Flying Vee Giveaway!

I was so thrilled to work with both these yarns from two indie dyers I admire with such different points of view. Stephanie at Asylum Fibers has a very cool gothic thing going on (I mean, just check out her colour names) and Annie at Knitting It Up draws her inspiration from all things pop culture (her 'Friends' themed fade kit is stunning.)

And both of them have offered a complete kit to make the Flying Vee for this giveaway. Thank you so much!

It's pretty simple: buy the pattern on Ravelry anytime between its release on Thursday April 26, 2018 and midnight EST May 7, 2018 and you are entered into a random draw for one of the two kits. The Asylum Fibers kit is for the same colourways I used in my sample: Vacant Stare (black) and Transorbital (speckled white/pink/blue/black). The Knitting It Up kit will be customized for the winner, who can consult with Annie and view her pallete to choose a colourway.

A few caveats:
- In Store Sales (which I love and appreciate so much!) will not qualify for the draw.
- Customers using a discount or promo code will not be entered in the draw.

Thanks for checking out my work and find me on Rav if you have questions!
 

Flying Vee: Side-to-Side Tee

  3/4 sleeve version shown in Asylum Fibers Solitary in MC: Vacant Stare and CC: Transorbital. Size 37" shown with 2" + ease.

3/4 sleeve version shown in Asylum Fibers Solitary in MC: Vacant Stare and CC: Transorbital. Size 37" shown with 2" + ease.

Get it on Ravelry

  Short sleeve version shown in Knitting It Up Kensington in MC: Sunday Morning and CC: The Crown. Size 37" with 2"+ ease.

Short sleeve version shown in Knitting It Up Kensington in MC: Sunday Morning and CC: The Crown. Size 37" with 2"+ ease.

This lightweight tee shirt is knit flat from side to side, beginning at the cuff of one sleeve, across the body to the other cuff. German short rows are used to shape the body, with a flattering V shape created by using a contrast colour.

It is only two pieces – back and front – and with careful seaming the garment is truly reversible. Pieces are self-edged in a garter stitch border, so there’s no fussy finishing. Sew it up and wear it!

This is an easy-to-intermediate pattern, with German short rows used in both the back and front pieces - a link to a tutorial is included. Otherwise, there are no challenging techniques or stitches here.

Choosing a Size: This garment is meant to be worn with 2-3” of ease in the upper body, but quite close fitting at the waist. It’s meant to hit just at the waistband of your jeans, with a little extra length in the back. To select the right size for you, consider both waist and bust measurements on the schematic, which are for the flat pieces. This wide boat neck may not suit those with narrow shoulders.

Choosing Colours: This pattern uses the age-old technique of putting darker panels on the side of the body to slim the silhouette. It’s not required, of course, but be aware that reversing the colours (using a light MC and a dark CC) can drastically change the effect.

  Wear it inside out for a very cool effect - seamed carefully, it's reversible!

Wear it inside out for a very cool effect - seamed carefully, it's reversible!

ABOUT THIS PATTERN

  • Number of pages: 7
  • Written instructions, no charts
  • 7 Women’s Sizes: 35/37/40/42/45/50/54” finished bust
  • Measurements given in inches

MATERIALS:

  • Main Colour: 577 (415) / 668 (480) / 777 (558) / 881 (634) /1039 (747) / 1172 (841) / 1318 (947) yards fingering weight yarn (short sleeve amounts in brackets)
  • Contrast Colour: 154/156/161/163/171/178/184 yards fingering weight yarn
  • US 4 (3.5 mm) needles, 24” circular
  • Darning needle
  • 3 stitch markers

GAUGE:

22 st/36 rows over 4”/10cm square in stockinette, after blocking

Get it on Ravelry for $7.00 CAD

Over & Out: Twisted Rib Poncho Pattern

  Size small shown in Madeline Tosh A.S.A.P in Silver Fox, Dustweaver & Opaline.

Size small shown in Madeline Tosh A.S.A.P in Silver Fox, Dustweaver & Opaline.

Get it on Ravelry

back_simple.jpg

This poncho is a perfect garment for shoulder seasons (pardon the pun). Wear it as a spring coat when the weather allows, or throw it over your tee shirt when the air conditioner in your office gets cranked during the summer.

