Friday, July 15, 2016


I needed new dishcloths.  I don't know what happened, but the pretty ones I crocheted up this spring (or maybe it was last spring actually), they got moldy and stained :( That never happens with my knitted ones!  I grabbed a bin that had what I thought was some ends of cones of cotton yarns, but it had only a green and a white, I think size 10 Handicrafter Cotton.  I wanted to do the circular one I usually do, on the LK150, and thought it would be cool to plate it (plait).  That's putting one colour in feeder 1 and one in feeder 2, so the knit side shows one colour and the purl side shows the other.  They do both show on both sides, but one is much more prominent.

I struggled with tension.  I struggled with just getting the carriage to move.  I dusted, I lubed, I upped the tension.  And after doing six wedges it was not going to be a circle like it should.  I decided on a couple more wedges.  Then I realized I had cast on twice as many stitches as needed.  Ooops.  Picture on Instagram!

Started up again, and it went a lot better, even though at this point, all I changed was the number of stitches.  I should have listened to my machine earlier on!  I did a second one, reversing the yarns in the feeder.  Then I opted for a rectangular one in tuck but it gave me headaches too, so half way thru I changed it to single strand.

Then I decided to move to the standard gauge and try single strand and some punch cards.  A few issues, but I just wanted dishcloths, so I just did what ever necessary to get the yarn used up.  Ended up with more green than white.  Whatever.  A few are nice enough for when company comes.
This one was supposed to be a slipped stitch pattern, with the card locked on row 1.  It didn't work.  It worked when the card wasn't locked, but of course, made a different design.

I weighed them with the waste yarn because it was truly waste yarn this time.

This was another one, I think card 3 (Singer), that was to have the card locked on row 1 to create vertical columns of tucking.  I use card 3 a lot, it's so versatile.  I liked the vertical look to it, but again, it didn't work.  The card was not rotating, it was definitely locked.  So I don't know what the issue was.

Yarn In: 1586gr
Yarn Out: 159gr + 4360gr = 4519gr
Balance:  2933gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $74.87/197 days = $0.38/day

Friday, July 08, 2016

Quick Knit?

I've talked before about listening to your yarn and your project.  Knowing when to keep going and when to throw in the towel.  It's not easy to decide sometimes.

I waited so long to get a ribber for my bulky SK155 knitting machine.  I imagined knitting up lots of projects with my hand knitting yarns in my stash.  Going through all my KnitWords and other machine knitting magazines though, I could find only ONE pattern that really used the ribber to it's full potential.  Most used it just for the ribbing edges.  And there were no patterns for knitting circularly.  I know I can adapt hand knitting patterns, but I just don't want to sometimes.

I tried a yarn for that one pattern, and it didn't meet gauge close enough to even consider and due to the unusual construction, it would take a bit of paper work to figure it out.  So I shelved it, and thought perhaps a baby pattern would be a good place to start.  I found one in Machine Knitting Monthly that used a very similar weight yarn to one I had.  I didn't even swatch.  I just plunged in.

And started scratching my head.  The pattern is written with so many "Repeat from * as for sweater" (I was doing the cardigan) and "Follow chart for your size" but there were so many charts for the different pieces of the sweater and cardigan, different sizes had different many abbreviations.  The cast on was different than anything I've done before so I ditched it and then found out the pattern uses the ribber for only FOUR rows of ribbing.  The texture in the sweater was done by converting stitches.

I decided I wasn't going to convert all those stitches (especially ones on the edges), and opted to keep the ribber in use.  However, every TWO rows, I had to transfer stitches back and forth between beds.  And keep track of shaping, button holes, etc.   I got the back done (with a few holes), and both fronts.  It was NOT fun. I got busy with other things while I pondered how badly I wanted the texture on the sleeves.  Maybe they could be just stockinette.

My oldest daughter's teacher's wife had a baby boy towards the end of school.  She didn't really like the teacher (though because of his high standards she really had to push herself--she's quite capable but has been coasting along for a few years, getting away with minimal work for decent marks.  Because of this I think she's going to be much better prepared for high school next fall!), and we hadn't really planned to get him a year end gift, but she thought something for his baby would be a good idea and not make her look ....ungrateful?  I thought maybe I could finish up this sweater.  But when I looked at the pattern again, and the machine...I just knew I couldn't finish.

