I am totally aware that for many Knitters, Gauge is a pretty major issue. But since I mainly deal in scarves, mittens, socks, and puffs… well, gauge just hasn’t been that important.
Until this happened last week:
It all started so benignly. One lovely Turkish Bed Sock,
began who knows when but certainly over a year ago. Knit with lovely sock yarn from HelloYarn in a colorway called Swell, on size 2mm dpns. As I knit this first sock I get all kinds of sassypants, thinking that since it’s quite ridiculous to have to mattress stitch the sock closed at the end (and I hate finishing) I just join the sides as I go. Lovely! Excellent! Sock #1: Done!
Well, nearly. As usual, I balked at the Kitchener. So instead finishing it like a normal person, I left the toe open (because it will be less pain to do them both at one time, right?) and cast on for the second Bed Sock and knit the ankle wrap and heel. Since my contrived joining thing on the first sock was a bit fussy and time consuming, I decided to knit the second sock to pattern and don’t join as I go. Brilliant! It’ll knit like hotcakes. Decision made and bedtime approaching, I decided I was done knitting for the night at this point:
Sparklie things distract me the next day and the day after that. Eventually the sock parts get shoved into the UFO Knitting Projects cabinet. Before I know it, 12 months or more go by.
(Please note – all pictures from this point forward are dramatic recreations to help illustrate the finer points of this mysterious and astounding story.)
A couple of weeks ago I was overcome by a debilitating bout of finishitupitis. The Bamboo scarf came off the needles. Angelberry got several new repeats. I started rooting around in the UFO cabinet for other knitting misfits that I could quickly bust through. The Ishbel? No, too much lace left to knit. The Red Cap? Maybe… but that’s still a lot of knitting. The white mitts? Meh, too wintery.
Then I unearthed the socks.
Perfect! I convinced myself that I could pound them out in an hour or so of truly dedicated knitting.
- I’ve pulled out the original nearly-finished Sock and the second partially-finished one. I take a look at the pattern. Since the needles are still in the second one I’m all ready to go. I toss the original sock on the desk at my elbow, then start knitting on the second one.
I power out the flat piece that goes across the arch of the foot. In minutes I’m cranking out rows like nobody’s business. Finishitupitis is AWESOME!
- I join in the round and start knitting the ball of the foot. It’s a set number of rows, and after I’m about halfway done I think offhandedly Hm, this section looks long to me.
I glance at my first sock and it looks fine – and I followed the pattern with it, so no issues there. I keep knitting.
- I finish the foot and begin the toe decreases. At this point, I am definitely thinking that the second sock looks ‘a bit’ looser than the original… and possibly longer as well. I should check, but by now I’m knitting on the couch and the first sock is in my sewing room, an insurmountable 17 feet away. I keep knitting.
- I’m totally knocking this thing out. I’m knitting the toe. It’s nearly done. But… it does seem to be rather pointy. And big.
Uh yeah. Really big. I wonder whether I omitted the knit rows on the first sock – a trick I’ve taken up to have socks match my squared-off feet. I can’t remember for certain when I started doing that trick, but I’m sure it wasn’t until recently and so I’m sure I didn’t do it on the first sock since I knit it so long ago. I keep knitting.
- Finally I’m done! Just the Kitcheners left to do! I walk the sock into my sewing room and pull out the original too. As I set them down side-by-side, I am actually stunned by what I see.
That’s 2.5 inches of difference there, folks. And not just that – the left sock is too small for a 10 year old and the right sock is too big for a troll. And here’s the thing: In my consciousness I knew that second sock wasn’t right, but my subconscious just kept overriding it and refusing to see the problem. Or wait – is that ‘subconscious’ and ‘conscience’? Conscious? Whatever, I’m confused enough as it is without worrying about homonyms and whatnot. And please, PLEASE, don’t get me started on Freud.
What else could this be besides a raging case of Determined Denial? I wasn’t drinking… though I probably would have done better had I been.
Turns out that at least three things were going on here – first, and possibly most importantly, the needles I left in the second sock weren’t the original needles, but a pair of placeholders that were a size larger. Second, since a year or so ago, I’ve been making myself learn to knit more loosely. I’d been knitting so tightly that I was putting a lot of strain on my hands and causing some pain. I can’t risk that with the sheer volume of knitting I have planned for myself! Third, I *did* skip the knit rows on the first sock’s toes. (OBVIOUSLY)
Seriously – I am at a complete loss to explain how I could have been surprised by this. I have no excuse, but it’s TRUE.
Do I frog and reknit? Frog and puffknit (PUFFS! WOO!)? Throw in the trash? What do you think?