When Size Matters

On Sunday evening I ordered the new upholstery tacks from Amazon.

Half an hour later an email arrives: they’d been dispatched and delivery would be next day. How cool is that? They actually turned up on Tuesday, but who am I to complain. Pretty good going for the princely delivery charge of 90p. And then Amazon did what Amazon does best.ย Whilst I was online, how would I like to order the new Nigel Slater for less than half price and delivery for free? A long stretch from upholstery tacks you might think, but then I have ordered his books before. Would I heck.ย That package arrives Saturday, given a fair wind. So we will Eat well too this weekend.

It’s been a hectic few days. I’m hopelessly behind with blog reading, but will catch up soon. Between the showers (< 5% to 20% chance of rain, allegedly) I’ve been trying to get enough ground cleared to bed in all the perennials I wanted to move this year. But we’re into bramble territory now and on the bank that’s hard work.


Knitting Project 001 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=


Planning for winter projects moves on apace. I hate winter. I hate the cold. It helps to keep busy. Needing something relaxing and maybe a tad less life threatening after a day of upholstery, I’ve given more thought to the jacket that got nobbled by the moths before I’d even reached the sleeves. The style is voluminous and not really to my taste today. But couldn’t it produce, almost to a stitch, the yarn for the sleeveless top above? Would welcome some advice though, experienced knitters out there..

Tension should be 21 stitches over 10 cms. Mine is 23.

And 32 rows over 10 cms. Mine is 30.

I don’t mind the decrease in width so much, it’s a one size pattern and too big as it stands. What it doesn’t need to be is any longer and working to a colour chart I’d prefer not to alter the number of rows. How do I sort it out? An ideal knitting project perhaps, for the first in over 20 years, because it should work up quickly..

Just let me delude myself a little bit here OK? Or else I will never start.


2018-02-08T20:33:37+00:00October 9th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. wherethejourneytakesme October 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica – you sound busy – lets hope the new length of tack does the job and stays put. As for the knitting – what a good find the colours are almost if not identical but I wouldn’t be a great help to you for advice – from what I can tell if you are a short wide person you would be OK with your tension but if you are tall and thin you might be in trouble! (Told you I wouldn’t be of much help!). Happy knitting x

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      I love the colours, Scotland by the sea perhaps??

  2. Amy at love made my home October 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    There is no way you would want any knitting advice from me! It would turn out looking like something an untrained yeti would wear. The new tacks look pretty tough, I hope they are up to the job, I don’t want to read that you were attacked by any of these ones, they look pretty viscious. Funny how Amazon throws up odd combinations, but I hope that you and Nigel have lots of fun together – let us know if he is good! xx

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I have been through the untrained yeti phase Amy, and may do so again!
      A minute after I hit the publish button the doorbell rang. The postman bringing Nigel. He looks good so far..

  3. countrysidetales October 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Very impressed with the knitting project- too adventurous for me but Denise should be able to help…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      It may yet be too ambitious for me. That’s my trouble. Straight in at the deep end.

  4. snowbird October 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Glad to hear you have the right tacks, and good luck with that!

    Struth….knitting…..I haven’t a clue, but wish I could.xxxx

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      I hope they ARE the right tacks. Mike wanted to get some even longer..

  5. Gill October 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I can’t help with the knitting but I’m glad you got some longer tacks!
    If you haven’t found a class yet can I recommend an upholstery book by David Sowle and Ruth Dye called ‘Complete step by step upholstery’ – lots of lovely pictures!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      It does look good, thanks Gill. I’m finding it useful to cherry pick from books, all take a slightly different angle.

  6. Vintage Jane October 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Can’t knit, can’t help … sorry!
    Good luck with the chair … maybe safety goggles are advisable just in case of further flying tacks … !

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      You’re right. Watching the videos the pros make it look so easy.. the same with any skill I guess.

  7. Jo October 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    I admire you working up a tension square, I start a pattern and hope for the best. Looks like you’ve got the perfect colours for the job though, that’s what counts as success in my book.

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Normally I wouldn’t bother either. Then I measured up the old jacket and realised I was so way out I’d better try a patch using the new technique. And I’m still way out..

  8. Janet/Plantaliscious October 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Hurrah for Amazon and Nigel Slater, and hurrah for longer tacks. Knitting project looks promising, as the wind veers round to the north being indoors is going to get more and more attractive.

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      I’m feeling that too. There’s a great temptation at the moment to just leave it all till next Spring..

  9. Eleanor from Stitches and Seeds October 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm - Reply


    you could try altering the needle size by 1/2 mm and do a swatch to see if that helps. Alternatively leave out a few rows after the rib at the bottom.


    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Eleanor. Leaving out rows at the bottom is a good idea. At the V neck the pattern sits so well it would be a shame to alter it.

