Tag Archive | bonny knits

Adventures in Gauge

Gauge is dumb. Okay, no, I know it’s not. I know it’s very important for some things. For things where fit is critical, making sure your gauge matches the pattern is kind of a big deal. Because my brain struggles to understand gauge (do I go up a needle size or down? If I’m off by one stitch, do I need to adjust my stitch count? Will it be bigger or smaller?) I typically avoid projects where matching gauge is critical. Hats? They’ll fit somebody. Cowls, scarves, shawls…those are forgiving projects, and as long as you like the drape of the fabric you’re making, you’re fine.

EXCEPT. If your gauge is off, you will use a different amount of yarn than the designer. Sometimes it’s not enough to matter, and sometimes you have plenty of yarn so maybe you don’t notice. And then sometimes, you don’t. And that sucks. I’ve always been fine not worrying about gauge. The times I did check it, 99% of the time my gauge matched the designer’s with the recommended needles and yarn weight. But lately, I’ve had problems with several projects and I think gauge is to blame. Remember my Black Diamond cowl? How I ran out of the Anzula even though I should have had plenty? I’m guessing that was a gauge issue.

Now, I’ve got my Hitchhiker Beyond on the needles, and the pattern calls for 350-383 yards, and I figured my 420 yards of Malabrigo Mechita would be more than enough. I used the recommended needle size and happily knit away. Then I got about six inches from the end and ran out of yarn.

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What the heck? I checked my gauge and instead of the recommended 22 st/4″, I have 25! This is where I struggle with gauge, because even though I know I should have gone up at least one needle size, I don’t really understand why this used up my yarn faster. But clearly, it did. So now I’m stuck with a few options that all kind of suck: frog and reknit, bind off with a stupid blunt edge, or buy another $20 skein of yarn. Because I am too lazy to frog and reknit like my garter stitch dense and squishy, I’m going to buy more yarn to finish on these needles.

Learning about my gauge is important, because I’m still committed to making my first cardigan. I ordered some black Irish wool and had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge, and I was mildly panicked to think that my gauge had loosened up that much and it would affect every project I would ever do in the future. (I know, it’s really not a big deal, but I got really spoiled getting gauge easily in the past.) Now I know that’s not the case, partly because with the Malabrigo fingering, I was knitting more tightly. But I also know because I did another swatch for my cardigan today.

You see, even though I matched gauge over a week ago, I still haven’t cast on for the cardigan. I kept telling myself it was because I didn’t have the time to focus on it. Finally I realized I was putting it off because I didn’t like knitting with the yarn, especially on the size 6 needles. The yarn is so rough and scratchy, and I can’t imagine knitting with it long enough to make a whole sweater. If I’m going to commit to something like a sweater, it’s only going to happen if the knitting is pleasurable. So, with relief, I gave up on the scratchy Irish wool. At some point I will use bigger needles and make some felted totes or something, so it won’t go to waste.

In the meantime, I picked some purple cotton out of my stash for my Harvest Attempt #2. I have six skeins, the result of a failed cardigan attempt a couple of years ago. It’s not enough yarn; I’ll have to buy more eventually. But it’s enough to get a really good start. Thinking I probably do knit looser than I used to, I started with size 7 (instead of the recommended 8s) and made a small swatch: 20 stitches/4″ instead of 18. Made another one with 8s and this time I got 17 stitches. That’s pretty darn close, and I’m going to stick with it.

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So, FINE. I give in. You swatchers win this round: I concede that doing swatches is important. BUT: I’m still only going to do it for garments and when I have a limited amount of expensive yarn and I’m not sure I have enough. (And honestly, in those instances, I’ll probably just start knitting the project and check my gauge partway in. That’s gonna have to be close enough sometimes.)

What about you? Do you always check gauge? Never?

One Done, Two Begun

Here, let me show you something I finished! I actually finished it a few days ago but was slow getting around to taking a halfway decent photo.

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This is my Quickie Scowl. I used Classic Elite Chalet and Chateau, two skeins of teal and one of light gray, and that wasn’t enough. It’s shorter than I wanted. I blame it on needle size. The pattern calls for 10 1/2; when I made it the first time, I used 10s (no idea why), and this time I chose 10.75 because I wanted to use my fun Marblez needles and I thought the size would be close enough. And I do love the loose drape and the nice big yarnovers, but of course it’s wider than my first scarf, so with the same amount of yarn, it’s also shorter. I thought about sewing the ends together for a cowl which would be long enough to double, but I asked my daughter and she voted for a scarf, so a scarf it stayed. And it is a cozy, warm, close-fitting scarf indeed!

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I did start two new projects yesterday, the ones calling my name, and boy are they fun! First I cast on for the Miss Winkle with my hot pink Frolicking Feet. It’s a Martina Behm pattern so there’s plenty of squishy garter stitch but also this nifty looped edge that is super addictive.

