Gauge Your Confidence, Take Control

Did you ever hear, “Oh, Yes!  I drive but I only make right turns!”  or “Sure, I have my license but do not drive on the thruway.” I see it in teaching.  Oh, Yes!  I teach this method, or I have always taught those units.  When I hear these things I ask myself, who is in control, the activity or the person?

There is a method of madness in knitting as there is a method of madness in anything. Often, the directions in knitting a garment are to cast on a certain number of stitches, begin at the bottom of the back, oftentimes with ribbing, and create the knitted fabric going in an upward direction.  Considered traditional, this direction of knitting can cause frustration, mostly because you don’t quite know how the sweater is going to fit until it is done.   And, you can imagine that disappointment when your dream sweater does NOT have that desired dream look.

Designers, in recent years, thought of a way to avert that frustration.  By writing patterns in reverse, having knitters cast on stitches and beginning at the neckline of the sweater, and working down, that knitter can actually try on the project and make fit adjustments along the way.

If you understand the basics of knitting, it doesn’t matter where you begin your project because it is really about gauge, or how many stitches you get to the inch.  Gauge is what dictates the finished size of any project.  Working up many 4 inch x 4 inch (10 cm x 10 cm) swatches (little squares of knitted fabric), counting the number of stitches you are getting per inch and per row, you learn that important ratio of your personal number of stitches to the inch.   With a little math, you can figure exactly how many stitches you need to get the number of inches you want.  You are then taking command of your project AND skill knowing exactly how large or small your finished knitted piece will be.

Every pattern always says:  TAKE TIME TO CHECK GAUGE.  So, I make sure I do that!  The more daring and experienced designers are creating edgy, stylish sweaters using shapes and piecing together those shapes to create fabric.   This technique puts a whole new spin on garments with wonderful, highly textured appeal.   These garments are often fascinating to look at, are exciting to make, and really captures the attention of others.  Knowing simply how to calculate gauge, a knitter can take on any and all projects whether the designer is suggesting knitting from bottom to top, top to bottom, or somewhere in the middle.

My collection of pieced projects (to date)

Knitted years ago for my mother-in-law, from Vogue Knitting Holiday Issue 1986 designed by Susan Duckworth this shows empire seaming in the front (and back) as well as color work and cabled pieces seamed to make the complete sleeve.

Designed by Norah Gaughan, in Vogue Knitting Winter 2006/07 hexagonal pieces make up the fabric, a few then extend into ribbing for the sleeves, and finishes with a cabled piece for the neckline that is sewn on at the end.

Also designed by Norah Gaughan,  and found in Berroco:  Norah Gaughan Vol. 3 I fell madly in love with this.  You begin with one goblet-like piece and then pick up stitches along one end of that goblet to form another and another.

and from Vladimir Teriokhin from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2006 , this lovely country-western has a corset that you first knit and then pick up stitches along one long side of the corset to form the ruffle, turn, and finally sew on the separately knitted top piece.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

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