Sunday, November 16, 2014

Better, Neater, Faster, Easier.

My friend Linda W., up there on Tug Hill, offered me some sound critique on the hem-top socks.  She told me that her husband would find the hem messy.  She wants to make something with a neater top.  Well, Linda was right.  I was immediately not happy with the hem.  I had used the eon e-wrap for the hem for maximum elasticity.  But that leaves really big floppy loops of yarn on the inside of the hem.  I know they feel okay, but it looked crappy.
On the next pair of socks, I did my knitted e-wrap cast-on on every needle.
When I hung the hem, I still only hung every other bar (the bars between the e-wraps).  The hem is just as elastic as the eon cast-on, and looks so much better.  That aside, the every-needle cast-on solved a couple problems I didn't know I had.  Let me count them out for you.
1. Your waste yarn cast-on can be full-needle, instead of 1x1-  Simply set up your rib pattern on both beds, set the beds to 1/2 pitch (needles staggered), rack 1 (left or right) to get your zigzag row, and after you have done 2 circular passes, set to full pitch (needles opposite) and rack back 1 so your back bed needles face your front bed needles.  You are now done fiddling with needle setup.
2.  The knitted on e-wrap may be a bit snugger on every needle than on eon.  If so, then manually raise the needles on the first bed to knit, and knit them back with the carriage, then do the same on the 2nd bed  to knit.  Nicer cast on row.
3.  The bars, when you hang the hem are still easy to see, and no big loops in your way when you knit the first row after the hem.
4.  This cast-on is faster to do than the old one.  Mostly, I think, because it does not combine changing to  the rib pattern while doing the cast on rows.

I made a couple pairs, and played around with different mock-rib intervals.  I got a little obsessive-compulsive over having my rib pattern be symmetrical, and centered front and back, and having a rib on each side to bridge between front and back beds.  I also obsessed over sock size as it is affected by the ratio between the total needles for the pattern and the net number of needles that actually are in work.  omg!
Turns out, you have to worry about that if your princess can feel the pea under the mattress.

Friday, October 31, 2014

notes on the cadillac socks

RE: socks.  I use the craft council sock chart for sizes.  
It is here:  

The following measurements are for crew-style or dress socks, which usually come several inches above the ankle and below the calf. 11a.

Preview by Yahoo

 I use the actual foot circumference, along with my stitch gauge, to determine the number of stitches, then round up or down to a multiple of 4.  (I break that rule whenever it is convenient- such as when using a multiple of 3 because I am using a 2-1 rib.)
I use the sock height measurement that I like, rather than the sock height on the chart- to Sort- of decide how much ribbing I will make.  I like to have an inch or two of plain knitting between the ribbing and the heel shaping, so that is also part of the sock height, as well as half of the heel shaping.  
I use the actual foot length to determine how many rows the foot will be.  I subtract 4.5 to 5 inches from the actual foot length (because the heel and toe shaping will take up that much of the length) and multiply what's left by my row gauge to tell me how many rows of foot to knit between the heel and the toe.
Now for the machine knitting.  I use 4 ply sock yarn.  2 ends of 2/24 work, too.  But the sock yarns are superwash and nylon and they wash in the washing machine and dry in the dryer.  The superwash/nylon sock yarns also wear like iron.  The wearer will have them for years.

So- the basic instructions for my cadillac socks :
If my gauge is, for example, 8 st and 11 rows per inch in stockinet in the round, and I want to make a medium woman's crew sock, then I want the sock to be 68 stitches around, for 8 1/2 inches.  The industrial rib will actually have 30% more stitches, but the stockinet part will be 68 stitches throughout.
Cast on in industrial rib on both beds from 34 L to 34 R.  Tension one click less than stockinet tension.  K 68 rows.
Transfer stitches to the main bed, and set up for in-the-round stockinet.  See the notes for this.  
set tension for stockinet. Knit 20 rounds for preheel.
Heel: Shortrow on main bed only- down to 11 - approximately one third of 34.  then shortrow back up.  Please see the notes.
Sock body: knitting circular again, Knit 55 rounds. (for a sock that totals 9 1/2 inches in heel to toe length)
Toe: Knit as for heel.
Knit one complete circular row.  Knit one circular row with ravel cord, and take off on waste yarn.
Seam the ribbing- see the notes.
kitchener the toe.

