Start Small and Gauge-Free

This Gauge-Free sweater business is a new and exciting idea for me. Being able to dive into my stash and not worry about matching a specific gauge is wonderfully freeing.

I am going to begin with something small. It’s always easier to figure things out on a little sweater, no large time or yarn investment. I’m way ahead of this blog with my knitting and it’s looking great.

I am knitting a baby-sized sweater for a 12 month old. I have worked my Triangle Beginning to establish the width at the Back of Neck. That’s where it all starts, at the top of the Back. That’s an important measurement as you know but instead of working with a certain gauge we are going to use a ruler. Yes, a ruler with inches or centimeters on it. How simple and familiar is that?!

Dive into your stash, find some yarn and a pair of needles and knit along if you like. It’s a mystery baby knit. (There will be a published pattern soon.) Oh yeah, did I mention NO GAUGE SWATCH IS NEEDED!!!!

This Triangle Beginning took no time at all and measures 4″/10cm across the top finished edge. Yay. Step one completed. That was really quick.

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Now to work a Back Panel. This piece of knitting is the anchor of the cardigan. It determines the total length of the garment.

Build a V back panel CHILD

We’ve established the Back of Neck measurement so now, keeping the stitch numbers the same and maintaining the V shaping that started with the triangle, knit a strip as follows:

Work a decrease at the beginning of the row, work the 2 increases at the centre marker as you did for the beginning triangle and then work a final decrease at the end of the row. Two decreases and two increases keeps the stitch count the same. Knit the wrong side row. Repeat the two rows. Work to the desired length for your cardigan. My 12 month size Back Panel measures 12″/30cm. It’s a l-o-n-g, narrow piece of knitting. Easy to knit once you get going.DSC_0105 (2) - Copy

Then, of course, since you know I get a trifle obsessed, I started 2 adult-sized sweaters because if it works for little people it could work for me too. The triangles are finished but there is more to come. I don’t want my sweaters to have a pointy Back Panel pointing towards my derriere, thank you very much. A change must be made to avoid that.

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I may regret trying to knit three sweaters at the same time but here goes nothing…

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb on instagram

Gauge-Free Build A ‘V’ Triangle Beginning

We’re not going to make a swatch, YAY. I’m all for that. This is freedom from the tyranny of getting gauge. We are going to be the boss of our knitting!

You can dive into your stash and pick any yarn you like. But … this does change where and how we begin since there are no specific number of stitches in an inch to guide us.

This cardigan is knit in blocks. The first block is a Back Panel the width of the Back of Neck. The Back of Neck is an important measurement in a sweater.

The Specific Gauge pattern Baby J begins in the same way, with the neckband.

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Baby J

That would be my preferred place to begin most of the time too. Because this pattern is worked for DK weight yarn there can be a specific number of stitches to cast on for each size.

neckband schematic

Then the Back of Neck number of stitches is determined.

Back of Neck on neckband

And a Back Panel is knit with that number of stitches.

Back panel on neckband

All that works a treat.

But when you want to knit it Gauge-Free there are no specific stitch counts. We can’t begin with the neckband because we don’t know how many stitches to cast on. We have to think of another way of determining the Back of Neck width.

We can begin with a triangle. It works just like a triangle shawl. Cast on a few stitches and work 4 increases by working one increase at the beginning of the row, one increase before and one after the centre marker and another increase at the end of the row, followed by a knit row. Work until the finished edge is the width you want for the Back of Neck.

back of neck triangle

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The marker is there to indicate the Right Side of my fabric. This is a 12 month size with a Back of Neck measurement of 4″/10cm.
That’s not hard, right? And so it begins.

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

Deb on instagram

Get Gauge or Gauge-Free patterns

SPECIFIC gauge (traditional patterns), MULTI-gauge, ANY gauge, gauge-FREE. This is a sliding scale of how important a specific gauge is and how much information about the number of stitches per inch/cm is needed in a pattern to get a certain size of garment. It’s also the history of my designing journey and where it’s leading me, and you, as you continue to read along with me.

A SPECIFIC GAUGE pattern, a traditional pattern, tells you what gauge is expected with a certain weight of yarn (and often a specific yarn by name) and needle. When you match the needle size and gauge correctly you’ll be successful.

Unfortunately for some of us, me included, gauge is difficult to get and we don’t often hit the gauge with the needle size recommended. Changing needle sizes is necessary to get close to gauge and close is usually the best I can do.

I have written a lots and lots, over 100, specific gauge patterns for Cabin Fever. I have used the same yarn for many of these patterns. Not the same ball of course, ha, ha, the same style and weight of yarn. Familiar yarn makes knitting traditional patterns easier because I know what I need to do to get gauge.

They totally work. As a designer, they are satisfying to write because once the gauge is established the calculator comes out and it’s all about basic arithmetic. Imagine that a sweater is a schematic of little boxes, all the same size. It’s sort of like drawing a life-size garment on a giant piece of knitters graph paper, except that I don’t actually do that. But now that I think of it … no, no, not going there.

MULTI-GAUGE patterns give you a range of weights of yarn you can use. This is the basis of the Need A … series of books by Cabin Fever. Each book with a title that begins “Need A …” gives you several gauges of yarn to choose from to knit each garment. For example, each of the 14 hats in the Need A Hat book can be knit in any yarn from sock weight to chunky weight. We knit lots and lots and lots of hats to show you how they look in the different yarns.

Having multiple gauge patterns are great for stash diving. It gives you a range of yarns to use and a range of gauges to duplicate. Sometimes you can hit the gauge of one of the choices with a different weight of yarn than we used. For example, in the Need A Circular Yoke book you could get the gauge for DK weight of 22 sts = 4″ with fingering (sock) weight yarn with a 4.0mm/US6 needle and make a terrific sweater following the directions for the DK weight sweater. It would totally fit (because you got the gauge correctly) but it would have a different feel and drape.

ANY GAUGE patterns are all about the size of the garment in inches or cm, not specific stitch counts. Dive into your stash for some yarn, grab some appropriate needles and work a swatch. Measure and work out your own particular gauge, with your chosen yarn, and then do the math for each part of the garment.

It’s a step away from traditional patterns and puts much more control in your hands. You are designing your own garment along with general construction directions from the named designer. You will be able to see places where you can add your own design elements to make your very own unique garments.

I have written several Any Gauge Raglans in this way. You work out your own gauge and then do some simple math, cast on and work Top Down to make your own sweater. I have knit the 3 sizes of Any Gauge Raglan Pullovers in all different gauges of yarn. It works.

Next GAUGE-FREE where the gauge doesn’t matter at all!! Phew. No swatches, no changing needles, no measuring tiny parts of stitches. This is Gauge Freedom!!

How can this work? Knit, following the directions, until the piece measures the size required, measuring with a ruler. I know, very old-school. No one cares what the gauge is at all. Write down the number of stitches on your needle and continue on. For example, in the Any Gauge Mitten pattern you cast on and work until the mitten fits your hand. Note down the number of stitches on your needle. The pattern uses that number of stitches as a basis for the thumb size. It doesn’t matter what yarn you used or what size you’re knitting. Once the mitten body is the correct size you’re golden.

Which of these types of patterns have you knit? Would you like to try some of the others? What is drawing you to them?

I can’t wait to hear from you,

Deb

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

Deb on instagram