I have been distracted for the last few days. I bought my first serger and since I have a new toy, I must have some time to play. I already think I should upgrade to the next step up so I can do even more creative things. I made a skating dress for my granddaughter since she is planning to have her birthday party at the ice skating rink. She just loves it and improved a lot over the holidays with more time spent at public skating sessions. I really like to watch her. The dress turned out great. I also made robes for myself, and both my daughter and granddaughter as well as some fleece pants and jackets for myself. It was so cold here last week that I needed more fleece clothing. So I'll put away the serger and now do more knitting.
I wanted to touch on your concern about substituting yarn. I think that some of your knitting books will give you guidance, but basically it all is in the stitch count. First look at the gauge or stitches per inch that the pattern calls for, then look at the total inches for the finished knitting. You can mulitiply the stitches per inch by the total finished inches to get the number of stitches to cast on. Substituting yarn requires you knit a swatch to determine the number of stitches per inch. Use this and do the calculation above. This should allow you to switch yarn at any time. The row count can be changed the same way. Just substitute rows for stitches per inch and complete the calcuations. Hope this helps as you change yarn from what the pattern called for. I find that I do this a lot as I don't always want the yarn called for. Needless to say, a bloody mary doesn't help any of this work.
Right now, I am working on a sweater design for myself. I have a sweater (Talbots) that I really like the way it fits, so I carefully measured it - width, length, sleeve, armhole, etc. so I knew what the finished measurements needed to be. Then, I found a stitch pattern I liked, found yarn I wanted and knit a swatch to determine stitches per inch. Once I knew this I calculated the number of cast on stitches I needed for each piece and I'm off and running with it. I have the back almost completed and I really do like the way it looks. I am always looking for a way that I can make a sweater I could wear to work, since as a consultant I have to look professional. A lot of knitted garments don't lend themselves to professional wear, but the stitch pattern and yarn I chose should be very useful for work.
I'm also working on the Aran sweater design required by level 3 of the master's program. There was a lot of calculations with that one. I'll post pictures if I ever finish either of the sweaters.
Now to finish watching the inaugral which is providing great knitting time.