Saturday, January 24, 2009

Return and Confession

Where have I been, you're wondering. Well, all the usual holiday activities, birthdays (we celebrate several in December and January) work craziness. But I think life is slightly more in control these days, so Happy New Year to all, and let's return to our story, shall we?

One of my activities during hiatus was preparing for my youngest sister's first child. Baby Max is due in a few weeks, and we had a shower over the holidays for him. So I made a cute little outfit for my nephew-to-be. Here's a picture (the astute among you may note that this is where the confession part begins):

A little sheep onesie. All at once now... aw-w-ww. It's a Debbie Bliss design. An early one, from a book called "New Baby Knits." Here's one more shot, where you can see the "tail":

It was an interesting knit. The needles were size 8... kind of large with a DK yarn, but certainly in the realm of normal. It made a soft, floppy fabric, but that's kind of what the picture in the book looked like, so I figured it was fine. It was particularly weird when I got to the ribbed sections... instead of going down in needle size, it went up. This was very strange to me, since you typically go to a smaller size on ribbing to make it pull in and have more elasticity. But, the ribbing on size 10 needles was actually kind of cool. It was big and squishy... not a tight elastic, but very pretty in a decorative way.

Some of you may be sensing a possible problem here. It's a shame that you weren't around when I was making this garment, since you might have smacked me in the head. As it turns out, none of this was adding up for me. Not until I got to the lining of the ear. (yes, that would be the last two pieces of the garment).

When I went to make the lining, I noticed that it said to use the size 10 needles. Odd, that. If I used the larger size, the lining would be slightly larger than the ear... that didn't seem right. I could see if they used the same size, but larger was very strange. Actually, I would have assumed that you'd go to a smaller size ---

You know how you get that really sick, sinking feeling when you realize that you have screwed something up big time, but you're really, really hoping you're wrong? Mmmm... yes, the light bulb finally went on.

The instructions listed needle sizes in metric sizes, with the actual needle sizes in parenthesis following. So, the 3-1/4 and the 4mm needles were listed, with size 10 and size 8 in parenthesis following. Now, if I had thought about a few things, I would have seen my problem instantly. First, notice how the metric sizes go from low to high, and the needle sizes go from high to low? Second, did you know Debbie Bliss is British?

Yes, nauseating, but true. If you are familiar with the English system of numbering needles, you'll know that it's the opposite of the American system. So, in the American system, 1 is a small needle and 15 is a large needle. In the English system, 15 is the little needle, and 1 is large. So, 8 and 10 in English sizes are really 5 and 3 in American needles.

I had purposely selected a superwash... partially because I'd always want a washable yarn for a baby outfit and partially because my sister has a sad history with hand wash yarns. So, trying to felt lightly wasn't really an option. Plus, the garment length was fine, since that's typically calculated in inches ("continue until piece measures 'x'", rather than "continue for 10 rows"). I guess the girth is a little roomier than it needs to be, but I figured the baby will probably wear this over something, sort of a car coat.

I considered ripping out and starting over, but I was pretty much out of time, so I came to the conclusion that the change was a "design feature" and left it at that. I also decided that there was no point in explaining my error, because no one but another knitter could appreciate (or even understand!) what had happened. As it turns out, it got lots of oos and aahs, and all's well. (embarrassing, but fine)

I did make a few other items for little Max that came out just fine. I'll show those to you next time. Nice to be back..... and please, let's not bring up gauge swatches!
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