Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Truth Is Not In Them

A few weeks ago, chancing across a bin of $1 oddballs in a yarn store, I promptly collected a bunch of nice-looking wool ones to use for Pine Street Inn squares. When I started the first one this morning I discovered that 1) I wasn't quite as enamored with the yarn as I'd thought 2) I'd vastly overestimated the number of stitches I'd need. Persevering, and having been assured that the yarn was fine, I ripped out and started again with fewer stitches, but not quite few enough, as the second try was still about 9 1/2 inches wide. Having some experience in these matters, however, I bound it off when it was about 8 1/2 inches long, knowing that I could even it out in blocking.

So there was my first square. As soon as I had bound it off I picked up another ball of the same yarn in another color and cast on another square on the same needles, with four fewer stitches this time. Since I was getting a little over three stitches to the inch, that should put me a bit under nine inches, just right for pre-block size.

Wait a minute. Doesn't that look a little... um... small?

Why, yes, it does, and there's a reason for that: it is narrower. About two and a half inches narrower than the first one, in fact.

Now, I had always thought that the lurid tales I'd heard of egregious falsehoods perpetrated by gauge swatches originated in knitterly wishful thinking: if it's close enough, and if you squint, and maybe squish or stretch it just a teeny bit, the gauge will be fine. Really, perfectly fine.

To all the knitters who cried, "But I got gauge!" and whom I comforted sympathetically while smirking sideways, "bet you didn't really," I offer my sincere apologies and ironclad proof: for what does a charity square resemble more closely than a big swatch?

And what, therefore, is a swatch?

A dirty, filthy, stinking liar, that's what.


  • Was Palin on tv while you knit the second one? LOL

    By Anonymous Chris, at 7:59 AM  

  • My tension changes according to my mood. Also, the dye used can affect the texture and density of the yarn, so a swatch in one color doesn not predict a swatch in another. Swatches ARE liars!

    By Blogger Roxie, at 8:59 AM  

  • Especially un-washed swatches. All you've heard about the un-washed masses is absolutely true. Just ask the giant blue sweater I just reduced to 15 balls of yarn...

    By Anonymous Annie, at 12:41 PM  

  • I promise I'm not snickering. No, no, I would never do that.

    If it's any comfort (and I know it's not) that yarn looks really cool knit up...what is it?

    By Anonymous Imbrium, at 12:46 PM  

  • Roxie above is right about dye affecting yarn, and besides that, when working a yarn with extreme thick-and-thin variations like yours, a knitter can't always work fluidly enough to maintain a consistent gauge. It's hard to find and settle into an even rhythm, is what I'm trying to say. But you can probably block them from here to eternity.
    -- Gretchen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

  • Stupid swatches. Hee.

    I'm a big believer in the blocking trick. :D

    Denial is good too.

    By Anonymous Norma, at 10:12 AM  

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