Friday, January 29, 2010

Gauge: the silent killer

When I started knitting the person who taught me neglected to inform me about gauge. In fact the only mention of it I can remember is when she said "Don't worry about gauge, once you figure out the stitches, then you can worry about gauge."

So on I went, knitting with no knowledge or worries of gauge and all that it involves.  I knit a couple scarves and basked in the glory of my tiny knitted accomplishments. Then I came to my first offical patterned project. I went to my favourite knitting store and while I was picking out yarn to perfectly match the Gryffindor house colours the shopkeeper asked if she could help. I told her I was matching colours for a Harry Potter scarf, and she asked, "Well what is the gauge for the pattern?" I stared at her blankly. I had forgotton all about that strange word, and had no idea how it was relevant to me picking out my yarn. The shopkeeper then scared me straight about gauge. Although I didn't understand most of what she was saying, I walked away from the store with the ulitmate fear that if I didn't have exact gauge none of my knitting would work. Gauge was the most important thing about knitting and I was a crazy for knitting 3 scarves without knowing that. If your needles didn't match the gauge on your yarn, it wouldn't look good, if your yarn and needles didn't match the gauge to your pattern, well it would all end horribly wrong.

Thus, despite continual mocking from my best friend (who almost completely ignores gauge despite my adament warnings) I became a little intense about gauge. Everything I knit, gauge was on my mind. I didn't understand it, but I knew if I ignored it nothing would work.

Time passed, I knit a bunch more projects and became more confident in my knitting abilities. I thought as long as my needles and my yarn matched all would look ok, and so it did, while I knit scarves a purse, a monster etc. Then I did two projects where my gauge matched perfectly to the pattern and my projects ended up horribly wrong. So SMALL! I knit some 'baby booties' that would maybe fit a small doll, possibly a tiny kitten. It was then I lost my faith in gauge.

Well if gauge wouldn't work, I'd make it work. I would even be so bold to say that I was above gauge. I would not let gauge rule my life. I would rule it! Consequently, I started fiddling with gauge. I began knitting this brimmed toque, completely off gauge. My yarn and needles matched, but the pattern called for gauge of size 6mm and I was using 4.5mm. I accounted for the size difference by adding stitches and rows to the pattern. I knit forth secure in the knowledge that I was the gauge master. Master of the gauge. I would not let a pattern tell me what size of needles to use!

Wrong..... wrong....wrong.....horribly wrong! While I rightly added the stitiches to keep it looking consistent and to the proper size I required. I did not account for the cabling factor, that since I was using smaller needles the cabling would look smaller. Fiddlesticks.

 A light bulb has turned on people. I am now hours into my toque and fairly sure if I could go back in time to when the shopkeeper was trying to explain to me the importance of gauge I would fully understand her meaning. My toque looks ok, but not as good as the picture, not as good as if I had followed the proper gauge.

 I surrender. The battle is won and I have lost.

Do you remember cartoons from the good old days?  You would watch a full episode that taught a great moral lesson and at the very end, in case you were too slow to catch it, they went over it again with the main character talking to you saying 'the moral of the story is...'   in respect of that time-honoured tradition I will wrap my blog post up the same way.

Remember kids, if you don't understand something do not be afraid to ask your parents, teachers, friends or knitting store employees for help. The moral of this story is "You don't mess with gauge, or gauge will mess with you."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

M is for Monster

This past christmas I had big plans. Unique one of a kind personally knitted gifts was all I was going to give. I prepared extensively for my favourite yarn store's big sale. The store is amazing, but they only have two sales a year, and it is not a sale you take lightly. It requires much planning and organization, including multiple lists of planned projects, yarn required, colours wanted and needles needed. Then I usually look up a few projects I might want to try and figure the type of yarn I would need, in case there are some random impressive deals. Needless to say this November I stocked up heavily in preparation for my wondrous christmas gift giving plans.

I came home filled with the thrill of anticipation. I was most excited to make a monster head toque for one of my nephews, so I started with that. A simple toque knit in the round, with little teeth added on along the front side, googly eyes and ear flaps. (I love ear flaps)

A funny thing happened next, december hit and all of the sudden I was really busy.  Shocking, I know. Slowly my calendar started filling up with all sorts of random holiday festivities and before I knew it there were two weeks until christmas and I was being offered a 8-week full time job that I could not turn down.

The cutbacks began. Each project slowly dying off until all I was left with was the Monster toque.

That I could finish... and I did... and it was adorable!  

Lesson learned.

What am I knitting right now you ask?

A brimmed toque,....that I plan to give as a christmas present.....11 months from now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Knitting Bliss

Is there anything better than cozying up into your cushy couch on a cold rainy night with some knitting needles, your latest project and a good movie?

Well, I'm sure there are a few things, but tonight I can't think of any.

I have been working lately. By working, I mean really working, like paying full-time job working. It's been an adjustment, I have discovered a profound admiration for all working mothers. I always thought they were amazing, but now... They are saints! Super-moms! I come home after working all day to a messy house and a hungry family. The laundry keeps piling up and if it wasn't for my husband we wouldn't have a clean dish in the house. How do they do it? Seriously!?

*Sigh* enter knitting.

With each knit, each purl, the stresses and worries slowly melt away until it's just me, my knitting needles and currently the movie "A Walk to Remember".

Utter bliss.