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Amazing Things Can Happen When Knitting And Sewing Meet

12 August, 2006

Master knitter and MC6600P owner Sally Houk
Pagoda Ribbon Purse
American Girl (TM) Doll Vest
Sweatshirt With Flowers

MAHWAH, N.J. - Sally Houk combines the knowledge of a master knitter with the experience of a life-long sewist. The result is her collection of original projects, which shows that stunning fabric effects are within everyone's reach. Sally does her sewing on a Janome Memory Craft 6600 Professional and markets her patterns and premium hand-dyed yarns. Sally learned to sew when she was just eight years old. At seventeen, while in nursing school, she had her sister teach her how to knit. "I learned to do it without looking," she says, "so I had something to do with my hands during the long hours of studying." During her career as a nurse, she continued to develop her knitting skill and eventually earned her certification as an instructor.

Sally transitioned out of nursing and into a full-time knitting career. At one point, she was knitting custom-order sweaters.

"Even though a hand-knitted sweater might go for $500," she says, "you have to knit rapidly for hours at a time to make any money." The more she learned about high-end, hand-dyed yarns, the more she saw a market niche to fill. This led her to start Sally Houk Exclusives. Working out of her home, she specializes in ribbon yarns and other hand crafted knitting fibers. (Usually made from rayon, ribbon yarn looks like ribbon but you can knit with it.)

Then came the day when a friend introduced Sally to the technique of layering yarn between sheets of rinse-away stabilizer and then using free-motion-stitching to hold it all in place. She loved the result. "I use Ultra-Solvy, which is like a heavy sheet of thick glue," she says. "Between the two pieces of stabilizer, I lay out the ribbon yarn in random patterns, pin them in place, and then stitch all over." Sally says this technique works well with all kinds of yarns and threads, and looks especially great with metallics. She then uses the resulting "fabric" to make stunning scarves, purses, appliqués and more. Her Janome Memory Craft 6600 Professional seems to be designed for this kind of work. "The doubled sheets of stabilizer are pretty stiff," she says. "The extra wide bed on my MC6600P lets me sew them flat without having to bend them." She loves the lock stitch function and says the Up/Down needle feature has changed the way she sews. "I couldn't do my free motion work without it." Several of her show pieces can only be made with the programmable decorative stitches on her MC6600P. Another technique Sally uses is to lay ribbons side by side between the layers of stabilizer and then stitch between the ribbons catching both edges with a decorative stitch. The result is a sophisticated fabric effect that is relatively easy to do.

Sally travels extensively, taking her yarn samples and project samples to a dozen states each year. Images of her work can be seen at the Sally Houk Exclusives website.

Janome America is the largest subsidiary of Janome Sewing Machine Company of Japan, which produces nearly two million sewing machines annually as well as a line of related sewing products and embroidery software. It is a category leader in innovation, and Janome sewing machines are recognized throughout the industry for their ease-of-use and unsurpassed stitch quality.