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It’s also super hard to photograph! It was a little tricky to figure out, and I’m pretty sure I did the first one wrong, but eh, it’s a design feature, right? At first I thought I’d get annoyed by the fiddly nature of it, but it turns out I’m loving knitting this and want to keep going just to make more loops!

My second cast-on was the Gothic Lace cowl in MadTosh Vintage and that’s a delightful knit too. The yarn is thick and squishy and slides just right on my bamboo needles and the lace makes me think without being too complicated, and bonus: when it’s done I’ll get to pick out buttons to add!

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And thankfully, the rest of my weekend is pretty empty, so I should get to work on these quite a bit. But once I get started on the margaritas tonight, I’ll probably switch back to the simple Hill & Dale cowl.

I think that’s a wrap for my 2016 blogging. See you on the flip side, and here’s wishing you all a happy, safe New Year’s Eve!

I’m still here

Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all this time you’d like to meet, to go over everything.

Okay, not everything. I will refrain from making this a completely political post and just say that I am devastated and scared and determined to do what I can to make sure my country remains great. I think everything beyond that has been said, and plus, I just don’t feel like going there here.

So instead, let’s talk about knitting. I have been MIA for a while, I know. The girl has had lots of music stuff going on but last weekend was the highlight: she earned first chair flute in the All-District band! Woo hoo! That means she gets solos in the concert and gets to audition for the All-State band. Fingers crossed for that one. I have been knitting, but can’t share most of what I’ve done lately because it’s a secret Christmas project. I have been working on my alpaca color block wrap and it’s grown quickly; I only have a stripe and a half left.

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It’s deliciously soft and warm, and I can’t wait to put it in my rotation of hand knits. My other current WIP is the Hitchhiker Beyond. It’s going more slowly, but that’s what you get with fingering weight and small needles.

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The color is terrible in this photo, not accurate at all. I’m so sorry. I’ll do better next time.

And here, look at my new tote bag!!

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Pretty cool, eh? Might be my new favorite.

Until next time, whenever that may be, hope you all stay safe and happy!

Oy, This Shawl

I have definitely learned the importance of the old knitting adage “Spend money to save money; buy more yarn.” I worked hard on my Marcelle Wrap over the weekend, even had to rip back 12 rows to fix a mistake I made in the lace. (That was over 5200 stitches. It was very sad.) But I made it back to that point and beyond, and I’m midway through the second repeat of the lace chart and it’s looking just LOVELY!

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But do you see that tiny ball of green yarn? That’s all I have left, for nine more rows of green. Um, yeah, that’s not enough. You know what that means, don’t you? I had to go to KnitPicks and order more. And they’re having their summer sale, which means of course approximately 10 more ball of Palette ended up in my card. Who can resist such pretty colors at such awesome prices? Plus, I had to get free shipping, right? So, yeah, this project is on hold. Again. While I wait for more yarn.

What’s that? I should have checked gauge? Well, yeah, I probably should have. But I had to order the yarn before I could do that, didn’t I? So I should have just been smart and ordered an extra ball of each color to begin with. And I should have used the right size needle too. Instead of a 4mm, I’m using a size 4. (Not on purpose. Brain fart.) And my unblocked gauge was only 2 stitches off her blocked gauge, so I foolishly thought I was okay.

I was not.

Well, obviously I’m FINE. But I needed more yarn. So! This is back in timeout. I’ve been asked to do another test knit, which I think is awesome and super fun, but it also uses Palette so I ordered some in that same order and can’t start the test knit until it arrives. And I’m going to make the boy a hat, because in looking through his Amazon wish list I discovered (I almost hate to say it) a knit beanie. Clearly I can’t spend money to buy a hat I could make! Especially not when it’s a good excuse to buy more yarn! That yarn is also coming in my KnitPicks order.

So what to knit?? I needed something to keep my fingers busy! I made two cotton washcloths while at the family Father’s Day lunch, but last night I had a good chunk of knitting time. In my WIPs, I have:

  • gray garter stitch scarf (OMG SO BORING WHAT WAS I THINKING)
  • gradient seed stitch wrap (pretty colors but also pretty boring)
  • bulky cotton blanket (bright colors, soft organic cotton, but a heavy blanket in 90 degrees?)
  • crochet afghan for my mom (I’m not far enough along for it to be overly heavy or hot, but it just wasn’t calling my name)

Time to cast on a new project! Apparently in my yarn stash, it’s last in, first out: I picked three colors of the Ultra Pima I got recently and cast on for the Secret Beach Diagonal scarf. It’s a paid pattern, but you get the pattern for both the scarf and the cowl, so I figure it’s worth it.

