Posted by: vjicha | July 27, 2007

Gauge, gauge, gauge!!!

My last post included a photo of the beautiful colors for a Fair Isle cardigan – well, Alice Starmore’s Abalone cardigan anyway. That was over a month ago, and I have learned a lot since then.

Knit a Swatch
I did – with double-pointed needles. I knit a swatch, snipping the yarn at the end of every row and rejoining at the beginning of each new row. I determined that the gauge was best with US4 needles, even though her pattern called for US3s.

To Montana, South Dakota, and Beyond
Away we went, on our summer vacation. I organized one skein of each color in a basket that would fit at my feet in the car and began to knit – across Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and finally into Montana. When I was almost up to the armhole steeks, I decided to recheck the gauge. Guess what! It was off – by a mile. Apparently, I had been knitting much looser than I had worked the swatch. The cardigan would have fit an elephant.

South to the Black Hills
What had taken 2 weeks to knit was ripped out during the 380 miles and about 6 hours that it took to drive to Deadwood, South Dakota. My husband drove, and I rewound miles of yarn. The next hurdle was finding a yarn shop with US3 circular needles. I did, in Hill, SD and started over.

The books on knitting always stress knitting a swatch, but seldom spend much time on checking along the way. I learned the hard way. The upside of this little experience is that my Fair Isle technique has improved. I have certainly had enough practice.



  1. After that happened to me with my Mariah (although I was less smart than you, and didn’t check until the whole thing was assembled – it will stay a slouch around sweater!), I’ve found out that it pretty consistantly happens – once I get the weight on the needles of a whole sweater, or once I get into the rhythm of things, or something… I loosen up.

    Now I swatch while I’m in the middle of something else (already in the ‘zone’), round my numbers down, and pick the size that’s slightly small ;). I’d like to say I remember to check my gauge as I go along, but that one is still touch and go!

    Ah, it’s the process, right?!?

  2. Oooh, how painful! Glad to hear you’re able (at least in theory) to put a good face on it and appreciate the skill progress you made.

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