In one of her knitting books (and I really tried to find in which one, but wasn’t successful), Ann Budd wrote her advise about measuring gauge. She highlighted the importance of checking the gauge before each project, even if we’ve already used the same yarn before, and wrote how the gauge changes depending if we knit in the round or flat. She also mentioned that we should check the gauge if we’re sad or overly excited, or stressed out, because mood can change how we knit as well.
Honestly…? I’m not very consistent about gauge swatching. I do it before bigger projects, like sweaters (and that includes washing and blocking the swatch), but I just can’t be bothered when I knit a hat or a scarf, or even socks. I don’t encourage anyone to be like me – better safe than sorry!
And when it comes to mood, I’ve never even considered that it can really affect the gauge or the general quality of knitting. But it really can!
See the photo? It’s a beginning of my current WIP, the Still Light Tunic by Veera Välimäki. I made it before going to Brussels, feeling pretty relaxed and calm. It’s not very even but it’s also not too bad, and the gauge is tight.
And now look here:
Right in the middle of the photo you can see the stitches having a party, uneven, slanting in all directions and the gauge is definitely different. I knitted this part on the evening of my return to Dublin, when I was really tired and stressed out from the travel and work.
As I keep knitting my tunic, I check my stitches carefully all the time. I decided not to unravel any part of the work, I’m keeping the uneven stitches too. Blocking will improve how they look and I actually love the idea of having such a “yarny mood diary” – almost like growth rings on the tree that tell us about the conditions throughout the tree’s lifetime. OK, I’m getting a little too poetic here, but seriously, blocking combined with the fact that these stitches are on the chest where they will be stretched anyways makes me just keep the project as it is. Not that I’m going to do it in all my projects, but I don’t mind this one being a little unusual 😉 And by the way, I’ve finished the tunic’s body last night and I’m working on the pockets now which makes me super happy – I just love the idea of knitting a garment with pockets!
Still, I’m going to keep that in mind from now on: if I want to knit something intricate, where the quality of knitted fabric really matters, I can’t work on it while being tired, stressed out, nervous, etc. Better focus on something less delicate in such moments.
I just love how much there is always to learn about knitting, and I’m really happy to have this blog where I can write down all my observations and lessons learned!