Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Got gauge?

These are stitch markers from Good to be Girl. (see sidebar- it's too late to link : ) They say "I knit with Greys" and are soooo fun. Maybe I will get better with indoor photography....maybe not.

When I learned to knit, I was living in France as a foreign exchange student. My french grandmother taught me. I don't remember any details about the lesson. Not a thing. Really strange, nada. I know that she was trying to teach me and my french host sister at the same time. My "mami" didn't speak a word of english. I think I just watched and she said, "Non, non, comme ca!" a lot and that was that.

I eventually learned to read french patterns and I made 2 sweaters while I was there. One was hot pink synthetic mohair- hey, it was the 80's after all. The other one was a nice cotton short sleeved "pull." I don't have any pics of me wearing either item. Sadly, we didn't discuss gauge and the sweaters were CRAZY huge. I mean so big that the cotton one would literally fall off my shoulders. I think I tried to sew some elastic in there to hold it up, but it was a lost cause. When I got state side, I did more knitting, on and off through college, and somewhere along the line, I discovered gauge.

I am a swatcher. I hate it, but I do it. I don't cheat and call a sleeve a swatch, but I may start. So, in making the lovely Hourglass, I did my homework. First I had my sister measure me- which she kindly and willingly (almost) did. Then, I read the article by Bonne Marie (of Chikknits) in knitty. Then I swatched. I measured my work and discovered that I was 21 st/4 inches rather than the 19 required in the pattern. Then I washed the swatch- which I don't always do. Imagine my surprise when I remeasured and the swatch was now 19 sts/ 4 inch as required!

Hmmm. I combed the web looking for knitters of Aurora 8 who had similar experiences. There was one minor reference from a disgruntled knitter on wiseneedle. I even got the nerve to e-mail the infamous Wendy of Knit and Tonic. (She is a fabulous designer and her blog is a riot). She had not encountered this dilemma before. But she did tell me that she sometimes puts Aurora 8 in the dryer to "firm it up." So, maybe it loosens up....but, it really is my personal issue with a yarn that I would really love to love

After all this, I decided to cast on and go for it. In theory, as I am knitting, the sweater should appear too small. After washing, the stitches should relax and the sweater should get bigger and fit.

What am I thinking?! Well, what else can I do? I already have the yarn. So, I started making the second smallest size- as I was knitting, it was HUGE. I have been down that road before, so I frogged. I then started the smallest size and, well, I have tried it on, and I wouldn't wear a sweater this tight. Even more strange, as I measure the gauge of the sweater as I knit, it's spot-on 19 sts/4 inch. Still, if the yarn behaves the same way, it should relax and then fit looser.

As you see, I hope that finally I have a sweater that fits, but I am not holding my breath. I have already decided to wash it before weaving in all the loose ends and if it doesn't fit, I am going to frog it and try again.....yikes. Just maybe not right away.

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