Monday, August 29, 2016

Ribbing Seam in Back of Socks
(Click on photos to enlarge)
After making many, many circular socks on my flatbed knitting machines with ribbers, I decided that I like the seam of the ribbing to go up the back of the leg better than on the side like most sock patterns call for.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the side seam but I don’t like looking at mismatched stripes or fairisle patterns if I don’t have to.  If they mismatch at the seam, someone else can look at them from the back. 
Use whatever ribbing configuration you want but I’ve used a 1x1 in this example.  
I’m showing you 2 different methods of turning your ribbing.  The first is by scrapping off, the second is using a multi-pronged transfer tool, very similar to the Decker comb used on Passap machines.  Check out my post describing the transfer tool here.  I much prefer using the transfer tool but I used the scrapped off method until I was enlightened about the Decker comb.  It's a great time saver.
So here’s what I do.  

1.  After completing the ribbing, I end with the carriage on the left (COL).  But which side you end on is totally your call and dependent on your pattern; you’ll just have to change my instructions to be worked on the opposite side.
2.  Transfer all the main bed stitches to the corresponding needles onto the ribber bed.  (Increase or decrease stitches to make an even number, if necessary.)  At main body tension, knit 1 row across to the right hand side.  Lower the ribber bed one notch.  Remove ribber weights and cast on comb and replace with 4 claw weights, evenly spaced across your work.  
Now it’s time to do the math.  Divide your total number of stitches by 4.  The middle 2 forths (half) will remain on the ribber bed.  The outer forths will be turned and rehung onto the main bed in a tubular fashion.  For this example, I’ve cast on 70 sts in my ribbing but disregard that.  For sake of ease, let’s assume that I cast on 72 stitches.  Divided by 4, leaves me 36 center stitches in the center and 18 sts on each side.  For my 70 stitches, I would have 18 sts on one side, 35 in the middle and 17 sts on the other side.  Never fear, 1 stitch off center up the back will not be a deal breaker.  Just make sure to have the same number of stitches on each bed.
3.  This is the scrapping off method.  I prefer to scrap off by hand but you may use your machine if you like.  Just remember to put non-scrapped off  needles back into working position, take your carriage off hold and reset the part levers before resuming circular knitting for the ankle.  Some ribbers don’t like to knit by themselves so proceed with caution here if you choose to use your machine to scrap off on the ribber bed to make sure everything is knitting properly.  So firstly, select and raise the 18 sts up into hold position.
4.  Then, manually knit and scrap off the 18 stitches for at least 8-10 rows.


5.   Remove the stitches from the needles.  Turn and fold the scrapped off section between the beds and in front of the main bed.
6.  Rehang the scrapped off stitches to corresponding open needles on the main bed.     
7.  Be sure to have a weight on your work.  Raise that side of the ribber up into working position and make sure the stitches on the ribber bed are still intact.  You may need to realign the needles on the edges a bit. 
8.  Remove the scrap yarn when transfer has been completed.
9.  Now we move to the other side with 18 sts that need to be removed from the ribber bed and transferred to the main bed.  You can scrap off as we did the other side but I’m going to show you how to use the multi-pronged transfer tool that I fondly call the Decker tool.   
With that side of the ribber bed still lowered, raise the 18 needles that need to be transferred and insert the prongs of the Decker tool into the needle hooks.  Keep slight upward pressure so your tool stays in place.  
10.  Do a quick inspection to make sure you have
a prong into each needle hook, raise up each latch, push down on the 18 needle butts to transfer the stitches to the Decker tool, making sure there is a stitch on each prong.  Slightly lower the Decker tool so it can easily be removed from the needles.
11.  With downward and backward pressure on the back bar of the tool, move the prongs of the Decker tool forward.
12.  Place a Scunci hair band around the tool in front of the stitches.  A heavy rubber band works too but they’ve been known to break easily.
13.  Move the Decker tool with stitches intact and let it flop between the two beds.  Turn it so it forms a circular tube, pick up the back of the tool and lift it so it lies on top of the ribber and in front of the main bed. 
14.  Raise the ribber bed, remove the Scunci band and place the prongs of the Decker tool into open hooks of corresponding needles on the main bed.  Transfer the stitches to the main bed. This task is made a bit easier if you use your other hand to pull down a bit on the work between the beds.
15.  Note that the stitches meet in the center of the bed but the yarn is in the middle of your work now, so unravel the yarn tail back to the carriage.   
 16.  Place the yarn back in the carriage arm and set the carriages for circular knitting.  The yarn is coming off the ribber bed stitch, so the next row knit should be on the main bed.  So flip the right part lever up on the main carriage and the left part lever up on the ribber carriage.  Make sure your tension is set properly, the row counter at 000, weights are hung and knit away.
I usually work a Bickford style seam to sew up the ribbing.  It's not totally invisible in a 1x1 configuration but it's not offensive either and gives a nice, flat seam with no bulk, as found in a mattress stitched seam.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Dip Dyed Variegated Yarn
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I love variegated yarns but not how most of them typically pool or flash.  I usually paint my skeins for variegated yarns but wanted to come up with an easier way.  So here’s what I came up with and it worked relatively well for the first time out.  There's always room for improvement but it did give me a variegated fabric without pooling or flashing, this time anyway.  Atleast there's less chance of weird patterning but the final effect will depend on number of cast on stitches and gauge.

