Thursday, October 22

Lockdown learning part 2

Covid seems to be fracturing everything lately. Back in June I lost a friend who felt I'd used her which devastated me and caught me completely off-guard. Today I lost a friend who can't open up to me, who repeatedly breaks engagements, and makes me feel used. I guess another unequal friendship - I open my heart and my arms to people, and am left sobbing alone when I need someone myself. I'll continue to be civil - I don't really have much choice in the matter, and anyway, that's not who I am. Ironically they're supposed to be trained in mental health. I'm waiting on that course myself thanks to covid, but I'm pretty sure rule number one in mental health is "keep talking", not "clam up and refuse all offers of a friendly ear". It's what the Samaritans were founded on. Anyway, enough. I'm fed up of being someone's emotional dumping ground, and I refuse to beg them to love me the way I love them. Unrequited and no longer required.

Current mood: depressed

Saturday, October 17

Beginner's dilemmas

So I've got a copy of Metbury's "First Choice for E6000" book. It's a beginners book, which talks you through getting started on your E6000. Except - I fall at the first hurdle. They ask you to knit a tension swatch at ss 2.5 using all needles on both beds, using a 3ply yarn such as Bramwell's Duomagic (discontinued) or two ends of 2/30s yarn. I can do this - but it's like pushing a rock uphill. Way too tight! You measure your 100 row swatch - the aim is to get a height of 7.4 or 7.5 inches - and keep trying until you match this height. I managed to knit swatches at ss4 and 4.5 - too tall to match the gauge, but at least they didn't risk breaking my wrists or the machine to work. 

Kathleen Kinder recommends between 4.75 and 5.5 for K/K rib in 3ply. That's one heck of a difference. I had a quick look at a George Le Warre book, but he only gives stitch sizes for 1x1 rib and stocking stitch. Either it's a misprint, or they had a very loosely knitting machine! Disappointed that if I want to use any of the patterns from this book I'll have to do a major amount of recalculation. Not a great start!

On the positive side, getting the stitch size correct has meant the machine does a single-bed cast on a lot better. I was always of the opinion that the Swiss Miss didn't like casting on single bed. Turns out it was all operator error!

I've knitted the back of a lambswool jumper. Despite swatching, it looks way too big (even though I expect some shrinkage in the wash). Oh well, best to stop now and recalculate, than forge ahead and make an unwearable jumper! 

Owing to a mix up, it appears the cat was accidentally left out all night last night. Not a problem, but there seems to be no sign of him this morning, and it's almost 11am. I do hope he's ok, he's a homebody normally. 

Current mood: confused

Thursday, October 15

FO: Sari silk bag, fingerless gloves, environmental and ethical problems.

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More stashbuster projects. The sari silk bag was started in 2013 according to Ravelry, must be some kind of record. I finally finished sewing it up, it was a bit of a fudge and involved some cut and sew. I added a moss stitch flap from DK acrylic. I was really pleased with it - and then a well-meaning friend pointed out that recycled sari silk isn't vegan. Acrylic is environmentally suspect too, although in this case I've no intention of washing the bag so that's a moot point. Most of my stash is either acrylic or wool and was all bought or given to me before 2020. I am working on getting rid of it by knitting it up into "donatable" items - surely it's even more heinous to just throw it away? Sigh. I'm terribly conflicted over it all now.

The gloves are leftover yarn from last year's Christmas jumper. I had plans to knit a ski style jumper this year (with fairisle) but there's not much chance we'll be in the office to be having Xmas competitions, so it's just down to whether or not I can drum up the enthusiasm. I found the cream lambswool recently, the navy must be in the same place I guess. Not that I knit jumpers just so others can admire them, you understand - but I'm at an age when I get hot just drinking a coffee, so jumpers get taken off a lot!

