Open Spaces: Machine Knit Eyelets, Ladders and Slits

So much news this month – my head is spinning!

After more than four years experimenting, continually asking myself  “what if I…..?” and then following that path to the next great discovery (and a few disappointing disasters), The Book That Would Not End is finally done!

Following the required introduction, there are lengthy chapters on eyelets, ladders and slits – open spaces that are very different from your grannie’s lace of old! Many of these examples will produce gorgeous garments, but be forewarned that some of them absolutely must be worn over a camisole if you want to avoid being arrested!

The book is 225 pages and contains more than 300 swatch photos and charts as well as a number of inspirational garments by some of my favorite designers. You’ll notice that this book is a larger format than my previous three. Increasing the size from 8 x 10” to 8.5 x 11” saved about 40 pages, which translates into lower costs for us all. I guess I’ll just have to get used to the way they all look on the shelf together, with the new one a bit taller and wider.

 

 

You can download the free pattern for this slit topper on my web site.

There are already several free sweater designs based on material from this book available on my web site and I plan to add a couple more so do check the Free Stuff for practical applications of these techniques.

As with the previous three titles, the new book is available from www.guagliumi.com with free shipping or you can order from Amazon.com. It goes without saying that when you order directly from me, I enjoy a slightly higher profit than I do when you purchase through Amazon, which will probably survive nicely either way. Whether you order directly from me or through Amazon, please know that I sincerely appreciate your purchase and hope that you enjoy the new book and find it full of useful ideas for your knitting. I think it is a beauty, but I am probably a little prejudiced…..kind of like asking a mother what she thinks of her new baby.

While I’m on the topic of new additions, I want to introduce the newest specialty tool on my web site! This 4/5-prong transfer tool is for 6.5 mm mid-gauge machines like the Silver Reed SK160, SK860 and LK150 or LK140.

These individually crafted and smoothly finished wooden tools are available exclusively on www.guagliumi.com and they feel so much nicer in your hand than a hunk of plastic!

You can use either end (4 or 5-prong) to move groups of stitches for traveling stitch designs or to create wide full-fashioned decreases along a raglan slant (for example). If you move 10 stitches every time you need to decrease, you’ll have enough stitches to allow an edge stitch, a plain (or reformed) stitch along each side of a 3×3 cable and the decrease. It’s a lot faster to move five stitches twice than it is working with a 3-prong tool! With a pair of these tools and a bit of bridging, you can cross 4 or 5 stitch cables.

The individual, 4-prong and 5-prong tools are still available (and cost $18 each), but if you don’t have those (or only have one of each), this combination tool is considerably more affordable at $26. Click here to order yours!

Last, but never least, I have just finished a pattern for sewing a fabulous padded carrying case for the LK-150 or similar machines. With shoulder straps and pockets for everything, this case is much lighter weight and easier to carry that the gun cases I see people using. Besides, I know I would be arrested carrying a gun case into Grand Central Station in NYC and I plan to show my FIT students an LK-150 this fall.

The final pattern is the result of 5 prototypes, which were expensive to produce in terms of both time and materials. I really hope you enjoy this copyrighted pattern so much and find it so worth the $6 price that you encourage your friends to purchase their own.  Don’t forget, there are already lots of freebies at www.guagliumi.com when you sign up for the newsletter.

 

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Clean Carriage

Clean and freshly oiled! I couldn’t resist saving some of the little felted rings I found around the brushes on the carriage arm (sinker plate to Brother people).

Last time I posted a series of photos to show you how I do a deep cleaning on my (Silver Reed) machine beds. This time I thought I would share some photos of how I clean my carriages. I opted not to take the carriage apart because it is a lot trickier than the beds and there are so many more small parts! Remember that the photos will enlarge if you click on them.

The first thing I do is give the underside of the carriage a good blow with some canned air. Please note (1) that I hold the carriage sideways so I blow the fuzz out instead of into the carriage and that (2) I do this over a waste basket so I don’t have little greasy dust bunnies all over my floor! This will only remove the loose fluff, not the greasy stuff jamming things up.

