its about the process right?

or lesson one: the thing about gauge.

ive been knitting for a while now. given, i am self taught, but ive been to enough groups, hung around with enough people, sought enough advice, to have had some of the basics sink in. you would think. but apparently not. let me demonstrate.

here are the gauge swatches (or tension squares as us aussies sometimes call them) for the stonington shawl:

i knitted the first one on 4.5mm needles and got 21 stitches where i should have got 20. so then what did i do? i went DOWN a needle size. unsurprisingly, i ended up with 24 stitches to 10cm. i sat for a minute and scratched my head, and then realised what i had done. its funny though, this has been one of the hardest things for me to get my head around as a knitter, what happens if you use different needle sizes. i must have known this somewhere, but until i actually did it, knitted it, the lesson failed to sink in. it has now though: if you want LESS stitches use BIGGER needles. anyway, i like the 4.5mm fabric and so didnt bother with a swatch on 5mm. dont laugh at me either.

i then set off to do the mini-shawl swatch as EZ recommends. as usual her pithy directions werent entirely helpful, to those of us who are a little more literally minded, but i did manage to work most of it out. this is a good exercise for understanding how this shawl is constructed, and for showing me what i need to work on.

so the first part is the middle square, increased to 24 st and back down again, then you go along making these increased sides by picking up stitches and putting in yarn overs (thats not the technical direction, if you are going to knit this shawl for gods sake dont rely on me telling you how to do it!).  but there are a couple of issues here. the pattern doesnt really tell you WHERE to pick up stitches. it says ‘in the bumps’ and it tells you to make some as you go (so if you have 18 along the side you want to end up with 25). i dont think it matters too much so long as you end up with the desired amount of stitches, but i really didnt know where the bumps were, or how to make one when there were no actual stitches to make one into. it worked out ok, but it bothers me that i just had to make it up. there must be a proper way to do this.

the other issue is when you have done each side, you put the live stitches on waste yarn, so you can come back and knit them together with your lace border later. next time, i need to put each side on different coloured yarn, because this circle indicates a problem:

this is the point at which all your sides are joined together, and you are meant to cast on some new stitches for the border that you then knit sideways, knitting the last border stitch together with the side stitch (on waste yarn) every second row. the pattern doesnt say what side you are going to move down first, and so i think i messed it up because i was looking for the stitch on the blue yarn. hmmm. so thats one lesson learnt. the other lesson here is the type of cast on thats required. it suggests you use an invisible cast on. i had one cast on in my repertoire until recently, and i can now do a judys magic cast on, but this is completely unhelpful in this situation. i tried a backwards loop cast on and this could work, but i think its not ideal. so this means i do really need to get my head around an invisible cast on. i will be looking at youtube for help there, i need to see it being done, those drawings, as good as they are, just dont make any sense to me at all!

basically though, i understand whats going on with this shawl now. the mini-shawl swatch is a great idea, as i got a good sense of what i would need to do and what i need to work on and look out for. im not going to finish the border on it, getting this far tells me what i need to know. i just need to wind up more wool and then i can start.

but i am not going to do that until i have finished the TtHF featherweight. i have one and a tiny bit of sleeve to do. i started doing the cuff on the sleeve yesterday only to realise that garter stitch in the round is a pain in the, well you know what. first, its not really garter stitch, so it doesnt look right:

second, when youre using magic loop, the switching from knit to purl leaves an ugly gap in your join, and thirdly, if you are going to attempt garter stitch in the round, it helps to remember where your round starts. so this is going to get tinked back to the stocking stitch while i retreat and think about an alternative plan of attack.

overall, a weekend high on the Process side of things, and low on the Product. but thats a good thing, right?

k xx

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About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

17 responses to “its about the process right?

  • bellsknits

    ah yes, process, or what we call it when we stuff up a lot! he he

    you’re describing pretty much what i went through when I got Victorian Lace Today – all that stuffing around with cast ons – I wish I had thought to do a mini-shawl and tried the process out. I think it’s genius!

  • missfee

    wow – really interesting – can you bring this on Sat I would really like to look at how it really works – I am quite confused reading the instructions

  • jennifer

    When my daughter decided last year to knit, and to knit a pair of gloves for her first project (she likes to achieve), they had a garter stitch border, so I suggested she knit the cuff back and forth, then switch to circulars when she reached the stocking stitch. It just meant a short seam on each glove, and was easier for her. Would that work?

  • gidgetknits

    You’re so brave! I don’t think I’d have the patience… but I love following your process!

  • Rose Red

    I was going to suggest what Jen said for the garter edging – so snap! I did that for my Feb Lady Sweater and it worked a treat! I also left about an inch unseamed, so it formed a little v-notch at the bottom of the sleeve cuff – just because I thought it would look nice.

    Am loving learning from your lace experiences! Not that I’m an EZ expert, but it seems to me that her thing is that there is no “proper” way of doing most things, so whatever works for you and gives the desired effect is the right way.

  • 2paw

    I think you are doing a fine and thorough scientific investigation of your new project!! The whole bigger/smaller needles and stitch count is like dividing fractions: where you change the sign to multiplication and invert. For most people it’s easier to chant the rule because if they think about it, their heads explode(and yes, I mean MrsDrWho there!!)
    Oh almost a new cardigan too!!!!

  • justthreadtwiddling

    If you don’t like the look of the garter in the round you can knit those few rows back and forth. You would only have an inch or so to seam. I never seem to get that organised with the process. I’m impressed.

  • Sarah

    Your Shetland Project sounds so wonderful – I love that you bought a proper journal and are really slowing down and enjoying the process

  • GeekKnitter

    It took me several tries to figure out the bigger-needles-fewer-stitches bit too… glad I’m not alone!

  • Leonie

    Wow you have been busy, that’s a whole lot of thinking you’ve been doing. And knitting!

  • Ailsa

    i’m loving this process, and the journal is so great too!

    Have a look at this tutorial – for when you get to the end of the border and have to graft it together.
    http://fleeglesblog.blogspot.com/search?q=grafting+lace+border&max-results=20

    I highly recommend everything fleegle says about lace – she’s especially good with the little technical problems with technique when the pattern doesn’t specify. Which is often no accident – sometimes I think it is too hard so they just leave it out.

    I have had limited success doing grafting like this tutoria, but theoretically one should be able to. Your project is the perfect vehicle for this kind of experimentation and I can’t wait to see what’s next..

  • Anna

    I have a maths-y, logical (most of the time) type brain, and I still have trouble working out things like which way to go with needle size to get the right number of stitches. Definitely a creator of exploding brain syndrome!!

    That teeny tiny shawl is SUCH a good idea! I love how it means you can practice all the different techniques without stuffing up the actual piece! Do you plan to keep it together until you’ve got to the edge on your actual shawl? I think it would take me so long to get there that I’d need to practice the grafting bit again!

  • donna lee

    I’m one of the few people I know who is not an EZ fan. I am trying to appreciate her methods but I like being told how to do things. I am not an intuitive knitter.

    I would have totally used a smaller needle, too.

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