The whole COVID thing is starting to get to me now - I think I'd welcome another total lockdown for a few weeks, if it meant xmas could be somewhat normal. I worry Mum will be on her own this year. I'm not sure I can cope with another 12 months of this, but I guess we all have to. I'm trying to stay buoyant - the autumn colours are just lovely at the moment - but it's a struggle. Watercolours over Zoom is fun, but lonely - I can hear the "in person" students enjoying chatter, but I can't hear enough detail to join in their conversations. It's surprisingly lonely, like being a ghost in the room. I feel like a duck - serene on top, paddling like mad underneath.

Current mood: sad

Saturday, October 10

The Passap knitting machine: further reading - part 2

Very few images this time around - if I get chance maybe I'll take some with the smartphone. Part 1 is here

E6000 shortcut manual - Patricia J Wetzel

A short (14 page) document which simplifies the E6000 manual with a flowchart over two pages and lists some common techniques.

"The "Know-how" Book, Volumes 1 and 2, for Passap/Pfaff E6000 and Duo 80 machines", Pat Cook

Two self-published books which again are packed with essential information for these machines in an easy to understand format. 

"The Passap Passbook of Essential Basic Information for all Passap System Knitters From Absolute Beginners to Advanced", George Le Warre

This probably wins the title of longest book title ever. A fairly short publication, it contains basic information as to the lock settings, a useful chart giving recommended stitch sizes for various yarn thicknesses for 1x1 and stocking stitch, and another useful table comparing these to stitch sizes on Japanese and Superba machines. Useful information on yarn counts, different yarns (fibre content), casting on and shaping. Printed on red paper so quite hard to read - suspect this was done to prevent people photocopying it. 

"Understanding and Enjoying your Passap E6000", Carmen Reuter

This is a collection of 28 newsletters produced by Carmen. I cannot remember how I purchased these, but I expect it was online and I got them printed and bound. Lots of very useful information here.

"Index to the Passap Electronic 6000 Stitch Book", M M Gulless

This is a straight index for all the stitch patterns that appear in the E6000 manual

"The Passap Passbook of Form Programmes Decoded and Demystified", George Le Warre

This book is a short 16 pages but breaks the form programmes down so that you could develop your own, and there's a simple pattern at the end. Sold to raise money for heart charities

"Jack Pullan's Simplified Guide to Programming the E6000", Jack Pullan

Published by Alice Wilmshurst, well known for her selfpublished machine knitted "journals". Does what it says in the title - a set of 13 lessons and 6 leaflets, encouraging the reader to work through various exercises. 

"Passap / Pfaff Electronic 6000 - learn to convert Duomatic stitch patterns to the E6000", Jack Pullan

A very good resource for anyone who has moved from the older machine to the newer one, and wishes to understand how to program the E6000. 

"Knitting with the Lights Off", Billie Hall

I bought this from the author as a PDF online, so my copy doesn't have this pink colour - as the title suggests, it gets the user familiar with the E6000 without using the console. Instructions for patch pockets, professional neckbands, plus some basic patterns to get you started. 

"Passap Duo 80 & E6000 Helpsheet No 2, Necklines for Everyday", Mrs A J Golding
"Passap E6000 Helpsheet No 3, What happens when I?", Mrs A J Golding

Help sheet 2 is all about necklines. Help sheet 3 is a useful reference for programming the console, and clarifies the instruction book. Presumably there's a helpsheet No 1 but as I don't have it I can't comment on its contents. 

The Passap knitting machine: further reading - part 1

Well, that last post obviously reached nobody, then. Zero comments! Oh well, never mind!

As I've been using my craft skills to fill the isolation of lockdown, I've been having to learn the Passap because it's the only machine that is permanently set up in the craft room (well, that and the CSM, but I've mostly conquered that one). Madag stopped production of these lovely machines many years ago, so although there were some publications focusing specifically on Passap, most of them are out of print so only available second hand or on Ebay. Surprisingly, a lot of "self-publishing" went on back then too - remember, this was before internet and PDFs / online publishing. If you are new to machine knitting, I grouped lots of book reviews on my website here, thanks to the lovely Kerstin. This post will mostly focus on Passap machines, I don't think Kerstin has a Passap. I will add more reviews as I find them - I collected many MK books like a magpie and have enjoyed visiting my library under lockdown. 

