Monthly Archives: June 2013

Bonne vacances

So, because I managed to luck out in the vacation department this June, I’ve spent the last few days in Paris. My “auntie”-friend Patricia was going and a couple of months ago said “hey why don’t you come with me, it’ll be fun!” and I suppose taking people up on plans like that is generally a solid life choice.

I have gotten startlingly little knitting done, aside from a bit of occasional sock knitting on planes and trains (we’ll see what happens for the flight back, I’ve never done this on a departure outside North America before). I even made careful note of a few yarn shops to look at, but the sightseeing sort of took over and so I have mostly just been a Tourist At Large. It’s all good, though, because a break is a break, and even though 4 days in Paris is probably not enough days, my legs and feet are ready to do some sitting around again, which is a good time to be heading back again and spending several hours on a plane.

But, the Knitter Network Extraordinaire comes though, and on our last night we met up with local knitter Ellen, and we had a nice dinner and pretty much exactly the kind of chatter you might expect from knitterly dinners anywhere else. We even took blurry photographic evidence.


Thanks, Paris, it was great, let’s do it again sometime.








Catch you back on the Canadian side of things!





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No such thing as too many socks


In an effort to stave off complete sock boredom, a little less than two months ago I cast on two pairs of socks at the same time. My thinking was that even if I didn’t get them knitted any faster than usual, at least I’d have a spare pair of socks to turn to if I got bored with the other one. It turned out pretty well since, a little less than two months later, I now have two completed pairs of socks. This summer I’d like to replenish the sock drawer a little more substantially, since a few of my current pairs have been well enough worn that they just don’t do the trick any more. And since I don’t tend to wear wool socks in the summer, I can stack up a few new pairs in the next few months and have them all ready and waiting for me in September and October.


These are my Nice Ribbed Sock pattern in Socks That Rock Mediumweight ‘enchanted forest’, and the Jaywalker sock pattern in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock ‘valentine’. I match these two yarns together pretty frequently with these same patterns, and the Jaywalkers in particular are some of my favourites to wear (they have a nice dressy and sleek fit to them), but I haven’t added a new pair of them to the sock drawer in quite some time. I plan to rectify that this year!


These two patterns are also a good example of how different kinds of knitted fabric behave – not just in terms of gauge, but in stitch patterning. For the ribbed socks, Socks That Rock mediumweight is a little heavier than a typical fingering weight, really more like a sport weight yarn, so I use a 2.75mm needle and 60 sts. For 2.5mm needles and typical fingering weight sock yarn, I’d usually cast on 64 or 68. However, for the Jaywalkers, I use 2.5mm needles and 84 sts. That’s not a typo – in fact, the pattern instructions come with 4 different sizes for a leg circumference between 8 and 10.5 inches around, and even the smallest size starts with 76 sts. That lovely sleek chevron-like pattern that is so versatile also causes a lot of biasing in alternate directions all the way around the leg, so you need more stitches to cover the same ground.

(I mention this because often when i bring up the Jaywalker sock pattern, someone mentions that they had problems with fit – if that’s the case, it more than likely means you’ve got to choose a larger size. Just a friendly knitter tip from me to you.)


Anyway, my socks are delightful and I am enjoying stuffing them into my sock drawer and choosing the next sock yarn victims from my stash. I’m lucky enough to be heading off on another trip next week, and socks will definitely be coming with me! Probably something else, too, but I haven’t decided what that is, yet.


These are some more Jaywalkers in a new-ish colourway of Lorna’s Laces sock called ‘The Skyway.’ The darker colours (a little dressier looking) are often a bit more challenging to knit with for me since bright colours can be more fun and shiny looking, so I try to remind myself to get the darker shades in there too. Chances are they’re likely to get worn more often. So, when I started these the other day I spent enough time with them all at once that I could get a decent way into the leg before doing anything else. With any luck they’ll be cast off before I know it.

Happy knitting this weekend, socks or otherwise!


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Back from the Bay Area

I’m back now in Ontario after a nice few days in the San Francisco Area, staying with knitter friend Liz in the East Bay, and jaunting into the city for a few touristy days. I am lucky enough to have visited San Francisco a few times before (as well as several of the lovely yarn shops there), and this time I mostly just wanted to have a few diverting days with a mix of sight seeing and leisure, which it turns out is pretty easy to do. I joined the crowds of tourists and walked around during the day (I am pretty sure at least 56% of all tourists in the entire world are on the Golden Gate bridge at a given time. The other 44% are on Alcatraz), and relaxed in the evenings. We did a weekend day trip to Napa – where I am pretty sure it is always blindingly sunny, no one can convince me otherwise – and did a bit of shopping, and it was overall a nice reset. I finished one pair of socks and got progress on a couple of other projects.

