On not getting gauge (and being OK with it)

Yesterday I met up for lunch with Austen, and was ready to cast on for Gwendolyn at the same time. (Because, you know, I didn’t have enough to knit already.) Austen has already been zipping along on hers for a few weeks, aiming to be done before she goes off on a trip in mid-September. Mine will not be done by mid-September, but I promised all the same wayyyy back in March or so, that if she wanted to knit that sweater then I would too, in a sort of two-person knitalong. And fall’s coming soon, and one can never have too many nice knitted sweaters (I’m knitting mine as a cardigan), so I was game.

I swatched up for it last week, with some trusty Cascade 220 I bought in Kingston at Wool-Tyme back in June (I can never resist Cascade 220 when it’s on sale), and was surprised to discover I was very close to pattern gauge at 19.5 sts/4 ins on 4.5mm needles over stockinette, where the pattern requests 20 on 5.0mm. Then, I washed and blocked it. (Because I intend to wash and block the sweater.)


Post-washing, my gauge changed to 18 sts/4 ins. I would have been disappointed except for the fact that I have always always always since the beginning of time gotten 18 sts/4 ins on Cascade 220 on 4.5mm. It’s important to make sure, though, just in case, because for all I know that changed since the last time I checked. So you would think this would be the point where normally a person would have to make a decision about what needle size to re-swatch with to get closer to pattern gauge, but actually, I’m good to go. I like the stockinette fabric I’m getting with that needle, and to go down any more snug would probably mean the cabled fabric will wear like iron and stand on its own, so I’ll stay here.

As it turns out, sticking with 18 sts/4 ins and making a size smaller than what I would have made at pattern gauge, will get me the size that I actually want in the end. (I even did the math on that. It all checks out. Take THAT, gauge! You are not the boss of me!) And it also so happens that Austen had the same experience and is proceeding with the exact same plan, and so far that’s turning out well for her.

I’ve cast on with the first sleeve – just in case of problems, it’s a lot easier to rip out a sleeve than to rip out and re-start the whole body – and lickety split I’ve got little sleeves for my portable transit knitting.

What fall knits are you hoping to cast on for soon?

Happy knitting until next time!


  1. It’s going to be gorgeous! I love cabled cardigans — they’re so wearable.

    Making peace with gauge is the most important thing a knitter can do. I’m still struggling with it myself, as I love to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best!

    I’m in the home stretch with my Shalder cardigan for fall, and the two patterns vying for next in line are Levenwick and Aidez. So pretty!

  2. Oooo. That’s going to be gorgeous! I’m loaded up on purple yarn for some reason, or mauve heather. What’s that about little old ladies wearing purple?

  3. I’ve got a scarf from Brooklyn Label, and a sweater for me planned, and some armwarmers for my sister! Oh and a shawl for a friend. Urf. I better get cracking.

  4. Oooh…cabled goodness. I may have to give that pattern another look. Right now I’m just gearing up to start a sweater for my 6’4″ brother. That might take up all of my fall knitting time. :-/

  5. It’s a pretty color that you chose. A cabled cardi is such an usable garment, one can never have enough of them.
    I designed a cabled poncho, I already had the yarn for it in my stash and just started to swatch, I really hope that I will be able to finish it before it will be too cold for wearing a poncho. So I’m all about cables now… but there’s no way i can cast on in September because I have to focus on my exams 😦

  6. Sarah JS · ·

    I will often go with whatever my gauge is and jigger the sizes in order to get a garment that fits. That way works better for me than trying to match what ends up feeling like an artificial gauge.

    I’m all set to knit a fall/winter sweater. My problem is that three very different fall/winter sweaters are fighting in the queue as to who gets to be cast on first.

  7. After several restarts and pattern adjustments on some worsted yarn, I am knitting your weekend socks all for me! Yay!

  8. Oh, you are such a responsible knitter! Wash and block the swatch? What? What did you say? Lalalalalalala. (I really should. Really.)

  9. way to be bold! you are so right that going too small on the needles will yield a very rigid cable, and uncomfortable sweater, but that sturdiness would be a really good purse 🙂

  10. I rode out Hurricane Irene watching Doctor Who (starting from the first Matt Smith ep to the most recent ep) and starting St. Patrick from A Fine Fleece. With Cascade 220. That I got on sale. And am getting a gauge of 18 sts/4 in. :^)

  11. Renee Cook · ·

    Beautiful sweater! The color you’ve chosen is gorgeous–reminds me of the ocean in Barbados. Those cables on the Gwendolyn are divine! And it just so happens that I have a very similar Celtic knot tattoo in the form of dragons. I’m feeling like I may have to try my hand at this pattern as well!

  12. I’m *still* trying to get to my Joyella sweater (in Berroco ‘Jasper’, the red colorway), but really want to get my DH’s sweater done *first*. I have a bit of colorwork on the 2nd sleeve, then a loooooong sleeve (because he is a long-armed boy, he is), attaching the sleeves, and then the collar band. So, really, it’s almost done, right? 😀

    I’m also working on finishing up a second Noro magic-striping scarf, and some blanket blocks for a group project. In addition to my cross stitch and Hardanger work. And the possible historic costuming I’m getting sucked into (for myself, not paying work.) Ummm, can I just win the lottery now and devote my life to fiber work?

  13. I have never checked guage, but then have never made something to wear other than a scarf…lol.

  14. Mmm, I’m seaming my Gwendolyn right now and it’s lovely. I also made a cardigan, and switched the hood for a collar. Enjoy! It’s got lots of fun cables!

  15. If I really have to worry about gauge, well, I just don’t worry because I just don’t check. I know – some of us just like to live life on the edge. 🙂 For Fall, along with finishing up three sweaters, a vest and a jacket that are all in various stages of completion (yes, I’m a knitter that engages in multiple projects and have them in baskets all over my house) I will be adding the Leila Shrug for my niece and the Sinead Scarf for my sister-in-law as well as a few Turn-A-Square hats for my brothers-in-law. I have to get the Xmas knitting done – which I started in January.

  16. […] is, of course, flying in direct defiance of the extremely rational and gauge-swatch-based decision I made a few months ago back when I started this sweater (dear God this is taking me forever, I […]

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