Worked in twisted rib and a bulky weight yarn, the gauge can be deceiving. Look for a yarn that asks for 9 - 12mm needles and 8-10 stitches over 4”/10 cm. You’ll be working it at a tighter gauge to get a denser fabric.

This is an easy-to-intermediate pattern. Worked in two pieces, it makes use of matched double decreases, and raglan seams are sewn to join the top. Stitches are picked up at the neck and worked in the round. Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off keeps the neckline tight but stretchy enough to fit over the head. Customize the front openings to your liking - I chose to keep mine open enough that I could easily work at my computer with it on. Add zippers or a latch closure - whatever suits you!

ABOUT THIS PATTERN

front_arms.jpg
  • Number of pages: 5
  • Written instructions, no charts
  • 3 Women’s Sizes:
  • S (to fit bust 32-38)
  • M (to fit bust 39-45)
  • L (to fit bust 46-50)
  • All measurements given in inches

MATERIALS:

  • 630/760/840 yards bulky weight yarn
    • Colour A: 180/217/240 yards
    • Colour B: 180/217/240 yards
    • Colour C: 270/326/360 yards
  • US 11 (8 mm) needles, 24” circular
  • US 10 (6 mm) needles, 12” circular or DPNs
  • Darning needle
  • 4 stitch markers

GAUGE:

  • 14 sts/14 rows over 4”/10cm square in twisted rib pattern
  • Use the needles that get you gauge - designed by a loose knitter!

    Get it on Ravelry for $7.00 CAD
    Use coupon code TWISTED and get 25% off until midnight April 13, 2018.

Tighten Up

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I've had a few messages from knitters working on my Four Score sweater asking for techniques for tightening up that annoying column of loose purl stitches that often appear right after your column of knit stitches.

Rather than try to type this all up I made a quick little video. I hope this helps!

Two ways to tighten up loose purl stitches in ribbing.

Please excuse the state of my hands - it's been a long, dry winter here in Montreal.

Modifying Galore

  Drop the neck? Widen the sleeve? How to modify the Galore sweater for a perfect fit.

Drop the neck? Widen the sleeve? How to modify the Galore sweater for a perfect fit.

Here are few thoughts on ways to modify your Galore sweater.

Drop the Neckline

The neckline as written is quite high - I find it comfortable to wear but I know some people prefer not to have something right up against their neck. To drop the neckline down, skip the first increase by casting on the number of stitches listed after that first increase. Knit about an inch and then start the short rows. Reduce all the following yoke-depth based instructions by 1" - and if you want to be really picky, all the colour changes too.  I've got a version like this on my needles right now, and I added two extra sets of short rows by turning every 2 stitches instead of every four, but I'm not sure I love it yet. I'll update this post once I separate the sleeves and try it on.

Widen the Sleeves

The logic of this pattern - the way each section of 1x1 rib grows to become a five-stitch repeat makes it tough to modify one element without modifying another. However, adding four stitches to your initial cast on would make five additional stitches available for each sleeve. You will need to add 2 stitches to each of the sleeve sections when you place your markers and remember that all your stitch counts (except in the body section) will be affected. If you want the cuff to fit the same way, you'll need to add decrease rounds - at least 2. In some sizes, you'll add the final decrease round, in others, you'll eliminate it. (Don't worry - it'll be obvious which applies to your size once you get working.)

Add Bust Dart Shaping

  I'm a B-cup. If I'd used bust darts, I might have been able to do down a size from 36" to the 34".

I'm a B-cup. If I'd used bust darts, I might have been able to do down a size from 36" to the 34".

Bust darts can be an essential element of getting a good fit, especially in a slim-fitting sweater like Galore. If you've ever had your sweaters ride up in front, bust darts are for you. There are two types of bust darts: vertical and horizontal. The slip-stitch patterning on this sweater makes it an unsuitable candidate for vertical bust darts. This is a technique that adds width over the bust area - and in bottom-up sweaters, those additional stitches are usually decreased away in the sleeve and neck shaping. Galore is a good candidate for horizontal short-row bust shaping, though. This technique adds length to the front of the sweater, creating a convex area for the bust to fit in, and eliminating that riding up.

