Monday, May 30, 2011


Apparently someone got into my Google account. So passwords have been changed, and I've been verified, and blah de blah.

Let's see if this works.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sekhmet, you fucker.

I put the sick kid to bed, sat down to read my Kindle in peace for the first time all day, and... I'm having trouble... concentrating... what...

Monday, May 23, 2011

KAL 05.5: The A line.

There were questions about how many stitches to cast on, when working an A-line. That can be kind of subjective. I've seen A-lines with bottom hems that are positively voluminous (1000% or more). That's not going to be any fun at all to knit in plain stockinette, and depending on the weight of the fabric, it wouldn't look good.

So all I've got are guidelines.

250% is a pretty good rule of thumb. If you're using a heavier fabric (3 stitches per inch or heavier), I'd consider 200%. For thinner fabrics you could go up as high as 500% but I'd think twice because DAMN, that would be a lot of stitches.

250% with a hem is what I'd do. You need to decrease down to 100% by the time you get to the arm pits, or 100% + 8 stitches if you're doing a cardigan with a steek. To figure decreasing, first you'd need a row gauge and a measurement for how long you wanted the 'skirt' of the jacket to be.

Let's say your 100% figure is 100, for the sake of argument. And you need 75 rows to make your skirt long enough. The cast on would be 250 stitches - 250%. You would need to decrease 150 stitches to get down to your 100% figure (total cast on, minus your one hundred percent figure, equals how many stitches you need to decrease). To figure out how many stitches to decrease per row, you divide 150 by 75: you get two stitches per row (total number of stitches to decrease, divided by the number of rows you need to do it in, equals how many stitches to decrease per row). To put it in knitter-ese, then, cast on 250 stitches, and decrease two stitches per row until you arrive at 100 stitches and the arm pits of your sweater.

You can either distribute the decreases randomly over the skirt to make it a circular piece, or you can decrease at two distinct points to make it more angular. Up to you.

There you go. No swooning.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

KAL 05: Math and CASTING ON!

Okay. This knit along is based on EPS, and I wrote an article about it ages go for Knitty. So, before we go further, it may be wise for you to go read it, if you haven't yet. THE ARTICLE HERE.

To repeat: I wrote the article. I still hold the copyright for everything in it because it is my creation. It is licensed to Knitty, essentially. I still hold the rights. So I'm allowed to use graphics from it, which I'm going to do. 'Cause it's mine. We can save the copyright freak-out for another more deserving occasion.

100%. Mine is 42 inches. (I'm knitting a cardigan that I want to fit over other clothes. Plus I have big boobs.) I got that by measuring a jacket that I like the fit of; armpit to armpit was 21 inches, so it's 42 inches the whole way around. Make sense, I hope?

My gauge is 5.3 stitches to the inch. Being lazy and using my lucky calculator, 5.3 x 42 = 222.6. WE WANT AN EVEN NUMBER OF STITCHES FOR THE BODY. Easy peasy. The body for me is 222 stitches.

From here you could cast on right now, or you could do ALL THE MATH at once:
If you're doing ribbing on the bottom edge, cast on 90% instead of 100%. It's easy to figure: Just push in (your 100% figure) x 90% = and the figure will pop up on your calculator.

If you are knitting a cardigan, you will need a steek in the front to cut open later. For the steek, add eight stitches. You need those to stabilize and cut later.

The cheat sheet:

TO FIGURE 100%: Multiply stitches per inch/cm by the circumference you want. You want an even number of stitches; it will make sense later.

TO FIGURE 90%: On your calculator, put in your 100% figure (the number of stitches, not inches or cm) then press x 90 % = on your calculator.

FOR A PULLOVER WITH RIBBING: Cast on 90%. Join and work in the round. Knit your ribbing, increase to 100% (easiest is to knit nine and make one around). Continue working in stockinette to the arm pits.

FOR A CARDIGAN WITH RIBBING: Cast on 90% plus eight stitches. (Mark the eight stitches). Join and knit in the round. Knit your ribbing, then increase to 100% plus eight stitches (easiest is to knit nine, make one around.) Work to arm pits.

