Monday, May 09, 2011

KAL03: Measuring gauge

So. We measure gauge. This involves a bit of math, nothing too horrific. I usually scratch it out on the back of an envelope or possibly a notebook, but a calculator is also a valid solution, if decimal points really scare you THAT much.

Lay out your gauge swatch. Stick a pin somewhere in the middle of it, between two stitches. Lay out a tape measure (centimeters or inches, doesn't matter; I'm running in inches just because that's where my brain is right now). Make sure the tape measure along the row, so that you are measuring across ONE row, not several. (That's my favorite mistake.) Stick the second pin in, one inch away from the first. DO NOT LOOK AT WHERE YOU PUT IT. Do not shift it a little to one side or the other to make it 'fit' or be neat.
This, incidentally, is 5.25 stitches per inch.

Things to remember:
-DO NOT LOOK WHERE YOU ARE PUTTING THE PIN, YOU WILL SHIFT IT AROUND TO MAKE IT NEAT.
-MAKE SURE TO MEASURE ACROSS ONE ROW, NOT TWO OR THREE.

Write down what you get, down to two decimal places. My measurement would be 5.25 inches. Measure three or four more times. Write down each stitch count you get. Once you've got AT LEAST THREE (but five is better) measurements, average them out. (Add them all together, then divide by the number of figures you have.) That is your UNWASHED STITCH COUNT.

Now go wash your swatch, however you intend to wash your sweater. For me this means a trip through the sink or washing machine, soaking in mild detergent, then a rinse, then a spin to get out the water. I let it dry flat, wherever it's convenient.

When the swatch is dry, measure it all again for the WASHED STITCH COUNT.

The washed stitch count is the figure you are going to use for everything, in terms of the EPS math.

The unwashed stitch count is for when the sweater is halfway done, and you look at it and say "OMG IT DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT". You can measure it right there, and know whether or not it will all work out in the blocking.

For simple, casual knits like the one we're doing, I often skip the unwashed stitch count - it's most useful for tailored knits, when you're trying to fit things precisely and a half an inch is a big freaking deal. But for now, well, you guys can use the practice, so I had you do it. But you can skip it if you really want.

6 comments:

Sada said...

I hope your posting this means you're feeling better! :)

I have a question about the "measuring gauge off of something previously knit from the same yarn" that you mentioned in the last post. I've read that dye color can effect the weight (and therefore yardage) of a yarn...is there a similar color-based difference in gauge?

Roxie said...

You are SO right about not looking where you put it. And it's also really important to knit a gauge swatch that's big enough not to need to be stretched flat. Aim for six square inches. Ten is better. And since we'll be knitting in the round, you might try knitting your swatch in the round.

Louiz said...

I'm using some yarn I have left over from something else and am intending to use the same size needles etc as I like the drape. I am assuming (following your earlier instructions) that I can pretend the back of the jacket is a swatch. It's been washed several times since I finished it. Only problem is it was knitted flat rather than in the round. Should I knit a swatch in the round, or can I fudge it, since it's been worn and washed...(and I know that my gauge on in the round and knit flat are damn near identical)?

tallgirl said...

Ok, I got 4.2sts in one inch unwashed, and 3.75 when washed. (I measure over 4" usually.) I make this something like a 5 inch difference in the finished garment! I could tell as I washed the swatch it was sagging like crazy. Maybe that's why the last jumper I knitted him enlarged massively when he wore it...
On the plus side, it means fewer stitches to cast on and knit!

DTS said...

Welcome back to the world of pain-free breathing!!! Am looking fwd to the KOL - but want to make a shawl collared pullover to match one I have as a model. With your help am hoping I can figure it out, as I haven't a pattern for such a neckline, tho Deborah Newton discusses it in her Design book. (Swatching's almost done - flat, not round, but believe/hope they're close to equal... )
DTS

Carol said...

Knit 6"X6" swatch in the round: done
Measure gauge: done, 6 spi averaged
Machine wash, dry flat: done
Measure gauge: 5 spi averaged

In an earlier post I left a comment that if you like I would start a Rav group for us. One advantage that I like with the Rav group is that we can post photos to show you our progress or our problems. Sometimes it is hard to explain what our problem is.

Take care and I hope your feeling better.
Carol