Not so tense gauge…

I have finally given in to checking gauge and doing gauge swatches for every project I make.  Partly because it is an easy way to keep ‘spare yarn’ for my projects if I ever need to mend them; and partly because recent projects weren’t turning out as I had expected.  I learned some lessons in the last few months:

three gauge swatches for the Must Have Cardigan
  1. I beta-tested a new circled hat pattern by Woolly Wormhead.  Previous to this beta test, I had knit Dulcie and the hat was slightly larger than I expected.  I didn’t do a gauge swatch for Dulcie, but for the beta test, I was going to be accurate…it took me 3 tries to get gauge.  I didn’t realize that I knit so loosely!  I was shocked.
  2. I wanted to knit a shawl with a handpainted yarn I recently purchased, and I swatched with a smaller needle than asked for, assuming that I was knitting loosely so would need smaller needles.  Wrong again, I actually had to go up a needle size from the suggested size to get gauge.
  3. I’m having my Twin Rib Baby Hat pattern tech edited next week because I’ve designed a matching bootie set to go with it.  My original design in 2011 listed a different needle size and stitch count than what I am using now?  My knitting has changed?  Both hats used the same yarn though!  Maybe I made a typo on the original post(?)  I’ve double checked my current swatch but the original hat has long since been given away.

So the lessons I learned was I knit more loosely than Woolly Wormhead; I knit tighter than Karie Westermann; and I’m now knitting looser than I did 6 years ago.

Designers and experience knitters have always said to “Do gauge swatches”, and its finally sinking into my brain.  Its crazy to think needle sizes and stitch gauge will be standardized across all patterns and yarns when even your own knitting tension may change over time!