
Set up mock ribbing over 38, 38, 44, 50, 53, 56 needles and cast on with waste yarn
Knit a few rows waste yarn
1 row ravel cord
Knit 18, 18, 20, 20, 22, 22 rows in the 2x1 mock ribbing (see video)
Knit a few rows waste yarn
Take off machine
Do the same thing again, only over 64, 64, 74, 80, 85, 90 needles
Hang the short neck edge, right side facing, over 38, 38, 44, 50, 53, 56 ndls. Push stitches behind latches.
Wrong side facing, hang shorter mock ribbing over the same needles (you have to skip every
third needle), keeping stitches on hooks
Pull stitches in hooks through stitches behind
Pick up mock ribbing hem
Bind off
Hang the longer neck edge over 64, 64, 74, 80, 85, 90 needles, picking up the back stitches from
waste yarn
Proceed as above.
Sew final seam
Sew down neckband (see video)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beginner Knitting Project Video #2

Your next assignment is to get either a light worsted yarn for your bulky machine, or if you have a standard gauge machine, a light sport/heavy fingering yarn. I used "I Love This Yarn" for the bulky project and "Baby Bee" for the standard project.

You knit a gauge swatch of 40 stitches by 60 rows for the standard, and it should measure 6-1/8" for 60 rows (9.8 rows/inch) and 5-5/8" for 40 stitches (7.1 sts/inch). I got that with Baby Bee at Tension 8. Your tension might need to be tighter or looser, and you may have to make several swatches to get your tension.

For the bulky version, knit a swatch of 20 stitches by 30 rows. 20 stitches should measure 4-5/8" (4.3 sts/inch) and 30 rows should measure 4-1/2" (6.7 sts/inch).

If you can get your overall swatch measurement within 1/4" of these measurements, you're good to go.

Beginner Knitting Project

Just want to clarify that there are TWO versions of the project.

I won't be able to put full details of what to buy on the blog until this evening. But here's something to keep in mind if you're planning to use yarn you have on hand:

If you have a bulky machine, buy the "I Love This Yarn" or a comparable light worsted weight (Americans say "4 ply" but 4-ply yarn could, of course, be much thicker or thinner). You are looking for a yarn that will knit 18 stitches to the inch.

If you have a standard machine, you need a much thinner yarn. I have selected a brand marketed for babies and children by Yarn Bee, more on that tonight. You are looking for about 24 stitches per inch on the yarn label.

I used to own a yarn shop, and I waited on lots of people buying yarn and helped them with their projects. It's very important that all the yarn be from the same dye lot (dyeing batch). It never seems to quite match if you get a different batch. Save your receipt, and don't wind everything into balls - hold out a couple in case you need to return them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Beginning the Step By Step Sweater - First Video

Went by Hobby Lobby to buy yarn, and found that they do have the Ultimate Sweater Machine there plus the Innovations machine (I'm not familiar with that one) plus the Singer knitting machine (I've played with it; toy-like). There's a 40% off coupon available that their website, but it expires tomorrow.

I put up the first video this evening on the step-by-step process to make a child's sweater. This is also beginner level knitting. This first video is about how to read yarn labels, choose the yarn, and get it prepared to thread the machine. I show a couple of popular yarn winders, and then I show the extremely low-tech method of winding on a broomstick to create a round, center-pull ball. After that, I show stripping the yarn into a bucket instead of winding.

More about your shopping tomorrow.


Reading in hardbound, “You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way – Making It in the Real World:   A Guide for Graduates” by J. R. Parrish.  I thought I’d give it to my sons to read.  Nope, I’ll probably keep it and buy more copies for them.  It’s pretty interesting, and I think my husband will want to look at it next.  Lots of valuable information about getting along with people, developing good habits, developing your career, and more.

I am a big reader.  In addition to listening to audio books while I drive and do chores, I always have several I’m reading. 


