25 Jul 2019

Are you using the right needle?


In my last blogpost, you'll have seen that I am currently knitting a lacy cardigan and for this I am using a 3.5mm Knitters Pride interchangeable needle set I purchased recently. These needle tips are from their Nova Platina range of chrome-plated needles and I am loving the sharp tips and the easy flow of the knitting.

However, here's something I noticed when I went to find a matching set of dpn's (double pointed needles) to work the sleeves: the size isn't exactly 3.5mm! Or rather, it wasn't using the gauge I was using at the time. I had grabbed my needle gauge from Nancy's KnitKnacks which tends to be my go-to gauge as it is fits very nicely inside the needle holder I have. 

When I measured the needle using that, it wouldn't fit into the 3.5mm space! If it hadn't had the "US 4 – 3.5mm" marking on the side of the needle, I might have thought that it was a 3.75mm. So I dived into my needle box where I have a slight embarrassment of needle gauges. I hadn't quite realised how many I had collected over the years!


I tried the needle with my oldest gauge made by an old UK company, Aero Knitting, and it was a perfect fit for 3.5mm. Ditto for the bright green Knitters Pride gauge I purchased about a month ago and a rather fun KnitPro elephant gauge that my daughter Anna found for me at the Knitting and Stitching show in Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace, London) last year. They all agreed the needle was, indeed, a 3.5mm size. Now, these are all gauges made for the UK market so I am presuming they are all milled in metric.

However, the needle only just squeezed into a KnitPicks gauge and would not fit into the 3.5mm hole in the Nancy's KnitKnacks sizer or my Lion Brand ruler. All three of those are US-based gauges and I expect they are milled in imperial measures. Usually, this wouldn't make the slightest difference, but in this particular case it did.


I went on to check with the two needle gauges I have from Japan. The needle sizes are different there as they measure them in 0.3mm increments instead of 0.25-0.5mm here. So in Japan the needles include 3.0mm, 3.3mm, 3.6mm, 3.9mm, 4.2mm and so on. Here, the same range would be 3.0mm, 3.25mm, 3.5mm, 3.75mm and 4.0mm. 

My Knitters Pride needles did fit into the 3.6mm measure, as you'd expect, but with only a small amount of extra ease as compared with the Japanese 3.6mm dpn's I have.


I then went to my collection of needles and found a set of KnitPicks 3.5mm dpn's. They fitted easily into all the US gauges and were quite loose in the Japanese 3.6mm measure. Interesting variation, eh? 

I tried the various needles out with my knitting and my gauge swatch was noticeably tighter if I used the KnitPicks needles when compared with the original Knitters Pride ones. I then tried the Japanese dpn's and they were much closer, especially if I just tightened my knitting slightly. 

If you're a long-time follower of this blog, you'll know that I'm always advocating checking your tension with a gauge swatch. For example, in my BYOB Market Bag knit-along series, you'll find me chatting about swatches herehere and here. Of course, we knitters know that there are many factors that will alter your gauge: the yarn used, the tension the yarn is held at, even how the ball is wound and whether the yarn was washed before or after knitting.

But who would have guessed that there would be such a difference between apparently identical sizes of needles... So if you are struggling to get the gauge for your current piece of knitting, it might not be you – it might be the needle! 

And of course this is a wonderful justification for acquiring a good collection of needles, gauges and other equipment! For me, I am now patiently waiting for a set of Knitters Pride dpn's so my gauge will be exactly the same on the sleeves as on the rest of the cardi. I ordered them today and they should be here next week.

Oh and please no-one tell my husband... he thinks I have enough needles already!

Until next time – Happy Knitting!

Moira




Last Blogpost: My WIP - Working in pink





19 Jul 2019

My WIP - Working in Pink


About this time three years ago, I wrote about the fashion colour forecasting company Pantone's duo-colour choice for the "2016 Colour of the Year", in which a battle royale between pink and blue resulted in a draw! 

That was the first time that Pantone had chosen a double colour for the award and certainly some eyebrows were raised at the concept. However, the pink side of that equation proved highly accurate as that particular shade of rose quartz was seen everywhere that year.


