Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 4 "25 Days of Diana"

Today I decided to take the time and watch Diana's Ribber Course.  They are fascinating.  I am anxious to start practicing and making my swatches.  What I enjoyed is the fact that since I've been practicing the circular cast-on with my machine none of the videos seemed like a foreign language.

Watching all these videos is quite an endeavor all it's own.  Diana has generously made 25 lessons.  They are all approximately 10 minutes long.  That is about 4 hours of lessons.  She offers these all for free.  We are truly blessed to have someone as experienced as Diana to take the time and make us these videos.

The Ribber Course covers several different cast-ons.  There are many different ribbing options and quite a few different cast-offs.  Toward the end of the series she does a few specialty techniques.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 3 "25 Days of Diana"

I just got through untangling the biggest rat's nest from my ribber and knitting machine.  OH MY GOSH!  I couldn't even move my carriage off the needles.  After using my tools and removing the yarn from the needles was I able to move the needles enough to get the carriage off the machine and really work on untangling the yarn.  Whew.

I finished the hat part of the Tam and everything went smoothly.  First hat was definitely good practice.  The hat band is another story.  Going to begin band number 3.  I think it's a whole tension thing.  The zero tension is too tight for this yarn.

OK this yarn is just a pain in the butt on the standard.  Even  tension 6 was tight.  I don't know what this band is going to look like.  One thing about the ribber is your knitting is a surprise.  I knitted 16 rows and just hoped and prayed it was doing OK.  Without a ribber I can catch mistakes early and fix them.  My ribbed band may be a big mess, but I won't know for a while yet.

Which brings me to the double eyed needle.  I just LOVE it.  A couple came with my machine, but I didn't use it.  Since setting up the ribber I decided to get it out.  Wow it sure makes life easy.
Another thing I did today was provided a Orthodontic treatments to my machine weights.  When I got them their teeth were bent.  Some weights more than others.  I always have trouble getting them to hook on.  Well used my one eye transfer knitting tool probably not smart as I was a little afraid I'd break it, but it worked great straightening the teeth on my weights.  What really amazed me was how much easier the weights hooked on to my knitting.  I can't believe I let myself suffer for so long knowing the teeth were crooked.

Well, once the ribber came down the band was not so good.  Mainly, because of my choice of yarn.  I picked a cotton yarn that matched the Tam I made.  I ran out of yarn at the end of the 6th wedge.  The cotton yarn made a very stiff scratchy band.  Not something one wants on their head.

I'm done knitting today.  Very successful though.  I got another Tam done easily. I straighten the snaggle teeth of my weights.  And I caught up on my Glee episodes on

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 2 "25 Days of Diana"

In keeping with my new rule that I don't have to complete a Diana project every day.  I just need to work on a Diana project every day I started another Tam.  When DH came back to my craft room and asked if I wanted to watch a movie with him I didn't grit my teeth and say, "No!  I have to finish this hat!"... like I did last night.

Today is nothing fancy.  I'm making another Tam, but I've loosened up the tension.  My first hat the Tam seemed a bit on the small size.  The knitted fabric was so tight I could barely get a weight hung on it.  This time the weights push on nicely.  My daughter and I thought it should have a bit more slouch to it.

I told her she could do better, because this picture looked like an Irish mug shot.

That made her smile.

Pictures tomorrow of the looser tension Tam.

Day One of My "25 Days of Diana"

I have to admit I wasn't really ready to start today. I was out at a Black Friday sale Thursday night at midnight, but was home by 1am WITH my item. Yahoo! I also woke up with a headache stemming from my finicky neck. Did a little too much something on Thanksgiving.

Anyhow that's what having a challenge is all about. One feels compelled to move forward and complete their challenge. I do anyhow. I have been thinking about Diana's Machine Knit Tam since I first saw her video. I didn't know how to do ribbing at the time. I do now. So, that's the first thing I wanted to make.

