Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pop-Up Flowers
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I seem to keep finding new and fun things to do.  This time it’s pop-up flowers.  While surfing  thru You Tube for something totally unrelated, I ran onto a video showing how to make pop-up flowers for greeting cards.  Oh my.  I’ve been making my own greeting cards for just ages and have always wanted to do pop-ups but never took the time to explore.  There are several videos on You Tube showing the technique, search for 'pop-up card'.  Most of the tutorials show how to do the flower design with markers or colored pencils but I don’t have enough colored markers on hand and don’t intend to buy a bunch of the right markers.  So I chose to make them in Photoshop. Getting a perfectly proportioned template was the hardest but I think I have a couple good designs going now.

The basic technique is to cut 7 squares of paper about 3.5” to 4” or whatever size you want.  Fold them onto themselves into halves 3 times so there are 8 layers of paper.  Remember making paper snowflakes when you were a kid?  This is the same concept.  Then cut the petal end into shape desired.  Unfold and there should be 8 petals on the flower.  Using markers or colored pencils, design each petal as desired.  The You Tube videos show some nice examples on how to do that.  Then cut out one petal, overlap the first petal by the cut onto the next one by the cut and glue.  Voila, a pretty flower.  

In Photoshop, I designed and colored the flower, saved and copied/pasted into a Word document.  By decreasing the side margins of my document, I can get 4 flowers on a sheet of paper.  Print and separate the flowers, fold and cut as described above.  Another glory of Photoshop is that the color can easily be changed without making a whole new flower.
The videos also show how to glue the flowers together.  I put together a tutorial on how to do that cuz I didn’t want to open the video each time and at that point, I really didn’t want to mess up the gluing.
In this picture, I saved the petals that I cut from the flower and made a design on the front of the card.  And in the last photo, I printed the pink flower on light pink paper instead of white. 
Use your imagination.  I’m really having fun with it.  I’d really like to try other pop-up too, lots of ideas running thru my brain.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuck Foldover Scalloped Border
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I needed a border to put around the tuck baby blanket I just completed in my previous post, of 20 March 17.  Because I had one unsightly side because I had yarn ends to do something with, I thought the easiest way around that was to do an edging that enclosed them.  I ran onto Diana Sullivan’s Scalloped Foldover Trim  on YouTube and thought that would work perfectly plus look very nice.  However after I got the blanket done, I thought that I wanted something a bit wider so I experimented and came up with a nice border just by adding another tuck row to Diana’s trim.  It still folded over great and does look nice. 

