Saturday, December 01, 2007

We have the technology

My husband is knitting his first pair of socks. It's going quite well.

But for some reason, he decided to cast on for sock #2 before finishing sock #1. (Actually, I do know the reason - it's two-fold. Firstly, he wanted to avoid the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome that he's heard all too much about; and secondly, he had already forgotten how to do the long-tail cast-on and wanted a refresher.) So he dipped into my (rather substantial) collection of 2.75mm DPNs to cast on with.

However, he was really unsure about the gauge of them. Some of them fit very well into the 2.75mm hole of my needle gauge, others were a bit tight for it, and some rattled around in it. All of them, however, refused to fit in the next size down on the gauge. He was forced to conclude two things: a) that the gauge itself was imprecise; and b) different manufacturers make different widths of needles but label them the same. These conclusions were even more obvious to him when he succeeded in forcing some of my 3mm DPNs through the 2.75mm hole in the needle gauge.

(Those of us who have been around knitting needles and gauges for a while will probably react to my husband's discoveries with the phrase, "Well, duh," but it was quite an unpleasant surprise for him.)

So, what does he do to get more accurate readings of the sizes of my needles? Well, he goes down to his workshop (he's a custom golf club fitter and maker) and brings up this handy piece of gadgetry that he's owned for I don't know how long:

That, my friends, is a freakin' electronic caliper. It measures, to one one-hundredth of a millimetre, how wide something is. Can you imagine? Something that devastatingly useful to a knitter and he's been holding out on me all this time?!?

When he realised how excited I was about this tool, he got very glum. He knew this meant it would probably start living in the workroom with all my knitting stuff instead of down in his workshop where it belongs. So far, he's been right.

Self-pattern socks #whatever for DH
Once I realised I could use DH's electronic caliper tool to measure knitting needle diameters, I went on the hunt for a DPN in my collection which would match the one I was using for these socks, which I broke.

Sadly, no dice. The needles I was using all measure about 2.53mm, and the closest thing I have measures 2.61mm (2.59mm if I really squeeze the caliper). If I were knitting plain socks, I would just use the 2.61mm as a replacement and keep going on the sock. However, since this is self-patterning, the small difference in needle width is probably going to result in fraternal socks.


So, I'm going to rip all of sock #1 out and restart with needles which are all the same size.

(It's not that bad. I really like the colourway and don't think I'll mind working it all over again.)

'Honey, I lost my hat' Hat
Somewhere in the last week or so, DH misplaced his hat. He has no idea where it is. (The same goes for his reading glasses, about which I am even less thrilled, since they are rather more expensive to replace.) So I measured his head (23"), grabbed some black Red Heart Comfort (100% acrylic, thick worsted weight) from the stash and some 4.5mm DPNs, swatched, and whipped up a hat.

The pattern was devastatingly simple. I cast on 100 stitches and worked K1, P1 rib for 24 rows. Then I started stocking stitch, increasing into every 10th stitch on the first knit round so I was doing stocking stitch with 110 stitches. I knit until I figured it was a good time to start the decreasing (although in hindsight I should have worked about an inch more in stocking stitch). The decreasing went as follows:

Row 1: *K8, K2tog, repeat from * to end.
Row 2 and every even row: K.
Row 3: *K7, K2tog, repeat from * to end.
Row 5: *K6, K2tog, repeat from * to end.

I continued decreasing in this pattern until I was doing K2tog across the entire row. Then I knit another row plain, at which point I had 11 stitches. The final row was: K1, (K2tog) 5 times. Then I cut the yarn, drew the tail through the remaining 6 stitches, wove in the ends, and - tadah! - DH had a hat after a few hours of work. Easy as pie. Happy and grateful husband.

(He rather foolishly, however, semi-complained about the blackness and worsted weightness of the yarn. I think, when I said I would knit him a replacement hat, he had envisioned something kinda fancy. Right. Christmas is coming up, he loses his hat, I manage to fit knitting a replacement in, and he wants fancy?!? I effectively told him to shut it and stop complaining about the free hat. :) If he wants a 'fancy' one, I'll make him one in the new year.)

Elizabethan Jacket for MIL
Hey, guess what? (Tumblina,'re probably about to get hit in the heart yet again. Sorry to kick you like this when you're in the middle of vest purgatory.) I sewed in the sleeves:

Once again, I sing the praises of using binder clips for 'basting' your knitting garments together. They're the poor knitter's Knit Klips (children's hairclips would probably also work well in a pinch). They make sewing things in, especially really pain-in-the-ass stuff like set-in-sleeves, VASTLY easier.

Once the sleeves were sewn in, I was faced with a truly frightening number of ends:

This picture does not convey how bad it was. There were a lot of ends. It took a looong time to get rid of them all.

And then there were the steeks to lash into place. That was also a helluva job. There were ten of them, and of course every time I started a new length of yarn with the sewing of them, I had to weave in each end of that length. Blech. But, it got done:

Oh, and did I mention the buttons? Yeah, there were fourteen of the friggin' things:

So hey, guess what?



Interior (for you finishing freaks)

I love, love, LOVE it.

Larry's Cabled Cashmere Pullover for DH
I have two completed sleeves! Plus, the shoulder seams have been sewn, and at the moment I am working on the neck ridge. I'm using the last bits of the lighter dark blue for this, and unfortunately am running out fast. There's no way I'm going to have enough to do all 1.5" that the ridge needs. Fortunately, the ridge is formed by folding over that 1.5", so that only the first 0.75" or so that gets knitted is actually visible, and I think I miiiiight have enough of the lighter dark blue to do that. (After which I'm planning to switch to the darker dark blue.) I could be wrong, though...stay tuned.

Inside-out comfort socks for BIL#1
Done! Finished last Sunday:


The J said...

Le Sigh. That's one GORGEOUS jacket!

All is well though - the vest pergatory ended last night ;). Of course now I'm crocheting the slippers I needed out of the same yarn (twisty, scratchy, ichy stuff!!)... Hopefully soon I can buy *real yarn* to make FIL's cardigan!


Em said...

That jacket is absolutely stunning!! I so very much want to knit that someday.

On an amusing note, I saw your "Lost my hat" pattern on Ravelry before I'd even read your post! (I'd be saying he won't get a fancy one until he can prove he won't just lose it, but that would be mean.)

Lisa said...

Holy cow! Your sweater is as gorgeous inside as out. That is one masterful finishing job.

Binder clips as finishing tools, what a fabulous idea!

Carrie K said...

OMG! You finished it! It looks fabulous. Inside and out.

That tool sounds great, but at this point, I like being able to blame my uneven gauge on uneven needles.

Brigitte said...


Your Jacket is BEAUTIFUL!!! Makes me want to ditch everything and start mine RIGHT NOW.

Congrats on a beautiful job!

CraftyDiversions said...

WOW. The Elizabethan jacket looks fantastic!