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Gauge. Again! I just can’t get enough of this gauging thing. My latest adventure didn’t seem like a gauging excerice to start off with, but it turned out to be one of epic proportions. Here’s how it went.

The Belle pattern I told you about in the Whispers Cardigan Ta-daaah post, calls for 11 balls of Rowan Cotton Glaze. At almost £5 a ball it’s a pricey for me so I needed a substitute. Where to go if you want to find a substitute yarn? Ravelry’s yarn search of course!

Seeing as Rowan Cotton Glaze is Sport Weight, I ticked the Sport Weight and Cotton boxes. I also entered yardage of 120 – 125 (the exact yardage is 125). These parameters didn’t bring up any results for yarn I could buy in the UK, and what it did bring up, contained wool but I don’t want to use wool.

Then I remembered about a yarn substitution search a did a couple of months ago. I can’t remember the exact details, only that I contacted MCA Direct to ask their advice on a substitution. I provided them with the yarn weight that I wanted to substitute, thinking that that would be enough info.

The lady from MCA Direct who replied to my email, said that she also needs to know the gauge as given on the yarn…… That made me wonder how important gauge was in substituting yarn. A quick Google search confirmed that gauge is the most important – more important than yarn weight in fact! Lesson learned.

(Funny how that email response managed to dislodge itself from my brain, just when I needed it. Nice.)

No. 1 GAUGE. You absolutely must find a yarn whose natural stitch gauge is similar to the one recommended by the pattern. – Jimmy Beans Wool

The gauge of your pattern determines which weight of yarn you should select. – Lionbrand yarns

The most important piece of information you need about the yarn in question is its gauge, or the number of stitches and rows per inch that the designer got when she or he worked the pattern. – About.com

Knowing that gauge is in fact super important, I unticked the Sport Weight option in my Ravelry yarn search, included the gauge and the results showed that Double Knit (note, NOT Sport Weight) Drops Cotton Viscose is the answer to my prayers. It has the EXACT SAME GAUGE, the yardage is just 4m less than Rowan Cotton Glaze and it’s cotton (with a bit of viscose so it’s shiney and drapey.) Best of all, it’s less than half the price of Rowan Cotton Glaze!

See, the Ravelry yarn search shows the Rowan Cotton Glaze at the top of the list, with Drops Cotton Viscose just below.

I bought the yarn from The Crochet Chain (see the Tab above). It arrived super fast. Shade 29, a beautifull light grey with a hint of green. So pretty!

I learned my lesson from last time, so this weekend I did my gauge swatches. See, here it is.

gauge swatch.jpg

Since I had to go up a hook size last time, I started off with a 3.5 mm in stead of the 3 mm used in the pattern. No good. Then I went for my trusted 4 mm and it was spot on with 23 stitches in 10cm. Good ‘ole 4 mm.

Having found the correct crochet hook, I was ready to start with Belle. First off, I have to make the central panel in an open, lacey stitch (the sides and arms are done in the “main pattern” as in the photo above.) Using my 4 mm hook, my central panel was 12 cm wide. It’s meant to be 11 cm wide. Whoops.

Now I had to go down a hook size! I did it all again in a 3.5 mm hook, but still the central panel was too wide. I went down to the recommended 3 mm and voila, 11 cm. I guess I crochet lace patterns more loosely than I do SC and DC’s…

gauge swatch.jpg

Another lesson learned: if your crochet project consists of two different pattern designs, do a gauge swatch for each.

You’ll note that the crochet hook for the central panel is a long metal hook. Not my favourite kind but I don’t have a 3 mm in Clover Soft Touch. I’m so used to my Clover Soft Touch, this regular metal hook seemed way to pointy and kept snagging on the yarn (which is kinda splitty even with my Clover Soft Touch, so with the sharp 3 mm it was even worse).

Hubby to the rescue: he used his Dremel to sand down the very pointy edge of the hook for me. He calls the 3 mm the “pimped hook”. It actually looks like I’ve been crocheting so hard, I wore down the tip 🙂 It works like a charm!

20120414-181104.jpg

Another gauging exercise done and two lessons learned. It seems that gauge really is right up there in things to know when you crochet!

I trust it will be smooth sailing from here on with Belle. I think if the hook and the yarn like each each, it’ll be a good fit. Hey, that sounds a bit like relationship advice. Oh, the things you can learn from crochet.

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