Monday, February 12, 2007

I knit porridge.

Last week at my LYS's stitch and sip (ah, the joys of champagne and good company whilst knitting!), one of the guys was working on a gorgeous brown sweater. Aran weight yarn...and size 3 needles. The poor boy lamented how difficult it could be to knit projects with fingering weight yarn, given that he'd have to find size 00 or 000 needles.

I've always been lucky. That nice little gauge picture on yarn bands? Some people take it as a suggestion, as a starting to point to discover the needle size they'll actually need to use. Ditto for the needle suggestions in patterns. Some people knit tightly, having to go up a needle size. Some people knit loosely, going down a needle size (or six!). And I? I knit just right. I am the third bowl of porridge, the third bed. Just right. I swatch with whatever needle size is recommended for my yarn, as suggested by the yarn manufacturer or pattern designer, and nearly inevitably, my gauge is spot on.

I don't, however, tempt fate. I know that swatching is a necessity for all fitted garments, though with things such as scarves, I don't bother, I simply start knitting. Generally, things come out alright. If it's something like a scarf, swatching seems like a waste, since a 4" swatch is most of the width of a scarf anyways. I'll know within an inch or two if the scarf is going to be ridiculously wide or narrow, or if my cabling just isn't up to snuff, so every scarf is its own swatch. If it's not right, I simply rip out the small amount of work I'd done and start over, adjusting the needle size or the pattern itself.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I began Calorimetry, got about halfway through, and discovered it was huge. I'd seen innumerable blog posts from knitters who'd knit gigantic headbands. I'd seen the stern warning about gauge, but I didn't pay it heed. After all, I was using the recommended yarn. I was using the recommended needles. And I have a big head and extraordinarily thick hair. If it came out a tad large, it'd be perfect, right?

Wrong. Not only was it painfully obvious that I'd used well over half my yarn by the halfway point (though, admittedly, I had used a small amount of yarn from that ball for another project), but there was simply no way it would stay on my head unless I placed the button somewhere nowhere near the end, and I didn't fancy the prospect of multiple layers of knitted fabric wrapping around my head. So I ripped it all out (amazing how that becomes less traumatic every time you do it), and with size 6 needles, cast on all over again.

It's much better now. Just right, even. Not too cold, not too hot. I ran out of yarn four rows from the end, but that's actually just perfect. If I wear it with the wide half towards my forehead, it fits beautifully. If I wear it with the narrow half towards my forehead, the wide half does strange things with my hair. I wore it to my stitch and sip, and got tons of compliments. Not a single person noticed that one half was a bit narrow, or that I'd gotten impatient and hadn't attached a button, opting instead to tie my cast-on and cast-off ends together in a neat little bow.

Isn't it awesome? It keeps my hair out of my face, and does it oh so more stylishly than my beat up old bandana. It makes my bangs look coy and cute. It keeps my ears warm without making me look like an idiot (which hats always do). It makes my hair look super awesome, without my having to do anything. Which is great, because I have a love/hate relationship with my blow dryer and various hair goos.

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