Help me, internets! I need your collective knowledge and guidance. No time to be clever or verbose today — I urgently need advice. As a little background (cue collective thinking: “Didn’t she just say she had no time to be verbose?”), this weekend I went to the SNEKnitBlogCon (the Southern New England Knitbloggers Conference — I don’t think that’s what anyone else called it, but it’s what I call it), which was graciously hosted by Sarah Cooper, owner of KnitWits in Westerly, R.I. It’s a lovely store with very pleasant staff, and if you ever find yourself crossing the border between Rhode Island and Connecticut on I-95, you should swing by.
The group included Kristen of Audio Knits, Debby of She Knits by the Seashore, Sarah of The Knittin’ Kitten, Lorraine of Stuff, Junk, and Whatnot, Erika of Sloth Knits, and me. I really hope I’m not forgetting anyone. Sarah had a wonderful array of yummy goodies spread out for us, and we all snacked and chatted and knit. (A couple photos of a good time being had by all can be viewed here.) The group scattered to all corners of the store, however, when Sarah distributed 15 percent off coupons to each of us, at which point current knitting took a fairly decided back seat to future knitting. I don’t think a single one of us walked out of the store that day without a powder-blue KnitWits shopping bag bulging with goodies. Which leads me to my purchase, which leads me to my need for advice.
For several months now I’ve been fairly sure that I want the Gatsby Girl Pullover from the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits to be my next sweater. That desire became even more intense after Paloma finished and posted about her finished version. I’m generally very very good about knitting from my stash and only buying yarn for projects I’m really truly about to start, so I was happy to be looking for an opportunity to pick up the yarn for this project. A 15 percent off coupon and 10 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in the same dye lot fairly screamed opportunity, so I snatched it up and didn’t try to cast on while driving home only because Erika was with me and might not have felt entirely safe had I done so. (We had already had one brush with danger when Erika realized that a spare alkaline battery in her purse was, on its own, heating up to an alarmingly high temperature. I pulled over and, with visions of permanent scarring from battery acid dancing in my head, popped the battery into a Ziploc plastic bag. Hey, I figure if a zip-top bags protect us from terrorism via toiletries, they can certainly protect us from exploding batteries! We made it home without incident, though Erika did take the battery with her when I dropped her off, and I haven’t heard from her since….)
Aaaaanyway, I got home and immediately swatched for the sweater. I got gauge perfectly on size 3 needles (why oh why do I keep choosing these ridiculously small-gauge sweaters?), took my “new project” photo for the blog, and was on my way. Lovely yarn, beautiful pattern — I couldn’t have been happier. Except…well. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this yarn was not, in fact, a good substitute for the Rowan Cashsoft DK called for in the pattern. This feeling grew and grew, and I spent HOURS going over it in my mind, agonizing over whether I should stop now and get new yarn to avoid the risk of ultimately discovering that the yarn was, in fact, all wrong, or whether I should persist on the chance that everything really would turn out fine. Instead of making a decision myself, I’m asking the internets to make it for me. Here are the very detailed specs. Please try to stay with me and then leave a comment telling me what to do and I promise to obey you.
The DB yarn and the Rowan yarn are virtually the same content. The DB is 125 yards per 50-gram ball. The Rowan is 130 yards per 50-gram ball. Based on this, I concluded that the yarns were close enough to identical to safely substitute one for the other (even though DB also makes/made a cashmerino yarn that is officially a DK weight — which also seems to be 125 yards per 50-gram ball but with a gauge the same as that of the Rowan DK). Given the weight and yardage similarities, it would seem to me that all these yarns would be basically the same. If this assumption is not true, I’m looking for someone to tell me (and tell me why).
Where things get confusing is with gauge. The gauge on the DB is 6.25 stitches per inch on 3s. The gauge given for Rowan Cashsoft DK is 5.5 stitches per inch on 6s. (Someone tell me why yarn can be the same yardage per weight but call for such different gauges?) The gauge given in the pattern is 7 stitches per inch on 4s with the Rowan. This is where I start getting stressed. The designer of the pattern clearly knit the yarn at a tighter-than-suggested gauge. I am knitting only at a slightly tighter gauge than suggested on the ball band (my gauge swatch was spot-on). So tell me, is my yarn too skinny? Will the weave of my sweater be too open when stretched (it’s a clingy sweater)? I pinned it out to the approximate width shown in the pattern schematic and I think it looks okay:
Of course I lay awake from 4:00-5:30 this morning thinking about this. Yarn content and yardage are the same! So the yarns are equivalent! But the suggested gauges are so different — so they’re nothing like each other! I’m going to be wearing a translucent sweater and everyone will think I’m a harlot! I will be cast out of polite society!
