Friday, November 7, 2014

Match Those Striped Socks
(Click on photos to enlarge)

This may seem like a silly post but I’ve had several knitters ask how I match my striped socks so perfectly.  Others might be interested too so I worked up a little tutorial to show how I do it.

To arrive at a matching pair of striped socks, I must start knitting each sock at the same spot in the yarn.  I don’t get particularly obsessed if my self-striping socks don’t match but I do like them to match if it can easily be done.  There are many lovely yarns available to us now that don’t have predictable color repeats so matching socks will be almost impossible.  But there are just as many that are dyed to have predictable color repeats and those are what I’ll be focusing on now.   I’m using a 100 gram skein of Opal Schafpate yarn for this tutorial.  I knit these socks from cuff down and fed my rewound cakes from the outside.  The cakes can be rewound if you prefer to use inside pull cakes while knitting.

First, I knit up the whole skein into a rectangle.  It doesn’t matter what gauge or width because all I’m looking for are the color change repeats.  So I usually use a loose gauge on my midgauge machine at T1, or on my standard gauge at T10….anything that’s quick and easy to push the carriage.
Then I lay or pin the rectangle out so I can see the color repeats in the full length.  Then I measure the halfway mark and find the same color as the beginning color of my rectangle closest to the halfway mark.  The exact halfway mark most likely won’t be at the proper color change.  So when I’m happy with finding the same color as the beginning stripe as close to the halfway mark as I can get, I snip one strand of yarn at one of the edge stitches so my color change will match the beginning color.
Then I rewind the yarn into 2 cakes and I’m ready to knit.  Using my favorite sock pattern, I use the biggest cake first.  Now remember that I was a bit off halfway when I snipped the yarn in this rectangle, so one cake will be smaller than the other.  After the first sock is made with the biggest cake, save the excess yarn to splice into the 2nd one if needed.  The toes may not match perfectly but the upper part of the sock that’s most visible will match to a ‘T’. 
After the cakes are wound, match up the ends and cut the yarn at the same spot so both ends are the same.
If I am using a 50 gram skein of yarn, I will also knit both skeins into rectangles to see the color repeats in each and snip at the starting point of one skein as necessary for both skeins to begin at the same place in the yarn.  Again, if I have trimmed away a substantial amount of yarn, I always reserve it to splice into the toe if I run short on the 2nd sock.
Happy matching socks!

Monday, September 22, 2014

DBJ Sampler Wall Hanging
(Click on photo to enlarge)

A while back, I ran onto a fairisle knit sampler project in an old magazine and thought it would be a wonderful double bed jacquard (dbj) wall hanging for a special occasion such as a wedding, a new baby, a milestone birthday or anniversary, etc.  So I put it in the back of my mind until now when we have a friend's wedding to celebrate.   I wanted to frame it to make it a bit more professional looking than just running a dowel thru the top to make a banner type design but I really didn't want to invest in the cost of having a custom frame I was off to knit it to fit a ready made frame.  It went pretty well but I ran into a bit of frustration with several swatches to accomplish that.  Once I got a good gauge and used a bit of math, the end product turned out really nice.  I'm really happy with it and hopefully it will become an honored keepsake for the bride and groom. 

One thing I did learn with dbj is that even with aggressive steam blocking, stretching in length proves to be stubborn.  The knitted size is basically how it will stay even after steaming.

I did this project at T6 with Tamm 3 Ply Astracryl for the background and Schoppel Zauberball in blues for the contrast color on my standard gauge Brother 965i with ribber and color changer.  I designed the pattern in DAK with 108 sts wide and 160 rows high, knit with a birdseye backing which after steam blocking fit a 14 x 18" frame opening nicely. 

