On The Unfortunate Demise Of A Series

I don’t presume that there are such things as Regular Readers on this blog. My stats keep me from that delusion. However, just in case some people one day wonder about the abrupt end of the “Adapting a pattern for a thinner yarn” series, here is a word of explanation.

First, let me proudly say that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my reasoning. I had done my

The swatch did look promising...

The swatch did look promising…

math better than I expected. The yoke worked, the body seemed to be the right side, but the more I knitted on it, the less I liked it. I blame it on the stripes, because as pretty as the two yarns looked side by side on the swatch, on a full-sized sweater it was quite different. The variegated yarn pooled, and I don’t really like pooling unless it’s on purpose. Then I tried it on, and those particular stripes were not at all becoming (and even less slimming) on a real bust. Not at all.

So I frogged the whole thing.

What did I do with the yarn ?

First, I used the variegated sock yarn to play around a bit with planned pooling, trying to get an argyle pattern.

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Pretty argyle…

 And it worked too, and I got all excited about it and began to have big dreams about an argyle stole when I realized there was no way the ball I had would be enough for a place mat, let alone a stole. This was an interesting experiment though, and I fully intend to make it a full-scale project (a stole, or maybe a baby blanket) one day. But when I do, I’ll buy yarn specifically for it, and try to make sure that I have enough.

The argyle experiment met the same fate as its unfortunate predecessor and headed for the frog pond.

The blue angora, wound up into a ball again, was waiting for the right idea to emerge in my brain.

Stripes !!

Stripes !!

A few days later, I accidentally ran into three balls of Rico Superba Poems, in the colourway Granit, sold for a really ridiculous price. I bought them, intending to turn them into socks, went home, and put the balls next to the blue angora. I looked at them, pretty things sitting side by side, and had a revelation. These two yarns were meant for each other. I went on Ravelry and chose a pattern I had been wanting to knit for some time : Mon petit gilet rayé (Ravelry link). This is knitting up like a dream. I’m making it at a slightly wider gauge than I would usually do for this yarn weight, and though I’m a bit concerned about the durability of such a fabric, it does feel wonderful — feather-light, airy, and soft. And there is something about knitting stripes with a gradient yarn and a solid one which is absolutelyIMGP6445 mesmerizing. This cardigan almost seems to knit itself on its own. The body is already finished.

On a side note, I’ve noticed that everything I’ve knit for myself in the past few years was slightly too big (body image, anyone ?). So I decided to try and knit something which would actually be the right size. The pattern says it’s for a size M, which I am. I wanted to be on the safe side, so I casted on the right number of stitches on 4mm needles instead of 3,5mm ones. I’ve tried the thing on, and it does fit, sort of. Except it’s so tight I look as if I had stolen the clothes of a 5-year-old. (Hm. Maybe that’s why the pattern notes state that it is a “very fitted cardi”. It turns out that, as much as I love this pattern and how the cardigan is turning out, “very fitted” is not my idea of “pretty”. I’d be happier with simply “fitted”.) I don’t want to rip it and try once again from the beginning, so I’m just going to play with the width of the buttonband to make it an acceptable fit.

IMGP6392And what happened to the variegated sock yarn ? Well, it is finally becoming — guess what — a pair of socks. Using sock yarn to actually knit socks — shocking, I know.

The pattern is Aquaphobia, a slipped stitch pattern which avoids pooling, and it is turning into a very nice sock indeed. I’m already anxious to have that pair finished and on my feet !

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Adapting a Pattern For a Thinner Yarn : 2. Converting The Numbers (Which May Include Lace)

This post is part of a series which will be written as I’m knitting a project in a much thinner yarn than is used by the original pattern. It’s primarily intended as a guide to myself for further reference and, if needed, so that I can pin down what went wrong.

In the last post of this series, I established my working gauge for this project. I’ll now try and convert the numbers given by the pattern in order to adapt them to my gauge.

Truth be told, I sometimes wonder why I chose a craft involving so much calculations when I used to hate algebra in high school. Anyway, there’s no escaping it : let’s do some math !

