Getting Gauge

Knitting for gauge: Knitting a swatch with the needles and yarn you plan to use for a project to assure you are knitting the same number of stitches per inch as the pattern dictates.


I’ve never knit for gauge. Not once. I’m not morally opposed or inordinately lucky, just a bit lazy and not that particular. Admittedly, most of my knitting doesn’t rely on gauge. Afghans and dish cloths don’t need to be precisely sized, and hats and mittens can be sized by regular fitting to a convenient and somewhat-similar sized head or hand. A felted bag (a personal favorite–more on that in another post) reveals its mysteryafter a trip through the washing machine, gauge be damned, and scarves stop when they are scarf-length. Baby sweaters are likely to be grown into, which hopefully happens in season, and the one sweater knitted by me for me could be adjusted as I went. So why knit for gauge?

With this lassezfaire attitude toward knitting precisely, it seems a bit odd how much fuss I’ve made this year regarding curriculum planning. I spent too much time in July and August searching websites, reading reviews, and ordering books. Creating lesson plans on Homeschool Tracker Plus became my obsession as the fall approached, reducing courses into bites neither too big nor too small. With the parts determined, I attempted scheduling. I soon ditched the idea that certain subjects would happen at predictable times on particular days, instead just assigning a number of days a week for each subject with deadlines for some assignments.

Whew. I’d never attempted that level of homeschooling organization , and I must say I really hated the process. Instead of offering me peace of mind with the certainty I thought a schedule should deliver, I started dreaming about forgetting subjects (Remember those dreams from college — going to the final exam when you’d forgotten to attend the course? That’s the genre.). I woke at 2 am to ponder the necessity of daily Latin — or of Latin at all. I was a woman possessed by the clock and the calendar, or maybe I was simply possessed.

As our first day of homeschooling for 2009/10 approached, I printed off the boys’ schedules. Nice looking product but still, to my highly critical eye, full of inaccuracies. Why Tuesday to start Critical Thinking? That day was far too busy for all but the basics. What math assignment for Friday — review or a lesson? My mind continued to race. Week two was a bit better. I made a few changes (read: simplified with assignments labeled “math” and “reading” rather than by chapter and page). Week three has been simpler yet. I’ve left more spots blank and allowed myself to (gasp!) cross things out that aren’t happening.

A bit of slacker mom feeling nags at me, but I’m starting to relax. I can see the basic pattern of the year unfolding, but just the rough sketch. I’m altering the pattern as I go, spending longer on the factoring process my younger forgot and eliminating the Latin repetition my older doesn’t need. I’m moving back to my more flexible ways, although the boys and I do like the nifty chart from the planning software, since checking off boxes is fun. However, I’m more comfortable just picking up our books and beginning with the end in mind, checking for fit along the way, making changes as we go, and delighting in the wonder of our path while keeping our eyes on our destination.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Gauge

  1. "checking off boxes is fun" – hee hee, we have a lot in common.And I STILL have those dreams about showing up for the final only to realize I forgot to attend the class all semester. What does that say about me?

  2. Christina, I swear I have more of those dreams as an adult than I ever had during school. I've attended one or two sessions (or couldn't find the class and panicked), never do the work, and have to learn all the material in the last week. Always wake days before the test…

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