FOR A PULLOVER WITH A HEM: Cast on 100% using some kind of provisional cast- on. Join and knit in the round. Use needles a size or two smaller than your main body. Knit 1.5 inches/3cm for the hem. Work one round in purl, for folding later. Shift to main needles and work body to arm pits.

FOR A CARDIGAN WITH A HEM: (This one is a little confusing. Just follow along, I'll take photos as I do mine.) Cast on 100% using some kind of provisional cast on, and smaller needles. KNIT FLAT IN STOCKINETTE (back and forth) for 1.5 inches/3cm. This is the hem. Work a row of reverse stockinette for the purl fold line. THEN, cast on eight stitches (your steek) join and knit in the round up to the arm pits. To summarize, you knit the hem flat (reduces bulk in the steek later), then cast on your eight steek stitches as a bridge between the edges and work in the round. I'll be documenting this one with photos, promise.

Questions? I bet there are questions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Q & A

To address some questions folks have asked:

There's still some worry over the prototype. It's going to be a starting point, no more. You have to start SOMEWHERE. Find a sweater or sweatshirt that fits properly through the chest. If you don't like the sleeves or the length, that's fine. Figure out what you want to change about it. This way you don't have to play the ease game, which is very difficult.

Traditionally, a sweater is knit by measuring around the chest at the arm pits, or wherever your boobs create the largest circumference. Then you add four inches for ease. But that's too simplistic. Some folks like tight sweaters. Some folks like really loose sweaters. So it is much, MUCH easier in the long run to just measure something.


Since I'm thinking of this as the "EPS Long Form", we are tagging projects on Ravelry with "LongForm" so that anyone who wants to look at all of them, can. Enjoy.


An ass ton is approximately 800 yards of yarn.

ETA: The metric conversion would be "arse tonne".


The hem issue will be discussed in more detail when we cast on. (This weekend. I promise.) But you use a needle one or two sizes smaller than the main sweater body and work a short length in stockinette. Then you do one row/round in reverse stockinette (or purl) because it makes a VERY neat fold line. Then you go back to stockinette and the regular needles, and work on the body. There are a few more details, depending on whether you're doing a cardigan or pullover, but that's the gist.


Roxie, I will be talking everyone through the math, because, well, your method in the comments kind of scared me.


I think that covers it. Apologies to folks who really want to get moving NOW, but I've got a bunch of folks still catching up. But we're gonna get moving soon. After we do the math it's going to go quickly. Honest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

KAL 04: 100% and proportion

This is more about the philosophy behind what we're doing, than actual DOING, but since this is about really understanding what's going on, it needs said.

The EPS is based on PROPORTION. That is the great thing about it, as well as the potential problem. Everything is a fraction of the body circumference, also called (in various books) the key number, or the 100% figure. Once you arrive at the correct figure, you can play around with it quite a lot. But if you blow this first part, nothing's going to come out right, ever after, amen.

To get the figure, lay out your prototype. Don't stretch it or anything silly, but smooth it flat, on a flat surface. Measure it from arm pit to arm pit, and double the figure. Make sure you measure straight across and not crookedly.Write down the figure you get.

Now. Once you've got your 100% figure, you CAN start knitting. Cast on some kind of edging and let it rip, on up to the armpits.

However. (There's always a however, isn't there?)

Look at your prototype. What do you like or not like about it? Does the bottom edge suck in to a ribbing that makes you look like a mushroom? Does it drape out in an A line? If you like the way the bottom edge works, measure it too, and hang on to it for our upcoming step involving math. If you don't like it, figure out what it takes to make you like it (what kind of edging do you want on the bottom hem?) and jot it down for the horrifying math part.

