Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Content April 1

I am participating in the Blogging A to Z challenge during the month of April. Therefore, content of this blog will change a bit for the next month. When you know you are going to be writing faithfully every day for a protracted period of time, you want to write about a topic you know. For me that is music. The theme for April will be Music and Its Instruments, so knitters and quilters beware! Tomorrow? A-Major is Green. (Figure that out if you can.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Estate Sales Can Be Asset Building

Many years ago, so long ago that I don't remember where, I bought a quilt top. I believe it was in an antique/second hand store, but I'm not even sure about that. I do know that it was before I knew much about quilting, and for several years I bought quilt tops in places like these and quilted them.

Fast forward to 2004 or so, the quilt guild I belong to had a program one night on Turkey Red quilts. I had never heard of them before, but it got me thinking about that old quilt top that was in the cedar closet in the basement. You see, I had sandwiched it with muslin and safety pinned it with a polyester batting, high-loft. The fabric was thin, too thin for the batting, and I had started hand quilting it but abandoned the project. Some months later, thinking perhaps the quilt top was more valuable than first thought, I removed the safety pins and undid the little stitching that I had begun.

Last weekend was the Evergreen Quilt Show here in Green Bay, WI. They had an appraiser, and I made an appointment to take the old quilt top. Well, you guessed it. It is dated between 1890 and 1910, all hand pieced (I already knew that), and about 74" square. Thank goodness I got those safety pins out of there when I did. The appraiser said I should quilt it. That doing so would give the 100-year-old hand stitches some foundation and help to preserve it.

I went out the next day and bought appropriate backing and just spent the morning getting the backing on to the quilt frame, only to discover that the cotton batting I planned to use is not wide enough. Oh no! Another trip to the fabric store.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spanakopita and Frogging

What a day! Did the grocery shopping this morning - the cupboards were bare - and they had spinach on sale. It was beautiful, fresh, and all I could think of was Spanakopita. When we lived in Chicago, we used to go to our favorite Greek restaurant in Greek town, and I always ordered Spanakopita. Thank goodness for the age of iPhones. I just whipped out my phone, typed in spanakopita, and recipes appeared. That told me what ingredients I needed to buy.

In the afternoon I tried to crank the mate of a sock - something that I have tried to do 3 times now. Arg!!! Each time something happens, dropped stitches mostly, and I have to rip it out and start over. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but it is happening over and over again. Each time I end up with more 'tie-ons' in my ball of yarn. Pretty soon I won't be able to knit it at all. Frustrating! Maybe tomorrow!

I did add a page to this blog today - a pattern for 3 & 1 Mock rib socks to be knit on a circular sock knitting machine. I have found a lack of such patterns on the internet, so I hope this will help others looking for a hand up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quilt Show 2012

I spent the past 2 days volunteering at the Evergreen Quilt Show, and as in past years, it was an awesome show. Most of the time I was tied to the Raffle Quilt sales table, but I did have a bit of shopping time and bought the pattern for this quilt.

The colored fabrics are all batiks, so now I need to do some collecting. The other photo is a detail of the quilting done on it.  I can't wait to get started. I just loved the colors. What do you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Progress is Slow but Steady

 I have been referencing Penelope, my new Erlbacher Gearhart circular sock knitting machine, in this blog over the past 2 weeks, and the last couple of days I have been learning to use the ribber. When it is set up correctly the fabric that it makes is amazing - even, knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for sock legs. Actually, larger ribs are possible as well - k3, p1; k5, p1; etc. I have just been starting simply.
Day 1:  I couldn’t even get the mechanism to turn. Whenever I set the needles to the ON position everything just locked down. I spent most of yesterday taking everything apart and timing, and retiming the ribbing device and tappet plate, resetting the height of the yarn carrier, and centering the ribber over the cylinder.
Day 2: Today, with the set up as good as I could get it, I started cranking tubes and you can see the results.   The tubes are progressive from left to right. The progress is obvious. The example on the left is full of dropped stitches and significant runs - so much so that I didn’t bother to ever add sock yarn. The example in the middle had fewer dropped stitches, and I did try a partial tube with sock yarn. Still there are a few dropped stitches. The example on the right was the best yet. There is only 1 dropped stitch - unfortunately it was too far below the cylinder tube to latch it back up.  My latch tool is just not long enough.

What have I learned? That watchfulness for open latches is critical, and it has taken me 2 days to learn the lesson. I am confident that the ribber is properly timed, so the errors you see are mine. That's good news, actually, because now I can fix it. Tomorrow? Maybe a pair of socks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Look What I Found

We went to the De Pere Antique Show on Saturday. We go every year, and seldom buy anything, but we are Red Wing and Carnival Glass collectors so it's always fun to see what prices are doing for items we already own. In an antique show vendors know what they have, so there are no deals to be had. This time was different however. Not the deal part - the dealer knew what she had - but the "seldom buy anything" part. I reached right for my wallet.