First, I wound my yarn into a skein on my DIY niddy noddy, loosely tied it off to prevent tangling, prepped the yarn by sozzling/rinsing with a bit of dish soap and soaking in water for atleast an hour while I prepped the dye bath.


I then hung the damp skein over 3 long knitting needles, the loops don't have to be perfectly sized lengths.  I adjusted the amount of dye bath in my kettle to allow for a bit less than half of the yarn to be submerged.  Then I lowered the yarn into the kettle, using the knitting needles as a ‘rack’ to hold the yarn in place.  The level of dye bath can be adjusted by adding water, while the yarn is not submerged in the dye bath.  After most of the dye has been absorbed, I removed the yarn and added more water to raise the mix level to about halfway and relowered the yarn.  My theory would've worked but think I had too much dye left in order to get a tonal effect that I wanted.

Then I covered the pot and brought the temp up to 180 deg for 30 min, removed the yarn and added 2 tsp vinegar, resubmerged the yarn and let simmer for another 15 min or so.
When the dye had been completely absorbed and set, I removed the yarn into a dish, let it cool and rehung the yarn over the knitting needles with the already dyed sections on top.  I skewered the end sections with another knitting needle to hold them up also.

I lowered into the 2nd color dye bath and repeated the heating process.  For this session, I removed the yarn and added enough water to the dye bath to overlap the colors, then resubmerged the yarn but an undyed section could be left in the middle for painting with a third color.  But I’d need to wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and steam to set the color if I painted later.  Or the middle section could be left undyed, depending on the effect and color scheme you want.
Have fun with it!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Flat Seam in 2x2 Ribbing
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I normally use 1x1 ribbing in my socks but I’ve had occasion to use a 2x2 for slippers, caps or mittens so I worked out a seam that is totally reversible and pretty good to look at.  It takes advantage of one of the Bickford methods which I am so fond of.  This is a particularly great seam for items like hats, socks or sleeve cuffs that may be folded over.  You may want to practice the technique before using it in the real thing, however it’s not hard at all once ya get into the groove.
The needle setup for this example is below.  The outermost needle on both sides must be on the main bed.  So plan your cast on accordingly.
.    . .     . .     . .     .  (Main Bed)
  . .    . .     . .     . .    (Ribber Bed) 

First off, you must be able to identify the loop stitches and the knot stitches along the side.  This seam is worked from the public side, so fold over the ribbing edges into a tube or butt up the edges of a flat garment.  My sample is intended to be a circular sock cuff so this is how I set up the needles on each bed of my machine.  I used my SK860 midgauge machine and Caron Simply Soft in this sample so the stitches would be more easily seen.  

So let’s get going on the technique.  You'll be working with the stitches on the outermost edges of your fabric.  From the top down, insert your needle and yarn thru a knot stitch and pull through.  Do not pull your stitching too tightly.  You are trying to match the stitch size of your knitting and you don't want your seam to pucker.


Then on the other side of the fabric, insert your needle and yarn from the bottom of the corresponding loop stitch and pull up.
On the same side, insert your needle from top down through the next knot stitch and pull yarn through.

