Tuesday, 4 October 2011

New beginnings and new lessons

Given what a grubby disaster last week's effort was, I was really heartened by all the people who read and commented, thank you so much all of you.  It was lovely to read all your comments, including the ones on twitter and facebook.  Even one of the tutors from the course I am going on in two weeks reads my blog - wow!  Despite your encouragement, sadly the one thing I cannot do is up-cycle it in some way.  Neither use it for a cushion cover (well not one that I would display proudly) nor unravel it and make something else.   Because although it did not felt, it did mat and shrink and the colours ran to variable tones of sludge.  Currently it is chucked under my desk, perhaps I can use it for a foot warmer as the weather gets cooler!

It was Sarah who got it quite right, you cannot felt wool described as super wash.  Obvious really.  And Jenny at knitting group reminded me of the perennial must - 'you have to make a test swatch'. So I have now, just a tad late I admit.  I don't really have time to do more experimental stuff, I must get on with making Christmas presents, but I just wanted to have one more go.  In my original effort I used some left over alpaca for the top row of crochet - it was the only bit that felted, giving the bag a slightly drawstrung effect.  So rummaging through my stash I came across three more balls and made this, 14 cm square.

I started gently this time at 30deg with woolite

 Not there yet so back in at 40deg and a big towel to give it the required bashing

Done - to 9cm- and a mental note that if I buy say three more balls I can have another go at the bag once I have some time.

Now, to Christmas presents!  

It's a little tricky to blog about this because some projects may be destined for friends and family who might just read about their presents first here and that just will not do.  I am a stickler about presents being surprises.  But I am quite safe with my father's sweater, he's 85 and never owned a computer in his life!  

One of the regular readers of this blog and someone who occasionally e mails me to ask a question asked last week about knitting a baby cardigan from one of the books by Elizabeth Zimmerman. This sent me flying to my introductory book by EZ - Knitting Without Tears and I realised perhaps I could answer Caroline's question, make my father one of the seamless sweaters in the book and blog along the way.  

Caroline's question was to do with sizing.  She said that the only information E Z gives is '5 stitches to an inch' and, as she said, how does that translate to all the various sizes a baby can be?  

Elizabeth Zimmermann, is a huge inspiration and practically the Empress of knitting.  I think what I love most about her writing is the joy she can project, even in her chapter on washing your knits.  But one thing that is said about her that is so true is that her patterns contain not so much instructions as suggestions.  At first it appears she is not very precise in her suggestions but once you get into her way of thinking the results can be brilliant.

5 stitches to 1" is about tension (or gauge as EZ calls it) not sizing but it is where everything about the correct fit begins.  So here is what E Z says about 5 stitches to an inch and what I did

          What E Z says
         What I did

  • [No instructions as to what weight of wool given] If the directions specify a gauge of 5 stitches to one inch, take any size 16" circular needle from 3.5mm – 5mm and cast on about 90 stitches, work 3-4 rows in pattern
  • I am knitting with Sirdar Balmoral (DK in wool, alpaca, silk mix).  Using a pair of size 4.5mm needles I cast on 22 stitches and knit 28 rows.  This is what the ball band said I would need to do to knit a 10 cm (4”) square

  • Take out the needle and lay the work flat
  • I cast off loosely. 

  • With a ruler measure off 3” in the centre of the knitted fabric and place two pins exactly 3” apart
  • I pinned the square out on a flat cushion being very careful not to stretch the work and keep the sides and top and bottom square

  • Count the exact number of stitches in between the two pins.  Do not neglect to count half stitches or even one-third stitches, if there are any
  • I placed a ruler over the whole square, it was 2 stitches more than 4”.

  • Divide the number of stitches by 3,     15 sts will give 5sts to the 1”

  • I have 20 stitches in 4” - so 5 stitches to the inch

  • Keep changing needle size until you achieve the correct gauge
  • yes!

I didn't exactly follow the E Z suggestions mainly because I was too impatient to cast on 90 stitches but I did follow in spirit, knitting  loosely and counting carefully and precisely.

That's gauge (tension), next week I will work out how many stitches I need to begin with, cast on the body and begin knitting.



Caroline said...

Ooh. Lots of help here, thank you! I shall get on to that soon. A friend of mine also recently told me that there is a ravelry group specifically set up for the EZ February sweater, so when I get round to it (Christmas presents also needing making) I shall join that and glean slome more information from there. Thanks for the helpful post, and so sorry about your felting disaster. I ironed one of my first ever projects... On a low setting, but it squashed the knitting considerably! Cx

fingersandtoes said...

I made my Dad a jumper (well, jacket) last Christmas!

If it looks a bit big it's because I made it exactly to the measurements Mum told me... She also didn't tell me he already has one exactly that colour. Anyway Dad loves it. I made it with New Lanark wool and it only cost me £30!