Thursday, March 24, 2011


This is post 450! Woo Hoo!!

I was a little disappointed when I realized the Singer 155 came with only 5 punch cards (plus a couple the owner had punched). It's true, the 20+ cards with the Singer 327 were a little overwhelming, but there should be a happy medium! However, I'm having a lot of fun with what I do have so far! This is one area where hand knitting and machine knitting really differ. With hand knitting, you're more likely to get bored/tired of a stitch pattern after one project, because it's what you focus on. It's one of the primary reasons to knit whatever it is you're knitting and takes a lot of brain power. However, with machine knitting, it takes very little brain power to knit a stitch pattern. Put in the card, get the yarns in the right feeders, and off you go. The real work is in the pattern prep and swatching. Also, with MK, if you're going to commit to punching a punch card, you want to make sure it's a pattern you like, and probably re-use. For the small hat I made, and the current obsession I have, punching new cards seems indulgent. So, I'm having fun re-using the same card over and over!
This is the pattern in it's most basic form: (The Fair Isle pattern on the right half) My biggest complaint is that each band is overlapped with the one before it so when you change colours, one of the repeats gets gypped.

That effect is a little hard to see on the hat, but if you look at the first dark brown triangle band above the red one at the bottom, you can see that I finished off the red band, but the lowest points of the brown band are actually in red as well as the uppermost points of the red band. One plain row after the band would have solved this (or, if I were hand knitting, I'd just carry a third colour on this row, but the knitting machine carriage only allows for two yarns at once).
One pattern that is constantly requested in machine knitting groups, is a felted clog type slipper, like the Fiber Trends ones that are SO popular. I love hand knitting those, but I don't find them quick enough (esp. if for a gift for someone I don't want to invest a whole lot of time in). I've made other MK slippers and some are better than others (for me!). But the nice thing about the clogs is that the sole is two layers, and both layers are in garter stitch. While we CAN put in a little extra work to get garter stitch on the machine, it's a drag to do. And the construction method of the clog does not transfer to the machine very well at all. As in, do not even try.
A while ago, there was chit chat about making the Fuzzy Feet from on the machine. But of course, MK style--a short row heel, and knit flat with side seams. I had HK those slippers, and didn't like the thinness of the single layer of stockinette felted fabric (and the sock shape bothered me). Last week, one of the members of the Yahoo group, Kris, from, posted a felted clog style slipper, doable on a flatbed bulky (like the Bond, KnitSmart, or metal bed machines). The group has gone crazy for these! They are SO simple to make. I opted to do them "seam as you go" and for some extra thickness, I did Fair Isle on the soles (Kris had done weaving, but I haven't tried that on the machine yet). Here, you can see, on the right edge, blue stripes instead of Fair Isle. This is what happens when you forget to unlock the punch card mechanism and it just knits line one of the pattern over and over again until you realize. I also learned (but apparently not well enough as I repeat the error more than once) that when switching back to stockinette stitch, after taking the second yarn out of the carriage...turn the selector back to stockinette!! Otherwise you end up with empty hooks where the second yarn should have been! Here's the felted blue ones (don't start felting at the kids' bedtime...they turned out a smidge too small). The felted Fair Isle is thicker than single layer stockinette, although since they felted a bit too much, it's not a huge difference. There are some ideas floating around about how to make it a double sole, I think two layers of Fair Isle would be very cushy.
Next to them are the next pair, done with a higher contrast to see just how much the pattern might show when felted (the blue ones are much more subtle in real light).
Then, I thought, what about a different card? I looked through them, and saw that I could use a polka dot pattern. Weee! To spice it up, I switched the yarns around for the second slipper (the tops are the same green though). These ones gave me some can see on the right edge of the lower one that I had the card locked again. I also forgot to stop the Fair Isle at the tip of the toe on one, so the Fair Isle continued up onto the top of the foot for a few rows. I also had settings wrong, forgot to turn back to stockinette, etc.... But that didn't stop me from casting on another pair with this pattern; the first one is still on the many will I end up making? Not sure yet!
I'm using the Singer 155, T7, Patons Classic Merino/Classic Wool; about 117gr per pair.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


