Tag Archives: diamond tempest cowl

Knitting Lesson: Knowing When to Move On

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How do you know when to move on from a knitting pattern that just isn’t working? You are excited about a knitting pattern and you are excited about the yarn, but it’s not going your way.  Do you keep trying?  Do you try a different yarn?  Do you look for another pattern to knit?

Luckily (??), I have an example for you!

The Background of My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

A couple of weeks ago, I started the Diamond Tempest Cowl with the impossibly soft and wonderful-to-knit-with Cascade Baby Llama Chunky yarn.  It had a great pattern to it and I thought it would make a great knitting class in learning how to do right twists (RT) and left twists (LT).  And the yarn! Sooo great.

BUT, there was the game of yarn chicken, in which I lost, running out of yarn with two rounds and the bind off still to do:

This was completely my fault for using the wrong needle size and not checking my gauge.  So, out it came and I started over, changing my needle size and checking my gauge.  My gauge was a tiny bit tighter than suggested, which was okay, because that meant I would need less yarn.  It also meant that my cowl would be a tiny bit smaller but that was okay too.

When I got halfway through the pattern, I weighed my yarn to make sure I was in the clear, and that I wouldn’t run out of yarn again:

The Decision Point in My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I had exactly half my ball of yarn left.  In any normal circumstance in which I am the only one affected by this cowl, this would be fine.  If it was really that close at the end, I could cut out one round and it would be fine.  However, since this is going to be for a class I’ll be teaching, I need to keep my students in mind.  Several things come into play:

  1. If I had gotten the correct gauge, I probably would have run out of yarn again.
  2. In a knitting pattern there really should be a buffer in terms of yardage needed.  This allows for differing knitting tensions of the people working this pattern.  Adding 10-15% to the amount used in the sample is a general rule.
  3. You may ask, “Why not just get more yarn?”  And the reason is that this is supposed to be a one-skein project.  To spend money on another skein of yarn, just to need 2-3 rounds worth is just not practical to ask students to do.
  4. I did not want to ask the students to modify the pattern. They are coming to class to learn the pattern that they saw and liked, not how to modify it.  (That’s another class I guess!)

At that point, I decided I had done my due diligence to make this yarn and pattern choice work together. I did not want to change the yarn I was using because I love working with it. The only option was to abandon that particular knitting pattern and find another quick, chunky cowl to make for a class.

The Solution to My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I found the Airy Alpaca Cowl:


The yardage needed was 100 yards, and while there was not a range in the pattern, I knew that I had a buffer with my yarn (which was 109 yards).

It knit up quickly!

The end result is great.  It is not what I wanted starting out, but I did still get to use this wonderful yarn. I got a wonderfully cozy and soft cowl, that was quick to knit.  I can work the Diamond Tempest Cowl another time when I’m sure I have enough yarn!

Extra Bit of Knitting Info:

By the way, here is the difference between pre-blocking and post-blocking:

Before blocking:

After blocking:

Can you tell the difference?  This example is a little subtle, but you can mostly see it in the middle pattern.  The diagonal sections are laying flatter and allowing the holes to open up and be shown more.


Have you ever had to abandon a pattern or yarn for some reason?

Three Lessons In Pushing The Reset Button

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Sometimes life just doesn’t go your way.  You make a mistake or a wrong choice and you feel upset and disappointed. Not necessarily with something big and earthshaking – sometimes it’s just the little things that can really annoy you. It is at those times, you need to take a deep breath, push your reset button and then keep on going.  Want a few examples?

Reset Button Lesson #1: I recently lost a game of yarn chicken, running out of yarn with just 2 rounds and the bind off left to knit on my Diamond Tempest Cowl.  It was aggravating and disappointing. I’ve put it behind me now and the best way to do that was this:

…which is the easiest, fastest and least painful (because it’s fast) way to frog (rip out) a project. Reset partially accomplished.  [I love my ball winder.  The company that makes mine went out of business but you can get one like this or like thisif your local yarn shop doesn’t have them!]  

The other way to help me reset my mindset after that pain in the neck nice lesson in the need for a gauge swatch, was to distance myself from that project for a bit and work on something else.  I finished the Almost Lost Washcloth, using Sun Kissed cotton yarn (a new yarn at The Spinning Room if you are local):

This was quick to knit up and I think I did a pretty good job with my seam (at right about 3 o’clock in the picture).  The picture of the washcloth doesn’t show very well the pretty tonal quality of the yarn – you can see it better in person and in the ball of yarn. There is also a mini version!  Reset fully accomplished.

And now, I’m ready to begin anew:

The correct needle size is now at the ready to make a swatch so I will know that my gauge is correct and not run out of yarn again.

