What is it with me and gauge?
I think gauge knows that historically, I have not shown proper knitterly respect for it. Once in a while it decides to teach me a lesson.
The Lesson Gets Taught
I was excited to work all those two-stitch cables without a cable needle. I was also excited for my maiden voyage with Nua Sport, in my favorite charcoal-y shade, August Storms.
Did I swatch? I did not. C’mon, it’s me here.
I know that I knit loosely, so I went down two needle sizes from the recommended US size 5.
I wanted my Trellis Top to fit me like an actual trellis, with a bit of room for air flow and layering, so I chose the fourth size. I was willing to take the chance of being an inch or two off in either direction. That’s a pretty standard Kay deviation.
I cast on for the back and started knitting.
The back starts with two repeats of the 8-row trellis cable stitch pattern. It’s easy and rhythmic, a lot of twist-right-knit-2-twist-left-cha-cha-cha. I love this kind of knitting. It just flies.
On my second time through the 8 row repeat, when I reached row 5, I realized that on my first pass through the repeat, I had mixed up my left twists and right twists in that row. Uh-oh.
Since this stitch pattern creates an embossed texture that is slightly blurred by the lovely haze of the yarn, and further shadowed by the dark color I’m knitting, I flirted for two seconds with the notion of ignoring the mistake and just carrying on. Then I thought, no. This is a recent and 100 percent correctible mistake. I can just start over. In fact, I’m going to call these two repeats a swatch, and check my gauge before I cast on again. When life gives you lemons, call it a swatch.
A wide, narrow swatch.
With an I’m A Knitter Who Swatches halo floating above my head, I washed and blocked my “swatch,” and waited for it to dry.
Then I measured.
It was bad, Ann. Even on size 3 needles, a piece that was supposed to measure 23 1/4 inches across measured 31 inches.
That’s 7¾ too many inches.
What To Do
I know that A Knitter Who Swatches would probably go down two further needle sizes and try to get closer to that golden 23¼ inches. (The ¼ is just there to mock me. If only I were getting close enough for ¼ of an inch to matter!)
But I don’t have any US size 1 needles in the house right now. And I wouldn’t be wildly enthusiastic about knitting this top on size 1 needles even if I had them. There is something scary about size 1 needles.
I’ve decided to embrace my natural gauge. I like the fabric just fine. It’s not too loose for my liking, and the cables show up nicely. So I’m going to be pulling the trick that I’ve been using as long as I’ve been aware of what a loose knitter I am: I’m going to knit a smaller size, at a bigger gauge, and get closer to the measurement I was shooting for, 23-24 inches, give or take a foot and a half.
Needless to say, don’t try this at home, kids.
Do as I don’t do: swatch.