A Quick Note About Gauge

How many times have I read how important it is to swatch for gauge when knitting a new pattern? Too many to count. But when starting a pattern I’ve already knit, it seems like an unnecessary step, and who really swatches for socks? For the most part, sock yarn is fairly stretchy and I seem to have an average size foot. Every sock I’ve knit fits more or less, some a little slouchy or a little long, but I’m not picky when my feet are warm.

I finished knitting this pair of socks last year. They are my favorite pair of socks by a long shot. The fit is snug without being tight, the plant-dyed wool yarn is a beautiful color and the pattern is deceptively simple. As soon as they were off the needles, I cast on another pair with a different yarn. Why spend time memorizing a pattern when this one is so perfect?

Because not every sock yarn is the same, that is why. Knit with the same size needles, these socks are so tight I can’t get them past my ankle. No matter of pulling, stretching and wiggling will work. Am I disappointed? Very. I love the color and the hand of this yarn, but there must be something in the fiber content (superwash merino/tencel by Tactile Fibers) which is not quite as elastic as the first yarn (100% merino).

Then there is the question of gauge. Most yarns are labeled fingering weight, but on both yarns the manufactuers offer a range from 7-9 sts/inch . When working on tiny needles, just a couple of extra stitches can make the difference between a pair of socks that fit, and a pair that don’t fit.


1 Response to “A Quick Note About Gauge”

  1. 1 Jennifer Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Solution: send them to me. In exchange, I will send you a skein of sock yarn. If they don’t fit me, I will pass them along to someone with feet smaller than mine (they’re 7.25″ around & a US7, so pretty small by adult woman standards).

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