Here’s a little anecdote for anyone who’s ever wondered why or whether gauge matters.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending Rebekka Seale’s blanket workshop in her beautiful studio, with a bunch of lovely women who had traveled from all over. I had provided Knit and Let Knit totes for everyone, and Rebekka had filled them with giant spirals of undyed merino roving and size US50 circular needles. We all introduced ourselves and then set to work knitting fluffy 3×2 ribbed blankets, while chatting and eating and oohing and aahhing over how beautiful the materials were. (And how the rose meringues for dessert looked just like our clouds of roving.) Of course, nobody ever thought to wonder about gauge or knit a swatch or anything — it’s a blanket; who cares, right? By mid-afternoon, we each had a substantial amount of fabric on our enormous needles and I suddenly noticed how vastly different my stitches were from Jennifer’s, who was sitting next to me. We were using the same exact yarn and same exact needles, had cast on the same number of stitches and were knitting the same exact stitch pattern. And yet, as you can see above, her stitches were almost twice as big as mine — as were pretty much everyone else’s at the table. The result being that I was knitting a baby blanket while everyone else was knitting one suitable for adult-sized humans.
In the end, in this case, no big deal. I was already wondering how on earth I would keep this beautiful thing away from my cats, so I took it as a sign, bound off, and seamed it into the biggest cowl known to man. (Just in time for 60-degree weather.)
The moral of the story: Knitting with the yarn and needles used in a pattern is no guarantee of matching results. If size matters, knit a swatch.