Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seeing Things From a Different Angle

The Knit Radar/Contour is a nifty device; I've talked about it before. You have a paper pattern, either half width or full width, and it's drawn to half the scale of the finished item. You do your swatch and measure it, and put a ruler with your stitch gauge in a slot at the bottom of your pattern. You turn a dial to your row gauge. As the carriage trips the row gauge lever, the pattern moves up an appropriate amount. The stitch ruler tells you how many stitches to have, where the pattern line intersects the ruler is the row you're working on. You can draw a pattern using your own measurements, you can draw one using schematics from a handknitting pattern, and you can even take a sewing pattern (for knits), and reduce it by 50% and use it. It's even been suggested to me that if you have a handknitting pattern with no schematic, you can use blank paper, and no yarn, and "knit" your item, but mark on the paper every time you dec/inc/etc. Then connect the lines and you have a new pattern.

Recently, I encountered something else. I have some yarn I want to use to make a springy, drapey, cardigan. I have a pattern for the standard gauge (and even the recommended yarn, but I don't want to use it!), and it has schematics. However, the yarn doesn't work on either of my machines with Knit Radar! If I were handknitting, I'd just start and then work out the pattern (dec. for shaping) as I go. But that's not easy on the machine. I was wondering if I could make the KR 7 on my bulky (which comes off), work for the LK150 as I didn't want to work out all the pattern calculations for a new gauge, and then write out the pattern.

A Ravelry member said to:

A) Work a Gauge Swatch on your LK150, block it and then measure the rows and stitches.

B) On the KR7, set the row setting dial, then select and insert the appropriate stitch ruler. Insert your 1/2 Scale Garment pattern, either pre-printed or one you have drawn yourself.

C) With pen and paper or laptop/iPad handy to take notes, and without any yarn in the bulky carriage, move this machines carriage back and forth to trip the row advance lever. You’re not knitting on this model, just using it’s carriage to advance the lever, and you can really fly through a pattern this way. Write down the pattern instructions; IE How many stitches to Cast On; How many rows to first decrease/increase, write down how many stitches to bind off for armhole shaping, rows to shoulder, etc.

What this method allows you to do is to quickly work through and write down the pattern instructions for the front, back and sleeves. Then you use this information on your LK150 and knit the sweater, when time allows. The front one evening, back the next, both sleeves a couple of nights later, and then onto blocking and finishing.

This process allows you to do a dry run in a sense, to think your way through and consider things like closures, IE button and buttonhole placement, or facings for zippers, how you might want to work the shoulder finishing, attach and work a neckband or modify a pattern to incorporate the shaping required for a shawl collar. This way you don’t have to unknit any mistakes that come from surprises or construction methods that you did not consider until the knitting was underway.

Isn't that clever?! "Ghost Knitting" is what came to mind. Using the Knit Radar instead of a calculator. On one hand, the thought of taking the time to knit WITHOUT yarn...LOL...but I'd really like to use this yarn, and on the LK150 (I know you can get a proper KR for it, but that's money!). I thought once I had the bulky and the standard gauge, I'd have all yarns covered with one or the other, and this yarn should have a gauge of 26st/4" which is doable on the standard gauge. I think however, the fiber mix, or the structure of the yarn, just didn't work on the standard. I do have some other little things to take care of first, but I'll keep you posted on how it works out!

Edit:  I totally forgot the other part to this!  LOL.  I recently saw a nice, sewn, hoodie on a blog.  I was lamenting that I don't have any sewing patterns for things like that.  Then I realized that I could take the KR pattern that I've altered to fit me (perhaps not as shaped as the SWS sweater I just showed), and use that to make a sewing pattern!  After all, it's just a flat representation of fabric!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time Travel Would Have Been Useful

This is weird, but my typing screen is grey, and I can't see my cursor, and when I type, the type is showing up in a white strip.  I'm not sure I like the changes to blogging....I did this cause the "solution" for getting a space between paragraphs didn't work...

I haven't blogged this week (now the white strip is gone, but the background is still grey and there's no visible cursor) cause last Wed. I got a notice that we're at 75% of our internet usage for our new billing plan....and not at 75% of the month!  Then Lucy was home sick on Thursday, then it was a 4 day weekend for EVERYONE in the family.  I'm trying to cut down on blog surfing, etc.  However, today I looked at my emails, one was from and they had a contest and the winner was shown in a dress that I thought I had in my pattern collection.  So I went off to her blog and fell in love.  Yup.  A sewing crush.  Sigh.  You know how on some blogs, they have at the bottom of posts "Other pages you might like" suggestions?  Well, one of the suggestions looked a lot like my "Empire Strikes Back" dress I worked (click on the "Sewing" label at the right and then scroll down,down,down to see the three posts) on last August.  I read through it and it was like re-living everything I did!  It was a different pattern, but extremely similar (Simplicity and New Look are the same after all).  I searched  and googled so much last summer and if only she had made her dress LAST year instead of this year! I feel very validated now, knowing that what I was doing was more or less the way to do it!    I also feel like it might be okay to have to grade a waist up 5" so that I can use the patterns I do have that are not quite big enough.  I just might give that dress another go now!

