Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Very First Heel!!!!!

While it's not perfect it's mine! I did my very first heel! WoooHoooo!!!! I was hoping to continue on and do a toe or at least end it with a bit of 1x1 mock ribbing with a hung hem, but I ran out of yarn. I have to say I'm real happy with how it turned out and can't wait it give it another try.  :)

P.S. I did try it on and it felt phenomenal!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lesson 3A - Part 3 ( photo intense)

Well I spent a good part of the week working on this lesson. Discovered a few things along the way. (1)       I'm getting pretty good at picots and hanging hems.  (2)  I suck at doing mock ribbing. Nearly every attempt has turned into a train wreck. Today's first attempt was a train wreck. The second attempt was much better. My last attempt was even better. Another few dozen skeins and maybe I won't stink at it so much. Time for photos.....and there are quiet a few.

Hung hem with picots on the top......mock 1x1 ribbing on the bottom. Looks pretty good, right? Thats what I thought until...........

........I turned it over. Somehow I managed to get a picot pulled down and knitted into everything. Haven't a clue as to how it happened or why. Lack of attention on my part obviously. Lesson learned.

I did learn a new bind off that is done right on the machine. I believe it is called a full fashion bind off. Fairly easy to do and rather stretchy. A bit awkward working around the cylinder but nothing learning how to use both hands and practice won't fix. The practice piece is inside out so you can see the bind off........located at the bottom of the photo just above the mock ribbing (which had a hung hem done).

My next practice piece came out much nicer. I did run out of yarn about halfway through but simply grabbed another bit of left-over and continued on. The hung hem with picots came out beautifully as did the mock 1x1 ribbing. The tension on it is much nicer.

Now for a photo of an attempt where the hung picot hem turned out beautiful but the mock ribbing was a train wreck. In order to save the piece I took it off the machine, unraveled back to the nice knitting and finished it off with a few rows of garter stitch and a 3-needle bind off (all done by hand). The I-cord was done on the CSM then run through the top of the tiny bag using a latch hook tool and some patience.

Another photo of another mock ribbing train wreck that was salvaged. This time there were a few rows of mock ribbing that could be saved. I ran my yarn tail through it and closed it off. Folded up the picot hung hem and a tiny hat was created. Still had some yarn left so I decided to play around with the mock ribbing. Set the machine up for a mock 2x2 ribbing. Knit a tube. Closed the ends by running the yarn tail through and pulling it tight. Knotted each end. A lovely little scarf to go with the tiny hat. Some day I will make a teddy bear for it. Or maybe a snowman.

For those of you that are curious as to how you do a mock ribbing on the CSM....well, it's actually pretty easy. You simply remove needles. You want to do a 1x1 mock ribbing remove every other needle. This will draw the knitting in giving it the appearance of ribbing with the stretch. The key is the tension. Too loose and the mock ribbing doesn't look very good. Too tight......train wreck!

The photo below shows preparing the machine for mock ribbing. Every other stitch was moved to its neighboring needle. The now-empty needles are raised and then removed from the machine. Pretty much any knit/purl combination (2x2,  3x1, etc) can be done as mock ribbing just as long as the numbers work out evenly for the size cylinder you are using. After all you wouldn't want to end up with uneven ribbing.....mock or otherwise.

My last experiment of the day involved using my hand spun yarn. I was curious to see how it would knit up on the machine. I opted to use a smaller skein (little over 200 yards) of a hand dyed hand spun superwash wool yarn. It knit up on the machine surprisingly well. Came out kinda stiff feeling and not so soft. I finished it up then tossed it in the washer to see what would happen. Ended up with a very soft scarf. Now I wish it was a bit longer.  :)

What's next? Well I could continue practicing lesson 3A...or I could move on. I have decided to move onto Lesson 4....Learning how to do heels. I'm not giving up on Lesson 3A completely. I will continue practicing my mock ribbing in between heel attempts. If I stay on Lesson 3A I will get discouraged and may not continue on with learning how to use the CSM. This way I can bounce between the two lessons and hopefully keep my enthusiasm up.  :)

This is not as easy as it appears. One would think " oh, you just crank the handle and socks appear. That's not hard."  If that's all there was to it, then , no, that's not hard. Now toss in all the little intricacies and nuances....well, you're talking about something totally different now. It's been a challenge, but one that I'm thoroughly enjoying.  :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CSM Lesson 3A - Part 2 ( lots of photos)

It is now time to do picots. In hand knitting picots can be done in a couple of different ways. You can cast on with picots. Bind off with picots. Do a folded hem with eyelets that will form picots when the fabric is folded. I'm sure there are probably more ways that I don't know about. With the CSM picots are done by knitting a set number of rounds, transferring every other stitch to its neighboring needle, knitting another set number of rounds, and finishing up by doing a hang hem. While it may sound a bit confusing at first, it's rather easy once you do it a few times. The following photos will show the process.

