An important lesson in yarn types and gauge

And a new project! This weekend I cast on for my Fair Isle PANTS! A pattern I’ve been eyeing for ages…

fairislepantsemilyringelmanhkwinter15-6-800x533
(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.

2016-12-12_09-08-45

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.

2016-12-12_09-08-33

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.

SO.

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…

Advertisements

2 responses to “An important lesson in yarn types and gauge

  1. Oh yes, I know it all too well. I rarely knit to gauge and often substitute yarns, knitting until I get the gauge I think best suits the yarn. In the words of Brenda Dayne of Cast-On, “I never met a pattern I didn’t want to modify.” or something like that!

  2. I am terrible at gauge swatching. . . I’ve taken more things out because I refuse to do it, and yet, history repeats itself, again and again and again . . . the pants do look comfy, thought! I knit a pair from an Interweave edition years ago. I think the pattern called for Lion’s Brand. I swear I followed the pattern yet still ended up with one leg longer than the other. They ended up in the costume box and a roommate’s boyfriend claimed them despite their mauve color and mismatched legs (did I mention he was 6′ 3″ so they wore like cropped pants??).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s