Saturday, March 29, 2008

As Promised...

Ok, so as I mentioned, I spent most of my Friday night practicing CSM sock patterns from Jenny Deter's book, "Unique Fancy Sock Patterns". Here's a pic of my practice tube. Can you make out the patterns? A Heart, Candy Canes, Diamond, and other random shapes (sounds like a box of "Lucky Charms"). I'm thankful Jenny actually wrote out the directions and didn't force her readers to rely on a graph for following the pattern. It was so simple I thought I was doing something wrong. Before I knew it, I was making up my own patterns (hence the randomness of my tube's designs). I said it before and I'll say it again, you can't go wrong with this book - get a copy today. After you finish reading my blog of course.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Maybe its the thrill of not knowing exactly when it'll arrive... Or perhaps, the joy of ripping open a package? I tend to think its the adrenaline rush of forgetting what I've ordered and being genuinely surprised by its arrival (I'm sick and I know it). But, whatever the IT is, I love it! Today's deliver is two-fold: one at the office, the other at home.

Delivery #1
At the office - a 2.7 pound cone of blue/grey wool from Webs' cone sale! I was browsing their site earlier this week on the sofa sitting next to my son when I innocently mentioned to him just how much I'd like to try that yarn out. Being the well-raised gentleman that he is, he ordered a cone for me. I was so happy with this purchase I grabbed my credit card and headed back to Webs for more, um, about 7 more cones to be exact. I know what you're thinking - "this chick is crazy!" Well, as my daughter would say, "Chill-lax". Read on and you'll understand why. Their cone sale items are $5, $5.99, $10 and $15 cones. The cone listed here on my blog is a $15 cone. Shipping was just $5. Imagine all the socks I can make now! See? I told ya you'd understand.

Delivery #2
Now, with so much yarn on this single cone, plus the yarn on its way, AND not including the yarn already in my stash - I guess I need a few new ideas for making socks, right? Enter "Unique Fancy Sock Patterns" by Jenny Deter. I searched high and low online to find Jenny's contact info so I could order her CSM sock pattern book. To my knowledge, its the only one like it around today. Not only is it a great book with patterns ranging from easy to difficult, but the book is signed and includes a personal note from Jenny! What a nice touch.

If you own a CSM or are thinking about owning one, you need to get this book. It'll open up a whole new world of CSM sock making to you. I'll be practicing my patterns all weekend. I can't wait to post pictures! CFN (Ciao For Now)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Introducing Harry To Sally

Last night I stumbled across some cone yarn that I had long since forgotten in my stash. Problem was, each cone contained laceweight yarns which when knitted single ply would have made pretty airy socks. The yarn colors: a radioactive neon green and a shiny purple. So I considered my options - apart, horrible! But together, this just might work!

I call my radioactive neon green yarn Harry, a bright, magnetic, fuzzy around the edges yarn with a lot of potential, but not so much on its own. Sally on the other hand is a beautiful purple yarn, too thin for anything but lace but simple and shiny and eager to be something.

I introduced the pair last night with fabulous results. I think this is the start of something big.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making it work.

So, this week I've been busy and creative, thinking up ways to utilize more of what I already have and spend less. This does NOT include spending less on Ebay. Why you ask? Well, because I'm just too addicted. But anyway, back to my point - I've managed to make some really great heel hooks from a pastry blender, key rings and fishing weights. I got the idea from a post by Pat Fly in a Yahoo Group.

Since I had to unscrew the handle to cut the wires on the pastry blender, I wanted to find a use for it as well. The handle was a comfortable rubber, with finger grips - so I thought it might make a great handle for a pick tool. I used a cylinder needle, heated the butt on my stove and placed the butt end into the handle. After cooling, I added some glue and voila!

My second project of the week was recycling scrap tubes as CSM weight covers. Most antique CSMs have lead weights. While I'm not excited about handling lead, I do like the fact they're original to the machine and work very well. I even use the weights by inserting the stack into the center of my tubing while its still on the machine. This helps to keep the stitches tight against the needles. I have 3 sets of weights and even the set in the best condition is still pretty beat up. So, instead of ripping out my unused tubes, I reused them as weight covers. Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Keeping up my strength for sock making.

