Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Knit Smarter Not Harder: part II

Knit Smarter: Part II

With November being NaKniSweMo (national knit a sweater month) we have seen a lot of work on some pretty exciting projects. Many knitters have stepped up to the challenge of doing something “bigger”.

And in all of this sweater knitting, there are some tried and true lessons that keep rearing their ugly heads. Let’s review those.

Gauge: (How many stitches per inch are you getting?).
This is different than “did you do a gauge swatch?” The answer, of course, is “yes”. You did a gauge swatch. And then you cast on and started knitting like crazy. And while it was so gratifying to watch you project grow – how is your gauge now? Have you started knitting tighter? Or have you gotten looser as you go faster? Check and check and check.

Measure your work:
Many knitters come in and smile broadly as they pull their work out, and proudly show it to us. We are always so delighted to see everything. Then every once in a while, the work comes out, and my stomach drops into my shoes. One sweater this week measured an impressive 67 inches in diameter, and another was a scant 36 inches. So we had both sides of the same problem demonstrated. And in each case, the owners had followed the pattern to the letter, and had not added or dropped stitches.
67 inches of sweater will gather and ruffle on the circulars, so if you see quite a lot of ruffling, stop and measure. Are you getting what the pattern called for? Are you getting the finished measurement you had hoped for? And the inverse is true as well. If you lay your sweater out, and it “looks small” then it may be. Are you getting what the pattern called for?
There were two very distinct reasons for the problems above. In the sweater that was too large, the knitter had done some yarn conversions that were set to work out perfectly, but then followed the pattern for the finished size she wanted, not the yarn she was using. Sadly, we pulled it out, and started over. And for the smaller sweater, there were two issues, one was that the knitter was in a hurry to finish in time for the November deadline, and her gauge got a little bit off. And the other was that there were errors in the pattern that we did not know about before we started! (!!)

Use the Internet:
If you are thinking about doing a sweater, do a little research before hand. Look around for people who have knit the project before you. Is there a picture of them in the garment? How does it look on them? How did their color choices play out?
And most importantly, did they have any trouble with the pattern?
You are looking for errata; the name for errors in a pattern. If you google the name of the sweater and errors or errata, you can see if other problems have been spotted. This five minutes of research can save hours of heartache.

And speaking of research have you checked out Ravelry? It’s a new knitting site. It’s kind of face-book-meets-flickr-meets-a-knitting-blog. You can post photos of your stash, join a local group, and ask questions. The best part of all is you can see everyone else’s finished projects – by name, or knitter, or by yarn! How fantastic to see the color choices, yarn substitutions, and different figures in the different sweaters. It is really a win. I tell you all this, because you have to “join” Ravelry before you can look at it. All that involves is signing up, and waiting in the que. Don’t worry if there are 12000 names ahead of you. The folks at Ravelry knew they had a good thing, but they didn’t know it was THAT good. They were overwhelmed by the number of sign-ups. I think they have now hired about 40 extra people, and have been staying up late at night just to get everybody on the site without technical issues.

As always, if you are having problems, bring your project in. (bring it in before you rip it back. If you come in and say to us “I had a problem with the sweater, and I need help to figure out what I did wrong” And then you show us piles of yarn that used to be your project, we are going to be at a loss. )

Finally, how about a fashion show? We’ll have a sweater celebration fashion show on November 29 at 7:00 pm. If you started or finished your sweater bring it in, and see all the wonderful projects for yourself.


Marisol said...

I would love to come to the fashion show! Can I bring My First sweater--Sadly I cannot make a nanoswemo sweater--tooo many christmas gifts to work on.

Alexa said...

Why aren't we friends on Ravelry? Not cool, Susi. See you soon!!!!!!!!!