Simple markers make seaming simple

This is handy and pays off big time as you seam sweaters and such. All those pieces of yarn that you cut when you’re working on the machine?–snip a bunch of them into ten to twelve inch lengths and keep them handy. Collect different colors so you always have a contrast marker. Then, next time you’re knitting something that will be seamed together, hang a piece on the end stitches every 20 or 40 rows; the number isn’t important, the consistency is. When you’re seaming pieces together, these markers eliminate any question as to whether you’re staying even. Very helpful when seaming Fair Isle because changing colors puts different tension on your stitches and makes them tricky to match up if they’re not marked.

Tips: Ribber Cast on Combs

The prevailing opinion is that you must never pull the ribber COC wire all the way out when hanging it between beds. I have always followed that advice … until now. I’ve been struggling to suspend a full-length COC on a mid gauge SK860 and SR860 when I have 120 sts in place. I freely admit that I begin my hat projects a little different than a lot of machine knitters. I like to crochet cast on on the main bed, knit a row, move stitches into a 2×2 rib configuration, then suspend the COC and large ribber weights. That method gives me the edge I prefer on hats. It also presents its own problems on hanging a COC. Finally, after several frustrating attempts recently, I pulled the wire all the way out and pushed the COC into place where it belonged. It was so much easier! The wire slipped into the holes without any difficulty and all the way through. I have a pretty heavy wire on my COC; it’s not a flimsy little wire. That could be part of the recipe for success also. So my advice to you today is to research a technique, but don’t be afraid to reach out for a new resolution.

Hats — the new testing ground

Someone asked me recently, why so many hats? Well, hats –and pillows– are a great place to try new things. Techniques. Designs. Stitch patterns. Working through my DAK manual, lesson by lesson. Whatever. They’re small … then they’re done. If my newest idea or design is a flop, I don’t lose a lot of time. If all goes well, then I can quickly knock off a few more and give them away to people who need them, which is my real goal for this winter.

Taming the Curly Cord on an Electronic Machine

Summer’s over; landscaping is done! Time to knit!

My electronic machines have “curly cords.” Those of you who have them will understand: on every pass of the carriage, the cord grabs the mast. The curls are just tight enough to hang up for a second. One, it’s annoying. Two, I’m worried the stress will eventually take a toll on the wire(s).

PVC to the rescue again. I found a piece in the basement, about a foot long, narrow diameter. I lifted the mast out of the hole, slipped the PVC tube onto the bottom of the mast, and reinserted the mast into its spot. Now, on every pass of the carriage, the curly cord comes into contact with the tube, and it just spins. No hang up. No distraction. No stress.

A taller knitting machine stand

km stand
New legs!

I like to knit standing up. I’m constantly moving around, knitting, making notes on my computer because otherwise I WILL forget how I did something when I want to duplicate it, and checking back in files for just that same kind of information as I go. Thus . . .  the new and improved legs on my 560. They remind me of knee socks–LOL. And putting them on would have been just as simple as putting on knee socks if I’d taken the machine off the stand first. But no, that would be too easy. 🙂

I went to the hardware store and bought a length of 1″ PVC in the plumbing section. My husband used one of his tools to cut four eighteen-inch lengths, something called a sawzall. Quite a bit faster than a hacksaw! We smoothed the edges. He drilled holes 7″ and 8″ from the bottom, per my instructions, and I put a bolt in each 7″ hole. And then the sweetie removed the ugly printing along the PVC using nail polish remover! And he held up the machine while I slipped the tubes on.

So here’s how it stands (pun intended): The legs fit down into the PVC very very snugly, so no wiggling. The bolts stop the legs seven inches from the floor, so the machine is taller. I finished off the feet with smooth 1″ caps. I like to slide my machines across the carpet and store them off to the side when not in use, so I have more room.

Voila!

The hole option at 8″ is in case I want the machine another inch taller.

Update: A few days later, I did almost the same thing to my mid gauge machine. I couldn’t find bolts in the house, so I cut the PVC 18″ as before, then slipped smaller diameter, eight-inch long PVC tubes into the legs to raise the machine eight inches.

Tips for new machine knitters: organization

Organization — it’s neither a bad word nor a big job. Thanks to a friend’s example, I bought some stringed tags at an office supply store, and I attach one to each swatch when finished. Clearly labeled with yarn, knitting machine, tension settings, other pertinent data, and whether it’s been washed and dried. Done one at a time, it’s simple. The first pack of tags I bought, I thought there were so many that I would never use them all. Not only have I used them all, I went online and bought a whole bunch more. I keep all those tagged swatches in a tub in the basement. When I need to check something–like what did punch lace look like when I tried it two years ago–I have only one place to go to to find it. Simple!

I keep knitting tools in large mugs, one for each gauge machine. I have two mid gauge machines, so when I switch from one to the other, I just carry the appropriate mug of tools to the other location.

I also keep “universal” tools in a small, heavy, open, wooden tool box with a handle. By universal tools, I mean ones that can be used on any machine, like triangles, claw weights, ravel cord. I move it to a spot on the floor by whatever machine I’m using.

Keep extra accessories out of the way, but not too far. No need to litter your working space with a dozen ribber weights.

Joining a few knitting groups on yahoo? Make one or more folders for them in your email account. Set up filters so that each group’s mail goes directly to its own folder.

Done with a few knitting groups on yahoo? Stay a member so you have access to their files, but go “no mail.”

Set up a project page on ravelry.com or a blog on wordpress.com where you can post pictures of your finished objects. They are both free sites. It’s a fun reminder to check your accomplishments every once in a while. Fun to see how many things you’ve made–that day will come!

Tips for new machine knitters: stash

Forewarning: never say “I will never have a stash.” Given enough time, you will, so just give in to it from the get-go.

People will share free yarn with you. Remember to pass the favor on to others. It really is enjoyable.

Fear not: mix yarns when the mood strikes. I have taken yarn that I’d never wear and mixed it with a staple from my stash, only to turn out some beautiful fabric!

 

Tips for new machine knitters: schematics

I thought I’d start posting tips for new machine knitters as they pop into my head. Today’s tip is one I have passed on to new machine knitters before, with big thank-yous later.

Do not buy a knitting pattern that does not include a schematic, with dimensions of course, and a few notable exceptions.

Exceptions are common sense and generally square or rectangular: hat, scarf, leggings, pillows. There is no other way to tell at a glance whether the pattern will fit you or whether you can modify it to do so. There are too many patterns out there with schematics to waste your money or time on those without. Machine knitting does not lend itself to knitting a while, then holding the piece up to you to see if it fits. You can’t even measure it while on the machine to see if it will fit, because the horizontal stretch across the needle bed has an inverse affect on the length.

Sites that have schematics:

Drops Design

Knitty –I’m not sure if all of these have schematics, but some do.

Ravelry –You may add “schematic” to the search field. If the designers have included that tag to their patterns, they will show in your results list. Ravelry requires you to join, but there is no fee.

That will get you started. If you find other sites that include schematics with their patterns, let me know and I will add them here for others to follow.

Pillows

Just photographed the finished pillows today. Here they are.

tessa_b

The first one is for T; hers has a rainbow behind the clouds because I knew she’d like the extra thought. Her name is in birdseye on the reverse side.


ella_b
The second one is for E. She saw the fancy letters in a book the other day, on my desk, and asked if I had the right letters to spell her name. She didn’t know I’d already picked out that style out for  her for something.