(First wedge done.  See middle weight not in good place.  Need to keep it high.)
I must clarify any problems I had with working with Diana's video is due to my own dorky machine knitting skills and working with my own machine.  Diana's video is great and teaches well.  I'm just kind of a clutsy machine knitter.  I seem to get my yarn wrapped around the gate pegs in one giant loop on a regular basis.  It is my own doing not Diana's. 

I started the video and I had 2 problems. One is the end stitch the one put back into work each time I don't believe knits every time. It doesn't skip often maybe 2 or 3 times a triangle, but it's something I'm keeping an eye on. I'm not sure if I forget to put the needle into work. Don't think that is it. OR I've notice that needle gets pulled forward and maybe the stitch isn't knitting properly. SO I'm making sure that it is pulled back even with the other needles. We'll see if that solves my problem.

(Such a pretty color.  Wishing now I had practiced on something else.)
My 2nd problem is I'm not moving my middle weight up often enough. If I don't the middle section of my triangle won't knit. First time I noticed it I had 2 rows to fix. I've had to fix it 2 more time, but only one row. I can hear my carriage sounding different when it happens. That draws my attention to where the weight is. Then my attention goes up to the needles and sure enough about 10-20 needles are not knitted. It's a pretty easy fix. Also easy to avoid if one keeps their weights moving up!

With the 2 above observations and corrections it did solve my problems.

My next challenge was doing 199 needles of ribbing.  I've never used my full bed on any machine for any reason.  I was a bit nervous, but dove right in.  What I found out is my bad habit of stealing needles off the ends of my machines finally came back to bite me in the butt.  I was short 3 needles.  I do have replacements just had to quit being lazy, get them out and install them.  Done.

The tension for the ribbing was really tight.  Very hard to push across.  Next one I'll loosen that up.  I forced it across and somehow my ribbing turned out fine.  Next learning curve was attaching the hat to the band.  Turned out I had more stitches on my hat than my band.  I discovered it when I got to the middle and wedge three was going to overlap it by quite a bit.  So, I decided from this point on I'd hang the beginning and end of each wedge on 1/6th of the needles.  This worked out well.  I had to hang 2 stitches on one needle here and there.

Next I needed a refresher on the Kitchener Stitch.  Time for the Beginner Lessons Diana has made.  I watched Diana's video and a few others to stitch up the side seam.  It's not perfect, but I have to say it looks a lot better than I thought it would.  I do still need a lot of practice.

(My daughter always a good sport about modeling my creations.)

It took me 5 hours, but I completed the Tam and it is being blocked on a plate as I type.  What I decided on my "25 Days of Diana" challenge is I don't have to complete a project every day.  This project had many lessons in it that would probably do well to spread over a day or two.

Tam was blocked over a dinner plate.  Worked out quite well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Dream Setup

I now have set up as of tonight a standard knitting machine and ribber and a bulky knitting machine and ribber.  Yahoo!  This is my dream setup.  I just set up the bulky and ribber tonight.

The standard is a Studio 700 with a SRP 60N ribber.  This is working great thanks to my friend Julia coming over and adjusting my ribber to meet the knitting machine.

The bulky is a Toyota 650 with a Toyota KR350 ribber.  First thing I noticed is the ribber needs a new sponge bar.  Why I didn't know ribbers had sponge bars I don't know.  Sounds common sense now, but up until a few weeks ago didn't even occur to me.

Update:  SRP 60N ribbers do not have sponge bars.  They have a solid plastic bar.  Thanks Monique for clearing that up and making me investigate further.

What is neat is the bulky came with a tilt stand.  I've always thought I'd prefer that, but didn't have one so didn't know.  Now I'll get to decide whether I like the knitting machine flat rather than tilted toward the back.  Working with the standard not on a tilt stand I found out it didn't really bother me as much as I thought it would. 

I also have an extra Studio 700 and Toyota 650 knitting machines.  These are my traveling machines.  I go to a machine knitting class twice a month and I enjoy bringing my machines.  One or the other never both.  I learn better when I'm doing.  Rather than just watching and taking notes I can do the pattern and ask questions.

