Some of the claw weights in my stash date back decades and I have straightened teeth until I felt an Orthodontist! Recently I decided to “remodel” some of the really mangled claws into something useful.
As most of you know, I do a lot of hand-manipulated stitches and right now I am nearing the end (YEA!!!!) of my fourth book. The trickiest places to tension are under working needles when most of the stitches are in holding position. Claw weights are often to wide to position under the working needles – and weights on the stitches that are in holding position are worthless.
So many of the things I do require tensioning just a few stitches and I often just pinch individual stitches with my fingers to keep them down. Sometimes I use a transfer tool, poked through the fabric, to tug down on the stitches.
Both of these options demand one of my two hands, which can be limiting when it comes to the actual manipulations. I thought to myself “A narrow weight would be a nice thing to have.”
They used to make some 2-toothed claw weights that were perfect for tight spots like that. They may still be made and available, for all I know, but I didn’t have time for a shopping trip, real or virtual.
I looked through my weights, found a couple on their last legs (er, teeth) and brought them down to the workbench in the cellar where I attacked them with some metal shears. I clipped off the upper corners and the mangled teeth they held. Then I used a metal file to smooth the sharp edges, followed by some emery cloth to make sure they were smooth and safe to use. After all, I don’t want to cut myself or the yarn! The end result is some perfect, narrow 2-toothed claw weights and I am feeling pretty smug right now that I was able to savage and up-cycle those old claws. Maybe now I will go shopping!
This short video should give you an idea how to use the P-Carriage that comes with all Silver Reed ribbers. The manuals always describe using the device for double bed Drive Lace and pile knitting. I have to tell you that I cannot remember the last time I did either of those techniques – probably when I worked for Studio and was responsible for training dealers!
Drive Lace is a detailed drop stitch lace method worked by using the needle selection (punch cards or electronic) on the main bed to select needles for the drop stitch pattern, while the main knitting is secure on the ribber bed. The P-Carriage is used to drop the MB stitches every two rows, after the needles have been selected and knitted. So, although you are working with 2 beds, the technique produces a single bed fabric – not ribbed.
Pile Knitting also produces a single bed fabric knitted on the ribber bed. In this case, the ribber bed knits both a ground yarn and a pile yarn every row, while the main bed knits only the pile yarn on needles selected by the punch card or the electronics. The P-Carriage releases the loops every two rows.
If either of these methods sounds appealing, I have to refer you back to your manuals because it has been far too long and I use the P-Carriage for something else altogether.
Let me begin by saying that the “hardest” thing any carriage has to do is to push needles from working position (WP) forward in their slots so that the old stitches slide back behind the latches and new yarn is deposited in the hook of each needle. After that, it is fairly “easy” for the carriage to guide the needles back in their slots so that the old stitches slide over the closed latches and form new stitches. The trailing end of the carriage just shoots the needles out, lined up back in WP.
With very tight stitches, non-stretchy yarn, crossed or twisted (or otherwise-manipulated) stitches, it can be difficult for the carriage to push all the needles forward so that they knit cleanly and easily. This is where I rely on the P-Carriage to help.
The P-Carriage is hardly a carriage! There are no knobs or levers to manage and the pathway underneath is a fixed pathway – there are no movable cams – that moves needles between WP and upper-working position (UWP).
When the P-Carriage moves from right to left, all needles in WP are channeled into the pathway where they are pushed forward in their slots so that their stitches slide over and open the latches. They exit the pathway aligned in UWP. The “hard” part has been done.
When the P-Carriage is moved back from left to right, it drops the stitches – which is what you do with Drive Lace or Pile Knitting. – as the needles are returned to WP.
I started using the P-Carriage years ago to facilitate many of the hand-manipulations that I do. I simply slide it across the bed from right to left and then knit 1 row with the main carriage. It adds another step to the knitting, but I really find it is worthwhile.
When working twisted stitches or cables, etc. I may only need to use the P-Carriage every so many rows, but for sticky yarns that won’t knit cleanly, I may use it prior to every pass of the carriage.
There is a similar device, a D-slider, available for some Brother machines, but I am not familiar with the unit and cannot tell you which machines it fits. You’ll have to do a little research. The Silver Reed P-Carriages do not fit other machines because the width (front to back) of the beds differs and it is important for the unit to sit securely on the back rail and slide smoothly across the front edge of the bed.
That said, this blog offers directions for converting the Silver Reed P-Carriage for use on the Brother. The unit itself is inexpensive enough that it might be worth experimenting with!
Finally! Spring has arrived in CT. No, wait! We didn’t get any spring, it jumped right into summer with a 90 degree day. Hard to believe we had the heat on just last week because it was so cold!
