Tag Archive | gauge swatches

Weekend Knitting

I don’t have as much progress to show as I should; my knitting was hampered a couple of times the last few days. Part of it was my fault, part of it wasn’t. I had my day-long computer course on Friday, and it was fun to learn stuff again but a lot of the info was review, and the class moved a lot more slowly than I would have liked, so I picked up my hat knitting after I’d finished the exercise, or while we watched short videos. By the end of lunch, I’d made it to the end of the knitting I’d brought. Once again, I was not thinking like a good knitter, and I have now learned to bring much more knitting than you think you need!

That brings us to yesterday. The boy had a marching band competition in a small town about 40 minutes away, and we were going to be spectating for at least two hours, maybe three. I brought three projects. I was ready! I was prepared! I was…COLD. It was sunny and 60 out, so I wore a short-sleeved tee and a hoodie, not realizing that the wind was super blustery and chilly. I was too cold to keep my hands out and knit. The husband was even kind enough to go to the nearby Walmart to get us a blanket, and that helped, but still, I would have needed my nice wool fingerless gloves to be able to knit. Sigh. The best laid plans and all that jazz. Still, with some knitting here and there, I’ve gotten my sock project into the gusset. Plus, we stopped at an antique mall on the way and I found these awesome handmade crochet hooks for $6!

I’m also very close to the end of my first hat commission. I’m on hat four of four, and I’m onto the easy section of plain stockinette in the round. This one will get finished either today or tomorrow, and the hats will be delivered and out of my hands! These are my pombe yeast hats for some friends at work, and you can check out the Ravelry page if you want more info.

UyP6xQr+TqmsRo5bz+gzdg

My other hat commission isn’t going as well, and it’s totally my fault because I’m so stubborn about not checking gauge. As always, I got overconfident because almost every time I’ve checked gauge for a hat, knitting or crochet, it’s the same as the designer’s. So I started this project without checking, and got about halfway through and realized it was too big. Frogged and started over with a smaller hook. Got a little farther and it still seemed a little big. I could either go down yet another hook size, or adjust the stitch count. Since I like the density of the fabric, I decided to drop my stitch count and omit the last increase round, which meant frogging back about half my progress. This is the current state of this hat.

zvKXOIsQRgybnPrQVApdSA

You might think it’s frustrating, but crochet goes so quickly that it’s not painful to frog back that much and start over. And I’d forgotten how much I enjoy crocheting, so it’s been fun to let my hands settle into that rhythm again. Plus the yarn (Expression Fiber Arts Pearlescent Worsted, with SILK!) is heavenly, so I don’t mind spending more time with it! Still, I’m hoping to get this project finished in the next few days too. I’ve got too many other projects waiting in the wings!

 

New Sweater

As I mentioned the other day, I decided the heat of summer was a great time to start a new wool/alpaca sweater. I chose Tea with Jam and Bread and I was so excited about it that I cast on a swatch as soon as I decided on colors. Then I swatched again because my gauge was off. Then I swatched one more time because it was still off.

img_0623

That is my biggest complaint about knitting sweaters:  you either have to swatch, or do math. I don’t really care for either, but of the two, I’d rather swatch. I finally got gauge with the third swatch, after going down two needle sizes, and it was totally worth it because I got both stitch gauge AND row gauge! Go me! Then it was off to the races! I knit on this sweater all afternoon yesterday, stopping only around 9:30 last night when it was time to switch to the next color.

img_0625

Maybe it looks a little small there, but it’s all bunched up on a 24″ circ. I’ll switch to the 40″ once I get going on the next color, navy. And do you like my stitch marker there? I chose that one in honor of the French Open, which just started. (Go Rafa!) I can’t wait to get home tonight and see how the navy looks with the purple! I can tell already this is going to be a tricky one to photograph well. The bottom color is more true, but even that’s a little too dark. It’ll be a good exercise, I guess!

Adventures in Gauge

Gauge is dumb. Okay, no, I know it’s not. I know it’s very important for some things. For things where fit is critical, making sure your gauge matches the pattern is kind of a big deal. Because my brain struggles to understand gauge (do I go up a needle size or down? If I’m off by one stitch, do I need to adjust my stitch count? Will it be bigger or smaller?) I typically avoid projects where matching gauge is critical. Hats? They’ll fit somebody. Cowls, scarves, shawls…those are forgiving projects, and as long as you like the drape of the fabric you’re making, you’re fine.

EXCEPT. If your gauge is off, you will use a different amount of yarn than the designer. Sometimes it’s not enough to matter, and sometimes you have plenty of yarn so maybe you don’t notice. And then sometimes, you don’t. And that sucks. I’ve always been fine not worrying about gauge. The times I did check it, 99% of the time my gauge matched the designer’s with the recommended needles and yarn weight. But lately, I’ve had problems with several projects and I think gauge is to blame. Remember my Black Diamond cowl? How I ran out of the Anzula even though I should have had plenty? I’m guessing that was a gauge issue.

Now, I’ve got my Hitchhiker Beyond on the needles, and the pattern calls for 350-383 yards, and I figured my 420 yards of Malabrigo Mechita would be more than enough. I used the recommended needle size and happily knit away. Then I got about six inches from the end and ran out of yarn.

img_3076

What the heck? I checked my gauge and instead of the recommended 22 st/4″, I have 25! This is where I struggle with gauge, because even though I know I should have gone up at least one needle size, I don’t really understand why this used up my yarn faster. But clearly, it did. So now I’m stuck with a few options that all kind of suck: frog and reknit, bind off with a stupid blunt edge, or buy another $20 skein of yarn. Because I am too lazy to frog and reknit like my garter stitch dense and squishy, I’m going to buy more yarn to finish on these needles.

Learning about my gauge is important, because I’m still committed to making my first cardigan. I ordered some black Irish wool and had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge, and I was mildly panicked to think that my gauge had loosened up that much and it would affect every project I would ever do in the future. (I know, it’s really not a big deal, but I got really spoiled getting gauge easily in the past.) Now I know that’s not the case, partly because with the Malabrigo fingering, I was knitting more tightly. But I also know because I did another swatch for my cardigan today.

You see, even though I matched gauge over a week ago, I still haven’t cast on for the cardigan. I kept telling myself it was because I didn’t have the time to focus on it. Finally I realized I was putting it off because I didn’t like knitting with the yarn, especially on the size 6 needles. The yarn is so rough and scratchy, and I can’t imagine knitting with it long enough to make a whole sweater. If I’m going to commit to something like a sweater, it’s only going to happen if the knitting is pleasurable. So, with relief, I gave up on the scratchy Irish wool. At some point I will use bigger needles and make some felted totes or something, so it won’t go to waste.

In the meantime, I picked some purple cotton out of my stash for my Harvest Attempt #2. I have six skeins, the result of a failed cardigan attempt a couple of years ago. It’s not enough yarn; I’ll have to buy more eventually. But it’s enough to get a really good start. Thinking I probably do knit looser than I used to, I started with size 7 (instead of the recommended 8s) and made a small swatch: 20 stitches/4″ instead of 18. Made another one with 8s and this time I got 17 stitches. That’s pretty darn close, and I’m going to stick with it.

img_3085

So, FINE. I give in. You swatchers win this round: I concede that doing swatches is important. BUT: I’m still only going to do it for garments and when I have a limited amount of expensive yarn and I’m not sure I have enough. (And honestly, in those instances, I’ll probably just start knitting the project and check my gauge partway in. That’s gonna have to be close enough sometimes.)

What about you? Do you always check gauge? Never?