Let the games begin!
Each clue is being released as a PDF – these are easy to download and print. To open them you’ll need Adobe Reader, which you can download here.
Don’t forget, each “clue” is the pattern for one block of our afghan, but you knit each clue knit three times – one in each of the three colors you have chosen.
Next time we’ll show you what the finished block looks like for this clue – you’ll get to see it develop on your own.
Now, before we all race to cast on, have you all checked your gauge? Checking your gauge is a very important first step before embarking on a new knitting project. Take my word for it, it’s worth every minute it takes to knit a gauge swatch! Don’t you want your afghan to be perfect?
HOW TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE
Using the yarn and needles recommended in the pattern, cast on enough stitches to create a piece of knitting at least 4 in (10 cm) wide. Why 4 inches? Most patterns, as well as yarn ball bands state a gauge measured over 4 in (10cm). A larger swatch will be more accurate, but use your own discretion.
I like to knit my swatches with a garter stitch border to prevent curling and make it easier to measure. Adding a border will mean adding a few more stitches to your cast on. Here’s the break-down of making a swatch for our Knit-along afghan:
Pattern gauge is:
18 stitches (sts) & 24 rows = 4 ins [10 cm] in stocking stitch.
We will want to cast on at least 18 sts for our swatch. To create a border we’ll need to add a few stitches. I want to have 3 sts of garter stitch bordering my swatch on either side, so I’ll add 6 sts.
3 sts garter st + 18 sts stocking st + 3 sts garter st = 24 stitches to cast on.
Here’s my “pattern” for our gauge swatch:
Cast on 24 sts.
Knit 4 rows.
Continue as follows:
1st Row: (WS) K3. P18. K3.
2nd Row: Knit.
Rep these 2 rows for 4 in [10cm].
Knit 4 rows.Cast off.
Now that we have a nice little sample of our knitting, we need to measure it. Lay your swatch down flat (on something solid – your couch won’t do!) and go get yourself a ruler.
Place your ruler horizontally across one row being careful not to stretch or distort your knitting. Now start countin’! Some people count stitches within 2 inches (5 cm), though counting over 4 inches (10 cm) will be more accurate. Try to count your stitches in a few different spots, perhaps turning your work upside down to make sure you get an over-all average. The number of stitches you count over four inches is your “personal” gauge or tension. (Need I mention you need to double the number you get if you count over two inches?)
Now count your stitches vertically to find your row gauge.
So what happens if you don’t get exactly 18 sts and 24 rows? If you get more stitches than the suggested gauge, your finished project will end up smaller than it should be and the fabric you produce will be denser than it should be. If you get less stitches than the suggested gauge, your finished project will end up larger than it should be and the fabric you produce will be looser than it should be. Even a variation of half a stitch makes an obvious difference in the finished size. So what’s a knitter to do?
If you’re getting too many stitches, go up a needle size. Let’s say you count 20 sts on your 5mm needles. Try knitting another swatch using 5.5 mm needles and count again. If you’re getting too few stitches (say, 16 sts), go down a needle size. Keep changing needle sizes until you get that magic number!
What about row gauge? In most cases, matching the row gauge of a pattern isn’t deathly important. If you get your stitch gauge, chances are your row gauge is pretty darn close, so don’t sweat it!
This is just my own personal method for testing gauge. I don’t claim it to be perfect and I’m always looking to improve! Do you have your own tip or trick for checking gauge? Let us know in the comments!