Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Knitting Rules of Thumb

Every so often, I come across an approximation that makes sense, is easy to remember, and I actually write down in my knitting notebook under the heading Cool Things That Are Easy to Remember but I Forget Anyway. I was flicking through said notebook the other day looking for something I have already forgotten about, and stumbled across the list. Because I am feeling way too lazy to photograph the center of the King Bat (aka Queen Ring) shawl that I finished a few days ago, I figured the list entries might come in handy for some of you. And make me feel less guilty about not stretching, pinning, photographing, cropping, uploading, and so on and so on.

Please remember that these are Rules of Thumb, not Inviolate Laws of Physics. If one or the other doesn't work every time, perhaps you could arrange for a different thumb or something.

  1. If you don't know what needle size might work best with a mystery yarn, thread the yarn through your needle gauge. The best fit is a good size to start with for regular knitting. For lace, try doubling the needle size.

  2. Don't want to (or can't) measure someone's foot? The length from the tip of the index finger to the base of the thumb is about equal to the length from the toe to where the foot connects to the leg (measured at the top of the foot). I discovered this one day when I put my sock over my hand. Why did I do that? I don't know.

  3. The measurement from the base of your thumb to the inside of your elbow is the same as the total length of your foot. Seems incredible, but it's true.

  4. If you stretch out your arms and measure from fingertip to fingertip, the length is the same as your height. You might find this useful when knitting shawls (Thanks, Carla!).

  5. The circumference of your wrist is about equal to the circumference of your foot at the arch. I have never needed to know what my arch circumference is, but I am sure there's someone out there who has been panting after this fact.

  6. The sleeves of an average sweater uses 1/3 of the total amount of yarn; the back takes 1/3, and the front 1/3. If you are not sure that you have enough yarn, knit the sleeves. Then you can adjust the body by, say, making it shorter, using a different yarn for the yoke, or blending in another dye lot.

  7. A cable takes about 10% more yarn than knitting the same stitches flat. This is an important rule of thumb if you decide to add some cables to a plain sweater--you'll need to cast on extra stitches or the fit of the sweater might be a big surprise. Actually, it would be a small surprise, but you know what I mean.

  8. Changing the size of your needle will change the gauge by about 1/2 stitch per inch for each needle size increment or decrement.

  9. One row of knitting uses about 3 times its length in yarn. This is a nice factoid for long-tail cast-on that eludes me every time I do a long-tail cast-on.

  10. According to the folks at Elann, if the gauge of a single strand of yarn is X stitches-per-inch, the gauge when used doubled will be X*.7.

  11. Also via Elann--if the project requires X ounces of yarn used single-stranded, it will require X*1.4 when used doubled.

  12. If you want to make a circular shawl, the general rule for increasing, is to increase four stitches every round, eight every other round, 12 every third round, or 16 every fourth round. There's some geometric flim-flam going on here. Please don't try to explain it to me.

  13. Eight increases/decreases every second round will give you a flat knitted circle. Six increases/decreases every round in single crochet will too.

  14. If you make six increases every second round, then knit x rows (where x is the number of rows with increases that you just made) then decrease six times every other row, you will get a ball.

  15. Two increases/decreases in the center of every second row will give you a 90 degree angle. That one’s pretty obvious, but it’s so useful.

  16. The last row of a project takes as long to knit as the rest of the entire sweater/sock/hat/scarf. This is a prime example of the Time Dilation effect.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Easy Go: The Sequel

Thanks so very much to everyone who made room in their homes for last week's offerings. Harry was delighted to learn that I didn't sell the hot pink eyelash yarn. However, what I didn't mention to him was that I had cut that grisly stuff into small bits and auctioned it off to the neighborhood birds. The nests look a bit, erm, exuberant, but at least they all match.

The back yard now resembles a miniature South Florida neighborhood. One enterprising family of chickadees further adorned their home with tiny pink flamingos. (I don't want to know where these came from.) Unfortunately, the yarn clashed horribly with Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, who finally convinced me to trade the lurid pink for some equally regrettable twinkly fun fur. Their nest looks like a Las Vegas casino, but it sure is cheerful.