After re-drawing the bodice pattern, I set it aside to start on the back alterations. I had to clean up for dinner and I had a few questions to myself, before I kept going. In the end, it was a good thing I slept on it because I remembered something I had to change on the front (shorten the armhole).
I cut out all the pieces, and it's just waiting for the sewing. I do have to get some interfacing (I do have some in black, but it's woven and since the dress is a knit, I should get knit interfacing, right?) and some seam tape (never used that before) and I think some finer needles (ballpoint or stretch?) and probably some matching thread (haven't checked what I have). I can do the front pleating before I get to the fabric store though. I've put it on hiatus this week as I have a concert on Saturday and I really need to do some practicing! Plus, I had to bathing suit shop while they were on sale, and I thought I might get back to exercising...the sewing is supposed to be easy, so I should get it done fairly quickly, but I won't have much time for it on Saturday. And, of course, I hope the alterations worked!
I've also been working on some machine knit felted slippers (awesome), and a crazy lace baby sweater that I ripped out last night. I need to start some new handknit projects (and finish a few old ones), and I'm having trouble deciding what I want to work on---there's SO many things I want to knit, but not a whole lot that I'm madly lusting over. Or, I'm concerned about matching yarn and pattern. I'm just having a hard time making decisions! I'd like it if I gave my pattern list to someone, they looked through my stash, and told me what to make, LOL. I do know that my indecisiveness does usually pay off in the end, with items that I do love, so I'll just have to be patient with myself and not settle for less than what I love!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can anyone help me?

I usually use for sewing questions, but I have to say, I don't get much help with specific fitting questions. Like, last summer, when I posted about my dress with the wrap bodice that was showing too much one suggested a FBA, they just said it's hard to fit a wrap on a larger bust. I basically figured out how to do a FBA by slashing, moving, lengthening....

When I posted about this dress, someone did suggest comparing my bicep with the pattern and seeing what size my arm is and base the sizing on that. Everything I've done for myself so far has been sleeveless (except one dress that I never blogged about because it was at a sad time and the picture was terrible, and I didn't do a FBA so the whole thing was a baggy mess). She then suggested cutting the shoulder and upper sleeve for an 18 and taper to a 22 at the lower armhole and sides, and adding some length to the center front.

I pretty much did that after all, although I didn't take the armhole to the 22 line until the bottom of the armhole. But I think I need to be at that size by the time I get to the level of my bust point. Right?
Now, what about the back? I cut the shoulders and armhole to match the front, but what about the sides...I think if I cut it on the 22, the back will be baggy, as what has happened when I knit sweaters with the front and back the same width. I think I need to actually measure the front vs the back piece and see....Most of what I read about fitting, and grading from one size to the next keep the front and back the same, the sizing changes from say, bust to waist, not front to back.

And I'm worried about the sleeve head...cutting it to fit with the changes in the body. I realize that although the pattern has symmetrical sleeve heads, if my back is a 18/front a 22, then my sleeves will need to match this so I must flip the pattern over for one....I've forgotten to do this in the past!

A while ago (maybe during Christmas break), I read a sewing blog where the writer made a plain muslin, and wrote all over the picture, showing things like her sway back, and how the side seams move forward (like I complained about last summer), and other assorted stuff. It was an awesome lesson on getting good fit, but now I can't find where that was! I know which blogs it wasn't, but can't find which it WAS. Anyone know? I think it's a great idea to actually photograph yourself in the muslin, rather than just looking at it in the mirror (where you can pat and smooth and wiggle...).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back to Sewing

