Saturday, June 25, 2011

What do you mean it's not the same?

When I last wrote about my Making Waves cardigan, I was finished the body and waiting for my new Harmony dpns in the right size to start the sleeves. The needles arrived in good time...and then sat around waiting to be opened. (Troy almost couldn't stand seeing that unopened package day after day, but I knew what was in it and wasn't ready to tackle the sleeves yet.)

When I was ready, I moved the stitches from the waste yarn to the new needles and started stitching. The needles didn't feel right though; they felt too fat. I measured them in my needle gauge to check them against the needles I had been using for the body, and they matched. So I soldiered on. After about 3 inches, I couldn't ignore it anymore.

I got out my gauge ruler and measured about 7 sts/in on the top portion of the sleeve and only about 5 sts/in on the new portion. Gah!! That was not going to work. So I ripped back to the beginning of the sleeve and conservatively chose to work with one size smaller needle. Of course, that was one I already had and this meant I hadn't needed to buy a new set!

After only about an inch with that size, I could see that I was still getting too loose a gauge. So I went down another size. This one was "just right" as Goldilocks says and I marched on down that sleeve like nobody's business:
Things are quicker when it's only a 3/4 length sleeve! Here is a view of the ruching at the cuff:
I'm not sure it has enough gathers so I may try adding even more stitches for the front trim. We'll see.

I did cast off "firmly" as instructed by the pattern, but it was too tight to sit comfortably on my arm. I undid and tried again, and I think I found a good balance. The designer made the point that if you cast off too loosely, the ruching isn't drawn in on the outside edge and you get something more like a ruffle. (Could be nice, but not what we're going for here.)

After the first sleeve was done, I let the poor project languish around for a few more days. I finally got started on the second sleeve on Wednesday. I was so happy to have all the figuring of the needle size behind me so I could just knit and knit without thinking. I got between 1 to 2 inches done:
Can you make out the problem?
Ya, for some reason the gauge is way too small.
Can you see how it pulls in about an inch below the needles?

I don't ever have trouble with my tension. It's smooth and even. (That's assuming I'm throwing like I'm used to. If I'm picking, all bets are off!) I have never measured a difference between my tension knitting back and forth or knitting in the round. Usually I can just pick up the needles recommended by the pattern and go.

And now I can't even get the same result doing the same thing twice. Frustrating. I have read that your tension can change from the beginning of a garment to the end if it is a complicated stitch pattern because as you get used to it, you are able to do it more handily. (Knitting a large swatch will ameliorate this.) But this is bloody stocking stitch!!

Nothing to do right now but take it out and try the larger needles (after I moan and groan a little here, of course). I'm jumping up two sizes to the new ones I bought, however. It would be nice to be able to put them to use.

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