Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gauge Bitch

Ok.. let me “toot my own horn” for a moment here. At work, there are several people who have learned to knit because of my knitting. For three years now, I have taught the basic stitches, casting on, binding off, and preached about gauge. There are two co-workers who regularly come to me for help with their projects. They are newbies!

They are as different as kool-aid and vinegar. One will follow the pattern to the letter and stress about what might happen if there is one extra stitch in a row. The other throws caution to the wind and goes away from a pattern to make her own sleeve design (which was too tight) add turtle necks (which ended up as a mock because she ran out of yarn) and DOESN’T PAY ATTENTION TO GAUGE! She also never comes to me until she has a problem, and then doesn’t want to redo anything , but expects me to magically fix any problem with the wave of my magic knitting needle.

The first sweater that she made was for her daughter. It ended up so big that she can’t even fit into it herself. “Gauge,” I told her. “You were off from the very beginning, remember? That’s why the sweater is so big.”

She didn’t believe me and basically said, “Gauge, schmauge.”

Now she is making a beautiful sweater for her niece. She has completed the front and the back, and NOW is a little bit worried that it is too big. But she won’t do it over.

She showed it to me, and I’m so proud of her progress. Her ribbing is nice, and her stitches are more consistent. The neck edge is smoother and she has followed the directions. Except for gauge. She knew that I would scold her for not checking it. She told me that she had checked it herself, but who cares if there is one extra stitch per inch. No big deal, right?

Wrong. This little two-year old girl will be able to fit into this sweater until she is about 10. “That’s good wearing,” I told her. “You are really getting a bang for your buck!”

“But why does this always happen with my gauge? I don’t get why gauge is so important,” she said.
“Because one extra stitch per inch gives you a couple extra inches when you knit across a sweater,” I said calmly for the hundredth time.

For the first time, she asked me what she could do to fix the gauge when it is wrong, and I explained the confusing concept of using smaller needles to get more stitches. Admit it, it does seem to defy the laws of numbers. She nodded, said, “Ahh, I get it,” and I was satistifed with converting her to the world of “getting gauge”.

Then she asked me why her knitting was never on gauge to begin with. I told her that she must be a loose knitter. Her knitting must be looser than the person who made the pattern.

“That bitch!” was her reply.