To see my lesson on how to do dbj, go to my post of March 12, 2013.  DBJ is not hard at all but the setup steps must be followed to a 'T' for it to cooperate. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Sunflowers Are Smiling
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Our sunflowers are smiling in all their glory.  I really never appreciated the sunflower décor fad from a few years ago but I sure like them in our garden.  And the honey bees, butterflies and moths are sure liking them too.  I didn't understand why there was such a flurry with the honey bees so I did some research.  Wikipedia, here I come.  The honey bees gather pollen and use it as a protein which is necessary during brooding....never knew that.  I knew they used their honey to feed on during the winter months but not anything about pollen.  So a little education coming your way along with some pictures.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dishcloth, Gartered, Midgauge
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Our DIL loves the time proven hand knit gartered dishcloths and I try to keep her supplied in them.  But I've fallen down on the job the last little while and they take me so long to hand knit.  So I am knitting something similar on my midgauge 6.5mm machine with a garter bar.  I turned (gartered) every 2 rows instead of every row as in the hand knit pattern but think they'll substitute just fine...every row might become a bit overwhelming.  I used I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby in this one and it turned out just great.  Someday I'll make one with Peaches and Crème and I'm suspecting the tension dial will need to be turned a couple clicks higher as it's not nearly as soft as I Love This Cotton.  I'll report when I get one done.

Machine:   SK860, 6.5mm midgauge
Yarn:   I Love This Cotton
Tension:  T6 to T7 as desired
Gauge:  5 sts and 8 rows = 1” at T5
Size:  Approx 8.5 x8.5”

1.   Scrap and ravel cord over 42 needles.
2.   Double needle e-wrap CO.
3.   RC000, Knit 1 row to left.
4.   Turn work with garter bar.
5.   Move carriage to opposite side.  (Turn row counter back one row if the carriage is passed across  
       the bed and the row counter is tripped.)
6.   *  Knit 2 rows.
7.   Turn work with garter bar.
8.   Move carriage to opposite side and turn row counter back one row if needed. *
9.   Repeat from * to * to RC073, turn.
10.  With COL, backstitch BO.
11.  Weave in yarn ends.

Friday, August 1, 2014

DIY Sponge Strip for KX-350 Midgauge Machine

(Click on photos to enlarge)

If you have just purchased a KX-350 knitting machine or you already have a machine, you will eventually need to replace the sponge strip.  The KX-350 is unique in that it doesn't accommodate the conventional sponge bar with a metal housing but only uses a strip of foam encased in fabric on both sides.  Purchased strips won't break your bank but I find that it's just as easy and handy to make my own.  Here's how I do it.

You will need:
3/8" wide x 5/16" thick foam weather stripping
3/8" wide satin ribbon, twice the length of the machine bed
Flexible craft glue

There is a great picture tutorial at that shows step by step instructions on how to replace the strip.

All the needles need to be removed to replace the sponge strip so now would be a great time to do some spring cleaning on your machine....a happy machine is a clean machine!

1.  To remove the needles, close the latch, push forward as far as they will go, lift the back up with the needle butts and pull the needle backwards and out.  This would be a good time to soak them in isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of your machine oil added or lamp oil.  (Kerosene)  Either works fine.  NOTE:  I soak my needles in 2 pans, the center half of the needles in one pan and the outer rest in another pan.  Then when I replace them, I'll use the ones I had on the outsides for the middle section and the ones I had in the middle on the outsides.  Since we use the middle section of the needlebed the most, transposing the needles will give even wear on them.

2.  IF the old sponge strip is in good condition and not crumbled and the channel is clean, either sew or use a small safety pin to attach the new strip to the end of the old one and gently pull on the old strip and pull the new one thru the channel with the old one.  IF the old sponge strip is deteriorated and crumbly or the channel is not clean, pull the old strip out and clean the channel before inserting the new strip.  Dish soap and water is about the best cleaning solution, don’t use any harsh chemicals that may damage the plastic.

3.  With the needles out, insert the strip into the channel.  Use whatever tool works best for you, probably your 1 prong transfer tool. 

