Monday, August 20, 2007

Gauge (or Weird Inexplicable Math Phenomena)

A coworker of mine has asked me to teach her how to knit socks. I am thrilled with this request. I couldn't be happier. So, (because I can't possibly part with stuff from my own stash) I have bought her two skeins of microspun acryllic and a set of size 1 needles (for you people who are used to the Metric system, I think it's somewhere around 2 mm). But this means, of course, that I need to be making a set of socks at the same time. So, when I bought the microspun, I also bought two skeins of a cotton blend yarn that I could make in to socks for myself.

So I cast on the cotton and began my ribbing. All is going well. And after the inch and a half of ribbing, I begin my pattern. Then, after about three inches, I take a good look at what I've accomplished. And I realize that for some reason, even though I got gauge with this pattern (7.5 stitches/inch), this sock is not going to fit.

I decide to adjust my stitch count and needle size. I also decide to do something I've never done before -- knit the sock toe-up -- in an effort to get a better fit. I rip out my previous attempt (a thousand curses -- that pattern was beautiful), shrink the stitches from 60 to 56, go down a needle size, and begin a different pattern.

After about two inches, I realize that the bloomin' thing is still too big. I don't understand this. The gauge gods must be having a huge laugh at my expense. My ankle is 8 inches around. I'm knitting (now) at a gauge of 7 stitches to an inch. 56 stitches should be the perfect number. But it isn't.

So I rip it back (again), cursing the gauge gods as I go. At least at this point, I don't have to rip it back the whole way, just to where I started increasing for the toe, and try again at 48 stitches.

This time, it works. (Hallelujah!) I continue with my pattern up the foot to the heel. But here, another problem arises. I misjudge how much I need to knit before starting the heel (even though I'm basing everything on another sock) and start the heel way too early. As a result, I have to rip the stupid heel back twice before finally getting one that will fit me.

I am over the heel now and have begun working my way up the leg. And the sock is still fitting. *phew* Now that I have gotten the hang of this thing, I think perhaps I will knit all my socks starting with the toe ;)

But never for someone else. Never ever for someone other than me.

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