My favourite tutorial on this is from Tess Knits, and within it she links to a very good piece from Knitty. Tess's post covers two important things. One: that while cup-size can be a guide for calculating bust darts, it can be misleading. Two: A less onerous place to take measurements (many tutorials ask for a plethora of measurements that are hard to take yourself).

If you successfully knit the short-row neck shaping at the beginning of the pattern, you can knit short-row bust darts. Mark the 'side seam' stitches when you begin working the body (the column of knit/slip stitches in the underarm) and use the same method for avoiding the need to resolve your wraps: offset your wrap-and-turns by one stitch on the wrong side so you're always wrapping a purl-facing stitch.

(Of course, you can resolve your wraps if you want to! I usually do hide the last "wrong side" one when I come around to it from the front on that first full round after short rows.)

Questions? Comments? Results? Find me on Ravelry or send me an email via the Contact Form here. May your gradient be gorgeous!
 

Knitwear Design as Problem Solving

 I was meant for you, and you were meant for me. Madeline Tosh DK in Deep, Baroque Violet, Flashdance, Lepidoptra and Cactus Flower.

I was meant for you, and you were meant for me. Madeline Tosh DK in Deep, Baroque Violet, Flashdance, Lepidoptra and Cactus Flower.

I was a teaching a knitting class last month and while we were working away on some short rows, one of the women in class asked me what inspires my designs. Truthfully, when I started submitting designs to magazines years ago, I was trying to come up with things I hadn't seen before. I thought that was my only way into the market. The results were... interesting, but lacked universal appeal. I'm still proud of those designs, but not many people opted to knit them.

 An outtake from the photo shoot for Four Score.

An outtake from the photo shoot for Four Score.

Now, I tend to approach design from a problem solving point of view - as much as needing something to knit can be seen as a problem. With Four Score, the problem I wanted to solve was an intro sweater that didn't ask the new knitter to have an arsenal of interchangeable needles. And something that didn't require neck shaping with a cast-off front and shaped shoulders. I remember how weird those instructions were the first few times I tried to follow them. Wouldn't it be great to skip it entirely and still be able to make a wearable, fashionable sweater?

It may be less obvious what problem I was trying to solve with the Galore sweater, but I swear to you, it was a conundrum. I pulled five skeins of Tosh DK off the shelves at Espace Tricot during one of my days there and I just wanted to make a sweater from all five of them. They belonged together, and they belonged with me.

 My favourite colour: blue-genta.

My favourite colour: blue-genta.

Of course, we had only one skein left of two of these colourways, so my design would have to make maximum use of each skein. Five skeins, I knew, could make a sweater in my size, but only just. It would have to be a slim silhouette. It would have to use every last inch of yardage.

I swatched, and I ripped, and I set up a three-sheet Excel document for calculating exactly how many inches of knitted cloth I could squeeze from each skein. I had less than ten yards left in my last colourway, Cactus Flower.

As I'm thinking ahead to the designs I want to work on over the rest of the year, I can see that they are all possible answers to questions. Could a lace shawl stay put on my shoulders, and be more of a garment? Could it be more like a t-shirt? Could I come up with a first steeked project that wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of people? Would the manipulations in Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern Magic work on knitted fabrics?

I'm looking forward to figuring out the answers to these questions, and I'm very thankful to all the knitters who have decided to try out my solutions so far. I can't wait to see the results.

Galore: Ombre Yoke Sweater Pattern

  Size 36, modeled with 0.5" positive ease. Knit in Madeline Tosh Tosh DK in Deep, Baroque Violet, Flashdance, Lepidoptra and Cactus Flower.

Size 36, modeled with 0.5" positive ease. Knit in Madeline Tosh Tosh DK in Deep, Baroque Violet, Flashdance, Lepidoptra and Cactus Flower.

Get it on Ravelry

  Back view

Back view

Use coupon code MADTOSH and get 30% off until midnight March 23, 2018.

This sweater is knit in the round from the neck to the hem, with stitches set aside for the sleeves, which are then knit down from the yoke.

The pattern is a two-round repeat that uses slip stitches every other round to create firm vertical lines that contrast with the horizontal blocks of colour. Colours are changed every two rounds (except in transition sections) which is ideal for creating ombre or fade effects that make maximum use of tonal and speckled hand-dyed yarns.