I have a gauge of 3 stitches and 4 rows per centimeter, which means it should be 30 stitches and 40 rows per 10 centimeters (or 4 inches). The pattern calls for (gasp) 17 stitches and 22 rows per 10 centimeters/4 inches. That’s almost (but not quite, that would be too easy) half my numbers. It means that to get the correct numbers of stitches for my yarn, I have to multiply the given stitch numbers by, roughly, 1,75 (figure obtained by dividing gauge stitch/10cm number, here 30, by pattern stitch/10cm number, here 17) and the given row numbers by, roughly, 1,8 (again, figure obtained by dividing gauge row/10cm number, here 40, by pattern row/10cm number, here 22).

I’m planning on knitting the pattern’s size L, so, for example, that’s how it goes :

The instructions say to begin with yoke by casting on 58 stitches. I’ll cast on 58 x 1,75 = 101 stitches (the result actually is 101,5 stitches but I’ll choose to go with the smaller figure every time because the design already has a lot of positive ease). Given the nature of the yoke (raised by short-rows in the back and featuring seven repeats of a lace pattern), the next thing I’ll need to to before going further is to figure out how to treat the lace, or more exactly, how many stitches will be needed at the beginning of the lace pattern to achieve a similar shape and size. I’ll also need to figure out how I’m going to work the yoke increases.

That means not only more calculations, but also, unavoidably, some charting and some more swatching to see how it works (due to scarcity of yarn, I totally plan on not blocking that swatch and on unraveling it as soon as it has fulfilled its purpose).

So, as one can see here, the lace pattern for size L begins with 9 stitches. For me, that would be 9 x 1,75 = 15,75. I’ll go with 15 stitches as this needs to be an uneven number. There are two stitches on each side of the “stem” of the leaf. 2 x 1,75 = 3,5. I’ll make that 4,  so as to have an even number of stitches which will make it easier to add increases after a bit. 4 + 4 = 8 ; 7 stitches remain for the leaf. That’s how I’ll start. (Phew !)

There are 7 lace repeats. 7 x 15 = 105. This means I’ll had to increase 4 stitches at the bottom of the collar to fit the 7 repeats in.

Now, the original lace pattern begins with increasing 9 times, every second row, by adding yarn overs on each side of the central stitch (the “stem”). To achieve the same width, I’ll need to increase 9 x 1,75 = 15,75 times. Let’s say 15 (because, again, that design has lots of positive ease). These increases will be made over 17 x 1,8 = 30,6 rows. I’ll make that 29 (so that I can increase every second row) and keep in mind that I might want to add one or two more row(s) at the bottom of the yoke.

Then, the tip of the leaf is shaped by decreasing 10 times over 19 rows. For me, that will be 16 decreases, every second row, over 31 rows. At the same time as the tip decreases, the yoke width actually increases. The pattern does that by adding 2 times one increase, then 5 times 2 increases, unevenly spaced (of course). I will instead increase 1 stitch 4 times every 4th row, then 2 stitches 9 times (5 times every 4th row, 4 times every 6th row).

Now I need to swatch and check it works — that is, wether the leaves keep the right shape and size, and wether the yoke will be wide and long enough (I’m expecting some differences lengthwise because I simply replicated the number of rows between increases of the original pattern instead of calculating new ones ; as I’m rather short, I’m hoping the yoke will fit this way. If not, I’ll have to space the increases differently).

IMGP5907

Here’s the swatch, roughly pinned for photo purposes. It helped me determine two things : 1. the measurements seem to match those indicated by the pattern ; 2. I won’t be knitting the yoke with the variegated, but with the solid yarn, and simply stripe the main body and sleeves.

I haven’t worked out yet how to knit the short rows used to raise the back of the neck. That’s because it’s one of the things I do better with yarn and needles in hand.

So, the next step will be to actually cast on that tunic !

Adapting a Pattern For a Thinner Yarn : 1. The Gauge

This post is part of a series which will be written as I’m knitting a project in a much thinner yarn than is used by the original pattern. It’s primarily intended as a guide to myself for further reference and, if needed, so that I can pin down what went wrong.

