Oh, ladies and gents, how good it feels to be writing again. It's been a tough week. I don't like to bleed in public, so I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that I've felt about as sound, robust and productive as the stock market.
Thank heaven, even more than usual, for knitting and spinning. I can I always tell when I'm heading into a rough patch because suddenly all I want is circular knitting–preferably simple circular knitting. No, not merely simple. Boring.
So I've been working down the foot of the Felici sock, and I started a plain vanilla, top-down sweater for my favorite sweater girl.
It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Aslan." Very comforting stuff. Quiet. The sweater is all stockinette, though I toyed with a leafy edging from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge for the hem. Since taking this picture, I've ripped it out. Too fussy. You don't eat vindaloo when you've got an upset stomach and you don't knit fancy patterns when your head hurts–or at least, I don't.
If plain circular knitting is medicinal, spinning is even more so–though treadling isn't something I've figured out how to do while lying in bed (or hiding under it). The bobbin of Border Leicester, which I hope will eventually become Miralda from Knitted Lace of Estonia, is looking a bit plumper.
(As my friend Joe has noted, there's nothing half so exciting as pictures of spinning progress, unless it's photographs of paint drying.)
This week spinning has been an even better tonic for strained nerves than knitting. The wheel, bless it, goes around when I make it go around. No fighting, no questions. No stalls, no bumps, no swerves, no roadblocks. It spins, and the fiber twists, and the damned yarn gets made. A simple victory, signifying little, but at the end of a day in which nothing else has gone smoothly–I'll take it.
The response to the 1840 Nightcap has been a huge surprise. I figured there would be some interest in the edging, and little or none in the cap itself. And yet folks want to make it, but there have been issues. It's my first pattern, and I tried like the dickens to keep it clear and correct, but not with perfect success–which is why I've started taking a swig of Peptol Bismol before I check my e-mail.
The abbreviation skp, which one or two folks have queried, means "slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over." I didn't realize that abbreviation, which is the one I'm accustomed to using, wasn't Knitty's standard choice. (Neither, apparently, did Knitty, as they left it in place.)
In the wake of several questions about fit and gauge, I re-measured the swatch (circular stockinette) and the finished object to make sure I hadn't goofed. I hadn't.
I swatched with several needle sizes and finally settled on a US 0/2.25 mm. It yielded a supple but not blowsy stockinette fabric with the yarn, which is akin to lace weight. The original pattern called for fine cotton, and this was the finest I could find that was readily available.
Those needles plus that yarn, with a cast on of 208 stitches (the original pattern doesn't give an exact number, it only says to use a multiple of 13) yielded a 21 inch opening on a hat with a somewhat loose fit (as compared to your typical beanie for outdoor wear, which is meant to be snug). I slept in the hat a few times and found the amount of ease supremely comfortable.
Apparently, though, I have freaky fingers. Others who are also using (so far as I can tell) lace weight equivalents and teeny-weeny needles are turning out hydrocephalic nightcaps. This is, I fear, going to have to go on my list of perpetual riddles along with the möbius and where lost stitch markers go when you lose them. I don't know why it worked for me, and won't work for others. I only have these two physical objects and my ruler telling me those were the numbers I got.
[Sounds of weeping.]
If your skinny yarn and your teeny-weeny needles are yielding a hat that's too large, I'm afraid all I can suggest is reducing your cast on, using a multiple of thirteen. That should do the trick.
If you're using a fatter yarn, even a thin sock yarn, your nightcap's definitely gonna come out too big unless you cast on fewer stitches. Period. This is a lace weight hat. Welcome to my dark realm of pain and suffering. Some of us like that kind of thing. (I also enjoy tweezing my eyebrows and getting booster shots.)
And finally, at least for now, there is a question about the lace edging–specifically that the initial round adds two stitches in each repeat (with yarnovers), but removes only one (with the notorious skp). That is correct. The second row (and all the even rows) add no stitches, but removes one stitch in each repeat with another skp. Just keep going, my dear, and all will be well.
Oh, and if you want to see free hot skp video action, go here.
Amid the clouds, one silver lining: Grandma's party. Relatives came from all over, the weather was perfect, the birthday girl was surprised, the food was fantastic, and she liked her Swallowtail Shawl very much.
Thank heaven, oh thank heaven, for knitting. (And grandmothers.)