It's been a little while since I've been asked to do a custom piece, and I couldn't be happier with this request. A Star Trek Next Generation uniform(ish) sweater! This will be the biggest knit clothing project I've done by hand. (I've done a couple of sweaters, but on my machine, not by hand.) I've got several months to finish it though, so I'll be able to take my time.
The first step in most projects, whether knit or crochet, is a gauge swatch. Most patterns will list a gauge, which is the number of stitches and/or rows that you should have within a given number of inches, commonly 1" or 4". Sometimes only the stitches per inch(es) is listed; this is usually for projects that need to be a set width, but you can work as many rows as you need to get the length that you want. Some patterns don't list a gauge at all; my Just Like Grandma Used to Make doesn't. This is because you can use any hook and yarn combination that you want, and you can repeat the pattern as much as you need to get the finished size you want. Gauge is especially important for clothing items though because they need a more precise fit. So you work a small sample to see how your gauge compares to the pattern gauge. Depending on how close they are, you may need to work more than one sample with different sized needles or hooks before you find the right one.
Side Note: Hooks and needles are sized in a couple of different ways. The most universal is by millimeters. On the smaller end of the standard sized hook/needle range, they usually go in half or quarter mm steps (e.g. 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 3.25 mm, etc.) In the larger range; on the larger end, usually half mm steps; and in the oversized range, whole mm or larger steps. In the very small, steel hook range, you can find steps as small as 5/100 of a mm! The smallest hook I own is a 0.4 mm steel hook, and the largest is a 16 mm. Hooks and needles can also be sized by number or letter. In U.S. sizing, a 3.25 mm hook or needle for example can also be labeled a size D or a size 3, commonly shown as D/3.
So...Since I happened to have a skein of the brand of yarn I'll be using for this sweater, but in a different color, I decided to go ahead and do a couple of gauge swatches while waiting for the proper colors to arrive. The 4.0 mm swatch was a little bit too small, and the 5.0 mm swatch was that same little bit too big...and my 4.5 mm knook has disappeared. Of course. So I'm now waiting for the yarn AND the new set of knooks, because no one seems to sell the 4.5 mm knooks separately. I'm miffed that I have to wait, but honestly not particularly miffed at the purchase because, really, a gal can't have too many knooks.
And in the meantime, I've done a bit of organizing of ye olde WIP pile, and I'm working on a very pretty shawl-sized veil for my daughter's First Holy Communion this Saturday, plus a little bit here and there on some other WIPs. Stay tuned for more in tonight's Bedtime Review!