Rob and I are going to a 'dinner theater' on March 30 to see Jason McCoy (a Canadian country artist who's from not too far from where we were living for 12 years, but we just couldn't find a time/place to see him). Of course, this means a new outfit, especially since my weight gain last year. I got several patterns last summer during sales, and I really wanted to try sewing knits....but not a summer dress....that limited my patterns to two (I think). One is this one, Butterick 5382: I'm making longish sleeves. I had seen the dress on SlapdashSewist's blog and although we have very different body types, I like this style on me too, as long as it's not too tight around the belly!
But first....what size? I have learned alot about "Full Bust Adjustment" (FBA). According to this idea, I should make a 18 and do a 4" FBA, even though my bust (and waist) are a size 22. My shoulders and back are not a 22, but I'd need that length and width in the front (maybe even a bit more length). I traced out the bodice size 18 and took a look at it, drew some lines, cut some slashes...and sighed...
It seemed like 4" FBA would be a lot for this pattern to handle, and I was struggling with the odd shaped front bodice which is cut laid open, not placed on a fold. The pleats around the neckline mean the shoulders and sides are off at weird angles. Even though the tutorials I looked at said you don't have to do anything to the armhole/sleeve, as I rotated the wedge, the armhole took on a very strange shape (upper right in the photo)!

I gave up on the FBA and decided to cut the neck and shoulder and most of the armhole as an 18, then do the width of the 22 under the arm and it's length. I'm worried about the bodice being too short though, so I wanted to add more length. Oh, that was fun too, LOL. I made side darts to take out the extra length at the sides, but they didn't line up to where the tutorial showed (I think due to where my bust point is and due to the odd shape of the bodice).

Tomorrow I will figure out the re-shaping of the sleeve head and hopefully cut out all the pieces! Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hats Off....

We had a recent cold snap, which is what prompted me to make the brown and red Fair Isle swatch recently. Then it warmed up again. Then it went cold again. Then it went warm again, but I figured I better make that hat, just to ensure that it actually does stay warm now :)
It went pretty well, once I got my javascript/cookies sort out (not sure of the issue....I used "The Diet Diary's" generator one day, but the next day it said my javascript was not on). I'm glad I still had the swatch so I could follow along with it, rather than trying to figure where I was on the punch card! I followed the pattern and took it off the machine. Looks great, doesn't it? Yeah, but flip it over...

Because I wanted some accent rows that were only one row, there were quite a few ends to weave in! No problem, it's just a hat. Then I went to sew it up, and realized that when the generator told me how many to cast on, I never thought about how the punch card pattern repeat would work out. For most of the hat you wouldn't really notice the misalignment of the pattern at the seam, but there was one section with the rose accents...
But then I put it on. The funny line just above the earflaps, bottom of the hem is where I had tension problems with the carriage (Singer 155), resulting in two or three tight rows.
It's a little tall, no?

And because of taking it in a few sts to get the pattern repeat to work out, it seems a little snug looking (feels fine though).
I ripped it back out a little and decreased the top again. It's still too tall! I didn't want to rip out a whole 'nother pattern repeat!

You can't see the pattern in these pictures, but I guess I can take out the whole green section at the top.
My big question is, do I put a pompom on it or not? I don't think I have a hat with a pompom. I'm just not sure they're suitable for adults, LOL, and I'd hate to waste the yarn with a bad decision, or a bad pompom!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Warm Again!

I'm harsh on slippers. I've often said that Mother's Day is 6 months from Christmas because that's as long as my slippers last. I love the Fiber Trends felted clogs, but I wear through them surprisingly quick. Last fall I made their "ballet slippers", but the first pair was huge, and I wore out the second pair a month ago (I cut the soles off and use them as insoles in my boots!). I made a couple pairs of crochet slippers, but I don't like the feel of the crochet, they're too holey, they don't fit well, etc.
Last year I had made a few pairs of "14 minute slippers" (I was sort of ticked recently when I realized that the "ugly slippers" on Lucia's "KnittingFiend" website was a generator for making your own 14 minute slipper pattern and I didn't have to work out all the math myself!). They are warm, however, they seemed too low around my ankles. So when I found Diana Sullivan's lined slipper pattern, I knew I had to give them a try. And the new Singer 155 would be perfect! Suddenly, we can't find the camera, so I had to use the laptop camera, LOL. Any roughness around the toe/grafting is due to my own laziness and late night sewing, LOL. There is one difficulty though--the tension given in the video is different than in the .pdf. I followed the video and the first slipper was too small. I ripped it as I knit a new one, and I used 30 rows, T4 and T2. I did run out of the outer yarn after 3 of the 12 cuff rows, so I just switched to the inner yarn, and made the second one to match. The outer yarn is a jumbo ball of something cheap; the inner yarn is a Bernat, jumbo ball, 20% wool. They are warm and cozy! And, since I have a punchcard, the next pair might need a bit of fancying up!