This is an intermediate pattern, and includes circular techniques and short row shaping for the back neck. The knitter must keep two sets of instructions going at the same time: the colour changes and the yoke shaping.

The pattern includes links to YouTube tutorials for special techniques and includes a yardage calculation chart for those wishing to make modifications to the number of colours.

This garment is a slim fit, especially in the sleeves. When choosing a size, be sure to note the upper arm measurements given in the schematic.

I'm a loose knitter and got this gauge comfortably using DK weight yarn. Tight knitters may need to adjust their needles, or try using a worsted weight yarn, like Madeline Tosh Vintage, which is available in equally stunning colourways.

galore_detailyoke_1.jpg

ABOUT THIS PATTERN

  • Number of pages: 7
  • Written instructions, no charts
  • 11 Women’s Sizes: S [34/36/38] M [40/42/44/46] L [48/50/52/54]”
  • Measurements given in inches

MATERIALS:

  • S [913/955/1126] M [1251/1330/1451/1551] L [1618/1751/1878/1952] yards DK weight yarn
    • Colour A:  S [91/100/113] M [125/133/145/155] L [162/175/188/195] yards
    • Colour B: S [192/180/236] M [262/279/304/325] L [340/367/394/410] yards
    • Colours C, D & E: S [210/225/259] M [288/306/334/357] L [372/403/432/449] yards
  • US 6 (4 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm) needles: 32” or 40” circular depending on size & DPNs or preferred needles for small circumference work in the round
  • Darning needle
  • Four different stitch markers

GAUGE:

  • 20 sts/30 rounds over 4”/10cm square in slip stitch pattern
  • Use the needles that get you gauge - designed by a loose knitter!

    Get it on Ravelry for $7.00 CAD
    Use coupon code MADTOSH and get 30% off until midnight March 23, 2018.

Sweet Seams

  Spot the seam: Back detail from my  Four Score  sweater pattern.

Spot the seam: Back detail from my Four Score sweater pattern.

I have to confess something, a terrible secret. I only learned how to properly seam my knits about six months ago.

Since I've been knitting for about 20 (!!!) years, you may ask how I've been finishing my knits up until now, and this is where is gets even more terrible. Reader, I've been machine sewing my sweaters.

I'll give you a minute to recover.

Actually, before I started in with the sewing machine, I used to use an overcast stitch on the wrong side, which might be even more horrifying. When I think of the gorgeous items I've knit that were finished so poorly, I could weep. No wonder many of them came apart over the years.

My seaming was so terrible that I only submitted in-the-round designs to magazines because I feared having the sample set on fire and returned to me as a pile of ash. It was all mittens and stranded sweaters for me.

  Veronika knit in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, colourway Thistle. Image courtesy  Espace Tricot .

Veronika knit in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, colourway Thistle. Image courtesy Espace Tricot.

What finally convinced me to learn how to seam properly was being asked to knit a sample for Espace Tricot. I knit the Veronika cocoon cardigan by Shannon Cook, and the finishing called for two tiny little seams. I knew I could never turn it into the store with my usual workmanship, so I got my Google on and prepared for the worst. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that invisible mattress stitch is the easiest thing in the world. This is where the weeping came in, wondering why on earth I waited so long.

Probably because I learned a lot of my knitting from my copy of Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book which offers no fewer than eight different seaming techniques, each described by whether they are vertical or horizontal and by what stitch they are joining (garter, stockinette, etc). I didn't read long enough to realize they were all essentially the same thing. (This is otherwise an excellent book, and still a staple of my library.)

I'm telling you how recent my conversion to seaming is to demonstrate just how easy it really is. I'm a total newbie at this, and I've already incorporated it into my two most recent designs.

There are lots of good reasons to have seams in your knitting, and better knitters than I have explained them. They add stability, durability and can be an essential design element. For me, the best part about seaming is avoiding two tasks I dislike:

1. Carrying an entire sweater around when I'm just knitting the sleeves
2. Small circumference circular knitting

When 1 & 2 are combined, you do the sweater heave - you know this move, when you turn an entire garment 1/4 of the way around every time you switch from one DPN to the next. Now, if I'm working a top down circular sweater, I'm inclined to knit the sleeves flat, adding a stitch at each end for seaming up later.

  My  favourite mattress stitch tutorial  is from Purl Soho - both video and photos provided.

