Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gauge, You and I have a problem

First of all Hello!  I have not posted in a week, and that is a bit long for me.  I took my youngest to Indiana to visit a friend this past weekend.  I ended up getting a horrid cold, you know the kind that makes you all shaky, and achy, and ready to feel very sorry for yourself.  I spent most of my time in the hotel room, a room that I really did not want to spend time in at all.  Not the nicest of rooms, we were trying to cut costs a bit, and well lets just say if we go back I won't be staying there again.  Due to this extended time in the room, I had the opportunity to get some work done on some projects, and I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try I can not get gauge. 

For you non-knitting, non-crocheting people out there ( you may want to bypass this post entirely) according to my American Heritage Dictionary, gauge is, "The fineness of knitted cloth as determined by the number of loops per 1 1/2 inch."  In more simple terms it is a form of measurement.  For knit or crochet it is often measured in stitches per inch, and you create a 4 inch square to determine how many stitches per inch and rows it takes to create that square. Too many stitches you have too small of a hook or needles, not enough and you have too big of a hook or needle.  It seems simple enough, does it not?  

Some people never check gauge, I do.  I want to make sure what I am making is somewhere in that ballpark of what is required in the pattern.  Gauge may not be as important for a pillow or a blanket, but for clothing it is essential.  So why is it so hard for me to achieve?    Take these latest projects.

 Another circle vest in the Vanna choice yarn I got for under $8.  The recommended hook size is a J.  Okay great, I took several hooks of various sizes with me just in case, see I was thinking ahead.  I created my 4 inch square by using 11 dc, it measured out perfectly width wise, still on the short end length wise just like my gray circle vest, but I can adapt to that.  I even double checked before I ripped out my test swatch.  I started my vest and went to town, crocheting away.  Now you would think I was a smart person after all my crochet issues, did I measure again while creating the back?  No way.  I was being a bit too smug I think because as I was ready to create the arm holes, I decided to measure and came up short.  Like 3 inches short, with the width of the garment, so my gauge was off again.  Grumble, grumble, grouch, grouch and a lot of rip, rip, ripping soon occurred.  I have moved to a K hook and have now started over, but boy did I lose a lot of time.

 Apparently crochet is not the only area I have an issue with gauge.  You see I know I am a tight knitter, so going up a needle size is no problem for me.  For the lovely Sawtelle sweater I made my swatch, getting perfect gauge on the recommended size 8 needles.  I measured again just to be sure and again ripped out my test swatch.  I cast on my required 150 stitches and started knitting the mind numbing, row after row of garter stitch.  I love the way garter stitch looks, it doesn't curl on the sides or bottom, so the end result is fantastic.  But the rows compact on themselves making you feel that all that knitting is getting you absolutely nowhere. Row, after 150 stitch row, and when you finally get the guts to measure the length, you seem to have made no progress at all.  So in my gauge smugness, once again I did not measure my work in progress.  That is until I was packing up to leave the aforementioned, disgusting hotel.  What is this?  I am knitting a sweater that is much wider than I thought!  Actually 3 inches wider.  If I had merged my two projects I would be almost perfect!  Let me just say there is no freaking way I am ripping this baby out.  A slightly bigger sweater is better than one that is too small.  I can adjust the needle size from here if needed.

So the moral of this pathetic, gauge story is no matter how hard I try I can not seem to get the required gauge for my projects.  Yes, I know I should keep measuring all along, checking this out so my projects actually worked out nicely, but then I would not have a post to write about today.

By the way Max says, "Hello."  He is sending his girlfriend Kim across the big pond, some healing, Golden Retriever love.


Petunia Pill said...

You and Gauge may NOT be able to have a relationship. Have you tried counseling? LOL Seriously frustrating! And even worse when you don't feel good and you're in a sub par hotel room! Yuck! Sick without your own creature comforts! Double yuck! Hope you're on the road to recovery now. And please give Max a hug for me!!! xo, Annette

Bridget said...

I have always had a hard time with gauge in my knitting projects, which is why I don't make many articles of clothing other than socks.

Max is so sweet. Please give him a hug from me.

Babajeza said...

I just went wrong with the gauge too. It's just not the same, a small square of 20 stitches, then counting and the finished item. I don't know why but there is a difference. Always.
How awful to be in a room you don't like when you are sick.

Monica said...

:))) Thank you sweet Max!
Love to you xoxo

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

I can never get gauge either!

It funny you knit tight, I crochet/knit loose...yeah, a loose hooker, who knew!

Hugs to Max and hang in there, your project is lovely.

Blessings always

Pradeepa said...

Gauging is definitely a big issue. I too crochet tightly. Hope you are feeing better now. Max looks great!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Ha! Before you even said it, I was thinking you could merge the two projects. :) I've never done anything where I had to measure gauge. I've never made anything wearable except scarves and a triangular shawl. And I never use the require hook size. H or I is my hooks of choice for anything and everything. Max looks like he is very sad about Kim -- I hope she will be all better soon. Hugs to you, Tammy

by Teresa said...

Gauge? Never done it.. I'm a hippie dippie crafter who just goes with it and hopes for the best. :-) Max and I would be very good friends as I'd always be in the pool next to him.. I'm SO sorry about the cold.. I avoid them like the plague! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Crystal Rose Cottage said...

Since I only do scarves and blankets so far I have not really had to deal with any gauge issues. I am starting a poncho though and since it is just one big rectangle I still don't have to...thankfully! Max is so cute waiting for the pool to kick on in the mornings! My niece is picking up a new Golden Retriever puppy this afternoon north of Tampa...I have seen her baby pictures and she is a cutie! I hear her new name is going to be "Bella". Good luck with that sweater and I hope your cold is feeling much better!~Hugs, Patti

quiltdoggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sentimentally Me said...