Traditional edgings include:

-The Usual Ribbing Edge: casting on 90% on smaller needles, working some kind of ribbing, increasing to 100% at the end of the ribbing, changing to the regular needles, and knitting up from there

-Hem: casting on 100% on smaller needles, knitting an inch and a half/3cm of stockinette, working a purl fold round, switching to the usual needles, and knitting from there; the raw stitches of the cast-on are either worked as a knit-in hem or stitched down later

-A Line: casting on up to 250%, working a hem or ribbing, then decreasing down to 100% gradually over the bottom portion of the sweater until the arm pits are reached (this method uses an ass ton of yarn)

Your homework for now is to measure your prototype, get your 100% figure, and then decide what kind of bottom edge you want. I'll be doing a hem.

FYI: I suggest a notebook or a document on your computer, or some other single spot to write all this stuff down. We've barely started with the measurements and math and figures, and trust me: you lose your plans halfway through the project, you're in a world of hurt. I've been there. It sucked.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's like the fuckin' Jetsons.

I thought I'd write another blog post tonight (no swooning!) There's a photo I wanted off my phone, and since I needed to pull the battery any way (to reset it), I figured, hell, I'd pull the chip while I was at it. My phone (a Blackberry Curve SomethingRecent) uses solid state (no moving parts) storage on a secondary chip for all music, pictures, movies, TV shows, and other media. So I pulled the chip out of the phone, PLUGGED IT INTO MY COMPUTER, moved the file I wanted, then put the chip back in my phone. Okay. This is stuff we dreamed of as kids (at least I did, and my friends). I have got more computing power (WAY MORE) in my phone than they did in all the Apollo spacecraft combined. This is messed up. Then I dropped the chip, picked it up, and really started to think about it.
That is eight gigabytes of storage capacity, almost exactly the size of my thumbnail.

I am too old for this shit.

Except I'm dealing with it well enough (except for that droppage issue) so I guess I'm not. IT IS STILL NOT RIGHT.

The husbeast is downstairs watching a movie on his super large screen TV, that is plugged into his giant large screen TV. THE ONE WITH AN iPOD DOCK.


Anyway. The blog post. After a fashion.

This is the picture I wanted off my phone.
As with so many really good photos, it was just one of those things. The Goober appeared at the back door with a handful of dandelions, I had the phone in my hand, and there you go. I tried to do it again later with a real camera, and of course the results weren't nearly so good.

The Goober has lately gotten hooked, playing Bejeweled. Last night we had this discussion:

ME: Okay. Time for bed.
GOOBER: But I have to teleport!
ME: Fine, but as soon as you teleport, it's bed time.

Sounds like a geek house, to me.


In the Sekhmet You Fucker stories, we have a new one. War has been declared. Remember my new chair?
She thinks it's hers. And the nice, high quality fake suede? (It's fake, but it feels really close to real.) Yeah. Hangs on to fur like a fuckin' MAGNET.

And of course, the person most annoyed by this is the husbeast. (Forgivably. He did go out and buy the chair for me.) So it's this constant war and somehow I'm stuck in the middle.

Yes, I've taken advantage of the catapult effect of the chair's shape. More than once.


Remember the blanket I want to knit for the living room? It got this far:
Has anyone seen my motivation? Yes? No? Well, can you find it and send it over here? Pleeeeease?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Group created!

The Ravelry group has been created.

I know some of you don't want to participate in the giant time suck that is Ravelry. That's fine. I get where you're coming from. My goal is for all KAL information to be here on the blog, easily found to the whole wide internet. So there's no loss by not joining. But if you wanna... HERE IT IS.

So, anyway...

I actually felt like blogging this week, but Blogger ate itself, so, um. Here we are. (Do you think "my dog ate the server" works as a valid excuse at Google HQ? I'm thinking not, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall.)

I've wondered what to do about questions and answers with the knit-along. I've finally decided I'll address them on the fly (like, right here, as they come up), but then I'll go back and add the comments to the relevant post. Ideally, I'd like to put ALL THE POSTS together into a PDF and upload it to Rav (or otherwise make it available) as a sort of EPS long form for anyone who wants it.

