What is the letter we love?” indeed! I completed W Thursday night and it fits!!!! It really, really fits!!!! [pic coming later]

I’ve been so bummed that both tops I’ve knit for myself so far (Pin Up Queen sweater from Stitch n Bitch and Soleil cami) have not fit right. I was able to find them both good homes with relatives that really appreciated them, but…the point is I was trying to make them for myself and they didn’t fit right.

Ok, what have I learned from this experience? Hey, ain’t no fooling around here: gauge is ALWAYS important. And, also really try to figure out garment ease.

With Pin up Queen, I dutifully swatched and made gauge. But, I didn’t really understand the concept of ease. I knit a size that most closely fit my bust measurement, rounded up. If I had knit the next size down, it would have fit as shown in the photo and not like a sack.

With Soleil, I’ve already noted my revelation about swatching with the hand that I will actually use to knit with. Duh!

While knitting W, I made sure I always knit by throwing the yarn from my right hand (English). That’s the way I get the most even, consistent gauge. I finished it fairly quickly for me, since I don’t usually get a lot of time to knit every week. But, the weekend before last I got a lot done. My stepsister Sarah and her husband Ernie came into the city on the Saturday and stayed the night. The plan was to attend my sister Annette’s surprise b-day party late that afternoon and shock the hell out of her.

Sarah knows to always bring her knitting with her when she comes to visit. We knit for an hour or so after lunch, then brought our knitting to the party and worked away while we were waiting for the guest of honor to make it back home from the diversionary event she’d been dragged to. Boy, was she surprised! We made her cry. Is that good? Well, we definitely surprised her, that’s for sure. We left the party at about 8:30 since it was winding down, then stopped to rent some DVDs and knit away through a movie that night.

After breakfast on Sunday, I pretty much just knit the whole day. We watched our second movie rental, Sarah and I knitting away on our projects the whole time. Then Sarah and Ernie headed home and I decided it was too hot to do anything outside and it was better to continue knitting. So, I got a big chunk o’ knitting done that weekend, and had only a little to do on the AM and PM commute. I bound off on Tuesday night at SnB, and started seaming up the side. There was only one side seam to work on because I decided to just continue into side 2 from side 1 without binding off; worked just fine. I finished seaming the side and shoulders on Wednesday night, and picked up stitches for the bottom band. I completed the bottom band during
Thursday’s PM commute. Then it was just binding off the bottom, single crocheting around the neck and armholes, and weaving in ends. I was up a bit later than usual on Thursday night finishing it off, but I really wanted to get it done.

I decided to add the crochet to give it a better finish. The model one I saw at Arcadia had nice edging and I liked the look. Coincidentally, Elizabeth had brought in her finished W to SnB this week; I didn’t even know she was knitting one. She was working on crocheting the neckline and arms, too. I guess it was a consensus of sorts to crochet the edges on the W, so why not.

I wore W to work on Friday and brought along a cardigan to ward off the persistent chill from the overzealous AC in the office. It looked damn good, especially once I put on a pair of India-style beaded mules I keep at the office. In fact, those shoes and the yarn I used for W matched perfectly. Someone actually commented to how well coordinated I was.

…Special edition: stash enhancement…
Before sitting down to knit that Saturday, Sarah I ran out together on an errand. We needed to pick up a few things for breakfast the next day, but I also wanted to divert a little bit and we went to another JoAnn shop so I could scope out if they had any Cotton Ease. Ever since it was posted on the Knitlist that Lion is discontinuing Cotton Ease, seems like there’s been a contagion
of folks buying up all the Cotton Ease they can find. I had never worked with this yarn, but when I picked some up a few weeks ago at another JoAnn shop it felt really nice. I scored at this JoAnn and bought ALL of the Candy Blue, Popsicle Blue (aqua), and Licorice (black) I found. I left behind the really bright and hideous orange and yellow, which were the only other colors
they had. Not only were the skeins marked down to $3, but they had an additional % off, so it came to $2.10 a skein.

Sounds like I have enough Cotton Ease now, doesn’t it? Well…I also found time last Wednesday afternoon to squeeze in a trip to the closest Tuesday Morning — a chain reputed to have some Cotton Ease on clearance per the Knitlist — and picked up the last 6 skeins of Banana Cotton Ease (a soft yellow) they had in stock. Yeah, I think I have enough now. I can make 2 baby blankets for expecting colleagues now out of Cotton Ease. I plan to use the soft yellow Banana color for one, and the sort of minty green Pistachio I purchased a few weeks ago for the other.