At the end of my last post we ended with several rows of the working yarn being knit.

We are now ready to do picots.....or at least set up for them. They will actually be formed once the hang hem is done ( more on that later). To set up for the picot every other stitch needs to be moved to its neighboring needle. This needs to be done while the piece is still weighted so stitches don't jump off the needles.....or go where they shouldn't. The first time I did this I felt like I was all thumbs. Now that I've done this a few times it has gotten easier....and I'm a bit quicker.
If you look closely you can see that the stitches on the right side of the cylinder have been moved while the ones on the right near the front have not. Hopefully the close up below shows this a bit better.

The cylinder will have to be advanced so all the needles can be reached. Once every other stitch has been moved, a specified number of rounds are knit and you are ready to do a hang hem. The photo below shows the eyelets that were formed ( center back...the dark line of purple)..

To do a hang hem you reach down into the center of the piece pulling up the tail of your working yarn. This also brings up the first row of knitting ( purl bumps since it is the wrong side of the piece) done with the working yarn.  The purl bumps are then picked up and placed on the needles. The weights have been removed for this ( for obvious reasons). Can you imagine how hard it would be to do this with the piece still weighted? It's pretty easy to see the purl bumps that need to be picked up since the working yarn is purple and the waste yarn is yellow.
Once all the stitches of the first row have been picked up, weights are put back on and a few more rows are knit. Unfortunately the finished picot hem can't be seen in the last photo because it is now hanging under the cylinder. The first dark row of purple above the yellow waste yarn is where the picot hem is.

There is one more part to this lesson before the piece is finished.....mock ribbing. Stay tuned for Part 3!

CSM Lesson 3A -Part 1 (Lots of photos)

I was asked if I could show how you get started with the CSM. Essentially "casting on". Since I was ready to start the next lesson I thought why not do a photo journal of sorts showing my progress through the lesson. I will break the lesson up into a couple of different parts so there aren't too many photos to download at one time.

This first part is all about getting started. I'm using a set-up bonnet.....the one I made in the last lesson.  The set- up bonnet needs to be placed on the needles.....a stitch every other needle.

Not every needle will be accessible so the cylinder will need to be advanced forward by cranking the handle. The photo below shows how high the stitch sits on the needles. A bit of weight from below (gently pulling the set-up bonnet down by hand) will help the stitches settle down on the cylinder.

Once the set- up bonnet is in place, waste yarn is threaded through the yarn mast and the yarn carrier. The tail of the waste yarn is placed in the center. When you start cranking the needles will pick up the yarn and stitches will be formed on every magic!  =)

Weights are used to keep the piece pulled down so the stitches sit on the edge of the cylinder. If the piece is allowed to ride too high on the needles ( not properly weighted, tension too tight) things start going wrong and it's not pretty (skipped stitches, dropped stitches). No need to ask me how I know. Let's just say " been there, done that".   =)

After a few rows of waste yarn have been knit, it is time to join the working yarn ( the good stuff being used for your project). This is done by clipping the waste yarn and unthreading it from the yarn carrier. The tail is put in the center of the piece. The working yard is threaded up and the tail is positioned so it goes in front of a couple of needles ( so it gets caught in the knitting) before being put in the center of the work.

The photo above shows a few rows of the working yarn already knit. The next step is setting up for picots.....which will be another post.  =)

Friday, June 21, 2013

CSM - Lesson #3

In this lesson you learn how to make a set up bonnet for the CSM. What exactly is a set up bonnet? And why do you need one? A set up bonnet is like casting on (or making a foundation chain) for the CSM. It gives the needles a foundation upon which to build. Just like casting on does for knitting......or building a foundation chain does for crochet. Makes sense. While you can start a project without a foundation upon which to build it just makes things easier.....and that is always nice.    :)

With learning how to make a set up bonnet comes the acquisition of some new skills. You get to learn how to make picots and how to do a hang hem.  My first attempt at this was last night (the smaller one with the cylinder size on it). I did pretty good although I found it a bit challenging to move a stitch from one needle to the next. Felt like I was all thumbs! It went much easier the second time though. A light bulb went off and I finally caught on to what I was doing. Sometimes the simplest things stump me at times.    :) 

