It's getting ready to rain babies around here, and I am getting ready for the showers! Both of my next door neighbors are pregnant - and are due within 3 days of each other! And one of my office staff, who has been praying for a grandchild since I've known her - recently found out she will be a grandmother finally! Obviously, these joyous occasions call for soft, cuddly little handknits. And guess who has had the patterns and yarn for two baby shower gifts waiting for such an occasion? More about this in a minute - first I am going to digress.
Last weekend, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to learn to swatch properly if I was going to make the successful transition from scarf knitter to socks and beyond. Being a knitter with ADD, I naturally want to avoid anything that feels like a chore in order to jump right into the fun stuff. However, as I have entered my "power years", I find I have actually learned a lesson or 2, one of which is knowing when it's important to do something the right way vs. when it's okay to do it my way. After reading about some knitters' mistakes with their first (and more) socks not fitting, I decided that if I am going to subject myself to the task of knitting itty-bitty stitches with itty-bitty thread and toothpicks (meaning it will take a long time to complete), then the dang socks had better fit me or there will be a nuclear meltdown here on the prairie.
Once the decision was made to swatch, my OCD then kicked in. I searched the 'net for How To Make the Proper Swatch, because if I'm going to do it, then it will be done right! Another life lesson I have learned is the importance of letting yourself be mentored by those with more experience. So I found me two "swatching mentors." Mambocat made one of the best cases for swatching I have read, and her example project just happens to be Sally Melville's Einstein Coat - one of my projects is the baby version (Baby Albert). And Sara, who has a blog solely devoted to teaching the craft and sharing her free patterns, (also check out her picture - isn't she the cutest?), recently wrote 2 excellent posts on the importance of gauge.
So how does this tie in to baby knits? I had started a Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono (from Mason-Dixon Knitting) a while back, but just never got into it. I have the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK for it, and was using my usual bamboo needles, but there was just something not right about it. So after playing around with it, I figured out that the bamboo put a little too much drag on the yarn. To compensate, I think I was knitting more loosely, so I wouldn't have to fight with the stitches. And as a consequence, I didn't like the look and feel of the fabric. In other words, even though I was using the needles that the pattern called for, in my swatching ignorance, I thought that would be good enough. After all, it wasn't for a particular baby, so if the size turned out wonky, some baby somewhere would fit into it, right? But my guess is that the gauge was wrong and I wasn't liking the product it was becoming.
So I've been having a swatching festival this week. I knit swatches of the green sock yarn using #3 needles, and now #2's. I knitted 2 different size swatches of the Nashua Cilantro that I have had, just waiting for the right project. And what I have found is that I knit on the tight side and have had to go up a size in order to hit gauge. And I actually thought that I knit loose!
So the Nashua Cilantro is going to become the Baby Albert jacket. although it's knit all in garter stitch, I am going to learn how to add additional stitches and to pick up stitches and how to make buttonholes! I haven't been this excited about a project since the Kitty Pi. I am then going to swatch the Cashmerino DK and make the kimono with the correct gauge. And I've found the third pattern I'm going to make. It's going to be a surprise.
Finally, I learned the crochet cast-on last night! I will need it for the Baby Albert jacket. If you know how to crochet, it's a piece of cake. I like it so much, I'm going to start using it whenever I can. It is the only cast-on that matches the regular bind-off stitch, so not only does it make a really nice, uniform edge, but it won't pull the cast-on edge out of shape. It will be perfect for scarves that call for a long-tail or knitted on cast-on and should solve the problem of one end looking perfect while the other looks distorted.
Hard to believe another weekend has come and gone. I was insanely busy but still feel like I didn't get much accomplished. I did cook Sunday supper, after what seems like months of not cooking. We found out that one of our new neighbors, who has 2 school-age kids, has had a recurrance of cancer and it has spread. She is going to undergo aggressive treatment, so if you believe in the power of prayer, please put in a good word for Kelly and her family. Several of us are going to start cooking and freezing meals for them. My first contribution is a delicious casserole called Chicken Buccatini. I'll post the recipe later this week - I guarantee that if you like Italian food, you'll like this.
Have a happy week!