4.  Dry each needle if you’ve soaked them and reinsert into the needle bed.  Open the latch and push the front of the needle under the sponge strip.  Push the needle forward as far as it will go, lower the back and slide it back into place.  It’s kind of tricky but you’ll get the hang of it.  Just make sure the needle goes under the sponge and it moves back and forth freely after inserted.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dishcloth, Tucked with Vertical Stripes...2 Carriage

(Click on photos to enlarge)

I've made several of these dishcloths on my manual KX350 midgauge machine with a bit of Maysville 8/4 cotton rug warp.  (See my post of January 2014)  But I made them by manually changing yarn colors and it got to be quite tedious and not real easy on my arms.  A gal on Ravelry made the same dishcloth pattern using 2 carriages, one for each color.  Now, just why didn't I think of that?  I made a couple up today and was quite happy that I could get them done in about half the time as I did by manually changing yarns as with the others.  This is a great alternative to not having a color changer, providing you have 2 carriages for your machine.  I'm happy and well on the way to a few more Christmas stocking stuffers.

Here's how I did it:
1) CO 46 sts with waste yarn and ravel cord,
2) T5, with main color, e-wrap and K1R to left,
3) Beg with the 1st needle, pull out to hold position every other needle,
4) Both carriages on hold, K1R to right with main color,
5) Beg with the 2nd needle, pull out to hold position every other needle and the others back to lower working position,
6) Use the carriage on the left to hold the contrasting color and K2R, with carriage ending on the left hand side,
7) Beg with 1st needle, pull out to hold position every other needle and the others back to lower working position,
8) K2R with the main color in the carriage on the right,
9) Beg with 2nd needle, pull out to hold position every other needle and the others back to lower working position,
10) K2R with the contrast color in carriage on the left.
11) Knit in this pattern til RC170, take carriage off hold, K across to the left and back stitch BO.
Machine Setup

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

'In The Ditch' Buttonholes
(Click on photo to enlarge)

I recently knit a cardigan with 1x1 vertical ribbed button and buttonhole bands.  The bands were single layered and I had quite a time getting the tension low enough so that the bands wouldn’t stretch out of shape so badly when buttoned.  It looked really nice until I put it on and button it and the buttons pulled more on the buttonholes than I liked.  The buttonhole technique I had been using were made vertically for 4 rows by putting half the needles in hold position, then knitting 4 rows on the needles in work, then putting the other half of the needles in hold position and knitting 4 rows on the opposite needles in work.  The buttonholes themselves worked and looked great but like I say, the ribbing wasn’t firm enough to look nice.

So I went on a mission to find the perfect buttonhole technique to solve my problem.  I found a video on a technique called ‘In the Ditch’ buttonholes at  It was from one of the free videos offered by Knit-It-Now some time ago and I miraculously remembered that I had saved it.  It’s now available on You Tube.  I have heard from others that this is not a new technique and has been around for quite awhile.  But it's new to me and gives me another option when traditional buttonholes just don't work.

It worked quite well for my cardigan.  I lowered the tension as much as my yarn would knit well and knit one strip of ribbing long enough to go around the entire length of one front side, plus the back neck, plus the other front side.  I had about 550 rows on my midgauge machine and it went quite fast.  I scrapped off the end so I’d have free stitches to unravel to needed length, then I did a hand crocheted slip stitch after the band was sewn on and I knew how long it needed to be.  I mattress stitched the band on, leaving about 5 rows open in the seam to create the buttonhole. 

I can see a few advantages to this method.  No measuring and calculating where the buttonholes should be while knitting the band.  I marked where the buttonholes should be on the cardigan front and ‘made’ the buttonholes as I seamed the band on.  Secondly, there is less stretching of a single layered band.  And this technique could be used with machine or hand knitted projects as well. 

