Sunday, October 28, 2012

Remnants: The Fall Edition Part 2

As fun and relaxing as knitting can be, good knitting - advanced knitting - comes with math. Sometimes it’s just a wee bit (such as, how many stitches should I cast on if my gauge is X, and I want my sweater to be Y wide?). Sometimes it’s four pages plus charts.

That’s where I am today - four pages of calculations plus charts - and that’s part of why I’m not getting much in the way of actual knitting done.

It can all be traced back to two events. One, way back in 2007, I knit up the “Man’s Turtleneck” for my guy in Brown’s Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted. That sweater (from the Fall 2006 Knit Simple Magazine) turned out to be the go-to sweater. It fits perfectly, and has just the right style. If there is an issue, it’s that it is so super-thick and wooly, that it can only be worn when the highs are in the teens. That is event “A”.


Event “B” is the annual sidewalk sale at my LYS when my guy found a large bag of James C. Brett Marble and asked me to knit another version of his favorite sweater in this fiber.
A comparative study of how the fabric looks knitted in the specified pattern gauge (bottom) or a much smaller gauge (top).
Trouble is, the sweater instructions are for a gauge of 12 st x 14 rows = 4", while the Marble is most suitable in 22 st x 28 rows = 4". That means everything, from cast on to cable placement, is completely different. I think I have sufficient yarn to knit it at the tighter gauge (original pattern called for 1,640 yards, I bought 2,620.) So how do I make the pattern adjustments?

 A good friend of mine suggested I pick up a copy of Stitch ' n Bitch Nation, by Debbie Stoller (c) 1993. Stoller begins the book with a very good description of how to adjust patterns and change yarn - and how to adjust sweater patterns to different gauges.

Through this process, I came up with a stitch ratio, and a row ratio. Then I can begin my pattern adjustments.

Stitch ratio = my stitch gauge / the pattern’s stitch gauge, or 1.83
Row ratio = my row gauge / the pattern’s row gauge, or 2

If the original cast on was 79, how many stitches do I cast on at the new gauge?
79 x 1.83 = 144.57, or rounded up = 145. (And yes, as I was writing this post, I noticed a huge error that effects a ton of subsequent calculations. Excel to the rescue, and please add two more pages to the calculations!)

The really crazy part came in with the cabling, because I had more stitches across the fabric panels than originally, and each stitch was narrower. So I would need to widen each cable cord to give it the same massing as the original. Since the stitch ratio is an un-even 1.83 which is decidedly impossible to reproduce accurately, I opted to round down and err on the side of thinness, in turn giving more breathing room in the reverse stockinette.

The foundation work is now done, and the knit bag is set aside with proper needle, yarn, and all appropriate instructions. Good project for working on beside the fireplace this winter!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Remnants: the Fall Edition part 1

The days are growing shorter, overnight lows are dipping to the 40s, and trees are ablaze with the colors of fall. As much as I love this season, it means that very soon the door of opportunity will close for many outdoor projects, as well as projects for the home interior with steps or stages that must be done outside.

I spent part of the weekend brewing two batches of beer, and drafting a project punch list that will help me prioritize my days. Some things will simply not happen. Take one rainy weekend, add a heavy writing workload,  zest with miscellaneous family commitments, and all my best laid plans get thrown out the window. So my project itself is prioritized - things that absolutely must be done this year get top billing.

Before I continue, I have to share something that happened over the weekend. On Sunday I had stopped by my local HyVee to pick up a handful of items. As is usual, they were broadcasting a football game over their intercom. I wasn’t really listening to the game, but at one point I realized the game wasn’t playing, but two or three men were chatting. I suppose they were sports commentators, though I didn’t hear them say anything sports-related. What I did hear was one of the men confess to being an exercise freak (I’m paraphrasing here), and that his days were consumed either by exercising or - here’s where it gets weird - mastur... Yep. That’s right. I won’t spell out the word here, but it refers to self pleasuring, and he said it several times - LOUD - over the intercom at the HyVee where mothers and fathers had their children in tow stocking up on their groceries for the week. In my minds’ eye, I envisioned one or more store managers sprinting toward the intercom system, and I’m probably not far off because the whole store soon fell dead silent. It remained off for a few minutes, then slowly, quietly, the game came back on.

I mentioned this to my elderly mother later in the day, and her thought was that the poor dears probably didn't realize their mics were on. Clearly she hasn’t listened to for-profit radio since transistors were in vogue, ’cause raunchy is de rigueur with these guys.

Back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Part 1: Quilting
Winter Quilt
I’m still chipping away at the hand quilting of my winter quilt. I’ve decided to temporarily focus my energy on the second sham, which can be accomplished while I watch TV in the evenings. The main quilt will resume once it is done. At my current rate that will be next weekend.

Craftsy Block of the Month Class
I’ll finish the second of the August blocks today or tomorrow - a double star block using Flying Geese motifs. Apparently there are three methods for making flying geese, and we’re being taught the corner-to-corner method. I’m not sure if this would be the case with the other two, but I find there’s an incredible amount of waste with this block, and way too many seams/parts/pieces per block than I care for. At least I now know how they are made, and can move on from there.

With these August blocks out of the way, that brings me up to September’s blocks, which use a drunkards path template, and October’s (Friendship Circle, and Circle of Geese). With my current work schedule I don’t expect to be all caught up by November 1, but I will make a valiant attempt at completing both September blocks, and starting an October block.  This will put me in a good place in November. In that month we begin piecing the quilt with all our completed blocks.

I took advantage of a sale last month and signed up for a few more classes. Several were free! WooHOO! The quilting-related ones were: Sewing Machine 911 - a class on getting to know your machine, how to troubleshoot, and maintain it; and Machine Quilting Free Motion and More. Sewing Machine 911 will become especially important when I begin working on Mabel. More on that at a later date.

Spring/Summer Quilt
Visiting quilt shops can be hazardous to your health. I swore up and down and up again that once the winter quilt was finished, and my BOM was done, I would set quilting aside to focus on other types of sewing projects. But I have had to visit quilt shops a couple times in the recent weeks so I’ve been reminded of some of the beautiful colors and patterns that are on the market right now. My winter quilt is looking totally awesome, and I am beginning to see the vaguest outlines of a finish line on the horizon (four years and counting thank you very much). Now I look at my spring/summer quilt (Herringbone) that I have been actively using year-round since August 2008, and I realize I’m ready for a change.*

I’m still trying to decide on a pattern, and whatever I choose I will not start on cutting/sewing it until I finish Winter. And (perhaps most important) I will not hand quilt it, nor will I try to squeeze it through my personal sewing machine (been there, done that, have the prison-style tattoo to prove it).

No. My plan is to starting acquiring fabrics now (the more saturated colors the better), sew it sometime next summer, and send it off to a longarmer to be quilted. And you know what? I feel AWESOME about that decision.

*For those keeping score at home, yes I did just finish the shams for Herringbone this year. You wanna make something of it?