Why a 1/4 of an inch brought me to my knees

I’m world famous (in my little world anyway) about going on and on and on and on about the importance of doing a gauge swatch. I have learned the painful way that it is a necessary evil for three reasons:

  1. Unless you know someone in every potential size, if you don’t do a gauge swatch, chances are you will have to make new friends – someone to fit the disaster.
  2. You might hate the pattern stitch. Better to find out now than after you’ve cast on/crocheted 300 stitches and worked 4 inches of  that stitch from the devil ribbing.

  3. Even being 1/4″ off on the swatch has disastrous results.

Well, #3 bit me in the ass butt on the weekend. I dutifully did my swatch, but since I was fiddling around with a different yarn (which supposedly had the same gauge as the pattern called for), I was expecting some differences. I was exactly 1/4″ out, which was really only about the width of a stitch.

“How bad can that be” I muttered to myself. (can you hear the scary music that foreshadows bad things happening? Think cheesy horror flick). This bit of stupidity arrogance turned out to be the equivalent of going in the basement with a lit candle when there’s a lunatic escaped from the asylum…but I digress.

I am working on the Climbing Cables sweater from More Crocheted Aran Sweaters by Jane Snedden Peever (a great Canadian crochet designer)

Now the problem started when after a glass or two of adult beverages (just to beat the heat you know), I decided that although I was 1/4″ out on my gauge swatch that it would be ok.

So, I take another drink for strength (can’t hurt now can it?) and frog it. An entire afternoon of work.

Ok, so now let’s try again – smaller hook, same size – still too big. Smaller hook, smaller size – too small (sensing a tie into Goldilocks and the three bears yet?) The starting chain is fine, but after a few rows, it loosens up and starts growing again. I tried three times last night. The starting chain was correct, but by row 4 it had grown 2″ in width. I even tried doing the chain with a much larger hook – to no avail.

Not one who gives up easily, (ok I’m ridiculously stubborn), I was determined to force this sweater into submission. I ended up dropping to the extra small size (which normally would fit a Pygmy somewhere in Africa) and use the size hook they recommended. The tension isn’t exactly as they call for, but I’m pretty sure I can work with it. Failing that, I do know someone who will fit the finished product

Go figure – the worsted weight yarn had the same gauge as the one called for in the book. Errata? I don’t know. But for now, I’m starting over again. Sans adult beverages. At least until 2pm. The other thing I didn’t notice was that while the first three sizes had 4 stitches in difference, going from the Medium to the Large was 8 stitches – that was a big jump in sizing, that when you add my foibles in gauge, resulted in the Dolly Parton-esque sizing.

One of the things I tell new crocheters or knitters is that you can only learn so much out of a book. The rest you have to screw up yourself to learn how to fix it. The lesson I learned big time today?

Size Does Matter

(sorry couldn’t resist)