Goldfish Sweater Update

While I was photographing my Goldfish sweater today, the Jaws theme song popped into my head. I’ve only just got the top edge of my fish actually knitted, and I found myself imagining that if they had dorsal fins, they’d be ominously slicing through the water, ready to devour a hapless swimmer. Luckily, these are cute and cuddly goldfish, sans dorsal fins. You can just see their backs/heads and a tiny tip of each tail. It may not look like much yet, but I’m so excited!

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There’s something very magical about watching a pattern develop. Whether it’s colorwork or a textured stitch pattern, or even just the basic shape of a project, I love watching something emerge from repetitive motions of yarn and sticks. It’s one thing to see it on a chart, but it’s an entirely different kettle of fish (haha) to see the chart translated into actual fabric. Now we just have to hope that my floats aren’t too tight. Cross your fingers!

The Size of a Knitting Needle or Crochet Hook

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The size of the knitting needle or crochet hook that you use is crucial if you have any interest in replicating a pattern with precision or achieving a predictable fit. We alter our gauge (stitches per inch) by increasing or decreasing the size of our needles or hook to match the gauge listed in a pattern.

The only challenging thing about understanding hook and needle sizes is that there is no standard. Just as with more modern technologies, it’s hard for the amorphous world-wide group of individuals who decide what to call fiber crafting tools to agree upon a standard naming system (and stick with it). What any pattern calls a knitting needle or crochet hook of a certain size depends on several factors:

In what year was the pattern written? In what country was the pattern written? Which system was the pattern writer familiar with?

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Use a knit-check to check what size a mystery needle is or compare sizes between two needles, and use the ruler on the edge for measuring your gauge.

The issue is even more complicated by the fact that manufacturers of knitting needles may decide on their own standard if they wish. For instance, we carry needles from both Addi and Knitter’s Pride here at Over the Rainbow Yarn. Addi calls a needle measuring 3mm in diameter a US 2, and Knitter’s Pride calls a needle of the same size a US 2.5. Perhaps Knitter’s Pride or an earlier company set out with the noble goal of differentiating between the 2.75 and the 3.0mm needle, which were both called US 2 previously?

For crochet hooks, there are two separate sizing systems – one for the very small hooks which are typically used with thread and made of steel, and one for the larger hooks which are typically used with heavier yarn and made of aluminum, wood or plastic.

Some needle conversion charts include more or different standards from this one, such as Japanese sizes, French sizes, or old American sizes versus new American sizes. Old American sizes (from the mid-1900’s) are similar to the dual-system used for crochet hooks: a 2.5mm is a Size 1, and larger needle sizes increase to 2 and then 3, etc., but smaller sizes (for steel dpns) have larger numbers beginning at 12 and going up from there, much like wire gauge sizes. Don’t get old American sizes mixed up with UK sizes, though; for the small sizes, they are close but not the same.

The chart below covers the most common sizes you’re likely to run into in the English-speaking world, and in some cases includes common naming discrepancies. You can use it to convert sizes from one standard to another. Of course, the best way to be sure you’ve got the size you think you have is to know the actual measurement of your hook or needles in millimeters.

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Fall Knitting in Maine

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Baskets of fall-hued yarns adorn our coffee table this month.

Considering the time one must dedicate to a large knitting project, I eagerly wrote about knitting cozy sweaters for fall back in August, perhaps the day I felt the first whiff of cool air. Now all of a sudden, it’s late September. Fall officially begins tomorrow.

I’ve heard many people note that fall snuck up on them this year. I’m not sure whether the weather conditions in Maine were peculiar this year, or whether we just tend to notice anew every year how short our summer season is. Despite being the precursor to an inevitably long, dark and cold winter, fall is probably the most popular season in Maine. We jokingly call the tourists who pour into Maine (at the pace of molasses) “leaf peepers”, because they come from far and wide simply to appreciate the beautiful colors of our fall foliage. In the fall, I always feel a surge of gratitude that I get to live in such a beautiful place all year. There are so many reasons to embrace the fall.

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We ordered a few kits for Mrs. Knitter’s beautiful October Traditions Tam this month. Who wouldn’t want to wear this glorious hat in the fall? And if you think you can’t knit color work like this, I promise it’s easier than you think!

I think most businesses in Maine see a stark shift of business between the summer-fall months, and the winter-spring months. For many businesses with tourist appeal, it’s either on-season or off-season, with little in-between. Summer is on and winter is off. It’s different here though. Interestingly, knitting season happens to fall mostly during the off-months.

While I knit every single day year-round, I appreciate that some people consider knitting a fall and winter hobby. I know there are people out there who stepped outside some time this month, and realized that it’s time to pull their basket of knitting supplies out of the closet, and pick up where they left off last spring. What a delightful day that must be!

So today, I’m excited about the eternal cycle of the seasons, and eager to find out what this fall has in store for myself and for the knitters in my life. I can’t wait to meet the knitters who are just passing through admiring the fall colors, and to re-meet the knitters who return every fall. This fall, I’m hard at work on designing objects and writing patterns for our 12 Weeks of Christmas knit-along (and now also crochet-along!) series. What are you knitting this fall? I’d love to see your latest obsession, masterpiece, or means to pass the time, whatever knitting is to you.

If you need any inspiration (or proof that fall is knitting season), searching Ravelry.com for “autumn” yields 73 pages of luscious fall-hued results.

autumn_bloom_shawl autumn_vines_beretPictured: Autumn Bloom shawl by Melissa Thomson, and Autumn Vines Beret by Alana Dakos