I got the 2 extra machines for 2 reasons.  One I really don't want to take my knitting machine a part from the ribber twice a month.  Also one of the gals at the meeting said she had her machine damaged in transit.  Someone how the innards shifted.  I could see a machine shifting around in a car possibly making this happen.  So, I wanted a cheap machine that I could travel with and if it got damaged I wouldn't be broken hearted.  I'm careful to make sure it's sitting flat and doesn't move around in the back of my car.  So, hoping my traveling machines hold up.

Also these 2 extra machines are an integral part of my evil machine knitting plan. :D

"Diana natters on..." Has A Challenge...

of her own.  She is calling it "The Goldilocks Challenge."  It is called this because she says, "We are going to make beautiful gifts for Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear for Christmas.  Honest, I promise they'll be pretty, luxurious and easy."

Her challenge is for everyone to buy an Ultimate Sweater Machine.  Diana says, "It's affordable even at full price, and I just gave you a way to buy one on the cheap, just by watching the Hobby Lobby website, plus there's Craigslist and eBay and that other craft store, too."  We don't have Hobby Lobby out here on the west coast, but I just checked Joanns and they have it already listed at 40% off on their website.  If it isn't on sale in the store use their 40% off coupon.

An update about her challenge is also listed here.  I know quite a few people who started machine knitting with the Ultimate Sweater Machine.  It's a cheap way to get an idea if you're going to like this kind of thing.  When I say cheap I'm referring to buying a brand new Silver Reed knitting machine and ribber which will run about $1700.  Now one can buy used machines for quite a bit less.  BUT you need to know what you're looking for.  Is it operational?  Does it need any repairs?  Does it have all it's parts?  Is there an instruction manual?  Who will I get to repair it?  Where will I order parts?  There is something to be said about buying the Ultimate Sweater Machine brand new with all it's parts, manual and included video.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

25 Days of Diana!

Diana Sullivan that is.  If you haven't heard of Diana Sullivan then you need to go promptly over to her blog.  After you've read my personal challenge that is.  I've included links to her blog.  She is a great advocate for machine knitting.  She is very generous and makes free videos on how to do many techniques on knitting machine.  She also sells a few of her techniques on DVD.  I have bought two.  My favorite to date is the Entrelac video.  To be fair it's the only one I've viewed; hense, this challange.

I've decided on a challenge for myself.  In an effort to get better at using my knitting machines I'm going to do something on Diana's blog everyday for 25 days.  I'd also like to get a few things knitted for Christmas.  This way I'll get to kill two birds with one stone.  Oh that sounds terrible no birds will be harmed during my 25 days of machine knitting.
Diana Sullivan has great tutorials and great projects on her "Diana natters on..." Blog.  A lot of them on video on YouTube.  I keep threatening to do more of them and don't make the time.  Check out Diana's YouTube Channel on YouTube.  It's called Dianaknits.

Starting on November 26th, because who are we kidding do I really have time during the week before Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is at my house and I have cooking and cleaning to do.  This year I'm ONLY having 12 people over.  I usually have 25 or more.  Though it seems like a more relaxing event the same food needs to be made.  Why stress myself out.

The challenge will end on December 20th.  Plenty of time to weave ends in and get things wrapped for Christmas.

I think I'll use this week to sort of come up with a plan on where I want to start.  So, many interesting things to do over at Diana's place.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Machine Knit Mittens

I found a model at my last Machine Knitting Meeting.  One of the gals brought her granddaughter's.  One was about 6 and the mitten fit her perfectly.  This was knit with some purple yarn I bought at Fig Tree Alley.  It is a gorgeous purple acrylic sold for $5 a cone.  I bought it mainly to use for my prototypes.  My experiments on my knitting machines.  Each time I make something though I think I should save it for something real.  It's such a gorgeous color.

I made this mitten on my Studio 700 standard gauge knitting machine.  The cuff is a mock rib.  At the time of this project I was at my knitting machine meeting and did not have a ribber.  I also did not know how to use the ribber I had at home.  The mock rib looks nice, but doesn't have the stretch of a real rib.