The yellow tool is pointing to the wire that connects the magnets (X). The while plastic edge (Y) is supposed to glide along the front edge of the bed. If it is gunky, it binds and makes the carriage action heavy.

Next I start removing any fuzz I can catch with an old tweezer. Pay special attention (on Silver electronics) to the wire at the front of the carriage that connects two little magnets that should slide back and forth freely. These magnets tell the electronics (EC1 or DAK) that you have finished knitting a row and changed direction. If they are gunned up, the pattern could skip a row or repeat one. After you remove any fuzz, use Q-tips or a paper towel to wipe out old grease.

The pipe at the back of the carriage glides along the rail of the machine. Silver pipes are round, Brother squarish, but they both need to be cleaned out. I sometimes add some fresh oil to homogenize the old oil and then wipe it all out.

 

The rollers at each end of the pipe help make the carriage slide smoothly. They should be oiled every time you use the machine as the oil passes through a slot in the pipe to the rail below.

The new style Silver machines have rollers at the end of the pipe (and at the front of the carriage – see the above photo) that need to be free moving and clean.

 

 

 

 

The block on the back of each end of the carriage reads the point cams on the back rail of the machine and need to be kept lint and oil free. I just use a Q-tip to do this. The machines come with “special” anti-static swabs and you can buy them at most electronic stores, but I have to confess that I use the drug store variety to clean my machines.

I use an old cosmetic bush to remove any lint lurking underneath and between the cams. I sometimes also fold a paper towels and run it through the pathways. Either way, when you do this make sure you move the cam lever on the top of the carriage to each setting as it will change the alignment of the cams and make it easier to get every corner cleaned. This is also a good time to watch what happens underneath the carriage. All carriages are a mirror image underneath (left and right sides) so that when you move the cam lever, both sides should do the same thing (if everything else on your particular carriage is in the neutral position). If a cam doesn’t move, it may not be damaged – just gunky and in need of a good cleaning. I use denatured alcohol sparingly because I do not want to dry out the metal, but a little dab will do ya!

Silver machines have Russel Levers (and I still don’t know who Russel was or what he did to get a part named after him!), while Brother machines use an N-H lever. The N-H lever controls both sides of the carriage at the same time and activates a cam at each edge. The Russel levers are unique to each side and operate independently of each other and only the lever on the leading edge of the carriage controls what happens to the needles in holding position (HP). That is, needles either stay in HP or return to work. Take a look at the photo above left. It shows the Russel Lever set to (I) so that it pulls close to the base plate of the carriage, which opens up the channel at the front edge of the carriage so the needle butts pass right through and stay in HP.

Now look at the second photo and you will see that with the Russel lever set (II) the lever has sprung out from the base where it will bump into the needle butts and push them back from HP to WP. Again, it is the leading lever that controls what happens; the trailing lever has no effect until the carriage reverses direction. In all cases, the N-H or Russel levers only affect needles in HP. If there are no needles in HP, their settings don’t matter. Clean ’em up!

Once the carriage is clean, you should re-oil the striking edges of the cams. Keep in mind that the base plate of the carriage (the place all of the cams attach to) should never make contact with the needle butts, which is why you were instructed not to press down on the carriage when you move it across the bed – it just makes it harder to move. So, don’t waste oil on the base plate. Just oil the side edges – the striking edges – of the cams that the needle butts are supposed to glide against. You can use an oil applicator (this one is Ballistol oil – most machines come with a brush bottle of oil) or an oily rag or paper towel.Give the cams a good drink.

Next, give the pipe a good oiling. Remember, from the machine’s point of view, you really can’t over oil. This does not, however, include using so much oil that you come up covered with it every time you get near the machine, oil dripping onto fabric or needle hooks. That would be overkill.

Now give the cover of the carriage a nice wiping down with a damp, soaped cloth and set it aside while you work on the carriage arm/sinker plate. I’m still working on the same SK860 I’ve had since the early 90’s. In fact, it was one of the first machines brought into the country. My carriage looks nice and white because I replaced the cover a couple of years ago. Good thing to keep in mind if you are selling or buying a used machine. A little cosmetic work can make a huge difference.