Finished “Sea Wolf,” now listening to “Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey, downloaded from

Feedback on Videos

My friend Mary dialed me "by accident," what a treat! Mary's watching the videos and she reminded me to go slowly and explain everything. Great advice from a wonderful friend; I meant these for absolute beginners, and you have to remind me to get enough detail into them.

Hobby Lobby Coupon

My friend noticed that Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon, for any one item, at the Hobby Lobby page on the internet, which expires Saturday the 8th.

I browsed online, and it looks like at least some Hobby Lobby stores have the Incredible Sweater Machine for about $180.  That’s one item…hmm.

I’m going over there after work to shop for yarn, hopefully a brand people can find and purchase easily, for the child’s sweater “knit-along” that I plan to do to finish the beginner video knitting machine lessons. 

I didn’t get a video up last night since we had a very busy an evening at our house.  

I have had very positive feedback on the 30 beginner machine knitting lesson videos I put on YouTube.  I started putting them up on July 26 and as of this afternoon, I’ve had 1,882 views! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lesson 29 - Divide and Knit Neckline

A longer demo than most -

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

What's Next on the MK Lessons

If you’re following the beginning machine lessons, isn’t it high time that we made a project together?

I am planning a child’s raglan sweater to be made on a bulky machine or a standard machine, no ribber necessary, for the finish of the beginner course. If we knit a child’s size, that will keep the cost of materials down, and if you don’t have a little boy or girl to knit for, I will provide some information about charities that would be happy to have your sweater for a needy child.

Pop over to and inspect the “Fast! Child’s V-Neck Raglan’ sweater pattern. I will change it to mock ribbing and a lapped neck, plus create a bulky version, and we’ll knit that.

This is to help you put your skills all together: knit a mock ribbing, increase and decrease neatly, divide a neck, make raglan seams, sew it up so it looks good, and put on a V-neck neckband.

Jump aboard! Arm-twist your friends who keep saying they’re going to learn to use their knitting machine, which is under a bed, “one of these days!” Ask questions! Let me know you’re out there!


Choosing Your First Knitting Machine

I thought I’d attempt, for the beginners, to discuss the various brands and models of knitting machines that can be acquired.

I recommend that you think about what you’d like to knit, since one key decision is probably going to be between a standard machine and bulky machine, and here are some pros and cons:

Standard Machine Great for baby wear and kids’ wear as well as general fashion knitting, like slinky dresses. If you live someplace as hot as Texas, you will find most of your knitting ends up being on the standard machine. For instance, I make myself quite a few light tops and shells on the standard machine. Also, there are lots of standard machines available, and even the older ones usually have some patterning capability and available ribbers. The Brother standard gauge machines had a garter carriage which made both knit and purl in the same row, automatically. Cons: The needles are small, which makes all your maneuvers smaller, so it’s harder to see when you’re learning.

Bulky Machine Much easier to see the needles and manipulate them as a beginner; handles thick yarn for making warm clothing and warm jackets. Yarn seems to be available everywhere. Cons: Many bulky machines had very limited capabilities that you will find quite confining as time goes by. If this hobby excites your creativity, you will find yourself wanting a punch card bulky or an electronic bulky, more scarce and more costly.

The next important decision is whether you will want to purchase a new machine or a used machine.

New machines: I hope someone will help me out if I’m incorrect, but as of this moment I am aware of the following brands of new machines: Silver Reed (Studio), Artisan, and Bond.

If you buy a new machine, you know it’s complete and that it will knit. You should buy from someone who will stand behind the product and offer supplies, parts, classes, and service. That support and service is absolutely invaluable. New machines are expensive, but they are sturdy and will last a long, long time.

