Saturday, May 07, 2005

And now it's time to play..."what's my gauge?"

I hate having to knit for gauge, which is why I so often felt objects. Gauge doesn't matter. However, for garments that must fit, it does matter! I really don't mind so much when it's something simple. And actually, I thought I knew what my gauge would be when I started the peachy socks with the lovely Lorna's Laces yarn yesterday.

I can't really call myself a sock veteran, having knit only two pair thus far. I did think I knew that the 56-stitch basic pattern would work fine for me on size 0 needles, which is the pattern and needle size I used on the previous two pair. However, in this instance, I believe I'm wrong. Look at this swatch. (Yesterday it was a sock. Today, since it won't fit, it's a swatch.)


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I'm a woman with a fairly standard 8 1/4" ankle circumference, and as I was knitting along on this, I somehow had convinced myself that it would fit me. It's knit in 2 x 2 rib, so there's a lot of elasticity. However, after getting this far, I finally decided to try it on...and it's just not big enough. And, when I compared it to my other handknit socks, it was only a little more than HALF the size. How did that happen?

So now I'm consulting Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks Warm Feet for advice on sizing, and trying to determine what my gauge really is. I have such a hard time with this! When it's ribbing, how do you really tell? I thought the measurement needed to be with the fabric relaxed--not stretched--but when I put a ruler against the fabric, what I think I saw seemed impossible.


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This is where I need YOUR help. What the heck is my gauge here? Is it at all possible that it's about 14 st/inch? I'm having a hard time getting my mind around that. But I can't determine what to think or do. I could start over, add just 4, or maybe 8, more stitches and have another go. But I'd really like it to be a bit more scientific than that. Any advice? Please?

9 comments:

Vicki said...

In the sock patterns that I've seen (and I'm no expert either) the gauge is still taken in stockinette, not the ribbing. Of course that takes you back to having to make a swatch...

amanda said...

yes, take gauge in st st not ribbing since ribbing does pull in like the dickens. i'm with you on swatching, i loathe it and consider it a waste of time. but it has to be done i suppose. and i knit my socks on circs, toe up using the queen kahuna book. have you seen it? it is very wordy but there are a few handy charts and what i've done is make photocopies of these charts and for the sock yarns i use most, i knit the gauge swatch and keep the info. this way, whenever i'm feeling the need to knit a sock, i have all the info handy. best of luck!

Chelle said...

Amanda,

Are you in Kansas City area? The reason I ask is because I'm desperately trying to learn to do the Queen Kahuna method and having a devil of a time figuring it out. Maybe you could help? Chelle

Chelle said...

Regarding the gauge problem - I have a feeling that size 1 needles would do it. The ribbing really will shrink in a lot. I don't like to knit gauge swatches either. With socks, I just compare the cuff with others that I've knit in the past which have fit. I know it's lazy . . . but . . . Chelle

Emily said...

I agree that the gauge should be measured over stockinette. (And, technically, in the round, since that could be different from a flat stockinette swatch.) Could you just continue around but switch to stockinette and do about an inch or so, rather than have to cast on again?

Leslie said...

Thanks, all, for your feedback. All the sources I checked were so vague on the gauge swatch. I started with ribbing because that combination of stitches and needle size worked for me before. I guess the Lorna's Laces is just finer than the other sock yarns I've used. I did decide to just keep knitting, switching to stockinette, and check gauge on that section. After that, I should hopefully have some direction! I am knitting on two circs, but I've never seen the Queen Kahuna book. I'll have to add that to the list!

Carole said...

Hi Leslie,
When I knit with size 1 or 0 needles I cast on 68 stitches. I know you're committed (now there's a word for this!) to this pair now but next time you might just try adding more stitches.
Good luck!

Adrian said...

Yup, like Carol says, 68 sts. works great for me on 0's, even with the finest sock yarn.

amanda said...

chelle--
i'm in louisiana but will gladly help. leave a comment on my blog and i'll get back to you.