I'm knitting a sweater.
A colorwork extravaganza of a sweater.
That's been taking up a lot of my brain's "bandwidth" for awhile now.
(And what do you do with gauge swatches? I use mine as "coasters". . . )
So. I'm knitting this sweater in this yarn. I ordered a kit from Susan B. Anderson because I loved the colors so much. Plus I'd always wanted to knit with some of her worsted weight yarn. (Lovely stuff, by the way -- nice, "sticky" wool perfect for more rustic sweaters; light and lofty and a delight to knit with.)
I started by knitting some swatches. First, let me say that I always knit gauge swatches when I knit a sweater. Always. I can't think of a time when I haven't. Usually, I find my gauge pretty easily. But sometimes? Not so much. And this was one of those times!
The gauge for this pattern is . . . 19 stitches per 4 inches with a size 7 needle. My gauge (before even trying it with colorwork but after blocking the swatch) was 17 stitches per 4 inches. Hmmmmm. That would indicate going down in needle size. But I already wasn't sold on the tension here -- it all just seemed . . . too dense from the get-go. And knitting a whole colorwork sweater on size 5 needles with this yarn just didn't seem . . . fun or comfortable.
So I went UP a needle to size 8. I know. Counterintuitive. But I wanted to see what the fabric would look like. And . . . guess what? My gauge was still . . . 17 stitches per 4 inches! But I did like the fabric better. I decided to go up another another needle size (9), y'know. Just to see. And. . . my gauge remained at a stubborn 17 stitches per 4 inches! Now, my row gauge was changing, but not drastically. And the fabric was much nicer with the bigger needles.
But . . . mind games.
And this is before even trying a colorwork swatch. (Which you know is a drag, but vital. Because . . . gauge gets even trickier once you start managing floats.) I'll save you the details about my swatching in the round with some colorwork. We'll just make a long story short and say . . . the gauge remained at 17 stitches per 4 inches. But I knew that once I had hundreds of stitches on a crowded needle for the yoke, that was apt to . . . change.
Given that gauge was completely eluding me, I knew I was going to have to turn to Math. So I got out my trusty pencil and paper - and a calculator - to figure out which size to make to get the size I wanted. (Complicated further - of course - because I actually wanted to build in more ease than the pattern calls for.) In the end, I cast on for the size I would normally knit for myself (with a size 8 needle) . . . hoping to get the next size larger in the end (to build in the ease I want).
A crap shoot? YES.
But I plunged in anyway.
Deciding to use the yoke as my "real" gauge swatch.
Once I got to the point where it was time to divide the stitches for the sleeves, I decided my "real" swatch was ready. I stuck the whole thing onto 2 needles, and blocked it (needles and all). And was completely flummoxed because that yoke swatch? The gauge is All Over The Place! Sometimes what I want. Sometimes what the pattern calls for. All. Over. The. Place.
Fu@&ing. Mind. Games.
(I tell you.)
Decision tree moment: Just let it go? OR . . . Decide to knit a little further and see how it fits after the sleeve separation?
I went with the latter. And got to the try-on point yesterday.
(Workout hair in it's shining glory!)
I think it's going to work?
There seems to be the ease I want.
And my gauge settled down once I separated for the sleeves -- back to 17 stitches per 4 inches, and is remaining consistent as I plow ahead.
But, oh my. This is just way more thinking and angsting about a sweater than I've gone through in a long time!
(Does this happen to anyone else????)
(Please tell me it does.)
As of this morning, I'm nearing the end of the colorwork on the body.
My next decision: Should I go ahead and do the colorwork on the sleeves before finishing the body?
So. What are YOU making?
(And I hope there are no mind games involved.)
Be sure to check out other Unraveled posts today over at Kat's.