I still have some videos to edit (and more to shoot) but for now, thought I would share a couple of things with you.
First of all, I am thrilled to tell you that my first Craftsy class, “Machine Knitting: Essential Techniques” was just included in the first group of classes available on DVDs for those folks who don’t like streaming directly. If you go to the Craftsy site and click on the class, the DVD option comes up on the page that describes the class. There are currently 60 classes available on DVD with more to be added continuously. So far no special offers for people who already have the streaming, but I will be sure to let you know if there are any specials in the future. Right now, there are more than 6100 students in this class, which astounds me!
I had a great time teaching a two-day seminar at The Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, PA this month. One of the knitters who attended the workshop produces pattern-holding clips that mount to the tension mast on most machines. They fit the mast on Brother, Toyota, Artisan and older model Silver Reed machines. The newer Silver electronics all use a much thicker mast so the clips will not fit those machines. The cost, including shipping, is $10 with additional masts in the same package costing $7. For questions, contact Lynn Jones at LT51990@yahoo.com.
Elena Luneva sent me links to more of her classes on You Tube and once again, they are terrific! I love that she is sharing with us and that machine knitting transcends international boundaries and differences.
“It may be better if You look part 5 as the first. Because in some ways this part is the summary of previous parts includes the details and my thoughts about the possibilities of this technology.
With best regards,
Arlo is entertaining himself and us nicely – chewing everything in sight and plunging into his little wading pool. Only Buster is less than amused as he has not been able to convince the puppy that cats are ferocious creatures to be avoided, not chewed. Hoping that this phase passes. Arlo was a mere 19 pounds when we brought him home at the end of March and now weighs in at about 45 pounds. The vet thinks we are just about half grown and judging from the feet we think he is right.
I’ll get back to editing and filming more of those video lessons, but if you know me at all, you know that right now the garden is sapping every spare moment……that and trying to prevent Arlo from nipping off every bud or blossom he sees.
A couple of weeks ago, Barb Bankord contacted me and asked if I was interested in trying a Silver Needles electric cone winder. I have had a Simmet ball winder for years and was skeptical about whether or not I would use a cone winder, but I asked her to send it along so I could check it out. I am so glad that I did because right now I am going through yarn like “Grant through Richmond” working on The Book That Will Not End (TBTWNE) and all of the yarn, Cascade 220 worsted, comes in skeins that need to be wound into balls. Up till now I have been using the electric ball winder with a couple of little problems:
The ball winder requires me to tension the yarn through my hand and right now, in the dead of winter, the air is so dry that I keep building up static electricity that gets discharged when I turn off the unit. Ouch! The other issue with the ball winder is that it winds the yarn into a fairly tight ball and I usually have to re-wind each ball to get a working tension on the yarn. I still love my electric ball winder, but I am also smitten with the cone winder and here is why:
First of all, it is hands free so no more shocks! The unit has a sturdy, non-skid base that keeps it in place even when winding directly from the umbrella swift. You can increase or decrease the tension on the yarn depending on how you thread the guide and there is also a knot detector. I didn’t bother using that feature to wind the Cascade because I almost never find a knot in their yarn (really) and I was afraid that it might put too much tension on the yarn as it came off the umbrella swift, but I’m not sure I needed to worry about that.
There is a little guide on the side that makes sure the cones fill evenly from end to end. You can use that stash of cones you have been saving (sorry, no more donations to the local nursery school unless cones are the wrong size) or you can order re-usable plastic cones with the unit. There is no comparison between the way yarn knits off a cone or a ball. I’ll take a cone any day, but up until now, none of the yarns I use had that option.
This little video will give you a good idea how the winder operates. You’ll also get a look at my studio space, which is next on the list for a good spring cleaning now that I have finished the charts for all 160 swatches in the 2nd chapter of TBTWNE. Just have to finish winding the yarn for the third and final set of swatches…….so the end is in sight.
I am really happy to recommend these cone winders. There are so few companies out there who cater to machine knitters’ needs. Silver Needles is a small, family owned business that has managed to stay in business since the 90’s. The winders are not inexpensive, but this time I think you will get what you pay for.
Contact info: Barb Bankord, PO Box 2722, Carefree AZ 85377-2722
I have 4 things I want to talk to you about today – seems like everything happens all at once! – (1) The formation of a New England Machine Knitters’ Guild, (2) A class I am teaching in April, (3) A seminar in Minnesota and (4) some great used equipment for sale.
New Machine Knitters’ Guild!
There are machine knitters all over New England and the Northeast and many (perhaps most) of them have few machine knitters in their area. Shops and clubs have mostly disappeared and people are on their own. If we all unite to form a single, large club/guild to meet twice a year, I think we could provide support and education for each other and help to keep machine knitting alive and well in this corner of the country.
