Strike One.

Last night I was reading my email and there were people saying that the corset runs small so “size up”, and people saying that my theory is good, and people saying that the corset was big, so “size down”….this variety of opinions doesn’t shake me up at all. I figure that different experiences with a pattern are normal, since we all knit differently and goodness knows that it doesn’t matter to me what or how people knit, so when two different knitters have two conflicting opinions on a pattern….it’s par for the course. I’ll probably have my own experience and have to live with that too. I kept knitting.

Then I got some emails from a couple of knitters saying that they were right on gauge, that the corset looked fabulous and then it hit water and it was game over. They begged me to wash a swatch before I ended up with an extremely elegant lace and cable elephant corset. (Really, no matter how pro-elephant you are, you don’t want that. Elephants don’t hand wash. No hands.)

This scared me. I knit me a little swatch. (Shown here with the tape measure it only took me 22 minutes to find and photographed here, rather badly and at 1am.)


Looks exactly like I was right. The gauge on the pattern is 22 stitches to 10cm/4″ and these are 22 sitches on a smaller needle, with a smaller yarn I am totally getting a smaller piece of knitting. Good thing too, since I choose the larger size to compensate.

Then I gave the swatch the tiniest little bit of a swish in the kitchen sink, (no soap, no violence) and very gently laid it out on the counter to dry. I did not stretch it or manhandle it in any way.


Danger Will Robinson, DANGER. The swatch, expanding faster than my stash in a far flung yarn shop with a sale on laceweight, now measures a staggering and catastrophic 19 stitches to 4 inches. Now there are people who would be better at the math than me (perhaps even enjoy it…though I suspect that Kristen is lying about how much darned fun mathematics is) and that means I’m getting 4.75 stitches to the inch, instead of 5.5 stitches to the inch and that means that the 38.5 inch chest that I thought was going to come out small is actually going to be…wait, ok. so 4.75 X 38.5 = No. Wait, that would give me the number of stitches to cast on…that’s not right. Ok, 38.5 divided by…no. that won’t do it either. Hold on. If 38.5 divided by 5.5 is equal to “X” and in the new equation “X” is 4.75 then the new size of the corset is going to be…. for the love of wool. Screw it. It’s BIGGER. It’s going to be BIGGER. Kerstin or someone else who doesn’t think that all the air on the planet starts to go away whenever X = SOMETHING can figure out by how much. Me? I know it’s going to be BIGGER, and that’s not good. I wanted it SMALLER.

In the interest of getting it smaller, I’ve frogged attempt #1 and cast on the smallest size, on a smaller needle and we’ll see what happens now.


All of this math and frogging would have me upset except I have a new best friend.


This wee cabled bunny made it’s trip here from Lee Ann’s house. She’s made of roving I gave Lee Ann, and she’s charming beyond all belief. (Yes. She is wearing underwear. What else? The poor little dear is far from home. Why wouldn’t she be wearing only underwear?) I love her, and she’s sitting by my laptop being admired.

I’m co-opting part two of the bike trip (I know, it’s breaking your heart that you don’t see the Canadian Parliament through the eyes of a manic knitter and her assorted sock projects today) with breaking news. Tomorrow I’ll be signing copies of Bookbookbook 1 at 1:00 at the Gemini Fibres booth at the Knitters Fair in Kitchener Ontario (which is really just a chance to go yarn crawling with Amy). This by itself is exciting, but the news is that Gemini Fibers, with the help of The Canadian Manda Group has managed (through a string of complex cross-Ontario phone calls and with the efforts of a really awesome dude there named “Anthony”, who is a distribution and shipping genius) to procure 32 copies of Bookbookbook 2, hot off the presses and before anybody else has them, which (when I am done staring at them and feeling faint) I’ll sign too.

Last time, Americans had the book a long time before a Canadian (namely my mother, the only Canadian it probably really pissed off…) set their eyes on it. This is often the case with North American book distribution, but for a Canadian author, it’s a little heartbreaking. This time?

Well. To quote Ryan…. “neener neener”.

Who’s coming to gloat say hi?

