Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Knitting Lesson Learned

Subtitle: I cannot read and I am an idiot. Oh yeah, and swatching is GOOD.

I've been working on a beautiful sock ever since I filed my taxes last week. The pattern is Pomatomus (named after a fish for the scale-like lace pattern) and the sock yarn is Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in the Garden colorway. I've provided the Classic Elite link, but the picture does not do this beautiful yarn justice. It has deep to medium greens, medium to light blue and pale pink shades, and the colors remind me of Monet's water lily paintings.

I'm enjoying the pattern and the beautiful yarn and it's been a real pleasure to work on the sock. I have only a few inches left on the first sock, and I've carefully worked out how to reverse the pattern on the second sock to make them more symmetrical (don't ask! I should never read blog comments on Ravelry). My only concern has been the fit. The Alpaca Sox yarn has a bit of nylon in it and is pretty stretchy. The Pomatomus pattern is basically a twisted rib variation, and is pretty stretchy. I've tried the sock on a couple of times and the leg is pretty slouchy.

Hmmm. I wonder why? Let's see, the pattern calls for US 5 needles. Doesn't that sound big for a sock? It did to me. Of course, consistent with my solemn oath after the sad demise of the Bunny Mitten, I have been swatching all of my projects. Size 5 needles gave me a gauge that was about 3x larger than called for. I swatched on 4s and was still above gauge. I swatched on 3s and got pretty close to gauge, so that's what I'm knitting with.

I knit pretty tight on DPNs, so I was kind of surprised to go down needle sizes. I usually go up. Hmmm. I wonder why?

Last night, I went to my local knitting group. As I was basking in the love for my sock and the yarn, there was some inquiry into the size needle I was using. Apparently, it looked larger than usual to some people. I agreed. It's normal to see 1s and 2s for socks in sock weight yarn. I pulled out the pattern and read it. "It says "5 US." I said. No one could believe it. They asked "Did you check the site for errata?" I did. "Haven't people complained that the sock runs too small?" Mine isn't small -- if anything it will be a bit large.

Later that night, Paulette, who I've now appointed my knitting guru, sent me an e-mail gently advising me that the pattern calls for US size 2 needles. She was so curious about the odd needle size that she looked up the pattern on Knitty when she got home.

This is what the pattern read: 1 set of 5 US #2/2.75mm double-point needles.

I must have read the pattern ten times and I saw "1 set of No. 5 US DPNs" Sadly, what it actually says is "1 set of five No. 2 US DPNs." No wonder the gauge was so off! And, true to form, I had to go up a needle size to get gauge. Unfortunately, as I've gone along on the sock, I think my gauge has gotten looser. Now I'm worried there will not be enough yarn for the second sock!

I've been struggling back and forth all morning -- frog it and start with smaller needles to get a better fit? Live with the slightly slouchy fit, since I'm halfway through the project? I think I'm going to live with what I have -- I don't have the intestinal fortitude to frog that entire pretty sock.

I will say this again -- Gauge is Good! I am so glad I swatched for this project. I don't even want to think about how crazy these socks would have looked on No. 5s!

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