I opted for the "All in One" pattern.  I've made it before. I used the gauge I had gotten on the first sweater attempt and got going.  The nice thing about this pattern is that the way it's done, the lower part is all one piece so striping yarns end up matching at the opening.  The two thing most people don't like is the seaming across the chest (I kitchener stitched and you can't see it at all--casted on and off with waste yarn instead of e wraps), and the width/shortness of the sleeves.

 I tried a couple things to finish off the sleeves.  I wasn't thrilled with any of them, although my final attempt was okay.  This one seemed really long and narrow in the body, and very short and wide sleeves.  I suspect my gauge ratio was just not a good one for this pattern.  I steamed the sleeves to pull them longer.  The bottom is 2x2 ribbing.

I knew I had to finish off the neck somehow.  I picked up around the neck, and down to almost the first button hole.  Then I did short rows, taking up the length of the straight section.  I think I started with knitting three stitches more (at the top of the button band), twice on each side, then doing one more stitch each row, each side since it wasn't growing fast enough.  Then a row or two over all stitches to finish it off.  Amazingly, it worked on the very first attempt, though I highly doubt I can ever recreate it!!
The buttons are from my button bin.  They were on a very old looking card and luckily weren't "too red".

The shoes are a hybrid of and  I had made the Stardust ones before, and didn't like how the back is folded over to make the casing.  The other pattern, I didn't like the pattern pieces but liked how she did the heel.  I did heavy iron on interfacing for the back piece (one side only) because I thought that would make them easier to get on, but wasn't necessary.  And medium weight on the toe portions.  I don't think I did any on the sole, they're just two layers of thick twill.  I did use the serger, but next time, I would stitch the toe and heels on with the sewing machine and then go around the whole piece with the serger.  I didnt' want any fraying on the inside to catch on toes.  I had a hard time finding boy fabrics in my stash.  At least, boy fabrics that went with this sweater and make it look like a set.  I even tried a couple different attempts at doing a hat, but time was running out.  That's why the pictures are a little dull--I took them after we came home from Lucy's grade 8 grad ceremony LOL.

My kids have grown up on this blog.  It'll be 10 years this August.  I didn't have too many pictures of Lucy and Hugh in the early months though, and my computer just froze up so I won't try to find one. But here she is on grad night:

So pretty!

Yarn In: 1586gr
Yarn Out: 160gr +  4470gr = 4360gr
Balance:  2774gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $74.87/190 days = $0.39/day

Monday, July 04, 2016

Slippers are Still Needed in the Summer!

I've had a good 18 month span with my slippers that my mom gave me, so it's been probably two years since I've knit slippers.  But it was time.

The tops looked fine, though a bit matted.
But the bottoms?

So, I got out my bags of felting wool and selected some.  I ended up with "Sean's Sheep" Armitage and Lopi.  I had originally thought they'd need more yarn and I'd have to turn to scraps for the cuff or "bumper".  I ended up not doing the bumper and I finished the soles with barely anything to spare.

I posted the before picture on Instagram, early June, if you want to see. :)

It's the same FiberTrends felted clog pattern I make all the time.  I made the largest of the lady's sizes, but my needles are only 8mm.  At least....that's what I think I did.  I've already put away the pattern.  Maybe I made the medium size.  Whateves.  After a month of wearing them, they weigh in at 229gr, but I know there was a lot of fuzz during the felting, so I'm going to be generous and say 240gr.

Yarn In: 1586gr
Yarn Out:  240gr + 4230gr = 4470gr
Balance:  2884gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $74.87/186 days = $0.40/day

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Get Baking!

Our wonderful school has a "Spring Fling" every June.  The highlight, for me, is always the raffle table.  For $5, you get 20 tickets.  There are usually baskets put together by classes, and LOTS of miscellaneous items--the types of things you re-gift to a raffle.  But awesome stuff that other people would love.  I've even put things in, like the year I did the red and white basket with my water bottle holders and a few other items. These past two years, I haven't won anything (but I make up for it at other contests!), but in the past I've gotten a lot of great stuff that I've been able to gift to others!  This year though, every class did a theme basket and there were only a few other items.  I'm not sure why, though last year (or maybe the year before?), they had a LOT of items, and then right at the start of the fling, it started to pour rain so it all had to be moved inside quickly.  And, well, last year, there was a group of moms from the parent committee who had been involved for a long, long time and their kids all graduated.  Anyway.

