Alpaca Direct Blog

Knitting on Gauge…or Making Sweaters That Would Fit a Great Dane?

Thoughts from Jody Moody...

Well, I have been working with fiber since I was in the third grade. A classmate, Toni, taught me how to crochet granny squares with acrylic yarns in the funkiest colors imaginable. Then ten years ago, I ended up under the tutelage of a great master spinner, knitter, weaver, and all around fiber craftsperson. By the way, there was a lot of time between the first mentor and my current one. During that time I never heard anything about ‘gauge’. I just thought that all those little boxes on the side of the patterns were for those who needed extra help, perhaps those who did not have my ‘eye’ for estimating what needles should be used.

My new mentor, Teresa, mmmm… interesting I attract mentors that have names that begin with T, told me about the importance of ‘staying on gauge’ and watching my stitches per inch. But not until I had thrown my last tantrum because I had to give ANOTHER sweater away since it would not fit me, did I realize its utmost importance. Knitting by gauge should be the first and foremost lesson all new knitters should learn (right after choosing the correct needles, yarn, and pattern). I have a closet filled with innumerable odd knitted things that did not work because I was NOT on gauge. I usually start out fine on ‘gauge’, but something happens somewhere along the line and there I am knitting stitches so out of range it is as if another person was doing my project with different needles, blindfolded, and perhaps under the influence of some sort of tranquilizer. My last sweater…true labor of love…I was planning for these cool days on the horizon, beautiful silk/soy, with alpaca in gorgeous burgundy, cotton candy pink, variegated vibrant reds/browns, and a cool neutral taupe…ended up at least six sizes too big. I imagined that in the night some sort of evil elf came and worked on the sweater with giant tree limbs for needles, then tried it on his pet elephant to see if it would fit. It would grow inches over night…where do these elves come from? Instead of blaming the gnome of oversized garments, I had to look in the mirror and see the truth staring back at me and hearing my mentor’s voice, “Are you checking your gauge as you knit?” OH, I hate to admit, but she was ever so right. Good mentors are always right! So when I balk her voice, I only need to blame myself for creating just more sweater that would fit my sisters’ pet Great Dane, Woodson, who looks more like a horse that a dog. By the way, the remnants of my beautiful sweater are all balled up and waiting for me to try again, this time I will check the gauge in the beginning, in the middle, and towards the end…and perhaps everywhere in between!

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