February 16, 2010

The story of a swatch

With an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater the whole thing is based on your measurements and your gauge swatch. It’s all math from those 2 elements. So I knew I needed to get them right. Plus this is for the Olympics. This is for Glory. There could be no “good enough for government work.”.

So instead of a normal swatch I knit this:
Ravelympics Project
Just a simple baby hat. But it’s knit in the round – my gauge might have been different knitting flat. Plus I used part of the colorwork pattern for the edging just to make sure my gauge was constant for that part, too.
Ravelympics Project
5 stitches and 7 rows per inch across the whole hat.

When I cast on I was confident that the sweater I was knitting would fit me perfectly.

Confidence angers the knitting gods.

The first weekend went well. I knit and I knit and I knit and I was through the waist shaping and getting very close to thinking about the arm. I was easily on track for gold.

Over confidence really angers the knitting gods.

When I finished the last increase row of the waist shaping I held up my sweater to my almost finished Heather Hoodie to compare the shaping. The hoodie fits me great (just needs ends tucked in and buttons bought and sewn on and it will be finished!) so I wanted to compare….

I believe my twitter stream probably sums up what I found best:

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK my gauge swatch was a dirty liar and my #olympic sweater is 10 INCHES TOO BIG.

10 INCHES too big.



Apparently the swatch hat is a dirty liar:
Ravelympics Project
Pictured: LIES. and Adorable.

It knit at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch. My sweater knit up at a gauge of 4.25 stitches per inch. Which over the width of the whole sweater added up to 10 inches in difference.

Really the only appropriate reaction is to curse as much as possible, whine to everyone on the Internet, and then cry into a big glass of wine.

After that I frogged the whole thing and restarted:
Ravelympics Project
I’m further than that now but I feel like one of the Figure Skaters who screwed up the very first move of their short program. In all likelihood I won’t make the podium. I know it, everyone else knows it, but I have to go through the rest of the moves anyways.


  1. OHHH that totally sucks!!!

  2. I STILL want to see the whole routine regardless of the first step on the ice!

  3. Oh no!!! 10 inches?? Dirty F'ing Gauge Swatch!!!! They say you can't win it in the Short, but you can lose it in the Short . . . . but I don't think you've lost it yet. You will come back strong in the Long and still make the podium!!!

  4. I have never understood the whole gauge thing. I tried to knit my friend a sweater once. I knit a swatch...no where close to gauge. Then I switched needles and did it again. Still, no where close. Then I did it again. And again. And again. Still...not even close. Then I just said screw it and started knitting the sweater. Its kinda small. I can't get gauge to save my life.

  5. EZ also tells you that if the sweater doesn't fit, find someone who does fit it. I am not sure that I like that bit of logic.

    I'm devoting this year to sweaters knit in the round, something I've rarely done (I'm a knit-in-pieces type), and I find it is much harder to measure your work than when you knit flat. You can knit for quite awhile before you realize things are not going to work out.


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