Friday, September 29, 2017

Now you see it, now you don't. Now you see it again.

Thanks to a sweet Raveler who used my post about machine knitting socks to knit one, I found out that my blog had gone missing.  I believe it was due to the Equifax debaucle, I had to verify my identity and create a new password and everything is back.  And thank goodness, not just so my Ravelry revealer can make her other sock, but also because I was a little panicked--you don't know what you've got till it's gone!  I told her I'd try to do better, so here goes.

I am a future-based planning person.  It's in my dna.  My inclination is always to say what I'm PLANNING to do, which is always subject to change and almost always does change.  But I have a few projects I am really excited about:

I discovered recently by looking through pictures of machine knitted items on Ravelry a new pattern source.  Current machine knitting patterns are hard to come by and while many classics are available in magazines from the '80s, machine knitting's heyday, you have to dig past a kajillion dolman and drop sleeved items to find them.  So when I found it, I broke my rule and paid for it!  It's a beautiful raglan sleeve pullover knitted side-to-side on the bulky.  (Of course, you can knit it on a standard as well, you will just have to do the maths--bleh.) You can find it here:  Sussie's Design

I love the swing shape afforded by the side-to-side construction.  And there are so many ways this pattern can be modified:  Different yarn, contrasting sleeves and body, neckline treatments, but the center join is what excites me most.  Leave it open without joining at all and you have a cardigan. Seam it with a bulky yarn, or crochet it shut.  The possibilities are endless.

Another is the Bill King "Waterfall" cardigan/vest/jacket, from the November 2012 issue of Machine Knitting Monthly.  That issue is so popular it has sold out.  I believe there are some other sources for similar patterns, as it was so popular, and will post it if I can find one.

So I am off to fuel up with some breakfast in my quiet house (!!!) and see if I can make some progress on this!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

First Flight of the Bumblebee

Today I began using the new Erlbacher Gearhart Bumblebee.  The Bumblebee is a circular HAT machine, and is very similar to the circular sock machine.  I have been on a waiting list for a year or so and purchased one of the first run.

I have seen a picture from the Erlbacher's famed annual get together of two rows of Bumblebees and they were a beauty to behold.  When I opened my custom made box, it looked very familiar--quite similar to the CSM I purchased from them last year.  But I was a little bit shocked to see how small the cylinder was.  To be sure it is larger than the sock machine, but not as large as I had thought from the picture I saw.  It's so easy for the eye to be tricked without a frame of reference.  In my imaginings, I thought the Bumblebee would be a metal version of the Addi circular hat machine, or the Innovation, as well as many other, plastic circular hat machines.

The Bumblebee has 90 cylinder needles which knit the knit stitches, and a ribber with 90 slots for ribber needles which knit the purl stitches.  This is known as an equal ribber plate.  So if you use 1x1 ribbing and all the needles, you will have a 180 stitch hat.

I am no different than other noob circular machine knitters...ribbers are intimidating and require finesse that I only have in fits and starts.  I have been able to rib sometimes.  But it hasn't been easy.

So to begin my CHM experience, I oiled the machine heavily and operated it without yarn for a bit.  Then I gave it some acrylic waste yarn.  I found one needle with a sticky latch and replaced it.  I was happy to discover that the cylinder needles are identical to those of the CSM.

Included with my CHM were two cast on bonnets of straight cylinder knitting or stockinette stitch.  It was standard sock yarn and I could tell it would NOT go around my head.  So I removed every 3rd needle to make mock ribbing, as I know the bars of yarn that go across the empty space increase the circumference of the work.  Waste yarn cranking around happily, I chose a cone of ugly sock yarn I had wound and fed it through.  I decided to knit a scarf and cranked around for rows and rows.  I had several dropped stitches which I latched back up.  I tried to determine the cause.  One possibility was the very wide clamp that was included with the machine.  I could see that the tension on the stitches was not even using this clamp.  I decided to readjust it and try some more, but I may try the CSM clamp on my next attempt.  Another possible issue was the yarn itself, as its composition was as vile as it's appearance.  A third idea is that I was cranking too speedily.  The short instruction sheet I was provided warned to crank slowly, but I thought this was when ribbing.  Could apply across the board.