With that in mind, I have reserved a meeting space for April 22nd at the Northford Recreation Department, 1332 Middletown Avenue, Northford, CT 06472 from noon to 3:00. Depending on how many people attend, we can assess whether there is serious interest in having such a group and move forward – or not. Northford is about 6 miles outside New Haven and fairly easy to reach from anywhere.
If we decide to meet again in the fall, we need to choose a governing board for the group. I am happy to get things started and to act as the conduit for this meeting space (a mere $20/hour for town residents!), but I do not want this to be the Susan Guagliumi knit club. I will be happy to see others step up to the plate and take on the roles of president, VP, secretary, treasurer, program, hospitality, etc. The membership may also have other ideas for a meeting space and that would be fine too. We need lots of input!
I really hope that as many of you who possibly can do decide to join and attend the meeting. We need to discuss what the most pressing needs are and plan our fall meeting accordingly. I would love to see some workshops for newbies and experienced knitters, to think about renting table space to vendors to bring in yarn and supplies, to work towards a full fledged New England seminar a few years down the road. How much can we charge for annual dues? Do we want to provide coffee? Lunches? Workshops in the morning before a general meeting – hopefully with a speaker or demonstrator? How would a club like this best serve your needs?
If anyone has any ideas about a short program we could offer on the 22nd in addition to all the business and organizational stuff, just let me know. I have asked the rec center to set up 50 chairs – I am an optimist! Please email me (Guagliumi@comcast.net) if you plan to attend the meeting so I can ask for more chairs if need be and so I have some idea whether I will have company on the 22nd. I hope to see lots of you there!
Machine Knitting Sweater Workshop
I have had a number requests from begining knitters who want a step by step sweater class to get them started – so, here it is!
May 20 & 21, Sat. & Sun., 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. STW Community Center, Northford, CT
Fee: $150 (includes lunch)
Description: This class will focus on all the steps of knitting a sweater by machine from charting and planning right through finishing. The instructor will advise students on suitable yarn for their machine and then students will purchase and gauge their yarn prior to the course. The instructor will assist in charting an individualized pattern for each student based on their own measurements and yarn gauge. Students may add embellishment or patterning to their sweaters based on experience and prior approval from the instructor.
Registration is through the North Branford Recreation Department, 1332 Middletown Avenue, Northford, CT. phone: 203-484-6017. Registration will not begin until March 20th.
Questions? Email Susan at Guagliumi@comcast.net
Minnesota Seminar March 24 & 25th!
I will be teaching a two day program for the Machine Knitting Guild of Minnesota and they have made space available to non-members on a first-come-first served basis. Click here MKGM Seminar for the registration info.
Used Equipment for Sale!
I don’t want this to become a bulletin board for selling used equipment, but a former student is no longer able to use her machines and I offered to list them here. You can contact her directly for additional info. The machines are located in Norwich, CT and can be picked up or buyer pays shipping. Click here for the list of Used Equipment.
I had a blast this past weekend, teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC for the fourth (or is it the fifth?) year. The classes were great and I loved meeting some of the students who knew me from Craftsy.
Once again, I spent some time cruising through the market place, resisting temptation as best I could. As always, however, I found some things that I just couldn’t resist.
First, I bought one of the yarn dispensers from Yarn Valet when I saw how perfectly it holds a wound ball or skein of yarn – and turns as the yarn is pulled from the outside of the ball. For a mere $16, how could I resist!
A little further on, I ran into Dan Tracy Designs and found a beautifully made wooden version of a similar holder……what is a girl to do?! I wandered around the show for a few more aisles and then I wound my way back to Dan’s booth to buy myself a birthday present. After all, wood feels and looks so nice and these ball (or cone) holders are mounted on ball bearings so they turn so beautifully and with tax, it only set me back about $54. Happy birthday to me!
Don’t get me wrong – there was a LOT OF YARN to look at and I did buy some silk wrapped paper yarn from Habu that I will show you once I knit with it. I’m just a sucker for great tools and stuff.
I didn’t buy any slipper soles from Joe’s Toes because I wasn’t sure what size I needed for some grandson feet, but once I knit their next round of slippers, I know where to go for nice thick felted innersoles and non-skid outer soles.
Somehow, sharing this info with you helps me justify my purchases. Heck, a girl can’t just teach, race to the train and head home – she’s got to indulge once in a while. Right?
Talk about the double meaning of the word “matters”! Tension matters could mean discussing things about tension, but what I really mean is that it matters! It is terribly important to your knitting success. I think that the majority of beginner’s problems start with yarn prep and tension, which is why I am returning to this topic again.
