Amy Artisan

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Got Gauge?

At some point in your knitting life, you learn the importance of “getting gauge” in a knitting pattern. Too loose, the object will come out too big – too tight, too small.

My first introduction to the importance of gauge was in a knitting class in 2003 or 2004. The LYS offered a pillow class that looked like a real skill builder: using a Jo Sharp Home pattern book we would knit 2 pillow tops (from different patterns) and end up with one complete pillow. The skills to learn: side 1 was a simple intarsia; side 2 was cables and button holes.

When I registered for the class, I was given the pattern book and guided to pick out the yarn and needles. I selected 2 beautiful shades of the Jo Sharp Silk Road & the needles that were listed in the book.

In the first class session, we immediately cast on for side 1 and by the end of the evening I was juggling both colors of yarn. I think it was the 3rd session when we started on side 2. Right away, everyone noticed that their own sets did not match up. The shop owner was less than helpful in explaining what gauge was & that we should have each done a gauge swatch before getting started. In the 4th session, we were supposed to assemble the pillows by seaming the 2 sides.

My side 1 was very loose and it was easy to see that my side 2 was very tight – there was no way that they would match up to form a pillow. Once I came to the realization that I would not end up with one pillow I came up with a new plan: 2 pillows. Side 1 would form a large floor pillow. For Side 2, I decided to only knit half the pattern and make a sofa pillow. Artisan Mom found some fun upholstery fabric for the backings.

Since then, many of my projects didn’t rely on guage – I think part of that might be because I had such a bad first experience with gauge. Before I embarked on my first sweater, I did knit a gauge swatch & at the end of all the knitting the sweater pretty much blocked to the measurements.

With the start of a new year, it was time for a new gauge swatch…yep, it’s time to cast on for another sweater! What’s on the needles this time? I’m following the crowd to the February Lady Sweater. This past weekend of winter hibernation was a great time to get going on this project. So far, it’s going well and I’m enjoying the project. As I’m working the yoke section, it’s a great chance to use several of the fun stitch markers that I’ve acquired. While I’m not setting a deadline for completion, it would indeed be fun to have this off the needles at some point in February.

The bitter cold winter weather continues – in fact, the reflection of all the snow outside made for a “natural” lightbox this afternoon as I was taking pictures. With all of the cold and snow, I envision lots of knitting time for this project in the coming weeks.


  1. What cute stitch markers! I love that sweater pattern- it looks like fun knitting.

  2. Yikes! Good thing you had your thinking cap on and came up with not one, but two wonderful pillows. They look great.

  3. Good strategy on the pillows. I look forward to your progress on the Febuary sweater. Better just stay home and knit with all the snow and cold up there. Suppose to be in the 50’s here in Denver for the next week!

  4. That’s wonderful that you and Artisan Mom saved the pillows. I could see you and your classmates getting very discouraged with knitting early on, without that explanation of gauge, and all those difficulties with the FOs.

    The color of your new sweater is going to be a perfect antidote to this winter freeze. It looks like Robin’s Egg blue. YAY spring!

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