Now I have the jet lag to overcome of course, but at least I get to do that while perusing photos and catching up on knitting. Speaking of photos – I’m pleased to share several of my favourites with you.

Happy knitting until next time!













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When row gauge matters

So, you know what’s really fun to talk about? Gauge. Gauge, gaugegauge. Super awesome, right? Well, okay, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it is the opposite of fun, let’s be honest, but it’s the reference point that defines so much of what we do in knitting. There are knitters who always get gauge, knitters who never get gauge, and knitters who never even bother to swatch. There are knitters who will swatch several times until they get gauge, and there are knitters who will swatch only once and proceed to modify the pattern completely around the gauge they have achieved with that swatch. It’s all good. The goal is to get a finished knitted item that pleases you and fits you, and if you’re doing that, then you’re doing gauge right.


We’ve talked about swatches before around here. Swatches can be really useful pieces of knitting, especially once you get into knitting larger or fitted garments. Work them up as large as you can stand, because the larger a piece of fabric is, the more likely it is to mimic the way a full garment will behave. When you lay out your gauge swatch with your ruler or measuring tape to count stitches per inch (often we count over 4 inches, and then divide), you’re searching for that all important stitch gauge measurement. We put a lot of stock into stitch gauge (horizontal gauge – stitches per inch) because it’s what has the most impact on a garment’s width or circumference, and this really affects the fit.

(For example, if we are aiming for a stitch gauge of 5 sts/inch in stockinette stitch, and the intended bust circumference of the sweater is 40 ins, then we would expect a stockinette pullover would have about 200 sts. If, however, we’re getting a stitch gauge of 4.5 sts/inch and we knit that 40 ins size, it is in fact going to turn out to be closer to 44.5 ins around at the bust. Oh what a difference half a stitch per inch makes.)


A lot of the time, once we’ve achieved a stitch gauge that works for the pattern, we can easily stop there and not bother as closely with row gauge (vertical gauge – number of knitted rows per inch). This is because a lot of patterns (though not all) will give length indications in inches/cm rather than in rows, and in that case you can often skip the business of needing to count rows. Examples: if you are knitting a scarf and just need to knit until it is as long a scarf as you want, or if you are knitting a sweater from the bottom up with no waist shaping and can knit until X inches before the armholes or until desired length from armholes. In these cases you can pay less attention to row gauge because the more important thing is to decide the real physical length you want in inches/cm. (Also, I’ve not taken an empirical study of this, but I’m pretty sure matching row gauge is about eleventy million times harder than matching stitch gauge. I would bet money on this.)

However, there are some instances when row gauge does matter. Here are a few of them, regarding sweater knitting.

Sweater 1

1. When you’re knitting a raglan yoke sweater.

Raglan yoke sweaters (or, similarly, circular yoke sweaters)  require you to shape the top of the body and the top of the sleeves to the same height, either in one piece seamlessly or in pieces which are later seamed. The raglan yoke pieces then determine the total height from neckline to under-arm when worn, and thus also determine how the sweater is going to fit you around the shoulders.

Let’s say, then, that the raglan yoke decreases (if working from the bottom up) happen over a total of 56 rows (something that you can usually figure out if you count up how many decrease rows are involved in the yoke shaping), and that the pattern assumes a row gauge of 8 rows/inch. This means the total vertical depth of the raglan yoke will end up being 7 ins (56 rows divided by 8 rows/inch). Let us say, however, that your personal row gauge (that you know from your swatch) is actually 7 rows/inch. This means that your actual raglan yoke will end up being 8 ins high – a full inch difference.

Whether or not this is a good or bad result is up to you to decide, relative to how well you think those raglan depths will fit you. If you want your yoke to end up with the intended depth, then you’ll have to adjust your shaping decreases (if working bottom-up) or increases (if working top down) to be a little more frequent to compensate.

2. When you’re knitting a sweater with waist shaping.

3. When you’re working increases (from the cuff up) or decreases (from the top down) to shape sleeves.

Similar to the concern with raglan yoke depth, above, if you’re working a sweater with waist shaping, the amount of vertical space taken up by the series of increases and decreases at the top of the hip and just below the bust will be different if your row gauge is different. You can compensate for this, again, if you know in advance if your row gauge is slightly looser or tighter than indicated in pattern, and either alter the frequency of shaping decreases and increases, or place them slightly differently.

