Knitter, know thy gauge
It only took a few rows of mulling things over with Calorimetry before I came to the conclusion that I need to know my gauge before going any further with the picking of a Latvian mitten pattern. Yeah, I know, it's in every pattern and in every book and everywhere, and also right there in THE Book ("Latvian Mittens" by Joyce Upitis), where I've seen it countless times, pp 16-17, in both English and Latvian (how could I have missed it?): General Techniques -- 1) Use wool, 2) Strive for balance, 3) KNOW YOUR GAUGE, 4) Correct your mistakes (i.e., RIP!).
I know. Somehow, I even dared refer to myself as a knitter to another as recently as last Sunday over coffee. The knitting of the gauge swatch is just not a natural, second-nature thing, no matter how many times it's hammer, hammer, hammered it into my head. My experience over the weekend -- three tries, three different needle sizes, no luck -- drilled the lesson home pretty good. (Any bets on how long the lesson sticks?)
So, last night, I took my desired yarn (Jaeger Matchmaker Merino) and desired needles (1US bamboo) and cast on 48 stitches. I started out in one color, did a little two-color, practiced with a braid, continued on in one color, and will do a more complicated two- or even three-color bit before calling it finished -- I'd like to see how the three colors look knit up in different combinations. That last bit was done tonight and so far, I'm getting 9-10 stitches to the inch -- and that's good. I can work very well with that. Ack, the red's not that bright and hopefully daylight will help make a better/more true photo.
At this time last year, many of us were beginning to "train" in earnest for our Knitting Olympics events -- remember? I kind of feel like that now. Last year, I was on the USA Cable Team. If there were Olympics this year, I'd definitely be on the Latvian Mitten Team (was there a LMT last year?). Alas, a few more years before we even have to worry about teams and events... still, I can't help but think of it. Athletes train and compete every year, of course; smaller stage, smaller venues, step-by-step -- many, hopefully, leading to the Olympics. Knitters, too? I'm not ready to throw down and say I'll have a pair of mittens in 16 days, but I'll definitely be thinking about it, and about the Olympics coming up in a few years. Maybe the mitts will be training for my future event of... what... Latvian Dreams? Giant Latvian Mitten Cardigan (scroll down, it's Wool Gathering 67)?