Gauge Bites

Especially when you completely fail to check it.

Remember the too short cabled sock?

I bit the bullet and frogged it all the way back. I knit it again; giving myself the extra length I needed in the foot, and got ready to start the gusset. I decided to try it on first, and noticed something I’d ignored the first time.

Even with 72 stitches in a round, it felt too snug going around the ball of my foot. Not to mention that the toe was so short it ended before my small toe even started.


I went and looked on Ravelry, and there were all kinds of gorgeous versions of this pattern. None of them had that over-stretched look I can see in my work. What had I done wrong?

I remembered how tightly I was knitting the sock. I called it “wrist-aching” in my last blog post, and boy was that ever the truth. If I knit for more than about 25 minutes I had to shake the tension out of my wrists and stretch my fingers out to loosen them up.

So I took out my tape measure, laid it across the sole stitches and, for the very first time since starting the sock, actually counted how many stitches there were in an inch. The pattern calls for nine… I was working at ten.

I’m pretty sure that when I saw the gauge in the pattern, I just went straight for my US 0 (2.0 mm) needles. Never, not once until this morning, did I actually measure my stitches per inch.

And that, dear readers, brings us to the moral of the story:

If you’re knitting at such a tight gauge that your hands hurt, you might consider that you are, in fact, knitting too tight. Way too tight. You might even consider checking your gauge before your hands start hurting you.

Excuse me, won’t you? I’ve got a sock to frog.

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15 Responses to Gauge Bites

  1. Shan says:

    I did that with Eunny's wretched Chuck's Cabled Socks…stranding plus cables. I swatched and swatched, then knitted half the sock TWICE. Frogged both times as I could not get it on my foot. It was a total bust.Love the baby sweater of your last post, by the way. And thanks for your comments on HSB. I so appreciate them…your continued sympathy means a lot.

  2. Mereknits says:

    I have so done that before. It is funny how these very easy rules repeat themselves over and over, Good luck with the new guage. Can't wait to see how it fits.Have a great day,Meredith

  3. Anna says:

    Sorry about your gauge issues! The sock looks lovely though so I hope you don't give it up but really get into it again.I'm anal about checking gauge for socks as I know I have weird feet and knit tight as hell… My first sock in a pair is often knit about three times though before I'm happy with it; I always have to change the gusset area to make sure I can get my high instep into the sock. The same goes for ribbing and leg section if I'm knitting cuff-down. My Pomatomus socks are so tight to get over the heel that I have to lie down in bed and wrestle them on…

  4. drkknits says:

    ohhhh. not good. and on 2mm needles as well. ouch. but theyre so pretty. sigh.

  5. janel says:

    hehehehehehbeen theredone that

  6. Bells says:

    well yes, there's a lesson in that for all of us!

  7. Donna Lee says:

    I've had that happen. I neglected to measure and then also neglected to switch needle sizes. I couldn't bear to frog a whole pair of socks (because of course I didn't try them on as I went along) and just gave them away to someone with way skinnier feet.They are beautiful cabled socks you're making. Almost makes me want to get out the half finished bayerische socks I have sitting in a bag just waiting for me.

  8. Chandler says:

    This is why I have still never knitted an actual, finished, adult-sized sweater. Gauge makes me shake in my boots. I'm terrified that after all that work, even with measuring and triple-checking, it isn't going to work.Sigh. But your sock is lovely, even if it doesn't fit! You are a braver soul than I.

  9. Oh, the tragedy of gauge! I'm a loose knitter, so I often end up with the opposite problem. I usually go a needle size smaller just on general principle. And if the design was made by a guy knitter — like the inestimable Jared Flood — I go down a size there too. Men are usually tight knitters, it seems.

  10. Gidgetknits says:

    🙂 And yet we always forget the rules! Well, I do, at least. But it's pretty and you've figured out the problem – smooth sailing from here… right?

  11. Allison says:

    I only started knitting gauge swatches this year after years of knitting. I guess it takes a long time for me to learn the hard way!

  12. essjay says:

    Hopefully the third time will be the charm! Gauge is so fickle!

  13. Kathy says:

    Yes, gauge bites. But, at least you were smart enough to check it now. Try blocking a sweater and realizing that your gauge is off… excuse me, I'm going to go shove that bag of sweater pieces further to the back of the closet….oh, and it does look like an awesome sock, btw.

  14. AlisonH says:

    Ouch. And it was such a pretty sock. Its descendant will be, too.

  15. A very good basic rule about knitting too tight! Thanks for visiting me today.

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