April 23, 2007
Worth the Re-Knit
I faught the Battle of the Bulge and won. No, slim-and-trim reader, I did not loose 5 pounds, but I did get the edging on nona-niece-the-youngest's blanket to lie nice and flat. It was definately -- most definately -- worth the rip and re-knit.
My first attempt at the blanket's vertical yellow borders rippled and bulged dramatically. So much so, that I immediately frogged the darn things and set my gray-matter to work on sleuthing out the problem and a solution. If you're curious in the results, read on...
Ripples and bulges are a clear indication of too many picked up stitches. In general, it takes fewer stitches than rows to fill an inch. The difference between the stitch gauge and the row gauge is called the stitch-to-row ratio, which for stockinette stitch is typically 3-to-4 (or .75). This is why many patterns instruct you to pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows. When I initially worked the vertical border, I didn't think -- my first mistake -- and blindly picked up 3 stitches for every 4 rows -- about 208 stitches. This was obviously too many stitches.
I needed to calculate my own stitch-to-row ratio based on the stitch gauge of the 2x2 Basket Weave used for the blanket's edging and the row gauge of the 2-Color Star Stitch used for the blanket's body. The stitch gauge -- 21 stitches in 4 inches -- divided by the row gauge -- 36 rows in 4 inches -- is the stitch-to-row ratio -- 21 / 36 = .59, which I rounded to .6 (6/10). So, I needed to pick up 6 stitches every 10 rows or 3 stitches every 5 rows. Following this ratio, I picked up 164 stitches and produced a well behaved, flat border.
The Moral of the Story
Different stitch patterns have different stitch-to-row ratios. Take the time to calculate your ratio before embarking on the pick up.
April 18, 2007
Thank you to all the creative commenters who participated in Sunday's Quiz. Many of you sleuthful knitters correctly deduced that the textural difference observed in my Baby Bell Bottoms was due to knitting back and forth -- the legs -- verses knitting in the round -- the body. Although it's possible -- as Ava suggests -- that "one too many of the aforementioned Starbucks beverages" might have played a marginal role.
And the cause? I knit using the "Western" method, which means I wrap my yarn counter-clockwise when both knitting and purling. Although this sounds impressively consistent, it does mean that my purl stitch uses slightly more yarn than my knit stitch. I first discovered the inadequacies of my enlarged purl stitch when solving my saggy ribbing problem. Priscilla Gibson-Roberts calls this phenomenon rowing out and comments that "it is not a mark of excellence". Ouch. My rowing out is not always visible, but Calmer -- a cotton and microfiber yarn -- seems to accentuate the slightly bigger purl stitches.
The solution? I suppose I have 3 solutions -- 1) live with it, 2) add more tension to the yarn when purling, or 3) create my purl stitch using the same amount of yarn as the knit stitch by wrapping the yarn in the opposite direction -- clockwise. I think this calls for some swatching!
April 15, 2007
On Friday, for a variety of unrelated reasons, I spent 7 hours in the LAX airport with a broad sampling of humanity. Needless to say I had plenty of time to knit, read, people watch, and drink several Starbucks beverages. Plenty of time in fact to finish a pair of Baby Bell Bottoms for nona-niece-the-newest. These adorable pants were quick and easy to knit. I used Rowan's Calmer -- remember the swatch -- and love the soft stretchy feel of the fabric.
Time for a quiz. Look carefully at these pants, sleutful reader (click on the picture for a larger view). Can you see the texture difference between the legs and the body of these pants? Do you know the cause? Answer reveled tomorrow...
April 10, 2007
Battle of the Bulge
The battle of the bulge, my friends, the battle of the bulge. This inevitable struggle is periodically encountered along the journey we call life -- though more frequently in these middle years. For some the battle is fought around the waistline, while for others it's waged around the blanket. Consulting the dictionary reveals several definitions for bulge; "to jut out" -- yep -- "to bend outward" -- sad, but true -- and "to become swollen or protuberant" -- sums it up.
Will I stand for the bulge? No way! Will the bulge claim me? Never! I stand here before you, fist raised, in solidarity against the bulge. Ripples are to be left where they belong. Three cheers for Rip and Re-Knit.
March 27, 2007
On The Flip Side
The flip side of a blanket, a 45 record, or a pancake is often neglected -- you get what you get. Today I took a close look at the flip side of my hefty baby blanket and you know what, I like it! I love how the colors and yarn blend together, creating a nice juxtaposition to the graphic sharpness of the blanket's front.
March 25, 2007
Blankets -- even ones for itty-bitty babies -- grow so slowly, progressing in fits and starts. You knit and knit and knit only to find the thing a mere inch or two longer than the last time you measured. Knit, knit, knit. And then, all of a sudden -- almost out of no where -- you feel it. The heft. The heft of the blanket when you pull it out of the knitting bag. The heft of the blanket when you place it in your lap. The heft of the blanket as you knit, knit, knit. Suddenly it's growing, quickly. The heft, the Knitter's Tipping Point.
I'm not sure if it's my old butt or this old chair, but I leave the biggest divot when I get up -- especially after watching several hours of March Madness. Speaking of which, we have a new leader, "cknof", who is leading the way with 104 points. If you're one of the leaders -- look to the left to see -- and I don't have your blog let me know so I can link to you.
March 14, 2007
Welcome to the world nona-niece-the-newest! Good thing I've started your blanket -- the opportune word being started. Some projects come easily, while others are more of a struggle. I swatched, and swatched, and swatched, and swatched for this blanket before settling on this variation.
I love the soft, feminine combination of the petal pink, dusky raspberry, and butter yellow with just enough acid green and strong orange to keep the whole thing from getting too sickly sweet. Because, my friends, in our family we like our girls to have a bit of kick and vigor!
January 31, 2007
String of Purls Hat
To be honest, my friends, I'm mildly fixated -- okay, obsessed -- with the String of Purls stitch pattern. It all started last Wednesday when I blindly stumbled upon this intriguing pattern as part of my swatching adventures. One thing lead to another and then onto another and before I knew it my noggin was filled with idea after idea for possible projects. Luckily, I was able to stop my brain swirl just long enough to knit this baby hat for the nona-niece-to-be.
Is it just me, or do you also have a hard time getting a good picture of a hat without a head? Any suggestions?
January 26, 2007
Who can resist knitting baby sweaters? They're fast, fun, and just so darn cute!
This one is for nona-niece-due-in-March. If she's anything like her parents, she'll be a San Franciscan with a sense of style -- one who will appreciate a sweater in non-traditional baby colors. The sweater is a modern take on Elizabeth Z's classic baby sweater from Knitter's Almanac. The garter stitch yoke and edges are knit in Koigu and the lace pattern in Rowan's 4-Ply Wool. These two yarns mix well together, having a similar weight and twist.
May 14, 2006
Wishing all the mothers out there a happy Mother's Day! Thank you, yes I had a relaxing Mother's day knitting -- of course -- and going to the movies with the nona-boys. Continuing on my stuffed animal jag, I made Lucinda Guy's "Birdie". Truth be told my friends, this project was tough -- fun, but tough. The knitting was a piece of cake, but the finishing taxed my sewing and finishing skills. When it came time for the crochet eyeballs it took me 6, okay 7, okay 8 attempts before I got a reasonable eyeball. But heck, I did it!
Will I make another stuffed animal? Definitely. I have a sneaky suspicion that the sewing and finishing skills get easier with each attempt. What can I say, nona's an optimist.
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