You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and in my case, the old dog? She is not so into the old tricks either.
Case in point: gauge. I’ve been knitting for a long time now. I see all these warnings everywhere: “Take time to save time!” “Knit a swatch!” “Measure your gauge” I don’t doubt that they are right. But as the buzz of Cast-On Hormones washes over me, I tell myself things like, “I always get gauge with my Number 5s–spot-on! No worries!” As I continue knitting up a big honking major piece of my new cardigan, I think, ‘Hey this gauge looks JUST FINE. I can totally tell that it is 21 stitches over 4 inches, just like Miss Louisa Harding wanted. It just has a good look to it. It’s a wonderful gauge I’m getting. Just great.’ Sometimes I even hum to myself (to the tune of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, if you must know) ‘Gauge, gauge, I’m getting gauge! The mean old gauge, the wicked gauge!’
Then, inevitably, I hit the wall. This happens right about the time when, say, the first front of the cardi is getting to the shoulder shaping. I look at it, and I look at me, and I think, well, maybe my gauge is a LITTLE off. Let me just….oh I don’t know…measure it? Count the stitches?
And I count the stitches, and there are 2 stitches less than there should be, over 4 inches. Which means that the sweater is going to be sloppy and big and the armholes are going to hit me at my waist and people are going to whisper behind my back, “There goes the BLANKET KNITTER.”
This happened with Ingrid, a cardi from Louisa Harding’s book Winter’s Muse Classics. In an effort to teach myself a lesson, I didn’t rip out the Bad, Bad Gauge front until I had knitted another front in the correct gauge. (Which as it turns out, required Size 3s instead of Size 5s. Who knew?)
Then I took a compare & contrast picture. On the right, the correct gauge is perky and toned and has a boyfriend named Ted. The gauge on the left has low self-esteem. It wishes it could crawl into a hole and read knitting blogs all day.
In terms of the finished size of the piece, see what a difference those 2 stitches make? (I’m talking to myself here. See, ya big dope?)
After deep contemplation of Gauge and Its Relation To Me, I ripped and re-knit the front, slogged through the back (couldn’t bear to leave it plain, I’ll show you later what I did), and now I’ve even finished the sleeves. Time to sew up!
It’s not going to fit, though. I think I knit the wrong size. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I hate measuring myself and scrutinizing those schematic drawings. I always say to myself, ‘Today I’m feeling like the second size from the largest size,’ or something like that, and then I cast on.
Those who ignore history are so totally doomed to repeat it, ya know?
But the Knit the Right Size Lesson is for the next cardi.