Friday, January 29, 2010


This is a scarf that I knitted for my daughter, Claire. Originally, I was planning on weaving her a scarf using the hand dyed warp, but since that didn't happen, I bought commercial yarn and went from there. ;)

I bought the yarn, Mochi Plus (Crystal Palace Yarns/80% Merino Wool-20% Nylon) from The Knitting Tree, on Monroe Street, not too far from where we live. It is extremely you can imagine, since it has so much Merino in it. The pattern I used was by Ann Norling, "Short Row Multi-directional Scarf".

Double click the photos for a larger view.......

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Remember That 3rd Towel?"

I finished that 3rd towel, and have a photo of it......but first, I wanted to show the area where I had 2 broken and repaired warp threads. The 2nd repaired warp thread is about to be woven over and the 1st one already has been but does not show up. A good thing, yes? ;)

And here is my 3rd towel! I obviously did not measure while weaving this time because I only had enough "for 1 more towel".......this old dog needs to remember to always keep track of his weaving and have the measuring tape attached regardless. What's more, is that there is still MORE warp on the loom! How much, I'm not sure, but possibly enough for a hand towel or 2. As you can see in the photo, the 2 repaired warp threads do show up slightly after the tension is off of the towel, but after wet finishing, they again disappeared.

This truly worked out for the best though (am I lucky or what?), as I had plenty of length to cut it in half, hemming each end, and now have 2 bed covers for Copper's beds.

Here Copper is sitting on her 2 new bed covers.

I'm now able to use the looper rug that we were using for her one bed, to set my spinning wheel upon while spinning.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Here are my "practice" heels. The top section with the yarn in strands is my "set up bonnet" that I used to get started knitting on the sock machine and is continually reused. I left mine on for the photo and will cut the blue scarp yarn so that I will be able to reuse it again.

My 1st successful sock! Once again, I used another set up bonnet that I had previously knitted on the machine (practicing until I had a good one). As you can see from the numbers on my set up bonnet, I'm using my sock machine cylinder with 72 needles. I knitted a sock with a "hung hem", which is a folded over top edge (next to the blue on the left). I still have to hand stitch the toe together, but will be studying a video on You Tube before I attempt that yet. Eventually, I will also be knitting ribbed socks, but I need more instruction on using my ribber before I begin one.

Here is my 2nd sock of the pair (obviously the photo was taken with different lighting). I was doing fine until knitting the toe when the yarn broke. Why? I have no idea, but know I couldn't use it after that, thus it came off the machine. Today is another day, eh? ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Diz and Roving......"

Remember this from last week? I also had some photos in my camera (Don took this one with his camera) which showed more of the process.......

Carded wool coming off the drum through the diz as roving......

Another view of the same roving but further along.......

The final length of roving prior to its being wound up into a ball.

Once again, I had carded the wool a couple more times and I think that was the reason for it working so well. I'll be able to test this new theory next time I do more carding. ;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Saturday's Crank In....."

Saturday was the monthly crank in at the Hawthorne Branch Library. Wouldn't you know it, but I got so involved with the things, I totally forgot to take photos until I was about to leave! Thankfully, some people were still there and working so I could take a few shots of them.

Unfortunately, I do not recall ever being introduced to the woman in white. John is a very experienced sock machine knitter (he even has a video out) and is teaching both women. Martha is new to machine sock knitting, too. She got her machine around the same time as I did.

Don and I met Joan (in blue) while at Rainbow Fleece Farm's open house a few years ago. She was demonstrating how to use a drum carder. SHE is the person who planted the seed for my getting one. ;) Pat, is my CSM guru. She has given me numerous tips for working on my NZAK. She also solved my tension "issue" when attempting to knit heels. Pat is holding a "chain" of mittens that John knitted and brought in to show. Joan has a pair of socks that she knitted during the crank in. Although I don't have a photo of them, Pat knitted 5 socks (!) while at the crank in. Experience shows!

And.....speaking of heels. I FINALLY had success yesterday in knitting a complete heel with not one problem. Hopefully, the stars will continue to stay aligned when I am working on the CSM! ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010


The Aero Garden has grown a new crop of lettuces very quickly. I have been harvesting leaves for sandwiches a few weeks now.

