Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Gauge you say, get gauge or risk frogging

Intellectually I know that gauge matters, I know that if my stitches take up less or more room than the ones in the pattern then what I'm making won't be the  size the item in the pattern is supposed to be. I know this, I've taught this, and I've made decisions based on the gauge before. I've weighed up the implications of calculating gauge - and at times decided not to. Gauge has always been a considered decision in my knitting, if the size of the finished article didn't really matter, I felt free to ignore any gauge recommendations and to knit to a tension that suited me, my knit style and the yarn. If the article could be modified as it was worked, like a top down sweater or knit to fit hot water bottle cover - there usually is no need to calculate gauge. After all in those cases knowing the exact number of stitches per inch wasn't part of making and shaping my knitting, those decisions were much more fluid and impetuous.
 Mostly I can knit, and fit and make and things turn out fine .. but these Sanquhar gloves are not working out like most of my knitting. This time I don't have gauge - and no I didn't do a gauge swatch. I swatch along the lines of my favorite knitting guru's, like Elizabeth Zimmerman, who start the project and then a few inches in measure the gauge or fit the knitting to see if it is the right size or gauge. I completely agree with EZ's sentiments that working a gauge swatch is not as exciting as knitting something you will wear and so the first few inches of whatever you are knitting can in themselves be the gauge swatch.That is what I did this time. And the first few inches were fine, I tried on the glove and the wrist fit ... well ... like a glove should. So I kept knitting. I assumed all was well - and it wasn't.
 Now I'm at the point of dividing up for the fingers, and I've worked the thumb gusset, and I find that my Sanquhar glove is roomy. There is a good inch and a half, or 4cm on one side of extra fabric and room.
 And extra fabric and room on the other side. I've trouble shooted all the obvious things, the pattern calls for only one size of needle, the size that gives you gauge. That means I didn't forget to switch from the cuff needle to the glove needle size - as it is all knit on the same size needle. There are increases in the stitch count between the cuff and the palm, but only increasing 3 stitches - so not a great change in size from adding three stitches.
So that only left to check my gauge,and I did. My gauge is way off as I knit the palm but was spot on or even too tight as I knit the cuff. Not surprisingly as the cuff is corrugated ribbing and the palm stocking stitch - I can understand how each would have a slightly different tension. I have 20.8 stitches in 2 inches and to knit something to fit my hand I should have 27 or maybe 25 stitches in 2 inches. As result my glove is 20% larger than it should be.
Now I'm knitting on size 1.75mm needles, that is a US size of #00, or a UK size of 15. Those are small needles, and it looks like I'm going to have to drop to a size 1.5mm or 1.25mm (not sure I have a set of those) to get gauge.
My other option is to knit tighter ... and I'm not sure that I can do that consistently for the rest of the glove, and for a second glove.

I love the colours, the brown grey with the pink, and the look of these. So tonight I will frog, back to the cuff and wind up the two yarns into butterflies to tuck into their respective balls of yarn. Then I will contemplate my options and I'll let you know after the weekend what direction I have taken.

In behind all of this is a sense of rising excitement at the Unwind event this weekend, starting with attendees being invited to join the Take Back the Knit group for social knitting Thursday (tomorrow), and a day off work Friday so I can fully participate for the entire weekend. I'm not sure how blogging will go ... but hope to have lots to report next week.

Take care
Knit some - where ever you are, and maybe even consider checking the gauge, just maybe, if the fit might be important.  

1 comment:

Knitting Linguist said...

I have had this happen to me, too, on colorwork gloves and socks, because colorwork ribbing is SO much less stretchy than regular ribbing, or even (the way I knit it) regular colorwork. I don't suppose there's anyway to remove a repeat of something between the cuff and the palm?