85 thoughts on “Strike One.

  1. If I could teleport a la Star Trek, I’d be there in a heartbeat! I hope you’ve a great time.
    My boyfriend thinks I should knit the corset. After laughing for a few minutes I told him I he needed to put the crackpipe down because its so out of my league. Maybe someday after I get a few more lace patterns under my belt.
    PS I love the colour.

  2. Snarf! Did you WRITE that denfinition of “Danger, Will Robinson” yourself? Because whoever did certainly understood the danger of swatchlessness:
    “In hacker culture and in Western society generally, the catch phrase is a facetious way one person tells another that he or she is about to make a stupid mistake; that there’s a factor he or she overlooked which ought to be taken into account.”

  3. I know it’s a bit early in the life of the Bookbookbook2 but, um, could you come to Atlanta? I know LOTS of knitters that would love to see you down here.
    I’m waiting for my copy. Ordered it Tuesday. Waiting. Patiently. Waiting.

  4. Crap! You know, if gas was still about seventy cents a litre, I would totally get my little heinie over to the Knitters Fair to scratch and claw for a copy of me very own.
    However, given that I am cash-strapped, and that gas is expensive, and that hubby and I each have lots of stuff on our ‘honey-do’ lists this weekend, and that I estimate a 90% probability of there being a huge buzzing lineup of knitters outside Bingemans at 6am all hoping to get a crack at one of those 32 precious copies…I will have to stay home. *Sob*.

  5. your gauge is 15% bigger than the given gauge, meaning you need to cast-on 85% of the given stitches.
    to figure this out, take the number of stitches needed to cast on, and multiply it by .85 (you can use a calculator to do this). This may or may not be the smaller size, but my guess is that it’s smaller than the next size down.

  6. Great that they got the new book there. Lucky folks in Kitchener. But I think it might be dangerous sitting at the Gemini Fibres booth. I walked into their shop recently and walked out $200 poorer and I didn’t even know how to spin yet!! I hope they brought lots of other stock.

  7. I totally identify with being able to do some of the math, but not knowing what number to divide or multiply by which. I like to think of myself as a logical and multi-talented person, but somehow my brain just likes to freeze when it comes to knittin-related math. Props to Jen for the 85% thing, though!
    And congrats again on your book, Steph!!

  8. If you had given us a little more WARNING we could have FLOWN up to see you at Gemini Fibres instead of ……. sheesh. never mind. I’ll get a grip. Later.
    Sniff. I’m glad the Canadians are getting it first. Really I am.

  9. Kitchener is such a great name for a town welcoming a knitter. And I LOVE that bunny! Those shades’ll help keep it anonymous when it’s huddling at the back of the elevator.

  10. so i wonder how long until bookbook 2 makes it out to Halifax? My birthday is in 20 days, I am hoping to have it in my hands before then. Can’t help you with the math part, i am a beginner knitter and truly dreadful at arithmetic no matter where it occurs.

  11. OOh, I live in Kitchener!! I thought is was too much to hope that you might be at the fair, very excited now!

  12. Got to agree with Kathleen…giant honey-do lists, gas is way too expensive and I’d have to get up at some awful hour (in the dark) to get there! Please come to Rochester, NY (or at least closer than Kitchener).

  13. I swear if this turns into a math blog, I’m so finding another stalkee. I got about halfway through that math paragragh before I had to crawl under my desk, whimper and hope I didn’t pee on myself. Good luck on the gauge though. πŸ™‚
    Hope everyone has a great day!

  14. Awww, man! I guess I’ll just have to stalk the Books A Million people here until they get with the program and catch up with you Canadians! (sigh) We never have any good fibery stuff going on around here!

  15. Yeah see at least you do that measuring stuff, I dont well I never used to πŸ˜‰ then i spend an hour trying calculations that dont add up wind up steamed and not knitting that night. then i turn to a non guage project and work on that for a while.
    Hopefully I will be able to get a glimpse of the fabulous harlot at rhinebeck, im trying to plana trip to toronto , I’m dying to see hockey night in canada and the maple leafs are my tem!!!!

