Friday, 22 January 2016


Gauge Gauge Gauge. It matters. And I have proof.

So, I do want to avoid talking overly about the new shop, but this is related. Know how I was saying that customers are so willing and excited to help?! Well, lovely Vita Spark is one of those! She loves a hand knitted sock and has made plenty for herself which are beautiful and practical but she's a loose lady, I'm sure she won't mind me saying, in terms of gauge anyway.... ;) Just a naturally loose knitter and as you'll know, if you've been on a sock lesson or watched or read any time I've spoken about socks, the tighter the gauge the better. There's a sweet spot like between being so tight that it hurts your hands and means a sock that takes two years to finish and being so loose that the sock doesn't last but generally, the tighter you can comfortably go - the better. Tightness works because the yarn can't move around to much and so the fibres don't rub together and get thinner and therefore weaker.

For numerous reasons, including the sheer amount of projects she always has on (!!!!), knitting tighter socks is not possible for Vita and therefore she had an offer for me! She'd give me the yarn and I'd knit socks for her for a good price which gives the shop a nice chunk of money to put towards the new shop! Boom! And because she's a knitter, and a close supporter of the shop, the timeline for getting them finished is long enough for me to relax and knit them as I'm on hold for all the people that I need to be on hold for or whilst I'm reading through contracts etc. Perfect project.

So, the first pair I'm knitting for her is in a beautiful yarn that she picked up from Yarndale when she came with us on the first trip. She's already knitted the leg in the way that she wants which is perfect because it gives me the size and style that she wants for the leg (no ribbing for comfort, nice and wide and not too long). The leg was ready for the heel to be started and I've now got the leg length that she wants and the shape of the toe. Very easy.

So I'm using the same needles that she started on, same yarn obvs, same amount of stitches because there's no point changing it and I've decided to do a heel flap and turn because that gives the opportunity to increase the amount of stitches without much thought to make up for the fact that my gauge is so much tighter. I've done the heel now and I've done a couple of decreases for the gusset but not many to try to keep the same circumference around the foot as it has been on the leg and I'm now just plain sailing down the foot, so if you pop into the shop that's what you'll find me working on.

I knew our gauge was different but just look at this:


I've made the photo extra large. Can you see the difference between the top bit knitted by Vita and the bottom bit knitted by me? Same needles, same yarn, same stitches, different knitter. Amazing huh? Vita's gauge is 6.5 stitches per inch and mine is 8.5. That's 2 stitches per inch difference which means that over a sock which is roughly 9" circumference a whopping 18 stitches difference which at this gauge amounts to between 2 and 3 inches difference. If that makes any sense at all?!?! Put that into a jumper for say a 40" chest and there's 80 stitches difference which amounts to 10-12 inches difference! Can you imagine the difference that 12 inches makes in a jumper - that's (roughly) six dress sizes! The difference between a size 8 and a size 18!!!!

Gauge matters!

So for the next sock in this pair, I'm going to go well up a few needle sizes for the leg, and pop down onto the same needles for the foot so they'll be a slightly odd looking but fully functional and identical-as-any-hand-knitted-pair-of-socks-are pair.

And for the rest of the pairs I'm making for her I'm going to measure the circumference that she needs in inches and times that by 8.5 to come up with the cast on number for me. If you can make that cast on number divisible by four then you have a recipe for an easy-no-think sock. But of course, if you want to know about that you'll have to come on one of our courses, but of course, our next two sock courses are sold out which means that I need more space which brings me right back to the new shop.


Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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