As you might know, I’ve been working on my first knitted cardigan the last few weeks since the beginning of the year. I was very good about documenting my weekly progress, well, until I wasn’t. Making any progress, that is. Knitting a cardigan has been exciting and frustrating at the same time.
First of all, there is the ‘gauge’. If you’ve never knit a piece of clothing, you probably didn’t concern yourself with the gauge, but when you knit something that is actually supposed to fit a person, it becomes very important all of a sudden.
In case you don’t know what a ‘gauge’ is, it basically means how many stitches are worked per inch. Here is a good link that explains it all in detail.
It’s really interesting that even when everyone knits with the same yarn and needle size, the gauge varies tremendously for every knitter. I am apparently a very tight knitter, which means that I usually have more stitches than I should have for a specific gauge and that I have to go up a couple of needle sizes to get the correct gauge.
The rule of thumb is: If your number of stitches per inch is way off (MORE than 1 stitch per inch too big or small), the yarn is probably not a good fit for your pattern. You must agree, being two stitches off per inch doesn’t sound like much, but apparently it does make a big difference over the entire width/length of your knitting piece. I am sure one gets better in measuring the gauge over time (and with experience), but in the beginning in can be a daunting task.
I always, always try to pick the pattern and then find the perfect yarn than the other way around, although I have on occasion *cough, cough* bought yarn without a specific pattern in mind and well, it’s part of my “stash” now that I have to find projects for. In general, it works out better for me when I pick the pattern first, but every knitter/crocheter will probably agree that this does not always happen because OMG, all the pretty yarn out there!
I am done with the main body of my cardigan (and not 100% sure about the gauge that I initially measured) and I am now working on the sleeves (which slowed down my progress quite a bit, because they’re knit in the round and I kind of despise knitting a small circumference on five needles in the round. Thanks to my friend Mary Beth, I think I’ll be able to finish though, because she introduced me to “knitting in the round with a magic loop” which I have tried this weekend and I think I can definitely handle that much better.
So let’s just hope that I’ll be finishing this piece soon and that the cardigan will fit me in the end. Stay tuned!