I've been really good about not buying yarn this year.  Earlier in the year I did find a good score at the Salvation Army, and I bought that Chromos yarn from but I've been really good.  Then I took Meg to Michaels for some craft stuff, and they had some Patons Classic Wool on clearance, so I bought 6 balls.  I know it'll get used for felting, so I like adding to my CW stash when they clear out colours.  Then, Meg and I dropped into the yarn store in Oshawa, cause I needed some wool wash.  She had the bright red "kitchen" cotton I need for a special gift project.  And she had a ball of James Brett Marble in boyish colours in the sale bin, so I got it, and one more (full price) ball of a different dye lot just to be safe.  And then I turned to my left and saw the Patons Lace, which I did pass up, for the more expensive but lovelier, Regia Lace, in black/charcoal/grey.  Ooops!  Still, I am using up yarn at a good rate this year, as I'll show in another post!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catch Up

Okay.  I was having trouble with my other blog, and not being able to get blank lines between paragraphs.  I did what it said in the help section, but that didn't seem to work.  So I changed something, and now the whole editing is weird.  I know I've complained about being able to load only 5 pictures at a time, but what I normally did was get typing while the pictures were loading.  Can't do that now.  And you don't choose at that time the picture alignment, and now I'm not sure how to get them in the center but the text to go to both's really weird typing!  Anyone out there can help me?
So, I made these socks just over a year ago, and when I put them on them on the other day, I thought something at the toe looked odd.  I looked closer, and it appears I missed a stitch when I grafted the toe!

I turned 40 in January, and like every other year, my "grandma" sent me a cheque.  I usually get myself something knitting related, like a magazine subscription.  This year, since I was turning 40, I wanted something a little more indulgent, significant, noteworthy.  I had seen the Namaste circular needle holder at and thought about that, but it won't hold ALL my needles.  Then I saw this little box.  It's actually "eggplant".  I had been using a chocolate bar tin, but the hinge broke so the lid often got jammed down and then it got stuck and Rob had to pry it open.  So that sealed it, LOL, and I had to order the Namaste notions box.

 I thought it looked longer in the catalogue, and now I need to find a shorter "emergency" crochet hook.  There is a divider inside, which is great, and the shell is magnetized inside...however, I'm finding that much of my stuff isn't sticking.
 It's a nice little box, not embarrassing to take out of my bag in public, LOL.  I started with a little tiny plastic box years ago, so it's nice to upgrade.  And since I was ordering, I had to make it worth my while, and treated myself to some new Chroma fingering yarn.  I wish there was a bit more yardage though.  It's marketed as a sock yarn (don't think I'll use it as such, because of the single ply nature), so 396yd is plenty for that use though.
 And my main present from Knitpicks.  New needles!  I've been frustrated with the large number of circular needles I have (over 60), but so many of them I don't like, or are too short, too stiff, etc.  A while ago when I started stocking up on 16" circulars, but got annoyed at still needing dpn when I'd get to the tip of the hat or mitt.  Then I learned about Magic Loop and suddenly I needed long, flexible needles.  I often bought needles at thrift shops, but I couldn't find smaller needles (under 4mm) in the local stores, without having to buy the real expensive needles.  I created a spreadsheet of all my needles, including their size, length, and attributes.  I asked in my online knitting group which of the Knitpicks Options tips they liked (I could afford the nickle or the acrylic only).  But then I wanted to start some socks, and I didn't have needles long enough to do two at once, magic loop.  Even doing one sock magic loop was tough, as the tips were way too long.  I decided to get the individual needles in the smallest sizes, with a 100cm cable.  I'll wait to get the Options set the next time it comes on sale (or if I'm somewhere, somewhat local, that is now carrying the needles).
 The six needle above pretty much replace all the needles below, about 16 pairs.  I had planned to give some away, although it's still hard to part with them.  I think I'll wait awhile and see if I do ever need any of these...I know it's good to have maybe two pairs of each size.  So far, I'm really like the KnitPicks.  The cables really are flexible, however, I have gotten some small kinks in one (not annoying like with the other needles).  I'm also finding the join on one of them to catch on the stitches.  I would also like if they had etched the sizes into the tips.  But I do like them!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Last summer I had brought the LK150 up to the kitchen so I could knit while the kids were in the yard. I was planning on making a diagonal knit sweater using Patons SWS that I had bought as "1lb Unknown Fibers" yarn at Wal-Mart. I did lots of swatching, and had the back and most of the front knit when it got put on hold....long term hold. There were some little issues that were bugging me. When I got the Singer 155, I knew I'd just "whip up" a plain sweater. I made the green stripe one and did some fine tuning of the shape. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the neck, I couldn't decide between a hood or a shawl, but I went with the shawl collar, although it didn't quite turn out how I was's not big enough and tends to flip up (which is also okay, but not what I planned).
There is a bit of an issue with the back. I did do short rows in the bust, and I did make the back narrower, but you can see that it's saggy. I need even less length in the center back, which is not a fun adjustment in knitting. Basically, I'd have to do short rows along each edge, and leaving the center stitches unworked. Maybe, instead of doing that in wedges like for the front (but in reverse), I could do it in stages as I go up the back.
At first, I felt it was a smidge snug, but I think it's loosened up. I hadn't planned on how I wanted to do the edgings either, so I had casted on with waste yarn. On the body, I rehung the open stitches, doubled up on every other needle, to get a picot edge, then knit 7 rows and joined and cast off. However, I somehow didn't get the front and back the same and one of the hems rolls and the picots are not quite along the bottom edge. For the sleeves, they were a little long, so I just turned it under and stitched it down. They look good. I do think the body is a bit long, and I had thought about redoing the body hems....but that'll be later, LOL.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Felted Clogs Update