  16. Yeah see at least you do that measuring stuff, I dont well I never used to πŸ˜‰ then i spend an hour trying calculations that dont add up wind up steamed and not knitting that night. then i turn to a non guage project and work on that for a while.
    Hopefully I will be able to get a glimpse of the fabulous harlot at rhinebeck, im trying to plana trip to toronto , I’m dying to see hockey night in canada and the maple leafs are my tem!!!!

  17. I think I’m a little scared for you, but I love the colour your using.
    I SO wish I could come and visit in Kitchener tomorrow, but doing so would only lead to spending money I don’t have on stuff I don’t have time to play with. (I was going to say ‘don’t need’, but it’s yarn. of COURSE I need it…) Take pics of the stack of bookbookbook2 for us.

  18. So if you’re at 4.75 sts/in instead of 5.5 sts/in, you’ll get 44.6″ instead of 38.5″. Instead of casting on 212 sts to get 38.5″ (at 5.5 sts/in), you’d have to cast on 183 sts. Or just multiply the cast on by 0.85. Ugh math! Good luck!
    Looking forward to getting the second book!

  19. I’ll be there! I’ll look for you! Should I wear the jingly socks all around Bingemans?
    It might not be a bad idea, since I’m catching a ride with Maureen from London and if I jingle when I walk she’ll be able to find me in the crowd and I don’t want to loose my ride.
    Laurie (not THAT Laurie)

  20. You already know I’m gonna be there but the whole “32 copies” thing scares me a bit. Bookbookbook1 is in its, like, eleventy billionth printing and I can only imagine Bookbookbook2 is going to be just as popular. There’s gonna be a mob at the Gemini Fibres booth and darn it all – I don’t think I’m big enough to win (I do have some lovely 1.5mm needles I might tuck into my purse in case things get ugly). Can I reserve a precious book?

  21. So… how long do you think it would take for me to drive my little VW from Iowa to Ontario? It’s not THAT much further than Michigan, right? πŸ˜‰

  22. Carma, I could share the ride with you if I had someone to watch my dog… damn. We could have taken turns driving while one person slept!

  23. It’s looking wonderful so far. I know it will work out just fine.
    Well maybe someday you will be close enough for me to come see you too.

  24. If I could travel by sheer will alone, I would totally be there. Of course, if I could travel by sheer will alone, I could do a lot of neat things.
    If there’s a tour for bookbookbook2, could you please please please please come to Colorado? Pretty please, with a cherry on top? I’ll take you out for some yummy vegetarian food, and we can talk knitting and Sims…

  25. I agree with what Kate said, except that you want a 35″ bust (not the 38″), right? So I would cast on (4.75*35)=166 sts to get the 35″ bust. Alternatively, 86% of the 35″ size CO in the pattern. If you do recalculate the CO, will you need to fudge the number to make the lace pattern work out?

  26. Thank god some of your readers know maths! Because I haven’t got a clue. I ordered bookbookbook2 from Amazon and am anxiously awaiting notification of shipment. Have a great time signing those hot off the press copies.

  27. Man oh man, does Stitchy ever owe the commenting world new keyboards…bigger boobs as solution to math problem…I fell right the hell off my chair laughing.
    Hey, wait–I wonder if that would work with this stupid C++ program I’m writing…I’ll call the file 38C++ and see if that helps. Incrementable boobs. Could work, non?

  28. Wow…thank goodness you did a swatch! Guess it does actually make sense *sometimes*.
    I NEED a BUNNY!!! Will Lee Ann sell one to me? Will she tell me how to make it? NEED a bunny…she is soooo cute! I am off to Lee Ann’s site to see if an arrangement can be made.

  29. Ya know, that little bunny looks all innocent but when I saw her over at Lee Ann’s she was pole dancing. Lee Ann says that’s not what she was doing, but puh-lease. It is so what she was doing. Don’t let her play with the girls, she’ll be a bad influence.
    Have fun tomorrow. I’ll see you on the 22nd.

