Friday, June 15, 2018

Breaking All the Rules

 Here is a Brother Profile 588, fresh from the estate sale.  She is missing the small tools, including the wrench to turn the needle selector, and NO HANDLES!  She does not have the fold down handles of later models.  There is a lace carriage.  The needles were in good shape,  along with the carriages.  I added a used sponge bar and she knitted.  DH heard my handle complaints, and came up with some plywood handles, and life got better.  I called her Frankie, and set out to sample her capabilities.  She knits 'fairisle' using what you might call intarsia- the second color is laid across the needles, and is knit by the selected needles, while the main color is in the feeder and knit by the unselected needles.  Also, this machine would allow use of several colors in the same row, with only one pass of the carriage.  I also sampled tuck patterns in a second swatch. 

She got handles, and a name:  Frankie

The version that got me started, but didn't work so well

this pic shows my experiment with sponge bar refurbishing today.  I tried using 2 lengths of oxygen tubing.  The tubing is what is used for concentrators or Oxygen tanks at home.  It comes in 40 foot lengths, and says it is crush resistant.  It is between 3/16" and 7/32" OD.  
Well, 2 lengths was too much.  I got the bar in, but it felt like too much friction/resistance.  However, ONE length worked very well.  I put it on the bar with a hot glue gun.  Once in the machine, It held the needles nicely against the bed.  I sprayed silicon spray on the bed, thinking that some would get to the needle shanks through the slots- then wiped down the bed.  The needles move like butter!  Could not be better.  Now, I have heard that silicon spray should not be used, but I read the can (Three in One Silicon Spray) and said could be used on all surfaces, metal and non metal, including vinyl.  And I want you to know this machine is singing!

The tuck sample --

Monday, August 29, 2016

Flip Flop socks on a Superba

I saw some directions for CSM flipflop socks, and I was not impressed.  Between the big toe and the first toe, there were two seams!  In addition, the pattern did not take into account that the total of circumference of the big toe plus the circumference of the rest of the toes is 4 or 5 cm more than the circumference of all 5 toes together.   Throw in my love for my sock-making superba, and you've got a blog post.

Flip flop socks should not be a joke or a punchline.  Yes, it's an inherently funny look, but only if you are not wearing flipflops.  My flipflop loving 'customers' want a season-extending, suitable for public admiration, sock.

Here's a superba pattern for the serious flipflop sock.

Sized for women's medium ( shoe size 7 - 8 1/2)

Written for 8 st and 11 rows to the inch for the stockinet.  Check your gauge on both beds.

Sock yarn- opal, berocco, online, 2/12 or two strands of 2/24.

Cast on from 32 L to 32 R- I used 2x2 industrial rib. beds at half pitch,  Zigzag at 1, circular rows at 3.5, and rib at 4.5.  Knit in rib to RC 63.  Transfer all stitches to the back bed.
Change tension to 5.5 on both carriages.  Put all empty needles out of work. Knit one row. Take the stitches from 0 to 32R off on decker comb, and put them on the left side front bed, from 32L to 0.  Lightly weight the web.
Set beds to 'flow combs opposite.  Set both carriages to C
Set row counter to 0.  Knit 20 rounds plain.  Row counter reads 40.
Set front carriage to 0, set back carriage to V.
Turn a shortrow heel on the back bed.  Decrease down to 10 center stitches, then back up.
When heel is complete, return to Circular setup.  Set Row counter to 0
Foot:  Knit circular for 65 rounds, Row counter is 130.  If carriages are not on the right, knit across to the right.  (for the right sock)
Set row counter to 0.
And now for the tricky part.
Using Decker combs, and working on the left side, the side with the opening in the rib, (because this is the right sock), take 11 stitches off the back bed and 11 stitches off the front. Let the decker combs drop between the beds and take the empty needles out of work. You have 21 stitches on each bed,  On the toe side, bring two extra needles into work on both beds.  You are going to e-wrap these 4 needles to increase to 23 stitches each bed, over the next two rounds.
Knit to the left (front bed)  With carriage on the left, e-wrap the two end needles on the front bed, then e-wrap the two empty needles at the beginning of the backbed row.  Raise the two e-wrapped back bed needles to holding position.  Knit to the right.  Back bed row knitted, and two e-wrapped needles are not yet knitted, and are still in hold postition.   With carriage at right, use an eyelet tool to lower the back bed e-wrapped needles to b position.  Then, use the eyelet tool to raise the front bed e-wrapped needles.  Set the front carriage to knit back the raised needles.  Knit to the left.
With carriage at left, raise the two back bed e-wrapped needles again, and this time set the rear carriage to knit back the raised needles. Knit to the right.
RC =4.
Decreases- On the right side, on both the front and back beds, move the outside 3 stitches in by one stitch, doubling up the 3rd and 4 th stitch.  Knit 2 rounds.  RC = 8. Repeat until RC = 36.
When RC is 36, 40, and 44, set up decreases on both the left and right sides of the both beds.
RC = 48 - take off on waste yarn.
Back to the toe.
RC back to 0
Carriage at right
Put the toe stitches on 11 back bed needles and 11 front bed needles.  On the left (should be the inside side) side of the toe, raise 2 more needles on both beds.  On these needles, pick up the four e-wrap stitches you added to the first section.
Knit 18 rounds (RC = 36)  Decrease 1 stitch, both sides, both beds, and knit 2 rounds-
RC 40 and RC 44,  Repeat the decrease round.
RC 48- take off on waste yarn.
Kitchener the toes.  Seam the ribbing.