I got around to felting another 3 pairs of the felted slippers I wrote about last week. So much fun. It's fascinating how the same wool, knitted exactly the same, all felted at the same time, turned out differently. The pair on the left were the first ones, that turned out too small after I let them go into a cold rinse cycle while putting the kids to bed, LOL. The next pair are the bolder lime green and purple, in the same fair isle. Then there's the brown/lime green where I reversed the yarns on the bottom, and the right pair are the same polka dots, but I made them 30sts wide, short rowed down to 10 sts, and did 42 rows. The purple ones and the brown ones should be the same. They are very close, but the purple ones are a bit bigger. Both of them are a little too long on me, but snug across the top of the instep. The blue/pink ones are too big for me. I'm keeping the brown ones for me because of the mistake on the top of the toe (see the original post, LOL).
Man, look at the difference, LOL. The polka dot ones feel kinda neat when I first put them on, almost like textured insoles. I don't know if that will last though. For my next attempt, I'll stick with 28 sts, short row down to 11 for the heel, do 40 rows (plain) for the sole, short row down to 12 or 14 for the toe (so they are a little shorter and not 'pointy', and then as I go up the top, I'll increase a couple stitches. Then, I'm going to knit a second sole in fair isle, hopefully seaming as I go. Stay tuned.

(I can't get this picture deleted below, so just ignore it!)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Nearly Forgot

When I got the call from my MIL for baby items, I had one little sweater that had been in a time out for awhile. I started it in the early fall when I needed a 'brainless' project while the kids were doing their evening classes. I had found a ball of Bernat "Olympic" ("Olympia"?) in my stash, with a Giant Tiger sticker for 2.99 (GT is a bargain store in Ontario). I know I would not have bought it there, but I might have got it at Sal. Army. I started a stockinette stitch Baby Surprise Jacket. Not really brainless even though it's stockinette! I HATED the yarn. I could have used slightly bigger needles, but still...ick. I had set it aside to finish up Christmas presents and I just never wanted to get back to it. I decided to finish it up for the donation, but it was way down on the list...I thought it would be better to sew the buttons on the sweaters that were actually finished, LOL. And then I found I didn't have enough buttons. There are 5 buttonholes, and it seems most buttons come in 3 or 4 per card. Since I missed the donation date, I decided to use up every last bit of the yarn and make a hat. There wasn't enough so I added plain white. Well, the first attempt didn't work, yarn wise, and the second attempt took me about 3 tries to cast on and do the garter stitch band and I still didn't have it right. I alternated rows of white and the variegated, but each time I changed colours, I knitted a few stitches in the old colour before starting the new colour. It's a nice way to make a 'matching' hat that isn't exactly the same.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Butterick 5382 Part 2

After the first fit photos, I sewed the sleeves in using a zig zag as the basted stitches seemed tight. I took in the waist seam; I just used the old seam and ran the edge of the Q foot along it, which amounted to 3/8" taken off the bodice and 3/8" off the skirt. This brought the seam right at the top of the darts, which I didn't adjust. There is a little puckering but I think it's okay. I didn't adjust the back seams at all as I didn't have anyone to help pin it and I didn't want to get silly. This is the "real", make up, good bra and undergarments, LOL. The pictures in the last post were unhemmed, and I hemmed it, I think 1 1/2" (even though the patterned "allowed" for 1 1/4"). I see here that the front is a little shorter than the back, so I do need to adjust the back center and waist seams.
I'm not sure why I'm standing crooked, LOL. The pleating around the neck is not too obvious with the patterned fabric, but it is visible in real life. I think the fabric worked well with this pattern, considering that it was a Value Village find. Again, not my ideal colour, but I needed a thin fabric that wouldn't be too thick with the pleating.

