My arch nemesis returns…

Well, in light of the successful baby knitting, I decided that I would once again attempt the devious Mrs. Darcy. But this time, I come armed with a theory as to why it grew so large upon blocking it the last time.

While reading through some older entries of the Yarn Harlot’s blog, I discovered that she and a friend has run into a similar problem whilst knitting matching sweaters. They’d been knit to gauge and measure correctly when they were finished. Once they’d been blocked, however, she found that the sweaters had expanded to outrageous proportions.

‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. ‘That’s what happened to me!’

In the process of describing how she managed to save the sweaters in time (I think they were knitting his-and-hers sweaters for friends of theirs), she happened to mention that they were knitting with superwash wool.

‘Wait a minute!’ I cried. ‘That’s what I’m knitting with!’

So. My theory now is that it is neither my attempts at resizing the original pattern nor my knitting skills which are the problem here. My theory is that the problem lies with the yarn.

So. I did what all the books recommend that you do and which I obviously should have done in the first place and will now do every single time since I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, which is BLOCK YOUR GAUGE SWATCH!

I was so proud of myself for knitting up the gauge swatch (which tells you if your stitches are the same size as the one used for the pattern – basically, if your gauge is off, the size of your sweater will be off), but I thought ‘Block it (wash it, pin it out, and wait for it to dry)? Pppfff, no way – I want to make a sweater now!’

But look what happened!

It went from measuring 6 3/8″ x 4″ to measuring 6 11/16″ by 4 5/16″! Sure, it doesn’t sound like that big of a difference, but when you spread that growth over something that you think is, say 24″ wide, it ends up being…excuse me while I attempt to do the math here…a whole inch wider! And something 24″ long would end up being 25 3/4″ long!

But now that I know that my gauge is actually significantly larger than I originally thought, I should be able to adjust the pattern and change the number of stitches I do to hopefully get something that will look too small when I’m done, but end up being the correct size once it’s been blocked.



The baby knitting…

…she is finished!

First up is the sweater. It’s the Tomten sweater pattern from Elizabeth Zimmerman – I think everyone who knits makes this at some point and it really was very easy. It’s a good thing, though, that I had read a few accounts of other people who had made it and said ‘Just do what the instructions tell you to do, don’t try to figure out what you’re doing.’ because it was not until it all came together that it finally looked like a sweater. But it turned out pretty cute, I think. Again, I have no idea if the size is right for any sized child, but I’m hoping that it will fit the baby at some point… It was supposed to be all green, but I ended up not having enough, hence the stripey arms and hood.

And, of course, there is also a bunny. These are so easy to knit, but I always end up putting off finishing them because doing so requires the two things that I hate the most: embroidering on knitting and making pom-poms. Hate! The embroidery because it is hard, the pom-poms because it’s boring but takes a long time. I think this one’s face is not as cute as the one I made for Owen, but hopefully the baby won’t notice that her eyes are kind of lopsidey…and her chin is in the wrong place…

So that’s all the baby shower knitting (minus the blanket which was just ugly and not nice at all…nor was it finished) done! I just have to package it all up tomorrow and I’m all set for the shower on Thursday – yay!

You’re getting sleepy…

And I also like to knit a little something for the mom-to-be, too. I decided to splurge a little bit and knit the eyemask from Handknit Holidays which is made out of silk yarn. Wow! It’s gorgeous, with a lovely sheen to it and it’s very soft.

But it is a bitch to knit with.

And I’m not sure how well it’s going to hold up – it’s already started to sort of, well, not pill, but lose its stitch definition a bit. And all it’s done is sit in a tupperware container full of other yarn! I’ve seen patterns for camisole tops done in this yarn, but, considering how much a skein of it costs and how hard it is to keep nice (come on, it’s SILK!), I don’t really think¬†I’ll be using it for anything other than these eyemasks (one skein makes about three of them, so that’s two more to go – any takers?) ūüėČ

Anyway, this is how it turned out. It’s a little misshapen, but hopefully she’ll just be so glad to have a moment to herself for a quick, relaxing nap that she won’t notice it’s ever-so-slightly lopsided…

There is an amusing story which demonstrates my lack of knowledge re: quantities of things that goes along with this.

So what you do is, you knit up the eyemask flat, then use it as a pattern to cut out a muslin version of it which you sew shut, fill with flaxseed and lavender, and then sew inside the knitted cover. The directions call for a cup and a half of the flaxseed and a cup of the lavender (which was too much – I ended up opening it up again and emptying about a quarter to half of it out again, so it would lay nicely over the eyes).

I went online to order the flaxseed and lavender from a craft site I found. The trick was that I had to order by weight and I wasn’t sure how much a cup and a half of flaxseed or a cup of lavender weighed. Well, come on, is that something you know? If it is, I will happily bow to your mighty intellect. But I don’t. So I think I ended up ordering five pounds of the flaxseed (it was on sale!) and one of the lavender (it was more expensive than I expected, so I figured I could just alter the ratio of flaxseed to lavender if I needed to).

