I am very very fortunate to be part of a local knitting group. It’s been around for years (ten? fifteen?–long before I moved here or even started knitting), and I joined about a year and a half ago at the urging of two friends who are fellow knitters and parents of some of the kids in Sylvia’s playgroup. At the time, the group meet monthly at a local community center. Since then, we’ve decided that we like to knit together so much that we’ve added a monthly meeting at a local coffee shop and impromptu meetings at a bookstore. These “impromptu” meetings generally take place during a week when we’re not at the community center or the coffee shop. In short, we’re meeting pretty much every week. I love these evening get-togethers–partly as a chance to spend some time with grownups, partly as a chance to let my husband have some time on his own with our daughter (post-dinner playtime and bedtime), and partly because all of those women know a heck of a lot more about knitting than I do, and I get to learn a lot from them.

img_0001.jpgI’ve decided to knit a sweater for myself. It’s a wrap cardigan called Damson Wine that uses Rowan Kid Classic. I’m actually using the called-for yarn for this, though in a dark green rather than the original purple. I thought about throwing caution to the wind and just plowing right ahead, but since I don’t have the 7.5mm needles the (British) pattern calls for, I’m using the nearest equivalent, US11, which is just a smidge larger than the 10 7/8 the 7.5mm would be if they actually existed in U.S. sizes. My knitting is often a bit tight, so I figured the extra needle size would probably be a good thing.

With lots of help from my knitting pals to figure out exactly how many stitches to cast on, I knit a gauge swatch last night, using Jil Eaton’s technique of adding a few rows of garter stitch (I used four) at the top and bottom and three garter stitches on the left and right sides to create a tidy, easy-to-measure “box” of knitting in the middle. This pattern is a twelve-row knit pattern that uses 7.5mm needles on the odd rows and 5mm (US8) needles on the even rows. (Good thing I have Denise needles! I just put one of each size on either end of cable, and I’m good to go!)

This is not the ideal project to work on if you’re hanging out with a bunch of interesting people and aren’t familiar with this type of knitting. Let me just say this: I am a terrible multitasker. Truly awful. If my husband tries to talk to me while I’m addressing an envelope, I screw it up. If my little paladin is running across a wide-open space in the middle of the desert in (geek alert!) Tanaris, she has to stand still so I can type “Hello” to a friend who just logged on. And if I’m trying to knit a swatch with yarn-forwards and k2tog and skpo and all sorts of stuff like that–and different in every row–I cannot talk to anyone. (But I can listen to conversations, as long as they’re not the sort that expect a response from me. So maybe I have a teensy weensy bit of multitasking ability.) Fortunately, the gauge swatch didn’t take very long to do, so I was able to move on to a project that let me be a bit more social.

p8015774.jpgSo here it is, the gauge swatch in all its glory. As you can tell, it is unblocked. And after my friend Pat measured it about a dozen times to be sure, it still comes up about a quarter of an inch too short in each direction. So what to do? If I go up a needle size on the large needle, then I’m using a US13, which will surely be too large. If I go up a needle size on the small needle, then I’m using US9 and US11…and they might be so close in size that the big-small variation in the pattern gets lost. Pat’s advice: “Steam it, pin it to the measurements you want, then see how the yarn likes being stretched that way.” We’re both optimistic that blocking will do the trick–even just pulling the swatch by hand opened up the lace pattern nicely. I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

7 Responses to “Concentration”

  1. Katie Jon 01 Aug 2007 at 6:38 pm

    The swatch looks great. Can’t wait to see the finished sweater.

  2. jdon 02 Aug 2007 at 1:15 am

    Yes, I vote for blocking! Esp. lacey patterns. Awesome color, awesome pattern. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

  3. Secret Palon 02 Aug 2007 at 9:37 am

    I mailed your Dishcloth package yesterday but I forgot to send the note, when you get it i’ll send you an email so you know who I am :) was that game you linked World of Warcraft? it looks fun, right now i’m addicted to Titans Quest Immortal Throne so fun!!

  4. Linneton 02 Aug 2007 at 11:14 am

    The swatch looks lovely. Can’t wait to see the finished sweater. I’m envious of people who can wear/use mohair; it knits up so nicely.

  5. Ginaon 02 Aug 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I am TOTALLY loving that dark green color. That is fantastic! So how was knitting up the swatch using the pattern? Is the pattern pretty easy to deal with? You know me, I actually like k2tg, yo, skpos!

  6. Marshaon 02 Aug 2007 at 2:29 pm

    KatieJ: Oh don’t worry, you’ll get to see it. You’ll probably end up consulting on it as it gets knitted, too. :)

    JD: I know you’ve knit a lot of (amazing looking) lace. So if you say blocking is the way to go, then I’m definitely on board with that.

    Secret Pal: Yes, that was a link to WoW. I just took a peek at Titans Quest (which I hadn’t heard of before). It looks interesting–maybe something to check out when I want a break from MMOs.

    Linnet: Thanks! This is my first experience with this yarn and with mohair (not counting the little bit of mohair that’s in Lamb’s Pride), and it really is a pleasure to work with.

    Gina: The pattern isn’t too difficult, as long as you don’t miss anything. I think you will like it a lot. So when are you going to knit the gauge swatch for yours, eh? :)

  7. Kellion 03 Aug 2007 at 4:44 pm

    So pretty! Can’t wait to see what you create.