Big Box of Knitting Fails: Giant Sweater :(

Big Box of Knitting FailsFor those of you that have taken classes with me, you know all about “Patty’s Big Box of Knitting Fails”. I seem to have an example of something tragic I’ve done in my knitting for nearly everything I’m teaching. So, I’m launching a new blog series to dig into my knitting boo boos. Today’s episode . . .

Gauge Tragedy: Why close is not close enough.

Many of you know that gauge is a special topic for me. Well, what you might NOT know, is I come to this topic after much failure. Some of my failures were from years ago when I didn’t know any better, but some . . . I have no excuse for.

I give a talk called “Oops I Accidentally Knit a Dress: Tales of Lies, Heartbreak and Denial”. This is the tale of the sweater that inspired this talk.

Skipping the Gauge Swatch

Ten years ago, I did what I KNEW I shouldn’t do . . . cast on for a sweater without doing a gauge swatch (yes, I can hear the gasps through the computer screens).

I used some of the excuses we all use. The lies we all tell ourselves (leave a comment if any of these sound familiar to you):

  • I’m a good knitter
  • I’m using the same yarn and needle the pattern calls for
  • I worked the first inch or so of the sweater and it seems “about right”
  • I measured after a few inches and I’m only 1/2 stitch off, that’s no big deal.
  • I skipped measurng row gauge. If I’m close on stitch, I’m sure row is also fine.

Yes folks I was getting 3 stitches per inch instead of 3 1/2 stitches per inch. Simple math would have told me that’s not going to work. Let’s take a closer look.

Say I’m shooting for 17″ wide, and the pattern tells me to cast on 51 stitches

60 st / gauge of 3.5 = 17″

or if you think your gauge is close enough and you think that 1/2 stitch doesn’t matter

60 st /gauge of 3 = 20″!!!!!!!!

Don’t even get me started on row gauge.

Giant sad cable - gauge

Notice that the sweater comes to my hand. Mid thigh. Yes I knit a dress.

In case you are wondering why I have knit a full sweater back AND front before I gave into the fact that the sweater was way too big . . . DENIAL.

After ripping the whole thing out, steaming out the totally kinked, softly spun, single ply alpaca (really), rewinding into cakes, DOING A GAUGE SWATCH, and casting back on . . . ta da, I have a sweater that fits (funny that.)


Notice where my hand is? Yep, this sweater is about 3″ narrower and shorter!


To learn more about gauge, check out on my gauge class “Make YOUR Gauge Work.”

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