theraineysisters knitting and so much more

November 4, 2010

From Sally — So Many Ways to Be Surly

Filed under: Back Story,Raglan Turtleneck — surly @ 2:46 pm

I received a surprise present in the mail yesterday from my big sister. Well, I knew I was getting something — Susan couldn’t resist telling me that much. But I had no idea what it was until I opened the box. I should warn you that it is not knitting related except in the most tangential way (which I will explain in a moment). I should also explain that one of my many nicknames is “Surly.” The reasons for this are lost in the mists of time. (That’s my story at least.) But it’s true. The nickname mostly has to do with our little brother but we’ll leave it at that.

Anyway my sister found some items with my “name” on them and she sent them to me.

I had coffee this morning in my mug. Apparently, Surly is a well-known microbrewery, but not being a beer drinker I’d never heard of them. They had obviously, however, heard of me.

Thanks, Susan! (Oh: the tangential knitting connection is that surly is my username on Ravelry.)

As for knitting, I’ve been juggling three projects: the blue husband turtleneck (the sweater is blue, not the husband), Eala Bhan, and a new project that I’ll talk about next time. Millie asked the following questions about the turtleneck:

Which of the pictures of the yarn is closest to the true color? The skeins of yarn look quite dark while the started-sweater has a lighter color with more depth. Both that color and the pattern look very nice, and I am waiting anxiously to see how the rest of the sweater works up.

I’m having a hard time getting this color to show up accurately in my photos. It’s close to a very dark denim blue — l don’t think I’ve quite captured it yet to be honest.

I would like to spark a discussion on this – how do other knitters determine what gauge a particular yarn will work up based on information on the yardage. I go more on yardage than on the suggested needle size on a label. I looked at Shelter and when I see that that 50 gm ball of wool is 140 yds, I immediately translate that into 280 yds in a 100 gm ball of wool but to me a worsted weight 100 gm ball would normally be in the range of 210, 220, or 223, depending on whether it was Plymouth Galway, Cascade 220, or Patons Classic Merino. For me these work up well at 5 sts per inch. . . . It seems to me that 280 yds in a 100 gm skein would probably work up at a dk gauge. How do other knitters look at yardage and use it to determine how much yarn to buy and what gauge will the yarn work up at?

I also generally go by yardage per weight rather than suggested needle size, especially if I am trying to use a different yarn than a pattern calls for. But it definitely is trial and error. Some fibers are heavier than others and so you will automatically get lower yardage per skein. The Shelter yarn that I am using for this project has a certain lightness and loft to it, which means that it knits up “bigger” than its yardage might suggest. Another example would be Jaeger’s Chamonix yarn. It has 119 yards per 50 gram skein but it knits up at 14 stitches per four inches. It’s very light for its bulk. Cotton, on the other hand, is often heavier than wool. When in doubt, I swatch even though I hate swatching.

The other day, while knitting and watching TV, I somehow purled two stitches in a row on the husband sweater. That was a mistake, which I’ve marked with the tip of a tapestry needle. I know it’s hard to see, but basically I purled where I should have knitted.

Fortunately, it wasn’t all that far back. I quickly laddered my way down and then back up. It just goes to show that even the simplest pattern requires occasional moments of attention.


  1. I love your new personalized glassware! And wow- what a beautiful sweater. Simple yes, but I am so impressed with the look of this wool that I will have to breakdown and order some soon.

    Comment by Trista — November 4, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

  2. My husband would LOVE a sweater in that pattern/yarn combination. I’m going to have to keep my eye on this one!

    Comment by Kym — November 4, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  3. Can I just say I find it strangely comforting to know that I’m not the only knitter that breezes along on a (supposedly) easy stitch pattern, only to look down a couple inches and see a stray stitch going the wrong way? Or a cable that decided to take a left turn instead of a right?

    I remember when my son was young and would cry, my ex would sometimes say, “That’s nothing to cry about!” Which always drove me crazy, because obviously, to my son, whatever “that” was, it apparently was worth crying about; or, more likely, he was in fact upset about something entirely different, and it was a signal to dig a bit deeper and figure out what was really bothering him to the point of tears.

    When I make a mistake in my knitting, I realize that my mind is not in the present; it is always worth taking a breath or two and considering, what is REALLY preoccupying my mind so much that I lost track of my knitting pattern? Sometimes the answer is like a bolt out of the blue, and I realize that the unexpected missed stitch was like a little message to me, that there was something important that needed my attention.

    (hmmm… must be going mad if I think my knitting is trying to tell me something…)
    But it is true!

    Comment by Mary Taylor — November 5, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  4. Surly is served on tap at Cafe 28 which is next to Linden Hills Yarn in Minneapolis. I’ve never had the brew myself, but my DH and his friends seem to like it. I like all the artwork associated with the brand.

    Nice save on the mistake stitches.

    I really enjoy reading this blog!

    Comment by ChrisRKnits — November 8, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  5. Shelter is a woolen yarn, meaning that it is specifically spun for loft, so it makes sense that it seems lighter. More air trapped when it’s spun. But…you probably knew that. Love the color!

    Comment by GerriB — November 8, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

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