Last Christmas my mother, also known as knittergran, gave me a lovely skein of Noro sock yarn, which I promptly lost. I ransacked the girls' room hoping it had been stashed in a craft bin or toy bin, but no luck. It's driven me nuts that the yarn had just vanished. But then last month, when B was cleaning out the closet to make room for Elizabeth's cradle, he found the yarn. It had gotten crammed in the closet somewhere.
Once I finished knitting a hat for Elizabeth to match her Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket, I cast on a pair of socks with the Noro yarn. At first, the stuff drove me insane. I pulled from the center of the skein, and the yarn, which is single strand, tangled horribly. At one point, when I was trying to loosen a huge knot, the yarn broke. Grumble. I solved the problem by pulling out the ball winder and winding the skein into new balls. Now I love the yarn - the colors are lovely and there are no more knots.
However, I have learned an important lesson about gauge. The pattern I'm working with called for 76 stitches at 8 stitches an inch on size 3 needles. After knitting about five inches, I realized that something was horribly wrong - mainly that I'm knitting a sock that would fit an elephant. Here it is next to some other hand knit socks. The second sock on the left isn't the best example because I had just been wearing it, and it was a bit stretched out.
So I consulted with mom, who consulted with her knitting books, and we decided that I need to frog it all back and start from scratch with 72 stitches on the larger size 3 needles.
The lesson I'm taking away from this isn't necessarily to knit swatches for gauge, but rather to check my gauge before I'm five inches into a sock.