Gauge is a tricky, tricky thing. I'm knitting yarn I'm familiar with, a pattern I know, and using needles I'm comfortable with. And my gauge is off. Way off.
So what happened? Maybe my hands were a little cold? Or the weather is suddenly dry and everything is different. Is it too early for knitting? (never!) I'm not sure.
I admit I did not knit a gauge swatch--but that's because with a project this small, I'm willing to take a chance and let the first few inches of knitting serve as a 'swatch.' If it's wrong, my time investment isn't huge, and I can make the changes necessary without a whole lot of fuss. On the other hand, if it's right, well, I'm that far along with my knitting, aren't I?
I think with this particular project the solution is even easier. Rather than rip it out, I am going to take out the four rows of knitting that follow the lace and re-knit them on either a US#3 or 4. That should fix the gauge for the long part of the mitts, and is easily duplicated on the second mitt. I'll work a few rows to be sure--and if it doesn't solve it, it's time to RIP and cast on again.
I'd like to recommend this great pattern, and long time shop favorite, "Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts." It's a free pattern, available on Ravelry. com. We're making ours with two skeins of Classic Alpaca, a dk weight baby alpaca from the Alpaca Yarn Company--another shop favorite! Use whatever needles YOU need to get gauge.