I was going to send this while I was in Brazil, I swear.
The thing is, is that when you are in the middle of a tropical country where the most important thing you have to do in a day is trek the sinfully short 1 block commute to the healing and meditation oasis that is The Casa de Dom Ignacio overlooking this…
And sometimes this:
You quickly reorganize your priorities from staring at a computer monitor, to staring across the balcony at this…
while sucking up every millilitre of healing energy that is abundantly floating through the air.
You don’t even end up getting a ton of knitting done. But you are energized to pick up the sticks at home (why at home, and not on the plane? Because of the rediculous security between the US and Brazil. What I wanted to say was ‘trust me, I am more dangerous without the knitting needles.’ Thankfully I still had wits about me enough to know that a comment like that would get me more than I bargained for!)
So really, this ends up being a postcard to Brazil…
I miss you, and all of your beauteous summer. I am glad to be back in the wet and wonderful North West, in fact, the smell of your amazon really made me appreciate the smell of the coniferous forests that I had begun to take for granted. The papaya trees growing in your ally ways
inspired me to try the same here, but with kale, and maybe some brussel sprouts.
Maybe we will meet again,
Well, here is is, 5:08pm on Monday. I haven’t left the house yet. I am dressed… but not presentably, nor appropriately for the astonishingly dreary weather we are having. I am in the middle of painting all the kitchen cupboards. I will be starting dinner soon, and then finishing the kitchen and boxing up the Sally Anne’s boxes for transport tomorrow.
I’m also finishing my wedding album. Yes. It has been just past exactly 2.5 years since Justin and I merged our lives in marrital bliss. AND I still haven’t finished putting together the wedding album.
Yup… today, I am finishing. I’m finishing a lot of things right now, which is no coincidence. First and foremost in the line up of reasons why I (we) are doing this, it is the time of the waning crescent left over from New Year’s Eve’s full moon, which was synchronistically a blue moon. It is time to exhale last year, and in less than a week, it will be time to inhale this year. I don’t want to be inhaling a bunch of junk that I have stashed away in the corners of my house.
Second, the hubster and I are making a trip to Brazil to see John of God. Both of us have a multitude of issues relating to having sustained spinal cord injuries 12 and 10 years ago respectively. Thus, we are making space in our psyches for the new and healthier bodies that we hope to achive while we are there, by cleaning out the ‘old’ us. Anything we have been hanging onto from those days – physical or otherwise – is ousted.
Third, part of being in the Waldorf Teacher Training with my teacher and mentor, Gene Campell, is that I get my life in order. I get my house and home working smoothly, I get my intentions set and I get my body and mind working and thinking clearly. For this, she prescribes, as I am sure I have mentioned, a paper called the Labours of Herculese – 29 pages of detailed process for doing life right.
So, seeing that we leave for the hubsters school on Thursday, and then Brazil on Saturday, I may be lost in the abyss for a couple of days, until I get my feet out the door.
Wish me luck!
The Fibonacci Pullover is the first step I have taken into designing my own knitwear. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Brook’s Classic Pullover pattern from The Opinionated Knitter was an excellent place to start because it gave me the experience of measuring a body and creating a sweater from the gauge I got out of those measurements. Also, being plain stockinette stitch, it leaves room for cables and modifications.
I took on the challenge of designing a cable that would work with the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, and to make it a larger cable, used the value of 8 as the base number. The cable turned out rather well, and was easy and enjoyable to knit.
I decided to place the cable in the front of the sweater where it’s beginning synchronistically lines up with the heart centre of the his chest. This cable was a little bit longer, but not long enough to include a complete amount of purl stitches for the next number in the sequence. So, I decided to continue purling all the way around his neck line, giving the rolled hem a place to rest and finishing the number in the sequence at the same time. Then, I decided to balance the sweater by doing one slightly shorter cable on the outside of each arm. The hubster is eager to greet the person who recognizes the symbolism of the cables on his sweater.
The shoulder decreases didn’t work when I tried to do the right under the shoulder bones. I ended up with a bunch of extra fabric, like little wings. So, I ripped it back and did the decreases starting three inches above armpit instead of two, and right over the armpits. Worked like a charm. Tight enough, but with enough space to reach and move.