  30. weeee! the harlot in in k-town! wha-hey!
    you realize that a limited number of books and a room full of knitters with pointy sticks is a recipe for brawl, don’t you?

  31. OH! one thing I thought of: it might be a good idea to contact the designer & ask if she got gauge before or after swatching, because if she did a pre-blocking gauge…well, I’m sure where you can see where that goes.

  32. Amazon is still telling me that my copy of bookbookbook 2 should arrive on Weds. Are you coming to Atlantic City at the end of the month to sign?

  33. That Debbie has a point, really. I don’t mind the math (engineering will do that to you) but really, engineering is all about finding the best/easiest/coolest way, and I say a 45 inch bust qualifies. (If I were a physics/math major, I would have stuck with the original 44.6, but we engineers are okay with rounding up.)
    Maybe LeeAnn would make you another bunny, and you could have one riding in each side of the 45 inch corset. You know, to keep them warm, like Ryan’s friend’s mouse. If LeeAnn had knitted her some Granny-panties, she wouldn’t get so cold…

  34. I WEEP, realizing that I was at the KW Kitter’s fair last year with nary a Harlot sighting… and then I moved to Halifax. Why? I should still be living with my parents…. You could at least come to Halifax to make up for my bitter disappointment- say Sunday? to Halifax for the Pacafiesta! (that’s ALpaca, of course.)

  35. Good lord, woman, you’re better than Prozac. Sure you wouldn’t care to move to the States? I could take you to some lovely yarn shops….

  36. Okay, wait, I’m sure I can do this.
    It’s 5.5/4.75 = 1.15andawholelotofothernumbers.
    1.16 (round up, close enough) x 38.5 = 44. 57etcetc. Once that corset hits water, you’re up a full 6 inches and yeah, your corset gets elephantitis.
    To get where you want to go, it’s 38.5″/1.16 = 33.2″
    So, with the same yarn, same needles, aim for as close to that size as possible. πŸ™‚
    Maaan, I’m such a dork. But looking at the comments, I am relieved to see that I am not the only one.
    And I second Margene’s plea. Utah? Please?

  37. I love the idea of new boobs as a fix to the sizing problem, but it doesn’t get you off the math hook. You’d still need to figure out how big to get ’em so that the top would work.
    How long of a drive is it from here (Jacksonville, FL) to Kitchener? Can I make it if I leave after work?

  38. Love the colour you are using, but the math..shiver…
    And the bunny!! Cuteness!!!! Wish the bookbookbook2 was here but I’ll be patient and bug the hell out of the booksellers. They like it…really!

  39. Oh, the math hurts my head in an amazing way. I might have to leave work early now.
    Thank you for at least providing the bunny for some balance. Love that bunny….

  40. Goodness, don’t know if it’s your math or the margarita I’m drinking but you’ve blown my mind with all those numbers. Decided not to think to hard. It might create a nasty headache.

  41. Hey… I was just wondering if there will be any trips to the East Coast for the bookbookbook 1 tour. If so, my office has me running all over hell and creation (I’m going from NB to NS to fly to Atlanta, only to come home for a trip to NL, all within 2 weeks. It’s like a book tour without the books, the yarn and the knitters. I’ll let you decide which is hell and which is creation.) and I want to make sure I don’t miss you if you come out here. I would be willing to call in sick if need be.
    That is one crazy arse bunny. Did he star in Risky Business by any chance?

  42. Are you going to make Arizona one of your stops on your next tour? We would sure love it if you would!
    Math, smath! Who needs a gauge swatch, anyways? It’ll fit someone you know, right?

  43. But… the pattern gauge was 22 stitches to 4 inches. And after you washed your 22-stitch swatch, it was just under 4 inches. So what’s the problem?
    You’re right on gauge for whatever size it was, with the small needles and yarn. It’s just that it will look like it’s for a toddler * until * you wash and block it. Then it’ll fit perfectly.