Before I had completed the scarf, I had yet another dropped stitch and while trying to latch it back up, committed operator error and pulled some of the scarf off the stitches and tangled it up.  No way I was going to fish for all those stitches and rehang them, so I took everything off at Row 162.  (The machine does not come with the FAR SUPERIOR slotted carrier, and I couldn't find the spare I have somewhere, so I had to cut the yarn.  Grrrr.  I hate that.

I took the length of knitting off and looked it over.  I pulled it over my head and saw that it would indeed fit.  I then determined I would gather the stitches on each end and tie them tightly, then bring them together and affix them with a stitch through both.  This makes a gathered top and a folded end, which becomes a brim when folded back on itself.  A serviceable hat was born!

Day one:  Satisfactory.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School Productivity

Things I did today:

Started a rainbow stripe blanket from this book. I found it for $4.00 on, but it won't be here for a few days. So I was impatient, and I felt that I needed to do a sample with the Elsa Williams tapestry wool I have in great quantity to see if that was going to work and if I had the right hook for a suitable gauge. I'm no slave to gauge, no gauge owns me, but since I am the boss of my knitting I do want it to meet my loose standards. I bought some wooden crochet hooks recently at the Japanese dime store, FIT, for $3.00 each. And I bought some ergonomic handled crochet hooks at the LYS.

I needn't have bought the book, it turns out, because by reading Ravelry project notes and zooming in on the project photos, I was able to figure out the pattern easily, and find that it calls for two strands of worsted and an "N" hook. Turns out I had the hook needed and two strands of this tapestry wool is equal to two strands worsted. Now I just have to figure out what colors to use from my inventory. It may be a rainbow from a parallel but more muted and heathery universe.

I wasted a good amount of time looking for more of this yarn, because now that I'm using it, I'm afraid of not having it anymore. (Head case.) It represented such potential for me! And as you might imagine, 40 yard skeins disappear quickly.

I also wound several cakes of cream Aracania Nature Cotton. Why are all the best yarns discontinued????

This is the most lovely thick and thin soft cotton. I bought the last I could find at a decent price from a Ravelry person and now I am knitting up a rug from it on my bulky machine.

I am knitting a 54 row block of about 40 stitches (relatively square), then wasting off and turning it, knitting another 54 rows, waste off and turn, knit another 54 rows. I have enough for three of these strips which I will join and then it will be large waffle weave squares of smooth stockinette and ripply reverse stockinette. I'll have to find some puff paint by the gallon now.


Light mint floppy fronted sweater with very dark purple trim. My Romanian tea set brought to me by my BIL is the inspiration. I may try to find some irridescent beads to sprinkle hither and yon.

This Flamboyant Shawl


Feather and fan scarf

Linen stitch scarf

Purple variegate scarf...trim

Bias shawl in lavender/pink variegate with solid trim (or vice versa?)

White car rider sweater (Corinne)

Mohair mobius

Monday, May 21, 2012

Machine Knit Single Bed Flat Sock

I have made two new and very special friends who are learning to machine knit. I've been so fortunate in my few years of machine knitting to become not just friendly, but GOOD friends with several of the people who share my interest in machine knitting!

When I began, lovely ladies from all over the world helped me learn the craft, and are still doing so today. I am passing along that knowledge and the resources I have gathered and continue to find to my new friends. In that endeavor, I put together a pattern for the socks I have made when I only had a single bed standard gauge machine. (These are socks I wear every year all winter long, so they are perfectly good socks! Perhaps more utilitarian, but when you are beginning you need the basics.)

Machine Knit Single Bed Flat Socks--A Mishmosh of Patterns I Have Used

Abbreviations: (some won’t be used in this pattern, but you will need them later.)

COR Carriage on Right
COL Carriage on Left
MY Main Yarn
WY Waste Yarn
Dec Decrease
FFD Full Fashioned Decrease
Inc Increase
FFI Full Fashioned Increase
SR Short Row
TF Transfer
T# Tension Number
RC Row counter

Gauge: On a standard machine for regular sock yarn, I use a T4. It’s a little stiffer, tighter fabric, but it makes a better sock. (Be sure to wash your sock before judging it, because the wool will bloom and it will be much softer.) Make a gauge swatch and get your stitches and rows per inch measurement.