This week, I am listing a few more lace yarns, but most of what's here is sock/fingering weight. My Paypal address is sglinert--feel free to send me money and I will send you your yarn. Don't forget to tell me which yarn you want in the Paypal comment section. Or you can just email me, if that's more convenient.

IST Spindle--18 grams--oak burr inlay, sycamore whorl and ash shaft.
$60 including US postage

Lisa Souza Sock Merino-Graphite
100% Superfine Merino Superwash 560 Yards
$18 including US postage

Katsara Yarn Pure Merino Fingering Sock- Hosta
100% Merino 370 yards

including US postage

Katsara Yarn Pure Merino Fingering Sock- Delphi
100% Merino 370 yards

including US postage

Seacoast Handpainted Superwash Sock
100% merino 560 yards
$21 including US postage

Unique Sheep Merino Sock-Blue/Purple
75% superwash merino, 25%mohair 346 yards
$17 including US postage

Claudia Handpainted Sock-Oops (2 available)
100% merino 350 yards in BOTH skeins
$21 including US postage

Greenwood Fiberworks Cotton Lycra Sock Yarn--Yellow
96% cotton, 4% Lycra 460 yards
$16 including US postage

Greenwood Fiberworks Cotton Lycra Sock Yarn--Black
96% cotton, 4% Lycra 460 yards
$16 including US postage

Greenwood Fiberworks Cotton Lycra Sock Yarn--Green
96% cotton, 4% Lycra 460 yards
$16 including US postage

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Easy Come, Easy Go

Well, it was certainly an eventful day. With no notice whatsoever, my company shut its doors. Worse, it shut its doors owing me a lot on money. I was also bemused to see my name spelled incorrectly on the severance letter, which sternly admonished me to refrain from discussing anything about this incident with anyone, including family pets, houseplants, or myself.

On the bright side, Harry offered to contribute to the household income by accepting a karaoke gig in Bulgaria. He then threw himself into a bottle of sake, where he has remained for most of the afternoon.

While he is in his state of inebriation, I was able to get into my stash again and sort through it.

As is often the case with stash, I found quite a lot of it that I will never use. I want to say that no offer is too small to be refused, but that's not the case. However, if you have a reasonable bid for the lace yarns listed below, I sure would like to hear it.

Katsara Yarns Alpaca Fingering--Coleus (two skeins available)
1000 yards, $38 per skein, including US postage

I shall post sock and miscellaneous other yarns for sale next week. Harry is now sleeping off his sake binge on the sock stash and I don't want to disturb him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Knot?

I love the Internet. While lounging around in my ratty shorts and t-shirt, I can go anywhere and discover just about anything except how to get rid of giant spiders that steal my stash, hoard my needles, and filch my patterns Harry. During one of my epic wanders, I stumbled upon a truly cool site called

Daniel sells a font that charts Celtic knots. I cannot imagine how many hours went into the design, but the results are simply amazing. The site is a bit confusing, so here is the link to the Charted font.

For example, by typing the following into Microsoft Word:


And then applying his font, I get the following little design:

Well, that might be interesting to cross-stitchers, but maybe not so interesting to knitters. That is, until I apply some knitting symbols to the design.

Naturally, the first thing I thought of was lace. There are several ways to treat the motif. It can be outlined with yarnovers thusly:

Or the interior can be filled with a small pattern:

Of course, these designs can be knitted without any holes at all. Cable lovers can go insane knitting something like this:

For those who like colorwork, a bit of paint to the following would make an interesting (and confusing) sweater motif.

If you want to purchase the font for charting, make sure you buy the Charting font. Daniel also offers several other fonts, for example outline, 3D, and inverse, and filled. This page shows some beautiful examples of Celtic knots applied to a variety of crafts such as woodworking, quilting, metalsmithing, stained glass, and ostrich egg carving. Daniel offers a pattern pack for the chart font and there's a page of fancy knots that users have posted, which you can find here.

I would love to continue this post, but unfortunately, Harry just pulled the plug out of the compu