One disadvantage might be that it maybe wouldn’t lend itself nicely to wider bands.  The button band on this particular cardy is a little over an inch wide and my buttons are about 7/8” wide and I'm quite pleased with the result.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fairisle Gloves, Revisited
(Click on photos to enlarge)

I loved the gloves I made with this pattern earlier (from Feb 2014) and got a wild hair in my brain to try to use up some Tamm Sport 2/7 that I have in my stash to give a bit heavier fabric.  I was pleasantly surprised that I could use the same pattern without too many alterations.  I did need to decrease the number of rows by 4 in the pinkie finger and I did use different tensions than Ingrid's pattern.  I used T5 in the ribbing, T8 in the fairisle section and T7 for the thumb and fingers.  I have some other lovely fairisle patterns that would be nice but think I'm about gloved out right now and need to move on.  But I won't hesitate to make more as my time permits.  We're finally moving into nicer spring weather now and will have other fun things to do.

Here's Ingrid's pattern if you want to give a nice pair of gloves a whirl. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter Basket Cupcakes
(Click on photos to enlarge)

I don't know, I really think I go a little nutso sometimes.  In a former life when our grandkids were smaller and appreciated things like this, I decorated all their birthday cakes.  Then they got older and didn't have 'kid' parties anymore, some moved further away and I just got out of the cake decorating business.  This year, we went to our son and family's home for Easter dinner and I just got the bug to do some decorating again.  I found these cute little Easter basket cupcakes while surfing one day so I pulled out all my cake decorating supplies and off I went.  They're quite easy to do but guess I'd forgotten how time consuming even 24 cupcakes can be but they did turn out cute and they got rave reviews.  They're just oozing with sugar so not too many got eaten by the younger crowd but I sent the remainders home with our granddaughter who took them to work so they didn't go to waste.   They are cute as can be and I did get the cake decorating urge out of my system for a while again.

I used the Wilton's standard buttercream frosting recipe, colored with Wilton's leaf green icing color, with decorating tip #233 for the grass, guidance at   Instructions for the cupcakes suggested to use licorice sticks for the handles but I chose not to put all the handles on til Easter morning because the licorice stick from the one I did on Sat sucked up moisture from the frosting and cakes overnight and did a major flop over.  I even placed a toothpick on each side of the cupcake and used them as supports for the licorice but maybe the licorice needed to be older and more dried out. 

Cute, cute, cute.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Striped Cardigan
(Click on photos to enlarge)

I’ve been wanting just a basic, oversized, knock-around-the-house cardigan for a long time but just never found the time or urgency to fit it in with my other knitting which usually has priority.  So when my local yarn store hosted a promotion by Berroco Yarns, I decided it might just be time to do a cardigan for me. 

I basically knew what I wanted it to look like but the hardest part was deciding on colors.  I think it turned out pretty well actually.  I used Knitware software for the basic pattern with modified drop sleeves, hip length and 3” ribbing on the body and sleeve cuffs.   I used DAK to align the stripes but could’ve used DAK to design the whole pattern if I’d bone up on DAK’s garment shaping….which I should do anyway.  This is made with Berroco Comfort worsted on my KX350 midgauge at T5.   I worked the ribbing on my SK860 midgauge, scrapped it off and transferred it to my KX350 to make the body sections and sleeves….much easier and nicer looking that hand latching the ribbing on the 350.  I did a 1x1 rib for the button bands on the SK860 at T3, then mattress stitched it onto the fronts and neck back.  The next adventure was finding buttons that I wanted.  I found some really nice ones made from coconut shell that seemed to be just made for it.

I’m not going to post my pattern because I did so many alterations to the pattern to please me that it most likely wouldn’t fit anyone else.  The schematic in your size specifications and yarn gauge will get you in the ballpark.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fairisle Gloves
(Click on photos to enlarge)
This is not my pattern but I just had to brag about them.  I never thought I’d be knitting gloves as I always thought that the time and energy involved weren’t worth the effort.  How wrong I was.  I saw these posted on and thought they were so very pretty that I just had to try them.  It took me a couple tries to get my head wrapped around the pattern but after I accomplished that, my first prototype was a success and knew that I needed a pair.  I really like them.  Ya can’t buy gloves as nice as these. 