The arm (or sinker plate on a Brother) keeps the fabric back against the bed as the needles move forward and back. The brushes and wheels that do this must be free spinning and not bogged down with fuzz and crud. The various magnets only serve to keep the latches of the needles open when they need to be and apart from transferring grease to your fabric if they are really dirty, don’t really enter into this. The two ends of the arm are mirror images of each other. So – do NOT remover everything at once. If you leave the matching wheel in place you have a point of reference when you become confused about which way a piece should be replaced. I always only remove one wheel or brush at a time.

Because the brushes on the arm are “the first line of defense”, they often end up with yarn wrapped around their shafts which, in turn, causes problems casting on and knitting. You’ll need to remove and clean the brushes more often that you will need to do a full cleaning. Best advice: be very careful not to over-tighten or strip any of the screws. Use the metric screw drivers I mentioned last time.

The configuration of brushes and wheels changes from machine to machine so don’t be alarmed if this looks different than your machine. They all do the same thing. Promise.

I have removed one of the grey rubber wheels and when turned over you can see that both sides are different -which is why I told you to do one at a time. There is no guessing how it goes back.

 

 

 

Next I would remove the second grey wheel and then each of the black ones (individually). The brushes at each end of the arm are notorious for getting tangled in carriage mishaps. Note the nice little felted wad I removed from underneath this brush! More than enough to make the carriage drag and prevent the brush from turning, which helps create more carriage jams which add more yarn around the brushes. For beginners, most of the problems stem from either the tension mast or these brushes. For beginners, many of their problems stem from either the tension mast/threading or these pesky brushes and wheels. Clogged up brushes and wheels will cause carriage jamming, which, in turn often adds more yarn to the brushes.

Left lever is down so the brush is up (inactive). The right lever is up so the brush is down (active).

Next I remove each of the weaving brushes. More felted crud. I’ve also included a photo showing one brush down and the other up. Beginners have trouble keeping this straight because directions often say to put the weaving brushes down. Logic would indicate that the levers go down, but that is not the case. Levers are pushed down to raise the brushes; flipped up to lower them.

Even if your machine is a different model, this tutorial should give you some idea what to look for and where to clean. Just remember to re-oil the carriage when you are done cleaning so it purrs like a kitten!

 

 

My Clean Machine!

Once everything is clean, you’re ready to re-assemble the machine. At this point, I opted for a glass of wine. Your choice of red or white.

Open Spaces: Exploring Eyelets, Ladders and Slits is done and out for proofing and my SK860 was as dirty as a machine could possibly be. I decided to give it a good cleaning this week – and to take pictures so I could share the info with you. If you click on each picture they enlarge, which makes it even easier to see details. Remember, I am not a certified repair person so take no responsibility for your errors – just trying to help here because dealers are so  few and far between these days. That is the price we all pay for those great used buys on eBay….

This will be a long post! Couple of things you need to know before you start:

1 You don’t have to be a mechanic to do this, but plan on spending several hours and be ready to get dirty.
2 I number the compartments in an egg carton and I keep a pad of paper next to me where I write down everything I do. The numbers on the list coordinate with the numbers on the egg carton. If there are no screws or parts to remove, I leave the compartment in the egg carton empty, but I still write down what I did as a numbered step.
3 I always take cell phone photos while I work (though I used a good SLR for these shots) and make a note on my pad when I do so. You can never have enough evidence/notes/photos to guide you. Remember that what comes apart needs to go back together again with no extra parts left over.
4 My SK860 is a Silver Reed machine. Years back I took apart a number of machines with the wonderful Dave Bratz to guide me – I still hear his voice when I do this. However, I have never taken a Brother machine apart and have no idea how to do so – please do not use this as a guide for a Brother machine! They have a timing belt built into the bed that requires more knowledge than I have on the matter. Also, if you have a Silver punchcard machine you will need to remove the knobs on the top of the card reader in order to get the case off. I don’t have a punchcard here to double check, but there may also be a couple more screws – just use your head and take notes and photos.
5 You will need the following tools: metric screw drivers in 2 sizes. Studio used to sell a pair of screw drivers for the machines. You can check with Needle-Tek to see if they are still available. They may also be able to tell you what metric size to buy locally and they sell oil and parts and sponge bars and such. A magnet is handy for picking up small screws. Canned air helps clean the fuzz out of the bed, but be aware that this is greasy fuzz and will stain your clothes and furnishings! Rags, paper towels, denatured alcohol, knitting machine oil. I am not a fan of silicone because I am skeptical that I can clean off old residue as easily. Maybe a hand held vacuum. An old towel to lay the machine on. Small nut wrench and/or small pliers.
6 This is a great time to replace worn or broken parts so do not put the machine back together with damaged pieces. You can wait a week for new ones to arrive.
7 Lock the cat/dog out of the room while you work. Ready?