Cranking socks can sure take a lot out of a girl. It can be downright tiresome and wreak havoc on the body. What good am I to myself or others if I can't keep up my strength, right? Exactly. So, I'm taking some time out to woof down some of this yummy shrimp and broccoli my Chef boyfriend whipped up for my parents. I just love a man who cooks better than I do.
Hey, a girl's gotta eat.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What a difference a yarn makes!

Have you ever struggled with something so long and overcome it, only to find out there was a much easier way? Enter my struggle with hand-cranked socks... I've been killing myself for over a week, working hard to make socks with worsted weight yarn. Struggling to keep stitches from dropping, to maintain tension and even to simply crank! It wasn't until I gave sock yarn a whirl that I realized it'd been fighting an up hill battle to victory when level ground was so readily available. What a difference a yarn makes! Sock yarn, real sock yarn - not the baby yarn I'd been using, makes a whole heckuva lot of difference. From socks that took 2 hours to make, to socks that take 20 minutes. What was I thinking! Now that I've discovered how easy it is to make socks using sock yarn, I'm even more impressed at my ability to do it the hard way. Its more rewarding in a sense because I've learned a lot about yarn, tension, weights, latches, oil, needles and all of the little things that got in the way of making my worsted weight socks. With sock yarn, I rarely run into a problem, but if I do, my days of working with worsted have more than prepared me for it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

24 Hours Later... What a real pair of socks look like

Actually, less than 24 hours later. Look, a real pair of socks, knitting in sucession, attached and knit like the pros. I'll admit, last night's blue pair of socks were knit one at a time. But these beauties, these were knit by actually following a CSM sock pattern - not winging it like I did last night. Next up, kitchener stitching to close up the toes. (no, last night's blue pair weren't done the right way. There's a wad of yarn and ungodly stichery inside the sock toe). These were knitin acrylic using Bernat's Softee Baby. They're super soft and really feel more like a soft cotton blend than they do acrylic. Anyway, 120 grams for $3.99 is a steal considering I'm still in sock training camp and I'm saving the good stuff for after "graduation". Aren't they just darling?
Now, for the hard part, kitchener stitching up the toe. I used blue/green waste yarn between the socks and a solid blue on the toe of the last sock. I'll remember not to use waste yarn too close in color to my knitting yarn next time. Wish me luck!

So I tried the Kitchener Stitch! Voila! It wasn't half as hard as I thought it'd be. Thanks Laurie! - a woman on You Tube with a CSM who just happened to make a video on closing a sock toe using the Kitchener Stitch. I followed Lauries direction and it worked flawlessly!

Call them what you want, I call them socks.

Hurray! I've finally knitted a pair of "socks" on my circular sock machine (CSM). They may be too small, too bright and funny looking, but just like ugly babies, they're cute to you when they're yours. I've recently ordered the full DVD instructional video set from Roxana Baechle (CSM knitter and restorer) and I'm amazed at how much I've learned. Tension, tension, tension! I can't express how important that is. I found it strange though that I can make tubes like nobody's business on my 54 slot cylinder, but I drop stitches like a mutha on my 72. Go figure. I've also learned that oiling my needles helps keep the latches open, which in turn helps prevent the yarn snags and hang ups I had been getting so frequently. I am getting better with every hour I work on my CSM. Now, if there were only more available hours in the day...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Great Idea For A CSM Travel Case

With so many people traveling to the 2008 Conference, I thought I'd share my take on a new rolling travel bag I purchased for my Legare. Its small, has a retractable handle, lots of compartments and 3 sizes of removable clear zippered pouches that attach to a backboard with velcro. The plus side - it doubles as a surprisingly strong seat. Its called the Seatcase by Karen Foster To secure my CSM, I purchased a pack of pre-cut crib bumper foam pads from my local craft store. My daughter covered each bumper piece in fabric and sewed them closed along the edges. I used several pieces to line the inside of the case (all sides) overlapping at the backand bottom, and used the remaining pieces to wrap around the various parts of of my Legare. I'm able to fit the entire machine packed with the bumper cushions and lining, ribber, extra cylinder, a plastic shoebox of yarn, the weights, heel hooks, yarn mast, a wood bobbin and all my accessories into this case - with a nice secure fit. It even has a place for your drink bottle, cell phone, keysetc. You can find these cases online from $39.99 to $94.99 suggested retail price. HSN has them for $39.99. They come in four nice colors: blue, green, pink and black. Enjoy!