I like to use industrial rib- it stands up nice and does not bind or cut.  It does use more yarn. People with skinny ankles don't need industrial rib- you can just use 1x1 or 2x2.
On your main bed, pull forward the number of needles indicated by your foot circumference.  Push back every 3rd needle.  On your ribber, set to half pitch, and pull up two needles in the space of each out of work needle on your main bed.  Now rack your ribber bed by one click, either left or right, so that you can see that when you knit the first row, you will get a nice zigzag.  You can add a needle on one end or the other to make it work.  Now go to your ribber manual and use the racked circular caston.  Remember which way you racked to set up, so you can rack back to that setup when you are finished casting on.
Also, when you are finished casting on, transfer the stitch on each end needle out to a new needle, and put the original end needle out of work.  You may want those end needles both on the main bed.  I don't mind where they are, but I'm on a fixed double bed.  The purpose of this move is to put some extra yarn in near the end stitches, which will be ever so handy later when you are seaming up the ribbing.   
I knit soft ribbing.  It is knit at a tension that is only once click down from my stockinet tension, which is used on the rest of the sock.  I am thinking that on a brother, I would be ribbing at 4.2(both carriages) and knitting stockinet at 5.1.  You will need to be sure that your ribber knits at the same tension in stockinet as your main bed- do your tension gauge in-th-round, so you will know if you need to set one looser or tighter than the other.
When you have knit all the rows of ribbing, transfer the ribber stitches to the main bed- in each set of two ribber stitches, one will fill the empty needle between two sets of 2 on the main bed, and the other will transfer to a needle that already has a stitch on it.  Move the end stitches in, as well.  You should have the correct number of stitches for the body of the sock.  If I am plus 1 stitch at this point, I leave it that way right now, and after the next transfer operation is completed, I transfer that extra stitch to the last stitch on the opposite bed.  That's just me.
Set your carriage for stockinet and knit one row.
I like the rib seam on the inside of the ankle.  So I make a left and a right sock.  I always make the left first- so on the first sock, I will be transferring the right half of the stitches .  Take the weights off your knitting- put on a claw weight at center left.  Put the stitches from R0 to Rwhatever on a garter bar- the first needle must be on the left end prong of the garter bar. This left end prong will stay close to where it is, and the right end of the garter bar will go down between the beds and then up under the left hand half of the stitches.  You will have folded your knitting in half.  Have your ribber needles raised with the latches open, and carefully drop the garter bar onto the hooks.  You will get very fast at this.  
Set up your beds, weight the ribber side of the sock with a claw weight.  Check your carriages settings and tensions. Beds will be at full pitch (needles opposite)  Knit in the round (RC counts 2 for each round- I write down my end number so I don't confuse myself).  Knit that inch or two of preheel.  Drop the ribber bed down one notch, so you can do the heel on the main bed.  change your sinker place.  change from circular to stockinet
Heel (and Toe) are both short row.  If you have 34 stitches on the main bed, then you are going to shortrow down to 11 - approximately one third of 34.  then shortrow back up.  
Going down: Set for holding position. and stockinet. On the carriage side, pull one needle out to hold position and knit across. Repeat until there are 12 stitches left in the middle.  You will need to weight (or hold down with your fingers as you knit across) because as you get more stitches in hold, your live knitting will be wanting to climb up and make getting a good stitch difficult.  I use claw weights but hang them on the back of the live work by just one or two prongs.  I also use my fingers.
When there are 12 stitches left, pull out one needle on the carriage side, and on the other side, put 2 needles back in upper work position and knit across.  Repeat this row until all the stitches are back in work. This 1 up-2 down does a self wrap that matches the self wrap on the way down.  
When the heel is knitted, some folks swap the end stitches on the main bed with the end stitches on the ribber.  I don't.  If I think I will have a hole, I wrap into the end ribber needle hook when the end needle on the main bed is the last needle in hold.  
Body of sock- set up to return to circular.  Knit the number of rows you calculated for the main body.  Then make the toe the same way you made the heel.
When the toe is complete, return to circular, and knit one complete circular row with main yarn, then one complete row with ravel cord  then 5 or 6 full rows of waste yarn and take off the machine.(make you ravel cord and waste yarn a color that contrasts with your main yarn.)