Speaking of punchcards. The Singer 155 comes with only 5 cards! Dumb. There's only one Fair Isle style card. I want an earflap hat to match my beige flip top mitts, so I did some swatching with the Moda Dea superwash wool. Look at that backside! Ever seen anything neater? What about the front?There were a couple cards that the previous owner punched herself. I tried the first one, wasn't too impressed, maybe it was for a tuck pattern. The second one, although not suitable for the hat, might be interesting for something else. The Singer 155 has a 12 stitch punchcard while the standard gauge has a 24 st card, but you can use them for the 12 st machine, as long as you punch the right columns....if you look at the left most section of the swatch above, you'll see it doesn't represent the card at all. The remedy is simple--turn the card around! In fact, you can actually punch one pattern on the front of the card, and one pattern on the back of the card!! I haven't gotten around to testing it again though. So many things to make, so little time! And now the afternoon sun has returned to my studio, so I really want to be down there, plus, I finally got my sewing machine out again....

Monday, March 07, 2011

Fumbling Fleegle Socks

Way back sometime in the spring (of 2010), I needed a no-brainer knitting project for during the movies (my brother works for AMC and gave me an "almost unlimited" free pass!). On my Ravelry page, I say I started them in May. That could be true. LOL. It's Patons Stretch Socks, and I had two balls. I knitted them toe up, at the same time, because I was sure I would run out--the balls look really small! Well, I finally stopped knitting at about mid-calf cause I was tired of brainless knitting, LOL. There was still quite a bit left it seemed. One ball is not enough, but two is too much.To add a bit of interest, I started a ribbed pattern, mid-foot, starting with the center stitches and gradually converting the stitches to ribbing. I'm not fond of a short row heel (even with my use of additional short rows at the top of the heel to get it deep enough), so I thought I'd try the "Fleegle Heel". At first, it seemed like it was going to be too much brain power involved. In fact, I think I did re-do the first one cause I had started it a bit too early. Oh, on Ravelry, I said I had to add a few short rows at the top of the heel as well! But in the end, it is a great, easy, heel-flap style heel! (I don't know how much the stretch yarn helped though). I'd use it again, for sure. I've tried a couple other toe up heel flap heels, and didn't much care for them, but this one works!
As I went up the leg, I did a nice decrease at the center back. Then, as it seemed my yarn wasn't going to ever run out, I increased those stitches back in at the top of my calf.

According to Ravelry, I finished these on Dec. 22, just in time for the cold weather (LOL, they're only 39% wool). And just in time for the two more balls I got for Christmas, LOL. I really like the yarn. Before washing, it felt a little stringy, but now, they are quite soft, springy, not too warm, not too cold, not too thick (Cascade Fixation is too thick for me). I hope they keep this yarn around, but bring out some solids, or near solids.

Friday, March 04, 2011

How I Spent my Wednesday

I had hoped to show the pink striped sweater today, but it still needs THREE ends woven in, and the collar steamed. So, I'll show why it's not quite finished!

