Sunday, January 20, 2019

Loom Knitting 2 ways

I made a pair of fingerless mitts for OKL's birthday on the green Boye knitting loom -- slow work, but done in 2 wkds.

When I finished his this morning, I got out the Addi Express Knitting Machine and tried to make the same thing on the little knitting machine.  It worked beautifully, simple and easy! 

Here's the comparison:

Image result for boye knitting loom green

 OKL's half gloves on the green Boye Knitting Loom by hand (slow work).

And here are the ones I did this morning on the Addi Express in less than an hour (90 minutes to finish everything).  It's almost hard to tell the difference, since I used the same yarn.   But these are indeed 2 separate pairs of Half Gloves.

I think I'll have to stitch some stars onto mine, just so we can tell them apart.
It is a good day!

Quick Black Fingerless Mitts on the Addi Express

Who-hooh!  It worked!  Quick Fingerless Gloves on my Addi Express.

I found this video by Elisabeth Craft on making a simple pair of fingerless gloves on the Addi Express.  No fancy (or even simple) ribbing, or extra stuff for the thumb holes.    And because I used a thicker, chunkier yarn than for the first attempt, it worked out beautifully!

The Addi Express seems very happy with this yarn : "I Love This Chunky ..."

It's 100% acrylic.  Color is : Heathered Charcoal.
I love the color because it reminds me of my old Newfie, Maggie.

I did do a couple of practice runs -- which I would recommend to anyone who is new to working a circular knitting machine.  It knits up so fast, that it's easy enough to pull out and start over, too, if you have a mistake.  The thumb hole was a little tricky, but I finally got it figured out.  I can't believe how fast it went on a Sunday morning!  I had both tubes made in less than an hour.  Finishing took a little longer, as there was no video for that. Also, I rolled the cuff under so they appear a little shorter than Elisabeth Craft's in the video. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Spinning Yarns : Chocolate Mint

I spun this yarn on the new cherry Schacht Reeves spinning wheel.  The brown and green mix was a ball I bought at the Sheep and Wool Festival years ago.  I think the green is silk?  I think it came from Hidden Valley Sheep & Wool Farm on the other side of Lake Winnebago.

I plied it with with some black sheep and alpaca wool from Lindago Alpaca Farm in Neenah.   Somehow she manages to get nice fiber batts at very reasonable prices. 

The spool on the left is the Hidden Valley roving spun up into a single thread.  Yes, there's a little mylar in it to add sparkle.   The middle and the left spool are after it's been plied with the black wool from Lindago.

Here's a detail shot.
This looks like some very expensive and fancy yarn! And I made it myself.  ;-)

What will I make with it?

Sunday, January 06, 2019


 First, a gorgeous image of frost from the guest room window back in February. 
The Frost Fariries were doing beautiful work that day!

My husband asked me to weave some place matts.  He got some quilted ones for Christmas instead.  Since I'm at the applique stage of the Morning Star Quilt project, I've been itching to SEW something -- and I have lots of blue scraps left over from my Sister's blue and orange quilt along with mom and dad's king-size 50th anniversary quilt.

I made a velvet scarf for my mom for Christmas.  She loves blue, and pretty things.  
The velvet is leftover from the Polar Bear Quilt.  

2 versions of Fingerless Mittens
The right (top) hand was done on the Addi Express Knitting Machine.
That's how I spent New Year's Day, getting to know the Addi's ins and outs.  
I'm working on a separate post to explain how I made the version on the Addi. 

The left (lower) hand was done on a manual knitting loom-- Slower work, but more precise, and nicer looking.  I think I'll definitely be doing more of that method.  Even took it on a plane trip earlier in December, proving it's portable and calming.     There are also multiple stitches you can do on the knitting looms--not just stockinette.  I have a whole new world to explore! 

Ok Sheila -- You win on the contemplative nature of knitting vs. the speedy machine knitting sucking all the joy out of it.  Slow work has value.

We've been making progress on the wool picker project.  The picker plates are sized and cut out. I worked up the drilling templates for the nails, and drilled them last weekend.  Yes-- I got 5 pounds of nails for Christmas so we could make this wool picker.  ;-)   More updates on that to come ...

Other than that, I'm feeling very frustrated in my quest to learn to knit with traditional knitting needles--even after watching the Craftsy Class online.  I've been spending countless hours on Pinterst, printing off patterns, only to realize most of them are wwaaayyy beyond my current ability / skill level.    Yup-- I want to make a lacey cowl, or patterned socks.    Sigh -- I bought aluminum needles -- maybe that was my first mistake, and why I hated it when I was a kid.  I was compelled to make the stitches so tight so as not to lose them--which is one of the issues with aluminum needles.  But apparently that's less of a problem with wood or acrylic needles.  Either way, I'm going back to the knitting looms for a while ...   I need to let the needle knitting sink in little more.  Although -- I feel better about reading charts now, and there are methods for translating needle knitting patterns to loom knitting.   Beyond that, I have a couple of friends who are accomplished knitters, and are willing to help me out ...  at least for mastering the basics.   Then there's the YouTube World, too.  Which had been just dandy for the loom knitting.  Or I could just go back to the tried and true crochet handwork.

