Gauge, Knitting, Marl, Pullover, Swatching

Do as I Say…

I’ve heard it said that being an experienced knitter doesn’t mean that you stop making mistakes – you just make bigger mistakes…faster. This week I made a whopper. I made the mistake that ate Manhattan. The culpas are all mea, dear knitters.

As you may recall, last week I said I was going to knit the Shifty pullover. Remember? I showed you the first few rows.

You’ll be proud of me. I was completely monogamous, straying not, fully focused on rocking this groovy, warm squishy pullover in record time. By yesterday, I had made good progress. Then…

…soooo, you know how I’m forever going on and on about the importance of swatching, blocking, and checking your gauge before starting a project? Almost every post, yeah? Every chance I can get, because I really really really believe that it’s super duper important? Yeah, well, it seems I sorta, kinda…forgot. Actually, I didn’t entirely forget, because I knew I had knit this swatch back in November:

And, of course, the fact that I had gone to the trouble of knitting a swatch, and didn’t make any notes on the pattern, must mean that I had checked the gauge and was good to go. Right?

Um, I guess not. I guess I assumed. In fact, I assumed all the way through the final set of yoke increases, bringing me to a mere 504 stitches around. As each round was taking a good 20 minutes to complete, there was lots of opportunity for it to occur to me that it was looking like a lot of fabric. Like, a LOT of fabric. But it’s kinda hard to tell in the round how much is there, especially when it’s all scrunched up on the cord. So, I grabbed a tape measure and started working my way around the work just below the cord. Pretty soon – too soon – like, about half way around – I ran out of tape measure. Uh oh. Wait, wait, though, I was at the point where the yoke goes around the shoulders and arms, so it should be quite wide, and so maybe it’s okay, but…

…this. This wasn’t right. Finally, I got up the nerve to put half the stitches on a second needle and pull it over my head. “Oh, crap,” I said into the powder room mirror. It was easily 50% bigger than it should be. Oh, crap, indeed. I pulled it off my head, plopped back down on the couch, and stared at it. “Hmmm,” I thunk, as I smooshed out a flat area and measured the gauge. The pattern is knit in sport weight. I have been using two strands of light fingering held together. I’m supposed to have 30.5 stitches to 4″, and…

I have 22 stitches to 4″.


After a brief moment of pretty harsh self deprecation, my brain immediately launched into how-do-I-make-this-work mode. Sadly, no matter what plan of attack I had in mind, it means frogging the dang thing all…the…way…back and starting over. There’s simply no way around it. And really, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the only real fix is to rework the whole pattern in a different gauge. I’m already knitting on 3.5 mm needles and getting 5.5 stitches per inch. Going down enough sizes to get to 7.6 stitches per inch might get me to pattern gauge, but would also result in a fabric dense enough to form a black hole, so that’s a hard NO. This Shifty is going on the back back burner until the season turns warm, then back to chill again. Perhaps by then the solution will present itself and Re-Shifty can be born again.

So, dear knitters, the moral of the story is do as I say, and not, well, you know the rest. There are lots of other projects in the basket, n’est-ce pas?

Knit well (and check your gauge!). You got this.


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