Legal disclaimer: I'm only sharing images of the front covers here to enable anyone lucky enough to stumble upon these gems in an estate sale and possibly save them from going in the bin. If you feel they contravene your copyright in any way, please inform me and I will delete the image link forthwith (these were all found online via google images). I am not sharing scans of the content. 

“A machine knitter’s guide to creating fabrics”, Susanna E. Lewis + Julia Weissman

This book is an amazing resource, and not just for Passap machine knitters. It goes through so many lovely textures and has tables showing how to get them on Brother, Knitmaster, Passap and Superba machines - or if it's even possible (certain machines have their specialities). A review with some pictures here. Be warned, it commands high prices online. Not particularly a book for beginners, but fascinating if you are mechanically minded. 

"Be your own Passap Paramedic", Michael Becker, Distinctive Knits

This is an excellent resource which explains how to do a complete clean of the Passap. Available on the link above - and Distinctive Knits also do a maintenance book for the Japanese machines, too. 


"The Passap Handbook - beginner course", Bernadette Erkovitch

Bernadette gained her passap in 1974 from a dealer who had no idea how to use it, and wrote two books which expanded on the not very detailed manual. The first book walks you through the various settings and has you knit some basic items. The second book concerns the Deco unit so is not suitable for E6000 owners. Printed copies are still available here.

"The Passap/Pfaff6000 Knitting Machine", Irene Krieger & George Le Warre

Irene was a regular contributor to machine knitting magazines, and George Le Warre published the Duet series of magazines. This book is a very clear explanation of the machine, and goes from the basics, six chapters on manipulating the inbuilt patterns, some discussion of putting in your own patterns, and the FORM program. 

"Passap System: Knitting and Pattern Techniques", Volumes 1 and 2, Kathleen Kinder

Kathleen Kinder has written many amazing books for machine knitters. They mostly concern a specific area such as lace, knitweave, etc, or a specific kind of garment eg skirts, and expand greatly on the capabilities in each area. These two books are no exception - they go straight into the amazing patterning capabilites of the machines. Not books for beginners, but excellent resources to have when you have got more confident with the basics. The first book contains an excellent table at the back with various suggested stitch sizes for all the basic pattern structures - I'd happily reproduce it here if it weren't for copyright, because that table alone is worth its weight in gold. Passaps are very delicate flowers if you don't get the stitch size bang on, which is mainly why mine has been such a trial for so long! 


"First Choice for E6000", "First Choice for Duomatics", "The E6000 reference book", Metbury Designs

Eileen Metcalf and Christina Salisbury taught machine knitting classes and formed Metbury Designs.  They wrote many self-published books for the Passap, and they were available for a small fee for many years via a now-defunct Yahoo group. They are brilliant books because they go through all the steps for a beginner in a clear style, and contain some basic sweater patterns to try. They produced lots of self-published pattern books for the Passap. As I have been disposing of magazines, I stumbled on the now defunct Metbury website via the wayback machine - as you can see, these ladies were pretty prolific! Currently some items are available as a PDF download via Facebook (Anne Crouchers Machine Knitting Knowledge). A small donation is requested for her local charity. 

That's it for now - breakfast is calling! Part two is here.

Sunday, October 4

Being kinder to oneself

I follow the Yarn Harlot, amongst other blogs, and she really nailed it with her last post. She's had a craptastic few months - read back a bit for the full story - even more than most of us.

Today I had grand plans to start work on a simple stocking stitch raglan sweater for myself, in a lovely cranberry-coloured 4ply lambswool. Started a bit on the late side, because I was making foccacia (a packet mix) downstairs. 

