Stitch and Bitch

I’m late today. I really wanted to have made some sort of knitting progress before sitting down to talk about making knitting progress, which I’ve made a little bit of now. Unfortunately, the progress I’m making is tempered by a sense of foreboding that can be summed up in the following words: yarn substitution.

At the time I ordered the yarn for my red cardi, KnitPicks did not have a cotton blend yarn in the weight called for in the recipe, but the desire for a washable cotton yarn in a bright cheerful color convinced me this was the best choice for the money. No problem, thinks I, I will just do the math and all will be well. I calculated how many stitches I needed based on my gauge, picked a number of stitches from the pattern that was practically spot on and cast on. All has been well up until today, when I finally reached the point that the stitches needed to be divided into back and two fronts. Here’s the problem that I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around: Since the gauge is different, I need to switch switch from using the numbers I have been following up to this point to the numbers for the size I actually want; specifically, armhole depth. Now, given the difference in gauge, after doing the correct number of increases in my sleeve (the ‘finished’ one), I do not have the appropriate width for the size I need; I’m off by about an inch and a half. Now I was thinking I could fudge a half inch or so, but not an inch and a half. The other pressing problem is how far should I knit up the back before I do the neck shaping? Do I use the numbers that I’ve been using or the numbers that would produce the appropriate size if I were knitting the the patterns gauge? My instinct here is to use the measurements for the finished size, but I’m just not sure what will happen to the shaping at the neckline; will it make for everything too compact? As for the sleeve, I may need a couple more increase rows, but not so many that the sleeve will hang down to my thighs.

Here’s the sad part. While there are a couple really good stores in town, I am very hesitant to go in with my project and ask for help because I did not purchase my yarn from their store. Experience has taught me that this is a bad idea, unless you are very thick skinned, or don’t really care if they help you or not. I totally understand their point of view. They are, after all in business to make money and time they spend with someone who did not provide income for their shop is not time well spent. I’m in a bit of a quandary, though, in that my LYS is not all that L; and given that I don’t have a benevolent uncle providing my yarn funding, I have to be careful about what I buy. I love supporting local business and do it whenever I can, but face it, I’d rather knit than not, and I’d rather knit yummy fiber obtained at a lower price than feel guilty about what I’ve spent with each and every stitch. Having made my purchase “on my own” I am now left to knit it up “on my own,” or face the awkward questions about my yarn (this is a lovely yarn, do we carry this, Gertrude? Where did you say you found this, dear?) One of the gals in my (newly discovered) knit group went into the store to get a pattern which they unfortunately were out of at the time. My friend commented that it was okay, she’d just get it online. What followed was really unpleasant, so much so that I doubt my friend will shop in that store again.

I have vision for a yarn shop that would focus on the love of the craft, helping others along and creating community. The online phenomenon has brought many into the fold, why turn them away, discouraged? I truly believe that if a person is made to feel welcome–embraced even–in a yarn (or any other) shop, they will spend their time and ultimately their money there. It may not be on pricey yarn, but maybe on needles they need “right now,” or patterns they see knit up in the shop. The creation of loyal customers is all about them knowing that you are genuinely interested in THEM, not their money.

Okay, I’m going to climb off my soapbox now and go back to my knitting…..I have several inches to go before I have to make a decision.



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4 responses to “Stitch and Bitch

  1. Well, I can see both perspectives, having had friends who have owned yarn stores. 🙂

    I’d suggest getting help in your knitting group before trying a store, ‘cos that’s just not going to go well, in my experience.

    Can you keep recalculating the numbers for everything else? Use the inches of sleeve depth, but calculate the number of stitches you need for your gauge? It’s been a while since I did that, but it seems like I calculated a factor of difference between my gauge and the pattern gauge and was able to apply that to all the numbers to get good numbers for my gauge. That’s all that pattern designers usually do – they knit one size and then calculate out the rest…

  2. Yep, what Chris said. Without wishing to sound too blonde, that kind of math makes my head hurt!

  3. We’ve had the ‘on-line’ discussion with many of your LYSs and one has even started reading our blogs. At first they were very disparaging of patterns from the web but when they saw how many I knit, how beautiful they were and that I bought the yarn from them, they change their thinking. The owner did get a little huffy about my Sugar and Cream post but that’s just tough. The other shops know the power of blogs because they get calls from my readers but they don’t bother to really check it out. You are so right…the shops are so wrong!

  4. One of a million reason I’ve considered opening a yarn store. It seems that most of the stores around here (Denver/Boulder area) are completely unaware of what goes on in the online knitting world. The internet is becoming such an integral part of our lives, and to resist the changes that it brings can only damage “real world” stores. I try to patronize the LYSes when I can, but I’m not going to let my project suffer if they don’t carry the exact yarn I want, and I’m not going to let my bank account suffer if they’re charging way too much for something. My $0.02.

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