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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Knitting. What! There's Math? AKA. Swatching Sucks

Being thoroughly sick of making hats and scarves for gifts, I have decided to make a sweater for myself.   So...I'm sitting on the couch, swatching. Grumbling and cursing.  The Dumbplumber (my everlovin' sweetie of a husband) who rarely pays attention....I swear I could dye my hair green...but ....I digress......

He asks:  "What are you making"
"A swatch", I say or more correctly, bitch.

The knitters will understand and feel my pain.   Swatching is the bane of a knitter's existence and requires math.  (dun dun dun duuuunnn  scary music sound)   For those non-knitting people let me explain.   Swatching is when you knit a bunch of samples to find out if your knitting gauge and number of stitches will make your project be the right size.   Attempting to explain to The Dumbplumber, (ladies...don't attempt  this at home. Especially if you have both had a drink or two.)

Me explaining:  "You have a pattern like THIS one   ...that I plan to make.

There is a suggestion on the yarn, size of needles and the number of stitches per inch and the number of rows per inch.  If you can knit this are in like Flynn (whatever that means).  If not. Then your sweater will fit Godzilla or your sweater will fit a midget, but certainly not YOU.

For example
1. The pattern calls for 20 stitches to equal 4 inches on size 7 needles
2. The pattern calls for 60 stitches for a particular piece: say a part of the front.  Then the piece should equal  60/20 = 3 units   So...then 3 units should be 3 x 4" =  a 12  inch piece

All well and good, until you substitute another yarn and when you take into consideration that each person has a different style and tension in knitting.   Also if you use a different yarn, it may not knit up the same.

For example:  If my gauge works out to  16 stitches = 4 inches then the piece will be much larger.  

60 stitches/16 stitches =  3.75 units    3.75 x 4 =  15 inch piece.  

THREE inches too big on just one piece!!   Multiply this effect over all of the other parts of the sweater and you have a gigantically larger than you want sweater.

Go the other way and assume you have MORE stitches per inch and then your sweater  will be tiny.  All that time you spent knitting will have been wasted.

The only way to know your gauge  is to make a swatch, which is to knit, in the pattern, a 4 x4 inch (at least) section.  Boooorrrring.  But what is worse is to not make a swatches and make a sweater that no one born on this Earth can wear.  If you don't swatch you will be wasting hours upon hours of time. Even though this is boring beyond belief, it's better than not doing it.   And so on."  

Until the Dumbplumber's eyes begin to roll backwards in his head.

Dumbplumber having listened to all of this above reasoning (or rather bitching)

Asks: " So what do you do with this stuff you are knitting now?"
"I tear it up and roll it back into a ball", I say.

Staring at me in disbelief......"You are f***ing nuts.", says he.

I can't disagree.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We Took A Sunday Drive and Had a Picnic.

This last weekend we finally had a beautiful sunny day.  We have had months of sub freezing temperatures.  Between Christmas and the first week of February,  we had only  20 hours where the temperatures were above freezing.  There still is snow and ice that are lingering in the shady spots.  But, as always, this too shall pass and spring is in the air.  So, The Dumbplumber and I decided to take a Sunday drive and have a small picnic.

Arriving at a client's house to sit on their overlook,. we borrowed  their view for a bit.   We have a lot of absentee or seasonal clients for which we do various plumbing maintenance services: like winterizing so the pipes and pumps won't freeze and break, then recharging the systems in the spring.  Sitting on a bluff of ancient lava rocks and looking at the beautiful view, we ate fried chicken, chips and fruit salad and tried to fend off some crows who felt that we should share.

The view is spectacular
Majestic Mt Shasta close up

Sand Hill Cranes
Next we decided to drive up to the next valley, over the mountain and at an higher elevation, to see what was happening.  The geology of the area is that these valleys are the remnants of glacial lakes.  Every spring the valleys are full of water from springs and are the perfect areas for the multitudes of migratory that come through. Ducks and  Geese are common in the thousands.   This time we had the exciting moment of seeing hundreds of Sand Hill Cranes in one place.  Unfortunately, I severely lack camera-foo abilities and was unable t see where I was aiming due to sun glare so this is the best photo I could get.

Driving along we also saw a sight that while unpleasant, is a fact of life in the 'outback' of rural Western living.   Liberal and urban heads are exploding everywhere.

Am I a really evil person, because one of my first thoughts was......what a waste of fur?   Coyote coats are the most beautiful things.   Yeah....I guess I am.   Life in the country.

Note: these photos were re-sized to be small enough to post.  The actual links are

Here: Majestic Mt Shasta 
         The Wider View
         Coyote on a fence