When you knit a swatch are you very careful? Are you looking at every stitch, knitting slower than usual? Are all your stitches perfectly formed and looking beautiful. Do you knit a large swatch? What happens when you knit while chatting with a friend, or as your mind wanders, or while watching TV?
You got it. Your gauge can change. When I teach classes I have the knitters work a swatch, cast on for their sweater and work several inches of their top down sweater. Then we check the gauge again. In every class, one third of the knitters have found that their gauge has shifted. Usually they have loosened up and every once in a while someone has tighten up.
What to do?!
1. Rip back and start again with smaller or larger needles to get the correct gauge. I think we've all done this one.
2. Continue on and work to a smaller or larger size to compensate for the gauge shift.
3. For knitters working out of one of the Cabin Fever multi-gauge books there is a good solution. Continue to work with your New gauge and change to a new set of stitch numbers that correspond to your New gauge.
There's a very good reason I write these books. I don't get gauge and, I admit it, my gauge changes.
Say I started out working 20 sts = 4" (same as 5 sts = 1") according to my swatch. Now I'm 4" down my top down sweater and I discover that I'm really working at 18 sts = 4" (4.5 sts = 1"). Yikes, my sweater is going to be too big. At this point I can continue knitting and working my raglan increases as usual, towards the stitch numbers for the Bottom of the Yoke. But now I'm going to work to the stitch numbers for my New gauge instead of my original gauge (especially the Back) so that my sweater will fit.
The top chart is the number of stitches for the Bottom of Yoke for my size, assuming I'm working at 20 sts = 4" gauge (top chart). At the Bottom of the Yoke, in my original gauge, I want to knit until my Front has 44 sts, Sleeve has 60 sts and Back has 88 sts. BUT my gauge has shifted to 18 sts = 4". So I'm going to move to the line of stitch numbers for my New gauge (see shaded line on bottom chart).
Now, working in my New gauge, I'm going to work until my Back is 78 sts (instead of 88 sts at original gauge). This will ensure that my Back, and therefore my Front, will fit for my size at the New gauge which I will maintain for the rest of my sweater. I'm knitting at a looser gauge than originally planned, so I will work my Back and Front with less stitches to get my size.
This works for many, many knitters. It saves the stress of ripping out or recalculating all your numbers. Just shift to a new line of stitch numbers that correspond to the gauge you are now knitting.
Your swatches may be wonderfully truthful. You may get gauge and maintain it. I hope you do. But if you don't, these multi-gauge books have an added advantage for you.
These numbers are out of one of the Need A ... series of Multi-gauge books by Cabin Fever. http://www.cabinfever.ca/knittersbooks.html ;
Questions? I'm sure you have some.
Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate hearing from you.