I was really quite amazed as I made this mitten in about 25 minutes.  It took me about 1 hour to sew up the seams.

I made the size for a toddler, but the mitten nearly fits me.  It fit my 6 year old model perfectly.

3 days after I made this mitten I learned how to use my ribber.  I'm no expert, but I do know how to make 1X1 ribbing.  I made an adult size mitten with 1X1 ribbing.  Pictures to follow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Evil Machine Knitting Plan In Full Swing!

Some of you may recall my evil plan to convert teenagers into machine knitters.  My plan involved luring them in to make hats for their "Caring for Cancer Patients" group (CCP).

Well, Sunday was the first day I got the group over.  It was a meager showing of 3 members.  Honestly, it was a nice size with which to start.  I don't know how many members the group has, but my hope is this start up group will tell the others how much fun they had.  My plan was to not only get the group acquainted with knitting machines, but to feed them yummy food too.

I set up my 2 KS 650 Bulky Toyotas.  Not only are bulky needles easy to see, but my KS 650 bulkys are just easy to use.  I week before our meeting my husband said, "Is Julia coming over?"  Julia is my friend that taught me to machine knit.  I thought what a great idea to have another adult here who knows how to run a knitting machine.  I called up Julia and asked her if she would come and she said, "Yes.  Do you need me to bring a machine?  How about some yarn?"  What a great friend!

Diana the leader of the CCP asked if I needed any money to buy yarn.  I have been given yarn and have bought some very cheaply over the past year.  I decided to let the CCP group have a yarn donation with which to begin.

Julia and I taught the girls how to e-wrap, knit, how to transfer stitches, how to pull the live stitches off on a long yarn tail, and how to sew up the side seam.  My daughter has done a little machine knitting, but the other 2 girls have not done any knitting or crocheting.  They all learned very quickly.  The girls were all amazed at how quickly they could knit up something that looked so beautiful.

At one point the girls had gain more confidence and the carriages on both machines were moving back and forth at a nice clip.  The sounds of both knitting machines in work was music to my ears.

Diana the group leader was in Pennsylvania over the weekend and came home just in time to see the girls handy work.  She was so proud.  One of the gals in the group suggested on several occasions we should get together every 2 weeks to knit hats.

My only comment to that is "Bwah hahahahahaha.  My evil plan was successful!"  We made a date to meet up again during Thanksgiving week.

PS.  I made a yummy appetizer called Chile Relleno Bites.   SO GOOD!

Ribber is up and working

I set my Studio 700 up with it's SRP60N ribber back in January. I followed the directions in the book. My ribber would not adjust high enough for the ribber carriage to meet the knitting machine carriage. Not knowing a thing about ribbers I didn't know what to do. I was so frustrated that I just let the whole set up sit.

My friend Julia said there are some adjustments that can be made on the back of the ribber that's not mentioned in the book. She said she'd come over and help me get it up and running. She spent about 1/2 hour getting the ribber adjusted and then we needed to start the teenager machine knitting group. I'll blog on that later.

After all the teenagers left we came back to the ribber. She got it casted on and started knitting 1X1 ribbing. It was very exciting to see the ribber actually working. She then said want to try. I said, "I'm scared." She laughed and got up and said firmly, "Sit down." So, she help walk me through the instructions on how to cast on the ribber. She gave me tips on what to look for, what should be knitting and what tensions work well.  I made my first strip of 1X1 ribbing!

Then I promptly lost my comb wire. The comb and wire fell behind my machine onto floor between practice strips. Nothing tricky. Wire completely gone. Julia then gave me a tip to always put the wire back in the comb when not in use. Hopefully tomorrow when the sun is out I'll be able to find my wire. Where could it have possibly gone in a  3X4 foot square area?

Side Note:  3 months later and I have FOUND my ribber wire.  It has slid down along side the knitting machine lid held on the stand in the back.  It balanced nicely between the 2 arms that hold the lid totally camouflaged.