Friday, 25 April 2014

Signs of Spring

It's been a long winter here in Eastern Ontario - indeed most of Canada and the northern United States are well and truly sick of it. But Spring is finally here and I've been seeing a lot of posts recently about the arrival of Spring and what that means to different people. As for me, I've been waiting for one thing which truly is the sign of spring at my house. And it came today.

It wasn't the fat buds on the trees and shrubs

It wasn't the miniature daffodils on the south wall of the house

Nor was it the rhubarb or green onions

No, it was none of these things.  What I've been waiting for is that damn bird, aka the Northern Flicker, back from it's annual migration, banging holes in the side of my house.

Happy Spring.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Modifying a Sweater, Part II - Fiddling with Ease

Back to my adjustments on the Fifty Fifty tank. We left off with a discussion of swatches. Here are the two that I did. They were machine washed and laid flat to dry. 

At that time, I liked the second one more, the one worked on 3.75 mm needles but after drying I like the look, drape and feel of the 4 mm swatch more. So that is what I'm going to use.

Now for the math. I do this using Microsoft Excel but any spreadsheet will work. So will a basic calculator. I start by seeing what my gauge is on the swatch I chose. Measure a section that is 4" wide and count the number of stitches. Then divide that number by four to get the stitches / inch. In my case, I measured 21 stitches over 4 inches so my stitches per inch count is 5.25.

Next step is to figure out a few numbers. This is where I fiddle with the ease. What is ease? It's the difference between your body measurement and the garment measurement. Zero ease means they are the same, positive ease means the garment is larger than you, while negative ease means the garment is smaller than you. I don't particularly like negative ease - I find it to be too snug for my taste and comfort but I don't want this to be a big, loose top either. So I'd ideally like something with between .25 and 1" of positive ease. I create a small grid in Excel and calculate the numbers I would need to cast on for a variety of eases from zero to one inch positive ease. This is very simply the measurement times the stitches per inch so 41 inches times 5.25 = 215.25.  

Measurement 0.25" ease 0.5" ease 0.75" ease 1" ease
Sample size 41 41.25 41.5 41.75 42
Stitches 4mm 215.25 216.5625 217.875 219.1875 220.5

Next look at the pattern. There is actually a chart which shows me that there is a 12 stitch repeat, plus 14 stitches at the end to make up a round. Some more math gave me 12 stitches x 17 repeats + 14 stitches at the end = 218. This is right in the middle of my target numbers so I'm going to work with this. Normally, I wouldn't like an odd number of pattern repeats but remember that in this case, those 14 stitches at the end make up the 18th repeat so I'll be able to divide this evenly for front and back. So I've learned that I'll need to cast on 218 stitches which will give me about half an inch of positive ease as I am not putting any waist shaping in this top.

Now back to the pattern again. There is an unusual cast on method provided which I decided to try which required half again as many stitches as my actual stitch count. So 218/2=109.  218+109 = 327. This is workable, but I don't like uneven numbers. If I bump up the numbers to 220/2 =110. 220+110=330. It's no problem to add stitches for something like this, but you need to do something about them when you start working the pattern. After all, extra stitches in the fabric is why I'm doing this recalculation.

After working this cast-on, I did the join and worked the ribbing. Then there were two rows of stockinette stitch. This is where I took care of those two additional stitches we added to make up the numbers for the cast on. One last look at the chart shows that there are two "extra" stitches that don't really contribute to the pattern but would be necessary if you were working this pattern flat. I'm knitting this in the round so I removed those two stitches as well. This means that I have to decrease four stitches on my first round of stockinette stitch. I did this at the side seams, two at each side. So now I'm down to 216 stitches, which gives about a quarter inch of positive ease and is still within my target zone.

So all this because I didn't like how the pattern didn't meet up on the sides for my size. This was the original photo.

But you know what? I made it work. Here is the work in progress - at both sides just in case someone thinks I'm cheating. 

This isn't heavy pattern modification and I'll (maybe) complete the arms eye shaping by following the pattern as written.  Then again, maybe not.  I'll decide when I get there.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

An Unexpected Delay

So after starting to tell you how I modify sweater patterns, or patterns in general, I packed up my laptop and left Perth for a few days in New Jersey. I figured I'd post the next steps from the hotel in Parsippany but got there and realized that my camera was at home. As it turns out, I barely had time to sleep, let alone write the next steps before I was back on the airplane to fly home. I was home for about 40 hours which was just long enough for me to empty the suitcase, wash everything, pat the dogs and repack before driving to Toronto which is where I am right now.

This is the view out my hotel window. However my camera, with the photos is still at home. Rats. My apologies for the delay in posting the next steps for what I do to adjust sweater patterns to my liking. So here is what I can tell you:

  • The flight to New Jersey was uneventful and my time there was productive. 
  • Coming back via Pearson Airport in Toronto, there is a dedicated lane at customs for people like me who have connecting flights. 
  • Even with this fast-tracking lane, I still had to hustle; Pearson is a big airport
  • The customs agent was surprised that I was a software engineer. Not sure why.
  • My dogs really don't like it when I come home only long enough to repack my bags and then leave again.
  • I love satellite radio on long drives.
  • I have always loved Toronto, and I still do.
  • I don't like going to a restaurant by myself and I'm getting tired of eating out; I want to make my own dinner - and eat with my family.
So anyway, it's now Tuesday night and I'll be here in Toronto until Saturday morning when I'll pack everything up and make the trek back to Perth. I think there might be some yarn shopping on the way (I just realized that I'm within walking distance of Lettuce Knit....)