Skiff: Or, a lesson in gauge

My brother-in-law moved to Boston this summer, and there was only one thing he really wanted for Christmas to survive his first Northern winter: warm clothes. On Christmas morning he received no less than two coats, three sweaters, gloves, warm pants and four pairs of socks. And from his knitterly sister-in-law? A hat, of course!

Skiff Hat

Started: November 2014

Finished: December 2014

Fiber: O-Wool Classic Worsted in colorway "Ash"

Notes: This hat taught me a lesson that I hoped I wouldn ever have to learn as a knitter. The most basic of concepts when creating a garment that needs to fit a specific way. Gauge. UGH. I have measured the gauge I have needed for almost every thing that I have ever made as a knitter, ESPECIALLY if it needed to fit someone a certain way. But for this hat, I skipped that oh-so important step. Part of it is understandable. The gauge for Skiff is given in the charted pattern, which of course is knitted in the round. And I had no idea how to do this when I started. And this being my first ever Brooklyn Tweed pattern, I was itching to get started and didn't think that it could be THAT bad. Right? Wrong. This lovely hat, which is intended to be worn as a beanie, fits more like a slouchy, oversized number. The cables are still lovely, the double moss stitch amazing. But it is definitely too large, even for B, my model, and let's just say he doesn't have the smallest head. And to top it off? I forgot to get a decent picture of the thing. Geez Abby, way to go.

Luckily, over Christmas I started listening to Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen's podcast, and in their very first episode, guess what the subject was? You guessed it, gauge. Shocker. And in this episode, they mentioned a great technique for knitting a swatch as if it were in the round, almost the way that you would knit an I-Cord, except with more stitches, and without pulling the srings tightly into a rope each time you shift the stitches to each end of the needle. So I would love to knit Skiff again, this time gauge swatching with my new trick. 

What are your favorite ways to check gauge? And how consistently do you find your gauge is from project to project? I wonder if this means I am a loose knitter in general, or if it was just the combination of yarn/needles.