Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On gauge, or making the pattern you want out of the yarn of your dreams

Just finished knitting Kara out of sport-weight yarn.  It's such a relaxing knit, with a straightforward lace repeat and one-piece construction. 
The pattern specifies a gauge of 22 sts wide and 32 rows = 4"on #6 U.S. needle.  I nailed it.

Gauge swatch, lightly blocked: 
Looks pretty much like the version Janet made.  Mine is one size larger than her store sample.

When it was over I kind of missed working on Kara so I've been playing with yarns for a summer-weight version.

OK, I could just find another sport-weight yarn.  But where's the challenge in that?  I went stash-diving and found some standard-weight worsted cotton (don't ask, it's so old the manufacturer stopped making it years ago) just to see what the lace pattern would look like in worsted.  Since it's heavier and I wanted it lacey, I tried a #8 needle.  See for yourself:
The swatch measures 4.75" wide (stitches) by 4.5" (rows).  After I did the math (want to know how?  Leave a comment), it turns out that using pattern instructions for Kara two sizes smaller would get me the same size as the sport-weight version. Bigger yarn (worsted) makes wider fabric, requiring fewer stitches and rows to create the same size.

Then I thought, hey, I'd really like a lightweight sweater.  Having made this out of Cozette (one of my favorite sweaters):
and therefore having some left over to use for a gauge swatch:
Cozette is fingering weight.  Tried it on a #6 needle but didn't like the fabric so tried again on a #5 needle.  Success!  Unlike the sport-weight version, I blocked this lace tightly, opening all the yarnover holes wide.  And guess what?  Gauge swatch measures 4" by 4".  We have a winner!

The moral of this story is that with a bit of patience you can match pattern and yarn.
And that you can make Kara out of fingering or sport or worsted.

Want to know about substituting yarn? 
Take this class at String Theory: 
Substituting Yarn
Unravel the mystery of which yarns work for which projects. I explain the connection between gauge, fiber, needle size and your tension, and how to make the combination work for you, using our yarn as examples.
Learn to: select the perfect yarn no matter what the pattern calls for, make a proper swatch
Materials: pencil and paper
Cost: $25
Sunday Afternoon 4:00 – 6:00 Feb 16

Want me to help you make Kara in the yarn of your dreams? 
Take this class at String Theory:
Learn: if you’ve never knitted a lace pattern, this one’s a  perfect place to begin.  The pattern is a straightforward repeat. I'll insist that you learn to read charts because it really is easier once you get the hang of it.  Also learn cable cast-on and seaming lace.
Materials: yarn — model used sport-weight Cody, 32″ circular needle in size U.S. 6 or what you need to get gauge, 32″ in one size smaller for ribbing, tapestry needle, lots of stitch markers, row counter.
Please buy your pattern on Ravelry and bring copy to your first class.
Cost: $60(materials not included)
Wednesday Evenings 7:00 – 8:30 Mar 5, Mar 12, Apr 2, Apr 23


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