Figure It Out Friday

Gauge is math. All math. When I began my current WIP (work in progress), my stitch gauge created a few problems. I typically knit a bit tighter; therefore, having more stitches per inch than what the pattern requires (aka a smaller gauge). In order to come closer to the pattern's number of stitches per inch, I often first change my needle size. And so, I went up to the next larger needle size. It worked, but I'm not always lucky first time around! Here are some other things to try when needing to change your stitch gauge:

  1. Change needle size: For more stitches per inch go smaller. For less stitches per inch go bigger!
  2. Change needle type: Some find the material of their needles makes a difference in gauge. You can find needles made of all different materials. Experimenting with different needles may reveal your gauge differs slightly (enough to change your gauge) without changing the needle size!
  3. Change yarn weight: This is not my preference as I typically knit a project with a specific yarn in mind. But if you're working a project and yarn is not the priority, try experimenting with a heavier or lighter yarn when fussing with gauge. Heavier weight yarn will give you less stitches per inch. Lighter weight yarn will give you more stitches per inch.

But what about ROW gauge?!?!? My stitch gauge was spot on but my row gauge was not! I have yet to figure out how exactly I can manipulate just my row gauge without effecting my stitch gauge, and do it in such a way that is consistent from roe to row. I don't think it's possible! I have typically never worried about row gauge as most of my patterns have me knit a specific number of inches rather than a specific number of rows. Not this time! This WIP is a tunic tank top and the body decrease was a specific number of rounds 😦 and so here comes the math…

Now 5 rows might seem like nothing, but had I not altered the pattern slightly, those extra 5 rows would've added nearly an inch to the tunic.So, next time you think a row here or there doesn't matter, think again! Your tunic just might end up a dress 😉

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Figure It Out Friday

Gauge. To measure or not to measure? That IS NOT the question! When knitting, gauge is a must. This was not a revelation during my first years of knitting. It took me many projects, many hanks of yarn, many years, before I understood this strange concept and word. But rather than discuss the ins and outs of gauge, how to match gauges, what to do if stitch gauge matches but row gauge is off, etc., let’s talk about the bare minimums of what to do when you don’t give a darn about gauge!

Some knitters, I’m certain, can go (and have gone) their entire knitting life never concerning themselves with gauge.  How? Well, if you’re prone to knitting the infamous dish cloths, or baby blankets, or infinity scarves and cowls, size doesn’t really matter. A scarf can’t be too long, right? Just wrap it around your neck an extra time and voila! A dish cloth just needs to fit inside your sink. And a baby blanket, or baby afghan, or baby king-sized coverlet…it’s not like you’re going to be wearing it!

So many times I’ve had people come to me with a pattern and the yarn they plan to knit with and I immediately ask what their gauge is with said yarn. I get the deer in headlights look accompanied by no response. Uhhhhhhhh. Most recently, it was a pattern calling for worsted weight yarn, but the knitter had this great chunky bulky yarn they were hoping to use.  First suggestion (if you’re not wanting to fuss with gauge): be certain to use the same weight yarn as indicated by the pattern. This won’t guarantee your gauge will be an exact match, but you will be a heck of a lot closer to the suggested gauge than if trying to use, say, a bulky weight yarn. Here’s the reason: chunkier yarn is exactly that, chunkier, bigger, thicker. And if you use a chunkier yarn, so too will your individual stitch stitch size be. And if each individual stitch is larger, you will end up with a larger gauge, or a smaller number of stitches per inch of your knitted fabric. Meaning; if you were to take your ruler and place a stitch at the edge of your ruler and counted the number of stitches along a 4 inch line, you will have a lesser number of stitches in that 4 inch sample than the person using a lighter weighted yarn. Less stitches per inch means a larger gauge. More stitches per inch means a smaller gauge. We’ll use this information next week when talking about how to change your gauge accordingly. In the meantime, make sure you know where to find a yarn’s weight. Most commercial, large name fibers, have the weight printed right on the label. It’s usually a white number in a black square. Image result for yarn weight

Second suggestion (if you’re not wanting to fuss with gauge): use the same size needles as indicated by the pattern. Again, this won’t gaurantee your gauges will be an exact match. But for obvious reasons, your chances of being darn close are good.  Why? Say you’re using worsted weighted yarn, as the pattern indicates, but the pattern says to use US 7. The closest you have is US 10. Now, the larger the needle number, the larger the circumference of the needle. And the larger the needle, the larger your stitches wil be. But not only that, if using the same weighted yarn on a larger needle, your stitches will not only be larger, but the overall structure of the worked fabric (once knitted) will naturally be much looser and stretchier. Likewise, if you’re using a smaller needle size than indicated, the stitch size will be smaller and tighter. Instead of a nice slouchy fall hat, you now have a tight fitting beanie with no stretch.

Third suggestion (if you’re not wanting to fuss with gauge): just knit scarves!

Happy Friday. Happy Knitting!