My favourite mattress stitch tutorial is from Purl Soho - both video and photos provided.

I know a lot of knitters prefer circular methods - I can almost hear my colleague Mona right now saying "The last thing I want to do when I'm finished knitting a sweater is sew it up!" And there's no question working in the round has its benefits. But the next time you read a pattern that asks you for four different pairs of needles because you have to change the length of your circular, think about how much easier it would be to knit it flat.

The other day I brought my latest design to the store to get some advice on the neck shaping, and my colleague Amalia offered me some ideas. As she pinned the neck for me, she suggested I rip back a few rows and change my rate of decrease.

"I'll have to unpick the seams first," I said.
"What seams?" she asked.

I felt like a knitting - nay, a seaming - superhero!

 

Four Score Ribbed Sweater Pattern

 Size 36", modeled with 2" of positive ease.

Size 36", modeled with 2" of positive ease.

Get it on Ravelry

 Neck detail

Neck detail

This design is in response to requests I get working at an LYS for a simple pattern that doesn’t require multiple needles (this uses just one pair of 4.5mm/US 7s). As a bonus, there’s no picked up stitches or neckline cast off to deal with. The sleeves narrow out to a saddle and then are decreased away, creating a funnel neck. The back and front are exactly the same too, so just four pieces to knit, and only two different pieces.

This pattern is written with beginners in mind and includes links to YouTube tutorials for every technique (except casting on - I used the long tail method.)

This sweater is seamed up after knitting, which I know can be intimidating (or just a turn-off for lovers of circular methods) but it really doesn't take long to sew this up, and it's such a great skill to have. To make seaming easier, note how many rows you knit to complete your front body section and "knit even" section on the sleeves and then duplicate it when you knit its opposite piece. (A row counter is a great tool for this, but handwritten notes work just fine, too.) Another idea is to knit your front and back sections at the same time, and same for the sleeves.

I knit my first draft using Sublime Natural Aran and the sample shown here is knit in DROPS Air (a wonderfully soft , lightweight and affordable yarn) but any classic worsted weight will do. I'm a loose knitter and used 4.5mm needles, but if you tend towards a tighter gauge, try a 5mm instead.

 Generous torso and sleeve length

Generous torso and sleeve length

ABOUT THIS PATTERN:

  • Number of pages: 5
  • Written instructions, no charts
  • Six women’s sizes: 33”, 36”, 39”, 45.5”, 49”, 52”
  • Measurements given in inches

SKILLS & TECHNIQUES:

  • Invisible seaming with mattress stitch
  • Cast on, knit, purl, ssk, knit 2 together, bind off in rib

MATERIALS:

  • 858/920/1020/1150/1360/1485 yards worsted or aran weight yarn
  • US 7/4.5 mm needles, straight or circulars used as straights
  • Darning needle

GAUGE:

  • 16 sts/25 rows over 4”/10cm square in rib pattern

$6.50 CAD

The Three Faces of Gauge

For the uninitiated, gauge is a term used by knitters to describe the type of fabric they are creating – the size of the stitches, mainly. Frankly, if you don't knit, this post will bore and confuse you.

So, when I started knitting – and really, up until very recently – I thought of gauge as a pattern-specific thing. I'd open up a new issue of Vogue Knitting, or download something from Ravelry and see that the designer wanted me to get 17 stitches per inch and think "OK, that's what THAT DESIGN is knit at, and if I want it to fit properly I have to get that same gauge." (This is, of course, true.) This left me with three options if I wanted to knit that pattern:

1. Use the exact same yarn the pattern calls for
2. Somehow magically stumble onto a yarn that knit up at the same gauge
3. Adjust the pattern to work with a different gauge

Number 2 really did feel like only magic would help, because I didn't really understand yarn weights, which I'll get to in a second.

Personal Gauge

gauge-swatch-768x512.jpg

Every knitter has a personal gauge, inherent to the way they knit. You may be a tight knitter, who has to work hard to get your tips into the stitch, or you might be a loose knitter who has to worry about stitches falling off your needles. Your gauge may change when you work in the round versus flat, and it might change depending on the fiber you are knitting with - more loosely when working with superwash, acrylic or other slippery yarns, for example. You might be like me, pretty much in the middle on stitch gauge (number of stitches per inch) but very loose when it comes to row gauge (number of rows per inch.)

