Thursday, 14 June 2007

A little intro & I'm finally ready to roll!

My name is Jenny and I am in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I purchased my first Japanese knitting book book a couple of years ago but never made anything. Later I got caught up in the Au Kamin cardigan craze and so purchased that book. Not very long after that, things got very busy at home and work, so my knitting life was pretty much on hold. If you check out the last dates on my blog you can tell how long its been - the baby shown just turned 3 and has moved from the bathtub to the beach!

So now I'm back and have been stitching away at several projects। When the Japanese knitting bug hit again, I was all in. I spent a few years in the quilt world before returning to the knitting world, and enjoyed watching the progress of the young Japanese quilters who had come to the states and taken up quilting with a vengeance. What impressed me most was their use of the traditional geometric patterns transformed with the Asian color pallet. It is this same sensibility in design and color that I enjoy so much in the Japanese knitting books.

Now I have more books ordered from Japan, and I am finally actually knitting. Well closer to the truth is that I am swatching. And ripping. And swatching. I have been trying different yarns and needle sizes.

Thanks to our fearless leader, Silvia, I had a bit of a starting point. I chose the cover pattern from the KE #8, pulling the chart from 250 Stitch pattern book that arrived just about the time this group got started. (I haven't been able to put my hands on the actual pattern book #8 - I have three others that I'm waiting to receive.

What I like most about these patterns is the fearless use of cables and lace providing some dynamite looks. What I like least about these pattens is the fearless use of cables and lace resulting any quite a few backside increases and decreases. This was a major reason I have swatched so many times!

The second reason was working from the chart. It isn't that the chart isn't clear - it is. I just kept losing track. I also had a devil of a time trying to wrap my mind around the left and right leaning decreases on the purl side. Soooo:

First I created a spreadsheet with the chart written out row by row.

Then I printed out index cards with individual rows, each on a separate card and now I have a flip book to work from. Much easier to keep track of things! TECHknitter just addressed this same dilemma. Hmmm .... order a book from overseas to translate to English .... no wonder the Au Kamin KAL was called crossed in translation.

With the chart taken care of I still had needle and yarn to deal with. When I swatch, I usually try three different needle sizes. Two will usually have the same gauge and one will be higher or lower. They will all look different. I'll then decide which one feels right for the purpose.

I tried wool - I love to knit with it, but recently I can hardly wear it. This is a sport weight coned wool purchased from WEBS that I have in the stash. It comes off the come feeling "crunchy" but after washing it has a wonderful hand.

The first swatch is a US size 3.25 Addi. Tight to work and will mean alot of repeats. About 6.5 stitches to an inch.

The second swatch on a bamboo circ size 3.75.
Almost identical gauge except in row count. Much easier to work.

The third swatch is on a cheapo metal circ, size US 5 . At 6 stitches per inch, I'm afraid this one will stretch to the next size!

Not happy to stop there I pulled several other yarns. I have some nice cottons but I was afraid I wouldn't have enough in a dye lot to finish. Silvia, how much yarn will you use?

I'll spare you the photos, just know that there are little ringlets of about 35 stitches ripped off the needles and dropped all over the house and in the car. Latest swatch and possibly the final one is a Dale Hielo. This falls somewhere between a sport and DK weight.

I may still try one more needle with this but at about 5 stitches/1", I'm pretty happy with it. The light color also shows the work well also. sorry for the fuzzy pic - I was in a rush to get to the dentist and then to work this morning!

Hubby loves it when he walks in and sees me standing on a chair doing things he can't quite figure out!

Lastly, I had to figure out how many repeats, and from what starting point, and at what gauge will (hopefully) get me to a size 38 sweater. I have a spreadsheet for that too if anyone needs it!

My girlfriend thinks we are nuts trying to do this. She has seen my studio. She knows that I don't have any shortage of. Patterns in English! I do have co-workers that hail from other countries, so translation shouldn't be a problem. But most don't knit and I would have to teach them to knit for them to understand the terminology!

Oh well, that's why we are all in this together!

I promise my next posting will be shorter!



Silvia said...

Hi Jenny
and welcome to the KAL.
Thanks for this great message (and please keep the future ones long as well:).
I am amazed you can work with descriptions. I only used the chart - I can't use worded descriptions (they look like 'Japanese-ish' to me. For years I didn't even know what a ssk is - but I always know, based on the chart, which way my decrease needs to lean :) and that's my main reference and control.
I lived in Romania most of my life and never had knitting magazines in Romanian language, but could easily find Hungarian and German magazines. Thanks God they are using charts as well :) because non of us could speak any of these languages.
You can imagine I was thrilled to see the Japanese patterns - all charts and diagrams :).
But I guess it's all a matter of habit. Anyway - I had a bit of panic myself when I started - with the pattern running on both sides, but it gets quite easy after a while as for the second half you only work in pattern on the RS.
I used 8 balls up to now for the front, back and the neck band - and I expect to use under 2 balls for the sleeves. One ball has 100 m - so I would estimate something around 1000 m for the whole thing -size M-ish.
best wishes, Silvia

Silvia said...

by the way - I hope you are using stitch markers between repeats - they'll make your life much easier.