Since I have learned nearly all of my knitting from books and other reference sources, I have a micro-LP spinning in the back of my head, ‘Knit for Gauge’. Any time I fall in love with a piece in IK, Vogue, Rebecca, KnitSimple, KnitScene, etc, I look for the suggested yarn and wonder if I could substitute (because, Ow!, sometimes my purse does not agree with designer tastes!) and I hear it, ‘Knit for Gauge’.
Other times, the pattern I may be following might have been designed by a very loose knitter and so I hear the lines of the record, ‘Knit for Gauge’. Needless to say, I nearly always knit for gauge. The times I do not? When I knit multiples and use the exact same yarn and needles for the exact same project, Christmas Hats, for example. There is no question about it, Knitting for Gauge Stitch can be a Life Saver to a knitter. Little had I known that there were times I should have been knitting for gauge in a specific manner.
So there I was, feeling not at all smug but rather, pleased, with myself as I knit for gauge in preparation of knitting for my Husband, a pair a boring grey socks. And yes, I am a dork as I enjoy following the rules, usually. I knit my 4×4 -inch block and found that I would be knitting these boring grey socks at 6 stitches per inch. In an effort to challenge myself, I decided to use the Middle-Eastern Cast On, didn’t go so well. So, used the Easy Toe, by Wendy Johnson.
I finished the toe and foot just as my husband walked in – great timing as a fitting was needed for my confidence. He complained that his toes were squished together. Impossible, I knit for gauge. He told me that I should try it on myself, so I did. It fit my foot perfectly. How was this possible? I packed the socks away and tried my best to not think about them.
About a week later, I opened my email and there was my Knitting Daily newsletter. Wouldn’t you know it?; the topic was all about gauge! After reading the article, I learned my BIG mistake. I had knit my gauge swatch flat, when I should have knit it in the round. This was one of those ‘rules’ that I always considered optional, I mean how much of a difference could knitting a swatch in the round make? Apparently, enough of a difference to make my husband’s sock too small.
When we knit a swatch flat, we are knitting on one side and purling on the other. Whereas, when we knit a swatch in the round, we are only knitting. ~ Duh, we all know this. Surprisingly though, our gauge changes when we switch back and forth, something I had read oh-so-long-ago but never believed it to apply to me. Why? I dunno. Well, after re-reading this bit of info, I knit another swatch – this time in the round – learning that the knit/purl tension difference was indeed the issue. Hallelujah! Boring Grey Socks are back on the TBK list ~ oh yea.