If I were to read this on someone’s blog, I’d probably advise that she use different yarn for peace of mind alone. However, the store from which I bought the yarn is an hour away, and I can only get store credit (not a refund). I’m not saying that’s a reason to keep me from using different yarn if I really should, but it’s a reason to keep me from going with that option automatically just to stop freaking out.
So, internets, what do you advise? I’m putting all my faith in you — please don’t let me down.
That sound, my friends, is the bottom of the barrel being scraped. By me. I have nothing to post. Nothing to say. I have been crazy at work with travel and major deadlines, plus I had to spend most of Wednesday neglecting my work by reading any and all media coverage of America’s Redemption at Last, a.k.a. the midterm elections (and that after getting four hours of sleep on Tuesday night because I couldn’t tear myself away from following the election returns, to which I was so riveted that I couldn’t even knit). That meant that the displaced work had to be finished during non-working hours (typically reserved for knitting). Hence my utter dearth of material for the blog. These are desperate times; therefore, this post consists entirely of desperate measures.
Ten Knitterly and Bloggerly Things You May Not Know About Me
Not only am I the last to the party, but I have pretty much arrived after the party is over and the host is taking the final bag of trash out to the curb. Fortunately I’m the kind of obtuse guest who doesn’t pick up on this, waltzes in, and pours herself a drink anyway. Here we go:
1) My favorite combination of stitches is P1 YO K1. I feel as though I’m getting away with something.
2 I really really really hate editing my blog entries after they have been posted because it makes them repost in Bloglines, which I don’t care about when it happens with other people’s blogs, but for some reason I find it embarrassing when I do it. However, I find that NOTHING makes me more instantly witty and insightful than hitting “publish” on my post. No matter how many times I read it in advance, I will always think of 20 things I could have said more cleverly as soon as I’ve gone public.
3) I am perpetually on the verge of abandoning my blog. For good.
4) I have horrendously bad posture when I knit. I’m often reclining on the couch with the cat lying right up against me trying to inflict punishment on the yarn and/or needles, so I’m holding it awkwardly out of the way sort of over my shoulder. Basically I am ensuring that one day I will make chiropractor very wealthy.
5) I don’t like knitting podcasts. At all. There, I said it. (That doesn’t mean I don’t like you, knitting podcasters, so please don’t diss my blog on your next episode.)
I do, however, like Rain‘s idea of short video blog posts, and I hope to incorporate that idea into my blog one day when I’m in need of a little novelty (or, as usual, desperate for content). I think it’s fun to hear a blogger’s voice and see him or her in action. I encourage all of you to consider this idea as well — I’d get a kick out of seeing you all live.
6) Man, I don’t think there actually are ten knitterly or bloggerly things y’all don’t know about me. I can’t believe I’m only at number six.
7) My one good idea for a knitting product not already on the market (that I know of) is a scarf-specific blocking board. I have a fairly large blocking board (this one), but it is not long enough for a scarf and I always have to do those in two sessions. I think a 9-inch by 72-inch board that folds accordion-style would be great. I’d buy one, anyway.
8) I don’t think I’m as good a knitter as I should be given how long I’ve been doing it and how intensely. I don’t know whether this is because I’ve maxed out my natural talent or because I’m not challenging myself enough. I suspect (and hope) it’s the latter.
9) I don’t have any interest in spinning, dyeing, crocheting, weaving, or writing my own patterns. I’m sure all are fun and rewarding, but my feeling is that there are already more wonderful patterns I want to knit than I will ever be able to get to in my lifetime, so why would I take on another hobby that would result in crowding my knitting time even more? Therefore, I avoid even the temptation of those hobbies: if you put a detailed post on your blog on any of these subjects, chances are I’ll make myself skip it (or at best skim it).
10) I volunteer once a week with long-term maternity patients who are typically otherwise healthy but whose pregnancy complications require them to stay in bed, in the hospital, usually for weeks and sometimes for months at a time. Because such patients are prone to depression (wouldn’t you be, especially if you were a non-knitter?), the hospital has volunteers come in to teach the patients to knit to help pass the time. Last week I taught a woman and her husband at the same time – that was fun. In fact, it is interesting and rewarding in many ways. If this sounds appealing to anyone, I encourage you to contact your local hospital to see if it has a similar program.
One thing I almost never do is gratuitously cat-blog. But from my vantage point at the bottom of the barrel, it’s one of the only options currently available to me.
Of the three cats in our household, Willow is the most “mine.” She is quite devoted to me, and any time I’m stationary for more than 3 minutes, she makes her way over and arranges herself in such a manner that makes it difficult for me to get up (lest I disturb her adorability). Her attentions are welcome when I’m laptopping; less so when I’m knitting.