There she sat - the most gorgeous little Singer Featherweight you've ever seen. I was a quilter before I was a knitter, and quilters have prized these little machines for a long time. This one was made in 1948 and is in pristine condition. All the parts are there, even the instruction manual, thank goodness, because I couldn't have threaded it without the little booklet. I tested it this morning and it runs like a charm. The stitches are even and the length of them can be changed as desired.

On the knitting front I have been churning out socks on Penelope (my Erlbacher Gearhart circular knitting machine), and each pair gets better. The balance between yarn weight and stitch tension on the machine is crucial, and I am finally understanding that better. Here are my latest two. See what you think.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Summer in March

What a glorious day. Hi 70s, windows open in the house, pussy willows budding out... it just keeps getting better and better.

This morning AJ and I went to the DePere Antique Show. We go every year, enjoy seeing all the vendors' booths, and seldom buy anything. This year was different. I walked into a booth and there it sat. A perfectly maintained 1948 Featherweight Singer sewing machine. Quilters will understand my excitement. This one was complete - right down to the instruction manual. A little bickering back and forth, and it was mine. As soon as it is set up, I will post a picture. Can't wait to give it a good try out.

When we got home it was so beautiful, that we stopped and picked up Jessie (our dog) and headed up to Door County. One of Jessie's favorite things is chasing a ball into the bay, bringing it back, swimming, etc. We usually go to Murphy Park for that, so that's where we went. (That black spot in the water is Jessie.) She had a great time. Then we stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Sturgeon Bay on our way home. Tonight I cranked out another sock on my Erl. All in all, a super day.!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rhubarb Is Up!

Spring seems to have arrived. The rhubarb is up, and it was 70 degrees yesterday. What happened? We haven't had a decent winter yet. I am so terribly afraid that we are going to pay for this flirtation with nice weather, but AJ says that is just my pessimistic nature. Always looking on the negative side. I don't really agree with him. I'm just a realist, and I accept the fact that this is too early to get used to shirt-sleeve weather.

I wrote a pattern last night for a mock-rib sock to be knit on a circular sock knitting machine. It's just a basic pattern, but there is a lack of literature for new knitters on CSMs. The manuals, both old and new, don't take a simple sock in step-wise manner from cast on to toe. The pattern is being checked by some knitters who have more experience than I on CSMs, and when it is deemed correct, I will post it here.

Trying to get used to the new cast. It leaves my left hand completely inflexible, while the bandaging I had before allowed me to move the hand a bit. In a way, I am more immobile now than I was a week ago - somewhat discouraging, although I will only have it on for 3 weeks. Things could be worse. I can't begin to tell you how many things I can't do because of it, but I will stop complaining. It doesn't do any good anyway!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three Weeks & Counting

Got my cast yesterday, and it will be on for 3 weeks. Then I'm looking at a brace and physical therapy. I like the progress, am not fond of the cast, but acknowledge that I will be knitting again in a month or so, which is the purpose of all this in the first place. My cousin suggested that I chose Packer colors, and I guess you could say that, although I need a little gold somewhere. (Maybe a gold I-cord worked on the sock machine would do it!)

Errands to run today, and continued Finale work on a flute choir arrangement I am doing. There is a March 31 deadline, and I still have 100 measures to enter, so I have to get cracking. AJ is on the East coast on business, so I don't have to think about meals - nice. I also hope to complete my first pair of full adult socks.  If I do, you will be the first to know.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The First Sock

My First Sock On Friday a box of yarn arrived from Webs - 3 one-pound cones of light sock yarn and 2 skeins of hand-dyed wool/polyamide sock yarn - just enough for a pair of short socks. I wound them on my make-shift cone winder, and last night made the first of a pair of Croc socks. I'm pretty proud of this first one because both the toe and the heel worked well. I made plenty of other mistakes, but they were all fixable. Now to make the mate.

We went to ArtiGras today here in Green Bay, mainly because I knew there would be fiber artists there and a cranker in particular. I learned a lot from her, even though she reported that she doesn't teach. Watching her for 15 minutes taught me a lot.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Learning Is the Best!

That's what life's all about isn't it? Learning? I love to learn new stuff. That probably explains the multiple careers that I've had - musician, teacher, editor, etc. At the ripe old age of 65 I decided to get serious about Hammered Dulcimer and was surprised to learn that teaching old dogs new tricks is not quite as easy as it is when you are younger.

This is all by way of saying the week has been one of learning new things about the sock knitting machine, and it has been extremely frustrating at the same time. While struggling with new techniques (single handed I might add) I was also upgrading a computer, and every day something new stopped working, or software screamed, NO, when I tried to load it. Egad! It has been up and down.

Tomorrow is all about catch up, running errands, tax appointment, and a trip to Menards to look at new flooring for the kitchen. That will be fun, and besides, who doesn't like to shop. More later friends...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bay Lakes Knitting Guild Tonight

Tonight is guild night, and I have been tardy about dealing with guild business all month. is guild day. There are agendas to prepare, a book to find for the program part of the meeting, and decisions about what to wear. I know – that seems frivolous, but with one hand in a large bandage, my choices of tops are pretty limited.