First, remove the 2 handle screws and put them in the #1 compartment of your egg carton. Write it down as step #1 on your list.

 

 

 

 

 

Next remove the 2 case screws behind the handle.

 

 

 

 

Remove the tiny screw in each of the latches. I’m not sure you really have to, but I did just in case they hold anything else. The latches stay attached to the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove 1 screw at the back on each end of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the top screw at each end of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the machine over and remove the 8 screws on the bottom of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the machine back over and remove the 2 flat screws at each end of the bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Then remove the 2 screws at each end that attach the ribber holder plates to the machine.

 

 

 

 

Its a good idea to mark which is left or right as mine were slightly different. Also note how they fit into the opening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide the end caps off the machine. Just for the record, this is the part that is often damaged when shipping machines so look for damage if you bought a used machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 3 square nuts embedded inside each end cap and they MUST remain in place. I use a small piece of masking tape under each one to make sure they do. Without the tape, this is a pesky thing to line up later on so do it now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide the bed out of the case. Note the position of the rubber pads so you know how to replace them later. Take them out and set aside. Start wiping up dust and crud about now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the 6 screws that hold the needle bed bracer/case mount in place. Again, note which way it lies for later. Are you taking enough pictures?

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the 4 screws holding each of the needle bed bracers/clamp mounts in place. Before you do, use a magic marker to mark their exact placement as this is a part that has some adjustment to it. You definitely want them even when you replace them or you will have trouble getting your ribber adjusted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep breath. Turn the machine over and remove the 11 screws holding the straight edge of the needle stopper plate in place. Then remove the 3 screws along the other edge. Keep them separate just to be sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you remove the needle stopper plate (previous step), it reveals the leaf spring. Take a minute to see how it is positioned so that each tine of the spring lies on top of a needle slot and the tines face the back of the bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift off the leaf spring and behold a lot of crud! Greasy crud! Also take a minute to inspect the leaf spring for damage – which happens when you badly jam a carriage. This is a part you should replace if it is damaged. Do something else until the part is ordered and received. You’ve come too far to start skimping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crud. Felted greasy crud. All the colors I used in the new book!

 

 

 

 

 

I knew just where to look on the sinker plate for these bad guys. Every time my carriage passed this point I felt a knock. I was able to GENTLY press these prongs back into line. Whew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the number strip and all of the needles. I could have done this sooner and made things easier to handle, but I thought they might give the photos some perspective and reference. If you bother to read all of this before your begin, do yourself a favor and remove them sooner. More crud. Good time to check the sponge bar for replacing and before removing the needles, push them all forward and check for bent needles – you probably stuck them in the end of the bed when you needed replacements. Time to order some nice straight new ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the 15 nuts and tiny bolts along the front edge of the machine. I find it easiest to do by sliding the machine just over the edge the table. Chances are that if you found any lose screws in the machine this where they came from. You’re welcome! The sinker posts are snapped into the edge of the bed in pairs and may or may not stay in place when you finish unscrewing all of the tiny, hard to hold not nuts/bolts. Remember the magnet I suggested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My sinker posts did not stay in place, which gave me a chance to wipe them down and look for bent ones. Lift the bed off the sinker plate. This is as far as you need to strip the machine to do a good thorough cleaning – get started! You might want to use some denatured alcohol to wipe things down, including the needles. You’ll be amazed how grubby everything is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everything is clean, you’re ready to re-assemble the machine. At this point, I opted for a glass of wine. Your choice of red or white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reinsert the sinker posts into the edge of the sinker plate. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the posts are in pairs like this, which makes it so easy to replace damaged posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place the bed on top of the sinker plate with the sinker posts pointing up. Replace the 15 nuts/bolts along the front edge by inserting and tightening the one on each end first to secure things and then do the rest of them in between. Make sure none of the sinker posts is dislodged in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before replacing the leaf spring, wipe it down with oil because the needles slide against this piece when you knit and without oil, the machine will bind and you could damage the leaf spring. Make sure it is positioned with the tines pointing to the back of the bed and each tine over a needle slot. A good leaf spring is essential to correct needle action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replace the needle stopper by screwing in the 11 screws on one edge and 3 on the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replace the needle bed bracer/case mount and the clamp braces at each side of it.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re almost done! Slide the machine back into the case. Replace the end caps, paying special attention to the square nuts I mentioned earlier – you were warned! Screw the end caps in place and then replace the ribber mounts in each end. Replace the case screws on the top, back and underside. Then replace the screws in the latches, handle and  under handle. Replace the number strip (did you order a nice clean new one?) and the needles.

