Gauge is a PITA!!!

If you don’t know what that Internet acronym means, then you live under a rock. Gauge is most definitely not a lovely piece of Arabic flatbread that wraps everything up in a nice, warm hug.

BUT

It can definitely be a fickle creature, with its own whims. Damnit!!!

So what do you do when gauge betrays you?

  • You can use a bigger hook if your gauge is too tight
  • You can use a smaller hook if your gauge is too loose
  • You can use the same sized hook, BUT use one made in a different material: I tend to work more tightly, for example, with stainless steel Tunisian hooks than I do with wooden ones. I’m thinking this is because I can zip right on through my work due to the slipperiness of the hook. Carbonized bamboo moves pretty quickly for me, too, while my birch hooks tend to “grab” a little more, forcing me to slow down and my work ends up a bit loose.
  • You can use certain yarns to certain hooks. If I want speed, I’ll use a slick metal hook with bamboo yarn and whiz right through whatever I’m making. If I’m doing stranded colourwork, and I might have a nuclear meltdown if I drop stitches then I’ll use “sticky” yarn (not terribly smooth, with a lot of wool in it) and a wooden hook. If I use a plastic hook with an acrylic yarn then – and maybe this is just me – I can feel something “squidgey” (sorry, making words up as I go for descriptive purposes!!) when I form stitches. I don’t like the feeling and I find that it throws my stitching off, particularly with acrylic yarns that are meant to imitate wool, such as Unforgettable.
  • You can block the heck out of something when you’re done, and hope for the best.
  • You can have a glass of wine and decide that a crooked pair of slippers is right for you.
  • You can make your projects become airborne for a few moments, cry, then take them apart and start over.

Gauge is the big reason that I tend to start and finish my projects as quickly as possible. I find that the longer something takes, the greater an opportunity there is for gauge changes to completely wreck my best efforts.

Do you see the gauge change in this? It wasn't so obvious to me until I posted a previous blog entry and looked at it afterwards. The change in gauge is really obvious - the top few centimetres are really tight compared to the rest of the panel. Frogging this won't make me cry so much because it's just the beginning of a project.
Do you see the gauge change in this? It wasn’t so obvious to me until I posted a previous blog entry and looked at it afterwards. The change in gauge is really obvious – the top few centimetres are really tight compared to the rest of the panel. Frogging this won’t make me cry so much because it’s just the beginning of a project.

This is also true of large items, like blankets. Gauge can change as the item is worked because it gets so heavy that everything pulls. Suddenly  your most recent work is pulled so tightly that your stitches start to squeak.

This happened to me with this panel on my corset vest. I put it down for several weeks and then when I picked it up again, my gauge was sooo little that even though it hasn’t shrunk, it is obvious in the stitching. I have tried to fix it a little already, to no avail, so to the Frog Pond it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

Gauge can also be a PITA when you start something, like, say, a pair of socks, and your first sock comes out FAH-

Gah!!! No amount of blocking will fix the fact that the poor baby stuck wearing these booties will look like she should be a mad professor's foot dragging assistant.
Gah!!! No amount of blocking will fix the fact that the poor baby stuck wearing these booties will look like she should be a mad professor’s foot dragging assistant.

BYOO-LOUS because you’re relaxed and happy, and then Second Sock Syndrome sets in and you just want to get that %$*%$^%^ other sock done because you’re becoming disgusted with it all and OMG WHEN WILL THIS BE FINISHED?????

In the case of my first ever attempt at baby booties, the one on the right was the first one. I held my breath throughout the whole process, which resulted in a tight little bootie, but it has a nice shape. The next day I did the second one, in between clients at work. I was much more relaxed, because I did the first one, it worked, and all was well in the land. Then I put them together for a quick Instagram photo and….ummm…yeah. Unless this kid has one huge foot, I will have to make myself redo these.

In the case of socks, I would suggest (which I did not do) making like some knitters do, and putting them both on the same hook but using separate balls of yarn. This way they have the same gauge and will be the same size because they are made at the same time.

So how do you deal with gauge in your projects? Come to the facebook page and fill us in!!!

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