It also has been beneficial for the amaryllis bulb that Don's sister and brother in law sent us at Christmas, too. There is the flower stalk shown in this photo, and also one not shown behind the leaves. I had last years bulb sitting there as well, but it wasn't doing anything, so I moved it into the sunroom, watered it again thoroughly and hope for the best. It may be that it needed more warmth to start its growth. The sunroom is definitely warmer than where the Aero Garden is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Another Attempt at a Heel....."

This photo shows the machine as ready to "turn a heel". The back half of the needles are all up and "not working", so only the front half will be knitting. The small black marks are where I will stop decreasing the amount of needles that knit and begin to increase the amount again which will form a heel.

I have not had much success with turning a heel as yet. Yesterday, I made it the furthest so far without breaking the thread of yarn. I know that it is because I am not doing something correctly, which I think has more to do with the weight on the sock more than anything else. Today's experiment will involve the heel hooks that came with the machine instead of the heel forks that I bought on ebay. I'll see if those make any difference in how the process works.

This coming Saturday is the crank in at the Hawthorne Branch Library (East Washington Avenue) from 9 AM- 4 PM, so I will definitely get some suggestions then.

A close up of the yarn carrier....

A close up of the needles with their latches.......

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Finally....Success With a Diz......."

For those of you who do not know what a Diz is, it is something with a hole that allows you to pull carded roving from a drum carder. There are "specialty" diz (and quite costly), but what I used Saturday, was a plastic club card with a hole punched through it. Originally, I had used a plastic milk jug cap, but that wasn't as successful for me, plus it cracked, thus the use of the plastic club card.

I had plans to attend "The Pleasant Spinners" potluck gathering on Sunday and wanted to take with me some of the Border Leicester Cross fleece that I had been working with lately. I had used all of the carded fleece that I had when weaving the mat, so needed to pick and card some more of it.

For some reason, I had this thought that I might have better success with pulling the roving through the diz IF the fleece were carded a few more times. Whatever the reason, it worked MUCH better the 1st time I tried it on Sunday morning. I had run the fleece through the carder 4 times rather than the normal (for me) 2. After being more successful pulling the roving through the diz, PLUS after spinning it and finding it spin "like butta", I have now learned more about using my drum carder. What I thought was a nice job carding before, was only "adequate" this case, more WAS better. ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Using Non-Coned Sock Yarn....."

When Don and I were at last months crank in, we noticed yarn wound onto cardboard tubes, slid onto paint roller cages, which were set into holes drilled in the knitters wooden sock machine stands. Much of the sock yarn available is not on cones, so this, I thought, was a very clever idea.......and just how was I to get a paint roller cage to work on my NZAK stand? Hmmmmmmmmmm, let me think..........

Why go to Dorn Hardware and get lucky enough to ask a clerk who used to be a machinist! With paint roller in hand, and wandering around the store looking at various "things" that "might" do the job, I happened to ask the clerk (Oh how I wish I remembered his name for all of you who need this same set up for your machine!) for advice. He pondered a moment, then took the paint roller from me and I followed him back to the work room where he proceeded to take the handle off the cage. After that, the search was on for the parts that he'd come up with to make this work. And work it does! I came home and attached it to the NZAK stand, making sure it could stay on all the time, allowing plenty of room for the largest coned yarn next to it.

Attaching the wound skein (I used a paper towel cardboard tube and my jumbo winder) sock yarn onto the roller cage.............

The set up ready to knit.

The knitted tube of yarn. Unfortunately, I wasn't watching the "feed" of the yarn very closely and somehow it wound itself around the yarn mast causing a break in the yarn, thus the long knitted tube with some yarn still on the paint roller cardboard tube.

I was more careful with knitting this is some commercial yarn that I hand dyed and I didn't want any breaks in it. It was good to see how it knitted up.

I did find in yesterdays knitting of the skeined yarn, that they were a little heavier and tension had to be lowered for them to go through the machine easily. Of course, I have so much more to learn about knitting on a CSM that I have only scratched the surface.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Practice and Success on My NZAK....."

I had some success on my NZAK last week. I was able to knit a "Set Up Bonnet". This was made on my 72 needle cylinder and can be used over and over to set up knitting for a new piece.

I begin by hooking the loops of the set up bonnet onto every other needle in the cylinder.