All of our cats are fairly sociable, in fact. If you lie on the couch with the quilt over you, you can expect to have two cats nestled in with you pretty much immediately. This was taken when Matt was studying for the GRE — full context photo here
Finally, I just think this one’s cute. And that concludes my cat-blogging.
Music to Which I Am Currently Listening
I’m currently very into this new Providence band, Ten Years Too Late. They self-describe on their web site as “focused on writing a set of lyrically intimate songs lending themselves to acoustic performance and seamless vocal harmonies.” To describe their style further, I’d say start with the Dixie Chicks, subtract about 1/3 of the country twang, add a male vocalist, and…well, really they’re not that much like the Dixie Chicks, but they do have a fiddle. Go check them out! I am in no way married to one of the band members.
I figure that the most logical thing to do when one does not have knitting content is to fill one’s post with chatter about the things that are occupying one’s life. That’s not generally my style, but in honor of today’s blogging desperation I will attempt to relate a story from my recent travels. I’ll tell you up front that I think this story is funny, but that I fully recognize that it might not translate here. Think less of me if you must.
On Thursday I was in NYC, scheduled to return to Providence on the 5 p.m. train from Penn Station. I had a 3 p.m. appointment that I expected would last, at most, an hour, which would give me time to walk the 5 blocks back to my hotel, retrieve my luggage, hail a cab, and make it to the station with time to spare.
The meeting, however, lasted until 4:25. Not knowing Amtrak’s policies on refunding tickets for missed trains, I ran at full sprint down the street to my hotel, where I grabbed my bags and raced out to Lexington Avenue to hail a cab (I chose not to have the hotel hail one for me because I had no bills smaller than $20, thus making tipping difficult). Well, at this point it was 4:30 and coming up on rush hour, and there were no cabs to be found. I was half-walking, half-running, all the while with my arm out and, often, with my head craned over my shoulder in an attempt to assess the cab situation. All while schlepping my laptop bag and my surprisingly heavy overnight bag. I plainly looked like someone desperate to get somewhere, so when I happened past a rickshaw (those touristy cart things pulled by people on bicycles), the driver called out to ask me where I was trying to go. After .25 seconds of deliberating whether I should spend precious moments on this conversation, I told him Penn Station. He quoted me $25. I asked him how long it would take; he said 5 minutes. By this time it was 4:45 and I was still three avenues and ten streets away. I was worried that he was telling me what he thought I wanted to hear, that I would miss the train anyway, and be out a bunch of money. “Okay,” I said, climbing in. “But if we’re not there in 10 minutes, I don’t pay.” (I was deeply gratified to hear an impressed murmur from the passers-by.)
What followed ranks highly both on the list of the most mortifying experiences of my life and the most terrifying. Apparently rickshaws are not confined by any sort of traffic rules. Apparently as long as the driver rings his chirpy little bell, he can sail through red lights, weave in and out of standing traffic, mow down pedestrians, and drive on the sidewalk. My driver did all of these things. I figured that if his utter disregard for rules of the road did result in a crash, at least it would be over quickly — I had nothing to protect me from any impact whatsoever. I have to hand it to him: he took my threat of non-payment seriously and really exerted himself on this trip.
So thrilling was the ride that I nearly managed to forget my embarrassment of being stuffed in a tiny rickshaw in my fancy business suit (sweated through in places — lovely!) with all my luggage piled on my lap, my hair standing on end from the humidity, looking like an utter fool. I focused on avoiding any unnecessary viewing of the sights — the last thing my pride needed was for me to look as though I had selected this mode of transportation because I thought it would be a quaint way to see the city. I tried to fix myself with a look that said, “I am a hardened, resourceful New Yorker, and F you all.”
I arrived at Penn Station in time to give the driver $31 (the most observant among you will note the irony that it turned out I did have a single dollar after all), run through the station, fly down the escalator as the sign blinked “all aboard,” and fling my sweaty self into a seat next to a woman whose day had previously been going fine.
So that’s me, thinking outside the box on business travel. Most of my colleagues will walk, travel by subway, or take cabs. Me, I’m not afraid to expand my options to include the rickshaw. Cast off your dignity, business travelers, and join me in embracing this exhilarating mode of transportation!
And to round out the randomness of this post, I leave you with this photographic homage to those foot soldiers of blocking, the pins. I and my Liesel Scarf salute you, noble pins!
Okay, I’m going to end this before I get even punchier. For someone who pronounced several hundred words ago that she had “nothing to say,” I certainly have gone on.