On the other side of the fabric, insert your needle and yarn from the bottom of the next loop stitch and pull yarn up.  Continue in this manner for the full length of your seam.
When you get comfy with this method, you'll be able to go down thru the knot on one side and up thru the loop of the opposite side in one step. 

This seam is particularly nice for items or garments with foldover cuffs because the back side looks just as nice as the public side, with no bulky seam.  You won't have to turn your work and seam from one side for the cuff and the other side for the main fabric.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Quarter Crown for Hats

(Click on photos to enlarge)
A fellow machine knitter Margaret, AKA as ‘HybridSJ’on Ravelry, posted a very interesting finishing for crowns of hats.  It involves dividing the hat body into 4ths, knitting triangles from each 4th section and joining together with SAYG (Seam As Ya Go).  It makes a flat, form fitting crown that lends itself nicely to beanies, helmet liners, chemo caps, or any hat crown where gathering isn’t always the best finishing technique.  And it goes much faster than decreasing across the row and moving stitches in.  Since she doesn't maintain a blog, she gave me permission to post it on mine so it could have more visibility.
So here’s Margaret’s post.  And I’ll add my own take on it afterward.  
Margaret’s Notes:
The quarter crown can be done at the end of a machine knit hat without removing from the machine, or you can take off on waste yarn, or even rehang stitches from an in the round hand knit pattern.
Last row of the body pattern should be divisible by four, so reduce or increase accordingly. For example, if you have 86 stitches, decrease two stitches evenly on the last row. If you have 87, you could decrease to 84 or increase to 88. I prefer to decrease.
If knitting straight on from the body of the machine, put 3/4 needles in hold. In the case of 84 stitches, that’s 63 in hold, 21 in work.
Decrease one stitch fully fashioned each end. I use the 2 x 1 tool to move 2 stitches over one needle each end. Knit that row and the next, i.e. two rows.
Repeat these two rows until 3 stitches are left. Thread yarn through stitches and take off.
Bring next 21 (or quarter) stitches into work. Knit decrease row. Hang stitch from nearest end of first quarter on end needle opposite carriage.
Repeat these two rows until 3 stitches are left. Thread yarn through stitches and take off.
Repeat twice more. Sew seam or follow instructions for knitting in the round.
Finishing from in the round
Hang quarter stitches and continue knitting as above for three quarters.
On last quarter, pick up stitches as before PLUS unworked stitches from first quarter. I am still experimenting with the best time to pick up the first quarter end stitches but picking up on the first or third row works with some “fudging”.
Or you can do a mattress stitch seam to finish. (only you will notice the slight difference and it is easier)
My Take:
I decided to try using a 1 prong tool decrease on the crown instead of a 2 prong tool. It worked well and gives a bit different look.  Both are totally acceptable, it’s just another option.
I worked the hat flat, not in the round, and used a Bickford seam to sew up the last triangles and the seam.  It is flat, virtually invisible and doesn’t leave the inside bulk that mattress stitching does.
So, thank you very much, Margaret.  It’s a keeper technique.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rubber Band Frosted Vase or Glassware
(Click on photos to enlarge)

DISCLAIMER:  However lovely these vases are, the spray frosting paint is NOT permanent.  After drying for 2 days, I was getting these ready to wrap as a gift and notice that there were worn spots and chips in the finish on the bottom where they had been setting on the counter.  So I carefully used my fingernail to 'scratch' a small inconspicuous area and the frosting easily came off.  So my final conclusion is that glassware sprayed with frosting paint will not be a lasting thing of beauty.  I'm so disillusioned.
I just ‘discovered’ another fun thing to do.  A friend posted a video from YouTube on FaceBook that shows how to make frosted designs in glass vases that look for all the world like etched work.  Lovely pieces, a relatively cheap craft and no 2 designs will be the same.  Use your browser’s search engine and search on ‘rubber band vase’.  You’ll see some beautiful pieces of work and also links to videos on YouTube that show you how to do it.  This is the very good video that I watched.
First off, this is a list of needed supplies:
A piece of glassware
An assortment of rubber bands
A spray can of ‘frosting’ paint
The gal in the video I watched used 7” glass cylindrical vases but any shape or size can be used.  But unless you can find some really long rubber and wide bands, I’d stick to around this size.  As rubber bands stretch, they get thinner and you may want some wider bands. 