  44. While I have been known to like the math (sometimes, just do that + play with the yarn and never even bother to knit the item, having squeezed most of the fun out of it up front)… anyhow, I’m glad so many others are doing it for you cause I’m laughing WAY.TO.HARD.
    Btw, is Kitchener where the famous invisiblish stitch was created?
    Finally, I just announced to family I’m going to Rhinebeck! Anyone else from the LI, NY area interested in carpooling, etc.? Lemme know!

  45. says my copy of bookbookbook2 was shipped today…now, it couldn’t be here tomorrow I suppose…nah but probably Monday. Guess I’ll just have to knit instead of read this weekend!

  46. Wow, I feel so guilty for exploding heads all over blogdom!
    Yes, math is a treacherous path. I rather like it (thank god) but I swear even when I do the most careful figuring in the world, double check and triple add my figures, SOMEONE creeps into my office and screws up all my numbers. Yeah, that’s it.
    Listen, say all the nasty things you want about me – it’s been done before, I have a thick skin (did someone say Elephant?) and I feel that swearing at a designer really DOES have a cathartic effect. And please do email me if there’s anything I can do to help (cyber hand holding…?) The yahoo group for the corset has been helpful for some folks…
    I can’t WAIT for your next book – yahoo!!

  47. So here is a probably very obvious and rather silly question from someone who knits only a little. If you changed the yarn then why did it stretch so much when washed. Would this then not be a problem for all patterns and not just the corset? Are the pattern finished measurements taking into account blocking after knitting or should blocking just shape and not stretch a finished garment. I told you I was a very novice knitter!
    It was great to hear you in Winnipeg and imagine me walking all over the bookstore to find where the talk will be and here you are standing right beside my husband in the magazine section. He loved your talk as well, but then, if you substitute wood for yarn and woodworking for knitting with the same obsessive tendencies it all applies to him. He even has a stash, but wood takes up so much more room then yarn and is MUCH harder to hide.

  48. Does anyone else think it’s pretty cool to have a knitting book signing in “Kitchener”?!? (Sorry. Just couldn’t let that one go…)

  49. NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I was *GOING* to go to the Knitters Fair. I was totally excited about it. And then my friends decided to come visit tomorrow, and them being non-knitters, the excuse that I want to go to a Knitters Fair (by myself, no less) instead of hanging out with them – well, it just wouldn’t hold water.
    If I’d known you were gonna be there….well, I could have claimed I was meeting a friend! It would have given me a great excuse! ;o)
    Ah, well. Enjoy. I’ll be thinking of you with envy.

  50. Ah, Knitting Math. Isn’t it fun? “Bigger” and “smaller” works for me! (Frankly, I’m avoiding the top of my Union Square sweater because the calculations to get all those short rows to work with the gauge that I’m getting is frankly intimidating.) I am excited about bookbookbook2, though, and I do hope that you’ll maybe be at Rhinebeck in October? Or coming to northern NJ this time?? (Is it selfish of me to want to get to meet you after enjoying your blog and bookbookbook1 so much? Well, maybe, but darn it, I don’t care!)

  51. I love the corset and hope to get around to it one of these days.
    On the bookbookbook2, I am hoping it’ll turn up sometime in Singapore soon! How long I don’t know! πŸ™

  52. I have been reading Bookbookbook 1 in shopping/bus line(s) across Rhode Island and Massachusetts, not to mention a few unpleasant doctor’s offices, and it makes me laugh out loud!! I have given 2 copies as gifts, and have become a little bit annoying trying to convince friends to get one of their own ! So imagine the thrill when I found a copy of Bookbookbook 2 in Barnes and Noble tonight!!!! What a weekend it will be!

  53. Oh, that swatch is terrifying! I got cold chills just looking at it and I can’t decide if it makes me want to start swatching everything in sight or never swatch again! Ack! Good luck, dear Harlot . . .

  54. Okay, I’d be SO hating that yarn about now.
    That we swatch almost doubled in size!
    I’ll be washing swatches more often I guess.
    Hmm… that must mean I’ll be making swatches too…
    Is it to late to call it a swatch (and at least rinse it) when it’s 36″ x 6″?
    Meanwhile, can you pretty please come to Illinois for the bookbookbook2 tour?? please? Champaign-Urbana would be best for me, of course, but I’ll come up to Chicagoland if you can make it a weekend… please…. grovel grovel….