There've been lots of questions about using things in place of gauge swatches. It's your sweater, I'm not telling anyone they HAVE to do anything. HOWEVER. Youse guys who are talking about some kind of flat-knit sample, and using it as an in-the-round swatch? Proceed with extreme caution. Lots of folks think their gauge is the same, flat and in the round. It almost never is. If you've run the numbers before, and you KNOW, then knock yourselves out. Personally, I vary by about half a stitch per inch. That's a lot. (And I knit more loosely in the round. I'm told that's unusual. I'm always special.) So... yeah. It's up to you. If you've never compared before, you might want to. It's a good thing to know. For instance, when I do back-and-forth short rows at an in-the-round neck line, I always make sure to knit loosely so it 'goes' with the rest of the sweater.

Incidentally, it's 'fixin' to rain' (as some folk in the south are known to say). I'm sitting in my living room, watching lightning repeatedly strike a natural gas well over the ridge from our neighborhood. There's a lightning rod on it, so there's no worry, but I almost hope the lightning rod fails. It would be interesting. (No one lives near enough to it for it to be dangerous if it were to blow.)

Anyway. Knitting.

Someone had an intelligent question about my two different colors of yarn from swatch to sweater, and wouldn't that make a difference in the gauge? (Good question, and bravo for thinking of it.) Yes. A very slight one. If I were doing a tailored anything, I would, indeed, knit a new swatch with the proper yarn. But I'm knitting myself a loose pullover (okay, possibly a cardigan, I haven't decided yet) so it doesn't matter too much.

I'm setting up a Ravelry group for us. I don't intend it to be our primary anything, but one of my Beloved Readers pointed out that it would be easy to post photos there, in case of questions. It's a good point. So, I'll do that and get a link out to everyone. For those of you not on Ravelry, it's free if you want to. For those of you worried about getting sucked into the madness that is Ravelry, you don't have to join the group if you don't want to.

Okay. I think that's it for the knitting questions. I'll probably remember something as soon as I click "publish", so heck, I'll just have to blog again tomorrow. Heavens.

Monday, May 09, 2011

KAL03: Measuring gauge

So. We measure gauge. This involves a bit of math, nothing too horrific. I usually scratch it out on the back of an envelope or possibly a notebook, but a calculator is also a valid solution, if decimal points really scare you THAT much.

Lay out your gauge swatch. Stick a pin somewhere in the middle of it, between two stitches. Lay out a tape measure (centimeters or inches, doesn't matter; I'm running in inches just because that's where my brain is right now). Make sure the tape measure along the row, so that you are measuring across ONE row, not several. (That's my favorite mistake.) Stick the second pin in, one inch away from the first. DO NOT LOOK AT WHERE YOU PUT IT. Do not shift it a little to one side or the other to make it 'fit' or be neat.
This, incidentally, is 5.25 stitches per inch.

Things to remember:

Write down what you get, down to two decimal places. My measurement would be 5.25 inches. Measure three or four more times. Write down each stitch count you get. Once you've got AT LEAST THREE (but five is better) measurements, average them out. (Add them all together, then divide by the number of figures you have.) That is your UNWASHED STITCH COUNT.

Now go wash your swatch, however you intend to wash your sweater. For me this means a trip through the sink or washing machine, soaking in mild detergent, then a rinse, then a spin to get out the water. I let it dry flat, wherever it's convenient.

When the swatch is dry, measure it all again for the WASHED STITCH COUNT.

The washed stitch count is the figure you are going to use for everything, in terms of the EPS math.

The unwashed stitch count is for when the sweater is halfway done, and you look at it and say "OMG IT DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT". You can measure it right there, and know whether or not it will all work out in the blocking.

For simple, casual knits like the one we're doing, I often skip the unwashed stitch count - it's most useful for tailored knits, when you're trying to fit things precisely and a half an inch is a big freaking deal. But for now, well, you guys can use the practice, so I had you do it. But you can skip it if you really want.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hey! I'm well!

Whaddaya know! Poof! Feel great, yesiree!

Years ago (I am reasonably sure it was 2000, but I would not stake my life on it), the husbeast and I had an... incident, you could say. The annoying start of a trend, you could say.

