February 28, 2005

Uncooperative Row Gauge

Dear nona,

I just started a super cute baby sweater.  Much to my chagrin, I discovered that my stitch gauge was okay, but my row gauge was off.  The pattern calls for 48 rows in 4 inches, but I'm only getting 32!  Wouldn't you know it - the pattern is written in rows instead of inches.  Can I adjust the pattern to match my row gauge and if so...what's the secret?

Struggling with a small sweater in San Francisco

Dear Struggling,

Before we begin, I'd like to applaud you for knitting a gauge swatch.  Please take a brief MCS before continuing.  In nona's book, no gauge swatch equals crap shoot.

Very often if you match your pattern's stitch gauge, then your row gauge will also match -- thanks to the proportional nature of stitches -- but this is not always the case.  Now, nona is a bit concerned that your stitch gauge matches, but your row gauge is so far off.  So, before going any further please check:

  1. You measured and counted your rows accurately -- not that nona doubts you.
  2. You worked your gauge swatch in the proper stitch pattern.  Often the directions will say something like, "16 sts and 20 rows over 4 inches in seed stitch", which means you need to work your swatch in seed stitch.  If no stitch pattern is mentioned, good old stockinette stitch should be used.

Assuming all checks out okay and your row gauge does differ, you can use the gauge multiplier to adjust your pattern.   First, calculate the row multiplier by dividing your row gauge by the pattern's row gauge.  Your row multiplier is 32/48 = .67 -- isn't math fun!  Next, multiple all row numbers in your pattern by your row multiplier, rounding intelligently as necessary  For example, if your pattern reads, "CO 82 stitches and work for 86 rows", then your adjusted version is "CO 82 stitches and work for 58 rows" -- 86 x .67 = 57.6 rounded to 58.

Hopefully you get the basic idea.  Some patterns involve complex shaping, which also should be adjusted.  This, I'm afraid, is an advanced topic -- only read on if you're adventurous!

Advanced Pattern Adjustments

Let's look at a more complex example, the shaping of a sleeve.  In this example, assume your row gauge is 6 rows per inch and the pattern's is 5 rows per inch giving you a row multiplier of 1.2 (6/5).  Let's adjust the sleeve pattern based on the 1.2 stitch multiple step by step:

  1. CO 40 sts and work 10 12 rows -- 10 x 1.2 = 12 -- simple
  2. Inc 1 st each edge every 6 rows, 6 times and then 1 st each edge every 8 rows, 3 times - okay this will be a bit trickier.  In the original pattern, the sleeve is gradually increased over 60 rows.  nona knows its 60 rows because we work 6 rows, 6 times (36 rows) and 8 rows, 3 times (24 rows)  36 + 24 = 60.  For our adjusted version, we need to work the increases over 72 rows (60 x 1.2 = 72) -- leaving us 12 extra rows to fit in.   The 12 extra rows can be added by working the 6 6-row increases as 8-row increases.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Inc 1 st each edge every 8 rows 9 times" -- yup, 8 rows, 9 times is 72 rows.

  3. Continue straight for a further 16 20 rows -- 16 x 1.2 = 19.2, then round up to the next even row

  4. BO 3 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows -- no adjustment needed.

  5. Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 8 times then every 4 rows, 3 times -- another bit of trickiness for the sleeve cap shaping.  We know the original pattern shapes the sleeve cap over 28 rows -- 2 rows, 8 times (16 rows) and 4 rows, 3 times (12 rows).  For our adjusted version, we need to work the sleeve cap over 34 rows (28 x 1.2 rounded) -- leaving us 6 extra rows to fit in.  The 6 extra rows can be added by working 3 of the 2 row decreases as 4 row decrease.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 5 times then every 4 rows, 6 times" -- yup, 2 rows, 5 times (10 rows) and 4 rows, 6 times (24) is indeed 34 rows.

  6. BO all sts -- no adjustment needed.

nona knows this is a lot to absorb, but hopes it will help you adjust your pattern.  Remember, the calculator is your friend and keep notes for yourself -- who knows you may knit one sleeve today and the other in 6 months!

February 28, 2005 in Ask nona, Deciphering Patterns | Permalink | Comments (2)

January 03, 2005

Ask Nona

Dear nona,

I've finished the back and front of my sweater, but am stuck on the sleeves.  Can you please decipher the sleeve directions for me:

..change to 4mm needles and cont. in stocking st inc 1 st at each end of needle on next and following 4th rows to 77 sts, then every foll 6th row to 97 sts.

Sleeveless in Rockville

Dear Sleeveless,

Knitting directions can be so daunting.  They are often written tersely -- in knitting "code" -- and assume a lot of background information.  Let's see if we can walk through your sleeve directions.

  1. First, you'll need to change to your 4 mm needles.  The easiest way to do this is to knit (or purl) the next row using the new needles.  Don't worry about working any increases on this transition row.

  2. Typically, sleeve increases are worked on right side (RS) rows -- on the knit side of stockinette stitch.  Once you've changed your needles, you'll work your first increase row on the next RS row.

  3. On the next RS (knit) row, you'll increase one stitch at the beginning of the row and another stitch at the end of the row.  This is what they mean by "each end of needle".  To keep your edges smooth, do not increase in the first and last stitches of the row, instead increase in the second and second-to-last stitches of the row. Your increase row will go like this: k1, increase 1, knit to last 2 stitches, increase 1, k1.

  4. Next, how the heck do you increase 1 stitch.  Well, there are many ways to do this.  Here is my favorite:

    • Before knitting the next stitch on your left needle -- using the right needle and coming from the back, pick up the loop of the "parent" stitch and place it on the left needle.  The "parent" stitch is the loop right below the stitch sitting on the left needle. 
    • Knit the picked up parent stitch
    • Knit the next stitch
  5. Finally, "following 4th rows" means you'll work one increase row followed by 3 "plain" rows, then one increase row followed by 3 "plain" rows, etc until you have 77 sts.  Once you have 77 sts, you'll work one increase row followed by 5 "plain" rows -- "every foll 6th row" -- until you have 97 sts.

Well Sleeveless, I hope this helps you decipher your pattern directions.  If not, you know how to reach me. 

Anyone else have a question for nona?

January 3, 2005 in Ask nona, Deciphering Patterns | Permalink | Comments (16)

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