Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gauge issues

As I said in my last post, the Bridgewater shawl is flying off my needles.

Earlier this week I reached the widest point of the inner garter square, 205 stitches. [Hee hee BB, I remember when it was only a couple of stitches, too!] I started with 1 st cast on, so at that point I had knit 205 rows, give or take, increasing a st at the start of each row. The beauty of the lacy garter is that gauge is not really a problem so much; I am very relaxed with this knitting and on size 4 needles, the laceweight is very loose. When I got to the apex of the garter square a few days ago, I didn't have time to get the pattern out and find out how I was going to get back down the other side of that mountain.

So I brought a different WIP with me to a class, an unfinished sleeve in simple stockinette, on much smaller needles. And I didn't give any thought to my tension. Here are the results:

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Wow. Something tells me I just wouldn't like my Drops Cardigan 97-18 if one sleeve was well fitted and the other a baggy mess starting at the elbow. Ick. Rippit, rippit... Clearly I need to sort of reboot my fingers when I move from a lacy open loose pattern to something more structured.

I put my gauge lesson into practice last weekend. It might be something about the temp outside -- suddenly perfect for a big ole sweatercoat and me with none to be found - but I suddenly had the urge to dig out the special yarn I got for the Tilted Duster (Rav link) out of IK Fall 2007 and at least swatch it properly. [Rav tells me I queued this pattern on 31 July 2007. Woah.] I think I swatched it a long time ago and used size 10 needles, as are called for. I've realized in the last year or so that I tend to need to go down at least one needle size, usually two to start. So I actually swatched on 7s, then 6s, as my gauge on 7s looked too big. After blocking, however, 7s were perfect.

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The yarn was custom made at Yarnia in Portland OR, a blend of three grays, a thick alpaca strand, three thin strands of dark gray wool, and a strand of silvery silk. Approximately 50/30/20. I think it's going to rock.

Once the swatch dried you could see the silvery strand much more clearly:

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Funny thing was, after that careful swatching and blocking, my hands relaxed again when I cast on - I thought I'd be sensible and do the 40" size so it would fit over a couple of layers and be plenty comfortable - and my first few rows of the back piece came out about 25 inches wide when it should be 20 inches wide.

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Even with the inch or so I'd probably lose in blocking, this was coming out WAY too big. I tore it out, considered my options, and knowing that the fabric I'd produced when not giving st st much thought was looser than the lovely dense swatch I'd made, I cast back on with the same 86 sts for the back and focused more on my hands. It still seems a little big, but much better, so I'm going to keep going and see how it comes along. If I can get the gauge right, this is going to be a fast knit, I think.

Probably not fast enough to finish before winter comes for us, though.

1 comment:

  1. ah, remember the days before gauge swatches? when we were blissfully ignorant? and then things all came out the wrong size?

    okay, that was probably just me. so may beautiful WIPs! i ADORE that grey yarn!

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