Kitchener close the toe.  (I do this on the purl side.)
Side seam:  With a double pointed needle (size 2 or 1 is good) pick up the side of the every other edge stitch of your ribbing. If you knit 50 rows of rib, you should have around 25 on each side.  With your cast on yarn, and a blunt tapestry needle (I like an 18) take alternate stitches off the needles from the top of the cuff down.  When you get to the bottom of the opening, stretch the cuff so that the seam is not pulled, then run your yarn back up the seam part way.

How many ways will you go wrong?  The common rookie mistakes involve getting ahead of yourself , or forgetting a step.
You will forget to take off the ribber arm when you change to just the main bed for the heel and the toe.  You will forget to change from the regular arm back to the ribber arm when you go back to circular knitting.  You will forget to set your carriages correctly for circular knitting when you change back and forth.  You will forget to set your main bed carriage to hold position when it is needed.  You will forget to take weights off and you will forget to put weights on. You will forget to check the tension setting.  You will forget to rack back your ribber bed after you cast on.  You will forget to change to full pitch when you set up for circular.
These are a lot the mistakes that we make.  Even as we read the directions carefully, and look at what we are doing-
My advice is to write the directions out in steps that YOU can follow.  Use a sharpie, and hang them on your yarn mast where they are visible as you are working, because I know you will NOT get up and get those directions.  No, you will forget a step, and then, you will go get them.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Not-Automatic Knit-in-the-round, mock-rib hem-top sock for the double bed knitting machine

This sock pattern is so not automatic.  It is all manual.  These directions should make sense on any model double bed superba/white and on the old swiss magic double bed and it’s sisters.  
You can also do this on the japanese machines with a ribber attached,  but I worked on a superba.
Also, CSM crankers will recognize this sock- many make a version like this all the time, as it is a classy sock, and it does not involve using the Circular sock machine ribber.

These directions are for a women's medium sock.  It is based on a 6 needle repeat, so add or remove 'ribs' in pairs to make huge or tiny socks.  
Cast on waste yarn:
This is an Every other needle zigzag caston.
Beds  are full pitch: set with needles opposite, and stay this way throughout the sock.  On the front bed, starting at L18, raise every other needle into working position to, and including, R17.  Do the same on the back bed, except go from L17 to R18.  

I set the bed spacing to ‘4’.
Carriage on right.  Set both carriages to knit, and tension 1.  knit one row.

Hang the comb, add some weight,  and set both carriages to circular. Change to Tension 4 on both carriages. Knit 3 rows, ending carriage on right.

Now, raise back bed needles L18 and front bed needle R18 into work position. Knit 10 or more rows, ending carriage on right.

take waste yarn out of feeder, and knit one row with ravel cord.  Remember: one full row is one row on the front and one row on the back! End carriage on right.

What the mock rib looks like
Here is where the sock really starts:

Now, closed caston for top of sock-  (This edge will be knitted to the inside of the sock to make the hem top.)

Thread the main yarn in the tensions and pull down yarn so that you a couple yards of yarn to work with and the yarn is slack.
Working by hand, from right to left across the front bed,using e-wrap in the hooks, raise each needle so that the ravel cord stitch is below the latch, e-wrap in the hook, and pull the e-wrap through the ravel cord stitch.  Make the new stitches loose.  Then, work the same  left to right across the back bed,

Now, on both beds, pull up into working position the rest of the empty needles to make the circular mock rib set-up.  On the back bed,starting from the left, the set up is two needles in work, one out, then 5 in work with one out of work across the bed, ending with 3 needles in work.  On the front bed, it is reversed- with  a set of 3 needles in work on the left, and a set of 2 needles in work on the right.  All the way around, you have 5 needles in work and one needle out of work,

Thread the work yarn through the carriage yarn feeder and pull the slack yarn back through the tensions, See that your carriages are set to knit circular,  Set the tension on both carriages to your garment tension- (I used 5.1on both dials)
Set RC to 0.
Carefully knit row one. (one row = one pass to the left PLUS one pass to the right.  And One row means the row counter counts “2”.

Knit to RC 60 (that is 30 rows). should end carriage on right.

