Monday, February 9, 2009

Yarn Travails

So, I went yarn shopping over the weekend.

I spent some time on Friday figuring out possible yarns for the Prepster and the baby blanket that I thought I might be able to find at the craft store I like in Kumamoto city. Thanks to Ravelry, I could scope out some Japanese yarn brands and look at weights in English. I smartly changed the blanket pattern I intended to do, after seeing a note somebody wrote on my #1 choice saying "What was I thinking? This is taking forever." Bad sign when Sheila's due in three weeks. I changed it to the Lace Panel blanket, which called for a size 7 needle, same as the Prepster.

I also tried to work out what needle size I would need if I was going to do the vest in the round - I took the gauge, worked out how many inches each piece would be according to that, and converted the inches to centimeters. 18 stitches to four inches, 80 stitches for the back piece, 80 divided by 18 (4.44), multiply by four (17.78) for the inches, then convert to centimeters (45 cm). Perfect, right? So I thought I'd better go small, and cram more stitches on a smaller needle, than stretch out on a bigger. Something about that process seemed wrong, but I couldn't think what.

About this time was when I first began to clue in that US needle size numbers and Japanese needle size numbers do not match up. I was shocked to discover this, as I had gone along blithely assuming they were the same this whole time, buying and using Japanese needles for US patterns calling for US needle sizes. It hasn't been a problem, really, but still! I felt betrayed. And stupid. I realized I needed Japan sizes 6 and 8 needles, since the pattern calls for US sizes 5 and 7.

Not one to let a little thing like "budget" or "being able to eat for the next three weeks" stop me, I decided to get yarn for the vest and the blanket. I poked around and found Diaepoca. The Diaepoca is Gorgeous (with a capital G, right) and I've been lusting after it since I first went in to that store - I originally thought to do it for the Origami Cardi. They have a huge selection of beautiful colors in this yarn at that store, including an eye-popping dark pink that was perfect for the color scheme in my head. There's also a nice grey. Color cards here (click on Diaepoca, then color sample - mine is 319). The label said it was good for sizes 7-8 needles, and so while it seemed pretty thin, I figured it would work.

Then I looked for the baby yarn, and settled on the Wanpaku Denis, an acrylic wool blend. I realized I had written down the yardage needed but not the meters, and the labels here show meters. Whoops. I decided I would need six skeins for the blanket, to be on the safe side, plus an extra skein for the booties. Seven skeins.

Now, what about the vest? I decided to get the pink yarn now, and come back for the grey later - I couldn't afford all of it. I bought three beautiful, luscious balls of this beautiful, luscious pink. I almost forgot, but quickly went back for the needles - 40 cm Japan sizes 6 and 8. They looked short, but I'd worked it out, so I grabbed them, and went to the register.

Way too much money later, I had oodles of yarn and two new needles, and I was ready to start the blanket and was only six skeins of the main color away from starting the vest! Yippee!

When I got home, it all started to crumble.

First, I pulled out the needles so I could start the baby blanket. I took the size 8, same as the US 7, out of the package. 40 cm. It was tiny. It was incredibly short. It was the same size as the needle I have for a hat. I put it against my waist, trying to imagine knitting a top on it. Fail.

As I wigged out for a moment, I mentally reviewed my calculations and came up with the problem: I calculated for the back piece, forgetting to double it. This despite the whole point being to knit both pieces at once without having to seam. Fail.

Could I start the blanket then? 166 stitches on a 40 cm circular? Fail.

Then, the next morning I did a small swatch of the Diaepoca, since it was just so pretty I couldn't resist. I measured it. 18 stitches over 4 inches? Hah. Try 20 stitches over 3 inches. Fail.

The yarn is too thin. Way too thin. Ravelry says it can be used US sizes 6-8, and it is a DK. Is it me? Probably, but since I'll be knitting the vest, that's the important part. Can I get gauge with this yarn and have it look right? No. Fail.

Now I still need the needles, and the yarn. Fail.

But yesterday I bought a 60 cm size 8 so I can start the blanket, which I did (5 rows, which took ages - not a good sign), and I think that the Tokai Heart store at Youme Town has an adequate yarn for the Prepster, for when I get paid next. And now I have three balls of pink to use for something else.


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