April 18, 2005

GAUGING GAUGE

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It was so thrilling for me to pick up on my mail on Saturday and discover a box of Interweave Knits magazines, the Summer '05 issue, hot off the presses! Two Swans will now carry this magazine, and this was my first shipment. What's a yarn store without magazines? Woohoo!

I've been feeling a little ironic about gauge, lately. First, there is this fact:
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This sweater I'm knitting for the Dulaan project -- which I'm donating to charity, which does not have to fit anyone in particular because it will fit some homeless child in Mongolia, so there is no reason to care one whit about gauge on this thing?
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This sweater is coming out spot-on on gauge, measuring exactly 13.5 inches, as the pattern calls for. This never happens for me. I am such a tight knitter, things always turn out smaller than the pattern schematics. Which just goes to show -- there's a first time for everything.

Second, there is this fact:
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The Sandness sweater -- which must fit Scott, if I am going to go to all the trouble of knitting it; the Sandness sweater, about which I care only too much about gauge -- is coming out at only 38 inches around (unblocked). It really needs to be about 44 inches around. (As you can see in the photo, it's coming out smaller than a typical sweater that he wears.) I've been struggling with myself as to whether I want to continue, and then block -- stretch! -- it to add 6 inches. Or do I start over. Let's see . . . I started with a small size, then scrapped that. Now I've been knitting on a medium size; do I scrap this one, too, and start over on a large?

Perhaps this article, "Got Gauge," in this Summer '05 Interweave Knits magazine will help me sort this all out.

Now I'm off to meet Norma for coffee and talk MasterKnitter talk. Norma just passed Level I last week!
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In search of the holy grail -- the perfect yarn for the Master Knitter swatches.

Posted by Karen at April 18, 2005 10:10 AM
Comments

Ouch! Why don't you put Sandness on a string and wet block it to check final gauge before you do anything drastic?

Dang, reality is a pain sometimes....

Posted by: Janine at April 18, 2005 06:39 PM

I was a bit worried about Mossbank being too small, but it blocked out perfectly. Maybe you should put your knitting on a string and block it before you do anything else. Then you would really know what you were dealing with.

Posted by: Anne at April 18, 2005 08:09 PM

I used Patons for my level I (just passed). Worked for me.

Posted by: Ellen at April 18, 2005 09:06 PM

Janine: Hey, at Feral Knitters last Monday, they said you'd say that!!! Actually, Andrea had this cool method (learned from Sandy, who's responsible for teaching us Fair Isle knitting in the first place) for holding a tape measure around the knitting, then stretching the knitting to simulate blocking. (It's a two-person operation -- one person [yours truly] to hold the tape measure, the other person [Andrea] to put both hands inside the tube and then stretch it for dear life.) Andrea's got some good strong biceps, and she got my Sandness to stretch to 44". It wasn't easy, but she did it. But the real issue, to me, is this: Just because I *can* block it six more inches doesn't mean that I *should.* I'm concerned about what that much blocking will do to the finished fabric.

Anne -- all of your knitting is miraculous. Of course your Mossbank blocked out perfectly. No, I am not envious.

Ellen -- Congrats on passing Level I!! Have you started Level II? Please let me know where you stand on this, and what your strategy is for tackling those Level II requirements.

Posted by: Karen at April 18, 2005 10:21 PM

would blocking it that hard widthwise make it shrink lengthwise? just wondering cause i have the same problem with a ron schweitzer that's benn, ahem, resting in the closet for a while...

Posted by: vanessa at April 19, 2005 11:46 AM

Vanessa, I think you've answered your own question. :o) Yes, it will shrink lengthwise, if blocked that hard. Is yours a completed Ron Schweitzer? Any way to add another repeat to make the sweater longer?

Posted by: Karen at April 19, 2005 03:25 PM

So the questions I have:

1. What size are you supposed to get? That is, when you do the math on the written pattern what size results? Never overlook the possibility that the pattern is written incorrectly (First rule: Find out if you can blame someone else.) If the pattern is correct for the suggested gauge, then move to question 2 below.

2. What is your stitch gauge on Sandness? What is it supposed to be? What was it the first time you worked on it? Are they different? If yes, why? Are you using a different brand of needle? Remember that in the small sizes American numbers differ from metric sizing, so that # 2 needles can be either 2.5 or 2.75--it adds up! Did you remember to switch to larger needles once the ribbing was done? Has your gauge tightened? Common problem from swatch to sweater--I know I knit more tightly on the larger piece. However, you had your first "swatch" as a full-size sweater. Hmmm.

Well, I wouldn't try to block in 6 additional inches, even if you could do it (the stranding in back might not stretch as far as the knitted stitches).

The ribbing looks the right size (or will be after blocking). Why don't you just rip to the ribbing and re-knit using larger size needles or adding more stitches above the ribbing to knit the body with the size large numbers. That's what I'd do.

Try to think loving thoughts about Scott while doing this. Think about how really wonderful this design is. It's worth it. REally. You love knitting, right? This is just more knitting. I'm glad I don't have to try to say this face-to-face with you...

Posted by: Janine at April 19, 2005 05:48 PM

of course my ron s. isn't finished ;-) it's bayberry, and it is just big enough for me... was making it for dh... started it so long ago i am worried my tension would be different.

Posted by: vanessa at April 20, 2005 11:27 AM