Yeah, yeah, yeah (you’re probably thinking), I know I need to make a gauge swatch. This isn’t about the need or even the how, but the what the heck do you do when . . . .
Measuring in Knitting – The X-Ray
So as many of you that have taken my gauge class knows, I’m not a fan of just measuring the entire width of a swatch to get your gauge. This method (for me) has proven to be very inaccurate, especially when designing a garment in negative ease where the gauge will really matter.
I’m a believer in counting your stitches and rows. The reason is, the anatomy of those end stitches is just not the same as the stitches in the middle of the fabric.
So I cast on my gauge swatch, doing the speed swatch method to simulate knitting in the round (I wrote an article about it for Creative Knitting), blocked it, let it dry and then took it out to measure.
One problem, the yarn was both dark, fuzzy with little flecks of bling that made seeing the stitches pretty difficult.
After a few attempts I felt like this:
I was watching TV and an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy was on and a perfectly quaffed (according to UrbanDictionary.com, the new version of coiffed), impossibly beautiful doctor shoved an x-ray onto one of those little light boxes
When the light bulb when off in my head and a voice screamed “TAPE IT TO THE WINDOW”
Now I could see my stitch and row gauge!!
Who said TV can’t teach you anything.
For more gauge tricks check out my two new classes in Vogue Knitting Live Chicago:
Measure Up: Gauge Basics
Description: You keep hearing about gauge, but you’re not quite sure what all the fuss is about. If the fear of “not getting gauge” is stopping you from moving into sweater knitting, fear no more. In this class we’ll cover all the basics of gauge: how to make and measure a swatch; explore how needle size, as well as needle material, can change your gauge; and learn about blocking and hanging your swatch. We’ll have hands-on practice for measuring and experiment with needle size changes on your knitting. We will also look at more complex gauge issues such as gauge in a pattern stitch and look at pattern examples to figure out how to make an “in pattern” gauge swatch. Finally we’ll learn some easy math so you can figure out if your gauge will work for your pattern. Don’t let gauge scare you away from knitting the sweater of your dreams.
Make YOUR Gauge Work
Description: You know the basics of gauge, but how do you make your own gauge work for you! Stop trying to match the gauge exactly and learn how to knit a project to YOUR gauge. After a review of the basics, and how to make a “truthful” swatch, we’ll get to some of the trickier elements of gauge, such as pre blocked vs. blocked gauge, hung gauge, and the difference between yarn gauge and pattern gauge. We will explore what to do when a project is knit in the round or in a pattern stitch. Finally, we’ll master the math of using your gauge, not just the pattern gauge. We’ll learn how to work an existing size with a different gauge, resize a sweater by using a different gauge, how to add different stitch patterns to your garment, and how to make adjustments to your pattern when your row gauge is off. Stop trying to match someone else’s gauge and discover the joys of making YOUR gauge work!
NOTE: In order to make your gauge work . . . you have to do math
Designing Knitting Stitches
So where does inspiration come from? From a sunset, a beautiful field, a work of art . . . a laundry hamper.
Yep, you heard me right. Sometimes inspiration comes from the weirdest places. A little over a year ago, my husband David and I were at an adorable Inn In Woodstock New York, and I just loved the laundry hamper. It was a cool basket with a kind of weird swirley pattern.
Even though I was on deadline at the time for another sweater (more on that hoodie at a later date), I picked up my needles and started playing around to see if I could recreate it. I tried traditional cables, and lace stitches, and finally, I just invented a weird twisted stitch pass over thingy that I quite liked.
Does the stitch look exactly like the basket? Not at all, but that’s not the point. The basket was a jumping off point that made me pick up my needles. I stopped trying to “match” it when I got something on my needles that said “hey, stop, look at me, aren’t I cute?”
Since I loved the way it added a certain structure to a really floopy silk, and the swatch trapped air in a pleasing way, I thought, scarf or shawl??? How bout scawl or sharf. That’s when you can’t quite make up your mind so you design a really wide scarf that can stretch out over your shoulders, or squinch up around your neck. Also, it’s easy to adjust at any length or width because it’s a 4 stitch repeat.
So if you want to make one for yourself,
Here ya go (click on the picture or name for more info, or the “buy now” to . . . well, you know)
I woke up with my head full of deadlines, and then I turned on NY1 for my daily dose of weather on the 1s, and “In the Papers”, and I realized what day it is. I’ve never written about 9/11, in part because of how politicized it has become and the terrible things that have been done in it’s name, but I went onto Facebook and saw this really wonderful video posted by my brilliant friend Francesca. (you can watch it here).