As for the seemless bit, I loved it. Grafting the armpits was so satisfying, and you can’t even tell! The only thing is, the gauge I knit was so tight that it made my hands a bit sore to knit on circulars. If it wasn’t for that, I might never knit flat again!As per the pattern, I left the bottom hem band of the sweater until the end, for which I am glad. I hadn’t really knitted up enough on the body before I started the arm pits, and thus that ability to add extra onto the bottom without the sweater looking cobbled together was much welcomed! Plus, I have the option of adding more to the sweater if he decides that he would like it longer at some point, or the washing of it does something curious to the length. I decreased about 10% of the stitches for the bottom band*.
So, there you have it, the Fibonacci Pullover
Yarn: Cascades Ecological Wool in the 8025 shade/colourway, just over three skeins.
Needles: 3.5 mm needles (a little bit small in my opinion, the sweater is rather stiff but we’ll see how it washes up)
Size: 44″ chest (cast on 184 stitches)
Merry Christmas my love!
* One issue with adding the bottom band, post torso, is that it seems to fold up on itself. I don’t know if this is because he is sitting in a wheelchair all the time, or if it is because there is a seam there and it needs to be blocked straight (hubster maintains that his body heat will block it, and there is no need to wait any longer) If you have an answer… send a signal!
That’s right, I am finally admitting to the world that I cannot take everything with me when we move. So, one of the wheels has to go, and since smaller is better for tiny little cabins in the woods living, I’m going to be taking the Joy, and selling the Ashford Traditional.
The Ashford Traditional was my first wheel, which I bought second hand, two years ago. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but I figure it is about 10 years old and was barely used. When I got it it needed a little refinishing, so I sanded it down and finished it with a natural beeswax polish and a little bit of mineral oil. It came with a single treadle and I modified it to be a double treadle (Ashford parts). Then, I ordered the Jumbo Flyer to go with it, for spinning art yarns and large skeins of yarn, but never got around to putting it on. I would be happy to finish it with the mineral oil, if you don’t want to buy it unfinished.
The wheel, then, comes with all of its original parts except the single treadle piece, plus the double treadle attachment (installed), a brand new Jumbo Flyer, 4 jumbo bobbins and 3 regular bobbins, one orifice hook and everything I have for a repair kit. I would like to get $550 for the whole package, or best offer.
If you look on any knitting forum, there are always a lot of questions oriented towards swatching and gauge. There are even knitters who refuse to swatch, claiming that they don’t work and that it’s not worth their time. In a certain way, this is true. After all, how can a teeny tiny swatch represent an entire garment, and be accurate? From my limited statistics experience, the number of complicated dependencies involved: needle (size, material, point(s), weight), yarn (breed of animal or type of material, weight, loft, halo), time (speed of knitting, time left sitting or hanging, amount of knitting experience), knitting technique (continental or english style, tension, mood of the knitter), pattern (stitch, comfort with pattern and when the knitter becomes such), washing, blocking make it darn near impossible!
But we do them anyway. In this post, I am going to start with the most basic of gauge swatches: swatching to match your ball band and then the more complicated pattern gauge swatch using a different yarn and different than the pattern calls for.
Before that though, let’s lay down a few Gauge Swatch Rules:
- For an accurate swatch, be consistent. Everything you do differently in your gauge swatch, from your garment, will be reflected and magnified in the actual piece. I cannot stress this enough.
- Change your needles and/or yarn, not yourself. Do not tell yourself that you should just knit a little looser or a little tighter for the project. You will naturally go back to your old way of knitting and render your swatch useless.
- Choose a needle point/type/brand/weight/material and stick with it through your entire project. If you are going to swatch for knitting in the round, swatch in the round. If you are going to knit in the round on dpns, stick with them, don’t switch to circs halfway through. If you are going to knit on bamboo, swatch on bamboo. Don’t even change between two brands of needles that are the same material. Everything that changes about the needle, changes the way you hold them and thus the way you knit. For an accurate gauge swatch, keep it as consistent as possible.
- Keep your technique the same. Knit as consistently as possible through the swatch and garment for your swatch to be accurate. This can’t be stressed enough.
- Treat your swatch as you would treat your garment. If you are going to wash and block your garment, wash and block your swatch exactly the way you would if you were washing your garment. Remember that laying flat to dry stops the garment from stretching from its own weight (something you can’t replicate in a gauge swatch)
- The best gauge swatch is your garment. The more like your garment your swatch is, the better your swatch accuracy. Make your swatch at least 5×5 inches, that way you have 4×4 inches to measure and stitches on either end to reorient yourself with your needles and yarn. You will become more comfortable and relaxed with your knitting (which changes the gauge swatch) the longer you knit, so the bigger the better.
- Swatch for every project, even if you have knitted with the yarn before. Unless of course you are knitting exactly the same gauge, on exactly the same needles, with the same care instructions for the garment.
BALL BAND GAUGE SWATCH
On the ball band, there are two things: the recommended needle size and the gauge.
- Needle size: first of all, this is an average needle size. Take it as a starting point if you don’t have very much experience knitting. When you get to know how you knit, you will know generally how much tighter or looser you usually knit. I tend to knit at least one full needle size looser than the recommended needle size, so in this case, they recommend a size 10 (american) or 6 mm needle. I would start with a 5 mm needle.
- Gauge: Often, the yarn producer will put the row and stitch gauge on the ballband, but in this case we just have the stitch gauge. This means that if I am knitting this yarn how it wants to be knitted (according to the yarn manufacturer) then I will be getting 3.5 stitches per inch.
Now for the swatch:
STEP 1: Start with the recommended needle size and cast on enough stitches to make one or two inches more than you need for your swatch. Knit about an inch or so.
STEP 2: Slide the work to the thinnest part of the needle and pin it down without stretching it. Measure and see if you are close to the stitch gauge you need (we’ll worry about row gauge later). Remember, knitting often stretches width wise, so if you have ever so slightly less stitches than you need, you can make up for it with blocking. If you are on gauge, go to step three, if not, rip back and try another needle size.
STEP 3: Knit up three inches to do a preliminary check for row gauge using 2 of the inches. Slide the work to the thinnest part of the needle and pin it down without stretching. Measure row gauge. If you are off, then rip back and try a different needle size. If you absolutely cannot get row gauge, it is easy to do some calculations for lengthening the garment. If you are on gauge, move on to step 4.
STEP 4: Knit up the rest of your gauge swatch. Bind off loosely. Write down exactly what your gauge, needles and yarn are on a piece of paper and put aside. Wash/block/dry the swatch as you would the garment.
STEP 5: Measure the gauge again. Sometimes the gauge will change due to the shrinking and fulling of the swatch. Check, does it match with your piece of paper? yes? Wahoo! Begin your garment. No? Repeat the above steps until you are spot on. Its worth it: if you are off by a quarter of a stitch every four inches in a 40 inch sweater, your garment could be INCHES bigger or larger than intended!
PATTERN GAUGE SWATCH
When knitting from a pattern that you didn’t design yourself, you have to match the gauge of the knitter who designed the pattern. In the materials list, the author will tell you what weight of yarn to use and which needle. The recommended gauge is listed and it is by achieving this gauge that you will end up with a similar product at the end of your labours.
The pattern that I am using is Vogue’s #22 Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre. The yarn weight recommended is Aran, and the needles, 4.5mm. All I had was some DK Weight Borroco Ultra Alpaca Light, so I decided to try it anyway. Since I was going down a yarn weight, I decided also to stick with the recommended needle size.
I followed the process outlined above, and found that my gauge was much looser than LaBarre’s, so I took the needle size down (a whole size in the end) and ended up with a fabric that reflected perfectly the recommended gauge.
This is why it is really important to swatch. All of the materials listed in the instructions of the pattern, whether it says so or not, are recommended. Use them as a starting point for your gauge and move toward a yarn and needle that allows you to achieve perfect gauge. I ended up with a yarn weight less and a whole needle size less than the pattern recommended and achieved gauge along with a beautiful fabric.