Monday, July 23, 2007

AH HA moment or is it UH OH??

The second session of the Nihon Vogue certification program was rigorous. After the first day, I came home exhausted. I had intended to review my notes and do some pattern drawing. I came home and could only manage to have dinner and start reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

The first day we worked hard on drafting the pattern for project 3 - a crewneck sweater with set-in sleeves. The pattern drafting is a done using very exacting techniques. Making sure the sleeve cap will fit into the armhole is comprised of many steps. Most of us had to do adjustments to the body at the bustline(moving the bustline up) to accommodate the correct measurements of the sleeve cap.

In addition, another thing I learned is that the decreases for the front and back are not done at the same rate. So if you calculate decreases for the front, they are different for the back - you cannot just calculate the rate for the back and use it for the front which is how most patterns are written. The number of decreases for the front and the back must be the same overall because your shoulder seams must match.

You can imagine there are quite a few calculations to make all the pieces fit together! There is A LOT of math involved in this. It is all very intriguing to me. I love it! It is so very interesting and logical. I'm a Virgo so this goes along with my personality - analytical.

Here is a photo of Jean with one of the sleeve diagrams.

I am astounded at the talent possessed by the students in this class. I feel a bit out of my league but there is so much to learn from those with skills that exceed ones own. It is really energizing to be a part of this course.

Here is a bird's eye view of our classroom.

The environment is relaxing and supportive. Suzanne feeds us so well. We have breakfast and lunch provided as part of our course fees. The food is very delicious and healthy! It is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

The title to this post is about an Ah Ha moment I had. I've been knitting along on my raglan, top down, sweater. Before our class on Saturday I put the sweater on waste yarn and tried it on to make sure it fit. It was a bit tight but I figured it was because this is before the first wash and the yarn will relax after its first washing.

During the weekend Jean talked about garment shaping done purely with the increasing or decreasing of needle size rather than increasing or decreasing the number of stitches.

For every .25 mm that you change needle size, this will change your garment size by 4%. So for instance, say you are knitting on 4mm needles and your garment is 50cm(20 inches) and you change(increase) your needle size to 4.25, your garment will increase 2cm(.8 inch).

So you can do shaping purely by changing your needle size. You may want to use this technique if you are trying to keep a full pattern repeat but you want to do some shaping.

We also, in class, discussed that in Japan they have needles in sizes that are in-between the ones we use in the United States. For instance in the US we do not have 4.2mm or 4.8mm needles.

I began thinking about how my raglan sweater felt tighter than I expected based on my exacting calculations. So in my notes, I had jotted down that I had used a 4.25 for my guage swatch. I used this same needle to cast-on for the project. Then eventually I needed to switch to another set of needles because there were more stitches on the needle than was comfortable for the length of circular needle so I switched needles. I happily knit away. I realize that there may be a bit of difference between addi's as compared to bamboo but I *figured* it was negligible. Plus I didn't have the length in bamboo that I needed and I needed to continue knitting.

Today I realized (Ah Ha) that maybe the needles I used for the guage/beginning of the sweater was different than what I used later on in the sweater. What I did the guage and began the sweater on were 4.25mm and the ones I'm now using are 4.00. This was the UH OH moment.

Even though both are marked US6, they indeed are different and will make a 4% difference in my garment! This explains why the sweater felt a bit tighter than I expected.

I'm learning so much in this class. I'll definitely be more attentive to needle size, not the US measurement but the mm measurement. As a result of this class, I'm a convert to the metric system. The calculations are easier to do and the needle sizes are more exacting. A US 6 is not a US 6 for all manufacturerers because one might be 4.0 and one might be 4.25.

You know how you *know* this but don't really know it?

The exacting standards of this course are helping me *get* it. Maybe this small detail will help you learn from my mistake, I mean lesson.


PICAdrienne said...

Wow! Great information, thanks for sharing that. All the more reason to not switch needles, or at least brands when knitting a project. I think I will be paying a bit more attention to the metric sizes of my needles.

Gail said...

Amazing...I just read Yarn Harlot's blog and she's on the same subject about metric vs. U.S. needle sizes. Your entry elegantly demonstrates the problem with U.S. sizing. What a great entry!

(Enjoy the HP book!)

Sarah said...

Thank you so much - what a wonderful post - I feel so informed. Curse the US lagging behind the rest of the world. I must learn the metric system better. There another goal to add to the list! Thank you!

yarnsnob said...

great information, learn something new everyday. I understand metric sizes as all needles are metric over here. I often have to refer to my notes when needles are stated in US sizes!!

Karen said...

So you're only ripping back your raglan to the point where you inadvertently changed to the smaller needles, right? You had me worried that you were completely starting over.

My understanding about the back of the raglan being 3 to 3.5 cm longer is that you need that extra little bit of depth in the armhole -- otherwise the sweater will feel too snug.