Available new, we have Singer/Silver Reed/Studio, different brand names on the same box. I understand that they’re still producing and selling new Silver Reeds! I learned on Brother machines and am much less familiar with Silver Reed. I own one of their machines, and they did some terrific things. Many of their models are exceptionally smooth and easy to push. In recent years, they had a separate computer box that you could use with either the standard, bulky, mid-gauge, or fine gauge machines. What a fantastic idea, in view of so much of the expense being the investment in the computer. Plus, there’s the simple fact that once you’re hooked, at least if you’re as crazy as I am for fiber arts, you will want all the computer capabilities and all the different size machines! Silver Reeds are very high-quality, reliable machines, and the only reason I never did go hog wild with Studios was my extraordinary brand loyalty to Brother, which intensified when they developed the garter carriage. Nobody else had a garter carriage and I find a great many uses for mine. If you have the opportunity to buy Silver Reed from a reputable dealer who will give you service, lessons, and support, I think that is absolutely a smart way to go. Whether you buy new or used, you are investing a lot of time and money, and good service and support is invaluable.

Also available new, Artisan, which seem just fine, but so far I haven’t seen any high-end models.

You can also purchase a Bond machine (aka Incredible Sweater Machine) new, and it’s a “hobby” bulky. You can pick them up at a Michael’s craft store, for instance. There are groups on the Web devoted to the Bond, so if you do some Google searches you can get a good idea what people do with these machines. They are slower to operate, and all patterning is manual. I have owned a Bond – I picked it up to learn it enough to help new knitters at our club. It’s very basic, and a perfectly good way to get started.

Used machines: You might acquire a used machine because it was cheap, it wandered into your life, or because you wanted one of the machines that is no longer produced and imported.

From Europe and only available used is Passap/Superba. There are plenty of Passap machines around, and you can easily find one. You can’t get brand new parts, though, so be ready to hunt if you need something. The Passap machines I’ve seen are the DM80 and the E6000. These machines are from Switzerland, were very expensive new, and are true double-bed machines with joined knit and purl beds. The technology is rather different from the Japanese machines, using “strippers” to hold the yarn down instead of relying on weights (but you can use weights with Passap), and using “pushers” for patterning work. Passap machines do extremely deep tuck stitches for thick, fluffy fabrics, and did quite a few variations of double jacquard.

The DM80 was a mechanical machine and the E6000 was electronic. Both were wonderful, reliable machines. The E6000 came with a couple of different computers, and the more recent models have a much bigger memory. I have an E6000, and it’s a very nice machine with some remarkable capabilities. I do not think of it as a beginner machine, though, and without a teacher and additional manuals, videos and books, I don’t see most people figuring it out. Passap never marketed their equipment to the learn-it-myself crowd; machines came with lessons and the manuals weren’t written with beginners in mind. There were other Passap models, but they’re a bit rare, and I haven’t the space here.

Next, we have Singer/Silver Reed/Studio, always popular, and many are available used. I talked about them a little, above

Then, there were a group of other brands that came in from Japan, Juki, for instance, which are also just fine.

Brother has always been my favorite brand of Japanese machine. Knitking was an importer of Brother machines, and they put their name on a number of Brother models. Brother is the line I know the most about – I was a Brother dealer, for one thing, and I’ve had a whole parade of Brother machines, every one of which has been a fine machine. I’ve also taught on a bunch of different Brother machines. Even the old punch card Brother machines did a great job on multiple-transfer lace (I am a lace nut! How odd it is that I haven’t done any lace videos yet!), and Brother had the wonderful garter carriage which does knits and purls in the same row, automatically, if a little slowly. You start the thing and let it knit all night. The g-carriage works with a lot of models, but not all.

Brother had quite a few different standard gauge models. Generally, models in the 800s were punch card machines and models in the 900s were electronic. Higher numbers are newer models! My very first machine was a Brother 820, which had a 24-stitch punch card and a good lace carriage.

I used to be a Toyota dealer, too. Toyota had very nice machines. When Brother went electronic, developing the garter carriage about the same time, I gradually moved entirely to Brother. In my part of the country, there aren’t a lot of Toyota knitters around, but I do run into people who have picked up nice Toyotas like the 901 that still knit just great. Toyota had a very cool feature, Simulknit, with their ribbers that knitted pattern on one side and plain on the other.

