More indestructible than 20 year old Red Heart yarn.
More difficult than an Alice Starmore colorwork sweater.
It’s my old nemesis Gauge back again for another run.
Do you remember the Banana Tree Cardigan? The brown one that I just started? Well I had just gotten to the top of the sleeve when I decided that perhaps I should check the length since it seemed to be getting rather long.
Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it was because I had worked on this mostly when I had 2 sick children home from school (one of which ran a fever for 4 days). Maybe it was that I was exhausted.
Maybe I might have just possibly forgotten that I really should have check gauge a whole lot earlier. Maybe I should have actually checked the ball band to see what the suggested gauge for that yarn was.
Maybe I’m not the brightest knitter in the shop.
I would probably have to drop down to a size 2 to make this aran weight yarn knit to the gauge I want it to be since I was already at a 4. It would be like wearing armor!
I hate when the hero in the story is taken down by the nemesis because they just don’t see what’s right in front of their face.
Turns out I don’t have the right yarn in my stash after all.
Out of the blue, Lily asked me what a nemesis was yesterday. I explained that a nemesis was something that you are always fighting, something that you are always struggling against. We talked about how comic book characters always seem to have a nemesis.
If I were a comic book character, Gauge would be my nemesis. It’s a constant struggle to get gauge. Take my Lettuce Pullover for instance.
I swatched on a US 4, a US 5, a US 2, and finally on a US 3. (And don’t ask me why, but it was in that order) I think it should really be knitted on a 2.5 because none of the swatches came out just right. I decided to go with a 3 because I have plenty of yarn and I think a pullover with slightly more positive ease is better than a too tight sweater. Especially a sweater like this where I will definitely have to wear a shirt underneath. Some things are just better left to the imagination.
Since you asked, this is what the sweater looks like right now.
It’s slow going as only a sweater with laceweight yarn and size 3 needles can be. And no, I don’t think it’s the wine’s fault that it’s so slow going. I’m hitting that point in the raglan increases (about 20 rows before I can separate out the sleeves) that each row seems to take absolutely forever instead of the appoximately 10 minutes that each row really takes.
To cut the boredom and give my hands a break from the teeny tiny yarn, I cast on for a Banana Tree Cardigan. I have enough of a brown washable worsted weight yarn in my stash that I didn’t need to go shopping for it. I’m somewhat amused that all of my knits have food names right now.
In other news, I am on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. The chocolate chip cookie recipe that I remember as a child. One with lots of vanilla, too many chocolate chips to count (ok, I always add extra) and the perfect soft but not overly puffy texture. I just made a batch that was good, lots of vanilla flavor and soft, but they fell flat. If you have a good recipe, send it my way.
I confess, I am not the world’s most dedicated swatcher.
Most knitters know what a swatch is (it’s a sample size of how your yarn will behave with a certain size needle), but just in case here’s a little explanationof how to swatch correctly.
Back to the confession, because confession is good for the soul, right? I tend to swatch for an inch or so, maybe as much as three, to make sure that I get the right gauge. If my gauge isn’t coming out right, and it usually isn’t, I switch to a small size needle. With me, I almost always know I need to go smaller. I keep going smaller until I get to the correct gauge. If I’m really feeling sassy lucky, I do the gauge swatch as part of the garment. This works especially “well” with sleeves and sock cuffs. Just cast on the number of stitches for the sleeve and away I go. I measure after a few inches and then rip and redo if need be.
There’s just one teeny tiny problem. Knitting tends to behave differently once it’s been washed. Yarn blooms, the fibers stretch out, sometimes it acts completely differently from the yarn you think you had. All of a sudden that perfect gauge swatch is big and floppy. The sock cuff that fit perfectly is now sagging down around your ankles. Not to mention what happens to a perfectly good sweater. To get a completely accurate gauge swatch, you really need to wash and block your swatch first.
And that’s where I tend to cut corners.
As in I don’t do it at all. Or at least I didn’t. After my last two sweaters haven’t fit as well as I’d like, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I have swatched for my April sweater – the February Lady Sweater/Sweater on Two Needles sized for an almost 8 year old girl. I’m also proactively swatching for my May sweater, done in fingering weight alpaca.
Wish me luck in turning over this new leaf. I’m a little nervous about the sizing for the April sweater, but I figure if my gauge still leads me wrong at least this time it will fit my 6 year old instead of being given away to a much taller person.