I've hooked the bonnet onto every needle that was in the "up" position, now I have to move the crank around a little to bring up the needles which are in the "down" position. At this point, the machine will begin knitting the needles that have the set up bonnet already hooked onto them, so the machine needs to be threaded with waste yarn, which in the case is turquoise in color. It is my waste yarn, but also the yarn that I am using to practice with. This knitting session will be for learning how to knit "heels".

Moving the crank AND holding the knitted set up bonnet down with my other hand.....carefully to sure.......Patience IS a virtue when working on a CSM. ;)

The fully attached set up bonnet and several stitches knit when moving the crank.

The waste yarn knit onto the set up bonnet. After a few more rows of knitting while using my hand to pull down the bottom of the set up bonnet, the knitted piece will be ready for me to attach the "buckle" and its weights, and it will be ready for more "Heel Practice".

A view of the machine showing the threading of the yarn down to the cylinder.

More photos of the CSM tomorrow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Weaving, Babysitting, and NZAK/CSM Update....."

Here is a photo of the "once upon a time intended to be a scarf", now mat, woven piece. I was so very pleased that I was able to weave it to a length long enough to show the blended colors of the warp, before the hand spun weft was used up. I'll certainly try this method again, but not in the too near future.....too many other things to learn/do. ;) (double click on the photo to see it larger)

For the first time since college, I broke warp threads in a piece of weaving. This time, it happened while weaving the bath/hot tub towels. I "thought" I remembered what to do, but figured I'd better check my weaving books to make sure. Surprisingly, I did remember correctly. :) This is the "splice" showing the 2 new warp threads wrapped around the pins, and the old warp threads lying along the woven cloth.

This photo shows the piece after having woven on it for awhile with the splice area under the front beam. As you can see, there is no visual evidence of the splice in the later woven cloth........I hope it stays that way when I have finished the piece and taken it off the loom. Regardless if it does or not, Copper is going to LOVE this piece as her bed cover. :)

Wednesday, I watched Henry while his Dad, Michael, went to the dentist. Fortunately, he was satisfied with being left with me and only had one crying bout, which was when he was fighting off going to sleep. Michael, unfortunately, had to wake Henry up before coming over, so he'd only had a short catnap. But after taking a bottle and chatting for a bit, he was ready for another nap........that's when he wasn't too happy, nor was I! LOL He soon couldn't "fight the feeling" anymore and drifted off to sleep. He truly was "good as gold" otherwise.

We had some nice chats while he gurgled and cooed, chewing his fists. I'd like to point out that he is "styling" in his 100% cotton bib which I knitted for wrapped up in his Cowboy fleece/flannel blanket that I had sewn for him when he was but a mere babe. :) I LOVE to see things used that I've made and given as gifts! :)

I spent some time yesterday with my new NZAK sock machine. Unfortunately, the DVD which came with it was damaged and didn't work fully, so I watched much of the video manual on You Tube. Don took care of that problem last night when he got home from work. He copied the DVD and made a movie out of it, so I now have it on the desktop computer AND my iTouch! The damaged parts are not damaged in the movie....go figure, eh? The visual quality is MUCH better than watching it on You Tube, too.

I was able to make some progress with my machine yesterday though. I learned how to use my "set up basket" to start the knitting process on the machine. I did that several times and feel pretty good about knowing that procedure now. I also tried using the ribber, which wasn't as successful, but I was able to see some ribbing done (among some dropped stitches). :) I also attempted to "hang a hem" and was fairly successful with that process. I'll try that procedure again today. Oh! All of these processes were gotten to by knitting tubes! So knitting tubes is also part of my accomplishments yesterday. :) Did I take some photos? Nope.......too mentally involved with the learning.......I'll "try" to remember to take some today. Key word is...."try".

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"CSM Arrival!!!"

My "Circular Sock Machine" (CSM) arrived yesterday afternoon. I was excited AND frustrated at the same time. I just happened to be babysitting for Michael and Anna's little 3 month old son, Henry. So, I had to put off opening the package up until Michael got back from his dentist appointment and took Henry home......then I carefully "TORE INTO IT"! LOL Seriously, I was excited to open the package, but also very careful when unwrapping the pieces as I didn't want to damage any needles or anything. Here is my little beauty with all of it's parts. The biggest part (cylinder/crank handle) were already assembled and had knitting on it, which is Jacquie Grants product testing prior to shipping out any of her machines. Basically, it is all assembled and ready to knit after you put the stand together.

