A few years ago, my Grandma explained to me all about checking gauge before starting a knitting project. And despite this passed down knowledge about gauge, I never tried it. I just haven't attempted a project where the gauge really mattered to me.

It's freezing cold this winter and I want to knit myself a balaclava. I found a pattern at my skill level and set about to make it. The pattern suggested chunky yarn, so I picked up some chunky yarn. Turns out there are different sizes of chunky, and the pattern calls for "5" (bulky) and I got "6" (super bulky). I wasn't sure if the super bulky yarn would still work on the suggested needle size, so this was an opportunity for me to test the gauge.

First step was to knit a swatch. I didn't time it, but I think it took about an hour to knit. Spending an hour on something I'm going to rip out anyway seems tedious, but if it saves me making a whole project that I have to rip out (because it's too small or too big) it's totally worth it. I didn't cast off my swatch, as I will just pull out the knitting and re-use it for my actually project.


Next I watched this video about checking gauge.



Then I used the "Knit-Chek" tool I bought three years ago but never used. The pattern called for 4 stitches + 5 rows = 1 inch.

Here is how mine measured up:



So it looks like I met gauge, which means I could proceed with these needles and this yarn and my project should turn out the proper size.

The swatch was also helpful for me to get an idea of what the end project will look/feel like. And in this case, I think the yarn is too thick and the knitting is too tight for it to be a comfortable and breathable balaclava. I held the swatch over my nose and mouth, and I am able to breathe through it, but I think I would prefer a little more space between the stitches. So I am going to switch gears and use this yarn for slippers or slipper socks, as I think this yarn would be perfect for them. It feels really warm.

So my first try at testing gauge was a success. I got an idea of the finished project and that helped me decide whether to proceed or not. My balaclava project is on hold, but now I'm super excited to find a slipper pattern!


Posted by Jen B On Thursday, January 23, 2014 10 comments

10 comments:

  1. Gauge, gauge, gauge!!!! That's smart. I just crocheted a poncho, thinking I could just assume, guess at the proper fit. Wrong! I chained (in knitting it is called cast on) 140. After about 50 rows, it seemed way to long or big for me. Rip, rip, rip!*^%@!?$!! Started over. Chained 102. Now my white poncho fits perfectly. They ain't playing around when the tell you to gauge. Take it from someone who learned the hard way. I can't wait to see your creation. Are you going to post it? By the way, what is a balaclava? Perhaps I can crochet one. Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad the poncho fits perfectly now. I agree, they aren't kidding when they tell you to check gauge. A balaclava is a hat that covers the whole head, except the eyes. Sometimes called a ski mask or snowmobiler hat. I need something that will keep my face warm and scarfs aren't doing it. Soooo cold!

      Delete
    2. OK. Now I know what that is. What language is balaclava? Greek? My daughter likes those scarves called "donuts" - it's a scarf that you crochet the ends together to make a circle. Perhaps make one long enough and wrap around to go over the back of your head, neck and face.

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    3. I was looking at patterns for those, they look like a good idea.

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  2. I think this is why I don't knit or crochet clothing. I stink at making gauge! Haha! Have fun with your projects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. It is a bit of work to do it so I'm glad I hit it the first time. I wonder how many hours it would take me to try different needle sizes until the right one is found. I know it is worth it in the end, but it sounds like a lot of work!

      Delete
  3. These are fun things to do during winter. I'm working on a dog bed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right? And I find I'll rest more, if I have something like this to do.

      Do you have Amazon Prime? We just got it and I love it because I get to watch a good bit of cookery shows.

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    2. No Amazon Prime for us. I've been re-watching old shows while knitting this weekend (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and listening to audiobooks (Harry Potter). Love doing two things at once.

      Delete

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