Saturday, February 26, 2011

Electric Yarn Winder... Yes or No?

When purchasing used knitting machines I've found that a yarn winder of some type will be thrown into the deal.  I have been given 3 small yarn winders, 1 jumbo yarn winder and now one electric yarn winder.  I bought my jumbo yarn winder before I got one with a knitting machine I purchased.  I gave it to a friend who was learning to knit and crochet.

The mini winders are hanging around unused.  Recently I was given a Simet electric yarn winder.   I have the manual jumbo yarn winder and I LOVE IT! If it were legal in the state of California... why yes I would marry it. :D  I love winding yarn on it almost as much as I love knitting the item I'm winding it for.  I find it so relaxing.  It works great I don't have any problems and I get these great center pull balls perfect for my machine knitting.

I was intrigued with the electric winder.  I knew already it wouldn't wind a ball as big as the jumbo winder.  Quite frankly I thought of selling it without trying it.  That's how useless I thought it would be in my life.  I knew it couldn't interfere with my love affair with the jumbo winder.  So, I got to thinking if I'm going to sell it I better make sure it actually works.

I got a skein of yarn I need for making another cupcake hat.  I hooked up the yarn and turned on the machine.  It work great, but didn't wind the whole skein of yarn.  The winder wasn't big enough.  I wound the extra bit of yarn around the outside of the ball.

Then I thought I have some sock yarn.  The skeins are pretty small.  They should be the perfect size for this electric winder.

I found the electric yarn winder to be nerve racking.  One little knot, loop, or twist and the machine jams.  No time to catch it and fix it like a manual winder.  After about 15 tries with the sock yarn and all similar results I gave up.  Also my son came into the kitchen to ask me why I needed so many pencils sharpened I've decided to stick with my Royal Jumbo Yarn Winder.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I had a great time at Stitches West this year for a completely different reason than previous years.  This year I volunteered in the Machine Knitting Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area Booth.  We had nothing to sell.  We were hoping to get more people to join the guild.  It was a day to encourage people to pull their knitting machines out from under their beds.  It was a day to let people know there is support for machine knitters.  It was a day to let people know there was such a thing as machine knitting.  We got many people interested in machine knitting and the guild.  Hope we see them all at the March meeting.

(Julia, Lynne and Chrys)

I had a great time with my fellow booth mates Julia and Chrys.  Each of us took a turn at the knitting machine during our 2 hour time slot.  Julia demonstrated 2 color knitting and cables.  Chrys demonstrated making a purl stitch and moving stitches to other needles to create lacy designs.  I demonstrated my favorite pattern of the year Idiot's Delight.  It made a beautiful swatch using the purple yarn.

During my 2 hours there the most asked about project was.... my mohair scarf that I had worn to Stitches.  There were many different garments there that I was in awe of and my simple mohair scarf stole the show.

Side Note:  At the March mtg of the guild 9 new people came to enjoy the meeting.


I made my first pair of socks!  I'm so excited.  I used Diana Sullivan's Sock DVD and book and my Studio 700 standard machine with ribber.  The video was very helpful.  I really like to see things done.  They have always helped me understand the written word better.

The first sock took my 3 1/2 hours.  Yes, and I had many many problems.  All operator error.  My first mistake was after the ribbing was done.  I got the sock turned rehung for circular knitting AND I forgot to put the yarn back in the carriage and 3/4 of the ribbing fell off by the time I noticed.  At that point I though it would just be faster to rip it out and redo the ribbing.  I've got 1X1 ribbing down and I'm pretty fast in needle set up and casting on.

The 2nd mistake was after I turned the sock for circular knitting I didn't weight it down and 4 stitches came off the needles.  After much digging around and latching up I got them on and weighted down.

Now came the circular knitting.  I've only done it once and following all the directions I forgot to put a side lever to the triangle or arrow and some have called it.  I did 3 rows of ribbing.  I had to undo the 3 rows.  After examining the chart and settings I was able to get back to circular knitting.

About 10 rows into the circular knitting I encountered a knot.  Now that I think about it this wasn't my fault.  I did have to rip the knitting back to get the knot undone and reknit the row.

Finally, I was at the toe.  Again a few stitches fell off and had to dig around and rehang.  The stitches falling off all had to do with inadequate weight.

I'm not telling you about my mistakes as discouragement, but more to let you know that we all have problems.  One can get past them and be successful.

I decided after I made the first sock to immediately make a 2nd sock.  With all I learned the first time around the 2nd sock was much easier.  I knew how to set my machine for circular knitting.  I knew a good amount of weight was very important.  My 2nd sock took me exactly an hour.  No dropped stitches.  No ripping back.

All I have left to do is side seam the ribbing and Kitchener stitch the toes.  It's late though and I'm going to go to bed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Punch Cards

This is a zigzag pattern card.  I was given these 2 yarns and I accidently found out they look great together.  I knitted up a quick hat with my Studio 700 standard machine.  I'll be trying at all my 24 stitch pattern cards on the correct machine. :D

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What I've Learned About Punch Cards

All punch card readers are not created equal.  There are 12 stitch punch card readers and 24 stitch punch card readers.  I found out today they are very easy to tell a part if you know what to look for. 
See the cute little "L" shaped pieces sticking out of the punch card reader? Count them... 12.

See the cute little "L" shaped pieces sticking out of the punch card reader? Count them... 24.

What was causing all my problems was a punch card.  I put a 24 stitch punch card pattern into my 12 stitch punch card machine.  I was told it was a brother card.  It's pattern is designed to create an every other stitch color change.  BUT if you put this 24 stitch pattern card into a 12 stitch punch card reader one's machine gets all confused and doesn't know what to do.  Dropped stitches, dropped yarn, and just a general big tangle of a mess ensues.  This is punch card numbered 1.  Other 24 stitch punch cards worked fairly well with my machine.

Using incorrect card for an every other stitch pattern.

Using another 24 stitch card I was able to do something that looked fairly nice.

When I got my machine I was told it was a 24 stitch machine.  I didn't know anything about punch cards and took that info at face value.  Now that I know what to look for I want to do a "V-8" forehead smack and say duh!
Card I was using.  Count holes across one line... 24.

Card I'm supposed to be using... 6 holes across per line.

Obviously, I don't have the original cards that go with this machine.  Fortunately, a friend of mine has the cards that go to this type of machine.  She's going to lend them to me and I'm going to punch my own cards on some blanks that I have.

I knew my problem had to be the operator and not the machine.  I feel greatly relieved to have learned a very valuable machine knitting lesson today.

I am SO glad when more experienced machine knitters wanted to take a part my punch card reader with a screw driver I said no.

Thank you to my daughter and her abs of steel for this picture.