2000 was the year my mother was sick in Ohio, and I was living in Hawaii. Well, there were three years like that, but 2000 is the year I logged enough miles (in planes) to go around the earth more than once. (I quit keeping track. It was depressing.) Between the stress, the jet lag, and the fact that planes are seething pits of germs, I got sick. A lot. All the time.

The husbeast, unreasonably, I thought, found this upsetting and worrisome.

I kept explaining that it was a series of colds. I was run down. I was on planes all the time. I WAS FINE. His answer to this, after a few months, was to make a doctor's appointment for me, haul me down there, and physically shove me into Dr. R's office. Given no choice about it (the husbeast, y'all may have noticed, is considerably larger than I am), I arrived at the doctor's office spitting mad. Dr. R asked me what was wrong, and I delivered a five-minute rant that started with "I've been sick for a couple months".

It took some effort, but Dr. R did not laugh. He did allow that my being sick for months did seem like a reasonable thing for the husbeast to be upset about. (Bah. Dr. R ALWAYS sided with the husbeast.) However, he did agree with my assessment, wrote me a prescription for chicken noodle soup and bunny slippers (seriously; I loved that guy), told the husbeast I was fine, and turned me loose. You could tell Dr. R loved the whole thing.

Spring in Hawaii, I used to get pneumonia. Some pollinating plant or other combined in unholy union with my asthma, and if I wasn't super careful, blammo. (One of the few things I found truly annoying about living there.) I would resist going to the doctor, usually giving in (with no grace whatsoever) when the husbeast made noises about taking me. Again stress reared its fucking head, though, and got the better of me.

I'd been in a nasty, four year long lawsuit, and we had just about settled the whole damn thing, when the plants pollinated and my asthma went crazy. I figured I could sleep it off. (In my defense, some years, I really could.) I felt worse and worse, my voice began to disappear, and a fever started creeping in. BUT I WAS FINE, DAMN IT. Then, one afternoon, the husbeast called. You guessed it. He informed me I could go in my pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, or I could get dressed. He was on his way to pick me up at that moment.

I got dressed.

By then, Dr. R was using the husbeast as a gauge for how sick I was; if the husbeast appeared with me in the waiting room, it was time for concern. I went into the exam room. The husbeast waited. I came out (imagine, if you will; doctor, nurses, receptionist, patients all over) and told the husbeast, "It's pneumonia again." He replied, "YOU DUMBASS". Everyone gasped. I rolled my eyes.

Down at the pharmacy, they asked me if I'd had those drugs before. I said yes, I'd taken them when I had pneumonia the year before. The husbeast said "YOU DUMBASS". The pharmacists and customers were horrified. I rolled my eyes.

So, this Friday on the phone, the husbeast said "you've been sick for two weeks. It's probably time you saw Dr. B." After some quick negotiation, I have the weekend and if I'm not doing better Monday, I can make my own appointment or I'm sure the husbeast will do it for me.


(We'll get back to the knit-along Monday, latest. Thanks for your patience.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Well, hell.

There will be a slight pause in our knit-along as I deal with the lung snot from hell. I wanted to soldier on through it, but I'm to the point where I can't think straight, and that does nothing for my tech-writing skills.

Maybe this will give more folks a chance to get organized and join in.

With luck I'll be back in a day or two, this time able to string together a coherent sentence.


Monday, May 02, 2011

KAL02: Gauge swatch, part one.

This was supposed to be one super-long post, but last week's germs are making a return visit (or some new damn germ has moved in), so we're gonna take this slowly.

That means, more time for you guys who hope to join in later, to get joining!

So, the swatch. I don't always knit a swatch. Particularly not in a case where I'm using yarns I've used before. It's not unheard of for me to measure gauge off a sweater I've worn for a year, or even measure gauge off a sweater I gave to someone else as a gift. ("Hey, you know that sweater I gave you last Christmas? Can I see it a minute?") Just be absolutely sure you're using the same needles and the same exact yarn. And don't measure the gauge in a place that stretches a lot, like across the shoulders or elbows. Chest or belly area is best for measuring gauge in old garments.