The kids have been asking to make a scarf or something on the knitting machines. They were all empty on Wednesday morning, and I just had no more excuses, LOL. Meg wanted pink and purple, and we settled on a cone of purple (I think it was Newry) and the giant cone of Patons Lacette. Meg picked a fair isle pattern, and I got started with some ribbing at the bottom. I had intended to keep some stitches on the edges in ribbing, but couldn't figure how to do that with the ribber carriage. Meg had wanted the circles in purple but I forgot to move the purple to the #2 feeder, but she's flexible, LOL. The pattern side isn't too fuzzy because the pink is only single/double sts, so the fuzziness of the Lacette doesn't come through. But the backside...I love the evenness of the floats, the fuzziness, the subtle appearance of the pattern...

I ended with stockinette stitch in purple, then hand sewed the two ends to the back side for hems. The edges of course had a significant amount of curling, but I was really pleased with how the 25% mohair in the Lacette responded to steam! It was totally flat, but now there is some soft rolling--not the tight edge rolling of fresh stockinette, but I don't think ribbing on the edges would have done much. Edges like that, or in garter stitch, etc, tend to flip inwards and create their own problems.

The scarf is the length it is for a reason, LOL. Meg started off trying to knit it herself. She wasn't quite tall enough to get the right angle, so we did a lot together--I'd put my hand over hers on the side that is pushing, after pausing at the start of the row so she could pull the edge needle out to D. Then Meg went off to do something while I knitted away. Then she came back and wanted my attention. I turned to her but kept knitting. All of a sudden, it all jumped off, leaving only a few purple strands on the machine!!!! I got it back on and it was time for lunch. Meg said it was okay the length it was. After she went to school, I ripped back till I had all the stitches on the same row, and took a good look . I figured out where on the punchcard I was, reset it (without opening the manual!) and kept on knitting for a few more inches.

It was great to bring it to school when I went to pick her up! I love how easy it was, and it looks great. I have a kit to make a scarf for the Indianapolis Superbowl/Winter festival next year, and I was planning to make it on the machine. It's 100% wool/alpaca, I think, so hopefully steam will be enough.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sneak Peek

I've been working on a few projects, they're taking a smidge longer than expected, for a number of reasons (some knitting, some not!).
There was a really popular machine knitting magazine published in Canada, called KnitWords. Sadly, it ceased publication last year, after more than 10 years. The owner is now doing a "Pattern of the Month" club, and I subscribed for the first three months. A bit risky as she had only February's patterns done to show, so who knows what the next two months would be. There's one pattern for 4.5mm standard gauge, and one for 6.5mm (particularly, the LK150), per month. I got started on the pattern for the LK150, called "In The Tweeds". It's a sideways knit piece. I had a few issues with the row counts not matching the pattern, and in one spot, the needle numbers were totally off. It looks really large, but I did get gauge. She says sideways knits will lengthen and get narrow, and this is an 'outer' garment...I hope she's right, LOL. I have to do the sleeves, and there's a hood, and a ruffle trim, and a zipper....

I'm also finishing up the details on my Patons SWS sweater. I went simple, just the same basic Knit Radar pattern as the green sweater, but with a bit of waist shaping, no hem shaping, and some bust short rows. I did more of a round neck, but then after it was done and I was thinking of neck treatments, I realized I wanted a shawl collar. So, it's sort of improvised. Not too shawly, but cute.

I swatched this afternoon for another sweater. It's Patons' Divine, a fluffy mohair blend. I did the first part of the swatch on T10+ on the Singer 155. It's pretty stiff feeling. I haven't measured the gauge, but it lacks the softness, loftiness of other things done in Divine. I'm still enamoured with "Scribble Lace" by Debbie New, and there is a cardigan in "Unexpected Knitting" that I've always wanted to make. So, I gave that a try.
The cardigan is a sideways knit, so we'll see....I'm not sure if I like the wrong side better, or if charting it for sideways knitting might be too much effort. I'll look at the swatch later when it's "rested". Seriously, you have to let them rest after taking them off the machine, LOL.
Oh, and by the way, I'm SO excited to be up to 25 followers!! I thought I'd never get to 20, and then suddenly it jumped to 25! And there's names there I don't recognize! Thank you so much for adding yourselves. I'm starting to add myself to the blogs I read too!