And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
-The Shortest Day, Susan Cooper
And a new project! This weekend I cast on for my Fair Isle PANTS! A pattern I’ve been eyeing for ages…
(Photo © Holla Knits)
The pattern calls for Knitpicks Swish Worsted. A worsted weight yarn sold in put-ups of 110yds per 50gm. I’ve worked with Swish (I even have some leftovers in my stash.) It’s a lovely, soft superwash yarn. And I totally see the sense in making leggings out of superwash yarn.
But I’m not always the most sensible knitter. Also, I decided THIS was the project I’d be shopping for at Rhinebeck. You may remember I picked up a sweater quantity’s of Harrisville WATERshed. Check out the details, watershed is also worsted weight, also put up in hanks of 110yds per 50gm. I felt brilliant. I spent a lot of time comparing colors in person in their booth, and picked four colors I absolutely love and was sure would play well together.
Yesterday I did my usual (foolish) first step and skipped the gauge swatch so I could just cast on already! Nevermind that these leggings are knit top-down and the first step is to cast on 172 stitches.
I worked most of the waistband while ignoring that silly little voice that said something looked too big. When I finally got out my measuring tape I was getting a very obvious 18sts to 4 inches on the SMALLER needle size. The important note here is that the pattern gauge is 22sts per 4 inches on the *larger* needle size. How could my gauge be so far off? Let’s look at both yarns side-by-side.
Well there’s your problem, right there. Swish is a worsted-spun, smooth, machine washable merino worsted weight. It prefers to knit up densely. Watershed is a woolen-spun, airy, nubby, hand-wash wool. If I’d taken two seconds to look at the yarn label on Watershed I’d have noticed the recommended gauge is 4.5sts/in on 6-8 needles. AKA exactly the gauge I’m getting on the needles called for by the pattern.
Tonight I guess I’ll knit an actual gauge swatch. I need to check my row gauge carefully because apparently I’m gonna be doing some math to figure out which size of this pattern I really should knit. My other option would be to go down a couple needle sizes and try to get gauge with Watershed, but I think that’ll compress the airy, soft nature of the yarn in a way I just can’t accept.
This. This is why I never end up following patterns as written…