Friday, December 30, 2016

Gauge Lies

I have been knitting for a while now. I am no stranger to the ways of the knitting Force. It is strong in me. Therefore you would think that I would know better than to cast on a sweater on a day when I was under the weather.

Did I tell you that I have been under the weather for the past few days? And by under the weather I mean that I produced a 103F temperature on Wednesday with a resulting cough that makes Chez Knit sound like a TB ward (HHBL is coughing too.) We went out to dinner with LaurenLeep and The Tech Guy on Wednesday and I remarked to myself as we were getting out of the car that I wasn't feeling quite "the thing" at that moment. You know those vague feelings of something not being quite right with your world but not sure what is wrong. Sort of like the lookouts on the Titanic right before the iceberg emerged.

Or not.

At any rate, dinner was fun as it always is. There was Italian food. There was wine. We laughed a lot. But every time that I got up to go to the bathroom, which was located in a rather chilly hallway, I was suddenly shivery. I sucked it up and persevered but the minute that we stepped out into the chilly night....I knew something was definitely wrong. Go home, dig out the digital ear thermometer, stick it in my ear and wait. You know you aren't going to like what it says when it takes an age to beep. 103F. How nice. 

So yesterday I wasn't feeling so up with things. In fact I spent the day in flannel pajama pants, a thing which I NEVER do. No really, I always get dressed in the morning. But yesterday I put on my flannel pj pants and my big old Star Wars sweatshirt and I spent the day on the couch, reading and watching the TV and knitting. You know you are really feeling bad when the thought of going to the basement to measure the swatch for the sweater you want to cast on is just too much effort.

But late in the afternoon I oozed my way down to the KnitCave and measured the swatch and Bang! spot on gauge. If the term "swatch" and "gauge" mean nothing to you, just know that a gauge swatch is a small or big (depending on how much patience you have) piece of knitted fabric using the needles and the yarn for your particular project. If the gauge is "off" that will mean that your knitted garment will not turn out to be the size that you were expecting. Think of all of the hilarious pictures you have seen of "boyfriend" sweaters that some hapless knitter produced without checking her gauge.

When knitting a sweater "gauge" is the mantra that we live by. It is the word that can mean smiles or tears depending on if you did your swatch and if you actually listened to what it was telling you. I did two swatches. The first one said to me in big bold letters, "YOU NEED TO GO UP A NEEDLE SIZE!" I listened intently, went up a needle size and the angels sang. So, in the midst of my fuzzy fever ridden day I decided that it was a good idea to cast on the sweater, which is using yarn that my MiL purchased for me in Lima. I can't get any more of this stuff and so I need to be sure that the sweater fits me, especially considering the fact that I am going to steek it. 

What is steeking you are asking yourself if you are not a knitter. Steeking means that I am going to DELIBERATELY cut my knitting right up the center. So counter intuitive to everything that we teach ourselves as knitters. But that is what the pattern calls for so I had better make sure that the size is spot on. Once the scissors do their job there will be no going back to reknit.

This is how far I got by the end of the evening. Oh how I love stranded colorwork. Knitting with two hands at the same time makes me feel like I can take on the entire world's issues and still have time for coffee and knitting. 

I am a knitter. Hear me roar!

The knitting was perfect. I felt like I had adulted a bit in an otherwise lying on the couch kind of day. But, there was that nagging, maybe there is a iceberg dead ahead feeling in the back of my brain. Looking at those perfectly done colorwork stitches, I just knew that the gauge was off.

But gauge swatches never lie, you are saying to yourself.

Oh yes, they do.

I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking, "I bet she knit that gauge swatch flat, not in the round. That will mess with the gauge." You would be wrong. I did swatch in the round (an entirely fiddly process that makes my brain crazy.) The only thing that I can conclude is that perhaps the gauge was a bit off because I am knitting with both my left hand (my dominant knitting hand because I knit Continental) and my right hand (which always knits a bit tighter.) That is my story and I am sticking to it.

I woke up this morning and knew that I had to check the gauge on that sweater and sure enough, it was off. And then I had to make the painful decision to.......frog it. To be fair, I did not frog it completely because that would mean having to re-knit that blasted K1P1 ribbing at the bottom. I despise K1P1 ribbing and I wasn't going to knit that again. But I did pull out everything up to the first round of colorwork, a lesson in carefuly measured movements so that you don't pull out stitches that you didn't mean to pull out, which I did despite being careful. I put larger needles on the cables and then had to go through the tedious task of getting all of the stitches back on the needles and fixing any mistakes I made when picking up stitches. I am not going to explain that last statement to those who are not knitters because I can already see your eyes glazing over. It was tedious and there might have been some language involved that I am not going to share with you.

Just know that in about an hour I am going to back to where I was when I so happily went to bed last night.

Just remember boys and girls. 

Gauge lies.


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