I used some pretty bad superwash merino/nylon sock yarn that I wasn’t going to use for socks for the main yarn and the contrast yarn came from the closeout bin at Hobby Lobby.  Both are a bit heavier than the sock yarns I’d normally use so I increased the tension dial a full number higher than the pattern called for and I worked the fairisle section a full number higher than what I knit the fingers.

The pattern was developed and posted on and on her blog by Ingrid Cojocaru, AKA ‘bruchaip’.  Best of all Ingrid was kind enough to offer it to us for free. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Socks for Wide Ankles or Calves
(Click on photos to enlarge)

Getting socks to fit those with extra wide ankles or calves can be frustrating.  I’ve tried tension graduation from the ribbing down to the foot with a bit of success but I still don’t find that I can get enough extra width in the calf area and I don’t like to loosen tension in the ribbing too much.  So I got my mind wrapped around adding more stitches at the ribbing than I normally would and evenly spacing decrease stitches as I work down toward the heel.  It’s not a quick knit because it involves moving stitches together after the decreases and transferring stitches from bed to bed but it works for me and I can get a nice fitting sock for those who need more fabric in the calf or ankle area.

I work my socks in the round on my standard gauge machine and ribber from the cuff down with the ribbing seam up the back of the leg.  The same can be achieved with a toe up sock, just reverse the shaping from decreases to increases.  As with any sock, good measurements are key to a good fitting sock.  I want enough stretch so the fabric is not stressed but not so loose that the sock bags and won’t stay up in place.

Knitting a flat sock would be much easier to incorporate the increases and decreases but I don’t like seams in socks so this is the theory behind my madness and here’s the method of my madness.  As an example, I’m using these calculations for socks I made with Cascade Heritage sock yarn at T5.  Cast on as many stitches and add evenly spaced decreases as needed to fit the foot you’re knitting for.

9.5” long foot, 9” around foot, 9” around ankle, wide calf
T5 Gauge:  9 sts, 11 rows = 1”

Ribbed Cuff:
1.  CO 80 sts, 1x1 rib at T3+ for 50R,
2.  Transfer MB sts to RB and K1R across at T5.
3.  Convert to circular knitting by transferring outermost 1/4 of total sts from ribber bed to main bed.

T5, 114R total in leg.
1.  At RC002, 028, 054 and 080, decrease one st on 3rd st each side of 0 (from outside toward center),    Dec down to 72 sts  (With ribbing seam up the back, work decreases on main bed) 
2.  Move sts in to fill the empty needles and move the outermost left hand st from the ribber bed to the left hand outermost empty needle on the main bed, then move all ribber bed sts one needle to L  (See note 1 below.)
3.  After all decreases are made, move all sts on the ribber bed to center over 0 so the heel is centered on the back seam, ensuring that there are the same number of sts (36) on each bed.  (See note 2 below)
4.  Knit even to RC114.

Heel, Foot and Toe:
1.  Shortrow heel down to 12 sts and back out, with Woolly Nylon.
2.  K116R in circular for foot.
3.  Repeat toe as for heel.

NOTE 1, To work decreases:
  1.  With COR, move sts together to fill holes at decreases on the main bed,
  2. Transfer outermost left hand ribber bed st to outermost left hand main bed empty needle,
  3. Move all ribber bed sts one needle to the left.  There should be the same number of sts on each bed.
NOTE 2, To center ribber bed sts on ‘0’ again:
     a.   With COR, move all ribber bed sts one needle to the right,
     b.  Transfer outermost left hand main bed st to outermost left hand empty ribber bed needle,
     c.  Unravel far right ribber bed stitch and transfer to outermost right hand empty needle on the  main bed.
     d.  Repeat the steps in a. thru c. til same # of sts on ea side of ‘0’ and same # of sts on ea bed.
     e.  Resume circular knitting.

