Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gauge....Darn You All to Heck!

That was a quote from Alex in Madagascar. It is a mere hint to the wrath I feel towards gauge. Gauge and my inability to trust my own gut.

How fitting that right now (totally by coincidence) I'm re-listening to Stash and Burn Episode 28: Second Chance and as I typed the title, Nicole said "I have gauge issues with socks." I feel your pain.

Jaywalkers. Dammit!

I shouldn't blame the pattern. It's really all me. The worst part is I was right all along.

Remember how I said that I was concerned that knitting with size 1's would be too tight? Remember how I went out and bought size 2 dpns specifically for these socks and even started them with the size 2 dpns? Remember how I said that I know I knit tight and often have to go up a needle size? I'd even swatched with the size 1 dpns and found that I got 9 sts/inch in stockinette - which is clearly too small for this pattern.

I was knitting along happily with my 2's for about 3". I tried it on and thought "no way, this is way too big." It really didn't cling to my leg, more like skimmed. So I vaguely tried to measure my sock to recheck the gauge and even though I knew it was ok, I switched to size 1's. I thought it looked good after the switch because the baggy look had left and it was all nice and even. My hands were getting sore but I kept on going.

As I neared the end of the leg, I decided to give the fabric a tug. The entire size 1 area had very little give and I started to get worried. I tried to pull it on my leg. Though I did get it on, it was rather a contortionist act and I was terrified I wouldn't get it off again. I did get it off and like an IDIOT, rather than frogging back right away like I should have, I forged ahead, switching to size 2's, thinking that I might be able to save them that way.
emember how I said I wanted to turn the heel by the end of the day? I clung to that hope with an iron grip.

I knit the heel flap. I turned the heel. I even knit a few rounds of the gussets. I figured that would be a good time to try it on again and see if the switch to the larger needle loosened things up enough to still salvage the sock.

It was still a wrestling match to get it on and then I had the sensation that my circulation would be cut off. To add insult to injury, I took out the tape measure and measured my gauge over pattern and I was right on with the size 2's to begin with.

Through my years of sewing, quilting, knitting and crocheting, I've tried almost every shortcut in the book. Usually before actually trying something the right way. For example, the first time I had to sew a zipper in a garment, I thought "pin it, baste it, then sew it? Pish posh, I can do it without the basting and pinning; how hard can it be? After ripping it out and trying other "short cuts", probably 4 times, I did it the way you're supposed to and it was perfect. There have been many other similar instances where I have been humbled into abandoning "my way" for the "right way". This was one of them.
I frogged back to the original size 2 area of the leg of the sock. Now I'm stuck with a pile of variegated spaghetti. The sock still holds it's charm for me, but I have to say that this incident turned me off just enough to pick up the second sleeve of the Hourglass Sweater. Plus, in a couple weeks I'm getting together with 4 high school friends and we're going to have a portrait session! Sounds kind of corny, but it will be really great, I think! We've been told that solid colors are best so I'm reinvigorated to get this sweater done. Sapphire Heather would be beautiful in a portrait. Now I'll shift my hopes toward having enough yarn on hand to finish it.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jen,
Have you tried the toe up version of socks.. so easy, fun and very rewarding! I also got a pattern fro tube socks that has a fab pattern and I am using some of my hand dyes! Are you planning on going to the Knit Out at MOA on the 16th of Feb? I think there are about 5 of us going from my Friday night knit group. If you would like to tag along give em a call. Also, don't forget that we meet every Friday at the Yarn Cafe in Maple Grove from 5-9 pm. We still need to get together for a "knit exchange".. but now taht I am working at the elementary school as a parra for EBD kids it will be a bit more difficult. Perhaps a weekend. Diane Kammerude has a knit group on the 3 Sunday of each month at her house.. this Sunday... you could tag along for that too. Just a few things to keep you in the loop! Talk to you real soon.. I hope! Laura

mapleweave said...

I'm sorry about the socks! But just so you know, I also have only completed 4 pairs (plus 2 singles and 3 quarter-socks)... I have not tackled the Jaywalkers yet. I also knit with size 2 because I'm a tight knitter... I have not tried size 1 yet - should I?

Jen said...

If you're a tight knitter, I'd say definitely swatch with the 2's first. Or just get going with the 2's and see how it goes. It took 3.5 inches of leg before I really had enough fabric to take a good measurement and see that I did actually have gauge.

For me there was a HUGE difference in the fabric between size 1's and 2's. The fabric with 2's is quite elastic yet structurally sound. However the fabric with size 1's was super firm and had barely any give whatsoever.

The pattern is great! It's easy to memorize and moves along nicely. For sure, go for it!

Jen said...

Laura, I want so much to go to the Knit Out with you! That's my niece's birthday so I need to check if there's going to be a party that day. I'll have to try to get to the Yarn Cafe some Friday night - that sounds like so much fun!