Thursday, August 30, 2007

Size Matters

Good Morning, Dear Readers!

Before I tackle today's missive, I have a picture to share with you. The Yarn Fairy came yesterday.

As usual, from the upper left and going around the front to the right:

Woolly Boully Meanie - Neapolitan
ShiBui - Color 51301 (this is from one of my myriad clubs - there is no color name on the label)
Cider Moon Flurry - Avocado
Cider Moon Flurry - Harriet The Spy
Cider Moon Flurry - Lava
Cider Moon Icicle - Sweet Potato Pie
Seacoast - Chocolate Cherry

If you're wondering about the large number of Cider Moon skeins compared to the others, it's because I was dumb enough to go to their online sale. I really thought I did well, considering all the lovelies they had. I love Cider Moon - it's got such a wonderful hand, and the colorways are incredible. And that ShiBui! I think I mentioned it before, but it's just fantastic. I don't know what they do that other dyers don't, but just fondling it and rubbing it and playing with it (I know you all do it, whether or not you admit to it - and I'm talking about yarn here, not Mr. Happy or some other body part) makes you a contented person (just like uh... well... playing with a body part). Their colors are also highly saturated. This particular skein in person is BRIGHT. It's a good thing I love bright, or else I'd be an unhappy camper. If there is a complaint about it, it's that the put-up is small. I think it has 191 yards (or something very close to that), so you have to buy a minimum of two for a pair of socks. If you're me, then you have to buy three. The pattern they sent with the skeins (there are two of them) calls for two even in my size, so we'll see when I get around to doing them sometime in the year 2025.

Okey dokey, then. Let's talk about size.

I embarked on a new project just to give myself something other than the Monkey Socks to work on. I like to switch back and forth to keep from getting bored. That means I don't get things done as quickly, but so be it. At least I get things done. Well, sort of. I still have to block those stupid ponchos.

Anyway, I always do a gauge swatch since the first pair of two socks/two circs debacle. Those socks would have fit Bubbles the Hippo at the San Francisco Zoo. I also keep a binder with all the pertinent information on every project I do (yarn, gauge, behavior of the yarn, problems, etc.). That way, if I use the same type of yarn in a different color, I don't have to go back and make another swatch. All the info is already recorded.

But did I decide to use a yarn that I already had info on? Noooooo. That would have been too easy. After all, I am The Yarn Goddess. I can do anything. No yarn will beat me down. No pattern has too many intricacies to befuddle my brain. I looked at the gauge on the pattern and thought, "Oh yeah, this yarn will work great! Who cares if it's fingering weight?".


I knew from reading the recommended gauge that the pattern was calling for something in-between fingering and sport or DK. I knew they recommended using a size 2 needle. I knew this yarn wasn't really suitable. But I'd been dying to use this particular yarn - it was a new one for me, and the colors were just incredible, and I had to do it. What I should have done was to find a pattern better suited to the yarn (I always do everything backwards). But The Yarn Goddess will not be denied.

So I began my gauge swatch using a size 1 (2.50 mm). After all, that's what the yarn called for. Never mind that I wasn't knitting a sock and was using sock yarn. I mean, lots of patterns are written using sock yarn or fingering weight and aren't socks. I figured that I would get 9 SPI and 12 RPI. And that's exactly what I got. I was very happy.

Then I read the pattern again.

The pattern calls for 7 SPI and 10 RPI.

I wasn't worried about the rows. I can always fudge on those - put in an extra pattern repeat, or dork it up in any number of ways. It was the stitches per inch that was bothering me. A difference of two stitches is a lot. Even I couldn't overlook that glaring discrepancy.

So I decided to try a size 2, just like the pattern called for. No problem. I had lots of needles laying around, so I found the 2's and began knitting. Then that new pill I told you all about kicked in and I fell asleep, gauge swatch clutched firmly in my giant grimy paws.

When I woke up, it was some hours later (it's amazing what sleep does for you - I had forgotten), and I began knitting again. Admittedly, I was a little groggy and should have waited at least 15 minutes so I'd have a chance to wake up, but not I. I was anxious to get this show on the road. So I knit. And knit. And then I looked at the swatch.

When I do swatches, I always put a purl row on the knit side so I know I've changed needles. I usually start with the smallest needle and go up in size so it's easy for me to tell what needle I've used at any given point. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that there was a big hole between two of the stitches. The problem was that on the left side of the hole were two rows. The problem was that on the right side of the hole were four rows. I stared at it. I turned it around. I stared at the back. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. And then realization hit.

I had turned the work around, just like I was doing a short row, and knit backwards instead of going in the correct direction, thereby adding another row on one side of the swatch and leaving a big hole right in the middle. The other extra row came into play because I had started to knit back again.

What to do? I could just keep knitting and not worry about the hole, except that it would look like hell and would skew the measurement. I wracked my brain for solutions. And no matter how much I thought about it, there was only one solution.

I had to frog it. A swatch. A shitty little swatch. I had to frog back to the right edge, then back to the hole, and then back to the right edge again so everything was evened up. All that for a crummy little swatch. What's worse, I made the mistake of showing it to Hubster. He started laughing, which got me to laughing. But it wasn't a laughing matter.

Since I'm a perfectionist, I had to do it. Thank goodness there weren't many stitches to frog. It didn't take long; that wasn't the point. The point was that this was a swatch, not a sock or a garment. It was insulting. It was a slap in the face. I wasn't a Yarn Goddess at that moment. I was pissed.

So frog I did, and now I'm merrily knitting away, even though I can already tell that the fabric is going to be too loose. I have one more set of needles to try - a real size 1 (2.25 mm). I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make, but I have to try it.

I've already ordered the right size yarn.


Kellie said...

Oh my....what a haul!! I love your new yarn!!! I'm so jealous. That brown/pink combo....I think I drooled.

Give Gabby a squeeze. Oh and, I did score some Spritely Goods yarn for my pal so its good to see you enjoy their yarn too. It arrived today, and it is fantastic. Not as amazing as the Lornas I picked out for her......It will take will power to send the monkeys off, I can tell you that!

Pam the Yarn Goddess said...

Thank you, Kellie! Are pink and brown your favorite colors? I don't usually use those, but I love the Neapolitan. I've knitted with it before, and it comes out just beautiful.

I'll give Gabby a squeeze for you. Right now, she's perched on the top of the computer right in the air stream of the fan. We've finally decided to have a few hot days (around 83 - that's horrible for us), so she's just hanging around until I subject her to some more hot yarn.

Spritely Goods is awesome! I don't have a lot of it, but what I do have (as you saw in the picture) is really gorgeous.

Which Lorna's did you pick out? I've got an entire bin full of that one LOL.