In my last post on engineering and whatnot, I commented on how to figure out how many stitches to add or subtract when trying to work beyond the range of given sizes in a pattern. Lynn raised a question on this topic: if the rate of change goes down and then back up, how do you know whether you should continue going up or go back down?

The answer probably isn’t as easy as any of us would like. You don’t.

My father taught college math until I was in junior high, and he used to talk to my brother and me about math whenever we went out to dinner. (I don’t know why the subject didn’t come up when we were having dinner at home, but virtually every time we went out for dinner, he’d pull his mechanical pencil out of his pocket and work us through math problems on paper napkins until our food arrived. And sometimes after.) When I was in fifth grade or so, I came home talking about interpolation and extrapolation. He drew me a graph with numbers on it and whatnot and asked me tell him what the Y-value of some number on the graph was. The answer was easy; it was right there on the graph. Then he asked me to give him the Y-value of a number not on the graph. That wasn’t so easy.

“Extrapolation is dangerous,” he said to me. “Just because this looks like a straight line between these two numbers doesn’t mean that it continues to behave like that beyond those points.”

This is a roundabout way of saying that you don’t really know how the pattern would behave beyond the range of sizes in the pattern. There are reasonable guesses, though. Patterns, unlike some math functions, tend to behave logically. In the example I gave in the last post, the trend would say either to decrease the rate of change by two or increase by two. That difference of four stitches could be tremendous, or it might not be, depending on your gauge. So yeah, some of it comes down to guesswork. If you want a tight fit, try going down. If not, go up. The nice thing about the guesswork here is that you’re really unlikely to mess something up irrevocably.

In other news, I finished my third of the baby sunhat in Holiday Knits. It’s such a sweet little pattern, and kind of unconventional for a knitted baby hat. Will have to get pictures of the second and third hats (the first has already been given away) tomorrow, along with an attempt at a ballet slipper for my former-ballerina-cousin’s baby girl (not sure if it’s working) and the baby blanket I’m blocking for my mom. I might post the pattern for it too, as it’s something we accidentally made up together.

One of these days I’ll get around to doing more project posts. (Or, y’know, more posts in general?) Really, I’ve got to get pictures of finished objects before they’re given away, as most of what I’ve been doing lately is baby gifts. Everyone around me seems to be procreating. ;)

Anyway, this is something I’ve explained more than once over at LJ’s knitting community – how to retool a pattern to work with a yarn that doesn’t match the given gauge.

I’ll start by saything this isn’t always the greatest idea in the world. While you certainly could take a sturdy-looking aran sweater with chunky cables and work it with a fingering-weight yarn… well, why would you? In my opinion, this works best if you have a yarn that’s not substantially different from the prescribed yarn, especially if you’re making an object that has a lot of detail in it. If the detail is in the shaping, as in the hourglass sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, you can get away with a drastic change in gauge more easily than if it’s an intricate twisted-stitch garment.

(more…)

I’m thinking about a baby cardigan.

Actually, I should start further back than that. Sure, I’m thinking about a baby cardigan, but it’s really more in the context of eventually thinking about a cardigan for me. I’ve discovered, however, that baby garments are a good place to experiment. I seem to have no shortage of friends having babies (which is a completely different discussion), so it’s a good time for me to start poking around with new techniques and design ideas.

Then the other night I started reading Eunny Jang’s steeking tutorial, and even though the thought of cutting my knitting up is vaguely terrifying, I kind of want to. I’ve recently fallen in love with Fair Isle anyway, and this seems like something I should try at least once.

So a simple yoked cardigan, the front opening steeked open. I prefer making raglan sweaters because I haaaaaate seaming, but in this case it’ll depend on whether or not I can figure out how to handle the increases within the pattern. And I’m thinking about using this simple snowflake as my motif. As for colors, the parents of the recipient aren’t finding out if they’re having a boy or a girl ahead of time, so I’m thinking something neutral and low-contrast, probably in Dale’s Baby Ull. I might even go as subtle as white and off-white, even though that’s kind of crazy considering it’s a baby gift. At least it’s superwash?

Time to dig out pattern books, I suppose. Have to start figuring things out somewhere.

Well, it was time, honestly, for me to start my own knitting blog. I’ve had an online presence for a while now, but the internet has been a tremendous resource for me in terms of my own knitting, and I thought maybe I could attempt to give something of what I know. I’m by no means an expert, but as my mother tells me virtually every time she looks at a new project of mine… I’m rather fearless. Or perhaps it’s just stupid. ;)

And it’s the last bit (the fearless part, not the stupid part) that I really think is most important to one’s knitting. A fear of screwing up irreparably can stop you from doing a lot of beautiful projects out there, but here’s the thing: in my experience, it’s almost impossibly to screw up irreparably.

So I’ll start off with pictures of a project I finished about a year ago, but I’m still very proud of it. This lace tablecloth was a wedding gift to my childhood best friend. It was my first foray into lace. (Also, a crazy foray into lace.)


Click image for large version.

The finished dimensions of this piece were 90″ by 68″. The recipient was given her grandmother’s dining room table, a very large dark wood piece. The doubled strands of mercerized cotton in off-white made for a striking piece up against a dark surface like that, but also made for a headache or two (hundred) in the process.

The lace pattern was adapted from the lace shawl pattern in Sarah Dallas Knitting, worked on size 6 needles. Blocking this was a bit of a nightmare – there’s a dry cleaner in my area to whom I would entrust anything I’ve ever made, but his equipment was nowhere near large enough to take a piece this big. There was much crawling around on the floor the day I decided it had to be done right then or the gift would be horribly, horribly late.

Things I learned? Knitting with crochet cotton is generally a bad idea. No, really, it is. Especially doubling up strandes that are smaller than fingering-weight yarn. I had fun with the project when I wasn’t wanting to rip my hair out, but in retrospect, a less complicated lace pattern probably would have been a more appropriate first attempt.

Will I do it again? …Probably.

You know what they say. Nothing ventured…

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