Size: Measure around your calf at the top of where you wear your socks (under the rib), then your ankle, then around your instep. Measure vertically from that same point of your calf to the top of your heel as you are standing. Measure from the back of your heel to the longest toe. Multiply the horizontal measurements by the stitches per inch and the vertical measurements by the stitches per row.

I’m going to use my gauge for the purpose of this pattern and you can either make a practice sock to learn on, put it on and see where you want to add or subtract; or you can use your own measurements to make a custom fit to begin with. My gauge will be in italics and underlined, so you will know where you need to plug in your own numbers.

If you are knitting the right sock, begin COR.

If you are knitting the left sock, begin COL.


Cast on 78 stitches with waste yarn if you want to hand knit your rib. (I knit my rib with size 5 circular knitting needles and bind off with size 6 circular knitting needles so it will be stretchy.) Knit an inch or so and switch to main yarn.


Cast on with a loose e-wrap 78 stitches in main yarn.
Knit one row at T6, or two more than whatever tension you have decided to use for your weight yarn.
Every third stitch TF to next stitch and place needle out of work. It will look like ||.||.||.||.||.||.|| (| is for the needle in work, . is for empty needle out of work.)
This makes a mock rib. The empty stitch in the beginning will give it a little more stretch at the cast on edge.
Knit 20 rows at T6.
Knit 1 row at T3. (This makes the rib fold.)
Knit 20 more rows at T6.
Pick up cast on stitches (ignoring the empty spot where you transferred) and place on the corresponding live stitches.
Knit 1 row at T7. (You have made a mock rib hem. Feel free to Knit 40 rows, 1 tight row, and 40 rows, rehang and one loose row if you want a cuff instead of a hem.)


RC 000
*Knit 10 rows.
Decrease one stitch each edge.* 5 times
Knit to RC096.


Place left half of needles in hold position if you are knitting the right sock. Place right half of needles in hold position if you are knitting the left sock.
Put carriage in hold (for Studios, move your Russell levers...can’t remember if it’s to one or two position, or if that’s forward or back. Just move them opposite of wherever they are.)

Pull needle closest to carriage into hold position.
Knit 1 partial row.
Wrap stitch nearest half point (usually it will be stitch number L1 (or Left of Zero number 1 if you are knitting the right sock; R1 if you are knitting the right sock) by pulling up the yarn and placing it UNDER that needle.

So to be clear, you have yarn on top of the needles that are in hold. Pick it up and loop it under the first needle nearest the working stitches, allowing the remainder of the yarn to the carriage to rest once again on top of the needles. If pulling it left it too loose, just pull the yarn as it goes from the ball to the yarn guide DOWN, which will take up the slack. This is called “wrapping” the stitch. It prevents a hole from forming. I’m sure you’re familiar with this technique from your hand knitting.

Put the next working stitch into hold position.
Knit 1 partial row back.
Continue until you have 11 stitches in hold on each side of the working half of stitches.

As you knit, the center will begin to form a triangular cup. You will have to place weight in this cup or the stitches will pop off. I just put a claw weight in the center and move it up every few rows.

It will look like this:


and then


and then


and eventually


At this point, you will reverse what you have been doing by placing the needles back in work, from the center of the working stitches outward, one at a time, one side at a time, as follows:

Wrap and place the stitch nearest the center working stitches of the group nearest the carriage back in work by moving it to working position (but not so far as to take it out of work, or to permit the held stitch to fall off.) It usually just takes placing it in the middle position. Knit across 1 partial row to opposite stitches in hold.

Wrap and place the stitch nearest the center working stitches and knit across 1 partial row.

You are making another triangular cup inverse to the first one knit. Continue to move your claw weight under the working stitches to keep them on the needles.

Continue until all needles of the short row section are back in work. (Half of the entire needles will still be in hold.

Take carriage out of hold.


