Monday, September 24, 2007

Two ways w/ Pashmina Cowl

The worst feeling ever is when I'm suddenly struck with creative inspiration (read: actual desire to work on a project rather than guilt or pending birthdays) to start a new project and find that the pattern I've carefully chosen after twelve hours of hemming and hawing at my craft bookshelf has no matching yarn in my stash.

How is this even possible? I have two buckets full of nice yarn (and one bucket of acrylic yarn that feels like prickly doody). How can there be NOTHING AT ALL in there that will work? Plus, what is all this pink wool and how high was I when I bought it? It defies logic.

So disenchanting, this feeling. Like when you (I) get all excited thinking tonight is pizza night and "woo I don't have to cook" and then you (I) realize that it's actually Thursday, or worse Tuesday, and pizza night is day(s) away and crap I have to figure out what the hell to make for dinner and WHOOPS I haven't gone grocery shopping in half a year so we have no food.

Like letting all the air out of my inner balloon, that's what this feels like.

Last week I got to the crescendo of this feeling. I stood with my Last Minute Knitted Gifts in one hand, turned to the fabulous Pashmina Cowl on page 95, and the other hand rifling angrily through my, assumed, thorough stash hunting for something, anything that I could use to make another cowl for my chilly cold neck.

I came up empty. Nothing, NOTHING I had in my stash, save for the remnant yarn from the last Pashmina Cowl I made, was the right gauge. WTF? I thought I bought this crap in bulk! Where did all my pashmina yarn go? Apparently I made things from it and either A. gave them away like a fool or B. haven't unearthed them from the winter clothes pile yet.

Ugh, whatever.

At this point I faced, for the one kazillionth time, the painful question of how does one figure out how to make something from a different yarn than is suggested in the actual pattern.

Because of the obvious math involved, you can see why, until now (yes, there's a solution in this post somewhere I promise) I just tossed the evil unmatching yarns back in their buckets and huffed off to the shop to find the oh so special perfect exact stupid yarn that the pattern called for just so that I didn't end up with some useless wrong sized cowl or whatever from having used the yarn I really wanted even though the pattern called for something else altogether.

It's been a problem for a while.

But then I gave up. Literally threw hands into air (which scared dog and cat - they are so skittish around me when I start yelling and throwing things, why?) and said, "Fuck it. I give up. I'll do math."

For those of you who aren't familiar with my particular brand of complete and total math hatred, this is a big BIG concession for me to make. Be impressed, ok.

But even in my math compromising, I still searched high and low for the solution that would limit my Time With Math to the teensiest amount possible. Like, literally almost no math at all. But I definitely used a calculator because that is the kind of retard that I am. So there.

The Almost No Math Solution:

First I found my pattern, which was easy because I was already holding it and sweating with rage onto the pattern on page 95.

Then I told the nice gauge converting instructions, out loud, that I would not be knitting any stupid swatch and would just use the gauge that the yarn tag said because, hello, they know these things.

Then I located the stitch gauge on the pattern (ex: 26 stitches/4").

Then I located the stitch gauge on the yarn (ex: 15 stitches/4").

Then I divided (with the calculator, not my pee brain) the yarn stitch gauge by the pattern stitch gauge (15/26) to get .57.

A decimal?? WTF?? *Deep breath*

Then I found the number of cast-on stitches the pattern calls for (130).

Then I multiplied the cast-on stitches number (130) by my new stitch gauge number (.57 - which I won't give a fancy name because that just confuses things).

This gave me the number of stitches (75) to cast on with my doesn't-match-the-pattern yarn so that I'd still be able to use the pattern but not be confined to the painfully rigid world of whateverthefuck yarn they called for that I didn't have.

Then I cast on, knitted feverishly with this fabulous Beetlejuicey yarn (Adrienne Vittadini Nadia 800) that my sister gave me for my birthday, while listening to/vaguely watching Serendipity (John Cusak, wuv you) on TBS for a few hours until I had, in my very hands, an FO.

Holy friggen crap, man. I CAN actually knit. Well, I'll be.