…On the needles…
Sitcom Chic done in Cotton Ease Candy Blue. I’ve been wanting to make this little cardigan for several months now, but hadn’t really decided on the yarn. Until I got a feel of the Cotton Ease, that is. The pattern actually calls for Cotton Ease (in a color of pink that seems to be unattainable), but until I actually felt it I wasn’t sure I’d want to use it. Cotton Ease knits up wonderfully, and its a shame Lion is discontinuing it. I just don’t get it, frankly. I’ve tried Lion’s Homespun (*shudder*), Microspun (OK, but prone to splitting), Wool Ease (not bad, and great for kid’s winter stuff), and now Cotton Ease. Cotton Ease is by far the best of the lot,
and they’re discontinuing. Go figure.

Ok, I’m going to rant a bit now about yarns, so special warning. I really don’t think of myself as a yarn snob, but it is annoying as hell to me that the major craft store chains are stocking mostly stuff that I really don’t want to knit. I went into Michael’s Friday night hoping to get some size 5 DPNs for Sitcom Chic and perused their selections. The Michael’s near my house has recently re-organized their yarn area and it seems that now all they are stocking is acrylic baby yarns (Red Heart, Caron’s, TLC, etc.), Lion’s assortment of “general use” yarns (Homespun and Wool Ease), and scads and scads of various novelty yarns. Seriously, two entire aisles of novelty crap: fun fur, sqiggly stuff, etc. Yuck! How can anyone actually knit a nice sweater for an adult with this crap?

I foresee lots more Internet ordering of yarn in my future. I support my local LYS. I buy yarn and supplies there regularly. In fact, I made a trip there Saturday because, of course, Micheal’s doesn’t stock size 5 DPNs. Of course not. Who needs size 5 DPNs to knit a poufy little scarf with all that novelty yarn they are now selling? But, the LYS doesn’t stock every kind of yarn
available, and sometimes it’s better for my budget to order the stuff on the Internet. I always end up buying something when I walk in there, though, and think of this as my way to dutifully support a business that provides me with so much. Kathy and Sharon have given me a lot of advice and are always willing to do so, even on projects where I did not the yarn or pattern
from them.

Anyway, back to Sitcom Chic. Perhaps because of my success with W, I am totally committed to making another garment that fits right. So, I got really serious about swatching for it. My first swatch didn’t match the stitch or the row gauge. For my second swatch, I went down a needle size and got stitch gauge, but missed the row gauge by an ever-widening mark. It’s kind of
frustrating that my original gauge could be summarized as: too large of a stitch gauge and too small of a row gauge. Of course moving down a needle size wasn’t going to help my row gauge at all, but that’s what the LYS ladies suggested as the best course of action.

As luck would have it, Knitty has a great article on dealing with gauge issues in their current issue. I read it through, pulled up a spreadsheet, and calculated out my options. I actually mapped out the pattern instructions, how the dimensions were reflected with the pattern gauge, calculated how the FO would turn out at my original stitch/row gauge, then computed the variable in Excel. I was truly being geeky about this. After my second swatch, all that calculating around stitch gauge was obsolete, but I’m still glad I did it. It really helped me understand the pattern and the consequences of forging ahead without re-calculating for my gauge. So…I’ve doctored the pattern to fit my row gauge as best as possible. I’m only about 10% off in row gauge, but that would mean about 1.5 inches difference in total garment length, which is not what I want.

Yep, I’m a serious knitter now and don’t mess with me!

…In the garden…
Rain, ah, blessed rain! Last Wednesday, a quick moving storm dumped an inch of rain (according to my rain gauge) on my yard, and I was relieved of the chore of watering the beds for the week. It is raining in downtown Chicago as I write this now and I’m hoping some of it is
coming down at my place. (Although it will make for a miserable commute slogging through rainy streets and el platforms.)

Now that I’ve got the soaker hose in action in the veggie bed, my peppers and tomatoes are doing much better. I’ve seen the peppers dutifully flowering, and some good looking tomatoes are forming. Cukes and the like have been a disappointment this year. I am not getting any flowers on my cukes or the cucamelon I decided to try this year. But, I’m getting beans now and loving them, and the beets are great. I hope to get some brussels sprouts this year…the plants are growing well.

The ‘Texas Dawn’ water lily I added this year to my little tub water garden has been a real joy. It is blooming regularly. My newest bed (converted yet more front lawn into a perennial bed) is really filling in nicely with the selection of mostly native plants I planted. It’s looking just as I imagined.

Now I’m tempted to covert the rest of the front lawn into shrubs and perennials. Only about 1/3 of the front lawn area is now perennial beds. Why not, I’ve been thinking, we really don’t need grass there and it would look so nice and be easy to water with soaker hoses. It would be a lot of work and quite an investment in plant stock, though. Decisions, decisions…

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