You can now either hang the hem, or you can continue with the sock knitting and sew the hem by hand when the sock is off the machine.  
I hang the hem- but the first couple times it takes some concentration.  If you are planning on making lots of socks, make the investment in practicing.  It will pay off quickly.  However, the sock police are not making stops for hand sewn hems.

Mark row for hem now, if you are going to hand sew later:
With a separate short piece of matching yarn (you will need a piece about 18 inches long)   you are going to hand knit every other needle, first on the front bed working right to left, and then on the back bed left to right.  I do this on the second needle of the sets of two, and on the 2nd and 4th of the sets of 5, and on the 2nd of the sets of three.  tuck the ends of the short piece of yarn out of the way inside the sock or down between the beds.

If you are going to hang the hem, drop the ribber bed, and take off any weights.  You may want to put some very small weight on the center back and center front, just to assure the stitches stay comfortably in the hooks while you are hanging the hem.  You will actually be hanging the long loops between the stitches of the e-wrap cast-on row.  I start with the stitches and needles on the front bed, because they are the harder ones for me to see.  I use a hook to grab the waste yarn below the working yarn caston row and raise it up so I can see the caston row, and while I have a section raised , I put the loop on the corresponding needle.  Work across the front bed, and then do the back bed.  You should have added a loop on every other needle around.

The black thread is my ravel cord.  The red is my waste yarn.
I have pushed up the e-wrap cast on row with my fingers.
You can see the nice big loops that will make the knit in hem.
Add back your weights if they needed.  
Make sure that your needles are lined up in the right position, and resume knitting with the carriages.  
Now knit to RC180.  This will be a total of 60 more rows.  (Row counter was 60 when you resumed, and the 120 added to the row counter indicates 60 full rows.)  End carriage on right.  
On the back bed, put the empty needles into work position.

(If you do not want the top of the foot in mock rib, do the same on the front bed.   Otherwise replace the out of work needles on the front bed when you set up to knit the toe.)

Knit 10 rows (Row Counter advances by 20 to 200.)

Turn heel on the back bed.  Set front bed carriage to (0) and back bed carriage to V.  Pull out to non working position one needle on the carriage side each row for 23 rows.  On row 24,  pull out one needle on the carriage side, and push the inner two hold position needles back into work.  Repeat row 24 until all needles are back in work.  When you no longer have two needles to push back into work position, manually place the remaining needle back to  regular work position and put the stitch back in the hook.  If you have to make another row on the back bed to get back to circular knitting, you can loop the working yarn into the hook of the left front bed needle before knitting across, to help close the hole.  (Fudge note: I don’t count rows.  When there are no longer 2 needles out of work on either side, If carriage is on right, I put the needles back in work position and resume circular knitting.  If carriage is on left, and there is a needle still out of work on left, I put the working yarn in the left end needle hook on the front bed before knitting to the right on the last heel row, and with carriage on right, set up to resume circular.)

Set row counter to 0.
Knit foot.  Carriages set to circular- knit 59 rows - row counter will advance  by 118.
put remaining empty needles in work.  knit one row.  row counter reads 120.

Turn toe, following directions for turning heel.

When toe is complete,, knit one complete row.  
Knit one complete row with ravel cord, and knit several rows with waste yarn.

You can immediately set up for the second sock, by transferring every other stitch to an adjacent needle.  Start with the 3rd stitch from the left on the back bed, or the 3rd from the right on the front bed.  Remember that the back bed set up starts with 2 needles in work, then every other needle across, and the front bed ends with 2 needles in work.
Knit another 5 or ten rows and begin the second sock with the ravel cord, and the closed cast on for the sock top.

Kitchener the toes and put them on. Take a 'sockie' for your ravelry post.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Freedon Wright's wife and her spinning wheel, part deux

Last year was too busy- among other endeavors, I moved to Virginia.  I had to weed out the homestead, as it would not all fit in the new one.
I still had the spinning wheel that was part of the Freedom Wright household.  I did not think that it belonged in Virginia, and I (fortunately) had not got around to 'restoring' it to a working state.  It now resides at the Lewis County Historical Society.
I felt an obligation because most spinning wheels do not have this kind of provenance.  We usually cannot know who made them, or who used them.  It was a privilege to own the wheel for a time, and a privilege to put it where its provenance can be appreciated and expanded.
Remind yourself what this wheel looked like by going to the old post in 2011.