On the Erlbacher front, things have improved. The success of knitting on a circular sock machine is finding the correct balance between tension and stitch size. That is the lesson I learned in the last 2 days. I was finally able to make a Cast on sack with a mock rib and avoid any dropped stitches. The fruit of my labors is on the right.  I did this on a 60-cylinder. Interestingly, when I switched to a 72 cylinder I started dropping stitches again. Since I am pretty bad with a latch hook, the tool you need to use to retrieve dropped stitches, I have to solve the problem all over again on the 72. Luckily I have the time to do all of this. I am waiting for a shipment of sock yarn and a book about working with CSMs. When they arrive I will give a report.

I think the computer updating is finally over. Last night I downloaded the 2012 Finale software - took over 2 hours. Those of you getting to know me within the past couple of years may not be aware that I was a classical musician for over 45 years, and during that time owned my own desktop music publishing company. I mostly wrote arrangements/transcriptions of the classical repertoire for flute choir. When I started working for Flute Talk , I sold my company (Music Makers) to ALRY , which continues publish well over 40 of my works.

I'm retired now, and I have plenty of time to return to the flute choir arrangement arena. It's something I enjoy, and I think I'm pretty good at it. When I look at a score, I can hear it in my head - which is something not everyone can do. My old Finale (2004) would not run on the Lion OS, so I spent the money and ordered the update. I think I'm still ahead on the deal. It was either buy a new computer or upgrade this one. Upgrading has proved to be less expensive, although if I counted the amount of time it took to do it I would probably make about 10 cents an hour. So it goes. More tomorrow. Happy knitting everyone!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Computers & Consternation

Today was an upgrade day. With new Ram chips installed in my 2008 iMac, and previous upgrade to Snow Leopard, I was finally able to download Lion. It is awesome, but it took over 2 hours to download, and then of course, I had to download the update to Lion. You would think they could have sent the most recent version. Upgrading a computer is a bit like renovating a room in your house. You make a change in one room, and all the other rooms get dusty or need to be rearranged.

With a new OS all of the system apps wanted to be upgraded as well, and of course I discovered that my 2004 Microsoft Office suite would not run with Lion. That meant yet another update. My Photoshop won't run with Lion either, but I can't afford to buy another version. Guess I will have to get up close and personal with iPhoto, which I haven't used much. We used Photoshop at Flute Talk when I was the Editor there, so I always used that.

On the knitting front, I did manage to work with Penelope without dropping stitches. I think I had her tension set too tight, but I fixed that and all is better.  More tomorrow. I'm going to play with my "new" computer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Toe-up Sock on the Erl

As reported yesterday, I started a toe-up sock today on Penelope (my name for my Erlbacher csm). While I have nothing to show for the day's work, I learned quite a lot. I managed to hang the toe, cranked the foot part, and almost completed the heel. The the Dropped Stitch Fairy appeared. Actually, she had visited my knitting corner several times earlier, but I was always able to catch the stitch and fix it.

This time she attacked the heel shape line, and I couldn't rescue the project. Tomorrow I will take it all out and start again. I think, for me, the problem lies in balancing the tension and the amount of weight down below. Circular sock machine knitters will understand what I am talking about. I also think the yarn I am working with might be a factor, and I will try a different tomorrow. On the bright side, things that seemed challenging a week ago – hanging a cast on sack, hanging a hem, etc. – are faster and easier now. I guess I am making progress. I do know it would surely be easier if I had two working hands. With my left hand wrapped in gauze and bandages, the gauze keeps catching on the needles. I know, I could just wait 6 weeks for the bandaging to come off, but I just can't wait. I am going to conquer Penelope if its the last thing I do.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two steps forward, One step back

The Erl, I call her Penelope, and I did battle once again today. I started a toe-up sock, and am now at the point that I will probably take it out of the machine, rip it back, and start over, although I must say that I learned a lot in the process. I understand more about the importance of enough weight on the stitches and of the position of the yarn carrier. I think the videos make it all look so easy that a false sense of security sets in. Then I proceed without looking at my notes, and before you know it, I'm in trouble again.

I did manage to make a mock rib hem to a cast on sock without a mistake, and that is my first project without error. Sometimes you just have to be grateful for the small things.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Beauty of White

It has been snowing now since yesterday afternoon – fine little flakes that give the area a look of wall-to-wall carpeting. Can't write much today as the hand surgery has left me single-handed. It is strictly hunt-and-peck for the foreseeable future, OH - and there is no knitting allowed.

The photo looks as if it was taken in black and white, but that is not the case. It's just a black-and-white day today in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

We plan to add 2 gigs of Ram to the computer this afternoon; something that I would normally do myself, but I can't lift the Mac, so hubby will help. Then we will update to Snow Leopard and ultimately to Lion. I'm looking forward to having an up-to-date computer again.

The sock knitting machine continues to be a frustration, but the Erlbach group on Ravelry are being helpful. It will help when I have two hands again. So far I am queen at making iCord.