Wash the glassware in soap and water, then wrap the rubber bands around the vase in whatever design you want.  Make sure the bands are flat and not twisted.  I chose to do swirly, mainly cuz that’s what the video showed and I love them.  The more rubber bands you use, less frosting and more glass will be showing.  Fewer rubber bands will result in more frosting and less glass.  Get creative. 
The video instructed to clean the outside of the vase with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.  But I didn’t do that step because I didn’t know how the paint would interact with the alcohol residue.  So I just wiped the open areas with a dry paper towel to get rid of the fingerprints.
Take your project outside, turn the vases upside down and spray them with the frosting paint, following the directions on the can.  The gal in the video used Krylon Frosting but most every spray paint manufacturer has its own version.  I’m using Rust-oleum Frosted Glass and it worked just fine.  DO NOT overspray.  This paint is deceiving because the frosting effect doesn’t happen til after about 10 minutes so I really couldn’t tell if I was getting good coverage or not.  But trust me, three light coats are better than one heavy one….or in my case, 3 heavy ones as on my first try.  This picture shows what happened when I got too much paint on.  The wet paint pooled around the rubber bands and I had globs of paint left when I took the rubber bands off.  Grrr.
Let the paint fully dry for at least a couple hours above 50 deg F and remove the rubber bands and admire your vase.  I’m loving it!
I read the comments below the video and see that she used water pearls and battery operated submersible LED lights along with candles in some of her finished vases.  How very lovely.
Use your imagination and use other glassware, bottles, cups, candle holders, etc, and different colors of spray paint.  I can easily see these in sparkly gold or silver for the holidays or some of the fluorescent paints to accent a fun mod decor.  
A couple words of caution.…instructions on the paint I used said frosted articles could be gently hand washed with soap and water but not to put them in the dishwasher.  And it also states that the ‘frosting’ can be removed from glass with lacquer thinner or acetone.   Aha, a cure for my disaster vase above….strip it and redo it.

I stripped the 'mistake' glass with paint thinner and washed it in lots of soap and water, rinsed well and redid it.  It turned out as nice as the other one.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

'Blended' Ribbing
(Click on photos to enlarge)

This is a great ribbing technique that will give a ‘blended’ transition into the main fabric and it’ll keep the ribbing from flipping up where it joins the main fabric, like some ribbing can especially on shorter ribbed bands.  Most of the time, the flipping doesn’t irritate me that much but there are times when I want more of an edging rather than the typical ribbed effect with the definite line after the ribbed section.  This has been in my bag of tricks for just ages and I really don’t remember where I picked it up from but it has come in handy from time to time.   I used a 1x1 ribbing for this garment and I haven’t used it with anything other than 1x1 but I can assume that it would be just as attractive in other ribbing configurations too.  Give it a try and do some experimenting.

I didn’t use a tight ribbing on this garment because I wanted the peplum to lay more flat rather than pulling in at the bottom.  The body is knit at T3 on my midgauge machine with this yarn so I knit the ribbing at T0 on both the main bed and ribber bed.  After completing the 10 rows of ribbing, I loosened the tension to T2 on both carriages.  Then I transferred every other stitch from the ribber to the main bed and knit 3 rows for the bottom edge and 2 rows on the sleeve edge.  Then I transferred every other stitch of the remaining stitches on the ribber bed to the main bed and knit 3 (and 2) rows again.  Then I transferred all remaining stitches to the main bed.  I took my tension up to the body tension of 3 and continued with my garment.  It looks and behaves just as nice on tighter ribbing too and doesn't leave the defined separation line and doesn't flip.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fix Those Pesky Holes in Shortrowed Heels
Those pesky holes on the sides of heel shaping in circular shortrowed machine knit socks are easily fixed on the machine with a couple of simple extra steps.  There are several ways to hide the holes, but this is my all time favorite.  Just a note that I again did not devise this technique but have borrowed it from a seasoned machine sock knitter, 'Ozlorna' on Ravelry.  Check out her post at
Apparently this 'trick' came from the hand knit version of Japanese short rows.
This is what I call the 'bobby pin' trick.  It is easy to do and looks very nice. 