I swatched and prepared a few days ago, and entered the figures into Knitware today. For my bust size - I'm somewhat plump - the Passap doesn't actually have quite enough needles. I rechecked my figures, and cast it on, thinking I'd maybe just knit the back and see how it went. Of course, being wool, the swatch has been washed, which is kind of a one way thing for wool swatches. Well, I managed to knit part of the welt, and then Mum called for a chat, so that was thirty minutes. Part way into the call, the secretary for the Leicester MK club had called on my mobile, so then I had to call her back, another thirty minutes. Poor Leicesterites, they've been on almost total lockdown since March. I don't begrudge either call - contact with humans other than my sweetie are rare jewels in my day. Anyway, I was convinced I was knitting a cape, not a sweater, so after a brief panicked jam where I'd left an empty needle in work on the back bed which jammed perfectly around a black stripper, I stripped off the rib to see what width it shrank to. And do you know, it looks like it might actually be correct? I may have to modify my plans to a short-sleeve raglan though, if there's not enough yarn. No wonder most Passap fabrics seem to be tuck stitch - it's wider and shorter, and extends the machine's range. Yes, I do need to lose weight - I had grand plans in January 2020. No thanks to you, dratted Covid-19! 

Somewhat disheartened, I decided to knit some swatches on the chunky machine in some unlabelled fancy yarns I picked up at Fairfield many moons ago. I couldn't locate one of them (a black boucle with fancy slubs), so had a bit of a yarn sort out. I've now got one bin for weaving yarns, one for fancies, one for "full cones" and projects in progress, and another bin for misc yarns. I seperated out some part cones that will do for waste yarns and small items. The large box that lives next to the tumble dryer now contains mostly full cones, so that can be my stash diving bin. During the sort out I found the rest of the blue 4ply I was using a few weeks ago - pretty sure it's Yeoman Cashmilon - and decided to use it up knitting two of my easy 2x2 ribbed hat pattern. Whilst doing that, I decided to video my doing the cast on, as it's not a programmable cast off (will upload that later after editing). 

So - part of me is peeved that I'm not now sewing up a finished lambswool sweater - though that's the work of a full day really, even by machine. But another part of me is pleased I made two hats, prepped a swatch for something else, and reacquainted myself with most of my yarn stash. Oh, and put all my swatches together. Sorting them out is a job for another day. 

I hope you are all being kind to yourself in these difficult times. Sometimes it's actually fine to have a grumpy day, or a lazy day when all you do is read or watch tv. I'm trying to teach myself that it's not all about finished product, even though that is the best thing! :)

What things do you do, to keep yourself on an even keel and keep yourself motivated?

Current mood: busy

Thursday, October 1

Free pattern: Simple Passap scarf

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Many thanks to Israelmeesterkat from Herman Hills Farm for suggesting this technique when I was struggling to knit a blanket. The yarn used is a fine 2ply HB acrylic of unknown origin.

Cast on 2 (K/K) over 60 stitches on the front bed and 61 stitches over the back bed - ensure both end stitches are on the back bed, to get a neater edge. Program stitch pattern - I used 1022, 1026 and 1023, with tech 138 (N/KX), which is a two-row tucking pattern. I realised after taking the first one off and not making a great job of the cast off, that it was just as easy to seperate them with ravel cord and keep on going. I only stopped because my partner came home and it was getting late! I used "woolley" (magnetic) weights to hold the knitting down once it emerged beneath the V beds. 60 stitches makes quite a wide scarf, 40 stitches makes a skinnier one. 