The shoulder/sleeve seam is a little off my shoulder, although in this picture, it looks like I don't actually have shoulders, just a gradual slope down from the neckline to the elbow, LOL. Would it be possible to take out the sleeve, trim the shoulder back just a little, and resew in the sleeve? Would that create other issues, or could the knit fabric compensate? I know if I was redoing this, that sort of alteration would mean lengthening the sleevehead too, right? Or widening? I am really pleased at my first major attempt at sewing a knit garment. For the most part, the seams weren't nearly the issue I thought they'd be. While I had used a 3 step zig zag on the sleeve hems, I used a straight stitch on the skirt hem. I did hear that dreadful sound as I was getting in the truck though, and indeed, I will need to re-hem it. I also think the join between the bodice and skirt could be better--I had just used a straight stitch, but it seems a little jagged when you look at the inside. My biggest beef was using the seam tape on the shoulder--oh boy, the first step and I was hating it....LOL. Then, you fold the seam taped shoulder seam so both seam allowances, AND both seam allowances of the facing are pressed the same way. Well, that's six layers (plus the knit interfacing, which actually worked for me!). I opted to spread the shoulder seams open instead.

Today I got some Threads issues, and one of them had an article about knit patterns, and how you have to make sure the back armhole is this much bigger, and the seams match, and this and that...and I'm SO glad I didn't read this first! LOL. I'm eager to sew some more knits! I don't need a lot of dresses, but this blue dress is actually my only dress with sleeves!

Well, Ain't That Odd?

Back when Meg was a newborn, fall/winter 2005, I decided to join the blogging world. I signed up for Blogger, created a blog name "Knits and Knots" and got it all set up. But then, before I posted even once, I couldn't get logged in again! I tried various times over the next 7 months until I gave up and created this one from scratch. Today, I opened my yahoo email and there was an email from blogger saying that I had inquired about my tracykvm account and here was the info. Skeptical, I clicked the links. It seemed real, but I had to give an email address and I was leary of giving my yahoo or Rogers email, so I created another one. But it all seemed legit, so now I have two knitting themed blogs. I could turn this one into a sewing blog as the web address is generic, or make one for machine knitting and the other for handknitting, but it seems silly to split things up. Is there a way to move posts from one blog to another one (like some of my early posts from here that should be on my 'general' blog instead)?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Butterick 5382 Part 1

I really took my time with this dress, although in the end, I wish I had another day or two to fine tune the fit. But I'm still happy. I made a garment with a knit fabric, with sleeves, adjusted the shoulders, AND, I wore it in public! The fabric was perhaps not my first choice--I don't really like the pale colour, but I think I paid $5 at Value Village. It's a thin double knit (I think--it doesn't roll), but the inside is slinky nylon and the outside has a sueded feeling finish. It stuck to every little rough spot on my fingers, and to its self. It felt great when I put it on, but then I noticed when it was hanging up to dry, how see through it is! So, I had to wear a slip :( and it kept sticking to my nylons below the slip. These pictures are from the initial try-on; don't worry, I didn't go to the concert with my hair like that and wearing socks! It's supposed to be an empire waist, and I did add a bit to the bodice to make sure the seam wouldn't end up in the bust zone. I even added a little extra in case it needed adjusting. As you can see, there wasn't a problem! There is some problems with the fit of the back. I'm pretty sure I have a bit of a swayback. I left the center back seam in even though I wasn't putting in a zipper, so that I could make adjustments. I was worried about getting the dress on, being that it's fitted at the waist, but there was plenty of stretch. I tried clipping the excess together on the back with a hair clip before I took it off, and I still had no trouble getting it off. It's not too bad from a distance, although I think the back hangs a little lower. But up close you can see the baggy bits.

I tried pulling the skirt up higher, I tucked it into my bra, LOL, and although I sort of liked it from the front, it felt very maternity-ish. I also hadn't hemmed the skirt yet.

Holy cow, I can't believe how fat I looked when I pulled the skirt up! I was having a fat day anyway, but this is horrid.
I wish I had a local friend that would help me with pinning, etc. I'm sure my MIL probably would, or my SIL actually. But really, I'd like someone that lives next door, LOL. I'll show the finished results in the next post and some more thoughts about the dress/pattern.