And, hey, the conversion thingee totally worked because this cowl looks like a cowl and not at all like a mangled piece of shit. Huh. Maybe math is not evil after all? No, that can't be it. I must be a genius! Yes. Much more like it.

I was even more stunned when I found (much digging involved here) my original Pashmina Cowl and laid it side by side with my new Pashmina Cowl and they were, shocker of all shockers, the same diameter and everything. But made from different yarns - one skinny and sleek, one bulky and wonky. Will miracles never cease?

Seriously, my mind boggled.

Anyway, it all worked. And my hope for the ever growing stash is momentarily renewed. Maybe I *can* do something with all that nice yarn. Maybe I *won't* have to light it all on fire during a spastic rampage when I can't find any good patterns for it.

What if?

That is too big a question for today's minds, I'm sure. But the good news (for me, you, whomever) is that patterns can be knit from random yarn as long as you can do the following equation with or without (WITH) a calculator:

Stitch gauge of your random ass yarn / Stitch gauge of pattern's yarn
# of suggested cast-on stitches
# of stitches to cast on with your random ass yarn

Don't tell me your mind isn't boggling, too.

I will quickly say, because I know some super annoying know-it-all smartie pants is about to comment on this, that this kind of calculation is only going to take you so far. It was all I needed for this simple pattern since it's just your standard tube. Basically, just cast on and go until it's as long as you want it to be (I clearly thought it should be longer than my last one). But, if your pattern is really complicated with lots of increases and decreases and jacked up cabling and what not, you're going to need to do some pretty fancy math footwork on which I am not qualified to advise.

However, if you like to knit tubes and straight flat things, as it appears I almost exclusively do, this conversion will work pretty friggen well and then you can get through your stash without tears, lots of new swears and scared pets.

I'm imagining lots of leg warmers, cowls, scarves, fingerless gloves and hats. Because they are all easy tube-like things that take well to my who gives a crap freestyle knitting style.

And thank you to the nice people at Pine Ridge Knit & Sew for this almost math-free solution for adjusting yarn gauges. Wuv you!

When the wool dries (yeeeeeeeeew! wet wool) I will perhaps model this fabulous cowl for you all so that you might also be inclined to join my world of All Tube Knitting.

The End

Here I am modeling the blocked and dried cowl. It is warm. It is fuzzy. I had to take it off quickly because, *sigh*, the weather has warmed up again even though it rained all the live long day last Saturday and pretended to be Fall/Winter for almost 48 hours.

Lying seasons.


  1. Oh you just made my head hurt! LOL but Its' cute and im glad you figured it out!!!

  2. Finny. You ARE a genius. Good Work.

  3. Adrienne - I promise if you take a deep breath and follow the little equation (see, I get scared just typing such a math-y word), it totally works and your brain will barely hurt.

    Thimble - You're the best. I feel so smart now. What methods do you use?

  4. That was fabulous - I never manage to do it that way. Always have to change needles and knit swatches. I am going to have to try that.
    Thanks for the equation!!!

  5. This was just way over my head. I can't knit and I can't even begin to fathom figuring out gauges and measurements and anything else. You go, girl.

  6. Luckily I'm good with math, but I'm not sure I can be much of a knitter. When I see what you've done, instead of thinking "I can do that," I think: I can pay HER to do that! :) ahhaha.

  7. OMG, what is this? A first? Finny Does Math? Are pigs flying? Is Pavel Cow being milked?

    Remember that crazy cable-laden pillow that I sent you the pattern for oh, seven or so years ago? Well, I gave up on it too, when it was about halfway done, and just stitched that puppy together and poof! Instant cowl! Such a versatile little item.

    You have inspired me to post an update on my Rome knitting adventures...

  8. PS When you model it, will you put your hair in braids like the pattern model??

  9. Seriously, so glad you figured that out because now I can just call you. I, too, was told there would be no math. And I'm sticking to it!
    That said, nice work! Work the cowl.

  10. Found your blog/this post via ravely while working through my own cowl-wanting, not-right-yarn-having dilemma. you made me laugh out loud. thanks for bringing me down from my too-serious search and re-focusing me on what's important: using what i've got to get me where i want to be.


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