  1. N/LX ss 2/2, K 1 row (Duo N/N)
  2. CX/LX ss3/3, K 2 rows (Duo CX/CX)
  3. N/LX ss4/4, K 1 row (Duo N/N)
  4. ss 4.5/4.5, RC000. Optional: you can either knit 10 rows in N/N here for a plain edge, or go straight into your chosen stitch pattern. K to RC600. Adjust the length here for a longer or shorter scarf.
  5. Optional: if you started with 10 rows N/N, knit a further 10 rows N/N here. 
  6. Transfer all stitches to the front bed (double up on the last needle).
  7. Bring the empty back bed needles back into work and knit 1 row N/N.
  8. Break main yarn and secure under the mast (lock will be on left). Drop the newly-created back bed loops and return BB needles to out of work.
  9. Rethread empty eyelet with ravel cord and knit back to the right.
  10. Either scrap off on waste yarn, or cast on again for the next scarf by bringing the BB needles back into work as before and going back to step 1.
  11. When complete and off the machine, use the latch tool to crochet the cast off loops through, and remove ravel cord. 

Return of the mojo

Well, you'll see all this and think I'm some sort of production line. Not true, this is just some stuff I made in the last few weeks that I didn't get around to photographing. My helpful phone ran out of space and had me delete some photos it assured me it had backed up online. Not true! Luckily nothing important was lost, I can always recreate craft photos!

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First off, the disastrous Norfolk blanket - wibbly overlocked edge on the left. It's lovely, smooshy fabric. I have not decided what to do with this yet!

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A simple chunky ribbed hat in oddments from my usual pattern.

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A simple DBJ hat, loosely based on one from the Metbury "Bitty" book. Mental note, K/K rib in a 2ply really doesn't have enough body for a hat brim, but I learnt I can program any of the DBJ techniques as a stitch pattern for a plain DBJ that will match the patterned part in weight.

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A work colleague requested plain blue face masks for her son, and these came out of an old pillowcase that had lost its mate.

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Now, these scarves were a revelation last night - many thanks to Israelmeesterkat for suggesting technique 138, a simple two-row tuck. I played with different tuck patterns but like 1023 the most (alternating diamonds with a central line of tucks running up the middle). I'll write this up as a free pattern I think.

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Posting these last though they're the oldest, one of the missing photos - home-made face pads from a scrap of Peaches N Creme found in the stash. Pattern here. So very cheerful! Always end on a high?! :D

Current mood: enthralled. Finally things are clicking with me and the Swiss Miss!

Tuesday, September 29

Existential dread

The mojo's been lacking lately. Reached my fill sewing face masks, hit a wall on my ongoing knitting projects, stripped that baby blanket off the Passap in disgust after a few fruitless hours trying to get it back to a "good" row. It's hard not to be wearied by the continued lockdown - I think we're all getting cabin fever now! Nothing but winter and crashing out of the EU to look forward to. The light at the end of the tunnel's an oncoming train.

But we keep on keeping on, because what else is there? I decided I'd stop mentally beating myself up for not producing wonderful masterpieces after reading this, late last week - the aim is not to stress over WHAT is produced, rather, I should just keep on creating something, anything. I took the new hoover to the Passap and gave it a good clean. I made a hat out of oddments - that's the last of the marble chunky out of my stash, made an ok hat with a terrible cast off on the Passap - and started some simple garter stitch gloves out of more yarn leftovers. And do you know, it worked - all of a sudden, the creative mojo is back, with wild plans! I'll get the sewing machine and serger out tonight and fix a few things that need it, and I'm going to try again with a baby blanket on the Passap, but maybe a more simple one. Miss Swiss does seem to be very picky on stitch sizes.

I notice when my mood is low, Mother Nature always has something up her sleeve to surprise me. Yesterday my partner and I are certain we saw a young deer on a local path on our early morning walk - it was too big for a dog and anyway nobody was with it - of course, it was gone by the time we got a little closer. If the Cog hadn't been with me I would have sworn I'd imagined it. Last night we went to a drive in movie - my first ever - which was interesting (the movie, "Unhinged", was quite violent though). We finally visited a local food shop (Wild and Free) and discovered a treasure trove of vegan foods right on our doorstep.

Joy in the little things. The bigger things will take care of themselves eventually.

Current mood: apathetic but persistant