For this knit along, I'm going to assume it's a yarn you've never met before and cover the gory details. Adjust to your own situation as you will.

The good news about the EPS is, we don't need to match our gauge to anything. Whatever we get in our little swatch, we get, and that's it, and no re-doing on smaller needles or re-working the pattern or any of that shit. If it's 6.29 stitches per inch, that's what you deal with. (Bust out a calculator if you've gotta.) The sort of bad news is, for the EPS to work properly, you REALLY need for the gauge to be accurate. EVERYTHING is figured from stitches per inch (or centimeter), so if it's off, you're doomed.

Remember the 'you're doomed' bit, when I'm getting really crazy on the measurement. I may bust out the calipers, just on principle. It really does matter.

But first, we've gotta knit the damn thing, right?

So, get out a ball/swatch/skein/hunk of your yarn and take a good look at the label. Here's mine.
In case you can't read that, it says 18 to 20 stitches over four inches, on size seven or eight needles. So that's what you're going to do. Using THAT general information, cast on SIX INCHES (or about fourteen centimeters) worth of stitches. Going by this information, I'll cast on (at least) thirty stitches. Use a provisional cast on of some kind. Now. You're going to knit the vast majority of this sweater in the round, so you've got to knit the swatch in the round.

One way to knit a swatch in the round is to knit it like a sock and cut it open. Or, you can do it like I do. Knit across the row. When you're finished, cut the yarn, scootch the stitches back to the right, join the yarn in and knit across the row again with the right side facing. You wind up with something like this:
You can swoon at all the ends, if you like. I think of it as a sacrifice to the knitting gods, to make my stuff fit right. It doesn't take THAT much yarn, and doesn't need to be that big. Also, all the ends? I knit into the back of the first two and last two stitches to sort of lock the yarn in place. It works.

KNIT UNTIL THE SWATCH IS SQUARE. Fold it diagonally on itself. When the corners touch and the sides line up, you've got a square and can quit knitting. Put the yarn tail on a sewing needle and run it through the stitches on your knitting needle to keep it from unraveling. Remove the cast on, put the stitches on a string, and you're done. THAT IS IT. By putting the stitches on a holding string, you allow them to move around, giving a more accurate gauge measurement. Don't do anything else. Don't wash it, don't mess with it. Admire it from afar. We'll talk about this, tomorrow. When my head is hopefully empty of snot. 

Well, really, there shouldn't be any at this point. You can use different needles if you want. I'll be knitting mine on sixes because I like the fabric that it creates better. You can do this in seed stitch, or ribbing, or who knows what. Just knit the swatch as-is. I suggest we all follow along in stockinette, but you'll get the gist and figure out how to variate to your heart's desire.

Oh, and I just got done knitting a purple sweater for the Goob in this very yarn, so while my sweater is going to be teal, I'm using the swatches I did for the other. So there will be some purple and teal confusion in these first posts.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

KAL01: The Prototype

Every project needs a starting point. Even if you're going to change everything about it. This is mine:
The sleeves seem a little short, but that's because they're not full length. I like that. And I'll have to add a little bit of ease because I wear this without anything under it, and the new one I'm knitting will go over a tee shirt. But the length of the body is just how I like it, and like I said, you've gotta start somewhere. Once I've got a starting point and a clear idea what I want, I can alter the general plan to produce that clear idea.

For now, here are some things to think about:

-Cardigan or pullover (for this, a cardigan means steeking; IF STEEKING YOU NEED WOOL OR BE PREPARED TO SEW)
-shaping or not (I will do a bit of shaping and discuss it, BUT THIS IS MEANT TO BE A CASUAL SWEATER, it will not be fitted)
-length you want your sleeves
-what kind of neck
-double or single layer on cuffs and neck ribbing
-length of body

With those answers, and a gauge swatch, we should be okay.

Tomorrow, be ready to cast on a gauge swatch. You can skip it, but I'm not responsible.