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A Lesson in Gauge (again!)

Sep 7, 2011

    
Sunshine socks from Sock Innovation by Cookie A
Kathleen's Sunshine sock
    
Seaweed Cardigan stitch detail
There's a stitch pattern that I've knitted several times. It's a wavy, lace and cable pattern that doesn't have a name that I know of, so let's just call it "wavy lace," okay?

The Seaweed Cardigan by Cecily Glowick MacDonald uses this pattern, and it was one of the Knitting Daily Knit-Alongs last year, and I knit a scarf using the wavy lace pattern, too. I really love how it looks, so I thought I'd do Cookie A.'s Sunshine sock pattern from Sock Innovation, which uses a very similar wavy lace pattern.

When I wear my Seaweed Cardigan it's really loose and stretchy, so I didn't think twice about knitting Sunshine with my preferred needles Addi Turbo size 2.5 mm 32-inch circulars and some really neat yarn, Berroco Sox Metallic. I did my gauge swatch and got gauge in stockinette stitch, which was 40 sts = 4 inches. Good to go, right?

Wrong, but I didn't know it until I was almost done with the sock. My gauge was WAY TOO TIGHT on the lace part of the sock. There's a gauge measurement for the lace pattern, but I skipped that swatch. Big mistake, because I can't get the sock over my instep.

Even after rather severe wet blocking, the sock is way too small. So, these beauties will be for my Gramma, who has size 5 feet.

The big question here is, When will I learn? If I had done my lace pattern gauge swatch, which would probably have taken about an hour max, I would have realized that I needed to go up a needle size for the leg portion of the sock. I probably could have gone all the way up to a size 3mm for the leg section, which would have made it nice and stretchy.

This makes sense to me now, although I was pretty shocked when I first tried to try on the socks, because the cable lace pattern is much tighter than stockinette stitch—ten more stitches, in fact, the 4-inch gauge for stockinette is 30 stitches and the 4-inch gauge for the wavy lace pattern is 40 stitches. Hence the smaller leg.

It could also have something to do with the yarn. It has a metallic content that might make it less stretchy than other yarns. I've used it before on a pair of fingerless mitts, though, and I had to go down a needle size, so go figure. I'll just have to make sure I get both gauges when I try this one again. I may still decide to go up a needle size on the leg, but at least I'll be starting off with the right needle size!

If you'd like to knit something in the wavy lace pattern, try the Seaweed Cardigan or the Sunshine socks from Sock Innovation. Both products are on sale now!

Cheers,


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Comments

SandyS@3 wrote
on Sep 9, 2011 12:45 PM

One of the lessons my favorite knitting teacher taught me was to keep measuring gauge even after you start knitting the garment. She always said to measure after you have knitted a few inches and then midway through the garment.  It was sage advice.

I've seen the 'wavy lace pattern' called Falling Water. I've knitted it several times also. I really like it.

elizaduckie wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 11:30 AM

I too had this experience with Berroco Sox Metallic...my socks will be given to my DD who has narrow feet and ankles. This yarn certainly behaves differently - it seems to have little to no 'give'. In this case I do wonder if the gauge swatch would have told the full tale. I also had an issue with it sliding up it's core every now and then. But what gorgeous colors it comes in.

The beginning of my stockinette sock pattern was supposed to be my gauge swatch and I thought it would work. I was knitting Totally Tubular Socks where you snip the tube apart into two and then add a toe and then snip further to add an afterthought type of heel. It was a bit of a shock to realize the size the tube looked as though it was is the size it is, as the yarn, and hence the sock, doesn't 'give' at all!

elizaduckie wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 11:30 AM

I too had this experience with Berroco Sox Metallic...my socks will be given to my DD who has narrow feet and ankles. This yarn certainly behaves differently - it seems to have little to no 'give'. In this case I do wonder if the gauge swatch would have told the full tale. I also had an issue with it sliding up it's core every now and then. But what gorgeous colors it comes in.

The beginning of my stockinette sock pattern was supposed to be my gauge swatch and I thought it would work. I was knitting Totally Tubular Socks where you snip the tube apart into two and then add a toe and then snip further to add an afterthought type of heel. It was a bit of a shock to realize the size the tube looked as though it was is the size it is, as the yarn, and hence the sock, doesn't 'give' at all!

marliegh wrote
on Sep 8, 2011 7:49 AM

Every time I knit a project and check gauge I have to go basically down at least 5 needle sizes, and this is using the exact same yarn. Is this normal? Can I fix this at all? I always check, but you would think one or two needle sizes would be adequate.

Anything you can comment on at all would be great to let me know! Thanks, Carla

Zoe wrote
on Sep 7, 2011 10:13 AM

Swatches are the bane of knitters everywhere but so essential to a proper fitting garment!!   I love my sock knitting, but have not done any lace in the socks or cables even.  I shall have to have a go at it one day!  meantime, I shall keep playing with my stripes in the socks.