Patty’s Purls of WIS­DOM

Tech­nique, eti­quette and life­style ad­vice for the mod­ern knit­ter.

Creative Knitting - - THIS JUST IN - By PATTY LYONS Email your ques­tions to: Pat­[email protected]­it­tingMagazi­ FIND US @ www.face­­it­tingMagazi­ne

Dear Patty (gauge lover),

My friend took your gauge class and sug­gested I write to you. I HATE gauge swatch­ing. I just want to knit my project. I find the en­tire process use­less, as even when I get the gauge per­fectly on my stupid lit­tle swatch, it doesn't seem to have any­thing to do with the gauge I get in the sweater, so it seems a big old waste of time. Isn't there a bet­ter way to do it? I read a blog­ger once who said she skipped the swatch step and just knit her sleeves first and used that as the gauge swatch. She didn't re­ally ex­plain what that meant though. If she didn't match the gauge, didn't she just have two sleeves that don't fit? HELP!

Gauge Hater in Houston (Shelly)

Dear Gauge Hater,

You love knit­ting. What is mak­ing a gauge swatch? KNIT­TING. Se­ri­ously, this is like chefs say­ing they hate to test out a recipe and taste the food, be­cause they’d rather just start chuck­ing in­gre­di­ents in a pot and see what they get. OK, hop­ping off my soap­box. Let’s ad­dress three is­sues:

First (and most im­por­tant), why we swatch: We swatch to get a fabric we like, to make sure we like the yarn with the pat­tern, and to know our gauge. In other words, we swatch to take a test drive. No­tice I say, “Know our gauge,” not “Match the gauge.” Since there is some­times 2–4 inches be­tween sweater sizes, not get­ting gauge can very of­ten get us closer to the size we want. When we KNOW our gauge, we can check it against a few pat­tern sizes. Find the stitch count at the chest and di­vide it by your gauge to see what it will be in inches. Some­times you might end up knit­ting one size above or be­low the one you want.

Sec­ond, in or­der to know our gauge, we need to have a swatch that isn’t a lie. We need to knit the way we knit. That means not mak­ing a “stupid lit­tle swatch,” but rather, cast­ing on enough stitches that you knit in your nat­u­ral way, rather than try­ing to match gauge.

Fi­nally, as far as the sleeve com­ment goes, I never got that one my­self. Maybe she fig­ured she’d just have 3/4 sleeves or roll them up. Swatch on!

Dear Patty,

What kind of shoes do you wear with hand­knit socks? Af­ter the time and care it takes to knit an out­stand­ing sock pat­tern, it just doesn’t seem right to cover them up. I’m hav­ing trou­ble get­ting past the “socks + san­dals = dorky” equa­tion, and I have sim­i­lar feel­ings about get­ting a pair of clear plastic boots. Is there an­other so­lu­tion, or should I just feel warm and happy know­ing that my feet are be­ing cud­dled with some­thing spe­cial?

Thanks! Pam in Texas

Dear Pam,

I’m gonna take a hard no on the socks + san­dals. As I see it, you have a few op­tions. Make your home (and of­fice if you can) a shoes-off area; move to Ja­pan; wear the fash­ion­able, slightly-too-short pants and cross your legs when you sit so your an­kles show . . . or keep the de­li­cious se­cret that you are wear­ing a tiny work of art on your feet, and let it fill your heart with pride and con­fi­dence.


I need to know how to make a neat­look­ing end when I bind off. This is hard to de­scribe, but I kind of get one gi­ant stitch at the edge, like I bound it off with a gi­ant nee­dle. My friend says I’m be­ing nuts, but when it’s a scarf it just looks ugly. Neat Freak

Dear Neat Freak, You are NOT be­ing nuts. For a bet­ter edge, bind off un­til you have one stitch left on each nee­dle. Pass the last un­worked stitch from left nee­dle to right nee­dle.

Move the un­worked stitch back to the left nee­dle. Ta-da! No ex­tra lump, no gi­ant stitch. Av­er­age bind off with “gi­ant stitch” ef­fect. With tip of left nee­dle, pick up the left loop of the row be­low the un­worked stitch by in­sert­ing the nee­dle from back...

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