And speaking of the stand. Here it is, each leg piece with oiled threads, screwed in, ready to receive the main section of the machine.....the assembled cylinder.

The somewhat now "warmed up" machine pieces, moved to the back sun room, so that I can look at the DVD assembly instructions on the computer. The DVD which accompanied the machine would not work in either our DVD player or computer, so I had to watch the You Tube videos that Jacquie has posted. Thankfully, for whatever reason, this morning the DVD will now play in the computer.....I haven't checked to see if it will play in our DVD player, but imagine it will.

Copper checking out the "smells of New Zealand" from the sock sample.......

The final piece to assemble was the yarn mast.

"Theoretically"........I am ready to knit. Oh, so not true. ;) I will definitely be taking my time in getting to know the sock machine. Unfortunately, I won't be able to begin doing that until somewhat later in the morning, as I will be getting new tires on the car at 8 AM, then home to begin my "intensive learning curve" with the circular sock machine. ;)

This certainly is not the end of the photos, etc. that will be posted about my exciting (to me) journey with this machine. ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Weaving, Space and Yarn......"

An update on the scarf that I began weaving (from a few posts ago). It is became a mat instead. Unfortunately, due to all of my problems with the color of the warp not showing through the weft, I was finally able to achieve success with that by re-plying my black hand spun yarn. I started out with 2 ply, then plied that onto itself to try it as 4 ply, and when that still didn't work, I plied that onto itself, creating an 8 ply! As you can imagine, the yards and yards of 2 ply had become much less through this process, and to be truthful, the 8 ply still wasn't thick enough to allow the colors of the warp to come through as I had hoped. My next move with this was to add a strand of some commercial Alpaca yarn (there went my all hand spun yarn woven piece) that I had on hand in my stash, and that did the trick. The warp color shown through like a beacon! I wove this until I ran out, which unfortunately, was fairly soon, so as I mentioned, I now have a nice mat. :) In reality, due to the thickness of the now 2 strands of weft, it was too heavy to be a scarf anyway, so as the saying goes, "when given lemons, make lemonade"! It was a great learning experience and I am happy that I did it. I will post photos of it soon. I took off the remaining warp and plan to re-use it another time, but for now, I needed to make space in the front room (studio) for my "soon to be arriving" CIRCULAR SOCK MACHINE! Yes, I have not written about it until now, but it should be arriving this week or early next week. I ordered it from Jacquie Grant of New Zealand Auto Knitters, NZAK for short. I am extremely excited about this machine........even to the point of waking up and not being able to go back to sleep due to thinking about it. All in good time though, yes? ;) Of course, I will be posting photos of it when it arrives, along with my "attempts" at knitting on it. I know there is a HUGE learning curve that comes with this machine, but feel I am up to the task (or so I hope!). ;)

So, the small floor loom was put back down into storage for awhile, giving me some more room (which as you can see in this photo, is needed) to set up the sock machine. I've already ordered some cones of yarn and am now realizing that more storage space is needed for those! LOL Oh, the tangled web we pun intended! ORGANIZATION IS THE KEY! I know I can do it....I know I can do it.....I know I can do it..... LOL

I also started knitting a scarf using some of my hand dyed, hand spun lambs wool yarn, but unfortunately, I didn't feel it had enough color variation for the pattern I want to use, so I ended up unraveling it and will use it another time. I found some commercial yarn to use instead this time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"More of Saturday Afternoon......."

After parting ways with Woody at Sardine, we drove down Willy Street to the newly moved yarn shop, "Off The beaten Path". I'd not known about their move until I read an article in last weeks Isthmus (although, Don had heard about it at work from a fiber friend of ours), so we thought we'd go check it out. I think it is smaller space than they had in their home on Femrite Drive in Monona, or perhaps the space is just better utilized, but personally, I don't think so. Although, I'm sure it is much nicer to have the shop out of their home. They were doing a brisk business while we were there......the article made a definite impact on letting people know of their move.

We'd parked outside the front of Jolly Bob's, and Don liked the looks of this. ;)

Just what is that under the snow? A Bear?

Don's sisters sent me a book on re-cycling socks into stuffed animals. They are pretty cute so I did go out and buy "filling/stuffing" yesterday to give some of them a try. Don has already donated a pair of socks to the cause. :)