Knitter, know thy gauge
It only took a few rows of mulling things over with Calorimetry before I came to the conclusion that I need to know my gauge before going any further with the picking of a Latvian mitten pattern. Yeah, I know, it's in every pattern and in every book and everywhere, and also right there in THE Book ("Latvian Mittens" by Joyce Upitis), where I've seen it countless times, pp 16-17, in both English and Latvian (how could I have missed it?): General Techniques -- 1) Use wool, 2) Strive for balance, 3) KNOW YOUR GAUGE, 4) Correct your mistakes (i.e., RIP!).
I know. Somehow, I even dared refer to myself as a knitter to another as recently as last Sunday over coffee. The knitting of the gauge swatch is just not a natural, second-nature thing, no matter how many times it's hammer, hammer, hammered it into my head. My experience over the weekend -- three tries, three different needle sizes, no luck -- drilled the lesson home pretty good. (Any bets on how long the lesson sticks?)
So, last night, I took my desired yarn (Jaeger Matchmaker Merino) and desired needles (1US bamboo) and cast on 48 stitches. I started out in one color, did a little two-color, practiced with a braid, continued on in one color, and will do a more complicated two- or even three-color bit before calling it finished -- I'd like to see how the three colors look knit up in different combinations. That last bit was done tonight and so far, I'm getting 9-10 stitches to the inch -- and that's good. I can work very well with that. Ack, the red's not that bright and hopefully daylight will help make a better/more true photo.
At this time last year, many of us were beginning to "train" in earnest for our Knitting Olympics events -- remember? I kind of feel like that now. Last year, I was on the USA Cable Team. If there were Olympics this year, I'd definitely be on the Latvian Mitten Team (was there a LMT last year?). Alas, a few more years before we even have to worry about teams and events... still, I can't help but think of it. Athletes train and compete every year, of course; smaller stage, smaller venues, step-by-step -- many, hopefully, leading to the Olympics. Knitters, too? I'm not ready to throw down and say I'll have a pair of mittens in 16 days, but I'll definitely be thinking about it, and about the Olympics coming up in a few years. Maybe the mitts will be training for my future event of... what... Latvian Dreams? Giant Latvian Mitten Cardigan (scroll down, it's Wool Gathering 67)?
Pretty, pretty swatch! Add a hand, and it's a mitten!
Posted by: DebbieB | 31 January 2007 at 05:35 AM
The swatch is terrific, I love the colors you've chosen. And I was just thinking of the knitting Olympics yesterday and remembering the party that Cara threw for Team Boston.
Posted by: Carole | 31 January 2007 at 06:05 AM
I keep getting sent to "knitters' time out" over the gauge thing too. I hate making swatches - and I know it's an investment/worthwhile etc. but it feels like such a waste of time. argh.
maybe we need another cold turkey webring - this time for gaugers anonymous or something?
Posted by: ann | 31 January 2007 at 06:16 AM
at least you're swatching! And it looks great! I need to remember that before I start projects;)
Posted by: Carol | 31 January 2007 at 06:21 AM
Oooh - but the pattern and colors look lovely. Good luck!
Posted by: Jennifer | 31 January 2007 at 06:54 AM
The colors of your swatch-in-progress look great together. Hmmm, you could just refer to your recent experience as just trying out the patterns, preparing yourself - like an Olympic competitor - for a new event. And now you are entering your final preparation by swatching........right?!? *grin*
Posted by: Angie | 31 January 2007 at 07:03 AM
Yes, my experience is much the same. I need to go up several sizes on the needles to do mittens in color work. It sure is pretty and you have the technique down. Just get the right needles and you'll be fine!
Posted by: margene | 31 January 2007 at 07:10 AM
You MUST make that cardigan! MUST MUST MUST!
Posted by: Cara | 31 January 2007 at 07:27 AM
The gauge swatch doesn't come naturally to me either, and I usually wish that I had done one at some point in the project knitting. I like the colors for the mittens, I think the red looks nice. And I agree with Cara, you must knit that cardigan!
Posted by: nova | 31 January 2007 at 09:02 AM
I might have that cardigan kit...still in a box...waiting for me to get ...
wait for it:
Posted by: Beth | 31 January 2007 at 09:09 AM
I'm just laughing thinking of trying to complete one of those cardigans in 16 days.
Swatchiness is next to Godliness, or something.
Posted by: Elizabeth | 31 January 2007 at 11:12 AM
I like those colors together a lot. Hopefully your gauge will work out okay for you and you can forge ahead!
Posted by: Anne | 31 January 2007 at 12:51 PM
I love blogland for so many reasons but this has to be one of the biggest - the constant reminders that many knitters out there, better than myself, have the same aversion to swatching. BTW, I really like the colors you chose.
Posted by: Hillary | 31 January 2007 at 01:50 PM
BOY am I glad there are no Olympics this year. Watching me try to "challenge myself" at this time of year might be like watching John Candy figure skate. I'll call this a "resting year."
Posted by: JulieFrick | 31 January 2007 at 02:09 PM
I love those colours, I too hate to have to swatch but if not gauge gets me every time!
Posted by: yvette | 01 February 2007 at 09:38 AM
I keep saving these posts on the Latvian Mittens, but not getting going on one. I really want them!
Hey-what is that yarn behind the mitten in the photo?
Posted by: Teresa C | 02 February 2007 at 12:16 PM