  10. Vera October 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Can’t help with the knitting pattern as I tend to adopt a gungho attitude towards knitting, which is do is per pattern and if does not come out to size then unpick and try knitting something else with the wool. Am currently knitting Lester a jumper and this is the third effort because halfway through the other tries I decided that he would not like the pattern! I think you are much more methodical than I am, bless you!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      If Mike was reading this he would be holding his sides for laughing… I am exactly the same as you. I spent far more time undoing than knitting. I thought as I was relaunching, so to speak, I’d at least try to start out right..

  11. frayed at the edge October 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Good luck with the new tacks.
    I was just reading in the paper that Nigel has taken over from Delia as the nation’s favourite (but can he pease get his hair cut?!)
    As for the knitting, the best way is to knit swatches with different needle sizes to get the required tension – boring but necessary.

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm - Reply

      Anne, go out and get his book. It’s good. And his picture on the front cover is removable..

  12. Em October 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    If only all companies realised that that kind of delivery makes you go back and shop with them again.

    Your knitting looks extremely professional but I’m afraid, as a non-knitter, I cannot advise. I’m very behind with blog reading too!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      They sent me an email late last night telling me that the book would arrive on Saturday. It came today. Under-promise and over-deliver. Works every time.

      • Bilbowaggins October 10, 2013 at 8:09 am - Reply

        Good luck with the upholstery and knitting, two skills which I have absolutely no experience of.

        As for Amazon, I know they regularly get a ‘corporate kicking’ in certain media but living in a rural area it’s a godsend and the only way I can buy many items quickly and easily. I used to feel slightly guilty about not spending the money in local shops (even though they don’t stock half of what I want) until one of the regular drivers told me “we’re all self employed and thanks to people like you I’ve got more work than I know what to do with which means my wife can stay at home and be there when the kids get back from school”.

        I no longer feel guilty about our ‘Prime’ subscription and next day delivery!

        • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:42 am - Reply

          That’s good to know.
          Virtually all of my shopping is now online, because we are so far away from the nearest decent sized town. But I favour local business online too, when I can. It’s a great place to find artisan traders and there are plenty of those down here.

  13. Antoinette October 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Good luck with the tacks–really looking forward to the end result as I love the shape of your ‘undressed’ chair.

    No help at all with the knitting. Never had the patience for any kind of needle craft.

    Whereas the Nigel Slater book…nice! I do love cooking. Have just finished making 8 pots of apple jelly. Quinces up next and poaching pears — some in white wine, vanilla & spices, the rest in red with different spices .

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      I fell for the shape of the chairs too. They’re supposedly French, mid 1800s, not sure if I believe it. They seem to be around in production line quantities. I’ve yet to work out how I’m going to cope with the curve on the seat, lovely though it might be.
      You’re making my mouth water with your preserves!

  14. Rosie October 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    I very rarely knit but when I do I just start and hope for the best and if it isn’t knit one purl one or knit a row purl a row I’m a bit lost. Those monster tacks look as if they will do the jobthis time. Hope you enjoy your new Nigel Slater book:)

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Believe it or not the tacks are only 3mm longer than the last… I was quite surprised at how meaty they look!

  15. haggiz October 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    When I read your post title I thought you had been looking at dodgy youtube videos again! I’m afraid I never check tension when I knit, I just get on with it, probably why I’m disappointed with a lot of things I’ve knitted over the years. Looking forward to some recommendations from your new cookery book, can’t beat a bit of Nigel Slater. Julie x

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      ๐Ÿ™‚ Moi?
      Book is looking good. Just ordered the ingredients for the first one..

  16. Simone October 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I can’t help you with the knitting but with the cold weather on the way you could always unravel it and make a blanket!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      Too true. Not looking forward to the icy blast at all. Maybe it will send the mice into hibernation mode though??

  17. Sarah October 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Nigel Slater’s book is a good prize for the difficulties you have had with the chair. I have only just taken up knitting again after 30 years and I just get on with it too and hope for the best, although it doesn’t often turn out quite as I hoped!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      It’s very hard to resist isn’t it… I just want to get started on any new project. Tension squares are very boring indeed.

  18. Wendy October 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I hate winter and the cold, too – I think planning projects is a good distraction, especially knitting projects. Hope the new tacks stay put. Amazon is full of temptation, isn’t it? But why not!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:33 pm - Reply

      I’ve got to the point now where it’s hard to stay motivated on the garden. As it gets colder it becomes a chore, not a pleasure.

  19. Marian October 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Goodness, don’t ask me for directions for your sweaterproject you’re about to start. I have knitted many a sweater and NEVER did I wear any, too small, too wide, too short, never right ๐Ÿ˜‰ I did knit a baby blanket once for my little daughter and that came out really good, not so much size connected, maybe why I only crochet throws now as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ I do believe in you though, you can do it, the knitting I can see lying in the left corner of your picture looks sublime!