At this point the machine reminds me of my teeth after a dental cleaning – when I swear I will never eat again so I can savor the squeaky clean. Forget it – the machine needs oil and you will probably need to oil heavily for the first few times you use it to get the machine purring again. So, put some oil on a rag and liberally  oil the rail and the needle butts so they do not dry out.

At this point, I usually give the carriage a good cleaning and next time I will show you how I do that.  We will not, however, be taking carriages apart!

Keep in mind that it is never a good idea to over-tighten screws because they can chew away at the threads/hole they are supposed to secure and you also run the risk of stripping the slot at the top for next time. If you need replacement parts for Studio – and some Brother as well – contact Jerry at Needle-Tek. If you now have a better appreciation for what goes into a good cleaning and would prefer to pay someone else to do it, contact Harold Shafer at The Knit Knack Shop.

I can guarantee you that if you do clean your own machine, you will gain greater understanding of how the machine works and find it easier to diagnose problems that occur from time to time. Like I said, I knew from the way the carriage always knocked at the same place that I needed to get a look at my sinker plate. And I learned about re-oiling the leaf spring from the one time I did not and the needle action was heavy and hard.

If you do a Google search for “knitting machine parts catalogues” you will find many of them on line. If not, it would be worth paying for one so you have the right name and part numbers for future reference.

I hope some of you find this helpful and at least informative. It isn’t difficult to do, but you do need to work slowly and have patience; take notes and photos. Let me know how it goes!

Up-Cycled Claw Weights

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!

 

 

 

What IS a P-Carriage?!

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 right to left across the bed, the needle butts in WP enter the pathway (on the left), travel upwards so the old stitches slide behind their latches and then exit the unit in 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 moves left to right, the needles in UWP enter the unit on the right, travel through the pathway and exit on the left WP, having dropped their stitches.

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!

 

Peonies, Puppies and DVDs!

Tree Peonies are one of my favorites.

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!

This handy mast clip will keep your notes or pattern right up front!

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.

 

Introducing Elena Luneva!

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.

 

 

 

1) https://youtu.be/XtVHE-C0BWQ (knitting half of front + neckline decreases)                                                                                                        2) https://youtu.be/Ob7qpJHOKTY (knitting back + bevel shoulder)             3) https://youtu.be/s6nZsxwG8iY (knitting fronts placket)                         4) https://youtu.be/SHwBPp0j6eo (knitting sleeve + internal decreases)    5) https://youtu.be/JG8XXmlJbrU (summary + nuances)

“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,

Elena”

Just 4 months old and full of beans! Babies are a LOT of work!

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.

 

 

Silver Needles Electric Cone Winder

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

Email: SilverNeedlesWI@aol.com     Phone: 480-488-2620

 

News, News, News

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.

Cool Stuff from Vogue Knitting Live!

First I bought a Yarn Valet….

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!

Then I ran into Dan Tracy ……….

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tension Matters    

mastTalk 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!