Sunday, January 27, 2008

Swatch Me Knit

So, I know I said I didn't need to swatch for the CPH because I've worked with Malabrigo before and have a whole sweater to use as a gauge swatch. But I kind of got to thinking, it's not a great idea to tease the Knitting Goddess like that. So even though we all know that math lies and gauge is a myth and swatches don't bear any relationship to reality...I knitted a swatch.

And to my complete surprise--although why I should be surprised by anything that happens while swatching is beyond me--instead of the 19 stitches and 22 rows to 4 inches that I got consistently with size 8 needles over the course of an entire long sweater coat, I got exactly the 17 stitches and 24 rows to 4 inches on size 8 needles called for by the CPH pattern.

I checked it three times. And then, because I am savvy to the ways of the swatch, and it occurred to me that this could be due to a variation in the thickness of that particular section of yarn, or an unconsciously more relaxed tension due to wishful thinking on my part, or the alignment of the planets...

I swatched again with a second ball.

And I got 17 stitches and 24 rows to 4 inches. Again. At this point, I am pretty much certain that this is a setup. This is not reality. This is the Knitting Goddess snickering behind her hands, because there is just no way I could have enough yarn (Malabrigo--on sale) of exactly the gauge called for to knit exactly the sweater I want to do at exactly the time I want to do it.

Then again, maybe it's these:

Have you seen these? These are amazing. Beautiful. Perfect. These are the new Knit Picks Options wood needles. See all the pretty colors? They're much prettier in person. If you already have the Options nickel-plated needles, these work with the same cables. They are grabbier than the nickel-plated needles, but not as grabby as bamboo needles--or at least not as grabby as the 20-year-old bamboo needles I've had since college (oh.my.god.--was I really in college 20 years ago?! Excuse me for just a moment; I'm having a small personal crisis requiring a little deep breathing intervention. Stand by.)

Okay. Uh...needles. Right. These are grabbier than the nickel plated needles, which I love and would ordinarily use for this sort of sticky wool, but...these are new. And colorful. And this is my first chance to use them. So I am. And this could be responsible for the gauge difference, because the wool isn't sliding as easily and I have to tension a little looser to keep it moving. That is the logical explanation.

I prefer to believe that it is simply because the needles are so darned beautiful. You know how beautiful people always seem to have the best luck and are the most popular and successful? (Not that I would know from personal experience; let me know when they start handing out the goodies for being a gawky nerd.) I think the sheer beauty of these needles is casting a little knitting magic over this project and I am experiencing a minor miracle.

Either that, or it's the Knitting Goddess, setting me up for a big fall.

16 comments:

stitchywitch said...

It could be the needles. I've also noticed that sometimes different colors (or even different dyelots) of Malabrigo are totally different gauges, so you probably can't trust your sweater as a swatch. I like the harmony needles too, aren't they pretty?

punkin said...

Gasp! It has been 22 years since I was in college. How did that happen?

Gail said...

That's great! I hope you are getting the correct gauge. I'm sending you gauge vibes. Just a word of caution, I've been known to get gauge at the swatch level only to have a sweater that would fit a football player. I love those needles too btw. I'm knitting with them on my current WIP:)

sophanne said...

Somehow little red riding hood is in my mind or maybe it's the Wizard of Oz. "All the better to swatch you with my pretty." and Icarus?

Angelika said...

Good for you. I'm glad it's working out so great for you. And welcome to the Harmony lovers. I have a set and they are great. I love the colors too and am using them for lace too. They are very pointy. Be careful with thicker yarn, I ended up splitting cotton all the time.

Kristin said...

I am been thinking about those pretty needles for months. I got the metal dpn's for xmas. I HATE, HATE, HATE wooden needles so I didn't want to chance it. But they are so pretty....

Kim said...

Beautiful beautiful needles! I swatched with some Malabrigo worsted on #8 over the weekend and got 18 st per 4 inches. I've been out of college for 21 years!

Tammy said...

Different needles = different gauge. I've noticed that too.

I have one skein of that VAA Malabrigo btw, so you know who to ask if you run short.

Now I must, must go educate my young'ns. Hmmm... 11:00 already. It must be Monday.

Happy knitting!

Viktoria said...

Ohhh! I love those needles! I got a few for christmas and I am really enjoying using them...
p.s. trust the swatch

The_Add_Knitter said...

Thanks for the needles recommendation, I've been really curious about them...

kmkat said...

I treated myself to one set of Harmony points to go with my Options set. They are sooooo beautiful. If one could be sure it wouldn't fall out, a Harmony tip would make a lovely shawl pin or hair ornament.

Yarn, even machine-spun yarn, can vary within itself and between skeins. I've had Cascade 220 that gave different gauge with different colors. Go figger.

yarndork said...

I think the Yarn Harlot referenced something like this once. That when you learn to knit, you shouldn't practice on the crappy yarn and save the "good" yarn for when you're "better". I think that however good you are, you are somehow volumes (sp?) better when you use really great needles or yarn. I bet if you used some other yarn and needles, you'd be back to your old gauge in not time. They are pretty though...

Haley said...

i haven't hit the gauge i wanted to in forever. so excited for you that this is all working out the way you want it to. and the needles do look lovely!

monica said...

I have not tried the Harmony circs. but I do love the dpn. I think I may have to replace all my gazillion Crystal Palace needles with them. And they are beautiful too.

punkin said...

I agree with you, it is because the needles are so beautiful that they give perfect gauge.

Thank you for your comment on my son's pullover. The whole time I am steeking I am repeating in my head "I wish I knew what I was doing" over and over.

Karen said...

I haven't met a swatch yet that told me the truth.