My older daughter's class got "Baking".  What could I contribute?  What could I create?  What could TracyKM Designs create?  I thought about an apron.  A bit boring, but necessary.  Then, I remembered I had a couple "Snowbird" patches I had bought from the previous conductor of our community band, who is involved with Air Cadets, and one squadron is called the Snowbirds--named after the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, an acrobatic team.  Our school is named after one Snowbird member from our town who was killed in a crash.  I knew him in high school, and am so proud my kids go to "his" school.  I found a large piece of plain white twill (what the heck did I plan to do with 2m of white twill?!).  I even found some adequately sized red bias tape.  I have a scary looking old apron that is just a piece of twill with bias tape for the straps and tie.  I copied the shape onto the twill, cut, hemmed the sides and bottom and put the bias tape on.

Wow.  Pretty darn quick!  I had to stop myself from making one for myself!

I sewed the patch on, and it was ready to go!

I was disappointed at the fling, when I saw the basket, it was folded in such a way you couldn't see the patch.  Oh well.  The winner ended up standing next to me, so I let her know.

I can totally see making more of these aprons.  I have one more patch, I think, but now I know an embroider who happens to live across the field from the school and her oldest is starting JK in the fall, so I'm sure she'll be motivated to get the image digitized!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cinch Sack and Grip Bag

My youngest, has a good friend who is a competitive gymnast.  For her birthday gift, Megan really wanted to make her a "grip bag".  I knew what the wrist grips were, but my daughter's skills at describing a grip bag left a lot to my imagination.  I couldn't figure out why you'd need a specialized bag and how I could sew one.  Finally I looked it up.   All it is, is an aprox. 9x11" bag with a drawstring.  Okey-dokey.  I could sew that.

Of course, I wanted it to be reversible, or at least, lined.  No exposed seams to get covered in chalk dust. I couldn't find a pattern that had the drawstring at the top but since it was pretty much like the cinch sacks, I just went with that.  A message to my embroidery lady and an image was found and wham! a quick (and affordable) gift.  Two fat quarters!  The embroidery cost more than the rest of the supplies.

 I loved the fabric Megan picked for the inside, though I really wanted it on the outside since it matched the fabrics she picked for the backpack.  I did sneak it into the design of the water bottle holder.  I simply used the scraps from trimming the fat quarters down to size.  They were perfect.  Originally, I thought the pocket was going on the outside, so I put the solid grey on the edge, to set it apart from the zig zag pattern.
 But no, Megan said the bottle holder had to be on the inside so no matter which way she wore it, the pocket could still be used.  Smart!
 A sort of faded zig zag pattern.

The outside is the same zig zag I used for my niece's back pack, a few posts ago.  I was hesitant.  Megan originally said one side would be solid grey, but I told her that was boring.  I thought the two zig zag patterns were very close in colour and style that there wasn't any need to have a reversible bag.  But it was a gift for Megan to give, so she got final say.

I hope it gets lots of use!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Little Things

The nice thing about crafting your own items is you can make it how you want it.  Got longer legs?  Doesn't matter! Prefer side-thumbs instead of palm-thumbs on your mitts?  No problem!  Thick arches? Do more stitches for the heel!

Sometimes though, it's easy to say "Why bother?" when it comes to tweaking a pattern.  But why not?  Often, it doesn't take much (if any) more time, material, or expense.  And the results can be stunning.

I've recently made three sunhats from a free pattern.  It came in one size, yet each of my hats were slightly different sizes.  Most of them (there's really two "hats" per hat, as they're reversible) had some assembly issues.  I wasn't sure how to fix these problems.  Hats are circles, and circle math is complicated.

Yesterday I was going through my bookmarked patterns again, trying to decide which hat pattern to do this time for an order.   She wanted a flat top hat, rather than the "beach ball" style I had been doing.  I found Martha Stewarts' pattern for a reversible bucket hat, though I thought the brim was a bit narrow and angled down quite a bit, so I kept looking.  I kept thinking about a hat drafting tutorial I had saved.

