Gauge Sanity Check

My niece has asked me to do her a sweater, and I have tons of Bolivian alpaca in my stash. The yarn was supposed to be for a different project, but my friend in La Paz got the wrong weight. Now I am left with 900g of 2-3 fingering/sport weight yarn. Pattern calls for a US 8 needle and a gauge of 17 sts & 22 rows = 4" x 4". My gauge swatch worked up to 3" x 3" with 2 yarns stranded. I really can't go higher in needle size as fabric becomes too loose. If I add a third strand, I'm not sure I'll have enough yarn (pattern calls for 425g). So, I need a little sanity check to see if my adjustment calculations are correct for 2 strands with US 8 needles.

3" x 3" is 75% of required gauge. Initial cast on for desired size is 168 sts. Therefore, with my yarn and needles, 168 is 75% of initial cast on. 168/3 = 56 sts per quadrant (i.e. 25%). 56 x 4 = 224 sts for total cast on. Pattern has a larger size with initial cast on of 216 sts because of pattern repeat, which is pretty close to conversion number

I assume I can follow the instructions for this larger size and end up with the desired size, being mindful that I need to keep track of garment finished measurements and adjust rows if necessary. Yes?

I would greatly appreciate any advice or suggestions to avoid pitfalls of which I might not be aware.


AKQGuy's picture

It is going to depend on the niece I think. Is she young and going to grow, or at her adult size? If she is younger I would add up the extra stitches to the next stitch count that allows for a full pattern repeat to allow some time for growth and additional sweater wear. If she is not to grow, and the larger size stitch counts will give you a good fitting sweater, go for it.

Next thing... Did you wash said swatch? Is the yarn going to stretch with wash and wear? That will also effect my choice I final numbers.

Good luck, and have fun.

JE-DC's picture

She's 24, so don't need to deal with a growth issue. Still waiting for her to get back to me with her measurements.

I think I'll go with the larger size to compensate for gauge. If I find it's not working, it won't be the first thing I've ripped out and started over.

Didn't wash the swatch, but will do. Don't think it will change much, if at all; it's hardly got any stretch to it.


HuskerChub's picture

A quick note on Alpaca, it acts much more like cotton than wool when worn. In other words, it will strrrrreeech so you should make sure that you wash, and block the swatch. Many recomend knitting alpaca at a tighter gauge than wool.

To be safe, I would do the hang a weighted swatch trick. It gets complicated but here goes. Weigh the swatch. Then based on 1-- the measurement of the swatch and 2-- the measurement of the finished garment do some calculations. Example: swatch is 3x3 and weighs 3 grms. Finished length is 27; 27/3=9 so 9x3 grms=27 grms for a total weight. take total 27-3 (weight of swatch)=24 grms. Now, hang the swatch on a bulletin board or similar and then hang 24 grams of additional weight to the swatch and leave it hang for a day or two. All of this weight will mimic the actual weight of the sweater and approximate what will happen in real life. Lost of extra work but since you are dealing with a lot of variables on this one it might be worth it.

ronhuber's picture

I only knit with alpaca once. A sweater that resembles a bath robe now. It really stretches.

xtophercb's picture

i hate to math-geek out here... it's a common misconception, but 3x3 is not 75% of 4x4... 3x3 is 9 square, 4x4 is 16 square... 9 divided by 16 is .5625, or just over 56% of the area... so you'd almost need to double your calculations based on that 3x3 gauge swatch. would you have enough yarn then? sounds like you would, especially with the crazy 'stretch' the alpaca has... but it might be close for finishing.