Today I’m travelling, all the way from one side of the continent to the other. I left Port Ludlow at 8:50 this morning, and I’ll arrive home tonight at about 2am – and the only good thing about how long it takes to get from one side of this continent to the other is the knitting time. I’ve been working on the blanket off and on while I’ve been here, and while it’s slow going when I’m working long days, I’m still within a row or two of being finished the centre section. This morning, after I had coffee and organized my life into a suitcase, I actually realized this, and managed to get myself really well sorted for the day ahead.
First, I really cleverly took the circular needle I’ll need for the border out of my suitcase and put it in my carry on. (Rather proud of that moment, since the blankie has been on straight needles until now, and that rather important realization could have easily come somewhere far, far up in the air, when I clued in that I had hours of knitting time and no needles. Two points for me.) Then I remembered that I should really block at at least a corner of the blanket – so that I have a decent shot at figuring out how many stitches to pick up on the sides of this. I put down a towel, laid a corner of the blanket down on it, and placed a wet washcloth over that.
I touched a hot iron to that washcloth, holding it in place to generate steam that would get driven down through the wool. I was careful not to apply pressure. I want the steam, not to press the fabric beneath. (Squashed knitting is usually not pretty.) I lifted the iron and cloth, spread the fabric a little more, then hit it again with the steam.
It’s not a perfect system, but not a bad way to get a quick and dirty idea of what I’ll have when I properly block the knitting.
Now, all I need to do is knit the stitches on the straight needle onto the circular, then do a quick bit of math to figure out how many stitches to pick up along the sides. I’ve never been happy with the standard advice as a regular rule. I’ve long been told that I should pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows on straight edges (or 4/5, or 2/3, depending on who’s telling me) but the truth is that when we’re told that, it’s a generalization to avoid you coming up with a “custom” number when you’re knitting a pattern – one that won’t work with the numbers the designer had, or because it would take to long to explain the rule that’s based on your individual gauge. I know the rule though, and it isn’t even hard – so that’s what I’ll use.
Stitch gauge over Row gauge, then reduced = the ratio you use for picking up.
In this case my blocked stitch gauge is about 7 stitches per inch, and my row gauge is 9 stitches per inch. I can’t reduce that, so I’ll just use it. 7/9 means that for every 9 rows, I’ll pick up 7 stitches. (That’s pick up one in each of three rows, skip a row, pick up four, skip one.)
I’ll do that along the side, then unpick my provisional cast on at the bottom (that’s the blue yarn) and then pick up and knit stitches along the other side. Then I’ll be in the round, and ready to start the border. I’ll also probably also be home.
I’m pretty excited about both.