Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Getting Gauge Q&A and Colorwork Yoke
Welcome to the second week of the Winter Roses KAL, congrats on getting here! If you haven't started yet, it's not too late to join! This sweater is such a quick project, I've been able to knit nearly the entire yoke in three lazy evenings on the couch. Take a peek at the Winter Roses | Week 1 post for more info on the yarn and how to get started.
Picking colors is one of the funnest parts, I think, of starting a new project. And casting on is like the icing on top of the cake of that final decision, especially with a yarn that sparks so much joy. Working with Simplinatural by HiKoo® is such a pleasure, I simply couldn’t resist not casting on a third sweater! For this edition, I’m going to make a Crewneck/Full-Length fit in Size 1 in a rich black, a deep olive green, and a natural ecru.
There are so many factors that can affect gauge, and a designer wants nothing more than for you to have the perfect finished object from their pattern. I’ve gotten a few questions about gauge so far, and I’d like to share some general Q&A that can hopefully help you troubleshoot similar situations throughout your knitting journey.
PS, The gauge ruler above is from SunriseGrove on Etsy, check them out!
Q. I can’t get gauge with the recommended needle, what do I do?
A. The suggested needle size in the pattern is the needle the designer used with the recommended yarn to get the desired gauge and fabric for the pattern. Since every knitter is different—whether it’s your style of knitting, tension, type of needles, or yarn substitutions you use—you'll want to adjust your needle size until you are able to meet gauge, even if it's exceedingly different from the size recommended.
Q. The gauge in the pattern doesn’t match the ball band on the recommended yarn, why is that?
A. Besides yarn weight, fiber content, and yardage, the ball and also gives the recommended needle and stitches per inch. Think of this information as a helpful suggestion, rather than a hard-fast rule. The recommended needle size on a ball band is perfect for making flat stockinette squares, but the designer has likely added a few more design elements, such as texture, colorwork, lace, or even a more densely knit or looser knit fabric. If the pattern is knit in the round, that will also change the gauge. Also, the designer's gauge may be drastically different than the person who made a swatch to create the yarn label for that particular yarn.
Q. Can I just pick a different size if I'm not able to get gauge?
A. You absolutely can! However, this may affect the yardage required and is not always a guarantee it will be exactly the right size. But I think that can be part of the charm & mystery of making modifications to a pattern. Knitting is an art form, let yourself have fun!
Q. I'd like to use a different yarn than what's recommended in the pattern, how do I know if it will work?
A. The designer chose the recommended yarn for specific reasons, but substitutions are always possible! Look closely at the weight, yardage, and fiber content to find a suitable alternative yarn. Just because the ball band says "worsted weight" doesn't always mean it will knit up to the same gauge as another "worsted weight" yarn. Picking another yarn with similar yardage will also lend well to making sure your gauge will be closer to the one in the pattern. Finally, fiber content can be one of the most important qualities to pay attention to and can affect the density, drape, and overall quality of the fabric the designer has intended. You likely wouldn't want to use stiff cotton yarn for a pattern that calls for drapey alpaca, for example. Sometimes substitutions have to be made, especially if the intended recipient (or yourself) has a fiber allergy or intolerance, so learning how to make substitutions is a valuable skill!
In summary, try to match the designer's swatching instructions as much as possible. If the pattern is in colorwork, cables, lacework, or in the round, create your swatch to closely match these elements so you can be confident your swatch gauge will translate to your project's gauge. Most designers are happy to answer gauge questions and help you troubleshoot this important first step.
If you'd like to reach out to me, please feel free to do so!
After the ribbed collar, you'll dive right into the colorwork charts with the contrasting colors. There are charted instructions, as well as written instructions for the charts located in the pattern. In the Winter Roses sweater, the longest float you can potentially have is five stitches wide, which is just short of too long (in my opinion).
The colorwork was intended for the floats to be easily manageable, but if you prefer no floats at all, read on! Ever since my good friend, Kyle Kunnecke, told me about "locked floats," I haven't been able to knit colorwork without them. This technique involves twisting the working yarn around another strand of working yarn to "lock" it into place on the wrong side. The twisting is promptly "untwisted," so you've got a locked float and no continuously unruly working strands to deal with. You can do it no matter your knitting style and it's a great trick to bring with you to any type of colorwork!
He has an entire YouTube playlist available for English & Continental style knitters, and demonstrations cover whether you're locking the Main Color or a Contrasting Color.
Looking for a Local Yarn Store that is participating in this KAL?
Local Yarn Store
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I’d love to see your color choices and WIPs in the Ravelry thread! Please feel free to cheer each other on and hit that heart button for your fellow knitters.
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Don't forget the pattern!
You can either download it directly from my shop, or on Ravelry.
Plus! There is also a companion hat pattern to help you use up any remaining partial balls!
Sizes range from Baby to Adult Large, and the pattern includes detailed yarn information you can cast on with confidence.