EDITED after I received a nice comment below from Tanya, AKA 'ItMakesYouSmile' from
Tanya commented with another good suggestion of how to decrease/increase in the calf area to fit wide ankles or calves for a longer sock or stocking.  She suggested that it might be easier to move half of the stitches to the ribber bed and make the decreases on both sides of the open seam line, then rotate back to start the heel and complete the foot.

I’m happy to report that I had time to play with this and found that for a short sock with only 4 or 5 decreases/increases that the difference was about the same.  But I can see the definite time saving advantage for using her method in a longer sock or stocking.  After I got the decreases done, I scrapped the whole thing off (both beds) and rehung to center the heel section.  Another way would be to scrap off or use a Decker comb just the ribber stitches and transfer them back to the main bed, then either scrap off or use a Decker comb to convert to circular.

Thank you Tanya, for giving us another way to do this.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dishcloth, Vertical Tuck Stripe

(Click on photos to enlarge)
I ran onto a wonderful tucking technique from 'ridelikethewind', a gal on who shared the technique in really nice hat and mittens made with the same stitch pattern.  To simplify things and to learn the mechanics, I made a dishcloth with some cotton yarn.  It's quite a great stitch pattern with vertical stripes on one side and a vertical tuck pattern on the other...and no ribber needed.  It makes wonderful dishcloths and I can see lots of applications for it.  'Ridelikethewind' used a punchcard machine to make her hat and mittens and I used my electronic Brother 965i.  My dishcloths were made on my KX350 midgauge manual machine so this can be done on any machine.  I urge you to pop in on Ravelry and check out 'Ridelikethewind's projects. 
For vertical stripes to be properly knit, patterning must start with row #2 of a punch card or the electronic equivalent.  See below for the stitch pattern and my notes on how to work it.
Machine:  Brother KX350 Midgauge (7mm)
Yarn:  Maysville 8/4 Cotton rug warp
Tension:  4 to 5  (I prefer T5)
Gauge:  4.5 sts, 17 rows = 1” in tuck
Size:  9” wide x 10”long
1)   CO 46 (44) sts with waste yarn and ravel cord.
2)   T5, E-wrap and K1R to left.
3)   RC000, beginning with needle 1, pull EON to HP across.
4)   Engage the hold levers on the carriage.
5)   K1R to right.
6)   *  Change yarn color.
7)   With a flat edge or your fingers, push the needles in hold position back to upper working position. Then pull the needles in lower working position out to hold position.
8)   K2R.  **
9)   Repeat from * to ** to RC170 or desired length, continuing to change yarns and alternating needles each time carriage is on the right hand side.  End patterning with COR.
10) Take carriage off hold and K1R to the L.
11)  Back stitch bind off.
12)  Add a border if desired.
This technique is much easier and less time consuming done on a punch card or electronic machine.  A single bed color changer would be a luxury to aid changing yarns every 2 rows but certainly not a necessity.  Don’t let not having a color changer keep you from using this wonderful patterning.

I have a Brother KH965i and used Stitchworld pattern #256 with the elongate button activated.  To my dismay, I didn’t get vertical stripes but nice horizontal stripes, no matter if I started on row 2 or 1.  So thinking thru my machine mechanics in relation to the pattern, I concluded that the elongate key was the culprit.  This technique starts with row 2 of the Brother 820 punch card #2.  The elongate key freezes the pattern for 2 pattern rows, no matter which row number is selected.  Here are my 2 solutions:
1)   Design the pattern in DAK and download it to the machine, do NOT activate the elongate key, and begin patterning with row 2.
2)   Use Stitchworld pattern #256, work pattern row #1, THEN turn on the elongate key.  Then work the pattern as above, changing yarns every 2 rows when carriage is on the left.
REMINDER:  No matter which machine you use, the tuck patterning must begin with row 2 in the pattern repeat in order for the stripes to take effect.
Stitch Pattern:        x
(Tuck side)
(Striped side)