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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


in spring a young man’s fancy turns to love
but a young woman’s fancy just might be…

YARN! Shocking but true – I spent the weekend fondling various cotton yarns in ye olde stash in hopes of finding some suspects to make some samples.

Above you see a sample Ribby Pulli in progress using Calmer. Now, I’ve been reading about the wonders of this stuff all over the web for a couple of years and even have started a sweater (then stopped and frogged) out of a pretty tomatoey color. The Audrey I was going to make went awry, not because of the yarn, but because I thought the design would look evil on me. (MANY devil projects have made me trust my instincts on these things, believe it.)

The yarn sat on the shelf mocking me, as stash is wont to do, and little by little I picked up a little more. (This is how ye Stash grows. And grows. And GROWS.)

But still no knitting came of it. WHY?

Because I just didn’t trust the ball band gauge.

So I did what any sane knitter would do. I ignored it!

Yes, the Ball Band is a Prime Pet Peeve of mine. It’s a wonderful starting point but can be a real roadblock to progress if you always just take it at face value.

The more I knit the more I discover the *personality* of most yarns allows for a Range of Gauges that can be used with them. And sometimes, the best draping gauge (IMHO) is not that which is recommended on its BBnd.

If you are a Geek Knitter (raise your hands!) you will make a scientific swatch that tries to match the manufacturer, especially when a fabulous project’s start is in the balance. Last year, I made another sweater out of this yarn that made it to the finishing stages while over the Atlantic on a jet. I was so smug – seaming it on board, being cooed over by my seat mate, a lovely lady senior who was giving me all sorts of kudos (in French!) for even knitting at all (something young people just don’t do anymore…) The more I *felt* the thing while working on it, the more it felt like a wooden board and WHOOSH! My smug ass dissolved in a puff of smoke.

Inches from the finish line, even though I had spot on ball band gauge, I had to retire it to the frogpile. (YES! It will live again!)

This time, the Muse goes before me and I will not ignore… She sez: “Swatch & Learn…”

11 responses to “Tuesday, March 21, 2006”

  1. Gina says:

    Today’s entry had me laughing, particularly the statement about “my smug ass dissovled in a puff of smoke!”. Great line.

  2. Nancy J says:

    OK, I want to see the cowl made into a garment — I Love cowls and there aren’t many projects for real cowl necks. And I look so good in them!

  3. Steph says:

    So are you knitting it looser or tighter?

    I have ten balls of this stashed away, waiting to be something (possibly a ribby cardi) and you’ve got me curious.

  4. margene says:

    Must swatch…we don’t like to do it but there you go…we all have that ‘smug ass’ problem every time we don’t.

  5. Bonne Marie says:

    I have discovered that the Calmer knits beautifully to 20 sts / 28 rows per 4″ using #8 needles. The manufacturer gives it as 21/30 and this was woodie for me :p

    So I’m knitting it looser than suggested.

    Attempting a larger gauge than that, I get uneven stitches and it’s hard to control. I like to use either Addi Turbos or Inox Teflon with this stuff – both have given me good results.

  6. Leah says:

    I have found it takes time and experience to become comfortable with our own judgement about gauge and ignoring the BB!

    A year and a half ago I was in a total an** retentive panic over not getting the spot on gauge with Lorna’s Laces for a Clapotis! I look back at it now and laugh at myself, realizing that swatching a scarf isn’t near as big a deal as swatching a sweater!

    The Calmer Collar looks like it will be lovely!

  7. Imbrium says:

    *raises hand*

    I’ve learned the hard way – a few times – that I knit way too tight. I look at the gauge on the ball band, and then I go up a few needle sizes for my swatch.

    And oh, the painful lessons that taught me to swatch. *shudder*

  8. pixie says:

    well you may feel bad but it makes me feel better to know im not the only one who gets terribly frustrated and will frog. My husband thinks im nutty when i frog, but it has to be just so!

  9. rb says:

    I’m a loose woman, er, knitter. I never but ever get ball band gauge, so I completely ignore it except as a comparison (like, is this worsted or aran weight yarn?) but even then, ball bands lie.

    I would love to be able to get a nice, firm, “wooden” as you say, gauge so I could make something more like a jacket than a sweater, but alas.

    However, my loose tendencies do make me an excellent lace knitter. :)

  10. stinkerbell says:

    who cares what gauge the band says, for a cotton yarn… I lurve me the Calmer! Now if only its price wasnt so ridiculous :)

  11. =Tamar says:

    Not only swatch, but wash the swatch the way the intended object will be washed. Some yarns change a lot.

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