Well, over the last few years that shade of pink has gradually morphed into a stronger and slightly bluer shade, away from the soft yellowy Rose Quartz and into one of this year's key colours, Aurora Pink. 

Teamed with stronger shades of hot pink, or contrasting with corals and yellows, this fresh new pink colour was evident in many runway shows for Spring and Summer 2019.


And although it is a shade we haven't seen for a few years, it does feel very familiar. Which of us ladies did not have a ballerina outfit in just that colour when we were young? So this fits nicely with two of the themes in the fashion magazines in recent months: Ballerina outfits and Nostalgia. 

Well, I am not sure if I am quite ready to don a tutu right now even if they are in fashion, but I am loving the pink yarns in the shops. I recently found a lovely pink colour in the Sublime "Baby cashmere merino silk DK" range and it arrived just before we went to Japan so I could try it out while we were travelling. 


The yarn is wonderfully soft and is knitting up beautifully. I am currently working on a pink lacy cardigan and am loving how this is coming. So this is a double "WIP" – not just a Work in Progress, but I am also Working in Pink! 

The cardi is in a boxy, Chanel-style and I am planning to add some slim plain-knit sleeves when I have finished the 2nd front. I'll post more pictures as I work!

In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your summer knitting and managing to keep cool!

Until next time - Happy Knitting!

Moira



1 Jul 2019

Postcard from Kyoto: The day summer started


July has arrived and with it the realisation that summer is finally upon us! But do you know the exact day when summer started this year? 


Well, it was June 11th!

How do I know that? Well, we have just returned from a holiday in Kyoto Japan, and feel invigorated by long walks and beautiful scenery. At the start of our holiday, on Monday 10th June to be exact, we were walking up a mountain and stopped by one of the ubiquitous vending machines (called jidohanbaiki) about half-way along our hike. We purchased a can of hot, sweet coffee and rested our legs for a delicious 10 minutes before setting off again.

The next day on a similar walk around a temple complex we again paused by one of these machines only to see every drink offered as a cold beverage. We walked on to the next set of machines, but they also only had cold drinks. 

Then it clicked: summer had started. You don't drink hot coffee in the summer...

They have a neat way of counting time periods in Japan with blocks of 10 days having different names. The middle 10-day period runs from 11th-20th of each month and is called chÅ«jun or middle-ten. So summer very neatly started in the middle of June or on the 11th June to be precise!



We used to live in Kyoto in the mid-1990's and love to revisit whenever we can. This year we arrived at the start of what is termed the "Rainy Season" but were very fortunate only to have a couple of showers while we were there. 

One of the main reasons for wanting to go back to Japan at this time was to see the hydrangeas. Many people visit Kyoto for the cherry blossoms in April and May, but for me the sight of a hillside of deep blue hydrangeas is stunning. They are everywhere, and not just in blue but in all shades of white, pink and carmine red as well. They seem to really suit this rainy time of year and look at their most beautiful when the leaves and flowers are jewelled with raindrops. 

But the real summer in Japan starts with the coming of the lotus flowers at the start of July. When we visited there were lotus buds and even some early flowers in sheltered locations. However, we would have needed to stay another few weeks to see the ponds and lakes filled with blossoms. Perhaps we'll do that next year...



In the last week of our visit, we went to a temple called Hokongo-in which is known for its beautiful lotus flowers. We were rewarded by a beautiful display of early flowers contrasting against the dark wood of the temple buildings.

I sat on the temple steps and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the garden, knitting a pink cardigan in what I saw was an almost exact colour match to the lotus flower in front of me. I could have happily stayed there all afternoon...



However we were due to go to Fushimi Inari shrine, world-famous for its lines of bright orange torii gates. It was the end of the afternoon when we got there and Tim's camera was set to a long exposure to capture the scene. Then a lady wearing a kimono walked down the steps and into his shot creating a dreamy image of old Japan.

I hope you've enjoyed this "Postcard from Kyoto" and some of Tim's many photos from our trip. If you would like to see more of his work, then please see his Flickr site. He is also on Instagram here.

I'll be back with knitting chat next time. Until then,

Happy Knitting!

Moira




Last Blogpost: Slip those stitches!


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