Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Smackdown

According to my Rav project page, on 28 March 2014, I cast on for a sweater for my sister.

Today, that sweater looks like this:



You may be thinking to yourself, Hm, that doesn't look like much progress within the past month. And you'd be right. True, April was a busy month (what, the complete radio silence here didn't give that away?), but not so busy that I didn't touch this sweater. In fact, last night, I had about 10 inches done. See how there are two cakes in that image? That's because one of the cakes was all knit up, and I had done the Russian Join to start the next cake, and then I realized something was wrong, and ripped it apart in a fit of pique before coming to my senses enough to snap a picture.

The problem? I'm so mad at myself. It shouldn't have been a problem. Every single pattern out there has some line on it that reads something like this:

To save time, take time: check your gauge.

Or maybe:

Every knitter's gauge is unique.

I didn't check my gauge. The pattern calls for a gauge of 17 sts to 4", and I know I can't hit that. Past experience tells me that my gauge is entirely needle driven (within reason - there are lower bounds, so no matter how small I go in needle size, I'm never going to get bulky yarn to knit up at 10 sts to the inch, for example), and that a 5 mm needle gets me 20 sts to 4", while a 5.5 mm needle gets me 16. I know, it's a huge jump. I've never tried to understand it, I just rolled with it, and futzed with pattern sizing and gauge to get the actual object I wanted.

So with this pattern - Gaia, for the curious - I determined that I could knit the smallest pattern size (32" bust) at the slightly big gauge to get something that should fit my sister just about right. So off I went with my 5.5 mm needles.

And then, yesterday, I was looking at the bit of fabric that was developing, and thought it seemed a tad small. So I double-checked my gauge.

And discovered I was getting 18 sts to 4". Not 16.

So instead of getting something a bit bigger than a 32" bust, I was on track to get something a bit smaller. No good.

So what happened? Why did my gauge change? I just panicked and checked my gauge with a 5 mm needle on another sweater, and sure as sugar, it's 20 sts to 4", just like my memory says it should be. A couple of plausible hypotheses:

1. As a newer knitter, my knitting was loosened up some by handling the larger needles. As someone with a bit more experience in the making fabric from string using sticks technique, I now have better technique in handling larger needles, so my stitches are tightened correspondingly.

2. I didn't really do a proper gauge check before, and only measured over 1" using my thumb as a rough guide, and missed a crucial half stitch in that inch, resulting in an incorrect assessment of my gauge.

Yeah. I'm inclined to go with story #2.

In the meantime. This sweater was supposed to be cranked away on over the next few days and wrapped up in time to present to my sister for her birthday. On Saturday. I have a feeling that's not possible anymore. In fact, I have a feeling it was a bit of a pipe dream even before the rip. The competitive part of my brain is screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, but the more reasonable part of me is thinking maybe, just maybe, I should focus on this pair of stockinette socks I've got on the go for her instead. I've just got the heel and foot of sock #2 to go. That should be doable in the next three days, right?

I, um, might still try working on the sweater too. Because, you know. Challenge accepted.

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