It's good to learn new things, to remember what it's like to be an amateur ...  How long does it take to make those knitting stitches automatic?  You see those knitters going at it without even looking at what they are doing because they have such a feel for it.  I'm a long way from that.

 Let's end on a high (and calm) note with another Frost Texture photo.   Ahhh!

December Frost

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Spinning Gold and Indigo

Picked up these beauties at the local thrift store.  Linen and rayon, according to the core.  Seems very strong, and will make a good warp on the loom someday.  There are 3 or 4 more of the neutral.  Reminds me of senne twine, but not as course.    Thanks to Karla S. for spotting this little stash at St Vinny's.

Caught the morning light on the basket for the photo.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The first one is the hardest ...

Last weekend, I worked all afternoon on stitching and stabilizing the applique flowers for the Morningstar Quilt.  From picking appropriate thread colors, to choosing a path around the objects, to 

The week before, I fused all the flower applique pieces to some black interfacing, and then cut around all the edges.  This helped to stabilize the pieces before I stitched the edges down.  Prior to that, they were glued (with a common school glue glue stick, like kids use) and fragile.

After some trial and error, I discovered that the tangarine / orange thread looked the nicest on the reds and purples  golds and oranges in the flowers.

I also learned that I needed to sew off the ends of the flower points.   If I tried to stop and pivot at those points, the point pulled up through the foot, and got crumbled up.  If I sewed off the edge, it stayed flat.  I was using the free-motion foot, but perhaps I could have chosen the foot with only a hole for the needle to pass through?

The non-stick oven sheet was very helpful for allowing the piece to slide around under the needle, and not get hung up in the uneven sewing table,

I also got one of the triangle pieces worked up, with all the vines and flowers glued / fused in place.   I cut some steam-a-seam into strips and pieced it around all those curves for the vines.     I still need to stitch it down.  Still thinking about what to use for stabilizer?  I want this to puff up a little like Trapunto, so maybe a piece of batting?  Or perhaps I should save that for the quilting stage?  Only 3 more triangles and 4 larger square corner pieces to go ...

There are so many things you need to know to make a quilt like this -- things that are not explained in the pattern.  Good thing I've been quilting for the last 15 years, and learned a lot of techniques through the years.  It all helps!

All that work -- and somewhere along the way, one of the smaller flowers got lost.  Can't find it anywhere --  Do I make a new one, and backtrack to do the threadwork again, or do I just wait it out, and see if it re-appears?

All that work today, and it feel like I didn't really get anything done.  I was sewing all afternoon, but don't feel like I have anything to show for it.  That's how I've felt the whole time working on these applique pieces.  This is the bottleneck stage of the project.  The putsy stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fascination with Circular Knitting Machines

Since last summer, I've been fascinated with circular knitting machines -- the mechanical kind. The really nice ones (and even the vintage / antique ones) are unbelievably expensive at around $1800 - $2000. Whoah! You can buy a lot of socks for that price!

Why am I so fascinated?  Look at how fast you can knit a pair of socks ...

Watch this 8-1/2 Minute Sock video, and you'll catch the bug, too.  Just the thought ob being able to knit an entire sock in just 8 minutes is incredible!

Here's another one - Sock Knitting Machine Demonstration -- easy enough for a kid to do for a school project!

Really interesting lecture, and it truly did feel like a college lecture ...  She starts off with a book review of The Enchantress of Numbers, historical fiction about Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron.  She is considered one of the mothers of modern computing and programming.  I just love hearing about women's history like this ...  Women who made a way when there was no way for them.

Fascinating history of these little machines, and their evolution.  Interesting to hear why there are so few of them out there today -- Turns out is has to do with WWI (There were lots of them as women were asked to make socks for soldiers in WWI to help prevent trench foot.  They were still popular during The Great Depression as a way for women to make a little extra money.  By the time WWII came around, many of them were being recalled for the metal.  They were melted down for the war effort.

Finally, she talks Jamie Mayfield of the Erlbacher Knitting Machine Company, where they make these little beauties to order.  Yes, they are still available, but very expensive ($1800 a pop).  

Yay for Yarn's You Tube playlist for using the Addi Circular Knitting Machine

I watched one of her videos and thought "Yes, I could do this."  They look good, and they look quick.  She's a good teacher, and explains things very well.   And the price of an Addi circular knitting machine is much more affordable than the classic old timey ones.  More like$100 vs. $2000!

I'm hoping to get one of these little Addi Express Professional Knitting Machines  for Christmas this year.  We'll see ...  My husband was just as fascinated watching the old-timey mechanical knitting machines work.  It is mesmerizing, and so cool to have a whole row done in 5 seconds.