    • Jessica October 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      I’m glad it’s not just me. Knitting is something I’ve always wanted to do well, and never felt I am good enough at. It’s a really nice project for winter though, like a woolly blanket over the knees. Thank you for your faith!

  20. nataliescarberry October 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Oh do be as delusional as you like. It’s good for all of us at times. Wow your plate does sound full, but I know you will persevere and succeed in getting it all done. Anyone who would tackle upholstering that chair must have great fortitude and determination. Blessings, Natalie

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 12:00 am - Reply

      It’s always the same at the start of a project, I can find energy and determination in abundance. It’s the perseverance that is more difficult. But now all my failures will be evident through the blog. It’s a great driver to get things done! Thanks Natalie.

  21. CherryPie October 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I am waiting with bated breath to see if those tacks are up to the job…

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Me too. They look meaty enough.. As long as they don’t split the wood. That would not be good.

  22. steph@woolythyme October 10, 2013 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Those tacks look lethal….I’ll stick with my pointy knitting needles. I take it you like the fabric you are making with the needles of choice? Have you tried going down a size (that row count is pretty critical in this pattern). If you need to go stick with this gauge….maybe you could do a little math…and leave off the first repeat (or so) of the design?? Just a thought. Good luck!

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

      I am going to go down a size I think, and see how much this affects the width.. I can still afford to reduce it a bit more, just not too much! Thanks for your help Steph.

  23. Linda October 10, 2013 at 9:03 am - Reply

    You sound busy with present projects! I’m sure the chair will look lovely when finished and prove to be comfy. Then you can sit in it and plan that knitting Winter knitting!

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

      I’m planning on sitting in the chair a lot.. if only to test its robustness!

  24. Linda October 10, 2013 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Sorry – not double knitting or even double trouble, Jessica!

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Double trouble on chairs though.. there are two. My reward for completing it is having to do another!!

  25. Jenny October 10, 2013 at 9:36 am - Reply

    How much stretch do you have have in your swatch. Getting from 30 to 32 rows with blocking shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve not already given it a good stretching…

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 11:06 am - Reply

      I think I’ll have a go at blocking the swatch.. that might make a difference in itself.

  26. Philippa October 10, 2013 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I would take that difference in gauge. A bit of stern blocking should do the trick if need be. I would recommend washing the wool and hanging it up to try with little weights on before reknitting though, to allow the yarn to go back to its original shape and give you more leeway. The other thing is, have the moths left you enough yarn to work with? I have unravelled and reknit old sweaters before, but it’s only worth it if you get good long lengths of yarn back. I am not an expert knitter, but Eunny (editor of IKW) is and she once answered a question of mine here which might be useful.

    Good luck! The colours are beautiful.

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

      Philippa, thanks. I think Eunny may indeed have solved it.. the bit about reducing the needle size often affecting row gauge more than stitch. That’s exactly what I may need to do. I shall block the swatch and see what difference that makes.
      I didn’t get very far with the original jacket, so still have plenty of untouched yarn left. Part of the attraction of the new pattern is that it will need far less, and scrappy bits at that. I’ll start with the virgin yarn and only unravel the old if needs be. Good tip re washing it too, thanks again.

  27. elaine October 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Oo-er – sounds far too complicated for me – I’ll stick to writing my novel over winter instead although I might need to create a little tension myself!

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Writing a novel is much more difficult!

  28. Anna October 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Glad that the tacks arrived and that Nigel will be joining them soon. Love the colours of the wool but can be of no help – have never progressed beyond the odd scarf. Good luck with it Jessica and be sure to show us the finished result.

    • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      The scarf is Plan B…!!

  29. knitsofacto October 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    My knitting advice – though I suspect it’s probably all been covered by your other commenters as I’m late to this party – dropping one needle size will reduce length a little but barely make an impression on width, ALWAYS block swatches before measuring because you will ALWAYS block your knitting before sewing it up (wont you Jessica ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and if you need to lose rows do it at the bottom where you could lose the first step in that ‘pineapple’ repeat without anyone noticing.

    Am I right in thinking the original uses variegated yarns instead of solids? If so you might want to knit a big swatch with a pattern repeat to check you like the altered look. That also allows you to discover if having colour changes mid row reduces or increases the width of the work.

    Crumbs, I’ve practically written you an essay, hope it’s useful x

    • Jessica October 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Very useful Annie, thank you.
      I put a selection of the colours in the swatch and have now blocked it.. This weekend I’ll try it again with smaller needles and reckon I will have the solution. I was going to use mainly the variegated yarns this time because I like the tweedy look, shot through with pops of the stronger solid colours.

  30. CJ October 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Scary how Amazon know just what you’d like isn’t it. Good luck with the knitting – most of the things I make don’t fit, so I’m sticking to shawls, scarves and blankets at the moment.

    • Jessica October 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm - Reply

      If it doesn’t fit I’ll unravel it and make a scarf. Or gift it to someone slimmer. And taller.

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