Yeppers, me too! I Have a love/hate relationship with gauge, but I don't make alot of garments, so I don't sweat it too much. Problem is, when I DO make a garment, I get myself all whacked out about the gosh darn gauge . . . . on and on it goes! :)

By the way, I searched and searched the Country Living Fair for a nice-swimmer-kid-that-looks-like-he's-from-Florida-attending OSU, but didn't see him. Guess he skipped the fair. . . .bummer! (wink!)

Kris said...

Hi Meredith! So sorry to hear you have been sick! My Mom has had a terrible cold too! Guess it is that time of year where we all share germs!
I don't know too much about gauge. I think whatever you make is fabulous!
XO Kris

mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

First of all HI MAX!!! And also Meredith thank you so much for your comments on my blog, they really mean a lot to me and your friendship❤
Gauges, not a fan of them. Luckily, I have a pretty normal and consistent tension, so it has not been a I may have just jinxed myself.
Love your projects.

minaandme said...

I haven't done anything with gauge yet. I'll admit I'm a bit intimidated by it! I didn't know you had to keep measuring as you went if your swatch went well. It's frustrating that you had to deal with the nuisance of it, but I have to say I'm glad to have learned something! Thanks for sharing and glad to know you're doing a little better.


kathy b said...


Sorry you are having some guage issues. I stick to things like socks and hats and I dont have to get gauge...

YOU'll get there friend!!!

Max is so soft looking

Mrs. Micawber said...

Yep. And yep. Same problem here - perhaps that's why I tend to avoid clothing projects.

How about making some top-down items that you can try on as you go?

And for your knitted project - you can always seam up the sides with a sewing machine and cut off the excess (if it works for steeking, why not this?).

Doris Chan has a post called "Confessions of a Lifter" which you might find interesting. The way you manipulate the yarn can have a huge effect on your row height. Have you tried consciously bringing your hook up perpendicular to the row, every time you pull up a loop? I've been working on learning to do this - as a tight crocheter my hook is kind of angled down towards the work all the time. But when I make the effort to bring the hook up a little higher, it opens up the stitches and makes a real difference to the drape and feel of the fabric.

Sorry for the long-winded comment! :)

There are some very nasty colds going around the Midwest these last few weeks. I hope you're feeling better.

Hindustanka said...

well, i am glad to read such post. I haven't tried to crochet clothing yet, but I already think I'd definitely have a gauge problem!I read somewhere that the patterns given by other designers are suiting their style of knitting/crocheting, so if you want to follow the pattern, you won't be able to fit into the exact same gauge...but then what to do? thanks for raising the gauge issue :) take care!!

Shari said...

I am not good with gauge either...I never ever get it right so I just stick to things that does not require gauges...I stay more sane that way! good luck, Shari

Suz Pinner said...

Hi sorry to hear about the cold but good it made you slow down sit still and catch up.
Gauge?...sometimes do sometime don't
but do agree it really can be important
Sorry it was a problem but glad you worked out the new format
Hugs x

Jennifer said...

I feel for you, I have abandoned projects before out of frustration with gauge :(

Hope you are feeling much better, and keep those sweet doggy pictures him!

Susanne said...

I don't check gauge and mainly because I rarely make clothing. The little sweater I made my grandson was a first in a long time, the doll sweaters were no big deal, and my blankets/afghans I could care less. If there needs to be more length I add rows, if it needs to be wider then I make more stitches. I might check gauge on hats but I won't worry too much. I can see how frustrating it would be for you because you wear what you make.
(((HUGS))) Susanne :)

Preeti said...

Yes, getting the right gauge is difficult! I have not tried crocheting anything for clothing so it does not matter much.

Grayseasailor said...

Meredith, I found your post and the comments about it very engaging :)
I too am in the camp of those who avoid swatching by not doing projects where gauge is an issue.
It occurs to me that this attitude I have may be affecting my ability to create posts that align the way I want but Blogger will not produce :)
Wishing you well and cosy in your home with Max and family! xx from Gracie

MaryMargaret said...

I hope you are on the road to recovery- a crummy hotel room is no place to feel sick!

This is exactly why I don't crochet things where gauge matters. I'm not consistent enough in my yarn tension to take on a project that has to be a certain size. I love the green/grey yarn combo for the sweater.

Dee said...

Must have been the week for crummy hotels. Kris from Kris Knits had one. One of the three we stayed in was yucky and then you too. UGH!

Sorry to hear about the gauge issues. I'm sure I'll find out all about that once I start knitting clothing instead of socks.

Crafty in the Med said...

Hello Meredith
Gauge can be a real pig dear and thats a fact. I crochet loose I know this so I make sure I have smaller size hooks at hand to change to them.
I do the following and it normally works for me. I first of all do a small sample of the pattern that I am going to use and make sure that sample is the size/gauge that is specified. I carry this with me all the time and at intervals check with this against my make if its the same if it isn't I get my smaller size hooks out to correct tension and get back into the gauge required. However patterns are your basic guideline in crochet you learn to adapt where you make a mistake and cover up. If you've crocheted the number of rows indicated and its too small just do a few more. Crochet is very versatile! I learnt long ago to accept I was a loose crocheter and had to adjust when need be.

Hope you are feeling better now :-)
Many thanks for your kind comments on my last post.

Amanda :-)

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Oh, the ever heart-meltingly gorgeous Max. Give him a smoochy hug from me Mere.

Guage in knitting can be hugely affected by the position you adopt, which affects the tension in your shoulders and by extension your yarn. People often come at gauge swatches in a less relaxed way than they do just settling down with their knitting. Might help to think about whether that's an issue for you :D