Gramma Pickles used to have knitting machines, on which she would make sweaters for all of us.  I still have a few of her sweaters.   I made sure to put one of her sweaters on display at her funeral last fall--One that she was often photographed wearing.    ;-)

Monday, December 10, 2018

"She's Doing It, Mr Noodle!" - Loom Knitting

When I was a kid and in 4-H, or learning with Gramma Pickles, I never did learn to knit.  Never got past the stage of unreasonably tight stitches, and finally gave it up in favor of crocheting and other pursuits.  Now that I've got this stash of yarn that I've spun myself over the years, I want to use it -- simple things like hats, fingerless mitts, or maybe even socks.  But a lot of the crochet patterns for fingerless mitts and socks look "funny," and so I've decided to finally bite the bullet and learn how to knit ...

Last year, I purchased access to a beginning knitting class at Craftsy, but never made the time to watch the video classes.  Still can't quite get over the hump of fear about using knitting needles and failing again--even after all these years and the gazillion other things I can do instead.

Enter the knitting loom.  It's called a loom, so right away I'm pretty sure I can work with it!  Last year, I bought a couple of these cheap looms to get started.  Only a minor investment if it doesn't work out.

This morning, I watched this video, and followed along -- except I did not do the color changes.  Pretty simple really.  And I am absolutely amazed at how nice my loom knit mitt is shaping up!  I was bracing myself for ugly, loose and gaping stitches, or too tight ...  But no!  It looks professionally done -- so far!    And for a first try, I am amazed at how well this is turning out.    I'll post pictures of the finished product.

Here's a look down the center of the hole, as the fabric grows down into the hole.    This is actually the right side up when using the knitting loom.  The pegs should be up.

I am using the following :

Boye - Small Round Loom with 24 pegs
Yarn : Yarn Bee Andes Alpaca Pearl (80% acrylic and 20% alpaca)

Sunday, December 09, 2018

None More Black : Dyed Woolen Yarns

I got together with my friend Lynda last week to help her warp her big loom for making rugs.  While I was there, we also dyed a couple skeins of carpet warp wool with her jet black Jacquard acid dye.  She's got the "real" acid dyes and I knew we'd get consistent results with her powder.

The photo above is a cake of the Jacquard jet black yarn dyed with Lynda (on the left) and the Wilton's (broken) Black (right) that I dyed in the crock pot a few weeks ago.

It just doesn't seem right to call both of these black, but that's what I was going for.  I'll definitely do more of the "broken" black with Wilton's cake dye, as I do like the effect. 

If you've ever seen mocumentary film Spinal Tap, you'll recognize the title quote "None more black," where the band was looking at their new album cover - completely black, devoid of any color whatsoever.  "How much more black could it be?  The answer is 'None more black.'"   

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fit to be Tied : Tying the Winter Roses Quilt

Winter Roses Quilt - Finished October 2018
Tied with a wool batt.

At Quilt Camp, back in October, I had the space to work on a project like this.  I can spread out on 2 large banquet tables to work, and don't have to worry about picking everything up for the sake of meals.  And there's no dog hair (an important factor when you live with a big, black Newfie!)

[NO PHOTO -- Sorry, I was so intent on doing the task, that I forgot to take a picture.  This photo is from a quilt I tied a few years ago at a different Quilt Camp.  The process is the same, though it shows a thick poly batt.]

Here I have the Sandwich layered and ready for stitching.

         Top Layer : Quilt Top - Right Side Down
         Middle Layer : Backing - Right Side Up
         Bottom Layer : Puffy Wool Batting (from my friend Karla Seaver).

Pin all the edges, and sew with a 1/2-inch seam.  Leave about 20 inches open for turning.
You may need some safety pins in the middle to keep it all together as you work.
Trim the batting and backing to size BEFORE turning right side out.


Top stitch a faux binding at about 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the edge.   It's kind of like a French seam.  This helps to keep the batting out at the edges of the quilt as you use it.

I decided to add a few more stitched border rows, before I start to work on actually tying the quilt.
This step secures the batting at the edges of the quilt, otherwise, it has a tendency to pull in, leaving you with some parts of the quilt with no batting layer, just fabric.

You can also clearly see the faux binding here. 

I use wool yarn in a matching color.  I don't want the ties to be the focus here.

 Tying is done, you can see the puffiness as it is laid out on our bed.  
[Sorry for the bad winter light.]

Here are a few of the blocks close up ...

A quilt is never truly done until I've added the label, the very last step.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Weaving Again ... 2 Blue & Green Scarves

Blue and Green Scarves in Rayon

One weekend to warp the loom, and by the next, I can be weaving again.  I'm so happy with the Tom Kniesley videos that have moved me to independence at the loom--especially at the warping stage!  

This is a kit from The Yarn Barn of Kansas. 2 blue and green scarves each 72 inches long in a rayon slub yarn.  It goes pretty fast, even at 16 picks per inch.  This is a shot of the cloth as it's winding onto the cloth beam in front, under the weaving surface. 

I discovered a simple little hack to manage the measuring tape ribbon that keeps track of how long a cloth I've woven.  A simple safety pin keeps the ribbon contained and tamed, yet easily allows for rolling out the next needed bit.

No Hassle Rayon Slub Scarves 
(Photo from Yarn Barn of Kansas--That's where I bought the kit last year.