Archive for February, 2014

A subject that keeps surfacing in the knitting community is whether it is okay if a knitter can’t get row gauge, but is spot on with stitch gauge. The answer is no, it’s not okay. If I can’t get row gauge I have a lot of pencil, paper and calculator work ahead of me.

Row gauge is the ruler of lengths. The shaping of a piece occurs over a set amount of rows. If my row gauge doesn’t equal the gauge given, all shaping will be off if I follow the pattern shaping as written.

What to do?

First, I find my row gauge over 4″ / (10) cm. Why 4? It’s a standard number. It’s also an even number. Even numbers are the gold standard of knitting because everything is done in twos. Knitting has a RS and a WS (2 rows). Decreases and increases are often paired occurring at each end of the needle (2 ends).

Second, after finding my row gauge I make a note of the “raw” number. A “raw” number is the actual number I get when I divide the number of rows I counted by 4″ / (10) cm. Often the “raw” number is not nice and even. For example, I counted 30 rows over 4″ / (10) cm. 30 divided by 4 = 7.5 rows per inch. (30 divided by 10 = 3 rows per 2.5 cm) Neither answer is an even number. Next, I need to make a conscious decision. Do I round 7.5 up or down? Do I leave 3 as it is or round it?

For calculation purposes I decide to leave it as an open question, a decision I will make on a case by case basis.

For instance, I knitted a sweater that had 2″ (5) cm of really noticeable waist shaping. The waist was meant to pull in dramatically over a 2″ length. The pattern gauge was 24 rows over 4″. 24 divided by 4 = 6 rows per inch.The waist shaping with pattern gauge occurred over 12 rows. (2″ times 6 rows per inch = 12 rows).

My “raw” waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 7.5 rows = 15 rows. My rounded up gauge waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 8 = 16 rows. My rounded down gauge waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 7 = 14. I decided to adjust the waist shaping over 14 rows. Once done I checked it against my body to see if it needed to be changed.

Another crucial row gauge area: armholes. The initial shaping of an armhole for an adult sweater usually takes place over no more than the first 1″ or 2″ (2.5 or 5) cm. Again, I need to fit the number of decreases the pattern calls for over my row gauge.

All in all, not getting row gauge is an important issue. The knitter needs to calculate the pattern lengths to fit his / her gauge if he /she wants the piece to fit right.


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From the house to the barn through snow over my knees with a healthy crust of ice is 98 steps. I needed to get the heavy duty ice breaker and of course I looked everywhere with no success. Then it came to me that it was probably in the barn. How hard could it be to reach the barn?

At 56 steps I seriously considered lying on my back in the snow and watching the sky until I:
A) froze to death;
B) The Skipper found me;
C) caught my breath, regained my energy and plodded on towards the barn.

Instead I stayed on my feet, wobbled a moment like a spinning top losing energy, then charged forward determined to reach the barn. When I got there I sat on the tractor for a good while, moving only after I stopped gasping for air. It was the best aerobic exercise I’ve had in weeks.

They say more snow is heading our way, possibly bigger than this last one. Really, we’re just gilding the lily now.

The back of the test knit sweater is done…more or less. I am working on the two fronts at one time hoping to finish them faster. I need to see where the top lines of garter stitch fall on the fronts and adjust the back accordingly. I realize that what I overwhelmingly want is a dress maker’s dummy. One that’s my size and I can pin my knitting to. I’d love it to look old-fashioned. While I am wishing, I’d like to win the Lottery too.

For this weekend, I am going to be busy knitting and designing 2 cabled baby sweaters one with a hood and one without. I am excited about the designing. That means my pencils, drawing pad, lots of pictures of knitting surrounding me, and dreaming. I like the dreaming stage, when everything is possible, and what could be is always just within reach. The sketches….Only when I have to translate the drawings to yarn weight and sizes does reality settle itself around me again with a sigh.

Have a good weekend.

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The full spectrum of this year’s winter fashions was masterfully exemplified by the House of MoNa and its preeminent designer Mother Nature, last night. The runways, streets, highways and byways, in dales and villages and city, nothing was left untouched by her serene palette of whites, greys, and browns re-imagined and reinvigorated for a true 21st century look.

brocade of silver ice

Whether gown, jacket, or casual dress, brocades of silver ice decorated it. Peeking out from beneath a jacket of ombre colors of burnt sienna, ecru and burnt umber

grey green brown ecru

or encrusted on the top half of a gown, silver ice brocade is the fashion update this season.

front in ice

MoNa made her traditional greys, browns, and whites in many varied shades pop with surprising splashes of color. Turquoise,

turquoise snow shovel



and glints of copper provided a fresh update to MoNa’s neutral palette.

bird feeder in snow

MoNa’s greens ran from lively

greens of winter

to dusky beneath silver ice brocade.

tree snow

The good news, MoNa is repeating this show 2 days from now. Tickets are available from the Weather Channel.

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February has just begun and I wish it were over and done with already.

The Skipper is down for the count. Somehow the muscle behind the knee and where it meets the hamstring is injured. At least we hope that’s all it is. It’s very unlike The Skipper to complain about anything, but the pain was severe enough to keep his leg elevated and him quietly sitting all day. Of course it was Sunday and his doctor was nowhere to be found. Some idiot was covering and couldn’t grasp where the injury was located. He kept talking about the heel. I finally hung up the phone on him. I have little patience with the medical profession, actually I truly have none. Combine that with a healthy dose of no trust, and a belief that they are not gods and I need to be very mindful of my attitude and behavior when I am interacting with them. When I hung up, I hung up gently, though I was very angry.

Over the many years I have learned that my anger is proportional to my fear. The more I fear something, the angrier I become. Fear and anger can’t be felt simultaneously. In order to not feel fear, my default setting is anger. My anger is a mask for the real problem, fear.

Today his doctor may be around. The Skipper will call him. We are also knee-deep in a snowstorm that is predicted to grow worse as the day wears on and getting to the doctor’s office today looks like a no go. Why, I don’t know, but I have a feeling I hope is wrong, that it’s just not a strained muscle. Enter anxiety and fear.

The second thing to go wrong is the sweater I am test knitting. I need to rip back 5″ (13 cm) because I was off in knitting land and failed to follow the instructions. When I touched base with reality and saw what needed to be done as opposed to what I was doing I became all frazzled. Three garter stitch lines run across the bottom and top of the sweater marking the beginning and end of the lace panels. I got all in a dither over the ones on the top and whether they would call attention to my bust area, which I don’t want because of the mastectomy. After repeated measuring, thinking, measuring again, I decided to follow the directions and see. Cue the anxiety.

In order to escape all this for an hour, I watched episode 3 of Downton Abbey. Mistake number 3 for the day. This was the episode where something bad happens to the one remaining character I truly like. It unnerved me for the rest of the evening. Every writer has his prerogatives. I get the point that no one gets through this thing called life unscathed. But must the viewer be repeatedly beaten over the head with this point?

Oh yes, I forgot. I am the kind of person who cries when a tree dies. Yesterday, Yarn Rascal found a dead vole in the snow. It must have lost it’s way and frozen to death. I love animals. All animals. So I spent time digging a little grave.

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