• June 12, 2024

Knitting – Get gauge without knitting a gauge

Ok, I admit it, I’m lazy. Of course, that admission isn’t really a huge surprise to anyone who knows me. In fact, I recently read that most successful business owners are lazy: they are constantly trying to find new ways to reduce their workload! That fits me to a “T”. But unfortunately for my knitting, my lazy tendencies aren’t limited to work. Like many of you, I hate making gauge swatches… when I start a project I want to start real knitting. I want to leave! And, most of the time, even when I take the time to make a gauge swatch, my gauge changes once I start knitting (my tension usually loosens up as I progress). If this sounds like you, read on to find out what I’ve done to rectify the situation (and to ease my laziness):

As I’ve probably mentioned a thousand times, my favorite sweater patterns are from Knitting Pure and Simple. Since they are knitted top down, and on circular needles, I don’t need to sew the pieces last (again, lazy!). And it just so happens that raglan sleeves are some of my favorites. I love being able to take your basic patterns and change them up a bit – I can add cables, ribbing, shape the waist, and just about anything else you can think of. I guess it’s like buying clothes from a catalog. Once you know what size you are, and what fits you, it becomes a bit difficult to experiment with anything else.

That said, I normally start my KPS sweater with the pattern’s recommended needle size (we’ll use US 8 as an example). After weaving in about an inch, I measure my gauge. If my gauge is too tight, I know I need to use a larger needle (and a smaller needle if my gauge is too loose). So, I take my largest needle (for example, US 9) and knit a row with it. Then I knit a row again with the smaller US 8. Then I knit one row with 9, and then another with 8. By alternating needle sizes for a few rows, I found that you can’t see much of a difference in texture.

Then I knit for another inch using just the larger US 9 needle. After that inch, I measure the gauge again and compare it to the pattern. If my gauge is still too tight I’ll repeat the process above. Soon enough, I found a needle size that gives me the correct gauge. Also keep in mind that my gauge changes as I knit, so it’s critical that you check it every few inches and make any necessary adjustments.

Now this technique works for me only if I have a fairly close gauge to start with…you don’t want to start with a US 6 and end up getting a gauge with a US 11. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to see those changes in the finished garment.

I hope this article will be useful to you in the future; just remember, by employing techniques like this, you too can be a LAZY METER!

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