I started with waste yarn and ravel cord because I wanted to have live stitches to be able to do an invisible graft to the other end when I got done.  I made the blanket on my KX350 at T5 with sport and DK weight yarns.  The yarn for the border was a bit heavier and I wanted it nice and soft so I went up to T6.  But this border can be done on any machine with appropriate yarn and tension.
1.   CO 11 stitches with waste yarn and ravel cord, knit 1 row to the left,
2.   *  Put machine on hold, pull needles 3, 5, 7 and 9 out to hold position,
3.   Knit 4 rows,
4.   Push needles back to working position and knit 2 rows. *
Repeat this pattern from * to * for 1800 rows!  Yes, 1800.  Then scrap off to leave live stitches to be able to unravel and adjust for size and grafting to the other end later.
I used a 3/15 thinner weight yarn and a running stitch to sew the border to the back side.  Make sure to adjust stitching so the edging lays flat without flaring or puckering.  Gather up the border on the corners to make nice turns.  I then sewed the front side down.  I was afraid that it wouldn’t lay flat during the trips thru the washer and dryer so I loosely ran another running stitch thru both layers of the border, next to the inside row of tucks. 
I did a bit of experimenting to see how I wanted to attach the edging and decided to go under the ladder after the first full stitch of the border (much like mattress stitching), the picked up a stitch on the edge of the blanket.  Then go back and pick up the ladder, then over to the blanket.  Snug up the sewing yarn but don’t pull it tight.  It may take a bit of practice to see what you like best.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tuck Baby Blanket
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I’ve been wanting to use this tuck pattern for just ages and we have a new little member coming into our family soon so thought it’d be a good time to just do it.  And I got even more motivation from seeing several other versions on Ravelry lately.  
I made this on my KX350 midgauge with sport and DK weight yarns so it’s all manually manipulated tuck patterning.  The KX350 has 135 needles but I wanted it a bit wider than that would allow so I robbed a section from another machine and added it to the end which added an additional 43 needles.  This pattern can be done on any machine with any yarn and tension the machine likes but I already had the sport weight yarns on hand so I opted for the midgauge.  
Here’s the story:
Machine:  KX350 midgauge, extended bed by 1 section
Yarns:    Patons Astra, Peony Pink and Aqua, 2 skeins each
               Redheart Designer Sport, Blossom, 2 skeins
               Bernat Berella Sportspun, White, 5 skeins (including edging)
Tension 5
Approximate size:  45”L x 35”W
With background color, e-wrap CO 158 sts, or any number desired as long as the following needle selection is used. 
Carriage to N and knit 1 row to the left.  Hang weights evenly across.
Carriage to H to hold, change to a contrasting color and begin patterning:
Skip 6 stitches, pull 2 needles out to hold position.  Repeat this patterning across the bed.
               . . . . . . x x . . . . . . x x . . . . . .
RC000, knit 6 rows.  Take carriage off hold, change to background color and knit 2 rows.
NOTE:  Before you knit the first and second rows of background color after each set of tucks, visually check that the stitches beside the tucks have knit off properly.  6 rows of tucking might be a bit much for the machine, depending on the yarn used.  If they didn’t knit off properly, manually knit the errant stitches before proceeding with the next row.
For the next set of tucks, put the carriage back on hold, skip 2 needles and pull 2 needles out to hold position, skip 6 needles and pull 2 needles out to hold position.   Repeat this across the row.  With a contrasting color, knit 6 rows.  Take carriage off hold, change to background color and knit 2 rows.
               . . x x . . . . . . x x . . . . . . x x . .
Note that the two tucking needles will always be lined up with the center of the ‘bubble’ of the previous pattern set.   
Repeat this patterning sequence for 450 rows, or as desired, ending with 2 rows of background color and carriage on the left.
I did a backstitch bind off but use whichever bind off you prefer as long as it’s not tight.
I used a variation of Diana Sullivan's tuck scalloped foldover edging but you can use whatever border or edging you desire.  I liked this foldover edging because it encased the edge of yarn ends...that I neglected to weave in as I knit.  I will post my 'how I did that' too in another posting, soon.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Diaper Wreath
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Need a quick and easy baby gift?  This wreath is not only pretty but practical too.  Most often new moms don’t get these little kinds of necessity things as gifts so why not present them in a cute way?  These wreaths are a hit at baby showers.  They can easily be made in a few hours with very little hair pulling. 
Needed Items:
A 10” Styrofoam wreath form
14-15 #3 diapers with a cute pattern
Curling ribbon, your choice of colors
Assorted baby items, enough to attach one to each diaper
Wreath hanger, if desired

First off, fold the diapers in half and around the wreath form and tie them to the form as shown.  They should be tied fairly snugly with about a 2-1/2 foot strand of ribbon.  Use enough ribbon to be curled later.

Then I arranged the little gifties to see where I wanted them.  I used another strand of ribbon around the diaper to tie them on.  Again the ribbon will be curled so use enough ribbon. 

After the gifties are secured to the wreath, curl the ribbons.  Trim as needed.
I made the ‘bow’ at the top by using about 15 strands of ribbon about 3’ long, securely tied in the middle and curled.  Fold the ribbons in half and tie to the top diaper, around the ribbon used to attach the diaper.  Arrange and again trim as desired.
Voila, a nice gift that couldn't be any easier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Baby Socks, Midgauge

(Click on photos to enlarge)
These are my most favorite booties of all time.  Moms of babies I’ve made these for say they love them the most because they stay on little feet and aren’t easily kicked off.  I made them on my SK860 midgauge machine with ribber, beginning with an English ribbed cuff and worked down to the toe.  If you don’t have a ribber, a picot hemmed cuff, mock rib, latched rib, lace cuff or any of your favorite cuff styles can be used instead of English rib.  These feature a shortrowed heel and a gathered toe.  Babies don’t care if the toe isn’t form fitting because they don’t do any walking in booties but a shortrowed toe can be used if you prefer.  Also, I mattress stitch the side seam from the public side to give a nice appearance.  Baby yarn is most always soft and again, baby won’t be doing any walking in them so a mattressed seam won’t cut into their little foot.
I’ve given 2 sizes, newborn and 3 – 6 months size in parentheses.  Size can be easily adjusted by adding or subtracting stitches and rows.   I’ve used several of the popular baby yarns for hand knitting and all have work very well.  But all baby yarns are not created equal so size may vary a bit just because of the yarn used. 

