Well, in light of the successful baby knitting, I decided that I would once again attempt the devious Mrs. Darcy. But this time, I come armed with a theory as to why it grew so large upon blocking it the last time.
While reading through some older entries of the Yarn Harlot’s blog, I discovered that she and a friend has run into a similar problem whilst knitting matching sweaters. They’d been knit to gauge and measure correctly when they were finished. Once they’d been blocked, however, she found that the sweaters had expanded to outrageous proportions.
‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. ‘That’s what happened to me!’
In the process of describing how she managed to save the sweaters in time (I think they were knitting his-and-hers sweaters for friends of theirs), she happened to mention that they were knitting with superwash wool.
‘Wait a minute!’ I cried. ‘That’s what I’m knitting with!’
So. My theory now is that it is neither my attempts at resizing the original pattern nor my knitting skills which are the problem here. My theory is that the problem lies with the yarn.
So. I did what all the books recommend that you do and which I obviously should have done in the first place and will now do every single time since I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, which is BLOCK YOUR GAUGE SWATCH!
I was so proud of myself for knitting up the gauge swatch (which tells you if your stitches are the same size as the one used for the pattern – basically, if your gauge is off, the size of your sweater will be off), but I thought ‘Block it (wash it, pin it out, and wait for it to dry)? Pppfff, no way – I want to make a sweater now!’
But look what happened!
It went from measuring 6 3/8″ x 4″ to measuring 6 11/16″ by 4 5/16″! Sure, it doesn’t sound like that big of a difference, but when you spread that growth over something that you think is, say 24″ wide, it ends up being…excuse me while I attempt to do the math here…a whole inch wider! And something 24″ long would end up being 25 3/4″ long!
But now that I know that my gauge is actually significantly larger than I originally thought, I should be able to adjust the pattern and change the number of stitches I do to hopefully get something that will look too small when I’m done, but end up being the correct size once it’s been blocked.