1)  Before beginning the shortrow decreases, hang a bobby pin on the yarn coming off the main bed and into the carriage.  Snug it up to the first stitch.  You may want to hang a clothes pin from the bobby pin if the magnets in your carriage interfere with its hanging down.
2)  Proceed with your shortrowing as usual…until you get to the last row.  Do NOT knit across the last increase row but hang another bobby pin on the strand of yarn coming off the main bed and into the carriage.  Snug it up to the first needle, put your needles back in working position and knit across to finish the shortrowing.
3)  After the last row of shortrowing, pick up the bobby pins and hang that stitch onto the first needle of the ribber bed on each side.  Remove bobby pins and raise the ribber back up into working position. 
Resume circular knitting on the side opposite the last heel row knit.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Sock Schematic

I have knit a LOT of socks so I don’t really need to use my formal 4 page sock pattern anymore.  So I made up this generic schematic that I use instead.  When I have the foot measurements I need, the yarn and gauge, I print out the schematic, fill in the blanks with the pertinent data, add whatever notes I need or want to and I have the perfect sock pattern for that person.  Then I scan and save the document for future reference for that person.   I knit my circular socks starting with the cuff but this schematic would work for a toe up sock too.  Just cast on at the toe instead of the cuff.

This is how my schematic looks after I've filled in the information for a particular person.

My Shortrowed Heel and Toe for Socks
(Click on photos to enlarge)

I’m trying to get caught up with a few things on my blog, which has been woefully neglected the last little while.  Knitters ask about my socks so thought I’d focus on some of my favorite techniques.  The first thing that comes to mind is how I shortrow for the heels and toes.  I know that some don’t like shortrowed heels and toes but I hope those who do will find this helpful. 
Some complain that shortrowed heels/toes are too rounded and not form fitting.  The shortrow standard is to decrease down to 1/3 of the total number of stitches.  For example if I have a total of 36 stitches in the heel/toe, the standard 1/3 calculation would tell you to leave 12 sts in the center with 12 sts on each side during the decreasing.  This is merely a guideline and doesn’t have to be etched in stone.  If I’m knitting for a narrower heel or toe, I generally decrease down 2 more stitches than the 1/3 calculation.  For example, I’ll shortrow down to 10 sts, leaving 13 sts on each side.  By the same token, if I’m knitting for a squattier heel/toe, I’ll shortrow down to only 14 sts with 11 sts on each side.  Shortrowing can be as form fitting as you want with these simple adjustments, just remember to have the same number of stitches in the sections on both side of the center stitches. 
I like this method of shortrowing because it gives a firmer ‘seam’ line than the standard shortrow method and it does a nice automatic wrap of that first needle to prevent pesky holes along the seam line.  I certainly didn’t ‘invent’ this method but I’ve been using it for just forever.
My pictures show a sock knit in the round but this shortrow method works equally well with a flat sock.  If knitting circularly and your heel/toe is to be formed on the main bed, make sure that the last row knitted is on the main bed so that the yarn is coming off the main bed.
1.  To decrease, lower the ribber one notch, change to main carriage arm and put on hold, hang weights on front of work, at carriage side pull 1 ndl into hold position for automatic wrap and knit across. Hang weights as needed on the main bed work.
2.  Continue til there are desired number of sts in working position. (The general standard is that 1/3 sts remain in work, however this is not necessary. Stay as close as you can to 1/3, but it is important that you have the same number of sts in hold on each side before beginning the increase work).
3.  When you have the desired number of needles in work and the needle closest to the carriage pulled to hold position AND the same number of sts in hold on each side, do NOT knit across…immediately increase back out by putting 2 ndls opposite the carriage back into working position and then knit across.
4.  On subsequent rows, pull one needle at beg of each row on the carriage side into hold position AND two needles opposite the carriage into working position each row til all needles except a set of two needles on each side are again in working position.
5.  When increased back out to one group of sts left on each side, put both sets back into work at the same time.  Unwrap the first needle on the carriage side and knit across.
6.  There are several finishing techniques to prevent holes from forming on the sides of shortrowing but I’ll discuss my favorites in another post.
This photo shows a toe from the top side as it would appear on the foot.  Again the pointiness can be altered by adjusting the number of stitches left in the center during the decreasing process of shortrowing.