The Complexities of Gauge on Oahu

… It’s the only title I could think of that lets me update you on what’s been happening since my move AND crochet. This post is going to be rather long as a result.

Life on Oahu …

hawaii wedding
Alistar and Miwa O’Neil pose with me on their wedding day

First let me talk about what’s been happening since last we spoke. Actually, I forgot to talk about my friend Miwa Yoshida McNeill in the last couple of posts. Miwa and her husband of two months, Alastar, used to be my daughter’s roommates until they were married on Valentine’s Day. I stayed with Alastar and Miwa (plus my daughter and her other roommates Kristina and Pete) when I first arrived on Oahu, and got to know them quite well. We didn’t make it to their wedding, what with work schedules and everything, but we did host a small celebration for them when they got back from their nuptials on the beach on the North shore of Oahu, and took some photos.

Miwa and Alastar are both accomplished guitarists, and Alastar performs regularly around Oahu. We haven’t seem him perform yet, but he gave us a small concert at the house one evening, playing a variety of genres from blues to pop to jazz. Miwa has a cool website devoted to Hawaiian music. It’s in Japanese so you’ll have to put it through Google Translate to read it.

Miwa also crochets and makes these beautiful clay (I think they’re clay) flowers which she turns into jewelry and is selling. She showed me a beautiful top she crocheted. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some photos of her work to show you.

Gauge affects a lot of stuff …

My daughter, Adrienne, just home from a nursing conference

Ok, now on to my latest project. I had promised my daughter, Adrienne, that I would crochet a skirt for  her birthday LAST YEAR (August 8), and I am just getting around to doing it. While perusing the patterns for sale at the Crochet Guild of America website.

UPDATE 7-4-11: The skirt pattern is also available on Ravelry.

I found this skirt (on page 9 of the PDF file) that I just knew she would love. And when I showed it to her she said, “MAKE IT!”  That’s Adrienne at my front door, just returned from a nursing conference.

It’s often hard to find the exact yarn the pattern calls for, but I figured it would be easy to find a substitute. Boy was I wrong! I found a really nice yarn store on Kalakaua Avenue, the main “drag” into Waikiki Beach. It’s called “Needle Arts” and has a nice selection of natural fibers. The proprietress, a grandmotherly woman whose name I don’t know (but I promise I will find out), guided me to the cotton yarn she had for sale that we thought I’d be able to use for this pattern. But instead of buying all that I needed, I decided to buy two 50-gram balls to do some swatches.

Five swatches crocheted using different yarns

Yes, I was determined to do this right and crochet swatches to make sure I had the correct gauge, instead of “winging it” like I often do (with predictable results). These are all of the swatches I crocheted, when I couldn’t, for the life of me, get the gauge the pattern called for, using the cotton yarn I’d bought at Needle Arts:

  • the turquoise swatches are made of Saucy Sport, 100% mercerized cotton yarn,
  • the orange swatch from TLC Cotton Plus, a cotton-acrylic blend,
  • the light blue swatch from a sport weight acrylic I had in my stash, and
  • the purple swatch from SW Trading Company’s 100% bamboo yarn that I’d bought last July at the Chain Link Conference in PA.

I showed them all to Adrienne and she liked the large turquoise swatch made with the Needle Arts cotton yarn the best. It’s the closest I could come to the gauge without the fabric being “see-through,” which occurs as hook size increases.

So I trot back to the Needle Arts with Adrienne so she could select the color she wanted. I let the proprietress know that I ALMOST got the gauge, and she lectured me on the importance of matching the pattern gauge exactly because it creates a particular “drape” that will be altered if the gauge isn’t exact (i.e., the smaller the hook size, the more dense the fabric which means it won’t fall on the body the way it’s supposed to). Did that make sense? It took me a moment to understand what she meant, but the light bulb finally came on, and I GOT IT!

If I’d been keeping up with the “Gauge, Drape, and Substitution” class that I’m supposed to be taking at Josie Hannon Madeira’s Art of Crochet Academy (the class is no longer available), I may have known this. This is a great online class, by the way, that I recommend highly. Josie is a premiere crochet designer and has a lot to teach “wannabes” like me.

A few beginning rows in two different sizes

I let Adrienne know that I might not be able to duplicate exactly the way the skirt is supposed to drape, but she said that was ok. But I wanted to make sure it fit her properly, so I crocheted several beginning rows of the skirt in two sizes with the turquoise yarn to see which one fit her best, especially since my gauge isn’t exact. I have about two more stitches and rows per inch than what the pattern gauge calls for, so the resulting fabric may be a little stiffer.

I’ve just begun crocheting the Sierra Skirt for my daughter, Adrienne.

The other issue that arose was color. All of my gauge swatches and size tests were done with the turquoise yarn. Once Adrienne selected her color, a lovely sage green and I bought the required amount, I crocheted a few rows using the hook size I used to create the turquoise swatch, only to discover that I was getting and even smaller gauge. Apparently, the turquoise dye makes the cotton a little thicker than the sage green dye. So I had to go up one hook size to get the circumference that will fit Adrienne’s hips.

The day was so bright that it was hard to get a good photo of me chillin’ on Kailua Beach.

Sheesh! Who would have thought gauge could be so complicated?! But I am learning. So, now it’s crochet, crochet, crochet until I finish the skirt. This is NOT going to turn into a WIP that never gets done. Adrienne will make sure of that. I’ll post again once it’s done to let you know how it turned out. By the way, that’s me at Kailua Beach this past Thursday. Ain’t life grand!!

I’ve been crocheting for over 40 years and blogging since 2004 – two of my favorite things in the world to do besides walking the beaches of windward Oahu, Hawaii.

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