Issue: gauge

No matter how many times we try to ignore, outsmart, and bypass gauge, it always finds a way to come back and bite us in the ass.

Here’s the issue: the instep and the sole of the Hidden Passion socks are attached in an obvious way: one row of instep for one row of sole. In fact, it doesn’t even matter that they’re knit separately. Even if I were knitting the sock in the round, I would (naturally) have one row of instep for every one row of sole.

However, my stockinette gauge and shadow knitting gauge are very different! In the shadow knitting portion, I’m getting roughly 15 rows per inch. In the stockinette portion, only 11 rows per inch. As a result, attaching the instep and sole at a 1:1 ratio causes pretty dramatic puckering.

Admittedly once the sock is on the foot it looks much better. Who was it that said, “knitting hides a multitude of sins”? A little stretch, and a little give, and presto! You could never get away with this using woven fabric.

But it’s me who’s writing this. Me! You know me – I have a serious problem, a tick of some sort, an itch that cannot be scratched, a compulsion. If I can think of a better way to do something, hell and high water can’t stop me.

The math is simple – in order for the fabric to be smooth and pucker-free, I need to knit approximately 2 rows of stockinette per 3 rows of shadow knitting. With a little fudging and futzing, I’ll figure out how and where I’m going to skip some of the chain stitches.

Believe it or not, this gauge issue is not nearly as complicated as guessing the length of my grandma’s instep. Frogging: it’s not an inconvenience, it’s a way of life.


31 thoughts on “Issue: gauge

  1. Mary K. in Rockport

    Well, you’re right. It does pucker a bit. But it looks OK, it probably feels OK when it’s stretched, and – I hesitate to say – it probably IS OK….? I mean, I’m as perfectionist as the next knitter, but mightn’t you get little holes along the join if you do a 3:2 pick-up? (But if you must fiddle, and I guess you must, how about doing the larger section on an even smaller needle than you ordinarily use – same number of stitches, shorter length?)

  2. Lori

    Couldn’t you change needle sizes for the instep instead of knitting more rows? That way your row gauge would be the same. I’m not sure if the construction of the sock would allow for that. I’m sure you already thought of this. Perhaps it would screw up the width too much if you went up in needle size?

  3. Carrie

    Do you think the missing rows will be obvious once Gramma wears them? I suppose if they are, you’ll rip back and put in one-to-one rows again.

    Hey, sockapalooza is starting again soon! (I can’t wait to see what you make this time!)

  4. Suzann

    I had a similar problem when I tried to do a slip stitch pattern on the sole of a sock. The row gauge was off so much that I couldn’t see how I would be able to close the toe. I was envisioning the toe creeping under the toe. When I went up a size on the sole part of the sock, I didn’t care for the fabric it produced. And as the instep part was already being knit on a 2.00mm needle, I could see going down a size needle. In the end, I did the slip stitch under the heel and under the toe, but left the rest of the sole in stockinette stitch. The socks for for my daughter who had had surgery on her foot. And she found them comfortable. It annoys me that I couldn’t tweak the gauge to get what I wanted.

    Good luck, I am sure you will get it to work.

  5. Wannietta

    You know that I’ll support you on this one Cara – It would drive me insane! And I don’t look at it as frogging so much as detailed swatching.

  6. loribird

    I’ll be very interested to see how you make it work – you’re always so inventive! I would probably just call the puckering “arch shaping” and leave it be… (but I’m lazy like that!)

  7. mari

    This is one detail that I’m totally in support for. Puckering bugs the life out of me! It took me a long time to figure out how to deal with it when seaming armholes. As always, I’m so interested to see how your tinkering works out. I’m sure it’ll improve the sock vastly!

  8. Mary Tess

    I put a slipped stitch sole on my Jaywalkers. Each sock doesn’t so much look puckered as concave. But when on my foot it fits well, fells fine and perfectly hugs my high instep. I had no problem with toe (see Suzann’s comment above) but I made a short row toe.

    Sometimes tailoring details in clothing look odd in two dimensions but improve the fit when on a three dimensional body. You’re so far along, maybe you could finish at least to the ankle and see how it feels on the foot. Didn’t you say in a recent post that you, too, have high insteps?

  9. CC

    “Frogging: it’s not an inconvenience, it’s a way of life.”

    You should put this on a T-shirt! Story of my life!

  10. Tana

    In my shadow socks with the striped (not solid) bottom…yes, there is technically a row gauge difference between the top of the foot and the bottom, but I literally cannot tell the difference when I wear them. Garter st is very stretchy as compared to stockinette. I’m thinking I would be more fearful of the top being too stretchy and loose if you try to match the row gauge rather than sticking to a 1:1 ratio even though the row gauges are different. Use the number of stockinette rows as your baseline, and it should work out just fine. Happy knitting!

  11. Kim

    If you skip some of the chain stitches, won’t you have holes along the “seam”? I would find that more of a problem, personally, than the puckering.


  12. Cirilia

    Hmm…do you have the Charlene Schurch book Sensational Knitted Socks? I think you would LOVE it, it has charts galore and is basically a sock pattern cookbook. Anyhow, she has a detailed chart with all the little measurements that correspond with shoe size (like heel to ball of foot, instep, etc.) Your grandmother’s shoe size is 10, right? According to the book her foot should measure: 8.25 inches heel to toe, 2 inches ball of foot to toe and 10.25 total foot length. Hope this helps?

  13. Cassandra

    This may seem crazy but bear with me (I went to art school). You’ve mentioned making guesses about the size of your grandmother’s feet several times lately. Maybe you could make a plaster cast of them? Then from that mold make a grandma sized foot. It’s kind of involved but you’d never have to guess again.

    I know you have a great love and respect for her, so if you did do this I know you’d make sure her feet are properly protected from the plaster.

  14. jiva

    by gauge do you mean that the lighter thread is slightly finer and therefore causing a pucker on the other side. If that is so would it be possible to knit only that row on a larger needle? thus creating a larger gauge with the same rows….

    you are an amazing knitter though.

  15. Anne

    LOL I’m not sure I’d frog – then again, I’m not sure that I’d mind the puckering, being I can’t even knit socks yet =) I do like the colors you’re doing, and you’re making it terribly hard not to want to try shadow knitting!

  16. jaws

    Frogging–yes, a way of life. I’ve been having an internal dialog with myself and have decided to frog Salina back to the last increase on the body. . .Now that I’m nearly done with all knitting and ready to seam it together.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with that tick.

  17. Devon

    Let there be frogging! I completely understand the need to make it perfect. It takes me twice as long to finish things sometimes, just because I ripped it out 4 times before I really started. Glad to see I’m not alone.

  18. Lisa

    I just know someone must have suggested this by now, but I haven’t read the comments yet. Did you try changing needle sizes for the sole? I had to do this with a recent sock pattern so the idea just popped into my head. I love how it’s turning out!

  19. Britt

    An invitation because I love your blog and I would love to learn more about you:

    Write yourself a manifesto. Make it specific (knitting or parenting or music) or general (like mine) So that I can read it.

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