Wednesday, December 5, 2007

When Knitting goes Wrong

I've learned a lot in the the year and a half I've been knitting, but some things still stump me. Things that are suppose to be simple according to my knitting references.

I'm referring to gauge swatches. Recently, my gauge swatch messed me up in a big way for a little project.

In November, when the temperatures were in the 50's a steam pipe had broken out on the street in front of the building. In NYC many office building are heated by the steam running in pipes underneath the city. In typical city bureaucracy fashion, it took a week before they even started the repairs. Although, it wasn't dangerously cold, it was cold enough to be uncomfortable when you are sitting still in front of a computer for 8 hours. Everyone sat bundled up and took frequent breaks at the nearby Borders to warm up.

I noticed one of the women in the office wearing thick, fuzzy fingerless gloves and I thought, "That's what I need!" Of, course being I knitter, I couldn't just go the local Daffy's to buy a pair for $5. That would be cheating.

I found a pattern for cute gloves on knitty.com. When the LYS near my office didn't have recommended Cashmerino, I headed to Downtown Yarns in the East Village. Downtown Yarns only had colors like rotted pumpkin and antique army uniform green left, so based on the saleswoman I did the ever scary "yarn substitution".

I found the most beautiful deep purple with a subtle hear effect. Cascade 220 Heather.100% Peruvian highland wool. Images of green mountains with peruvian women trekking a narrow trail sprung to mind. Images from Herzog's "
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes" with all the characters wearing beautifully crafted fingerless gloves.

But, this meant I really had to make a gauge swatch. I started with US 6 suggested by the pattern for Cashmereino. I had too many stitches per inch, so I tried US 7 and got the right number.

I made the first glove and it looked good. It even fit well when I tried it on. After a few days they were both finished and I decided to wear them to work. Even though the steam pipe had been repaired, it's chilly in my office. Old building with drafty windows.


After an hour or two the gloves felt lose. By lunch, they were shifting and hanging, stretched to many times their freshly knit size. I kept wearing them, because I really liked them, but I had that sinking feeling.

After lunch the bottom and top edges had begun to roll creating lumps under my wrists and in my palms. I had to take them off. It wasn't just the picot edge, it was both edges for about an inch.

I was very sad and worse, I knew I had carefully made a gauge swatch. What had gone wrong?

Check back for part deux.

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