You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: Welcome to YarnCraft. It’s Episode 73 on August 17th, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. This is Zontee.
Liz: And I’m Liz, and we’re the hosts of YarnCraft.
Zontee: Stop by our website, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com for more information on the patterns and the products we talk about on today’s episode. You can also leave your comments there or give us a call and leave a voicemail at 774‑452‑YARN. That’s 9276. We always love sharing your stories, questions, and comments on the show. And it’s been a little while since we’ve gotten a phone call, so don’t forget to call in.
Liz: As usual, we’re here at the Lion Brands Design Center in New York City, and on today’s episode we’ve taken the suggestion from a listener‑quick shot out to Alane, always great with the suggestions, Alane. And we’re going around the offices here at Lion Brand to ask, what are people’s favorite projects and why.
Zontee: And on today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we answer some common listener questions about gauge and yarn substitution.
Liz: Stay tuned for all that and more next on YarnCraft. [music]
Zontee: Since today’s episode is really about all that we like to make and why, we thought that instead of doing our regular “Hooks and needles,” we’d just talk a little bit about the kinds of products that Liz and I really enjoy making, the reasons behind that, and any tips that we have about that sort of stuff.
Liz: I’ll go first. Everyone knows I love making socks, and why I probably talk about it a little less because I get too distracted by exciting, new projects to finish is I love experimenting with different sweater construction technique. And what I think both of those have in common is I like seeing how knitting creates a fabric of three dimensions in a way that’s totally different from cut and sew woven fabric together. Socks, you’re making this one continuous piece of fabric, but it fits around the foot which is this weird and specific shape. And with sweaters you’re making one seamless thing that, again, fits around you in a very specific way. And I’m fascinated by how many different ways there are to do both of those.
Zontee: It thinks that’s really true. There are some really amazing constructions. What’s so cool about knit and crochet because you can really form something all in one piece or in kind of sections, you have sweaters that are top down, bottom up. You can work from one sleeve across to the other sleeve, from the back bottom edge all the way around your shoulders and over. There’s so many different ways of building something, and each of those gives you different shapes and the opportunities to build in different shapes. It’s one of the reasons that I was very excited to see that.
And if you guys are fans of Project Runway, you’ll appreciate this because I’m a big fan. I was watching the most recent season, and one of the designers is a machine knitter who really explores that construction of how knit fabrics can be put together. His thinking is so totally different than the cut and sew designers. So, I thought, wow, that’s very cool.
Liz: How about you, Zontee? What are your favorites?
Zontee: You know, I really like experimenting with shapes as well, but for me I always talk about how I don’t necessarily go off of patterns a lot. And that’s really because I like to take the challenge of a physical shape and figure out how I can make it happen. I like to think, and I’m a very three dimensional thinker, so I often imagine these pieces kind of in my head and how to create them. For instance, I like to make toys for my friends, and, you know, in crochet you’ll see that with a lot of them you start with a circle.
You build a spiral and to build a crochet circle, all you do is increase six stitches every round, and that gives you a flat circle, right? You go out to the diameter that you want, and then you start just crocheting single crochets all the way around, and you’ve created a tube. But by kind of floofing out that bottom, you actually create kind of a spherical bottom to that shape, and then that shape could be anything.
So, you can cinch it in and make a neck for it. You can bulb it back out and give it a big head. There’s so many different ways to make those shapes happen, and I like to think through the three dimensionality of it.
And I take that same approach to sweater-making as well. My first sweater was patternless, and I thought about it as a tube. If I started the bottom of a tube and I’m going around, where does it cinch in? Where does it come back out?
And for me, I like to draw schematics so that I know mathematically where those things need to happen, but I don’t necessarily need a pattern for it because I’m thinking about it in the three dimensions at all times and figuring out how I can make those things happen.
And I think it’s a very cool way to approach yarn crafting too because it’s a little freeing. And honestly, when you go back to patterns or as you’re working with patterns, I find that it helps me to think about where I can make changes and how they can happen.
The other thing that I like to think about is what you can do with flat shapes. We’ve talked a little bit about all the amazing things you can make with rectangles, but I think about how you can fold and manipulate shapes and turn them into something different because fabric that’s knit and crocheted isn’t like paper; it’s not crunchy.
