When gauge hates you and the feeling is mutual

I’m going to share a dirty little secret of mine with you: I don’t mind knitting gauge squares.

No, really. I don’t. I have never resented the time it takes to knit a gauge square. Sure it may take an hour or so to knit and block (yes! I wash and block them) a gauge square…but how much time does it take to knit, say, a sweater? Which wastes more time: an hour or so of making sure my gauge is right or many, many hours of knitting a sweater that doesn’t fit? Plus, if I’m knitting it in a stitch pattern other than stockinette, it gives me a chance to practice.

I even often knit multiple gauge squares. Since I won’t know until it’s blocked if the gauge is right, I’ll pick a couple needle sizes in a row and knit a square up in each of them.

Multiple swatches

Helpful hint I picked up somewhere: to remember what size needle you knit a gauge square in, don’t weave in the tails; tie the same number of knots in the tail as the needle size. In other words, for US7 needle, tie 7 knots in the tail. If you use the metric measurements, you can tie 5 knots for a 5mm needle. For half sized needles (either a 5.5mm needle or a US 10 1/2), I’ll tie the full number of knots in one tail and one knot in the other tail (2 knots for the US 10 3/4 needle).

needle size knots

You would think, then, that since I treat gauge so well, it would reciprocate, right? Isn’t that how karma is supposed to work?

Apparently, gauge didn’t get the memo.

I was trying very hard not to get distracted by non-design knitting…and then I got the bright idea to organize my pattern files on my computer. In the process, I opened up the file for Boheme*Mama by Allegra Wermuth (co-editor of Petite Purls;), the adult version of her adorable Boheme for babies and toddlers. And magpie brain kicked in. I had to have it now, and I’m reasonably certain I can get it knit in time for Madrona so I’ll actually have something handknit to wear to a fiber festival (I can’t fit into any of my designs…). I even had the perfect yarn in my stash.

3IG Springvale Bulky Mary Bailey

The Three Irish Girls Springvale Bulky was originally intended to knit a vest for me anyway, and it’s a great neutral color. I just had to swatch it up. I started with the US13 that the pattern calls for (once upon a time, I would have had to go up a needle size or two, but my tension has loosened up with practice)…and I could tell before I even grabbed the tape measure that my stitches were too big.

So I moved down to 11s. Still too big. And I know that if anything, Springvale Bulky grows a bit.

I kept swatching.

Boheme Mama swatches

US10 3/4 gave me 12.25 sts over 4″; I needed 13 sts. So I went down to US10 1/2.

12 sts over 4″.


gauge tweet 1

I went down to US10…12.5 sts. And I’m not sure I want to go any smaller; the fabric might be firmer than I like.

So I think I might do the one thing I’ve never done before…just start knitting and hope that it works out. Remember, gauge–I’ve always been good to you.

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