If you are a new knitter, your gauge may change over the course of your knitting. That scarf you started might be very tight at one end, and loose at the other. It will probably stabilize as you get more adept and knitting becomes as second-nature as holding a pencil.

When you see the gauge listed on a knitting pattern, one element of what you are reading is that designer's personal gauge. To replicate the pattern, you'll have to find a way to match it. If you know your own tendencies, you can go in armed with that information. Maybe you already know you'll need to go down a needle size, or use sharp-tipped metal needles. When you shop for needles, the clerk at the shop may ask you about your personal gauge. The general wisdom is that tight knitters should use slick needles (metal or coated plastic) and loose knitters should use sticky ones (bamboo or other woods.)

Yarn Gauge

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Yarns are classified into different weights. At the fine end are lace and fingering, DK and worsted are in the middle, with Aran, Chunky and Bulky at the thicker end. (This is a simplification, but man, there are a lot of classes of yarn.) It wasn't until I started consulting at Espace Tricot that I saw that what these classifications are, really, are gauges. These categories tell you what gauge this yarn is suited for. Most yarns carry this information on the label. It shows you a little square - 10cm x 10cm - and tells you how many stitches you can expect this yarn to make in that space, when matched with the appropriate needle.

Obviously, you can knit any yarn with any needle you like (although really thick yarn with really small needles may prove physically impossible). You can knit your fingering weight yarn (which lists 32 sts on 2 mm needles) on 5mm needles and get an open, airy fabric. Some patterns may ask you to do exactly this. But most of the time, the gauge listed in a pattern and the gauge listed on a yarn ball band are going to square up. Any minor inconsistencies are probably down to personal gauge - the designer's and yours - and can be accounted for by adjusting needle size.

Writing this down, it seems so obvious, but I honestly didn't really get it until I started helping other knitters find substitute yarns while working at Espace Tricot. My experience before then had been so personal, so much just doing my own thing, that I didn't see the bigger picture. Gauge is not the only factor in finding a substitute yarn – fiber content and texture are important too – but it sure does help. If you can go into your LYS and say "I need a DK weight yarn that knits up to 22 stitches per inch on 3.5mm needles in stockinette, with a smooth texture, and I tend to knit loosely" you will not only delight the clerk working there, you are much more likely to find suitable yarns.

Pattern Gauge

Sometimes I see a knitting pattern in my Ravelry feed or in a book and think "Ah, I love that! But instead of buying new yarn to make it, I'm going to use something from my stash." But a visit to the stash later, I realize I don't have enough Worsted on hand, but I do have plenty of this lovely hand-dyed DK. And then madness of recalculating the pattern begins. For some patterns, it's easy to change yarn weights - a delicate shawl can be a thick wrap. A simple raglan sweater might take some number crunching, but hey, I've designed patterns from scratch, I can handle it!

 The Bayerische Sock by Eunny Jang makes maximum of use of its tiny gauge to load up on twisted stitch motifs.

The Bayerische Sock by Eunny Jang makes maximum of use of its tiny gauge to load up on twisted stitch motifs.

But why was the pattern designed using that yarn? If it's in a big magazine, possibly because the brand advertises there. But it's also a conscious and important choice a designer makes, and it affects proportion, fit and feel. When you change it, you risk losing some element of the design that made it so appealing to you in the first place. You may not think that having a cable twist 12 times on its way up a sweater is much different from 15 times, but you might be surprised. You might think that adding a single repeat of a colourwork motif to the yoke of sweater is harmless, but it might take away some indefinable element of symmetry.

Granted, it might be fine, but you won't know until you've put an awful lot of work into it.

I'm not saying you shouldn't adjust patterns - I do it often, though less often than I used to. Part of that is laziness. If I want to do a whole bunch of math, I'll cook up something of my own. But part of that is caution born of experience. I sympathize with knitters who don't wear standard sizes and often have to make these kinds of adjustments just to make something that fits.

In conclusion, I guess what I'm trying to say is that gauge really is one of the most important things in knitting, so when a pattern exhorts you to knit a gauge swatch, there's a reason. And when you think about altering a design, think about how gauge contributes to the pattern and whether changing it will leave the parts you like so much about it intact.