  55. I promise that, if you do tour to the north/west-of-Boston-MA area for this one, that we will bring you to a restaurant that does not, in fact, close five minutes after we get there and refuse to serve us actual food. πŸ™‚

  56. Dear Stephanie –
    I thought you’d like to know that I just got an email from Amazon and the new BookBook2 is on it’s way to NY!!! Congrats, and may we see more bookbooks in the future!

  57. SCORE! I got 1/32! I showed up at the Knitter’s Fair (my home guild) before the doors opened with a plan to make a quick sweep for laceweight, and lo and behold, I got me paws on a copy of bookbookbook2! (Also, an obscene amount of Handmaiden from which I had to remove the price stickers before heading home. *ouch* *YAY* *ouch*)
    So sad, I had to work at noon and missed running into you and Amy. I’ll carry my copy in my bag – our paths will cross again.
    I hope you’re hosted in fine K-W form.

    I just read what your wrote in my book: “…obsession in normal…”
    How can you know me so well after so little time? πŸ˜›

    I just read what your wrote in my book: “…obsession is normal…”
    How can you know me so well after so little time? πŸ˜›

  60. Please please please please come to Tucson!! Or even Phoenix (for longer than a plane switch)!!! Please please please please!! THere are many a knitter here in Arizona who would love for you to put us on your bookbookbook2 tour!!

  61. Nice to see you today.
    Lord T’underin’ – we’ve got the same kitchen counter!
    The swatch worries me, I have great concerns over the mental health of that swatch. I’m thinking MPD.

  62. Hi Steph
    Please let us know how the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters Fair was this year. I really planned on going but I just couldn’t imagine 4 hours in the car to go and empty my checking account on beautiful things. Now I wish I could have gone. I would love to meet you.

  63. I second the plea from Cerridwen Johnson – please please please to Arizona!!!! Tucson has better mountains (yes Norma they’re actual mountains) and nicer weather – please please please come!

  64. Uh oh, I’m in trouble. I’m one of the ones who told you that the top runs small and to knit a larger size. I’m knitting mine a size up (the 38″) and didn’t think to wash a swatch first. I’m to the waist now and I’m not sure I care to finish it πŸ™
    Any busty women need a half-done corset top???

  65. The lace tank corset is loverly but I opted for less work when I made my Tunsunian Crochet corset. Fortunately, I actually have posted a pic on my blog. Unfortunately, it’s on a hanger (which looks much better than on me).
    Good luck with your endeavor.

  66. Holy Ever-expanding Gauge swatch, Harlot! (Once you get it figured it’ll be down right purdy though.) Your bunny’s very cute, but I have a crocheted cat that just may change your anti-crochet sentiment.

  67. I am SO RELIEVED that you have swatched. Although, to be sur-le-nez accurate, you should check your gauge in the lace pattern, since all those yarn-overs change the number of stitches per inch (as Simone noted). For instance, the pattern I just bought yarn for stated a gauge of 4.5 st/in. But when I looked at the picture, it was clear they knit the sample up with something much lighter than that. And then I looked up the gauge of the yarn THEY used, and in stockinette it knits up at 5 st/inch. So those yarn-overs changed the yarn’s gauge from 5 st/inch to 4.5 st/inch. Which would not be a big deal in a loosefitting sweater, but in your snug little corset it could be quite a change.
    I know that wasn’t very articulate but I hope it made sense. Good luck!

  68. I live in the SF bay area and last summer bought 2 balls of Chai and 2 balls of Siam and want to do the lace corset. (I haven’t checked if this is enough yarn and am sort of hoping it’s so I can go back to Artfibers and buy more.) I have already bought the pattern. (Didn’t you just love that after you paid, the pattern was emailed to you!! No waiting.)
    I am the same size as you, so be sure to keep us posted on this project. I think you’ve decide the needle size and the pattern size you’ll use. If I have enough yarn, I’ll cast on this weekend. If not,…. well it’s a trip to SF for me.

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