Make the left sock reversing all shapings.  I keep the right sock handy for comparison.  Big clue:  As the sock is hanging on the machine, the seam side of the ribbing is on the left for the right sock, and on the right for the left sock.  The big toe is on the left for the right sock, and on the right for the left sock
Here are the toe stitches on decker combs, which will be allowed to drop below the beds

This shows the 4 e-wrapped stitches for the first toes section

This shows the stitches for the big toe back on needles,along with
 those 4 ewrapped stitches on the inside of the toe.

This shows the 4 stitches addded to the toes, and then picked up for the big toe.

just need to kitchener and seam.
.  This is how I get through these socks without having to look at my feet!

If you make two lefts, You may not have to rip back and rehang if you have enough yarn to make two rights.  If you make three lefts, you are on your own.

I hope you will give this a try- When you have done it once, you will be able to put this divided toe onto any sock.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Comic strip quilting!

This is the 'skateboard' quilt I just finished.  I am sure that those quilters of a certain age will recognize a 'hotwheels' quilt.  Whatever.   (And yes, the backing is starwars blueprints.)
This quilt wound up with a good amount of blank space in them-  and like a wall and a box of crayons, ideas come to mind.  Here's my comic strip in a 15 frames:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How I altered jeans to fit over a prosthetic leg

A friend's other half has a new leg.  This is good news.  However, he has favorite jeans, and they don't fit.  That is bad news.  

The LEE jeans arrived in the mail from my friend Linda, along with some extra denim and a 24 inch zipper.   Linda tells me that the left leg of the jeans needs to be 23 inches around  at a point 9 inches below the crotch, and 24 1/2 inches around at a point 13 1/2 inches from the crotch.

 So the first thing I did was to open both the inseam and the sideseam.  These jeans had a lapped seam on the sideseam, and the inseam was a seamed, pressed to one side, and the seam allowance was stitched again.  In both cases, rip the lines of stitches in the reverse order in which they were constructed.  There will be a lot of thread particles.  Press the front and back of the leg flat.  I took out the hem completely as well, and when I was putting these pants back together, it was easier to redo the whole hem,

 Now here is the great thing about denim:  It does not mind being curved.  I used the steam iron to curve both seams so that I could see what I needed for a gusset in both seams,  The rulers are laid out so that I can be sure I get the leg diameter that I need.

I traced the opening -

 to make a pattern for the gussets.

I added an inch all the way around this shape-.  Go oversize- you may have to make it bigger, and then you will be glad you have the material to work with.  Also, add a couple inches length to each end of the gusset, so you have some flexibility on where to begin and end the zipper. Now the sideseam gusset is a solid piece of denim, but the inseam gusset is made up of two strips of denim joined by a 24"zipper.  My gussets had to add 7 inches to the leg- so each one had to be at least 3 1/2 inches plus two seam allowances, at it's widest.  The two strips for the inseam gusset each had to be 2 inches plus two seam allowances.  I made the strips 29 inches long.

Here is the zipper gusset for the inseam side.  I have laid the gusset flat, and pinned the front and back of the leg to it, folding under the original seam allowance on the original jeans.

Open the zipper to sew the halves of this gusset.  I did this one first,  Then, when you do the second gusset, you can leave the zipper open.

Here are both gussets, and the bottom hem has been redone, too.

Ready to put on.

More miscellaneous:  I used a 3-step zigzag on most raw edges. I Used FrayCheck on raw edges that I could not reach to zigzag. This is denim, it is going to fray if you don't put up a positive defense.  How I found matching denim:  I took the pants with me to the thrift store.  I found a pair of jeans that were the same weight and manufacturer and a nearly exact color match.  One pair of thrift store jeans  will gusset four pairs of jeans.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chain piecing snowballs!