Last time I talked about preparing the yarn to flow smoothly. Well, that carries over to the tension unit too! You want the yarn placed directly below the yarn guide of the mast and then you want it to pass straight through the various guides and discs without looping back on itself.
First and foremost, if your tension dials have numbers on them, stop looking for a magic number and start paying attention to how the unit functions. The tension mast serves the same purpose that wrapping the yarn around your index finger serves in hand knitting. The idea is to avoid loops at the edges, tight stitches at the edges (or across the row) or dropped edge stitches. Poorly adjusted tension will never produce even rows of stitches.
One of the problems with having numbers on the dials is that the numbering system differs from brand to brand and even from model to model. For some machines a number “1” indicates the tightest tension, which you would use with very fine yarn (little number=thin yarn). On other machines, however, it indicates the least amount of tension (low number=low tension for thicker yarns).
If your manual isn’t handy or you have a momentary lapse, thread the mast and catch the end of the yarn under the clip to hold it. Then pull down on the yarn below the yarn guide until the wire touches the last threading eyelet or guide. If the wire stays down, then “1” is the tightest tension on your dial. If it flies back up, it is the loosest. Neither setting is what you ultimately need, but you do need to know which way to turn the dial!
The Correct Tension is one where the wire is able to lift up any slack at the beginning of every row and then drops down as you knit across the row, ready to lift up at the start of the next row. If the wire is not able to pull up edge loops, the tension is probably to loose. If the wire stays down near the eyelet throughout, it is too tight.
The reason you need that up and down bobbing has to do with the distance between the edge needle and the center of the carriage, which is where new yarn is fed into the needle. That distance can often amount to 5-6” of extra yarn that must be pulled up when the carriage starts to move. Otherwise, you get loose edge stitches, dropped edge stitches or yarn wrapped around the brushes and wheels and gizmos under the carriage arm/sinker.
If you make note of that action, you’ll take control of the tension and feel like an empowered knitter! When things do go wrong, the tension mast is the first place I look. Sometimes the yarn may have worked itself out of a guide or maybe it wasn’t actually under the pin and between the tension discs to begin with. Re-check everything.
Also, you can avoid tangled yarn mishaps if you get into the habit of only leaving short (2”) tails clipped to the mast. Longer lengths whip around, build up static electricity and eventually mate up with the yarn you are using until both of them are jamming their way through the tension discs and the carriage comes to a grinding halt. Wonder how I know so much about that…….
One more thing! If you would like to thread multiple yarns through several masts, there is a free download on my web site (www.guagliumi.com) entitled “Multiple Tension Mast Holder”. It works like a charm for busy stripes!
If your machine has a ribber, you probably don’t have a lot of use for a double latch tool. However, if you use a single bed machine, you’ll find a double latch tool can save you lots of time. Initially, it might feel a little clumsy to use, but, like anything else, once you get going a double latch tool is a wonderful thing to have!
Double latch tools make it much faster to re-form stitches for 1×1 or 2×2 rib, whether you want a ribbed band or just some columns or blocks of rib stitches in the body of a garment. The latch hooks need to be spaced for the gauge of your machine and they all work pretty much the same way. Here are some tips for success:
First of all, Insert the tool at the bottom of the columns of stitches you plan to drop and then drop the stitches from the needles above, rather than dropping the stitches and then fishing around for the stitches. It is much safer and a lot less frustrating, but you also have greater control over how far down the stitches drop.
Keep plenty of downward tension on the ladder of stitches you are reforming so that the individual bars do not split as you work them.
Push the tool just far enough away from you to make sure the “old” stitches open the latches and slide back over them. Catch the next bars of the ladder in the hooks of the tool and pull just hard enough to make sure the old stitches are pulled over the latches to form the new stitches. If you look at the video carefully, you will see that the surrounding stitches move very little, which is how it should be. You don’t want to start distorting adjacent stitches.
When you work with a single latch tool, the last stitch is transferred from the tool to a needle on the bed by hooking the tool onto the needle. This isn’t possible (at least not easily!) when using a double latch tool. Instead, when you reach the top of the column, hold the tool above the edge of the bed and just poke the needles through the back of each stitch. Make sure you keep some tension on the tool so that the stitches are easier to see and easier for the needles to enter. Once you poke the needles through the back of the stitches, you can just remove the tool.
Back in the day (as they say), many knitting machines came with double latch tools, although they were usually standard gauge machines – both European and Japanese. The hooks projected straight out from the end of the handle. At www.guagliumi.com I have double latch tools for 2×2 rib for 4.5, 6.5 and 9 mm machines, tools for 1×1 rib for 6.5 and 9mm machines. I designed these tools with the metal perpendicular to the wooden handle because I find the much easier to work with – I hope you do too!