Then I noticed that on the lavender’s page it said that a pound of lavender usually contained approximately…wait for it…THIRTEEN CUPS of lavender.

Of course, now I was envisioning flaxseed in I Love Lucy proportions. I’d be forced to keep it in drawers, on shelves, under my bed, I’d have to sell my books to make¬†room for the flaxseed¬†– when I turned out my pockets to do laundry, I was sure I would be buried by the sheer volume of flaxseed I would find there! I pictured having to sneak it surreptitiously out of my apartment a la The Great Escape, so that one day someone would say ‘Hey, didn’t there used to be a parking lot here?’ And I’d have to innocently say ‘No, I’m sure it was always a giant pile of flaxseed and you just never noticed. Surely.’

Well, long story short, I needn’t have worried so. I do have a rather large bag of it, which should keep me in flaxseed for the rest of my life, but it is not the catastrophe I feared it might be… ūüėČ

p.s. – They’re baby booties. See how clever I am?

Arrrr, mateys! (Get it?)

Now, I know that lately the blog has been all Jasper Fforde, all the time, but I actually do have other interests, not just books. Does anyone still remember that I knit? Well, I do! And I have a finished project to show you!

This is more stuff for my friend at work and her baby (due in mid-December, if I remember correctly).

And one for perspective – they’re so tiny! I have no idea what size baby feet usually are, so these may end up just being cutesy decorations, but they’re still really cute!

It’s a pattern that I found on Brooklyn Tweed, but it came from Saartje Knits. (Cayt, you might recognise the yarn – they’re sort of an inverted version of the slippers I knit you for Christmas, I think.) And I still have leftovers, so if any more of you start having baby daughters, just let me know and I’ll knit up some more of these. They went really fast – I could probably have knocked out both of them in a Saturday or so. There are some flaws, but I don’t think they’re ones that anybody but me will see. At least I hope not…

Finally, some knitterly writings!

No, it’s not Mrs. Darcy – I’m still afraid to work on it, really – I’ve been burned twice already! (I sort of feel like I should clarify – the¬†knitter who designed it and wrote the pattern did a good job – it’s very clear and the first time, when I was actually following the pattern, it came out exactly as she said it would, but, as I am monster-sized, I’m having to try and muddle my way through altering the pattern which is what’s causing all the frustrations on my part. So my fault, not the pattern’s. Also maybe the yarn’s (superwash wool) fault based on something I just read in¬†Yarn Harlot’s¬†book. We’ll see.)

One of the girls at work is going to have a baby! Not ’til December, but I figured if I started now, I would be way ahead of the game… So. I am attempting to use up lots of my stash – especially the synthetics which I bought when I first started knitting, but now, having seen the light of natural fibers, are just taking up space under my bed.

First I made this:

which is actually made from really nice yarn that I’ve worked with before and had some leftovers. The pattern is from One Skein¬†and, although it was actually much easier than I’d anticipated, was not, in fact, made from one skein. More like two and a half. But that’s okay!

Now, on the synthetic side, I thought I’d get rid of a fairly sizable chunk by making a baby blanket. I’m hoping since it’s just a blanket and will probably just be folded up and draped over something, it won’t be so obvious that the yarn is not quite as nice as it maybe could be. Also, it’s still too early to know whether it’s a girl or a boy, so I’ve gone for the nice greens and yellows, which, incidently is exactly what the pattern¬† from Mason-Dixon’s book called for. Also, I figure, this way, if they have other children, they can use it for them no matter what. I mean, not that a boy can’t have a nice pink blanket or a girl can’t have a pretty blue one, but, you know…tradition!

The only drawback is that since it’s ALL garter stitch, it’s a wee tad on the boring side. But it also means I can watch tv without even thinking about it…although there’s not much good on tv at the moment, but still!

I’ve ordered some yarn (one because I didn’t have enough leftovers for the project and one because I’ve always wanted to work with it) to do two¬† more projects for her – that’s the only yarn I’m going to buy, everything else will be from my stash, so I’ll post those pictures once I’ve actually got the yarn.

New haircut; new knitting projects

I recently got a fabulous new haircut which I adore – I’m trying to post a piccie, but, alas, the technology, she is not cooperating.

Also, I’m very excited about my new knitting projects the Mrs. Darcy and Clessidra socks. Swatching tonight!

Also, I’m tres, tres behind on my book reviews of which I have several ready to post, but I keep putting it off. Although now that it’s warm in here (thanks more to Mother Nature than to any maintenance men), I don’t really have an excuse…

Also, I’m so, so antsy to start writing again – the mulling stage really can’t last much longer, can it? *le sigh*