I know that title will only make sense to a quilter.
I made a 'skateboard' quilt for a gkid.  Came out terrific.  I watched a video on piecing the top, and I was struck by the contrast between the speedy, streamlined assembly for most of the pieces, and the lumbering, fussy contrasting corners on the 'deck' piece.  I was inspired by Frog Tape.
If you have painted any walls or woodwork lately, you likely are familiar with Frog Tape.  It's a 3M painter's tape that is superb for masking, leaves a very clean line, and comes off easily.  It's green.  Frog.  Well, there is a yellow version that is for delicate surfaces- you can use it on new paint, and it will come off cleanly, with no damage to the new paint.  I have a roll by the sewing machine.  I have been using it for temporary guides on my sewing deck, and I have used it a few times to hold fabric or batting- especially where I was butting the edges of two pieces.   I don't sew through it. It is a 'gentle' hold on fabric.  Easy to reposition.  It does a great job of coming off fabric clean. It is not as clean coming off batting, but better than everything else.
On fabric, it is reusable three or four times before you need to replace with a new piece.

Here's the block piece I needed to put 'corners' on:

Here is how I chain-sew the corner pieces.

My 'deck' pieces are cut 5" by 10", and the corner squares are 1.5".
I arrange the deck pieces on my cutting mat, lining them up so that each piece is offset by 1.5 inches.  I am left-handed- so righties may want to line up the right side of the blocks instead.

Position the squares:

Position the tape:

I line up the tape on the diagonal corners of the 1.5" blocks.  I add a couple pins in the middle of the stack of blocks.  It helps when you are (carefully) carrying the stack to the sewing machine.  You could use some more tape, front and back, instead of the pins.  I prepare the opposing corners at the same time.  Sew!  My machine needle is offset .5mm right of center.  That's my scant 1/4 inch.  So I can use the edge of the tape as a 'center' guide, and my seam is one thread right.

Trim your seams, and take off the tape.  Press before you clip apart.  Them repeat this procedure for the remaining corners.  I leave the tape strips on my cutting board until they don't have 'life'.

With the 5" x 10" pieces, I stuck to doing 4 at a time, but with smaller pieces, I am fearless! I can make long strips, and there is no rule about how much frog tape you should use.  
Here's the finished top.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Notes for American Crew Socks

Notes for American Crew Socks
Prepared for April 8, 2015 Demo in Lincolnia, VA

This crew sock features a cuff in 2x2 half-pitch rib which is invisibly seamed on the inside of the leg, a sock body that is knit in the round, and a heel and toe that are done using short rows.

There are five parts to the sock: cuff, preheel, heel, foot, and toe.  This sock starts out life as a flat piece of ribbing.  When the cuff is knit, the sock setup is changed so that the rest of the sock is knitted in-the-round.  

The example that I will knit is done at a gauge of 8 stitches and 11 rows to the inch.  The gauge is measured on a swatch that is done in-the-round.  You need to get the same gauge on both the ribber and the main bed.

This sock is 64 stitches, with a cuff that is 64 rows, a preheel that is 20 rounds, a heel and toe that are based on 32 stitches which is shortrowed down to 10 and back up to 32, and a foot section of 60 rounds.
Ribbing stitch size is 4.5 and stockinet stitch size is 5.

A 100 gm ball of sock yarn will be plenty for a sock up to size Men’s 11-12.  I usually buy three 50 gm balls to make very tall, size 13 men’s socks.

(Japanese machines: review your ribber manual for “racked  cast on”, “industrial rib”, and circular knitting.)

Set your ribber bed so that the ribber and main bed needle numbers line up.
Set your ribber bed for half-pitch- needles and posts are offset.  
Pull forward on both beds all the needles between 32L and 32R.\
Put every 3rd needle back, starting on the left side on the back bed, and starting on the right side on the ribber.

Set both your carriages to KNIT, and make a pass or two to set up your needles, ending COR.
Set the row counter to 0.

