So the first pattern idea I had for the gray merino was one that I've wanted to knit for a while. But a quick swatch showed me that no, the worsted wasn't going to work in a pattern written for DK weight without a lot of fiddling. So I set that pattern aside, and found another:
A nice basic traditional sort of pattern. So I commenced the ritual swatching.
Swatch#1- I knit with the needles called for by the pattern. It came out with immensely more stitches than the pattern requires. I went back and scrutinized it carefully. Perhaps the no-longer-available recommended yarn was a bulky, not worsted weight? Impossible to tell. But wait! It says swatch 'in pattern'. I did a block of stockinette. This wasn't an accident- several of the patterns used by the sweater are designs of purl bumps on a stockinette background. But some weren't. So I picked the design that looked like it would pull in the most (a garter rib, if I'm not mistaken), and started over.
Swatch#2 Garter rib, pattern needles. Still way too many stitches.
Swatch#3 Garter rib, smaller needles. Because I was brain-dead probably, and thought that smaller needles would make larger stitches. The laws of physics are unforgiving, however and this was not the case.
Swatch#4 Garter rib, larger needles. Now there are fewer stitches but not enough fewer.
Swatch#5 Even larger needles. By this point the knitted fabric was almost lacy in its looseness- definitely not what I want for the sweater. And there was still half a stitch more than the gauge called for.
I paused and regrouped. Carefully read through the directions. Pulled out a calculator to check the numbers. Found that I was going to need row gauge as well as stitch gauge, because the pattern was written for certain number of repeats. This means that having the right row gauge with many more stitches is A Problem.
So I cast on for the largest size with the needles called for by the pattern. Because at the gauge I was getting, the largest size in the pattern should come out at the size I want in the tighter gauge, so long as I use the number of pattern repeats for the size sweater it will actually be. I think. I'll just have to keep a close eye on the overall dimensions of the piece as I knit.
That's what I love about using off the shelf patterns. The way I can just knit them without all the extra calculation and figuring stuff out.