For those of you who made it into the shop last night and got to meet Andra and try on some sweaters, it was so great to have you!
Marc brought the girls in quickly before the customers came. They always love to see Andra when she's in town. They arrived looking like drowned rats - they came straight from a cross country race in the pouring rain. It's amazing what a hair brush and some great hand knits did to change their appearance! They both loved the Kerr hat: Helen (left) is wearing the Kerr Hat and Cowl. This is a free pattern on Andra's website, and was quite popular last night! The hat takes 1 skein of Borealis and the cowl takes 2 skeins. This yarn is really pretty in the hank, but knit up, it's just gorgeous. Don't worry, Helen was only drinking seltzer with a lemon. Doesn't it look like a cocktail though?
I knew it was only a matter of minutes before Helen would start grabbing other samples and trying them on. We let her "vogue" for a bit and then Marc dragged them home to get their homework done.
One thing is clear from last night - we all have different body images, whether they are accurate or not. I think most of us think we know what will look good on our body, and look at garments in stores (or in yarn shops!) and immediately rule them out. We learned last night that it really is important to give things a try, and sometimes it takes another person to force you to try it! Here's Andra sharing (and wearing!) some pearl of wisdom with Deb, who is trying on Avocet B: And here's Sue looking so AWESOME in Stratus (free pattern!) in Blackstone Tweed. In addition to our mini fashion show, there were some other lessons learned last night, too. Another customer, Andrea, is making the Stibnite sweater, from Norah Gaughan Volume 7. She had a question with her gauge. She had checked it several times at home and even though she had already gone down one needle size, she was still getting 4.625 stitches to the inch, instead of 5. She wanted advice about continuing (since she'd already worked about 8-10" of the back and was hoping to not have to r-i-p).
If Andrea had continued, that "little" gauge issue would have made the back of her sweater about 1.5" too big. It doesn't sound like a lot, but too big is too big. I recommended she rip back and go down one more size. Nobody wants to rip back and start over. And it can be confusing when you have never had to worry about switching needle sizes to get gauge. I explained that any number of things can make your gauge change: stress, happiness, needle material, yarn content, etc.
The great news is that Andrea actually checked her gauge early on in the project, and knew to come in and ask about it, before she went any further. We called Andra over for another opinion, and she agreed that going down another needle size was the right thing to do. She also gave Andrea a great tip... most people start sweaters by following the directions as written. And directions usually call for a knitter to make the back first.
Andra's tip? Start with the sleeves. Even if you've done a small gauge swatch, the sleeves can serve as another swatch. And if you realize, after 4 inches of knitting, that your gauge is off, you have a lot less to rip out. Great tip!
Andra also showed me her way of winding little center pull balls. I just started an intarsia project and I need to wind a ball of self striping sock yarn (Berroco Sox) into 6 separate balls. I usually do figure-8 twists, which is great for small bits of yarn. Each of my 6 balls is about 15 grams, which proved a bit big for figure-8 twists. So hey, I learned something too! There's nothing better than a bunch of knitters getting together and sharing. There's always something new to learn!