Reset Button Lesson #2:  I was reading The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian and just wasn’t comfortable with the story line.  Very succinctly, it centered around a family man caught up in a Russian sex slave/prostitution case when he thought they were just having a fun bachelor party for his brother. I liked his writing and how be brought the story along, but I just didn’t like the subject, so I put it down. It was disappointing to me because I don’t do that often. I have this idea of not “giving up” on a book. In this case, though, I just couldn’t finish it.

To reset, I picked up Fool Me Once by one of my favorite authors, Harlan Coben, and immediately got drawn into the story and I’m loving it.  Which I knew I would because I love him.  Reset accomplished. [click on those links to purchase on Amazon]

Reset Button Lesson #3: All this talk of pushing the reset button reminded me of one of my favorite salads!  The Reset Button Salad, which I found on the Shutterbean blog, is a great way to reset your diet when you have overindulged over the holidays or a weekend or any random day when peeps and jellybeans are in season (*cough* speaking from experience *cough*).  It has all kinds of wonderful, yummy vegetables and qrains and nuts, and makes you feel very healthy. Reset accomplished. Try it, and take a look at the Shutterbean blog.  It’s great.  Tracy has great recipes, lots of ideas for meal planning, and wonderful photography.

Remember, when you have an annoying little snafoo in your life: Take a deep breath.  Push the reset button.  Keep going.

A Lesson In The Need For A Gauge Swatch

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I’ve said many times here on this blog that I really dislike swatching for gauge. And today I’m here to tell you I still dislike it, but I’ve been schooled in the need for it.

To me, swatching feels like wasting time and I just want to get to the knitting of the project.  I do know, however, that there are times when it really is necessary to do a swatch.  For example, when you are making a sweater or something else in which it is important for the item to fit correctly, you really should do a gauge swatch.  You really, really should… but often, I still don’t.

I think my knitting is “average” in the gauge department, meaning I’ve done swatches with the suggested needle size before and have gotten the right gauge, so why should I keep doing it, right? And for projects like a shawl or cowl, however, gauge is not as important because it could fit just about anyone and often there is only one size anyway, right?

That first question really is just pushing the issue and you really should do a swatch anyway for a project in which size matters.  That second question is what we are here to talk about today.

I started the Diamond Tempest Cowl with the wonderfully soft Baby Llama Chunky (both by Cascade) last week.

It was going along swimmingly.  The yarn was wonderful. The square needle was feeling great in my hands.  I was doing a little at a time and was creating this pretty pattern:

But then, I started looking at my ball of yarn and it seemed to be getting awfully small.  I had this gnawing feeling I’d be playing a game of yarn chicken.  Yarn chicken is when you are pretty sure you don’t have enough yarn to finish your project but you are really hoping you do have enough so you keep knitting, crossing your fingers and toes that you will have enough.  Then it’s just a game of seeing  who wins, you or the yarn.

With two pattern rounds and a bind off still to do:

The yarn won. !@#$%^&.

The pattern called for just one skein so why did I run out?  I thought about it for a bit and then I knew.  It was the needle.  I had done some reading about square needles and how they are supposed to be easy on your hands.  I also read that because of the squareness, the actual gauge the needle gets might be different than a round needle and many people have to go up a needle size in order to get the right gauge. So I chose one size larger for this project.  The project calls for a US 10 and I used a US 10 1/2.

You would think that a half millimeter difference in diameter would not make a difference but it does.  And you would also think that given the uncertainty of how these needles get gauge that I would check it –it was many people, not all people who had to go up a needle size.  And you would be thinking wrong because I blindly trusted that statement and didn’t give it another thought.

Please take this as a lesson that doing a gauge swatch is important! Sometimes it is important so your knitted fabric will look right — not too tight or not too loose.  Sometimes it is important because you want the item to fit correctly.  Sometimes it is important because you might run out of yarn. And sometimes it is important when you are using a new kind of needle and have no idea how it will perform.

Once I realized my mistake, I put that cowl right into time out until I could stop being mad at what it did myself.  And then I started this:

The Almost Lost Washcloth which will be an upcoming class at The Spinning Room this spring.  More about that when it’s done.

So, I’m now off to the ball winder to unwind the whole project and start again by doing a gauge swatch with a size 10 needle. [It’s really kind of ok, though, because if you look closely way back near the beginning, just after the ribbing, there is a weird section that I think I knitted wrong and I was trying to ignore it.]

While I’m doing that, take a look at what the Thrummed Mitten class came up with on Saturday:

Do you have a gauge fail that you’d like to share? Or something you’ve been “schooled” in regarding knitting?   Tell us about it in the comments!