A friend was knitting a pair of lovely lacy socks. I loved how the design took a self-patterning sock yarn and made it look varigated instead of faux fair isle. Very cool indeed! When she saw my rather utilitarian green socks, she commented that I my knitting gauge was tight.. gauge being the number of stitches per inch. Of course when I got home, I whipped out the tape measure to check.
Gauge is determined by the yarn, the size of the needles and how much tension you have on the yarn as you're knitting. Gauge is important to know if you're trying to make an item to size. If you have more stitches per inch than the is required, your item could be too small and if there are less stitches per inch, your item will be too large. You can do some size adjustments, just by changing the gauge or like with the black mittens, I knew I needed more stitches to make a larger item, which is a second way of increasing size, using the same gauge.. More's the pity, I didn't in that project.
In the case of socks, often a rather tight gauge is specified. Most sock yarn is rather thin, requiring more stitches per inch, just because it's skinny. As well, sometimes you'll hear people complain about being able to feel the bumbs on the sole of the foot and a tight gauge will get rid of that problem. Apparently, a sock woven at a tighter gauge will keep it's shape longer and wear out more slowly as well. If a pair of socks costs me $15 - $20 in materials and 20 hours in labour, I want it to last!
So back to the green socks. The yarn called for 7 stitches per inch. The sock pattern called for 8.5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch. I know that a sock, with that weight of yarn, cast on with 60 stitches, and knit at 8 stitches per inch, will get a sock that fits me nicely and be dense enough to be long wearing and comfy. With a size 2.75 mm needle, I got the 8 stitches per inch, which is what it measured out to be. According to my yarn... too tight... according to my pattern, too loose.... according to me, just right! hmmmmm I see a little blonde curly haired lass or three bears helping me with that one.
By the way, the Kitchener stitch toe, was perfect first time round! Not only did it get done painlessly, but it looked lovely too. I am happy because I have another comfy and pretty pair of socks. The yarn I dyed knit up with lovely colour varigation and absolutely no colour pooling at all.. Now if I could only find a way to photograph the socks without having to curl my toes and stand oddly to balance! (I finished the green socks yesterday!)
Next is to find the perfect pattern for the copper sock yarn. I've been looking but nothing has screamed knit me yet.
I'm spinning up some Mioget Shetland rovings. Its a soft light brown colour.
The leek and onion seeds have been started. I probably should have done it last week, but got busy. Next week I can start the rest of the plants. I may need to get some large buckets of water in the greenhouse to help moderate the night time temps. My grandfather used manure, which gave off heat as it composted. I don't have that luxury right now, but buckets of water will heat up during the day and release heat at night, protecting my seedlings. Until then, I'll start them in the house.
The area in the barn is cleaned and we'll be starting to build the chook pen. Right now it will be for all the chicks and by next year, I'm hoping to have a separate brooder area for new chicks/meaties while the layer chooks will have their own pen and outside run.