A few weeks back, I picked up some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in the "Rainbow" colorway. A fan of rainbows, tie-dye, etc., it caught my eye, and then Matthew said he'd really like a vest out of it. I was skeptical of that since he is notorious for refusing to wear what we make. (The Love Bug vest I recently made both boys is the only knitted thing other than a hat that he's willingly worn since he's been old enough to care what he wears.) Still, I walked out with two hanks and let ideas of "what" to make simmer.
Since great minds think alike, and since we are very similar in many things, M. bought two hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Rainbow" on the same day. (The color changes appear much more quickly in that one - or appear to - so on the hank, they do look very different.)
We decided to make family hats (we love that sort of thing). I'm going to make Matthew and me hats out of the bulky using the "Canadian Hat" pattern from The Purl Stitch. M. will make Spencer and herself hats using the worsted and some yet-to-be-determined pattern.
So, after debating over the pattern, which uses the same number of stitches worked at different gauges to achieve different sizes, I decided not to swatch, figuring that if it worked up smaller, it would fit Matthew (who has a huge head), or if it worked up bigger, it would be for me, and I would adjust needle sizes for hat #2.
Well, that's a good theory...
But after working several inches and then checking to see what my gauge was in the garter rib, it turned out I was working at 4 1/2 stitches per inch. The pattern calls for 15, 14, or 13 over 4 inches. So, even for the smallest size, my gauge was way off. It wasn't a huge surprise. LL Bulky says on the label that it works up at 3 1/2 on 10's. But the pattern works a "bulky" yarn on 8's (for the largest size), so that is what I was using. (Conversely, the pattern works a light and a worsted yarn [held together] on 10's for the largest size, which seemed odd. Seems like whether you use a bulky or the two worked together, you should be using the same needle size to achieve gauge. I think my yarn on a 10 would have been the right choice.)
So, gauge is off.
I put it away for the night so M. could confirm the bad news for me in the morning.
I pulled it off the needles.
We then tried it on. It's plenty big enough for all of us.
The only thing I can figure is that the pattern uses a much bulkier yarn. The pattern does note that a bulky yarn is worked tightly for the hat, making it warmer. My LL isn't feeling really "tight" at this gauge even. So, a bulkier yarn worked tightly might not have much stretch, and the LL worked up still has a lot of stretch, so it's fitting fine.
Yep. I then sat and picked all the stitches back up on a half dozen DPNs so that I could work it back onto my circular.
I'm just going to keep going and see what happens. The fabric feels great at this gauge, so if the fit works, that's what matters in the end!
Don't worry, you'll hear what happens one way or the other.