New York City after 9/11
It made me remember what it was like to come to the city when it was so beat up and broken. I posted this on Facebook:
“I moved to NY for a job (the amazing show The Last Five Years). I arrived on Dec 3, 2001. It was 12 weeks after 9/11 and the city was still on fire, the subways were a mess, people downtown still wore masks, the city was hurting, and the people were amazing. It’s hard to describe what it was like, but it was sad and wonderful and beautiful. We’ve lost a bit of that spirit of kindness that existed in those months following the attack, but it still comes back when we need it the most. I’ll never forget how amazing people were during the city wide blackout that happened two years after 9/11. I forgot who said it, but when asked why there was virtually no rioting or crime during the blackout (the city was ravaged by crime during the citywide blackout in the 70s) someone said, because New Yorkers now know the difference between a tragedy and an inconvenience. I saw that spirit of kindness again after Sandy.
We all complain about NYC from time to time. It can be a hard place to live in, but it can also be unspeakably beautiful. I love New York. Thanks for taking me in when you were broken.”
It started me thinking about New York and how frustrating, wonderful, difficult, exciting, ridiculous, brilliant, horrible, and magical it is to live in this city. You hate and love this place. It infuriates and delights you. It’s like your family.
Just like your family, it’s not perfect, but it’s yours. You understand it when others don’t. You can complain about the insane rents and home prices, but when someone outside the city says “but you can get a mansion in (fill in the blank) for that price”, you say “but then I’d have to live in (fill in the blank) and not NYC.” You can complain about the city, but you are defensive when non New Yorkers ask you “how can you live there?”
After all, just like your family, you can complain about it, but up comes your dukes if anyone else dares to do the same (I think that’s what bugged me so much about the tourist family I wrote about in my subway rant). So just like your family you might take the city for granted from time to time.
So on this day, let’s take a minute to thank our city for everything it gives us. Through all the craziness of the last 13 years, I can still say – I Love New York.
When Bad bind offs happen to good people.
When you bind off do you get something that looks like a noose at the end of your knitting? Does it bug you as much as it does me?
Better Bind Off
First let’s take a look at what a regular bind off leaves you with:
Ah, but to paraphrase Jason Robert Brown’s Last Five Years (movie coming out soon!), we can do better than that!
For other knitting tips from Patty’s Knitting Bag of tricks you can join me live in class!
For those on the East Coast I’ll be teaching it at Stitches East in Hartford, CT, Oct 9 – 12
For those in the Mid West, I’ll be teaching it At Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago, IL Oct 24 – 26
For those in the West, I’ll be teaching a three day sweater intensive with all SORTS of knitting tricks to make your sweater look perfect at Camp Stitches in New Mexico, Nov. 13 – 17
To read past Tuesday tips, just click on the Tutorial catagory of the blog (or here I did it for you!)
If you have a “is there a better way to do that”, or “how do you do that” question, leave me a comment, and I’ll add it to the Tuesday Tip list!
“JUST DO IT” – Doing What You Love
It’s been quite a year. Yep, believe it or not, I began this incredible journey of being a full time knitwear designer and teacher a little over a year ago. I’d been working in the industry for seven years, but always for other people (yarn shop, yarn company), but now I’ve spent the most amazing year doing ONLY what I love full time, and working for just one crazy boss . . . me.
It’s been quite a roller coaster and there have been a few uh oh moments along the way (if you submit to six different magazines who all have the same deadline and all designs get approved . . . better hire some sample knitters!). There have been some 12 hr knitting days when deadlines were tight, and I’ve learned that as much as I love to knit, I have to let projects go to other knitters, so I can move on to the next one. That’s been hard. To see some of the designs I did this year, that are already published (can’t show you the other 14 that haven’t come out yet), you can click here.
There have been too many great things about this year to name, but I think one of my favorite things about the designer part of my job is that my grandmother’s rocking chair in front of my fireplace has been my workspace in the winter, and my (now destroyed, but that’s a story for another day) roof deck was my workspace in the spring / summer
As a teacher, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the country this year, teaching at shows, guilds and shops. I’ve loved working with all the students and have been really excited to see the same students from last year coming back. It’s really fun to get to know students (and Sandi always brings me a little gift – pretty awesome). I also had two video classes and two webinar classes launch this year, and I just got done filming another one. Doing on camera work is a whole other ball game, but I love it. Stay tuned for more info about some new classes I’ll be filming this winter.
But the most important, wonderful, shocking, amazing, awe inspiring thing I found out this year, was how generous and amazing people in this industry can be. It’s no exaggeration to say there were many things I knew NOTHING about. I was lucky enough to have brilliant friends to bother all year long with “what do you do when . . .”, “how do I . . .” , “what happens if . . .” questions. I also was lucky enough to have a bunch of brilliant and well respected folks believe in me enough to say, yeah, let’s work with her. I’ve had a year of feeling humbled, stupid, smart, ashamed and proud (remember roller coaster).
I wanted to name all the people who have helped me so much this year (and in past years), but I was afraid of two things:
1) It would sound like an Oscar speech and I hadn’t won anything
2) They would be “outed” for how wonderful they are and have their doors pounded down with people asking for help.
I hope you all know who you are, but just in case, I’m going to send you an e-mail saying “hey, I was talking about you”
On second thought, maybe I did win something . . . the job I’ve always wanted. I wish the same for all of you.