The whole thing got me thinking about gauge and how we control it. I am always seeing people comment on Ravelry that "they are a loose knitter" or "tight knitter" as if they have no control over it, when, in fact, they do. I used to be a loose knitter because I didn't control my yarn. I let it hang loose between stitches, which of course led to loose tension in my knitting. Now I tension it by wrapping it around the fingers of my right hand - over the index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger and then once around the pinkie. Since I've been doing that I get very consistent tension, and with main line patterns can usually get gauge. I don't always get gauge with the independent designers, but I think that is due more to the vagaries of their knitting, rather than mine.
Tight knitters might have more of a challenge, but I know that when I consciously tried to loosen my knitting on the second sock I succeeded, and ended up with a bigger sock. I have also always thought that tight knitters must be stressing their hands. Perhaps the best advice is what I learned when I took fencing in college. You want to hold the hilt of the sword gently and in a relaxed manner, as if you're holding a little bird. Too loose and the bird will fly away, too tight and you will strangle it. I think the same can be said of knitting needles, or crochet hooks for that matter. In fact, I even hold both knitting needles and crochet hooks in the same basic manner that I used to hold a fencing sword.
Oh, and remember that little twirly flick of the blade that you see in movies that disarms your opponent? It works. I did it during my fencing final. Quite by accident. Or maybe I was just channeling my inner swashbuckler.
Pattern: Basic Toe-Up Sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn: Biscotte & Cie Felix in Brilliantine
Needle: US 1 (2.25 mm)