You don’t have to be worried about the fact that you’re going to crinkle it up and then it won’t go back to the way it was before. It’s really manipulatible. There’s this pattern on Ravelry that’s a bunny rabbit that’s made out of a rectangle and folded.
Liz: Yes, very popular. It’s a very classic pattern.
Zontee: Exactly. And it’s that kind of idea, how can you manipulate this thing. I saw this amazing, really simple pattern in Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick. Again, it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I’ll try to link into it, but I can’t think of the name off the top of my head where it’s one rectangle of garter stitch Wool‑Ease Thick & Quick that she’s just offset the seams before sewing it up.
Liz: I believe you’re referring to the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb Cowl.
Zontee: That is correct! That is the name of it. And I thought to myself, what a brilliant but very simple construction that gives you a really unique look but is so simple to make. And I think that that’s something that really interests me. How do you take a really simple thing and turn it into something special by kind of manipulating it slightly? Setting it off kilter gives it that flair.
We’ve also talked in a previous episode about our experience with designer, Annie Adams, who does all these shawl pins and things where she takes a rectangle, folds it down to give it a collar, and then pins it. It looks really sophisticated, and all you have is a knit or crocheted rectangle around our shoulders. So, there’s something very cool about that.
Liz: Yes. It think that’s one of the most exciting things about yarn crafting is that the possibilities are really quite endless, and if you’re like me and you never like doing the same thing twice, there’s always so many new ways to try to create what your angle is.
Zontee: Very true. Now that we’ve talked about our own interests in the yarn crafting sphere, we’re going to take you on a little walk around our office, introduce you to some of the different people who work here, and find out what they have in their repertoire that they really love. [music]
Liz: This is Liz. I’m also here with Liz Hobin.
Liz H: Hi.
Liz: So, Liz, what do you do here at Lion Brand?
Liz H: I am the personal assistant to the CEO, Mr. David Blumenthal.
Liz: Hopefully, our listeners will remember David from our very first episode. He has been called the “Tony Soprano of yarn.” Just check out episode one if you don’t know what we’re talking about. So, Liz, do you knit or crochet or both?
Liz H: I know how to do both, but I’m more of a knitter.
Liz: And what is your favorite type of project to knit and why?
Liz H: I would have to say my favorite projects to make are for babies. I just love making things for babies because the parents really appreciate them. And they know that in 10 years time or 20 years time it’s something that the person, the child, the young adult can look back on and just… It’s just something special. Somebody hand made them something and I really love knitting things for children.
Liz: Do you like to do blankets or sweaters or hats or just everything baby?
Liz H: Everything baby. Probably my favorite thing to do is I love making baby blankets, and then once I find out the name of the baby, I like to embroider their name in the corner of the blanket. I think that’s a nice touch to it.
Liz: Wow, a great tip for our listeners. And then, our listeners want to know… They’re always excited to get tips from the pros, so what’s your favorite yarn crafting tip?
Liz H: Probably my favorite yarncraft-related tip would be just really experiment with different yarn colors and textures. And I always feel like yarn blending is such a cool idea just to make things different or new or just to change up your normal one strand, experiment with different colors or textures. Right now, I’m using our Sock‑Ease combined with Recycled Cotton, and it actually makes a really beautiful combination just the different colors.
Liz: That’s a great tip. And for those of you who may be wondering, what exactly is yarn blending, you’ll want to check our September catalog coming out in just a couple weeks.
Zontee: Now Liz and I have headed over into the Marketing Department, and we’re standing here with Jess Hicks who is, if you are on our Twitter account or on Facebook, our lovely correspondent who hangs out and chats with all those great people. And Liz is playing with Archibald who is Jess’s crochet octopus.
Liz: I believe he’s a Socktopus.
Zontee: He is a Socktopus because he’s wearing some little Sock‑Ease socks.
Liz: Four Sock‑Ease socks.
Zontee: Four Sock‑Ease socks. That’s right.
Liz: Going al fresco in the back. [laughter]
Zontee: So, Jess, we want to know what is your favorite kind of product to make and why.
