How to (not) do a gauge swatch
This website functions as something of a record of things I've knit. One of the main reasons I do this is to help me learn from my mistakes. When I finish an item, I take pictures and write some notes on what I would have done differently. The next time I do something similar, I can refer to those notes and do a better job on the next project.
Sometimes, people send me email commenting on my comments. Sometimes this is amusing. Somethings it's just kinda strange.
For example, I learned a lot when I made my sandwich & crossbones legwarmers. Translation: I made a lot of mistakes. Most of those mistakes were about color. I'm still learning a lot about color theory and what colors work together and which ones do not.
The feedback I received had to do with gauge. I'd taken my gauge from a sweater I'd done with the same needles, same yarn and same technique. On circular needles with fair isle knitting with Shetland wool, I consistently get 8 st/inch. I made my legwarmer pattern assuming 8 st/inch. The result was exactly 8 st/inch.
However, the final result was too small. I'd measured the recipient's leg wrong and forgotten that her old legwarmers were old and stretched. My legwarmers would not stretch as much as the ones I was replacing. While the legwarmers mostly fit, they were a bit on the small side.
Someone sent me a long email telling me I had my gauge wrong. Uhh...I intended 8 st/inch. I got 8 st/inch. My gauge was exactly on.
This email went on for a long time tellling me that I had to gauge swatch exactly 3 inches wide and then do some arithmetic to calculate my gauge. She was very particular about the "3 inch" requirement. Evidently, in her world, it's impossible to measure gauge on anything other than a three inch square.
This email went into great detail of how to calculate a gauge. The writer appeared to be unfamilar with basic concepts of arithmetic. Maybe Barbie is right. Math really is hard, although I would say calculating the number of stitches per inch has more to do with arithmetic than with mathematics.