Friday, May 23, 2008

Gauge Update

Knock wood, but I think I have fixed my gauge issues. At least, I am currently getting 4.5 stitches per inch in worsted on 8s. That is a perfectly reasonable gauge! I am so impressed with myself.

It's been a bit of an ordeal, though. I'm a continental knitter, and after thinking about it and searching the internet for discussions of continental gauge issues, I realized that the problem was that I wasn't gripping the working yarn. Not only did that mean that my stitches were outrageously loose, but they were kind of uneven. I wasn't maintaining any tension at all. So the first thing I did to tighten up was to wrap the working yarn around my pinky twice, rather than once. That tightened me right up. It tightened my knitting up so much, sadly, that I could barely force the needle through each stitch. Knitting like that is deeply unpleasant, so I had to do some experimenting to figure out how to loosen it back up a bit.

I think I've found the solution. Here it is:

  1. I wrap the working yarn around my left pinky twice, but it has to be wrapped loosely. The idea here is that the yarn should slide smoothly when I want it to slide, but it should stay put when I want it to stay put.
  2. When I'm actually making a stitch, I press my left pinky against my left index finger, which prevents the yarn from moving. That makes sure the stitch is the right size.
  3. After I have slipped the stitch off the needle, I spread my fingers to pull more yarn onto my hand. As long as I spread my hand the same amount every time, that means that I have the same amount of working yarn on my hand every stitch and maintain even tension.
And that's it. I am currently knitting with acrylic and leftovers to make sure I've got my tension consistent. Once I'm confident I know what I'm doing, I'm going to frog my mom's socks and start again with my new and improved gauge.

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