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This pleases me, and will definitely keep me knitting happily until my KnitPicks order arrives.

Now, finally, I would like to humbly ask for your opinion. I knit a little clutch, and my Knitting SIL felted it for me, and I think it needs a button closure. I don’t want to do an inside closure because it’s so small already and I want to maximize the useful space. So what do I use to go around the button to close it??

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Oops, that wasn’t really “finally”, sorry. THIS is finally: my daughter is in the school Concert Choir this coming year and they’re planning a trip to Princeton. YAY! But also: time to fundraise, so I’m offering 25% off everything in my Etsy shop, even the sale items, so if you’re interested, take a peek at my shop HERE (this is probably more for my non-knitting readers) and if anything calls your name, use the code LOVEMUSIC25 for 25% off and free U.S. shipping!

Happy Monday, friends, and happy First Day of Summer!

Selfish Knitting

I didn’t do anything I was “supposed” to do yesterday. Well, no, I take that back. I did EXACTLY what I was supposed to do: relax, let everybody else do all the stuff, and only do what *I* wanted to do. So we had a lovely brunch, I got a couple of presents from my sweet daughter, we went to see the new Captain America movie (spoiler: I wasn’t a big fan.) and then I knitted the rest of the day while watching old chick flicks. (Sweet Home Alabama and Pleasantville.) I made lots of progress on a beautiful Pink Diamond Shawlette: IMG_6074IMG_6075Pattern is Diamond Shawlette and I’m using KnitPicks Galileo in Abalone and I’m loving everything about knitting this. But for now I must set it aside so I can focus on the things I have to do, like a mermaid blanket and a proofreading job.

Oh, and I finally have pictures of the rainbow scarf, which just got listed on Etsy this morning. IMG_5227IMG_5228

I hope all my fellow mothers had an equally lovely day yesterday!

Photo Editing of Yarn Stuff

Yesterday was spent without yarn in my hands and strangely, it felt okay. That’s not to say I avoided yarn completely. Instead, I worked on photos for my Bonny Knits business. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but wasn’t sure what apps or programs would be best. Photoshop is the obvious one, but it’s too expensive for my needs.

Thanks to a fellow fiber friend, I discovered PicMonkey and started playing around with the free Basic version. It has a good variety of effects, overlays, themes and fonts for free, which is great. The biggest flaw is how slowly it runs on my computer, and I’m not sure how much to blame on the site and how much on my laptop. When there’s nothing else open on my computer, I can use it without too much frustration. Here are a couple of early attempts. yodaHeartbeatLoveHatSadly, this one has a wee typo (should be ‘shop’, not ‘shops’) and I couldn’t go back and edit once I saved. It would have to be re-done completely. I don’t know if that’s something that’s different in the paid services, but it would be nice to keep the images in a library and edit them easily.

Then I tried Foto Editor Lite, another free app, this time on my phone. There were some different filters that I liked a lot, ones that seemed to alter the background without changing the focus of the photo too much. The text was easy to add and alter, but the app crashed a few times while I was editing text, and I’d lose everything I’d done. Still, I liked it well enough for a quick edit of photos on my phone that I could then easily post on Twitter or Instagram. IMG_4889

Then I moved to the iPad and played with LiPix, another free app. It’s easy to use with a ton of variety in frames and shapes. You can alter the colors yourself to get just the right shade. It has just as many filters as Instagram, if not more. Adding text was simple, with great options for color and font. There were stickers you could add, which were fun, probably not something I’d use for this kind of thing but great for personal photos. I think this might have been my favorite of the three. It was easier for me to work on the iPad than the phone, it didn’t crash once, it had a ton of variety for free, and the photos were easy to save and share. IMG_0348IMG_0349There you have it, if you’ve been looking for ways to spice up your photos but like me, didn’t know where to start. I’m looking forward to all the fun images I can create!

A Bulky Baby Hat

I’m having fun using up my stash of bulky acrylic. I’ve had all this KnitPicks Brava Bulky just hanging around, and I think I was saving it in case I needed it for something. Nope, I don’t know what. Yep, it’s a silly idea. So now I’m using it! It knits up quickly on big needles, meaning less stress on my elbow, and it gives me some inexpensive inventory for my Etsy shop. Yesterday I made a little baby hat in a couple of hours.IMG_4793It joins the two cowls already made. IMG_4791Last night I cast on for another cowl, red this time, while I watched the Golden Globes (that was NOT a good show, am I right?). But what I really want to cast on is the Color Block Wrap, because I got the last color of yarn I needed! Just look how gorgeous these colors are: IMG_4794I’m trying very hard to tell myself I have to wait until I finish some WIPs first. We’ll see how well that works out; this yarn is calling my name pretty loudly. Happy Monday, friends!