Jess: Surprisingly, my favorite project is socks, as the Socktopus may indicate. I’m currently working on a pair in the Snow Cone shade. And then, after I’m finished with them–I’m just doing basic socks–I’m going to duplicate stitch a Batman logo over top of that with the Marshmallow Sock‑Ease that I dyed a yellow color with Kool‑Aid.
Zontee: And if you’re interested in how she dyed it, you can see a blog post by Jess on our official blog the Lion Brand Notebook at Blog.LionBrand.com.
Liz: So I know you did a great blog post on Kool‑Aid dying. What other tips do you have for yarn craft listeners?
Jess: That’s a good question. I think that in your knitting or crocheting bag it’s always helpful to have little doodads in case you make a mistake. So I always keep a crochet hook with me in case I drop some stitches while knitting. I always keep some stitch stoppers in case I’m knitting socks, say, and they have very tiny stitches, I don’t want them to fall off the needle when I stick it in my bag. And I keep some floss with me so I can do a lifeline in case I’m doing something complicated like lace, and I don’t want to rip back.
Zontee: So now we’re hanging out with Lindsey Shaw who’s also in our marketing department. And Lindsey is the person who schedules all of our different patterns. So whenever you see an awesome pattern on the website, that’s Lindsey’s doing. So, Lindsey, we want to know what is it that you like to make and why?
Lindsey: I’m currently on a sweater kick, and I’m knitting a 3/4‑sleeve sweater for fall. And then, I want to start a long‑sleeve sweater. And these are both for me. But when I make gifts, I usually make cowls or hats.
Zontee: Great to know. And do you have any specific tips that you’d like to share with other yarn crafters?
Lindsey: Always do gauge swatch and always block.
Zontee: Good tip and perfect for our “Stash This.” So don’t forget to listen to our “Stash This” for more advice on gauge swatching.
Now we’re down in Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our retail store here in New York City. And I’m standing with assistant studio manager, Michelle. Michelle, we want to know what is your favorite kind of project to make and why?
Michelle: I guess, probably, garments for me, so like tops or sweaters. Mostly, I like to do all kinds of stuff and change it up because I get really bored easily. But mostly anything with cables and lace, so garments that have some kind of pattern going on in them.
Zontee: That’s really great. And do you have any advice for people who are looking for patterns to fit themselves, any tips for picking out garments?
Michelle: Yeah. I’d say look at the clothes that you own already and look for garments that have similar features. I love the empire waist, so high-waisted things. I like 3/4‑length sleeves. I like tops that go just above the widest part of my waist. Those are the kind of things that look good on me in commercial garments, so I try and find knit garments that have similar features, stuff like that, so that I know it’ll look good on me.
Zontee: Those are some wise words, wise words.
More from the Studio staff. We’re here with studio director, Patty Lyons, who’s been on the podcast a couple of times now. And, Patty, tell us what your favorite project is and why?
Patty: I’m a garment gal. So I love tops and sweaters for myself, and when my husband nags me enough, for my husband. I’m making a really complex cable sweater for him now. But I kind of put it aside to do all my own summer knitting because I thought, “He’s not going to wear it until the Fall. So surely, I can knock out a few cute summer tops out of Recycled Cotton.” I did one under Nature’s Choice, but he kept eyeballing me so I’m back to the cable sweater.
Zontee: That’s really funny. And you teach some really great sweater-related classes here at the Studio. Do you have any one big tip or some major tips that you have for people who are thinking about garment knitting or crocheting?
Patti: Absolutely. Learn how to measure yourself and learn how to measure a finished sweater. There are very few people that fit directly across one size line. So I very rarely knit the sweater exactly as designed. Depending on the pattern sizes, sometimes I can be an extra‑small chest, small waist, medium to large hips depending on the pattern writer. So I just did Emmeline out of Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton. It’s a free pattern on Knitty.com. I had to heavily modify it because going from the empire waist or “ahm-peer” waist shaping, I think the pattern called for five series of decreasing to the waist–it was top down–and then, five series of increases over the hips. I had to do only two decreases for my waist, but I had to do seven increases for my hips. So don’t just follow a pattern blindly. As long as you’re going to knit it for yourself, make it fit you.