Whew! Not exactly an exhaustive treatment, but plenty of information to think about. I own a lot of machines because I’m fascinated with them and because every manufacturer had its own unique strengths and features that nobody else had. I recognize that most of you aren’t as wacky as I am, so I hope this information is helpful when you’re narrowing down what sort of machine to purchase.

Lesson 28 Making a Gauge Swatch

This one wouldn't imbed, so here's the link instead:

I'll probably work on getting it to embed later, when I have a little time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding a Knitting Machine

If I wanted to learn to machine knit, and didn’t have a machine, a first consideration would be whether there were a local dealer. If you have a local dealer who can give you lessons, answer questions, and sell you the machine, then you’re a leg up over everybody else who is buying whatever they can find with crossed fingers.

In the knitting machine market, as I understand it, the only new machines currently being imported are the Artisan brand. I have not used one of those machines, and can’t really advise you about them.

You can also often find new machines that have been sitting around at a dealer (‘new old stock’) and almost new machines from private parties. Studio (aka Singer) was imported until recently, and I bet you can get new machines from some dealers.

If you don’t have a dealer, once you’ve studied the machines decided what you want and how much you’d like to spend, you could run an ad on Craig’s list saying what you wanted, and I bet somebody local would call you and offer to sell you one.

You could buy a machine on eBay. I’ve done that before, but I know exactly what I’m buying and inspect the advertisement closely to see if all necessary parts are included. I’d avoid sellers who say they know nothing about the machine or haven’t tested it. One of the biggest headaches about eBay is that knitting machines are terribly hard to ship and often arrive damaged. I’ve shipped one that arrived damaged – the things are long, awkward, and heavy on one end, and they fall off the conveyor belt at the shipper’s warehouse, or they get dropped, and they break. Shipping is very expensive, too.

If you’re adventurous and can afford a mistake or two, you can hit yard sales and thrift stores. That’s a better strategy for the person who knows machines and knows what to look for and what the essential parts are.

I bought my Brother 270 (the lovely machine in the lesson videos) from Dorothy Rosman of Custom Knits and Manufacturing, which is in my knitting links on this page. Dorothy has an excellent reputation, and she gave me a good price on a machine that was virtually new. When those 270s came out, I thought I would never afford one, but they’re used now and good deals can occasionally be found! Dorothy often has different machines available for sale. Dorothy shipped the machine, but she’s an expert who knows how to get the items to her customers undamaged. There are other wonderful dealers, too, whom you could contact and see about getting a nice machine.

The good news is that once you find a good machine, they seem to last a great many years. These are, for the most part, sturdy, reliable machines.

Next article: different models, pros and cons.

Mattress Stitch Lesson - Link Fixed

A helpful commenter let me know I had a bad link on the Mattress Stitch lesson. I have fixed that link - please try again!

Weight Watchers

Weighed in tonight - gained .6 pounds. I had gone out to lunch for Chinese food - I ordered fish and only ate half - that's a very salty lunch the day of the meeting. I had determined to measure my effectiveness at losing weight by whether I was behaving properly, and I know I have been, so I just have to wait it out.

Machine Knitting Tips for Beginners - Frustration Busters!

Every once in a while, I meet someone who tried to learn to machine knit and gave up in frustration. I recall my own tremendous frustration at trying to learn, on my own at first, from a manual that seemed to be translated from the Japanese by people who couldn’t quite speak English.

I was lured into hand knitting and crochet by the beautiful colors and soft fibers. I thoroughly enjoy hand knitting, a soothing, tactile activity which helps me keep hands busy and mind serene. As a hand knitter, I struggled to finish projects. It seemed that my projects dragged on for months with a lot of wanting to find time to knit and very little finished. The first time I saw a knitting machine burning up yards and yards of yarn in seconds and making something beautiful and complicated I was completely hooked.

Just because I had bought the thing and couldn’t work it didn’t seem like any kind of reason to give up, so I struggled through with the help of teachers, seminars, books, and friends.

Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to learn the hard way? Here are some tips I wish I’d know when I started, genuine frustration busters:

1. 1. Begin by making sure the machine is in good order. All these notes are about Japanese machines. Look at the individual needles. Are any bent? Do latches open and close okay? Getting a damaged needle out of the machine and replaced can save you a world of annoyance.

2. 2. Look at the gate pegs, and if any are bent, straighten them. You can crouch at the end of the machine and sight down the length of the machine bed, just to make sure that the pegs form a straight line like a line of soldiers.

3. 3. Oil the machine. Use light sewing machine oil. Lori Lynn machine lubricant in an aerosol can is great stuff, too (not to be confused with their yarn spray, also good, but it’s to spray on the yarn). You just dab a little bit on the needle bed and as you move the carriage, the oil gets distributed.

4. 4. Defuzz the machine. Use a brush to get bits of yarn off – and I like to attack my machines with the vacuum to get fuzzies out that have fallen inside after a project. There’s also a long brush you can buy from a dealer for cleaning out the inside.

5. 5. Make sure the sponge bar is okay. The needles shouldn’t just flop around – they should be held in place by a foam-covered sponge bar. You can order a replacement sponge bar. You can also learn all about them and how to fix yours very inexpensively at the wonderful, wonderful site: And, while you are over there, check out the terrific machines she finds by cruising yarn sales during the summertime.

6. 6. If your machine is in good working order, most problems you will encounter will come from the yarn! Use skinny yarn. In fact, use skinnier yarn than you think you have to use! If your machine is standard gauge (4.5 mm between needles), use fingering weight or finer yarn like lace weight. If you have a midgauge, use sport or finer; if you have a bulky machine, still use sport weight and only use worsted weight after you’re experienced. Sure, your machine will probably take heavier yarn, but do yourself a favor and get yarn that’s easy to use. As for that business of putting 4-ply (worsted) yarn on every other needle on a standard-gauge bed, wait until you’ve learned the machine with skinny yarn.

7. 7. Use cone yarn, if you can. Cone yarn is waxed to knit more easily and feeds beautifully off the cone, which you simply set on the floor. Besides, cone yarn is very economical, and I want you to make great piles of samples without much concern about the cost of yarn.

8. 8. If you absolutely can’t get cone yarn and use skein yarn, rewind it with a mechanical winder. Either set it on the floor with it wound around the yarn winder yarn holder, and pull from the outside, or else you can slip it off the winder and pull from the center. If you pull from the center it must be so loosely wound that you can pull yarn out without the ball of yarn lifting off the floor.

9. 9. Avoid cotton yarn, fuzzy yarn, bumpy yarn, and chenille yarn while you are learning. You’re going to be thrilled with the beautiful novelty yarns that your machine will take, but right now, go for the plain stuff!

10. 10. If you use skein yarn, use a wax cylinder on your wax holder. You thread the machine, then put the wax ring on top of it, and it turns slowly as the yarn feeds.

11. 11. Use light colors, which are easier to see. You will want your reading glasses and good light anyway.

12. 12. Take your time with the lessons. I hope you work through them methodically if you’re a true beginner.

13. 13. Don’t push the carriage too fast. First of all, rushing makes the tension uneven, and secondly, if you have an “oops!” moment and jam the carriage, you won’t damage it if you aren’t pushing too fast.

14. 14. If you get a chance to own a motor, you’re a lucky duck (wow! Do I love my motor!), but don’t use it while you are just beginning. This is the same issue as #12. I want you to learn your machine, how it feels, and how hard to push it, and not make a mistake and then have that powerful motor damage needles if the carriage jams.

Happy knitting! I hope someone sends me a project photo soon!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to Use the MK Lessons

I have now put up 27 detailed videos about how to machine knit. I did them for a typical flatbed machine, so they'll apply to most machines sold in the United States. These lessons are numbered and sequenced so that if you do them in order you have a course to progressively build skills.

I do plan to put up more lessons, but first, I want to share a little about how to get the most out of the lessons.

