Sunday, March 13, 2011

Keeping You in Stitches - Volume 6

When Size Matters… 

If your knitting project is something flat, long, or square as are dish cloths, scarves, and afghans, or even a triangular shawl, you can choose your pattern, buy the yarn and needles called for in that pattern and get underway.  Nothing has to “fit.”

Perhaps you have seen the cartoons showing the sweater a granny lovingly knits for that little boy and it looks as if it is shrink-wrapped to his body.  Or the college co-ed who made the sweater for her guy and the wrists of the sleeves hang below his knees.  These knitters set themselves up for disappointment in two ways.  They failed to measure the person for whom the garment was intended and they skipped checking their gauge.

Pay attention to the gauge shown on your pattern.  We know.  You found this great pattern and bought the yarn and needles suggested and you are eager to get started.  STOP!  Take time to knit a small swatch (piece).  This step may be boring, but is necessary.  You will get an indication of how your personal knitting tension compares to what is given in your pattern.

How do you create this gauge swatch?  Cast on about 20 stitches and knit one row, purl one row (aka stockinette stitch) for a couple of inches, enough to get you rolling in your usual style.  Put the swatch out on a flat surface, lay a ruler on it and place straight pins in the vertical rows of stitches at the inch marks.  Then count the stitches across the inch.  Don’t fudge, no matter how bad you want it to work out in your favor.  If the pattern calls for 7 stitches to the inch and you have 6 ½, don’t say, “Close enough.”  Across 40 stitches this small discrepancy will make quite a difference.  Not enough stitches to the inch?  Try a smaller needle.  If, on the other hand, you had 8 stitches, then try a larger needle.  Re-knit your swatch and count again.

So, when size matters, check your gauge.  It is the ‘fitting’ thing to do.

“Tuesday Morning Hooks, Yarns, and Thinkers” 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. at the Moberly Public Library.  You all come.  No charges.

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