RedHeart Baby Soft yarn
Bernat Softee Baby yarn
Berroco Comfort DK
RedHeart Designer Sport (heavier)
Bernat Baby Jacquard (T1) Size: Newborn (3 to 6 mo)

Gauge: 6.5 sts, 8.5 rows = 1”
Sole about 4” (4 ½) long
1)  Tension R on both beds, ribber at pitch P4, cast on for English rib, 14-0-14 (15-0-
     15) stitches, work 3 foundation rows, as follows or as instructed in your user’s
          a.  Select every other needle on both beds, with the main bed needle being the
              outermost on the left, and the ribber needle being the outermost on the right
              hand side.  All knobs and levers set for normal stockinette knitting.
          b.  With COL, knit 1 row to the right.  Hang cast on comb and weights.
          c.  Change the left set lever on the ribber carriage from 1 to 0.  Knit 1 row to
              the left.
          d.  Change the stitch dial on the main bed carriage from 0 to S and knit 1 row to
               the right.
          e.  Change the stitch dial on the main bed carriage back to 0 and knit 1 row to
               the left.   
2)  At Tension 2 on both carriages, change the stitch dial on the ribber carriage from 0
     to ‘the upside down U’ and knit 19 (21) rows ribbing.  End with COR.
3)  Transfer ribber stitches to the main bed.
4)  Lower ribber and remove CO comb and use claw weights hereafter.  
5)  Replace ribber arm with main carriage sinker plate.
6)  T-2, Knit 2 (3) rows.  Work eyelets on this row if desired.
     Make eyelets on needles (working from the L) 4, 12, 18, 24  (5, 13, 20, 26). 
7)  Increase 1 stitch on right hand side of ‘0’ if necessary to make an even number
     of stitches on that side.   (Necessary for later heel shaping.)
8)  Knit 8 (9) more rows, (10 (12) total if not doing an eyelet row).  End with COR.
1)  Push all needles left of -0- to hold position, 14 (16) stitches in work.
2)  Make sure there are an even number of stitches in work.   Put machine on hold.
3)  * Push 1 needle on cam side to hold position.  K 1 row across.
4)  Repeat * until 6 needles rem in working position.  (Same # of stitches in hold on ea
5)  Knit 1 row across. COR.
6)  ** Push 1 needle opposite side of cam back to working position, wrap needle next
     to the carriage, knit 1 row across.
7)  Repeat ** until all needles are in working position, COR.
8)  Take machine off hold.
1)  K 22 (24) rows.
2)  Decrease every other needle, move stitches togther and knit 2 rows across.
3)  Gather the live stitches with yarn and secure. 
FINISHING:  Sew ribbing and side seam.  Make a 2 stitch I-cord at T0 for 80 (90) rows or to desired length, about 16" –OR- use a narrow ribbon for tie.  Add pompoms or tassels at each end of the I-cord if desired. 
NOTE:  I have an earlier post showing how I sew up the English rib entitled 'Flat & Invisible Seam in English Rib', dated 1 Oct 2012 that will be virtually invisible.   (Click on the 'seams' label to the right.)
Team with a hat and/or blanket for a nice gift.



Friday, January 13, 2017

No Reply on Comments

I've been receiving some nice comments about my posts BUT for several weeks now, blogger won't let me reply to any of them.  I want to thank you all so much for taking the time to leave a comment and I apologize for not replying.  I have a feedback query in to Blogger so hopefully this problem will be resolved soon and I'll be able to continue to show my appreciation to you all.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dyeing a Sock Blank

