Saturday, December 1, 2012

Countdown to Knitmas! - Day 1

3 Cheers - the December Holiday season has begun! (woo! woo! woo!)  And, so begun is the Countdown to Knitmas! Kaity and I (Anne) will be coming to you for the next 24 days to offer you helpful suggestions of techniques, patterns, and other surprises to help you through the holiday knitting season.

 I am going to open our countdown with the most important (and surprisingly simple) lesson that I learned this year. It is a gauge tip. I am sure that you all always make a gauge swatch when you are making something that needs to fit (a hat, a sweater, etc.). When you make this swatch, you very carefully measure and check the gauge of your stitches and calculate the stitches per inch (or per 4 inches). Well, there is one more thing that you need to add to your swatch regimen - recording your row gauge. You do not need to match the row gauge given in the pattern as long as you get the stitch gauge (you will go nuts trying to get them both to match). Once you get the desired stitch gauge, you should measure and record that row gauge. When you compare that number to the row gauge listed, then you need to know the meaning behind that number:
*If your row gauge is bigger than the row gauge of the pattern
-and you are going to do a measurement ("work in pattern until piece measures..."), then you will need less yarn than the pattern calls for.
-and you are going to do a set number of rows("repeat rows 1-6 twenty times..."), then you may need more yarn than the pattern calls for.
*If your row gauge is smaller than the row gauge of the pattern
-and you are going to do a measurement ("work in pattern until piece measures..."), then you may need more yarn than the pattern calls for.
-and you are going to do a set number of rows("repeat rows 1-6 twenty times..."), then you will need less yarn than the pattern calls for.

With this empowering knowledge, I would recommend knitting a gauge swatch for almost anything that you want to be careful about the amount of yarn you have available to you. So, that includes shawls and blankets and scarves - things that I did not use to make swatches for. I would also encourage designers (in case you are listening) to give us an unblocked stitch and row gauge. 

Happy Needling!
Anne



2 comments:

Julie Tokumaru said...

Good info! Thanks.

Chrisknits said...

You also need to know that if you row gauge is smaller than the pattern suggests and you are knitting a set number of rows, your length will be too short. On the other hand, if your row gauge is more than the pattern suggests your item will be too long. This is especially important when you are knitting raglan shapes and require a certain number of decreases for the bodice/sleeve section. If it tells you to knit a decreases every other row for 16 rows, which for the pattern would equal 4", but your gauge is giving you 20 rows over 4", you need to spread out those decreases, say maybe every 3rd row over 12 rows and every 2nd row over 8 rows. If your gauge is 12 rows over 4" you would need to do increases every other row for 4 rows and every other row for 8 rows.