Rack the ribber bed one number (left or right) to set the needles so you will get a zigzag when you cast on.  Set your stitch size for the zigzag row- This is usually (on brother machines) 1 or 0.  
Thread your carriage, tie the end of your yarn to your clamp, make sure that your carriages are set to ‘knit’, move the carriages to the left to make the zigzag row.  Hang your cast on comb and weights.
RC = 1, COL

Now, set your carriages for circular knitting in a clockwise direction.   Increase the stitch size to 3.  Knit to the left (needles on the back bed knit), and then knit to the right (needles on the front bed knit. )
RC = 3, COL
Now, set your carriages to knit in back and forth.  Rack the ribber back one number to the original position, so that when you knit, you will have a 2 x 2 rib, and increase the stitch size to your 4.5 (or a stitch size that will give you correct gauge).
Knit to the right.  Check the knitting, and hand-knit any needles that did not knit.
Then knit until RC = 64.  You will end with COR.  The cuff is complete.  

Transfer the ribber stitches to the main bed.  Of each pair of stitches transferred, one will fill an empty needle, and one will double up with a main bed stitch.

Set stitch size on the main carriage to 5 (or size to get correct gauge).  **Japanese machines: take off the ribber arm, and put your regular carriage arm on.**
Knit one row to the left.  
RC = 65 , COL

Using either a 40 stitch transfer comb or garter bar, take off the sttiches from 0 - 32R.
On the ribber bed, put up the needles from 32L - 0.  These are the new home for the stitches you have on the comb.  (for the right sock, move the right side stitches, for the left sock, move the left side stitches.  When you move stitches from the side that is the end of the row, make sure that the yarn coming from the mast is ON TOP of the needles.  Put back into non-work position all needles that you empty.  If you moved the end of the row, and not the beginning of the row, you will need to move your carriages to the other side without knitting.
Then, set RC to 0, set carriages to knit circular clockwise.  Set stitch size to 5.  

Part 2   PREHEEL

You are ready to knit the preheel.  You want to knit 20 rounds of preheel,  and the row counter will count 2 rows for each round, so you will knit until RC = 40.

end COR.

Part 3 HEEL

Japanese machines:  lower the ribber bed and take off the ribber arm and put on the regular mainbed arm.  You will be knitting the heel (and toe) on the main bed only.

This heel uses self-wrap on the way down, and ‘2-down, 1-up’ self-wrap on the way up.  
On the carriage side, pull the end needle all the way forward to hold position.  Make sure carriage is set to ‘hold’. Knit across.  Repeat until you have pulled 11 needles on one side, and 10 on the other.

The Turnaround row:  COL, raise 11th needle on the left and put 11th and 10th needles on the right into upper work position, and knit to the right.
COR, put the 10th needle on the right back into hold, and put the 11th and 10th needles on the left into upper work position and knit across.
Repeat these two rows until you knit all the needles on the left.  Then COL, put the 1rst needle on the left in hold position, and put any remaining needles on the right that are in hold in upper work position and knit across.  Use a tool to put the left needle in hold back in regular work position with the stitch in the hook.  
Set up carriages for circular knitting, and knit one round.  
This completes the heel.  Follow these directions for the toe, as well.

Part 4 FOOT

Set the RC to 0.  Knit 60 rounds, which will be 120 on the row counter.

Part 5 TOE  

Follow the directions for the heel

After you complete the ‘knit one round’ that ends the toe, do one round with ravel cord, then scrap off.

Graft the toe.  Flat seam the cuff.  Done.

To make larger sizes, Each 4 stitches will add about half an inch to the sock circumference.

64 stitches makes a sock around 8  inches around.  68 will be 8 ½  inches.  Your big guy socks will be on 72 stitches or 76 stitches.  

Socks that are the right length from heel to toe are the socks that don’t walk down into your shoe.  If a sock heel won’t stay where it belongs, the sock is probably too short.  If a sock is too long, you generally see that in too much extra fabric at the toe.

If you know the foot length is, say 10 ¼ inches, multilply your row gauge (11 rows per inch) by 10.25 : to get 112.75.  Round to the nearest whole number  : 113.  This is the total number of rows for the foot.  The total foot rows that are knitted in the heel and toe is equal to ⅔ of the total stitches around.  ⅔ of 64 is close to 42 (close is good).  subtract 42 from 113, and you will knit 71 rounds in the section of the foot between the heel and the toe to get a total foot length of  10 ¼ inches.
Notice that if your gauge is only 10 rows per inch, the foot section will be only 60 rounds to get that same 10 ¼ inches length.

My blog can be found at
I am on Ravelry (Sharonwue)
Have Fun,  Make Socks
Sharon Wuerschmidt

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The things you do for love, and the birdfoot heel

I decided to use up the leftovers in a couple pairs of socks.  These are always the socks that I experiment with, and some of my best, and worst, ideas have been tried out in leftovers.

