knitting

Mood and Gauge

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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!

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See the photo? It’s a beginning of my current WIP, the Still Light Tunic by Veera VΓ€limΓ€ki. 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:

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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” –Β  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 πŸ˜‰ 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!

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Of course the rib has to curl, even though I reduced stitch count by 10% 😦 Hopefully blocking will help.

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!

13 thoughts on “Mood and Gauge

    1. Oh, that’s interesting, I’ve never had a project hibernating for so long, I wonder how would my gauge change! I think I tend to knit/crochet tighter with time, but who knows…?

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  1. When it comes to tension I find wool is a lot more forgiving than acrylic probably due to a little elasticity. I hadn’t thought about mood effecting tension, but yes, it does, now I come to think of it! I clicked over to the pattern… It’s very nice and a good choice for you methinks as I can already see you in it. It will sit you very well πŸ™‚ Is that more of the Drops teal yarn that you have used previously? I think you are a speedy knitter ❀

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    1. I love this pattern too, I bought it about a year ago when I started learning to knit and finally it’s time to work on it πŸ™‚ I love tunics so hopefully it will fit me! The yarn is Drops of course but a different one – Drops Flora, which is fingering weight, and the previous one was Drops Lima (DK/ light worsted). Colour is called petrol, it’s a little more blue than the previous one, which was a bit more on the green side (but both are actually green/blue shades). I’ve always been more into red, orange and similar shades, and recently it looks that my tastes change…

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      1. Oh gosh, I’m just the same with colour at the moment. I’ve favoured reds and terracotta in the past but now I want teal, turquoise, aqua… !!
        Is the Drops Flora nice to use?

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      2. It is nice, it’s mostly sheep wool with some alpaca content. It’s softer than pure sheep wool and I also think it’s going to be less stretchy than pure alpaca, but I can’t tell for sure as it’s my first time using it. So far I like it!

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  2. Wow that *is* quite a difference! I never really gave it a thought. I don’t usually make stuff when I’m too tired /stressed, but only because that’s when I make one mistake after another! (So much for picking up stressbusting hobbies… πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…) So I’ve never had a chance to notice such effects.
    The color of the yarn is fantastic, by the way…

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  3. When I’m stressed out, I usually seek comfort in my crafts so it would be really hard for me to avoid them at those times πŸ™‚ I have the same issue with the sweater I’m working on at the moment. I hope it will get better after I wash it for the first time.

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    1. Washing and light blocking usually helps so I’m not too worried about the tunic either. And true about seeking comfort in crafts! I think that as long as I avoid more intricate patterns (like lace) in the moments of discomfort, all should be fine.
      Also, I’m eager to see your sweater!

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