Thursday, July 12, 2007


To my delight my Knit Picks box was on my doorstep when I came home. Hurray!

The other box is still sitting in that damn West Virginia sorting facility.

Anyway, I opened the box and gleefully spent a big chunk of the evening labeling the little plastic pockets of the organizer and putting the various needle tips and cables in their places. That was fun. I take way too much bizarre pleasure in labeling and organizing.

I am contemplating getting a second binder for my fixed circular needles. The binder as I have it now is kind of full already. It will easily fit the entire Options set (including the three needle sizes and three cable sizes that are not included in the base set), but there is no way it could accomodate that set plus the range of fixed circulars (needle sizes from 3 down are too small to accomodate the screws at the end of the needle tips, so these are not available as interchangeable needles and must be purchased as fixed circulars - this is not really unique to the Options set, but is a problem with all interchangeables that use this type of join).

Knitter's Review suggests using tackle binders with bags as a cheap circular storage option. Looking at the available options online, they're about the same price as the Knit Picks binder. I wonder about durability and expandability - are the tackle binders rugged and large enough that they outdo the Knit Picks binder for value?

It's not really an issue right now; I don't have THAT many circulars to keep track of. But it's something to keep in mind down the road. We'll see how the binder holds up with the Options set in it first.

I was pleased with the Decadence yarn I got to make my cape in. It has no noticeable smell, and when I wound the ball up it squooshed nicely in my hand. I was worried about guage on that project (and anxious to try my new needles) so I put the 32" cable and the #11 tips together and started knitting a quick swatch to check my guage. I was worried because the project calls for size 10.5 needles, and I usually work a needle size up because I knit tightly, but the jump between 10.5 and 11 is a full 2 mm rather than half a mm, which is the distance between most sizes, so I was afraid that the 11 needles would end up making my guage TOO loose.

To my surprise I actually ended up with a guage of about 15-16 stitches per 4 inches, and the project calls for a guage of 12, which is kind of an issue. Even though I matched the weight and guage on the yarn, I think the decadence may not be as thick (it's certainly not nearly as heavy, which is the whole reason I wanted alpaca) as the Lion Brand Homespun the pattern was written for). Anyway, I called up Sbodd and he did the math for me (I tried to do it myself, but I couldn't find a calculator and I just didn't trust my result), so I will just be able to cast on extra stitches to make up for the tighter guage. All the shaping in the pattern occurs at the edges, so I shouldn't have any problem sticking extra stitches in the middle. I hope.

Although my stitches per inch was tight, my rows per inch were not, but I don't mind if the finished piece ends up a little longer than it was originally supposed to be.

I wasn't as pleased with the knitting experience as I would have liked, though. Part of the problem was the taper on the needles; it's quite long, and as I tend to knit close to the ends of the needles, I had some problem with the yarn slipping off. This is kind of the downside of working with nickle-plated needles. The slickness lets you get speed up, but since they don't have the bite that wood needles do you don't always have as much control. However, I got used to the addis, so I will just trust I will get used to these. I think part of the problem had to do with the size of the needle as well; there is a lot less difference between the point and the barrel of a size 6 needle than there is between the point and the barrel of a size 11 needle.

One thing that did bother me, though, because I couldn't figured why it was happening - I had a hard time getting the stitches to come back over the taper on the back end of the needle. It was like the stitches tightened once they got on the cable, which doesn't really make any sense at all. Anyway, I was a little frustrated; I felt like my stitches were sloppy and uneven, and I just had a hard time. However, as the little swatch grew (I was too impatient to knit a full 4x4 swatch, so I only got about six or eight rows, the knit fabric itself looked fine and felt marvelous. So, I guess we'll see. It's going to be an adjustment but I complained about the addi needles when I first started using them as well, and now they are fine.

It is funny, though, just how much your knitting style can affect which tools do and don't work for you. As I worked I really could see how one might like or not like different things about the needles depending on how you knit. For example, the taper - I only had a problem with the taper because I tend to keep my working stitches so close to the tip. Someone who works a little farther back on the needle wouldn't have nearly the difficulty I did. Once I had checked the guage I unraveled the swatch, wound the ball back up, unscrewed the needles from the cables and put them all away. As much as that project excites me, I want to finish the cotton hat before I jump into anything else - except maybe the candy wrapper sachets for Amy, because her birthday is next week and I'd like to be able to give them to her for her new house. I hope there will be some blooms on my roses that I can take to her as well.

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