four and twenty stitches

OK so I’m no Ada Lovelace1 but I’m not completely hopeless at maths. I haz an O- (yep, I am that old), an AO- and an A-level in it, a pass in the OU ‘Maths for Science‘ course and am currently grappling with their chemistry-with-hard-sums course. And yet, apparently I still cannot count accurately to 24.

Two days ago I realised that I’d mis-measured my tension square for decimal. My tension was actually tighter than I’d thought.  So all my work to that point has had to be ripped out, and I am reconsidering the tension issues.  The yarn I’m using is dk-weight rather than the sport-weight the pattern calls for; I can get the specified stitch tension on small needles but with a very tight row tension.  Hmmm.  Now I’m thinking I’ll knit on slightly larger needles and knit a smaller size, so I have tested tension on two sizes of needles.decimal tension square

I hate  making tension squares.  For socks and hats and such I don’t bother.  I have a fair idea of how my normal tension compares to patterns, and over a small project being a little out isn’t so critical.  One extra stitch to 10 cm doesn’t make a huge difference to a 50 cm circumference hat.  But for a jumper, it matters.  The tension square thing has to be done.   I know it’s essential and not a waste of time.  But it feels like a waste of time.  Lots of knitting that isn’t going to be anything.  I am working on my bad attitude to tension squares.  It is all a part of the process, part of getting things right, part of developing my craft.

Still hate knitting them, though.

1. British mathematician, called by Charles Babbage the ‘enchantress of numbers


5 responses to “four and twenty stitches

  1. yeah, i agree – this is the rubbish thing about jumpers – gauge is pretty important. I try and avoid swatching where possible too. (And consequently have lots of ill-fitting things). I always unravel my swatches afterwards and reuse the yarn though, which makes it slightly more bearable. Even though everyone says you shouldn’t 😛

  2. I agree with you about the gauge sample which in the US we refer to as a swatch for whatever reason. I didn’t bother with the swatch for decimal which I may regret. I used a sleeve instead. The first sleeve with the gussets was just too much. I redid it without the gussets and it seems about the right size (16 in.). Now that I’m into the body, I can see that I am not making row gauge and I may have a mess on my hands because I didn’t realize it until after the waist shaping. I’m now going by inches rather than rows and hoping for the best. This is all probably much more than you want or need to know. It is a lovely sweater, isn’t it?

  3. The hard part is when your actual gauge/tension doesn’t match your gauge/tension that you got when knitting the swatch! That has happened to me before, with disastrous results.

    I’m currently on a small project binge, but a sweater/jumper is in the future. I’m looking forward to knitting swatches for this one, because it will help me decide which yarn I want to use.

  4. numbers? there’s too many of them!

  5. I keep telling myself that I will make a lovely patchwork blanket out of my gauge swatches, to make them feel a little bit less pointless (and to give me incentive not to unravel&reuse)… maybe someday!

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