Zontee: Thank you for that advice. That’s a really good, solid example of how you can really customize a design.
Another one of our great Studio staff members is Tracy. And what’s your favorite kind of project to make and why?
Tracy: I think I’m more of a garment person than anything else, and I prefer lace knitting and crocheting…probably because the first thing I ever made was an actual garment. So I tend to stick with what I was trained on first.
Zontee: That makes sense. And do you have any tips? I know that you teach a lot of the crochet classes here. Do you have any tips for our listeners just as a person who’s been in the yarn crafting world for a long time and seen a lot of different kinds of problems from her students?
Tracy: Be mindful of your last stitch. Don’t go too far down your left side looking for your last stitch. Stay at the top of your work especially when you get to your treble crochet.
Zontee: Also very good advice. Thanks so much, Tracy.
Liz: Now we’re up on the fifth floor in our Design Department. And we’re here with Jackie Smyth. Hi, Jackie.
Liz: So what is your favorite type of project? I think I know what you’re going to say, but maybe I could be surprised.
Jackie: Well, I’m just actually emerging from a year of knitting shawls and socks and that’s all. And I just went from one to the other. And now, I’m suddenly enjoying knitting very plain stockinette stitch sweaters.
Liz: Jackie is one of the more productive knitters that I know. I don’t know how she has the time.
Jackie: Long train ride.
Liz: So what do you like about shawls, socks and sweaters?
Jackie: The shawls and socks, I liked because they were little things, so instant gratification. But I think the hot summer here in New York has worn me out. So I’m just dragging along with the stockinette stitch sweater without having to finish it.
Liz: Well, that’s a faithful gesture that one day it might actually be cool enough again to merit a sweater, maybe.
Jackie: Oh, yeah. That’s the other part. Right. That’s the other part, hope for the future.
Liz: As Jackie is the Senior Technical Editor who proofs and edits and crafts all our patterns into wonderful, user‑friendly pieces of art that they are, do you have any tips for our listeners?
Jackie: One tip is and I enjoy doing this, is if you make a project with one of our yarns, like, I love Wool‑Ease. So, I made a project with Wool‑Ease, and then I made a whole bunch more with Wool‑Ease. And then, I really know what size needles I want to use, what stitch I want to use. I just feel very comfortable with it, so then I can reuse my gauge swatch instead of having to do a new one again. So, if you have a yarn, a Lion Brand yarn that you love, think about making a few projects with it using different colors and, maybe, adding stripes or whatever. But, make a few different projects with the same yarn.
Liz: That’s a great tip. We’re going to be talking about gauge and all its intricacies later in the episode, and that’s one approach is to get to know yarn really well. So, you can know what range of gauges you get with different needles and have a whole library of swatches in a certain yarn that you have to draw on. Thanks, Jackie. [music]
Zontee: On today’s “Stash This,” we’re drawing from our big bank of questions that you guys have submitted to us. And we’re talking about gauge and yarn substitution.
Liz: We got a great question on our Ravelry board from JoysInTheJourney. She asks how to find a good yarn substitute. For example, if you find a pattern that you love but the yarn specified is something that’s out of your price range or, maybe, it’s an older pattern that discontinued or, maybe, it’s from a different country and you can’t get that particular yarn, what can you do? The good news is that there’s a relatively simple process you can go through to figure out what yarn would be a good possible substitution.
Zontee: I think the first consideration is what is it that you’re trying to achieve with the yarn that you’re using or that you eventually want to use. You know that you’re probably going to need to match the gauge, and most likely you’re going to want to match the general texture of the yarn so that it has a similar look to the garment. For instance, if you’re using a yarn that’s plied and it has that smooth texture with a nice stitch definition, you probably want something similar looking. You wouldn’t want to go with a bouclé yarn because that will probably give your garment a completely different look unless that’s what you’re trying to achieve, in which case, go for that.
But then: are you looking for something that’s more in your price range? Are you looking for a different fiber? What are the things that matter to you?
Liz: And so, once you’ve figured out what kind of substitute you’re looking for, the next thing you have to look at is what the yarn you’re trying to substitute is. You have to identify the weight of that original yarn before you can go about finding a substitution.