My socks are knit in the round, on a superba double bed.  Recently, I was using my CSM in the comfy company of several CSM people, and I took a few minutes to expound on why I like the double bed knitting machine for socks more ;than the CSM.  It all comes down to flexiblilty.  I can have more or less stitches whenever I want.  It made me think.

I want to make socks that have more room around the heel and the arch of my foot- where things get stretched out the most when I wear my socks.  I mean, I want there to be more stitches around the sock in that area,
I also wanted to try out a couple of modifications to the short-row heel.  I wanted the heel to actually use MORE THAN HALF of the stitches.  I think I have figured out how to do that.  I also wanted to use a short-row that put all the needles back into work at one time, instead of one at a time.  Okay, then.

I managed to get these experiments into the socks, and I am pretty satisfied.

I started out by knitting 3 x 2 rib over 72 stitches- so 90 actual stitches in the ribbing- .  (see my recent blog entry for all the details on this. )
Then, I set up the rest of the sock in the round, 36 stitches on each bed.  I knit 4 rounds and increased 1 stitch on each side on both beds, by moving out the outer 2 stitches by one needle, and filling the empty needle with a crossbar from the row below.  Then I **knit 8 rounds, increased 4 stitches** two times.
Now I had a total of 84 stitches, 42 on each bed.  I knit 8 more rows after the last increase row.
Here's a graphic represention of the stitches that I added and, after the heel was complete, subtracted.

Now for the heel- I wanted a heel that used a total of 48 stitches, so I would be shortrowing the 42 needles on the back bed, along with 3 needles on both ends of the front bed.
Here's how that works.  With carriage on right, set up your carriages to knit the back bed, but pass the front bed.
Before you knit across the back bed on the first row of the heel, I handknit the three rightmost stitches on the front bed, wrap the yarn in the hook of the next stitch, then handknit the three rightmost stitches again to get back to the edge.  Now, I knit the back bed- moving the carriages to the left side, where I hand knit the 3 leftmost sttiches on the front bed, wrap in the hook of the next needle, and handknit back to the end.  For the next two rows, I handknit 2 stitches,wrap, handknit back, on both ends, and for the net two rows, that's right! handknit i stitch, wrap, handknit back on both ends.
Now, carriages on right- wrap the yarn in the hook of that rightmost needle on the front bed, and set my back carriage to hold position.  On the first row, pull the end needles on both the left and right ends.  On each row, pull both the right and left next needles into hold position until there are 12 stitches left in the middle, and the carriage is on the right.  (You have knit 12 rows of the heel).  
For the next row,  on the left side, I put all but the end needle back in work position, and knit to the right.
For the next row, on the left, pull  the next (2nd) needle into hold position, and on the right, I put all the needles except the end needle back in work position and knit across.
Now, the carriage is on the right, and I pulled the end needles to hold position on both ends every row until there are 12 or 13  (I forget, lol- something close to that) needles left and carriage is back on left.  I put all the right side needles back in work position and knit to the right.
I set up the carriages for circular knitting.   I make sure that the carriages are no longer set for hold position.  I put the needles that are still in hold position on the left side of the back bed back into regular working position.  I used a transfer tool to put the stitches back in the hooks, and the hooks lined up in regular working position, ready for the carriage.
I knit the first circular row- first right to left across the front bed, then left to right across the back bed.
I was now done with this heel.
This stripe really allows you to see how the heel is done.  By the way- this short row heel is very smooth on the inside- no ridge.  And no holes.

Now,  it was time to reduce the number of stitches, so I knit 4 rounds  and decreased by moving the outer two stitches in one needle, doubling up the 2nd and 3rd stitches from the ends, on both beds and both sides.  **Knit 8 rounds and repeat the decrease**  until back to a total of 36 stitches on each bed.
Then I completed the sock, making the toe by shortrowing on the back bed only on 36 stitches down to 12, and back up, using a self wrap on the on the way down, and 1 up, 2 down on the way back to 36 stitches.

So, how do I like them?  Well, the fit is exactly what I was after.  My socks, going forward, will have a wide load section.  My feet will be happy for it.
As for the birdfoot heel, I like how smooth it is.  Also, since the fussier part, for me, of knitting the heel is putting the stitches back into work, this heel simplifies that part.  I find I do not need to move around the weights as often as with a conventional shortrow up and shortrow down heel.  The birdfoot heel using more that 50% of the stitches, has the effect of moving the pivot point for the heel higher up the ankle, and more forward.  This, combined with the additional stitches, means that the front of the sock over the arch doesn't need to stretch quite as much.  Now for some wear testing.