January 28, 2012
Knitting and I have never been further apart. Not from a lack of wanting, just from a lack of opportunity. The Hiccup socks are my train knitting.
As you can see, they haven't grown much. The colour was pooling, so I decreased two stitches in each sock, and now it's moving nicely. There possibly would've been more action on these except for a small problem.
Another broken Knitpicks/Knitpro needle. This has happened a lot to me lately, I don't think I'll be buying them anymore.
And Ella? I've recovered the lost work and started on Week two, which is the armhole shaping and up to the shoulders.
Getting there, with 48 hours or so until next week's "homework" is released. Must knit!
January 22, 2012
Ella, week one
On Monday night when I got home from work, the Noni blog was up with the first Ella KAL post. As soon as I had a minute, I sat down and cast on.
One of those weeks where I had barely enough time to scratch myself left me with very little Ella time. But then David won tickets to the Renaissance exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia on Thursday afternoon for Friday night, so on Friday we went road tripping, and Ella came along.
It's about a three hour drive from our place to Canberra, doable in a day, and it's pretty, but can get a little boring.
Lots of road.
Lots of greenery!
And we stopped by Lake George to look at the Wind Farm and have a knit. Yes, it really is a lake. I've never personally seen it full, but it happens.
And on the way home in the dark, I finished this weeks KAL section. I was feeling very proud of myself, but there'd been a little niggling thought in my head all week. Last night I pulled it out again and looked at it. Tried it around my body, and admitted to myself that the niggling thought was right.
Ella was too big. I fall smack in between two sizes. I'd decided to size up to be on the safe side, but it was just too big, especially seeing as my swatch had grown when I'd blocked it. So I frogged it.
This morning, it looked like this.
Next section starts tomorrow. I'd best get knitting!
January 10, 2012
Two socks, two circular needles, one ball of yarn. (And no tangle, hooray!)
January 07, 2012
Swatching for Ella
I had my first day back at work on Tuesday after the lovely extended Christmas break. On the way to work I stopped at the Post Office. To cheer me up along the way, this was waiting for me.
Luscious. Divine. Soft. Squishy. Droolworthy to the nth degree. I couldn't wait to get home and wind me up a skein to swatch.
I'm going to talk about my method to swatching. Yours might be different. Until I discovered knitting on the internet about 8 years ago, I never bothered. If the pattern called for 4mm needles, I used 4mm needles.
I also never wore any of my finished garments, because they never turned out quite right. I gave up on knitting garments, and knit a lot of scarves instead. And baby garments. If they're a little big, the baby will grow into them eventually, right? It never really occurred to me that the problem might be my gauge.
Until I tried to knit Emily a cabled cardigan about 9 years ago or so. The pattern called for 8ply (DK) doubled and 7mm needles. I ran out of yarn. Like, really, really short of yarn. From memory, I ended up having to buy about 4 extra balls of yarn. I went back to Spotlight and complained about the pattern, assuming they'd got the amount of yarn wrong. The assistant asked me if I'd checked my tension. I'm sure I looked at her blankly.
Then when I googled knitting all those fateful years ago and learned about knitting blogs, a whole new world opened up for me. Swatching? Blocking? My knitting underwent a metamorphosis.
Also, I learned that I'm a loose knitter. I always need to go down at least one needle size, sometimes more. No wonder my knitting had never turned out right!
So I now swatch for every single garment I knit. Every. Time. Scarves, socks, shawls? Bah, who cares! Garments? Always!
Here's what works for me.
First, I collect together every thing I need.
Yarn, pattern, needles in a few sizes. Usually the size called for (just in case), always a size smaller, and sometimes a size smaller than that.
Because I almost always get the correct tension on a needle one size smaller than recommended, I start swatching on that. In this case, the pattern calls for 5.5mm (US 9) needles, so I started with a 5mm (US 8).
Recommended tension is 18sts and 24 rows over 10cm (4").
My preferred swatch size is 15cm square. I think that a 10cm square is a little risky for measuring purposes. Sometimes my first or last stitch is a little loose and can be misleading, so to allow a little room for error, I like a 15cm square.
Also, I don't like to measure plain stockinette. It rolls, sometimes even after it's been blocked, so it's hard to measure. So I always add a little garter border to make measuring easier.