Zontee: And in this case, when we’re talking about yarn weight we mean thickness. It will have, mostly likely if it’s a U. S. yarn, it will have its CYCA official category which will be zero through six, meaning is it a medium weight worsted yarn, is it a chunky weight, et cetera, et cetera.
Liz: If it doesn’t have that CYCA weight listed on the label, you can use a service like Ravelry or other websites, like Yarndex, to look up what the general weight category is for the yarn. There are listings for many, many products available on the web.
Zontee: Honestly, sometimes I just Google it.
Liz: Yep. What can’t you Google, Zontee?
Zontee: I don’t know.
Liz: I don’t think there’s anything.
Zontee: That’s a question to Google.
Liz: So, then once you’re figured out and say, you like this pattern. You like the yarn. You want to replicate it as close as possible at a better price point. You identify the yarn as a number four, and I think the next important thing to look at is the fiber content of the yarn because that can affect the weight of the finished garment. Even if you have 100 percent cotton yarn and 100 percent wool yarn and they’re both number four on the CYCA scale, the cotton yarn will be much heavier. The finished garment in the cotton will be much heavier. So, you have to look at how that might affect your drape.
Zontee: Right. And in this case, we’re taking the idea that you want a garment that looks as close to the original item as possible. In some cases, if you’re thinking to yourself, “It’s too hot where I live to wear a wool sweater, I would like to purposely choose a cotton sweater,” that’s your prerogative.
Liz: Right. If you’re trying to match something that’s 100 percent cashmere, number four-weight and you’re looking for something more affordable, you may want to look for something that’s a cashmere blend that will have that same soft feel and matte surface to the fabric but has a lot of wool, nylon or even some acrylic blended in to be at a more affordable price point. Without getting too technical on fibers or details, wool, cashmere, acrylic and nylon all kind of are interchangeable, or blends of those four exchange very well for each other in patterns because they have similar properties when spun into yarns. Whereas cotton is much heavier. Things like linen, the more plant‑based fibers, are going to be much different.
Alpaca and mohair are kind of unique in that alpaca is an animal fiber, but it’s very drapey. So, you have to look at how is the alpaca yarn used in the given pattern. Is it used in something like a shawl that’s very drapey? In that case, you might want to look for something with a little rayon and viscous blended in because that will also have a very drapey finished look.
But, if it’s an alpaca or alpaca blend yarn that behaving really much more like a wool, you can substitute for a wool.
Zontee: That’s a really good point. Think about how exactly the yarn’s being used and what are the properties of this yarn that make it so specific for this pattern. So, once you know that, let’s say, that my sweater pattern that I really like is a number four cashmere and I can’t afford it, then I want to go with something that’s a cashmere blend. Maybe, even our Superwash Merino Cashmere blend which we just introduced, and I look at that yarn. Now, how do I figure out how much yarn I need to buy, and what other questions should I ask myself. Should I be doing some gauge swatching, and how do I handle that gauge swatch? Let’s talk about those things.
Liz: The first step, how much do I buy, is you have to look at the total. Don’t look at the number of balls called for in the original pattern, look at the total number of yards. Multiply the number of yards per ball of the original yarn times the number of balls of the original yarn called for. You’ll get your total yardage. Then, you need to divide by the yards per ball of the new yarn that you’re going to use.
Zontee: Exactly. And that will give you the number of balls that you’ll need. This will be somewhat approximate because we don’t know for sure how much of that last ball was used in the original pattern. But, it will certainly give you a very close approximation. Sometimes, I like to buy a little extra yarn, like, one extra ball just in case.
Liz: I was going to say my personal rule of thumb is always round up and, maybe, even buy one extra ball, if you can, if it’s feasible for your budget.
Zontee: Yeah. I think that’s a good point, just in case. And sometimes, you know, you’re still able to return that ball, so, depending on how quickly you’re going to use that up. So, you may be OK, or you can, honestly, make a matching hat, a matching cowl, some matching gloves, whatever.
Liz: We all know there’s plenty to do with yarn, right?
