Thursday 29 May 2014

Swatches can Lie!

Oh, no. This is terrible. Swatches can lie. Not for everyone but maybe for you and definitely for me. If you find that lots of your garments are bigger or smaller than you thought they would be, read on.

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. ;

Questions? I'm sure you have some.

 Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate hearing from you.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Gauge, why you need to get it.

What is the biggest stumbling block to a sweater that fits? Leave a comment. I'd like to hear what your stumbling block is.

One of the basic reasons is gauge. There is a myth that the needles recommended by the yarn company are the needles needed to get gauge for every knitter. Not True. There is also the idea that most knitters get gauge. Also Not True.

For the record, I don't get gauge. Not ever. I am a loose knitter so if I used the needles recommended by the yarn company everything I knit would be too big. I have knit lots of big sweaters, sometimes really, really big. Do most of your garments end up bigger or smaller than you had hoped?

Back to Basics.  Gauge works like this:

The yarn company says that this yarn knits to 20 sts = 4" which is the same as 5 sts = 1".
If you are getting 4 1/2 sts to 1", when the pattern calls for you to knit 5 sts to measure 1", you are knitting 4 1/2 sts which measures 1", plus 1/2 st more. Now your 5 sts measures more than 1". Now your garment is big.
If you are getting 5 1/2 sts = 1" and the pattern asks you to knit 5 sts, you knit 5 sts which measures less than 1" for you. Now your garment is small.

WORK A SWATCH. It contains good information. Measure your own particular gauge with the needles recommended. It's good to know which way you lean, loose or tight. If you are off gauge by 1/2 stitch per inch, your adult sweater is 4" bigger or 4" smaller (eek!). It matters!

DO NOT CHANGE HOW YOU KNIT. "I'm going to knit tighter" works for about 5 minutes, until you relax and then you are back to knitting in your regular way. I will address this mysterious phenomenon in the next post.

CHANGE YOUR NEEDLES. I'm a loose knitter so I usually work with needles 1 to 2 sizes smaller than recommended on the ball band. If you are a tight knitter you may have to work with needles 1 size bigger. Continue with your swatch to see if you are closer to the gauge required by the pattern.

Next post:  Swatches Can Lie! Oh, No.

P.S. Yes, new yarn and worsted too. I love worsted weight yarn the very bestest! I need to knit something up to show you. So far only grey is in production but more colours coming, one at a time, starting in September. Something to look forward to.

Friday 9 May 2014

Back from TNNA, new patterns coming up

The TNNA show is the big trade show for our industry. Although we're not allowed to take photos I did sneak one of Eleanor from Kraemer Yarns wearing one of sweaters from the Need A Circular Yoke book in Northern Lights chunky.
Although the knitting industry is still moving along it has a little limp in it's walk. But we, at Cabin Fever, are looking forward to bringing out a brand new worsted wool this fall, yay. In the mean time we haven't been idle. There will be new patterns coming out soon.

Beware, projects in half-baked condition. If you can't stomach them, turn your eyes away!
I started one more pullover for the new Need A Circular Yoke? book. It's a summer top (it's actually orange in colour) with a scoop neck in Hempton by Lanaknits, a cotton/hemp blend.
We're busy in edit mode now. The end (June publication date) is in sight.
Only the sleeves to go on this one, another sweater for the CircYoke book. It's obviously long sleeved or will be soon, in Aran weight Tuffy by Briggs and Little.
A new sock pattern. This one is fun and easy to carry around which I've been doing for a while. This is my second, no third, pair of these. Time to get it written up. It's in Saucon Fingering, a cotton/acrylic blend. Good for spring wearing with sandals.
A second new sock pattern from the cuff down with an interesting stitch pattern. I really enjoy knitting this one although it's not a 'carry around' project. It's in hand-painted stash yarn which is showing the pattern very well.
And just because a woman can't be working all the time I've indulged myself by knitting a short row scarf just for the fun of it. And, yes, those are really straight needles! Something a little different for me but different is good right? Also dug in the my stash for yarn for this, don't you love the colour? I do. I didn't follow the numbers for the pattern or use the weight of yarn it called for so I'm not going to give a link since I strayed rather badly from the original pattern. There are lots of short row scarf patterns to choose from and they're all fun to knit. I'm searching for a new one since I'm rather taken with them at the moment.

I obviously have lots of knitting to do, gotta go.