Okay, it's been a while.... Really.

Okay- it's been a while.   And if not for those pesky New Year Resolutions, I would not be back here yet.
Here is a quilt top I've worked out, along with some pics to illustrate a few of the 'tricks' I used to make it.

Seeing Stars

This looks more structurally complicated than it is.  The single block that makes up this top is a 10 1/2"x 5 1/2" rectangle with it's lower left corner quarter in a contrast.  You make the light rectangles with a dark corner, and the dark rectangles with a light corner.  Then join a dark and a light (mostly) along their un-cornered sides, and you have 10 1/2" squares.  Pinwheel four squares around a common color center, and you have a  20 1/2" star block.  When you line up the star blocks, other stars will form between them, along with diagonal rows of 4 color squares.
I worked this variation out in two sets of colors:  Dark and light green, and Purple and very light tan.  You can see that my variation does not 'line up' like the one that inspired it.  (  All of my Dark green rectangles have the light green corner, all my light green rectangles have the dark green corner.  Same with the other two colors- so there are four 'bricks' here-
This was constructed by cutting 5 1/2 inch wof strips.  For each set of 4 20 1/2" star blocks, you will need 4 each of 16 inch strips and 6 inch strips of all 4 colors.
Mark the center line of the 5 1/2 inch square that is 1/4 inch inside the 6 inch side of the small patches.
This is how I did them.
Then I pinned all the patches and chain sewed the 1/2 squares.
Here's how I kept the patches centered while pinning.
Make sure that all your diagonal center lines travel in the same direction!!!
You need all you blocks to have the same corner-  no mirror twins!!!

Then it's cut the diagonals, and press.  I took care pressing those bias seams.
Then I worked from my cartoon to assemble my blocks.

Now I have the quilt top's 12 blocks to serve as my cartoon.  Well, that was fun.  Except for the number of times that I twisted one of the 10 1/2 inch sub-blocks the wrong way somehow, and had to rip and resew.  It was a testament to making the same mistake over and over again.  Apparently, I practice what I know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have you ever seen a maidenhair fern in bloom?

They look like little white crowns!

Table is 29 inches tall- Around 40 inches from top of pot to floor.
Have you EVER seen a maidenhair fern BLOOM? 
Until today, me neither!
I'm making note of all factors in this post- I have no idea what prompted Miss Fern to bloom, but my assumption is that she is very, very happy.
She is 4 years old.  At 2 years, I divided her and repotted. (People who "divide" maidenhair ferns are laughing as they read this.  The rest of you need to know that you need an axe to divide the rootball.)   She lives between two north windows, and next to a hot air duct. She's probably rootbound.  We are a week after the summer solstice. 
The blooms are clusters on spikes off mature stems.  Each bloom is about 1/8 inch across.  It has 6 curled-back petals, one each behind 6 gold-pollen tipped anthers.  The blooms on this one are all near the top of the pot, so if you hang your fern, you will miss the blooms, probably.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KoolAid to the Rescue

Bargains.  I love 'em.  They engender a feeling of contentment in me.  Like I deserved them.  There are some iconic fiber-related bargains that have really made me warm and fuzzy for years.  The $10 Lendrum wheel.  The $5 Singer 155.  
A more recent bargain was a box full of wonderful cone yarn (fingering weight) that is 50-50 wool and cashmere.  Yup.  I scored cashmere.  For around $10 a pound.  Warm and Fuzzy.  
A plus B = ??
I have several colors that are very nice.  I have a couple colors that will come back around in 5 years, and I'll still have this yarn, so it's safe to wait.  I have two full cones of pink.  Hot pink.  Saturated hot pink.  Even if hot pink comes back around, I won't be wearing it.  
I wanted to work out some socks and take down some tension numbers so that I can whip up  a right sized pair of cashmere socks at any time downstream from now, with no need for future swatching.  Naturally, I reach for the hot pink.  I can spare it.  I would off a couple of 50g skeins.  
Then I spied the bag of koolaid packages in the drawer.  Well, why not.
This is what you get with 6 cups of water, 4 packs of electric blue lemonade, and 100 g. of hot pink.

Cooking yarn and Kool-Aid

Not the evenest dye job, but a color I can live with.

  I am feeling warm and fuzzy.