Monday, February 13, 2012

Limitations of tension squares

Well, I did my tensions squares, ascertained that I must use 4.5mm needles instead of 5mm to get the right size, and off I went. First step was to decipher the Afrikaans pattern, which wasn't too very difficult, once I'd sorted my regs from my aweregs. It helped that there are only four rows to the pattern repeat.

Then a little voice at the back of my head began to nag that the fabric I was producing was much too stiff. Nah, I told it, that's because this is acrylic yarn and I'm used to working with natural fibres. Hours and hours of knitting later, I had to acknowledge that the voice had a point.

I started again with 5mm needles. Twice. First using the stitch number for one size down and then for two sizes down. Instead of 77 stitches I have 67 to get the right size.

In defence of the tension squares, I have to say that if I hadn't done them, I might not have realised that knitting with the recommended needle size would result in something huge.

But the point is, that while correct sizing is important, it's not the whole story. Knitting with a smaller needle might result in a cardigan the correct size, but so stiff it's unwearable! OK, the yarn I was given to use is probably thicker than that recommended in the pattern, but the point still applies.

And the lesson I never learn? Listen to the little voice at the back of your head!!