Liz: Who doesn’t like yarn?
And then, Zontee asked, should I be doing some gauge swatching? And the answer is, of course, yes. There is no way to not swatch.
Zontee: We are very big proponents of the swatching. As we talked about in many previous steps in segments, making a swatch. Make it as big as possible. Patterns usually recommend four by four, but that’s not a good enough base because you actually need to measure the middle four inches. If you can go six inches, if you can go eight inches…
Liz: I kind of have an eight inch rule of thumb.
Zontee: What’s good about that is it allows your tension to become more even over a much larger space. This will be more reflective of how you actually knit or crochet in a garment or any project because you’re knitting or crocheting over a really big space, not over four little inches necessarily. So, you want to replicate that experience as closely as possible.
Liz: And I like to think of making a gauge swatch with a new yarn. It’s like your first date. You don’t go on, like, a 15 minute coffee date with someone and then decide, “Yeah, I’m going to move in with this person.” At least, most of us don’t do that. I hope. You spend a little time getting to know them before you make a really big commitment. When you’re making a garment or a larger project, you’re committing a lot of your time. So don’t just rush in after a quick little two inch by two inch swatch that you measure while it’s still on the hook or needles. No, no, no. You’ve got to have a proper courtship period.
Liz: Make a big swatch.
Zontee: So make a big swatch. Wash it and dry it the way that you would the garment. If that means in the machine, do that. If it means…
Liz: By hand in your sink, do that. If you’re only ever going to steam it with an iron and never get it wet, do that. If you’re going to dry clean it, take your swatch to the dry cleaners. I’m not even joking.
Zontee: They’ll probably laugh at you a little bit but, hey, probably worth it.
Zontee: Obviously, this swatch should be off your needles or hooks. Because, if you’re going to need to do all that washing, obviously you’re going to need to bind off. Be serious about that. And that does make a big difference, too. Because, when it’s on the needles, sometimes it stretches out. On the hook, it’s less of a problem. But you don’t want it to come apart. So definitely bind off. Once you’ve got it washed, then you can measure it. But here’s a trick that Lily Chin brought up in her last interview with us here on the podcast. She said with a garment that you’re really concerned about the drapiness and the stretch of it, for instance a cotton garment or something with a lot of drape like a rayon from bamboo…
Liz: Or even your sturdiest, most elastic wool yarn, if you’re using a much lager needle size than typically called for to get a lacy look, you’re going to want to use this tip as well.
Zontee: Exactly. And her tip was to hang your swatch. Tape it with some masking tape to the wall or put some pins into the wall so that it’s hanging vertically the way it will of your body. And then measure it so you can how it behaves in that vertical state.
Liz: And depending on if you’re making something that’s a very long sweater or even a coat or jacket, I like to just put some binder clips. Depending on how big the project is going to be, the more binder clips I put on the lower edge of the swatch. Because, you want to simulate the weight that the fabric is going to have to support.
Zontee: That’s a very good point. I have a long alpaca sweater that does experience some stretch because of the fact that it’s basically a coat length sweater. You want it to be simulating the experience of really wearing it so you know right away how to adjust. Because, again, we don’t want to invest a lot of time and energy into something that is going to stretch out and look sad after one wear.
Liz: Yeah. You don’t want your knee length jacket to become your ankle length jacket.
Zontee: I certainly don’t. And that gets us into a question from NWheatley who bounce off of JoysAndTheJourney’s question. And she says that she’s had the experience where she’s done a gauge swatch and then started knitting her project, and she’s found that her gauge has changed while doing that project. We hope that some of the tips that we just shared will help to eliminate some of that variance because it’ll help you to compensate and make it a little bit more accurate. But there are some other considerations as well. For instance, if you’re going to be knitting a project in the round, you should be gauge swatching for that effect. If you’re wondering what that means or you’ve never done this before, it’s almost like the way you do an I‑cord where you kind of pass it around so that you’re only ever knitting on one side of the fabric.
Liz: So say you’re going to make a hat in stockinette stitch in the round, and you need to do a gauge swatch. You cast on your number of stitches. Knit your first row. Instead of turning your work and then purling back, you slide your work to the opposite end of the needle without turning, leave a big loose strand across the back of your work, and then knit across again.
