More about gauge

Last month, I had some thoughts about a post on gauge by Kate Davies. My general feeling is that even though some of us are accomplished knitters, we still like a hint of where to start on needle size. We must acknowledge that not everyone automatically knows how to get eight stitches to the inch in fingering weight, or 4-5 stitches to the inch in worsted. Perhaps I could figure that out if I thought about it, but it’s not automatic, I also know that humans are lazy.

For a new design I’m developing with Biscotte DK Pure, because I can’t be lazy, I started with the recommended needle size on the yarn label. Three swatches later, I have retained the smallest needle size as one of the two for my pattern, but I sized up twice to get the fabric feel from this yarn that I wanted.

This take-home message is important: although there may be a recommended needle size, and although you may always “get gauge,” the designer has figured out what the best fabric is for her design, and set the gauge there. I admit that I am notorious for going straight for the needle and casting on without swatching, but this is a strong reason to avoid my typical approach.

What I appreciated about Kate Davies’ post was her comment that in Milarrochy Heids, designers all used the same yarn, but not only had varying tension, they also created different fabrics.  If I were designing mittens, I would size down at least twice in the Biscotte yarn, because I want a tougher, more water- and windproof fabric. For a baby sweater, I want something more supple and welcoming, with some stretch to accommodate baby’s growth if you’re lucky enough to get more than one season out of the garment.

This is obviously the back side – the sweater is all but finished now, and I’ve gotten some nice compliments from the knitting guild, which has seen it in progress. More photos to come soon!

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