It looked so complicated!  So much math and drawing!  I was considering just doing the Martha Stewart one, but thinking maybe I could use the brim of the one I had already done.  Then I started reading the comments, since there weren't too many.  One caught my eye:  "Thank you for acknowledging that heads aren't circular shaped, and the tapered side panels makes the hat look more professionally made." 

Wait! What!  Heads aren't circular, didn't I know that?  I mean, I knit hats that are "circular" though earflaps are always off center.  Mmmm.  Cowboy hats, and fedoras, and Tilley hats aren't circular!  Why was I sewing circular sun hats?  And why would Martha endorse this fallacy?  I mean, it says right on her site--take time every day to learn something new!  Martha!  News flash!  Heads aren't perfectly round!  Knitted fabric can shape to the head, but woven fabric doesn't!  Maybe this is why my sun hats flew off too easily!  Slipped around!  Even though they should technically fit!

(It's the same thing with sizing knit sweaters.  Designers just take the chest circumference and divide by two.  Look at your self in the mirror.  See something sticking out on your chest that isn't there on your back?  Is your front width the same as your back width?  Unlikely!  If it's a small difference, the knit fabric can stretch, but more than a few inches and you end up with a sweater that sags in the back and is too tight across the chest!  But it's the "right" size!  Really?).

I'm all for the little details that make my items unique and "better" than others.  I don't like the word "better".  I'd prefer, "enlightened".  Why make a hat a circle when it should really be an oval?

Okay, got the crown figured out, next came the side pieces.  Melly Sews shapes them, so the top is slightly smaller than the bottom.  I wouldn't know how much smaller to do this.  In fact, the template for the crown piece confused me--if I was doing this on my own, I would have just drawn a circle with the head circumference plus seam allowance, then squished it to an oval.  But this would result in a very boxy look. Think of a pill box hat.  Very straight sides.  It was a bit of work to do the side pieces, but actually, not a whole lot.  It turns out though that my piece is too big for a fat quarter (unless done on the bias), so I split it in two, and even remembered to add seam allowances!

The do you draw that?!  Can't use a compass, since heads aren't circular!  I just made many, many marks at the length I wanted.  Though I'm a little confused since the crown template is a bit smaller than the bottom of the side band....I'm just going to follow the instructions.  I cut a little pie slice out, then realized that I will lose another 1/2" on each side for the seam allowance.  Keep this in mind.  I also can not figure out how, if you cut the wedge all the way through the width, it will fit with the side piece.  You've made the seam line smaller by what ever you take out with the wedge.  Don't you need to keep this seam line the same as before?  Uh oh.  Just keep working...

I`ve got all my pieces cut out, and we`ll see how it goes!  I have realized that although it took a while to draft this, sewing it will be quicker because there won`t be all the crown pieces (six wedges) to sew togther and topstitch.  So once the template is done, making multiple hats will be so quick!  Put a little more into prep, and reap the benefits in the assembly and the finished results!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sweet Vintage

We were heading out for a day, and there was a 45 minute drive, so I needed something easy to work on.  Keeping with the vintage feel of the Baby Surprise Jacket, I thought I'd whip up another "5 Hour Sweater".  Looking at the pattern though, it didn't really work with my  yarn, so I went with "Quick Baby Sweater" by Lorriane Major.  This is an oldie but goodie that I've done before.  The date on my print out is February 19, 2002.  Just days before I would have found out I was pregnant with Lucy!  On the back of the pattern is a doodle, by Rob, of how he pictured the awkward corner in our basement that he was renovating at that time.  I've made this sweater before and remember having a few issues with keeping track of right side/wrong side, and that happened again.  I also used smaller needles, I think 6mm with worsted weight yarn (on the smaller side of today's worsted).  I think the 6.5mm makes it just a little too loosey-goosey.  I've used this yarn for lots of other baby items, and I think I still have some left!!

I really don't have much to say, except the pink doesn't show up too well in the picture.  I made the seamless version.  There's no instructions for button holes, so I crocheted two ties (4 chains) and made bows.  This will go in the "In Stock" box as apparently my extended family is popping out boys only.

According to the first post written about this yarn, I had 70gr left.  Yet this one took 89gr, and there's the cat Lucy made, which took 20gr.  This truly is one of those never ending balls of yarn!!

Yarn In: 1586gr
Yarn Out:  4141gr + 89gr = 4230gr
Balance:  2644gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $74.87/162days = $0.46/day