Or, Normal people who need new mittens just go to a store buy new mitts (and I'm starting to understand why) Hi friends, Last night I had a yarn fail. It all started earlier this week, right around the time I decided that I was committed to finishing my FLS so that I could wear it on February 1st. It was -18C with the windchill that day, and on my walk home from the subway station I realized that my much-loved-but-threadbare mittens were underperforming. In that five-minute walk it became obvious that if I wanted to keep my fingers in good working order to finish that sweater, I needed a new pair of mitts, ASAP. And so began my 2010 mitten quest. (Like this one, but perhaps a just a tad less ambitious.) I Google-searched and toured Ravelry, and there were so many great options – a veritable embarassment of mittens! I laughed at these pirate mittens, reminisced about these Newfie mittens, seriously considered these Fiddlehead Mittens (and these Podster Mittens), but (finally) decided on these, the mitts from the Min Ulla set by Elinor of Exercise Before Knitting. I love the look (matching hat, mitts and scarf? what a concept!), it's been a while since I did any stranded colour work, the mittens are lined for extra warmth, and oh, by the way.... Berocco Ultra Alpaca (soft!). On my way home from work the next night, I popped by my closest local yarn store. It's a chain store that sometimes surprises me with good stock...but no luck. Well, no ultra alpaca–style luck, that is...though they were having a sale on Cascade 220, so I brought home a couple skeins of that sheepy-smelling standby, just in case. (And this, kids, is where stashes come from.) Last night, feeling particularly ambitious for a Thursday night, I headed to a yarn store a little further afield. It's a big one with a crazy amount of stock, but all their Berocco had been relegated to the basement, and there was only one skein of the Ultra Alpaca...and what a nasty, unflattering shade of brown it was, too! Back upstairs I headed... It wasn't until I got home that I realized my mistake. Upstairs, with the "help" of a salesperson and hurried along by my own ever-increasing desire to get home and eat some dinner, I bought a whole bunch of no-good yarn. (Actually, it's quite nice yarn, just no good for my purposes.) My gauge swatch came out all lacy, not nice and firm (and windproof) like I was expecting. Of course, perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise: the original wool is a 50% alpaca, 50% merino blend with 215 yards per 100g skein, whereas the substitute I brought home is 100% alpaca, and packs 196 yards into each 50 g skein. The same (almost) yardage, but half the weight? Hmm. That yardage/weight differential rang some warning bells, as did the difference in gauge (the pattern calls for 24 sts and 26 rounds = 4" in st st on 4mm needles; the substitute specifies 23 sts and 30 rows = 4" in st st on 3.5 mm needles). The real clanger should have been when the sales lady said, "Ah, a few stitches here or there won't matter!" But I didn't heed those warning bells. Distracted by hunger, I plowed ahead – right up to the cash register. Sigh. If I had it to do all over again (which I do! tomorrow! when I go to exchange the skinny yarn for something that works!) I'd a) print the pattern and take it with me; and b) read (and re-read) this handy guide to substituting yarn from Knitty.com. And maybe I'll pack a sandwich, a note pad, pen and calculator, and a pair of earplugs, too...just in case. In the meantime, guess what's waiting for me at home? Have a good weekend, everyone. See you here on Monday to announce the winners of Giveaway #35.