So in this case, I decided to cast on 33 stitches. 18sts x 1.5 (to make a 15cm square) = 27 stitches in stockinette, plus 3 sts either side for a garter border.
And off I go. First observation is that this yarn is so soft it's amazing. Doesn't feel like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill wool. But my swatch?
At this stage, it looks like it's coming out a little small - 5.5 or 5.75" instead of 6". I could stop now and go up to the recommended needle size, but I decide to finish the swatch and see.
I work 36 rows in stockinette. 24 rows = 10cm (4") in recommended gauge, so 24 x 1.5 = 36 rows. I then finish with a few rows of garter stitch for my border and I remeasure my swatch.
Uh oh. Right?
Wrong. It's a little on the small side, and some knitters would now decide to just use the larger needle. But I've been burned before, and I really want my Ella coat to fit nicely. I don't want it to be too small, but I don't want it to be too big, either.
If I'm putting in enough work to make a coat, I want it to fit right!
So the final step, which is just as vitally important as any other step is to block my swatch. Into a warm bubble bath it goes to soak for a little while, then I roll it up in a facecloth and wring out (gently!) the excess water, before I lay it out for a final measurement check.
I guess that warm bubble bath was just as relaxing as it looked. My swatch has grown. Not a lot, but just the right amount! My stitch tension is perfect. My row tension is a tiny bit short, but that's okay, most of the length is done by measurement instead of row count.
If I'd made a decision early on and gone up a needle size and not blocked my swatch, I'd end up with a coat that's too big for me. One stitch per 10cm can make a big difference! If you have 180 sts, and your tension should be 18 sts = 10cm, your garment would finish up 100cm. But if you're getting 17 sts = 10cm, your garment is going to end up nearly 106cm around. That could make a huge difference int he way your garment fits.
I'll probably throw the swatch into the washing machine on a gentle cycle to see if it felts before I finish the real thing. I don't want to ruin my garment later on!
There are no knitting police! Swatch using whatever method works for you. But I really recommend always doing a swatch.
January 04, 2012
And so the final finished project for 2011 is here! I wore it for the first time on New Years Eve to a knitterly lunch, and Knitabulous took some pics for me afterwards.
Pattern: Elspeth by Laura Long, available for free from the Rowan website (You'll need to be a member to get the pattern, but it's free to join)
Yarn: The sadly discontinued Calmer in Plum, pattern called for 4 balls, I only used 3.
New Techniques for me: Crochet! Rosered came into the shop one day, and showed me how to do the double crochet and the picot edging.
Mods: I changed the crochet edging around the outer edge, but did it the way the pattern said around the sleeves. It worked fine on the sleeves, but when I did it around the bolero edge, it went all wavy. I emailed Rosered and she suggested a few decreases and picots only every third dc instead of every second. It's sitting better now, but I like the look of the sleeves better! I think it that my tension might have played a part too - I always go down a needle size in knitting, maybe I should have done the same with the crochet hook.
I also didn't bother with the picots on the ties, it seemed a little silly to me!
Otherwise, exactly as the pattern says.
And I love it! I really love Calmer, and I'm so glad I managed to stash some away before it's lost forever. I'm usually not a fan of acrylic at all, but this blend is s o soft and squishy, it's a delight to work with, and to wear.
It's been mentioned to me by a couple of people that I should be blogging my sewing exploits as well as my knitting.
I mention it now because the dress I'm wearing with my Elspeth is one of the more recent ones that I've made. Unfortunately, I can't give you pattern information or anything, because it's a mock up of about three different patterns, and some shirring on the back. Shirring is my new sewing love. Easy, easy, easy! I used this tutorial to learn how, and it's great! Shirring just the back of the bodice is good - no need for zips or buttons, helps with a great fit due to the elasticity and is relatively easy to boot!
This isn't a great picture, but it gives you a better view of the bodice. The fabrics is a lovely light weight cotton I got from Calico & Ivy.
In other news, my yarn arrived for my Ella coat!
The colours are perfect - the colour in the picture is a little off, the pick is a gorgeous raspberry pink. The Shepherd's Wool is divine - maybe the softest pure wool I've ever played with. Gorgeous! Now to swatch...