Monthly Archives: July 2004

Honk if you get gauge.

So many people, on the KnitList and elsewhere, confess that they do not do gauge swatches. It would be so lovely to just forge ahead, but all I did this weekend was swatch. What’s that saying? “If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” I am a lesson in why swatching matters. Knit One Purl Too’s cheering section (aka my husband) has been requesting a sweater forever – and recently, perhaps with colder weather on the horizon, the requests have grown more insistent. On impulse, spurred by a huge sale at Yarn Forward, I purchased the yarn to make this sweater for a song It’s number 22 from Lopi book 18 (here’s a closeup of the yoke and hem).

It’s big yarn on big needles, so it will go quickly, right? Sure, once you find out just how big the needles have to be. I normally use one size below the suggested needle size, but my swatch is telling me I may have to use up to two sizes bigger the suggested size. Shocking! Here you see my very first attempt at two-color knitting. Wow, it’s going to take some practice, and makes me glad that I’m taking a class with Nancy Bush at KnitFest on two-color two-handed knitting. But it is mezmerizing, and on size 11 needles, I should have this sweater finished in a hurry. But first, I have to finish my swatch so I can be sure I’m not making a sweater sized for a dog.

Which brings me to my dog. If you look closely at this artfully arranged photo, you’ll see that the sock is not finished, but there are no needles in it; it’s also on a bed of yarn that looks like rice noodles, rather than a carefully-wound ball. He did it again, impressively removing three size 1 Brittany needles, and massaging the ball of yarn without disturbing the sock itself. Also shredded along with the needles? One project-containing plastic bag, one row counter, and the plastic container for my tapestry needles. I love my dog, but he’s running quite a tab for knitting supplies. Now all I have to do is decide whether to frog the entire sock, or cut the yarn and rewind the ball from where I am. Who am I kidding? I’m cutting, baby! And I’m keeping my knitting out of harm’s way – isn’t it ironic that the dog is graduating from obedience class tonight?

Finally, here is the project I cannot resist – the Meadow Flowers shawl. When I realized I was going to have to keep swatching for my Lopi sweater, it took every ounce of self-control I had not to throw down my swatch and begin shawling away. I was surprised at how much I liked Knitter’s Stash – there are at least three things I would make (two of which I have the yarn for), so yeah, I like it. Who knew? But I’m resisting…it’s back to the Lopi for me.

Bonus link: with the tweaking of this design, many of the sidebar items have moved to the details page. Just how many cabled cardigans can I possibly knit? A lot, apparently…

Does this look like ribbing to you?

In an ingenious move, I swapped a pair of handknit socks for some web design work. While I can move pixels around with the best of them, there’s a darn steep learning curve in designing, and I was more than happy to hand off what I considered the hard work.

I’m making a pair of “Ribtips” socks, pattern courtesy of Rob, a 2×2 rib in Fixation colorway 9880. These socks are helping me confront my Fear of Ribbing. As a relatively new knitter, I feel a certain amount of reassurance when I know I’ve mastered a technique. Whenever I knit ribbing, the first few rows look wonky, leading me to ask questions like “was my cast-on too loose?” or “am I a bad knitter?” however, pressing on yields fine results. See? These were also Knitting in Public – I took them through three airports and one college campus for a conference. By the way, I’d just like you to boggle along with me for a moment – I took these photos with my Palm Pilot. My new Palm Pilot, which has throwaway features like a digital camera, takes better pictures than my digital camera. Which I should just throw away. Ba-dum-bum. Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

Bonus link: a (quite beautiful) car covered with yarn.

Shawl Envy.

I have said over and over that I am not a shawl person. Perhaps I am a stole person (it’s less pointy, after all), but with all the things to knit in the world, I felt comfortable saying “No shawls for me, thanks.” And then I was overtaken by an unbelievably powerful wave of Must. Knit. This. Now. when I saw Susan’s Meadow Flowers Shawl (more details in her July 5th entry. It’s lacy, but not fussy, and I love the pop of color – orange is the new black after all. Will I be able to resist purchasing Knitter’s Stash (a book I’ve heard mixed things about) without looking through it first?

That’s my policy, by the way- I’ll buy a novel without having read it, but I won’t buy a knitting book without reading through it first – you lose the element of surprise, but you never, ever feel like you’ve wasted your money once you’ve spent it. Case in point? I would totally buy Knitting in the Old Way (which I thought I wouldn’t be interested in), but I was nonplussed with A Treasury of Rowan Knits; 80 patterns, and I just couldn’t get excited (unsurprisingly, the one I liked best was a cabled sweater, “Percy”). I keep wanting to be a Rowanette, but so far, I just heart Audrey. Sigh.

Yay! I finished the first sleeve of the Lush turtleneck, and purchased my first set of T-pins. While that would mean that I’m technically 40% done with the sweater, I’m probably going to frog most of the back to correct a row of twisted stitches that I can see, so they matter. The only downside? Lush does not like to be handled overmuch – it develops an angora halo quickly, and frogging and reknitting might stress it out. By the time I’m done with my first sweater, both of us will need a therapist!

Knitting in public

I’m a perfectionist, and generally a private person, but I’ve spent much of the last week reflecting on how much I like to knit in public. It feels both public and private at the same time – like I’m carving out my own space.
I like it so much that this sock met John Kerry and John Edwards when they were in Cleveland yesterday – yes, I took my knitting to a political rally. Foolishly, I did not hold my sock up against the Kerry/Edwards banner to take my progress shot, but I did get asked about my knitting. Several people wanted to know what I was making, and were mightily impressed by my small birch needles (which exhibit a gentle bowing from use, thank you very much). I have reached the stage where I’m able to impress non-knitters with my needle-wielding skills (why, yes, this is very difficult – I’m breaking a sweat here!).

But this is what I find impressive – a sock heel that fits. (The fact that I like the sock *so* much because it fits so well is distracting me from the fact that my Lush sweater sleeve looks frighteningly long as I decrease for the cap). And here is where I admit that I must not be as much of a perfectionist as I think I am, because I will kit merrily away on socks that I know have mistakes in them. Did my stitches mysteriously rearrange themselves on the needle? Do I need to fudge the decreases to make the gusset come out (relatively) even? Is the toe a little wonky? No problem! The stitches are small! It’s going inside a shoe! Socks give me the freedom to make mistakes, full speed ahead!

In fact, I love to knit so much, that I will knit in public with stranger yarn. This photo was taken June 18, while Knit One Purl Too’s knitting book critiquing staff (aka my husband) and I were killing time on the east side of Cleveland before his brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Barnes and Noble helpfully had yarn on display with their knitting books, and I thought I was just silly that the yarn and that nice pair of Clover bamboo needles were going unused. So I cast on and started a scarf – it will be a permanent UFO, I’m sure, because by the time I get back to that store, the new hobby fad will probably be modelmaking. But I love the idea of an unsuspecting Barnes and Noble emplyee coming upon my secret knitting in public.

Bonus link: a preview of fall projects from Interweave Knits