November 10, 2006

THE PROBLEM THAT WASN'T

Some facts about the Salina sweater:

  • I was knitting the red Salina sweater on size 4 needles, mistakenly thinking I was working on size 5s.
  • In the process of knitting what I'd gotten done so far, I hadn't ever stopped to measure gauge.
  • When I performed that assessment last week and measured the width of the back piece, the number I expected to see -- had I been using size 5s and been remotely close to gauge -- would have been 20 inches, or maybe 19.
  • The number was 17-1/2.
  • Although I couldn't get up much enthusiasm for it, I did knit a good-sized gauge swatch last weekend on size 5 needles.
  • Measuring this gauge swatch showed me that I had two more stitches per four inches than the gauge stated in the pattern. I would still need to go up at least one needle size to get the gauge stated in the pattern.
  • I could get up even less enthusiasm for knitting a second gauge swatch on size 6s.
  • Which brings me to this last, subjective fact*: Re-knitting Salina, which is 97-percent stockinette stitch, was going to be pretty damn boring.

I remembered my experience in Catherine Lowe's workshop earlier this year, where she had said that, in general, your knitting will relax and your gauge will get larger when washed. My swatches for that workshop that had been right on gauge right off the needles. However, when I soaked and blocked the swatches, the knitting relaxed, and they ended up larger.

I got out the pieces of Salina that I have knitted so far -- the ones that are knitted on size 4 needles. I thought, I have nothing to lose.

I soaked and blocked the back piece yesterday, and here's how she turned out:

SalinaBackBlocking.jpg

I didn't pin her out or stretch her in any way. I just patted her flat with my hands.

SalinaBlockedMeasurement.jpg

Miracle of miracles, the knitting relaxed a whole inch-and-a-half. I couldn't ask for anything more.

So I'm just going to keep going with what I've got, with my size 4 needles.

*Can facts be subjective, or must they always be objective? This is the kind of question I spent a lot of time puzzling over, in my days as a Philosophy major. We expect facts to be objective, verifiable, and true. So can a statement like, Re-knitting a piece that's 21 inches long and 19 inches wide and almost completely stockinette is boring, which is a subjective statement, be verifiable? Can it be true? Or is it mere opinion?

Posted by Karen at November 10, 2006 08:48 AM
Comments

lucky you! and i love the color.

Posted by: vanessa at November 10, 2006 09:51 AM

Opinions are true to the speaker and are Truth if verifiable! (I love philosophy and was an English major!)

Posted by: Nancy J at November 10, 2006 02:05 PM

Bravo! I'm so glad it worked out. Yay you!

Posted by: Lizbeth at November 10, 2006 04:52 PM

I'm so glad things worked out as you had hoped. That color is going to look awesome on you!

Posted by: Jewel at November 11, 2006 04:45 AM

I'm thrilled for you. I'm glad that little bit of information tucked away in your memory bank came to the surface! As always thank you for your facts..they teach me as well.

Posted by: Naomi at November 11, 2006 09:16 AM

Thanks, everybody, for your kind encouragement. I hated having this little detour of thinking I had gauge issues, and then turning out to not really have them after all . . . . I really am a better knitter than this. But I hope my experience can help somebody else, as Naomi suggests.

I know, intellectually, why knitting instructors will tell you to knit a really big gauge swatch, and then wash it and block it, all before you start knitting the actual project. But knowing intellectually why this is a good idea doesn't prevent me from feeling like the gauge swatch is a chore that's boring and stands in the way of my getting on with *real* knitting. LOL

Posted by: Karen at November 11, 2006 11:11 AM

I'm with Nancy - it's true if it's true for you.

I like stockinette - I have 3 projects going right now that are too complicated for exhausted evening TV viewing knitting. I need some stockinette. :)

Posted by: Patti at November 11, 2006 06:10 PM

Yes, re-knitting a piece that's x long and x wide in stockinetter is boring, is quite verifiable. I expect that you will get the answer when you knit the back of this sweater! But it looks like an absolutely wonderful yarn, and I love that shade of red!

Posted by: Marie at November 14, 2006 10:30 PM

Yay! I'm glad this worked out for you.

Posted by: Angela at November 16, 2006 11:31 AM