The same goes for sleeves, when you want to make sure the sleeve shaping still leaves a comfortable few inches of even length at the wide part of your upper arm. If your row gauge were significantly looser, then your from-the-cuff-up sleeve increases would stop much higher than intended, and if you were working sleeves from the top down, your sleeves might end up too long by the time you get to the end of the shaping.


Sweater 2

4. When you’re knitting a sleeve cap intended for a set-in sleeve.

Sleeve caps shaping is calculated so that the height and curve of the sleeve cap will fit correctly inside the shaped curve of the armhole where the sleeve will be ‘set in’ when attached to the body of the sweater. If your row gauge is different, then the height of your sleeve cap will also be different, either slightly too tall or too loose. This isn’t quite the emergency that a difference in raglan yoke depth might create, but it’s still good to be aware of in case you are finding your finished sleeve caps just don’t quite sit right.

5. When the pattern gives you instructions in terms of’number of rows’ or number of pattern repeats, instead of in length indicators like inches or centimeters.

A lot of contemporary patterns will give you length indicators to help you out – i.e. they’ll tell you the length from hem to waist, from hem to armhole, from armhole to shoulder, and so on. This makes it really helpful if you need to modify for length (to make parts of the sweater shorter or longer), because you can make those adjustments on each part of the pattern, safely comparing your own desired lengths with the ones in the written pattern.

However, you might encounter patterns that give these indications more obliquely by telling you to work a specific number of pattern repeats, or a specific number of actual rows. When they do this, they are assuming that you are working with pattern gauge, and that you will end up with the same finished size as intended in the written pattern. If your row gauge is different, it’s up to you to decide whether that difference will result in a better or worse sweater fit. For example, I tend to modify to add more length since I’m a bit taller size than most patterns are written for. So, if I have looser row gauge then I might be able to work the pattern as written and end up with the final size that I want anyway – it’s all a matter of knowing what you want and whether this is different than the result you will get by knitting the pattern exactly as written.

In other words, gauge is pretty great to pay attention to – you might be getting along just fine with gauge so far, but in case you haven’t been the best of friends, paying row gauge could help you out!

And in other news, this week I’m off to sunny (or perhaps foggy?) San Francisco for some getaway time, and I’m bringing knitting with me and look forward to some chilling out time, knitting time, drinking wine time. I’ll be sure to report back with some San Francisco photos next post!

Have a great Wednesday!








Filed under fearless knitting, swatching, tutorial, Uncategorized

Urban Collection Vol 2: Caroline Ave Shawl (final collection pattern)

Knitters, I promised you one final pattern in the Urban Collection, Vol 2, and here it is! Presenting the Caroline Ave. Shawl, named (like the Empire Ave cardigan) for one of the Queen streetcar stops en route to the Purple Purl yarn shop in Toronto.

The pattern is available here on Ravelry, and soon the entire set will also be available on Patternfish.


My goal with this collection was to present three sweaters of slightly different styles, each with at least one accompanying lace accessory. I also wanted to use a selection of different yarns, and Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label yarn is one that I hadn’t worked with before – so, a one-skein project with TFA Red Label was on deck to accompany the Empire Ave. cardigan.

This yarn is an elegant fingering/sport-weight luxury blend, and is soft and pleasant enough to touch that not much is required to make it really stand out. So, I gave it the crescent-shaped shawl treatment with this pattern, with a stockinette body (worked with short-row shaping) and a simple 2-row lace pattern border. This makes it easy to use up the entire skein, since you can essentially just stop working the border pattern once you’re left with enough to work the final couple of rows before bind-off. (If in doubt – always place a lifeline as you go in case you need to pull back! ;) )


The Caroline Ave. shawl (or ‘shawl-ette’, more appropriately) is a simple accessory intended for those times when you want a little something extra to keep away the chill (or over-airconditioning, perhaps), or an accessory to add a splash of colour to your outfit. It’s shown here in ‘olive’ but I think would be fabulous in just about any of Tanis’ yarn colours.


Thanks again to Tanis for the yarn support on this collection, for my knitter friend Austen for patiently modelling (sometimes in awfully chilly temperatures!) and to you fine knitter folks for your interest in the collection. It’s been a satisfying set of patterns to release and I am hoping to go back to them for more items for my own wardrobe!

I hope your week is starting off well – I’ll catch you a bit later with more knitting adventures in the week!




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