I started my dyeing ‘career’ by dyeing a double stranded sock blank with KoolAid.  That was enough to send me over the edge to another addiction.  Wow, how much fun and so very easy.  That was several years ago and I’ve since experimented with several techniques and have switched to using retail acid dyes rather than KoolAid and food grade colors such as food coloring, cake dyes, etc.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dyeing with the food grade dyes and it led me into yet another craft.  I converted to retail acid dyes because our water apparently doesn’t have the right pH for food grade dyes to retain their brightness and color during laundry.  But don’t let my experiences stop you from the adventures of dyeing with food grade dyes.  Lately I got the urge to do a blank again and I’m very happy with it.  I’ve posted several other articles on my blog about other dyeing projects including blanks, mostly dyed in vertical or horizontal striping sequences, but I did want to expand more on dyeing this blank with diagonal striping.  So here’s what I did last week.
1.  I divided a 100 gram of bare sock yarn into 2 – 50 gram cakes and knit my blank with double strands at tension 7 on my KX350 midgauge machine.  I cast on 100 stitches and knit til I was out of yarn.  If you don’t have a knitting machine, knit with very large needles so the stitches will be loose enough to let the dye penetrate into all the crooks and crannies of the stitch.  I began and ended with about 6 rows of waste yarn.  This makes it easier to lay out and doesn’t have a tighter cast on and off edge for the dye to contend with.
2.  After I knit the blank, I put it to soak in the sink with tepid water and a couple squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I let the yarn sink into the water naturally and didn’t push it down into the water.  Pushing it down may trap air bubbles inside the yarn and create a resist for the dyes.  I let it sink into the water on its own and the air is released naturally as it sinks.  After the yarn sank into the water, after about 15 minutes I sozzled it around several times and then let it soak in clear water after I rinsed the suds out.  Let it soak for at least 30 minutes or more.  
3.   While my blank is soaking, I mixed up the dyes.  For this particular project, I wanted saturated colors so I mixed ¾ tsp of dye powder with 2 cups of water and 3T of white vinegar.  Citric acid may be used in place of vinegar if you don’t care for the smell of vinegar.  Mix dyes according to manufacturer’s directions and prepare the dyes using a dust mask and rubber gloves, preferably away from eating areas.   While measuring and mixing dyes, I lay down a couple of wet paper towels to catch any powder spills.  The wet towels keep the powder from dispersing into the air.  For this blank, I chose coordinating colors because I knew I would get some bleeding and didn’t want any weird colors in it.  Keep the color wheel in mind when choosing your dye colors.
4.   I prepared my dyeing surface by laying down a plastic painter’s drop cloth over my kitchen bar counter.  This will protect your work surface from puddles, drips and spills.  And trust me, you will have puddles, drips and spills.  I like to paint a blank on an absorbent surface such as an old rug or several layers of old towels.  I’ve found that an old rug absorbs excess water and keeps the color bleeding to a minimum. But if you want the colors to bleed, lay down several strips of plastic wrap large enough to hold the blank and don’t use an absorbent backing.   
5.  After I prepared my work surface, I squeezed out as much water from the yarn blank as I could with my hands.  Then wrapped it up in an old bath towel like a jelly roll and walked on it to remove remaining water.  The blank should be damp but not dry.  Then I laid the blank out on the rug, stretching it a bit in all directions so the stitches would open up nicely.  I prefer to paint with the purl side up but it’s your choice.  
6.  Let the painting begin.  I use little sponge brushes found in the paint or arts and crafts departments.  They are intended to be disposable but I’ve used them for several sessions after a good rinsing and drying.  Some use squeeze bottles like the kind you find ketchup in at eating places but I find I have much better control with a brush.  Paint by dipping the brush into the dye mix and dabbing it onto the yarn, don’t use a brushing motion as it will just fuzz up your yarn and won't get saturated.  Dabbing works best.  Saturate the yarn pretty well so you don’t see white spots anywhere.  Before I go to the next color, I blot up excess liquid with a couple sheets of paper towels.  Lay the paper towels on the dyed section and pat down with your hands.  If you dab with the towel, you’ll run the risk of contaminating other sections with that color.
7.  After you’re happy with your dyeing, flip the blank over and repeat painting on the other side.  I run a couple of long single pointed knitting needles through the waste yarn on one side of the blank, lift up by the needles and carefully lay it down on a clean rug so the colors don’t get contaminated with the others.  You’ll plainly see the areas that need another application of dye mix.  This second coating won’t take as much dye as the first side.  Again, lay paper towels down on your work and blot up the excess water.
8.  Cover the blank with sheets of plastic wrap, seal the seams and roll it up like a jelly roll.  Turn in the ends of the plastic wrap about halfway thru and finish rolling it up.  Wrap it up in another sheet of plastic wrap to make sure all openings are sealed up.  You don't want steam to come in direct contact with the yarn.

9.  I use a stainless steel mesh colander to hold the yarn roll, a hot plate and a pot with a couple inches of water in the bottom to steam the yarn. So I shape the roll into a circle and place it in my colander and onto my kettle.  If you were to use food grade dyes, you could do this in your kitchen or use the microwave to heat set but the retail acid dyes should be heat set in a well ventilated area, and not used with any utensil or appliance that will be used for food.  Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I’ve been known to forget to set my timer so some of my jobs have steamed for over an hour, no problem.  Extra time gives some of the pesky colors a better opportunity to set.  Blues and reds can be kind of pesky.
10.  After steaming, let your blank cool before handling because it’ll be very hot.  When cool enough to handle, unwrap it and rinse it in the sink with the same temperature water as the yarn and with a couple squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid.  The rinse water should run clear but if it doesn’t, keep rinsing til it does.  If there is a lot of color left in the rinse water, repeat the Dawn rinse to remove excess dyes and rinse again til clear.  Then hang to dry, unravel, wind into a cone and knit away. 

Painting a sock blank is such an easy way to dye yarn and the possibilities are endless.  I get lots of inspiration from the ‘I Love to Dye’, ‘What a Kool Way to Dye’ and ‘Sock Blank Artists’ groups on  There are many videos on You Tube as well as tutorials on artist’s websites and blogs.  Have fun and let your imagination go wild.

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.