Knit 64 rows.


Repeat heel instructions. The toe is on the same side as the heel, so the instructions are exactly the same.

Take carriage out of hold and knit one row at T7

YOU JUST MADE A SOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can take the stitches off on knitting needles, half on one and half on another, meeting at the middle, if you want to graft, or on a sewing needle and length of sock yarn, or you can waste off and pick up the stitches.

I like to waste off.

Then I steam and press the edges to reduce curl and I sew the seam from the toe across and up the side with a narrow zigzag. I wear them all the time and I never notice the seam. Done on the sewing machine, it’s even less noticeable than sewing up.

If you do decide to sew up, a flat seam is better than a mattress seam. Look closely at the edge stitches and you will see that there is always a loop and a knot. On one edge pick up the loop and on the other edge pick up the corresponding knot. This makes a very nice flat seam.

Weave in ends, wash and wear! You really do not have to block if you are using regular old sock yarn with wool and nylon. The best way to block a sock is to wear it wet until it dries!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Lately, I've been hanging out more on the Machine Knitting Group on Ravelry, and enjoying it immensely. It has seriously cut into my productivity, but it's added so much to my knowledge base while giving me a good chuckle now and then. My knitting has always been cyclical, and I've been in a period of learning, researching, chasing rabbits and purchasing tools.

I have purchased a new to me machine, a Brother 260 and ribber. It was a bit of a disappointment, in that the shipment was incomplete and I've had to wait weeks to ascertain which parts were still with the Seller, who doesn't knit and didn't always know that pieces she had belonged with my machine. It looks like we're nearing the end of that process and I can finally get down to business in another week or so.

I purchased a Brother KH-588 and ribber locally a few months ago, but the setting plates and ribber clamps were missing (along with the garter bars pictured in the ad, which I wish I had, but she threw them out. :O) I haven't been able to do any ribbing, which kills me, because I wanted it to knit socks. Today I managed to just screw the thing to the knitting machine with some random screws and what do you know, it works! It's a temporary solution, because I had to remove the extension rail guides to do it, so the search for parts continues (perpetually) but at least I can get going.

So I'm loaded for bear, and ready to get going. The MK group has issued a challenge to knit 12 items in 2012. Some of them have further qualified it to be knit from stash, but since so much of my stash has been purchased for hand knitting and must be hand knit (either too bulky or too delicate for machine, or designated for a specific hand-knit project) I haven't joined that particular faction. I do intend to attempt to work primarily from stash, though. It's possible that I will knit my 12 from stash alone, but I've made a serious dent and I'm looking forward to doing some yarn shopping on upcoming travels.

I've spent many an hour reading the forum's archives. I've watched hours of Susy Ranner youtube videos on Knit Radar (aka Knit Leader et al.) I've acquainted myself with many new techniques. I am really looking forward to putting this new knowledge into my work.

Now, to just get knitting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cutting and Sewing Knitting and Crocheting

We'll have to backtrack a little bit here. Back a ways when I was churning out Project Linus blankets from cheap acrylic, I also heard of a charity that makes sideways knit sweaters for kids in Romania. I threw a couple together (had a MK pattern to go by even)'s just a knit "T" with short sleeves sticking straight out, which works for babies but not so much for anyone older than two, unless they have broken both collar bones. I made the large ones and tried them on and they were hideous. Maybe someone in Romania is that hard up, but I just couldn't send them. However, I didn't know what to do with them, so I stuck them in a basket in the guest room closet. (A perusal of my guest room closet will demonstrate that this is the Kath way to deal with any uncertain disposition.)

I found them the other day, having completely forgotten about them and about the other odd pieces of knit fabric I had churned out for who knows what purpose. But anyway, it's turned cold here (60 day time high, 35 night time low--this passes for cold in Houston.) I was wearing my recently constructed pullover that I cut and sewed, and I really like it!