Zontee: Yeah. So instead of turning your work, you’re always facing the same side. This way, you don’t have actually had to knit the entire cylinder and then measure it, although more power to you if you want to do that. But it will still simulate the tension that you’re getting facing only one side.
Liz: And the reason this is important is because a lot of people have different tensions on their knit and purl rows. So, if you do a stockinette stitch swatch flat, it might be very different than what you’re doing when you do stockinette stitch in the round. And this is also true for crocheters. There are a couple different ways to work in the round, whether you’re doing a continuous spiral or joined rows and turning. So you’re going to want to do a swatch using that technique, the specific one you’ll use in your pattern or project. And another thing that can change your gauge is your mental state and attitude. NWheatley is a fairly new knitter, only about two years. And, first of all, your tension is going to be changing a lot and loosening up just as you get more comfortable with knitting. New knitters and crocheters tend to keep a death grip on their tools and tug the yarn after every stitch. I know when we’re teaching we always say, “No, don’t tug. No, there’s no need to tug.”
So, gradually, as we grew out of those habits, your gauge tends to get looser. So if you swatch when you were only knitting for six months and then you knit on a project over a period of, if you’re like me, it could take you years to finish a project, by the time you get to that end, your natural gauge could be much looser.
Zontee: One good thing, though, is that sometimes you can even out your gauge in that whole washing process. As fibers are washed the way they’re supposed to be on the label, sometimes it helps to kind of shift that around a little bit and even it out. It may not match that original gauge swatch, but don’t forget that that does give you a little bit of leeway.
Liz: Yeah. And if you’re taking our tips about making a big swatch, washing it to get your final measurement, and that’s still not working, this may be a little intense but this is my intense gauge suggestion. Make two fairly large swatches. Wash one of them, and take note of your measurement of your gauge before washing and after washing. Because, if you know what the gauge is supposed to be unwashed and how it translates into the correct gauge washed, you can, as you’re working ‑ if you’re making a long sweater front, when you’ve got maybe an eight inch stretch ‑ you can find a spot in the middle and measure and see if you’re on track. So, you don’t want to measure too close to the needle or the hook end of your project. But, if you give yourself enough space, you should be able to get a fairly accurate measurement. And you can see if thing are changing and adjust your needle size or hook size accordingly.
Zontee: That’s true. Don’t forget that just because you’re using a needle size in the pattern doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever. If it looks like you need to make an adjustment, go ahead and make that change. Change needle or hook where it feels appropriate.
Liz: And my final thought on gauge is: let’s remember that yarn crafting is fun. And it’s supposed to be fun. And the great thing about knit and crochet objects is that they’re stretchy and forgiving. So do your best to check your gauge, but don’t get too obsessive about it.
Zontee: And, of course, you can always rip back. So, if you decide that it’s just not working out, don’t forget you can tear back. I tore out an entire sweater, and I did it a second time because I thought, “Boy, this came out much looser than I was expecting.” So, I ripped it all out, did it all over again. It was much faster the second time. And it’s a learning experience.
Liz: Exactly. And that just was twice as much time you got to spend crocheting the beautiful Baby’s First, which I know is very soft and comfy. So I’m sure it was not a burden.
Zontee: It was pretty good yarn, Pretty good yarn. [music]
Zontee: We want to thank all of you for joining us today, and we want to thank those who shared their tips, questions, and comments on the blog, by emailing us, and on our Ravelry group.
Liz: Join us again in two weeks when we look ahead to the fall with our annual catalog patterns preview. Find out about all the amazing products and patterns that Lion Brand is introducing in our new fall lineup. What are you looking forward to yarn crafting this fall? Leave a question on our blog, by emailing us, on our Ravelry group, or by voicemail at 774‑452‑YARN. That’s 774‑452‑9276. And your comment may be included in the next episode. As my mom always says, “We miss hearing your lovely voice. Would it be so hard to just give us a call?” And, as usual, our music was “Boy with a Coin” by Iron and Win from the Podsafe Music Network.
For more information about the patterns, links, and products discussed in this episode, please see the episode guide.