Friday, March 28, 2014

MK Tutorial: The Garter Bar

Ah yes, today we learn a little bit about the garter bar- that tool which gave me nightmares until it made my knitting machine dreams come true!

I have an old-fashioned garter bar that I purchased on e-bay a few months back after not realizing that there was a difference between transfer combs and garter bars.  You live, you learn. This kit is a couple of decades old, but is in pristine condition.  Sadly, it came with sparse instructions in Japanese and German.  I do speak and read German, but the technical nature of the writing made it a bit tough.  So, after a bit of internet researching, deciphering the 1970's mimeographed illustrations and instructions, and a bit of trial and error, I photographed my process to share with you all.  It's also here to remind me how to use it in case I need a mental refresher.  Here goes...

Note: I'm using an Empisal Knitmaster 324 and a Brother Garter Bar so the conventions of my machine and garter bar may not be the same for yours.  I've used terms that make sense to me to describe parts of the garter bar, but they are not official terminology by any means.

The garter bar has two sides: one side has all bumps, the other side has all grooves.

1. Place working needles in D position with sts past the needle bed's sinker posts.  Place the needle stop over the working needles, over the sinker posts, but behind the sts of the work. Open all the latches of the working needles.  Place the garter bar onto the needle hooks with the groove/ditch side up

2. Lift the garter bar so it's parallel with the working needles.

3. Use the live sts to close each needle's latch over each garter bar tine.

4.  Slide the live sts over the garter bar tines, past the "waist line" of each tine.

5. Release the yarn from the carriage, and use a clothespin to secure it to the garter bar.
Set the carriage so the Russel Levers do NOT knit the needles in D position.
Remove the claw weights from the work, and then remove the garter bar from the needles with live sts still attached.
Next, remove the needle stop from the needle bed and push the carriage to the opposite side. Breathe.

7. Replace the needle stop over the working needles.  Turn the garter bar bump side up with the knitting work on top.

8. Open all the latches.  Make sure the garter bar is parallel with the working needles, and place the openings of each tine over the latches.  Remove clothespin. All the sts must be as far from the tine openings as possible (behind the waistline of each tine) before you proceed.

9. Push down gently on the garter bar, and slide it toward you.  Keep the garter bar as even with the needles as possible.  Here's the magical part... Each needle's hook should catch the underside of a single stitch.

Check the needles from above.  Every needle has a stitch?  Yay!  You're ready to move on!

10.  Replace the yarn in the carriage.  Remove the garter bar. Remove the needle guard.  Push the sts back into working position. Replace the weights on your knitting and knit 1 row in garter stitch!

Phew!  You did it!

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WIP: Zig Zag Quilt & Mitered Cardi

This past weekend, I made so much progress, but alas, I did not finish the quilt.

I do have the quilt sandwich ready to go, and am strongly considering a straightforward quilt-job instead of FMQ'ing.  See, the sewing machine shop sold me a FMQ'ing foot for my new machine (more on that later), but I could not for the life of me figure out how to install it.  I don't think it actually fits my machine.  So, I'll go check on that sometime this week.  In the meantime, here's my progress!

I finished piecing the top...

Added a border and pin-basted it to the batting and back...

All I need to do now is quilt!

As for the second Mitered Detail Cardi, here's where I'm at...

I've got to sew the side seams, knit one more sleeve, and add the edging!  So close!

P.S. If you haven't already entered, there's a giveaway in the previous post!  Feel free to enter and win a quilted fabric pouch.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Giveaway: Fabric Pouch

This week, I've got a giveaway for you all!

Already three months of this year have gone by, and I'd like to thank you for sticking around and reading my blog!  If you'd like to win this fabric pouch which makes a lovely eyeglass case or hard-drive cover, it's quilted in pinks and ready to go!

I was working on this little pouch a few weeks ago when I was doing the boxed corners projects...

To win it... just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WIP: Zig Zag Quilt

I'm making progress!

Earlier this week, I pieced together the HSTs (half-square triangles) into groups of 3, then I pieced the groups of 3 into zigzags!

Hopefully, by the weekend, I can get the top done and go buy some batting!  I'm going to do the back and binding in fabric from my stash.  I wonder if I have enough binding from the Blue Sampler Quilt to bind this one, too?  Hmm...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

WIP: Zig-Zag Quilt

At first, I had looked at the Rainbow Stash-Busting quilt from A Quilt Story from the book Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe, inspired, I jumped into my stash and came up with handfuls of lovely fabric.  I used many of my Tula Pink "Prince Charming" fat quarters and finally used up lots of my rainbow color scraps.  But I cut too many HSTs (half-square triangles) with white and then decided to rearrange them into zig-zags (chevrons).  And, I think it'll work!


I have no idea what the final size will be, but with all the HSTs already cut, I may have enough to do two baby quilts, so I'm having fun!  The first little quilt  is going to focus on blues and greens (above pic), and hopefully I can finish it before baby arrives.  I'm running out of time!

Friday, March 14, 2014

WIP: Mitered Detail Cardigan 2

At the moment, I am working on the second version of the Mitered Detail Cardigan.  This time, I'm knitting it in green!  I've also refined the instructions and I'm knitting it together with the folks over in the Ravelry Machine Knits group.  I had no idea we'd have so many folks sign up, so I had to cut it off after over 20 people showed interest!  Crazy!

Here's my progress so far...

1 skein, Wollmeise Lace Garn

add a knitting machine and some claw weights

measure twice, cut once (just kidding, there's no steeking in this one)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Zip Pouches and Boxed Corner Tutorial

Finished up two more zip pouches with the over-locker, and now feel like I've mastered boxed corners.

As you can see, the size of the boxed corner makes a difference in the depth of the box.  When I take out just 1.5" I end up with a shallower (3" high), longer box as you see on the left.  When each corner is 2", the height of the box is 4"; creating a taller, deeper box like the one on the right.

I was learning overlocker techniques from Amy Alan's Beginning Serging class over at Craftsy, and I wasn't finding too much success with the "pinch and sew" method of boxing corners.  I tried it several times, and the result was last week's slightly wonky zip pouch.  This time, I tried another technique - a cut-out method - and found success!

How did I do it, you ask?  I'll show you!

First, I measured and marked a square on each corner of the pre-prepped zip pouch.  The square you mark does not count the previously overlocked seam.  And, the sides of the square = half the eventual height of the zip pouch.

If you look closely at the above photo, I secure the layers of fabric so they don't shift when I cut through all the layers.  I use my tailor's shears to do the cutting since it grips while cutting, and doesn't over-cut at the corner like my roll-cutter sometimes does.

 Mark the edge.

Cut out the corner using your favorite grippy cutting tool.

Use a pin to help secure the layers of fabric at the corner and mark the future center of the seam.  Pinch the fabric...

...and now you can line up your mark and pin with the center of the seam that goes across the zip.

Then, secure all the layers with pins, but remove that first pin that was marking the center so you don't run over it with your serger blade.  That would be chaos.  Those secondary pins should be far enough away that you avoid the blade of your serger, too.

Run the pinned seams through the serger and voila! Two boxed corners that are parallel, perpendicular, and totally symmetrical.

Whooo hooo!  A non-wonky zip pouch for your eyes to feast upon!