If you do one lesson a day - first by watching (they're 5 - 10 minutes), then by doing a sample like the one I show in the lesson, you will gain all the most important machine knitting skills in a single month!

There's a funny thing about the way people learn - the mind continues to work on the skill even when it's "off duty." If you do one lesson a day and sleep on it, you will learn more thoroughly than if you do marathon sessions.

I am thinking about making DVDs of CDs of the videos at a reasonable cost available for those who have difficulty downloading them - or who want a copy handy instead of relying on the internet. Are you interested in that? Please comment.

If you appreciate these lessons, please bear with me as I talk about something that I feel passionate about, supporting the people who have kept machine knitting going in the United States and continue to keep it going - the yarn shop owners who carry machines, the dealers working out of their homes, the writers and designers putting out patterns and demonstrations, and the little knitting clubs that get together to learn. Please consider that your choice of whether to become involved and supportive of the machine knitting community has a tremendous impact on you and on other knitters.

I owned a yarn shop beginning in 1979 and ending in 1987. I was just 28 years old when I began. I am not longer a professional in that business - I'm a nonprofit accountant these days. My work is accounting and my needlework hobbies are not for profit. When I moved to Austin, I was smart enough to seek out an MK club, and my first and best friends here are my knitting buddies. I have found knitters to be the most wonderful, generous, interesting people over the years, and I believe that you are part of an incredible community. I hope that you will find whatever dealers are available to you - checking the internet and the yellow pages, checking out the listserves on the Net as well.

Our little knitting club is a case in point. We have amazing expertise among us - my friend Barbara can really make the Passap E6000 sing and dance; my friend Pat seems to be able to do absolutely every kind of fiber art and teaches at the local college and adult classes. However, we are in an ongoing struggle to keep it going, as some of the older ladies are less able to get around or in poor health. We know that if we let it die, there will be one less resource for beginners. Our local dealer is terrific, a very talented knitter, but she has mostly retired.

As I am putting up these lessons, I'm hearing from people who are encouraged about their ability to learn machine knitting. I certainly don't want to take the place of dealers, listserves, great knitting books, and the like.

If you look along the left margin of my blog, I've got a knitting links list. Please have a look at some of these resources. Of course, there are a lot of other great resources, but these are favorites of mine. I hope that you will find (or start, if you have to) a knitting guild; that you will faithfully support local dealers, if you are lucky enough to have them; that you'll join online knitting groups, and that you will consider supporting some of the excellent dealers who operate, in part, on the Web, if you don't have a local one.

Lesson 27 Latched Ribbing

How to create ribbing on a machine with no ribber attachment.

Lesson 26 Idiot Cord

It's called I-Cord or "Idiot Cord," but I love it! Video shows how to make it and how to trim an edge with it.

One of the things I should have said in the lesson is that the rather odd cast-on I did at the beginning draws up into a perfectly good finished end.

Lesson 25 Method Two Shoulder Join

This is the shoulder join I usually use. It's a little easier to do, and it's still sturdy. You will need to practice this shoulder join, too, using your actual garment yarn, before using it on a project, just to get the bind-off row tension the way you want it.

Lesson 24 Method One Shoulder Join

This shoulder join is so popular that I included it, although it's not the one I use. Practice this join before using it on a garment to adjust the tension for your actual garment yarn. The next lesson is the shoulder join I use.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reading: Beautiful Joe

I'm reading Beautiful Joe, The Autobiography of a Dog on the Kindle. Great book - and it was on the Amazon free Kindle books list.

Lesson 23 Mattress Stitch Seams

This is a lesson on invisible seams for knitters - both machine and hand knitters.

Lesson 22 Kitchener Stitch Seam

Lesson on invisible seams for both machine and hand knitters.

Lesson 21 Jammed Carriage, Ripping Out, Dropped Stitches

Suggestions, please?

I’m getting positive responses on the beginning knitting lessons.

As I build the list of additional beginning lessons and decide what to film next, please send me suggestions as to what you’d like to see me demonstrate for beginners. You can comment here.