Preamble : The Curse

I’m the repeated victim of a Curse. I call it the “Pattern Curse”. Invariably, the story begins the same way : I see a pattern on Ravelry, and it’s love at first sight. It’s such a pretty thing that I need to knit it. I think about it. I sometimes dream about it. I order yarn for it. After a few days’ wait, I find the yarn in my mailbox. I anxiously open the package, and there it is, in all its glory, its softness and its lovely shades. And it usually is at this point that the curse strikes, taking the form of a perverse revelation : the pattern I had fallen in love with, I so desperately wanted to knit, the pattern for which I had ordered the yarn — this very pattern is clearly not good enough for such loveliness.

Some three weeks ago, I fell in love with a wonderful pattern — Veera Välimäki’s Laneway.  As my birthday was getting close, my husband ordered the yarn for me as a present. I chose two different yarns I wanted to try : one was Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in “Rockwell”, the other Isager Alpaca in pale blue, two fingering weight yarns.

Softness and beauty — Lorna's Laces on the left, Isager on the right

Softness and beauty — Lorna’s Laces on the left, Isager on the right

I was completely delighted by how they felt and looked when they arrived. And, of course, the Curse hit. All of a sudden, Laneway didn’t feel right. Would it really do justice to these glorious colours ? Was I sure I would wear it — after all, this wasn’t the type of clothes I usually wear, was it ? Before I knew it, I was searching Ravelry’s database, looking for that perfect pattern which would make my new yarn shine and sing. I was sure of two things : 1. I wanted it to be long, like a tunic or a mini-dress, and look nice over trousers ; 2. I wanted it to have some stripes.

This is what I settled for : a Drops design poetically called 151-6. (To be fair, its actual name seems to be Orchid Bloom, which is a bit of a mystery since I spot some fairly big leaves, but nothing looking like any kind of flower.)

6-2_medium2

Notice how I swapped a perfect pattern for a — sorry, Drops — rather dull one. That’s typical of me. But then, I wonder if that’s not what I like in this pattern : it seems to have lots of unexploited potential, like a blank canvas waiting to be transcended by colour and texture. Laneway, on the other hand, is a design with lots of personality, maybe too much and too different from mine.

As you can see, this Orchid Bloom sure is long, but it has no stripes — and, more importantly, it is written for a much thicker yarn than fingering weight.

I did not allow such trifles to deter me from my aim, though. I made a sketch of what I had in mind, colour-wise :

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As I said, it is only a sketch (and a not very good one), but it shows I’m planning to knit the yoke and the bottom lace edging with the darker, variegated yarn, the rest in blue, and to add some Stripes above the lace edging and the sleeve cuffs. I’ll also probably make the body a bit shorter, but, if I have enough yarn, make the sleeves long instead of three-quarters length. So far, so good.

Serious Matters Begin Here

Now when I begin a new project, I usually (let’s say two times out of three) knit a swatch to check my gauge. This, of course, is to ensure I get the right number of stitches and rows per inch (or per centimeter) so that the garment won’t be unwearable because it’s too tight or too large (if I don’t get the stitch number right), or because the raglan yoke, for example, is too short or too long (if I don’t get the row number right). Here, since I plan on using a yarn of a different weight, the good news is that I don’t need to match the pattern’s gauge. I do need to do two other things though :

  • first, ensuring I’m using the right needle size for those yarns, that is, that I’m happy with how the fabric looks once it’s washed and blocked ;
  • second, establishing the new stitch and row numbers, so that I can do my math and convert the numbers given by the patterns into the right numbers for my yarn.

That sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it ? Don’t worry, that won’t last. I spoilt everything by running the risk of knitting really tiny swatches, and thus of getting not quite accurate results, just because I don’t think I have too much yarn for this project. And besides, being thrifty with one’s yarn is a good thing, right ? So here are my swatches, or rather my two swatches in one, each presenting the grand number of (ahem) 15 stitches over 15 rows and knitted with 3mm needles. 

Colours here are fairly accurate.

Colours here are fairly accurate.

After careful measuring, both yarns gave the same results of 3 stitches and 4 rows per centimeter (that would be 7.5 stitches and 10 rows per inch). There is a noticeable difference in texture, though ; the alpaca is more stretchy than the sock yarn. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

So, I now have my gauge. Next step will be adapting the numbers given by the Drops pattern so that they work with it.