So I took those old Romanian atrocities and one of Ashley's tops, and I cut out a pullover for her. I am learning my technique. I cut a seam allowance of 1/2" and I zigzagged right on the edge of the load-bearing seams, like the neckline and hems, which weren't going to be joined with anything else. I made a narrow zigzag (2 out of 5 wide, 4 out of 5 long) and bumped my presser foot up to the setting for the highest loft, and sewed the seams. My sewing experience came in handy, because I know to do the shoulder seams first, then the sleeves (they weren't set in, obviously), then the sides. Afterwards, I serged the excess seams together with my serger set at high loft, with wooly nylon in the upper looper and cone sewing thread in all the rest. This takes out the bulk and the raw edges. When you're sewing the seams and then serging the edges, it is important to push the fabric toward the presser foot, to keep from getting lettuce edge...unless of course you WANT lettuce edge, which is a pretty cute treatment, but on the outside edges, not on the inside ones. I figure I will try serging the edges of the seams before sewing them together sometime, just to compare, just for the knowing.

One more tip: If you are going to cut and sew, you MUST have canned air! Fiber gets everywhere, especially in your bobbin, and along the plate next to the blade of your serger, and it can bring everything to a screeching halt if you don't clear it often. And if you blast your machine with canned air that often, you will also need to oil it fairly frequently.

So I tried it on Ashley and she loves it because it is hairy and soft, and I like it because it was a waste and now it is a something, and it's entirely machine wash and dry. It's been wonderful to have two successive successes!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vogue Knitting Live LA in the Rearview Mirror

I just got back from VKL in LA. I had a mixed experience, parts awesome and parts less than. I write this for people like me, who rarely attend these types of events, a regular person who knits.

On the awesome end, I bought the package that included a $20 gift card to Vogue Knitting online, a class, a lecture, two market days and entrance to the market preview. (FYI, you *can* make purchases during the preview.) This package was $100, which I considered a pretty good deal, considering that a single class at a local yarn store is usually that much. My class was with MEG SWANSEN!!! and AMY DETJEN, and it was something I will always treasure! They are absolutely delightful ladies, who eagerly answer questions and enthusiastically share their immense knowledge and their incredible chemistry. They were funny and insightful and generous and I LOVE them!

I am an EZ devotee, so that didn't hurt. I love practical knitting. I'm not as interested in whatever happens to be in fashion or the latest innovation in fiber and bling. These things are distractions to me. I think a lot of it is my personal style at work, which is tailored and simple, but also my sewing background comes into play when I choose projects.

I was very disappointed in the market. I bought several bags from a bag sale, and I scored some Chinese wool that was a very good deal (from a lovely Phoenix woman.) Probably my best deal was some huge skeins from Newton's, a company from whom I have purchased cone wool for machine knitting. They had marked some beautiful yarn of various content and then gave attendees a 50% discount. So I made lemonade from lemons. But there were far fewer booths than I expected, and nothing all that earth shaking. The products touted were overpriced and available through the internet. I know, I know, a lot of knitters want to touch and feel. I touch, I feel, I read recommendations, and then I search for the best price, which is usually available through internet shopping. I don't give a rat's ass about buying locally or supporting a local economy. All I care about is making the most of my husband's earnings. Also, I had believed there would be discounts for attendees, and freebies. The only freebie I found was some sample packets of Eucalen.

Houstonians, hear me....our Quilt Show in October is far superior! Which brings me to my other criticism...

The hotel, while nice enough, was so freaking expensive! It was quite a ways from the airport, which meant transportation costs were huge. I felt I was captive to the conference simply because I could not afford to leave. I had to spend over $1,000 to attend this conference, and it just wasn't worth it. Not even for Meg and Amy.

I heard from other attendees that VKL in New York was much better attended. Many classes had open slots, but in order to take them without advance reservation, the price was $95 per. That is crazy. The people are there and the seats are empty. There were something like 10 people in my class.

Also, I felt that the organization was ramshackle. The reservation website certainly was not intuitive. The gift cards were not available at registration, I was told they will be mailed at a later date. In an effort to make some events exclusive, many attendees were unaware of events that were occurring. I expected much more from a behemoth corporation like Vogue on their second try. FAIL

So I seriously doubt I will attend another Vogue Knitting Live conference, no matter where it is. It is quite possible I just do not belong in their target demographic, and I can live with that.