Daily Archives: September 17, 2007

Cockeyed Optimist

You know, when you get kind of good at something, you get a little cocky. Now if you’re Really Good, you know what you can get away with and what you can’t. As my husband can with cooking; not that he can’t make mistakes, but he’s a very good cook (used to be a sous-chef in a fancy restaurant) and he knows what he can substitute, either for a certain effect or because of necessity.

Now, when I baked cookies recently, trying Sheri (of The Loopy Ewe)’s recipe, I had bought chocolate chips at the store and knew we had shortening. I just Assumed that we had staples like flour and brown sugar (I knew we had some). However, when the Gothlet and I (she wanted to learn how to make cookies — I think she learned how NOT to make cookies) got to that point of the recipe, I found we had about 1/4 the flour and 1/3 the brown sugar we needed. Oops. So I substituted white sugar for the missing brown sugar, and had some organic 7-grain bread flour in the fridge. (It was dark and I was in no mood to go to the store; plus I had to work early in the morning.) OK. Not ideal substitutions. The ‘chewy’ cookies ended up flat, crisp and — umm — with lots of texture. I think the bits of grain and twigs and stones in the bread flour probably would have softened in an hour of baking, but not in ten minutes. They were unique, shall we say. Tasted fine, but — well.

So knitting can be like that. When you change one thing in a pattern, probably OK if you know what you’re doing. If you change a few things — be prepared for anything!

(PS: I’m looking forward to making the cookies with the CORRECT ingredients sometime — when we’ve finished eating the extra-crunchy ones — and if you like sock yarn, check out The Loopy Ewe — great selection of wonderful sock yarns, including those of a number of indie yarn dyers, and some of the best customer service I’ve been treated to! Highly recommended!)

To continue my illustrative tale of woe:

I wanted to knit something from Twinkle’s Big City Knits. Despite the rail-thin models in this book, who Do Not look like me, there are some cool-looking things in here (I’m planning on the Tuxedo Jackettuxedojacketsm.jpg

and the Balthazar Vestbalthazarvestsm.jpg, in particular, at some point).

I started the Best Friend Cardigan bestfriendcardigansm.jpg(de-bobbled) not in Twinkle Soft Chunky, but in a substitute yarn with reasonably equivalent bulkiness, Plymouth Italia Fingerpaints (color 901). Gauge was actually not too far off, but I ripped it out after about 1/3 of the body was done, when I realized I would not have enough yarn. So then I started the Aspen Hat
aspenhatsm.jpg in the same yarn I had just ripped out . But I knit on smaller needles, maybe size 13s or whatever I had laying around, because I always knit loosely. Well, after I had pretty much finished, I realized not only was the hat too small, but it was too shallow, and you can’t do much of anything with a hat that’s not deep enough. I ripped without much angst (also without photographic documentation.) So, I thought maybe the yarn wouldn’t work; I was ordering some other things from elann, and ended up ordering some Austermann Bombolo, which seemed as though it would be fairly close to the right weight. And then I used the size needles recommended also (19s, ugh, I dislike huge needles).

So — having changed the Yarn and the Needles from the last trial —


The hat’s now too big. Just like the cookies, there’s a limit to what you can change and have it turn out anywhere close to the same.

Even for my giganto head, I think it’s kind of big. The look is more Ulan Bator than urban chic. (On the other hand, I do live in Wisconsin.)


OK, picture no trailing yarn ends and some funky big buttons. (And ignore the somewhat come-hither look as I figure out my camera’s self-portrait setting [love that it has one!])

Frog? Or reknit on one size smaller needles? What do you think?

Something to look at as you ponder and advise: