Posts Tagged ‘gauge’

The weather remains rainy, grey and only in the 50s F / 10 C. Never fear, in my state of denial regarding the weather I bought two hibiscus plants for the hummingbird we have hanging around. Hibiscus is a plant that does very well in Hawaii, so why not give it a go in a cold, gloomy climate? I hope the weather warms up before the hibiscus die.

I swatched for the Carbeth sweater.


The sock on the right is what I am trying to finish before I throw myself into this sweater. The swatch on the left is the Carbeth on size US 10.5 (6.5 mm). After working on the sock with US 1 (2.25mm) needles it was like going from playing with a butterfly to wrestling a bear on the US 10. By the way, that’s the inside of the sock you’re seeing.

Unlike superwash merino, the Buachaille doesn’t grow when bathed and blocked. I got perfect row gauge but my stitch count was off. I needed 3.5 stitches per inch ( 2.5 cm) and I got 4. I went back to the pattern and recalculated the numbers for the 4 gauge. I didn’t really like the results. I had to jump up two sizes beyond what I would have normally knit and still the results would have yielded only 2 inches (5 cm) of ease where I want 4 inches (10 cm).

So I went to Webs yarn store online and ordered US 11 (8 mm) needles hoping to get the 3.5 sts I need. When they arrive I will swatch. But I have doubts about this working out nicely. Having had so much interaction with the gods of knitting I know what lies ahead. I will have to use the US 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles and recalculate the entire sweater decrease shaping and all. That means it will turn into a masochistic knitting adventure. By the time I am knitting and have the sweater and Yarn Rascal in my lap, the weather will have turned very hot and very humid. The hibiscus, should they make it through until then, will be very happy.

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I hoard yarn. Often I buy a skein or five with no idea of what they will become. But I always love the colors and the fiber make up. Most often a I hoard fingering weight yarn, and thanks to Yarn Rascal for unearthing skeins from the farthest recesses of the yarn vault, I realize I have quite a hoard of DK weight too. Skeins purchased like this can gently nestle in the vault for years before the right project comes along. This is exactly what happened to my Dream in Color Smooshy fingering weight yarn in the Butter Peeps colorway. I knew that some day a pattern would come along and wham-bang I would have this yarn waiting for it.

The project just recently appeared on Kiwi Yarns. She made a sock and was looking for a test knitter. When I saw her beautiful pattern I knew that her pattern and my yarn had to meet in blessed knitting. So she was gracious enough to send me the pattern.

mary mary

The pattern and sock are in knitting heaven. The colorway’s pink smudges always fall in the right areas to enhance the texture of the pattern and highlight its structure.

While a heavenly choir of knitting angels sang, I went to find my double-pointed needles to begin the task. I have a small milk bottle filled with double-pointed needles that are long, short, and in all sizes. I found and tried the needle size given in the directions only to find I could not get gauge. The heavenly choir sputtered and then fell silent. I was getting two stitches over gauge on US 1 needles. I needed 9 stitches per inch and I was getting 11. Dropping down one size would only reduce my gauge count by one and I needed it reduced by two. I emptied the contents of the milk bottle on the table and spent some time searching for US 00. Nada. I wasn’t too surprised. Then I searched for US O just to see if by some miracle I could get gauge. I found three workable US 0 double-pointed needles and two that had the same teeth marks in them as Yarn Rascal’s chew bones. I did a gauge check on the three that hadn’t been chewed and as I predicted I only got one stitch closer to gauge.

Waiting for the size US 0 needles to arrive I studied the pattern. If I decreased the cast on by 4 stitches I could produce a sock that would fit me. But, could I find a way to decrease 4 stitches and not have their loss be noticeable and ruin the beautiful pattern. By the time the needles arrived I technically had the same pattern with just 4 stitches missing.

I am now knitting the cuff of the toe-up sock. After I am done with that, I will be working on the after-thought heel. I have never done an after-thought heel. This one seems to have a little more to it than just a straight after-thought heel. Since the instep and the leg came out beautifully I am eager to get the heel completed. I am going into uncharted knitting territory and the designer had issues herself with this heel. Still, the design of the heel will look really good on the sock if it can be worked out.

So tomorrow I hope to hear that heavenly choir of knitting angels warming up when I pick up the needles to begin the heel or it’s going to be a very long day, possibly with tears.

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Neuropathy problems are top of the menu today, thanks to my cancer medication. Hands, feet, legs all feeling the weirdness while I do my best to ignore it and push on.

I am steadily working on the sample knit for a designer. It’s the knit she couldn’t finish because of an allergic reaction to the yarn. US size 7 needles and moss stitch finally took it’s toll last night on my hands. The tendons in both are wonderfully hurting today in addition to the neuropathy symptoms. I think the tendonitis is from trying to match front piece’s row gauge to the back piece the designer knit. The garment has pleats. The two fronts need to match the back in length with the same number of rows to a) match the length of all pleats, and b) make the sewing of the pieces less of a horror show. In trying to get the row gauge to match I think I’m holding my needles too tight and hence the tendonitis. I am also not used to working with such large needles. I usually knit fingering weight yarn and use anywhere from a US size 1 to 3 needle. The US size 7 seems bulky to me.

I am also trying to make my moss stitch look like her moss stitch so it’s not obvious two different knitters worked on the garment. Yes, I’ve said it before, knitting is like a signature, it differs from one person to the next. Moss stitch is one of those stitch patterns that shows this difference. My moss stitch is tighter than hers. When I loosen it up, it becomes too loose. I’m in the Goldilocks dilemma of trying to create the “just right” tension. Hence, the tendonitis. I am manipulating the needles in a way that is not typical for me.

As I’ve said, I am doing all that I can to get the same row gauge so the sewing up part doesn’t become a nightmare. However, I have already had to change the number of rows where decreases occur because the piece would be too long if I went with decreases as written. So tonight’s excitement is taking the finished back, holding it alongside the left front and matching up each row to see how close I am.

In the meanwhile, the infernal computer is blinking red to alert me that something needs to be done about something. I thought I solved the issue last night, but obviously the computer doesn’t agree. At the moment, I can’t even study the photo software in peace with the red exclamation mark on the screen. The red exclamation mark jangles my nerves the same way a radioactive material sign would. I have come to terms with the fact that I may never truly feel comfortable with this computer.

On the nature front, Hank the Heron is here for the duration. Heron’s don’t migrate, unfortunately. I was standing by the pond the other hot and humid day and Hank landed a few feet away from me. He had the audacity to walk up to and step into the pond with me standing there. What can I do with such a brazen bird? We stare at each other. I told him when he eats every last frog and fish in the pond, don’t look to me to restock.

The deer are making out like bandits this season. Nearby apple farmers have bumper crops and we just have bags and bags full of free apples to feed to them. These are apples that would be rejected by stores as not being perfect. They may be a bit bruised or malformed but they are perfectly good to eat. It is amazing the amount of good food the food industry throws away.

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In an ideal world all knitters get stitch and row gauge and happily produce a garment that fits well and they love. Reality says that this is a rarity. Knitters may get stitch gauge but not row gauge or vice versa or they might not meet either gauge at all. From all that I have read knitters mostly focus on getting stitch gauge if they embrace the importance of gauge at all. Row gauge seems to be a bridge too far for most knitters, hence the length of the pieces are better off being given in inches and centimeters rather than in specific row counts.

When a designer designates row counts as the sole identifier of length bad things happen to the knitter. While knitter X may get 2″ (5) cm out of 14 rows, knitter Y may get significantly less or more. I am not saying row count can’t be included in a pattern. What I’m saying is it can’t be the only marker for length that is in the pattern.

If the designer must include row count in his / her directions say it like this: “Knit 14 rows or until piece measures 2″ (5) cm.” This gives the knitter a tangible goal. If the 14 rows don’t measure 2″, then the knitter has the okay to continue knitting until the 2″ goal is met.

Another thing I am noticing in patterns is the standard X stitches and X rows = 4″ (10) cm is starting to fall by the wayside. Lately, I’ve seen patterns by indie designers that use X stitches and X rows = 2″ (5) cm. The 4″ (10) cm standard is there because knitting that amount gives a more true idea of how many stitches and how many rows are really in 1″ (2.5) cm. The width and length of the standard 4″ (10) cm allows for all the idiosyncracies to be offset.

When I ask indie designers why they use 2″ rather than the standard 4″ their answers deal with math. They don’t want to work with fractions or decimal points in their calculations. This is crazy. Knitting, garment creation, is all about fractions and decimals, knowing when to round up and when to round down to help a garment fit and lay right. The only way to become comfortable with fractions and decimals is to work with them over and over again.

Knitting design is math centered. It’s not the warm and fuzzy math of 1 + 1 = 2. It’s geometry and algebra, fractions and decimals included. Designing is having an idea then running the numbers to see if it is mathematically doable.

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Sometimes a mistake is fortuitous. It happened with the new baby sweater design I’m working on. We won’t talk about the infinite number of times I’ve knit and ripped the right front of the sweater except to say the amount of reknitting easily equals a completed baby sweater. No, there are many things I won’t say and in not saying them it is my hope to get beyond them.

Last night I had the chance to sit and knit, a chance that has eluded me for a long time. Half-way through the evening’s knit, I realized the fabric made by my US size 3 (3.25 mm) needles did not resemble the 6″ (15) cm of fabric that preceded it. Something was wonky and it looked like it was my tension (gauge). Without any angst or anger I slid the stitches off the needle and ripped back to where the fabric was correct. No, I didn’t have a life line. I have ripped so often that I am comfortable with leaving the live stitches hang in mid-air as I pick them up and seat them on my needle. Another bonus of constant ripping is that I can read this particular knitting in such an intimate manner that I know where I am in the pattern on any given stitch on any given row. This is extremely helpful when the correct stitch counts occur only on Wrong Side rows. So, as I said I ripped, picked up the dangling stitches and began again, carefully monitoring my tension.

Four rows in and the wonkiness reappeared. I paused and assessed my choices. One, I could rip out the entire piece and begin again. Two, I could investigate and try to find out why my US 3 needles were no longer producing the fabric I had fallen in love with. Before I could do either, life once again intervened and needles and yarn were hastily put away.

This morning I thought I might sneak in some “quiet” knit time. It would mean I’d need to close myself up in the closet or hide out in the bathroom, but I felt the imprisonment was worth it. Since the closet has no window, hence no light, the bathroom it was. I quickly grabbed needles and yarn before The Skipper and Yarn Rascal came in from their walk and barricaded shuttered myself in the bathroom.

I ripped the piece back to where the fabric was correct. A new day, a new time, perhaps a new tension might just give me the fabric I had knitted before. Yes, sometimes miracles do happen.

As I knit I was producing the correct fabric. A feeling of serenity fell round my shoulders and embraced me as I knit. The problem had worked itself out. I was smiling and patting the fabric when I noticed that the needles looked different from each other. Quietly, I snuck out of the bathroom to the craft room, located the magnifying glass (my eyes are not what they once were), and looked at the miniscule stamp that tells the size of the needles. One needle was US size 3 (3.25 mm), the other was US size 5 (3.75 mm). The fabric that I loved was being created by two different sized needles! What a beautiful and fortuitous mistake!

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Sometimes knitting and crochet patterns lack a schematic drawing. My feelings about this are rather strong. If a pattern lacks a schematic I don’t buy it. If I’ve purchased it as a pdf I may write the designer and ask for a refund. For me, the schematic contains almost 70% of the pattern information I need to produce an acceptable garment. This is my opinion only, a schematic is necessary.

The few exceptions I can think of where a schematic is not necessary are hats, mittens, gloves, and socks. Yes, I think even a scarf needs a schematic.

When a schematic isn’t included in a pattern, it is up to the knitter or crocheter to create one for herself / himself. Yes, this is a pain in the neck to do and some knitters or crocheters may not even know how to begin a schematic, but having a schematic is the difference between seeing where you are going and flying blind.

The first bit of knowledge needed is tension / gauge. I use the tension numbers from the pattern or if I am not getting gauge I use my own numbers. The number of stitches and the number of rows that make up a 10 x 10 cm (4 x 4)” swatch gives me my gauge number. To get the number of stitches per 2.5 cm (1)” I divide either the number 10 (if I am working in cm) or 4 (if I am working in inches) into the total number of stitches I got from my swatch. I do the same with the rows. Once I know the number of stitches and rows I am getting per 2.5 cm (1)” I can create a schematic.

The second bit of knowledge needed is to remember that stitches and stitch counts always relate to widths. How wide the garment, sleeve, shawl, scarf is.

The third bit of knowledge needed is to remember that rows and row counts always relate to lengths. How long the garment, sleeve, shawl, scarf is.

To find the width of the piece I divide the number of stitches given in the pattern by the number of stitches I am getting per 2.5 cm (1)”. For instance, if the pattern tells me to cast on 35 sts and I am getting a tension / gauge of 5 sts I divide 35 by 5 = 7. The answer means that those 35 sts measures 7″. To get the cm there is one more step. Multiply 2.5 cm by 7 = 17.5 cm. Those same 35 stitches measures 17.5 cm.

The way I calculate all widths stays the same: divide the number of stitches in the pattern by the number of stitches in my tension / gauge.

To find the length I do the same math and just substitute rows for stitches. If my row gauge is 7 rows per 2.5 cm (1)” and the pattern asks me to knit 21 rows, divide 7 into 21 = 3. The number 3 is the inches 21 rows gives me. To find the length in cm multiply 2.5 cm by 3 = 7.5 cm of length.

If the pattern tells me to work until piece measures 7.5 cm (3)” and I want to know how many rows I should knit the math looks like this: 7 (row gauge) times 3 (inches in length) = 21 rows. If I want to find the same information in cm the math looks like this: 7.5 (length to knit to) divided by 2.5 = 3 times 7 (row gauge) = 21 rows.

Yes, it is possible to create a schematic for a pattern that doesn’t include one. Again, for me having a schematic is the difference between flying blind and seeing where I am going.

Have a great weekend!

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The Skipper has taken note of his sock I am knitting. How do I know? Yesterday after some digging, I found the small crow bar in the garage and washed it up until it was presentable enough to be near my yarn. Into the yarn basket it went since I’m nearing the point of testing the sock on The Skipper’s foot. This morning I went into the yarn basket and where once there was a crow bar, now there was a shoe horn. Three of us inhabit this house: The Skipper, Yarn Rascal, and I. Since I didn’t put the shoe horn there, and I am sure Yarn Rascal never got near it as there were no chewing marks on it, only one person is left: The Skipper. With my high level of deduction I’d clean up at a game of Clue.

I don’t really think I’ll need either shoe horn or crow bar. The math comes out right for his size: 7 sts per inch (2.5) cm (I never got the pattern’s written gauge so I had to change up some numbers) times 9″ (23) cm foot circumference equals 63 sts. I cast on 60 sts to fit the pattern multiple of 4. The pattern is very stretchy so 3 measly little stitches shouldn’t be missed. I know it’s optimistic thinking on my part, but I really do feel sure of this, despite the way the sock looks too small. I mean the eye gets fooled by optical illusion all the time.

Most of the sock is in a dark navy color. Dark colors make things look smaller. The pattern stitch pulls the fabric in somewhat only to expand easily when needed. So the sock looking too small is an illusion. I’m sure of it.

7 x 9 = 63.

60 is only 3 stitches less.

I’m sure it’s going to be just fine.


Just fine.

Have a good weekend.

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