  Once I accomplished that then I had to find my beginning tail for my working yarn and bring it up. The idea behind this is that it brings up the first row of your working yarn making it easy to pick up stitches and place them on the needles. Okay, for some reason it didn't sink in that I needed to pick up the purl bumps of my working yarn from the first row. For some reason I picked them up from the second row instead. Duh!!!! I discovered this when I went to finish the hem and wondered why my knitting was unraveling. If I had picked up the first row it would have essentially locked all those stitches in place giving you a smooth transition from the hang hem to the rest of the piece. Something I learned with my second attempt. You can see the difference in the photo below. 
The second bonnet turned out longer because I wanted to use up the rest of my yarn. I like the tension on the first one a bit better. It's not as loose as the tension on the second one. Overall I'm real pleased with how I did on both. I even used my first set up bonnet to make the second one ( reason you can see some of the stitches sticking up on it). Worked beautifully! Now I'm ready to move onto lesson #4.......learning how to make an advanced set up bonnet and learning even more new skills in the process. Sounds like I should buy some more practice yarn!   :)

More Blooms (with pictures!)

With all the rain we've had lately the flowers have been going nuts......even with the very cool temperatures. I even discovered a tiny little Johnny Jump Up growing in the middle of flowering Thyme and Bee Balm. The Dragon's Blood is budding out like never before. In one container it is threatening to overrun the lavender in's that happy.  :)  There are even more roses in bloom than before. How all those rose blooms are finding room is beyond me.  It's definitely a sight to behold.   :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My New Sock Machine!!!! (Lots of pictures too!)

My loving hubby finally did it. He's been talking about it for years......and it finally happened. My new Earlbacher Gearhart circular sock machine (CSM for short) arrived about two weeks ago. It was super exciting.....and a bit intimidating at the same time. I spent an afternoon carefully unpacking everything and getting it all set up. Set up was fairly easy thanks to a wonderful video on set up done by the maker of the CSM. Then I spent the next couple of days just looking at it, reading through the accompanying lessons, and watching more videos. Went through my small stash of sock yarn and pulled out all the skeins I thought was good for playing with, making sure to set the good stuff aside for when I knew what I was doing. After all I don't want to mess up the good stuff now do I?  :)

After a few days of looking at it and cranking it empty I finally decided to give it a try with yarn. Started off with learning how to do I-cord. This involved removing needles and using a set-up bonnet. I got the hang of I-cord pretty quickly and moved on to lesson 2.....tubes. This is the lesson I've been lingering on for the past week or so. With tubes you also learn how to adjust your tension and how to take your project off the CSM. My first tube became a neck warmer . I used a bamboo/wool/nylon blend sock yarn. I also discovered that if the tension is too tight the bamboo will slip out of the needles making quite the mess. After the neck warmer I had read somewhere about making scarves but never found any directions on it. So I figured why not make a very long tube and then simply finish the ends by hand. That is exactly what I have been doing. So far I have made 5 scarves and have finished them either with a 3-needle bind off, an I-cord bind off, or a picot bind off. The 3-needle bind off has become my "go-to" bind off. I had tons of fun doing the picot bind off and can foresee using that one a bit more. The only one I wasn't real crazy about was the I-cord bind off. I think I just need more practice with it.

What's next you ask? Lesson 3..... Learning how to make a set-up bonnet. And maybe making another scarf or two. After all, I am getting pretty good at it. I can crank one out in less than an hour and finish it by hand in about the same amount of time or less, depending on the bind off of choice. Talk about instant gratification!!!!!   =}


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Just a couple shots from the back garden. The first photo is of the climbing rose bush.....which seems to get bigger each year. The second is of one of the two trumpet vines. This one has a really pretty "split" flower that the hummingbirds and hummingbird moths just love to visit. The last is of my pink foxglove.....

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Halo is the "fuzziness" of a yarn. Not all yarns have halo. It all hinges on how a yarn is spun and the fiber used. Softly spun yarns with shorter fibers tend to have halo. The fibers aren't all contained by the twist and are allowed to "poke" out of the single thus creating halo. The more the yarn is handled the more halo it will have. Some spinners feel they have to brutalize a freshly plyed skein of yarn through thwacking and whacking on a hard surface in order for the yarn to "bloom", thus creating halo. I find that my yarns will bloom on their own through gentle handling. Why this small treatise on halo? As I was picking up my latest project to work on I noticed how lovely the halo was on it. Gives it a soft, almost ethereal look. Very lovely.