I've been knitting a lot lately, but none of it has been for the Knit That Shit meta-project. Why? Two interdependent reasons.
The first one is: non-knitting relatives.
The second one is: Yule.
Relatives requested that I make my nieces some stuff for Yule. That's cool; I'm into making stuff for my nieces, and I'd already figured out that I wouldn't make my initial KTS deadline of New Year's Eve (although I'm still bound and determined to finish the list!).
The stuff I'm making are boot toppers. I'll post photos eventually, but for now, be it known that I had to design these things from scratch. I couldn't find any patterns that were close to what was desired, and one pair requires some colour work that also needs to be done from scratch (again, more on that when I have something to show off).
In order to make the boot toppers, I had to measure my eldest niece's boots. The easiest way to achieve this was to get her to help me. This led naturally into her being interested in knitting for the first time (she's three going on four), so I brought some books along of children's patterns for her to look at.
We measured the boots, and we looked at pictures of kids wearing sweaters, and then we did some spool knitting (which she picked up right away, I'm proud to say). And about an hour after all of that was put away, I was working the first few centimetres of the first boot topper as we all watch cartoons on TV, and a little voice said:
"Auntie Kat, will you make me a sweater?"
It's the first request from either of the nieces (the youngest one is just starting to talk, mind you), so it was bound to be honoured. And that is why last week, in a year where I have publicly announced in blogland that I'm not buying any more yarn except to use up stash yarn, I found myself at the local Mary Maxim's picking out DK yarn to make the eldest niece a DK cardigan from Zoë Mellor's Animal Knits.
Said cardigan was moving along swimmingly, with thirty rows of seed stitch and intarsia already completed, when I took at look at it and thought, "Those stitches look awfully small."
So I measured, and discovered that instead of 4mm diameter needles, I had used American size 4 needles. American size 4 needles are in actuality only 3.5mm in diameter.
This leads to a 1.57mm smaller circumference, and a smaller stitch by the same length. That's a straight-line difference across the 93 stitches of the back of 146mm, but of course knitted stitches are formed of waves, not straight lines. Typically it takes 3-4 times the straight-line width of a row in yarn to knit that row (5-6 times for crochet). Assuming, therefore, the wave of stitches is 3.5 times the straight-line width of the row, I was using up 511mm less yarn each row than I was supposed to be. Over, remember 93 stitches.
511 divided by 93 is 5.4, and 5.4cm just happens to be almost exactly the amount I was too narrow on the knitted piece.
Which is all a very long, mathematical way of saying that a) I'm pretty sure that when I use actual 4mm diameter needles, I'll be exactly on-gauge and b) I ripped out all 30 completed rows today, so I'm behind even on the new projects. Argh.
Also, c): when oh when will Americans join the rest of the world and use metric? And if they won't, can the Canadian government at least make them re-label needlework tools for sale in Canada so that they're in metric? Please? Pretty please?