Last night I started knitting slower and slower on my hat, and was getting crankier and crankier about it and finally I realized what the feelings meant and I got out a ruler.
Sure enough, the gauge at the start of the hat was nearly almost less than 5 stitches per inch. Arrrgghhh... The LARGE hat was supposed to have at least 6 stitches to the inch (which, near the end of it I was starting to get, but it was still just barely 6, not six neatly within the inch marker of my tape). And I'd been going for a good quarter of the pattern already... so, as usual, the knitter in me won out and I ripped it ALL OUT.
All of it. I should be used to it by now, but man...
And this stuff was harder to rip out than most of the acrylics I've been using lately. Kid wear is often easier in acrylics because moms can just throw 'em into the wash whenever they want and the colors are so bright. But this was wool, unspun, nicely sticky, barbed shafted wool and the black pulled apart a lot more quickly than the white. It's easy to fix, too, in that I just rubbed a few inches of the ends together and they were fixed, which I could never do with an acrylic; but the simple fact that the yarn kept falling apart made me grumpy.
But I undid it ALL. Down to the invisible cast-on, and squinted and thought and realized that I use size US2 needles on socks to get about a 6+ stitches to the inch gauge. Why I thought I could do that with size US4 needles, now, is beyond me. So I found some 3mm needles which are a little bigger than a US2 and a little smaller than a US3, and as I was going through my circulars I realized that I have two 16" Addi turbos in 3mm. Why I'll never know as these puppies are EXPENSIVE, and...
Hey... I could do the two at a time sock pattern with these... ahem.
My knitting mind is rather prolific when it gets going.
So I used one of them, and the gauge at the beginning is now 6 stitches to the inch, and the wool was coming off the pile nicely as it went on in the same pattern I'm now putting back, though there's now some significant slack. But it was good to know that the chaos I'd created by unravelling the two colors together was something I could work with. I ended up tucking the whole mass into that box on the right, just as it was, with no fiddling, so there wouldn't be any tempting chaos for a curious five-year-old in the morning.
Part of the grumpy emotional mood at the beginning was that the instructions said that the wheels should be good enough for TWO hats; but only a quarter of the way through the first hat, it was pretty clear to my yarn-sense that this wasn't even going to be CLOSE to enough for two hats. So the off-gauge explains it pretty well.
Amusingly enough, the yarn and the pattern is so much fun I actually don't mind more knitting time with this stuff at all. It's a joy to do; but the undoing was mildly daunting.