Monday, November 7, 2011

My two-cents on Gauge

Honestly, how many knitters have blogged about the importance of gauge?  Can I say my two-cents on this subject, please?

I really dislike (I didn’t say “hate”) making a gauge swatch.  But this is what I heard about making a gauge swatch on an earlier Knit Picks’ podcasts: “It’s like trying out a new relationship.  You are getting to know the yarn and the yarn is getting to know you.” Then I began to listen a little more closely.

Then in one of the Knit Picks podcast summer, 2010 episodes, Kelley Petkun spoke with Nina Isaacson (one of the Knit Picks designers) about her tutorial video class “Design Your Own Sweater Class.”  I watched the videos and pick up several excellent tips; one of them being on gauge swatches. 

Here are some of her suggestions:
  • Make the gauge swatch bigger than the recommended 4-inch gauge swatch and add a border so that it doesn’t roll.

  • To remember what needle size you used, put yarn overs or purl stitches in the swatch to remind you what needle size you used.


I made "purl" stitches at the top to mark
what needle size I used; US 8
She also said (and many others before as well have said the same thing).  Wash your swatch like you are going to wash the finished product. 

This is the best suggestion by far:  Once the swatch is dry, tack it to a bulletin board.  Then add a few clothespins on the bottom to add some weight. Leave it tacked like this for about 36 to 48 hours. This will mimic the way the garment will hang when it is completed.  Vermouth has ever so kindly given me a small space on her bulletin board to hang my gauge swatches.



And then there is the guru of knitting: Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I have the book Knitting Without Tears.  On page 47, and for only 3 pages, Ms. Zimmermann writes about the importance of gauge. In order to encourage you and let’s face it, really, me … these are the 2 reasons for me to make a gauge swatch:

  • “Gauge is the important principle in knitting” (p. 47)
  • “People knit so differently in matters of tightness or looseness that it is totally impossible to recommend one size of needle for everybody.” (p. 47) 

The latter one applies to me.  If a sweater pattern recommends a needle size of US 7, I pretty much know that I will be knitting that sweater in a needle size of US 6.  I am a loose knitter … and it has nothing to do with how many martinis I have had!

Cheers!
The Martini Knitter

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