Tag Archive | gauge swatches

This is a big deal

I’m going to make a sweater! Whoa, right? No, I know, I’ve done this before. I’ve actually crocheted one sweater and knitted three. My first knitted sweater was a Harvest cardigan that came out HUGE but is super cozy to bum around in at home. My next two knitted sweaters were pullovers that actually fit the way I wanted. That cardigan I made with cotton; it was soft but still not a high-quality yarn. The pullovers were both made with acrylic yarn. I love them, but I decided that I’m ready for the big leagues now: I want to make a sweater out of GOOD yarn.

I’ve never bought a sweater quantity of good (i.e. non-acrylic) yarn before, instead choosing fun single skeins. So for my birthday earlier this month, I told the husband that I wanted a sweater quantity of yarn. He’s a smart man, so he gave me the money for it rather than trying to pick it out himself.

But what yarn? What pattern? What color? Well, the yarn itself wasn’t too hard: Malabrigo has been one of my very favorite yarns for years. For pattern, I wanted something interesting and pretty, a little more intricate than the basic pullovers I’ve made. It took a lot of browsing but I settled on Penny by tincanknits. And color? Well, at first I thought about a neutral. But then I thought, NAHHH! Let’s have fun!

img_5618This is six skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo in the glorious Fucsia, which might possibly be the most difficult color of yarn to photograph. Subtle, it is not! But it will make a gorgeous sweater and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing some swatching this weekend!

Fall = Knit all the things

I love summer and I don’t really want it to end, but I’m also kind of happy that it’s almost sweater weather! At the very least, it’s knit-a-sweater-weather. Yesterday I decided I needed to double my WIPs so I cast on three new projects, and yes, one of them is a sweater. And before you ask, yes, I am swatching before I cast on the sweater itself. I knit a proper swatch on circular needles so I can accurately measure my in-the-round gauge, since I know that it differs from my flat-knitting gauge enough to affect size.

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I decided I’m going to use five skeins of purples to make a Faded Boxy sweater. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll decide when to fade the colors, but I might just take the length of the body and divide it by five. Wouldn’t that work? Or wait, should it be 10, since I’ll have 10 sections (Color A, Color A & B, Color B etc)? Yes, maybe that would work. I just want to make sure I have enough yarn to fade the sleeves too. I know there are other Faded Boxy projects on Ravelry, so I’ll have some reference points to help. It’ll be fine. The real question is how long it will take me to get bored of miles of stockinette in fingering weight yarn!

img_5178I’m starting my Fade with the gray/purple variegated on the far right in that photo, and the swatch has been washed and is currently drying. The middle purple/gray is from Herd of Cats, a Colorado dyer. It’s a worsted merino that is going to become an Estonian Lace Medallion cowl. The non-purple blue/white is a color called Rocky Mountain High from Andromeda Socks, and I’m trying the Chevron Socks pattern to see if it creates a subtle mountain look. Now I have a wide variety of knitting to carry me through the second week of the US Open!

For my U.S. friends: enjoy the Labor Day holiday today!

Time for a reset

Maybe it’s the change of seasons, but I’m feeling the urge to take a deep breath and reassess some stuff. I’ve been disengaged a bit from work lately for a few reasons, and I want to refocus and start pushing myself again. But I’m also wanting to re-engage with my knitting. It hasn’t felt as rewarding as usual this summer, and I want to get back to finding the joy again. Right now, that means the urge to cast on all the pretty  new projects!

One of them was supposed to be that June Lake top. But the one person telling me to swatch, swatch, always swatch, was right, not that it’s much of a surprise. I went up one needle size and two pattern sizes, got my first textured panel done, measured the length, and it STILL wasn’t as long as I need it to be. Assuming I were to stick with the size 5 needles, I calculated my gauge and how many stitches I’d need to cast on to get the size I want, and my concern is that I won’t have enough yarn. SO. That project is in hibernation while I decide what I want to do. I’d still really like to make a sleeveless top, but I’m not sure I can get the size I need with just two skeins.

Instead I cast on for a new sock! I wound my brand-new Mudpunch self-striping yarn and after seeing Mildly Granola’s Twizzler socks, decided to make my own. I’m loving how they look!

img_5163But I want more new projects! I’ve got a selection of purple yarns that would make a fantastic fade, and I’m debating between a Find Your Fade and some kind of fade sweater. I think I’m leaning toward a sweater, but I need to check patterns and gauge (again, argh) before I decide. And I’m feeling the itch for some squishy worsted too, so I might need to cast on a new cowl soon too.

Now, all you swatchers, help me out: when you’re planning for a sweater in the round, do you swatch with the exact needles you’d be using (i.e. 32″ or 40″ circs)? I see the logic in it, but it would make for a huge swatch! Or do you use the same material of needles (i.e. bamboo or metal) but smaller circumference?

Adventures in Swatching

With only three WIPs on my needles, I decided yesterday that it was time to cast on for something new. My WIPs are easy, mindless projects, so I wanted something a little more involved. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

In my queue, I found the June Lake sleeveless top pattern, and I had two new skeins of pretty yarn that would work well. Since the body of the sweater is knit in the round, I knew I should swatch in the round. But I didn’t want to swatch on my 16″ circular needles, so I thought DPNs would be fine. My first swatch had too many stitches per inch. My second swatch, with the next size up needles, had too many stitches per inch. My third swatch, up one more size, was too loosey-goosey for any kind of top I’d want to wear.

IMG_5083I liked the fabric of the first swatch the best. Dang it, that meant it was time for math to determine which size I should knit with my gauge. Gauge math is the WORST for me. It took some time, and a lot of notes, and a lot of calculations, but I figured out I needed to go up two sizes. Before I cast on, though, for some reason I decided I wanted to double-check my gauge on the recommended needles, and without much thought, decided I needed to check it on circular needles.

Yes, apparently I do have some self-preservation instincts after all. Because this gauge swatch was different than the one with DPNs, and this gauge swatch indicated that my gauge matched the designer’s and I could pick the correct size after all! So all my swatching and calculating and teeth-gnashing could have been prevented, and if I had done my swatch correctly the first time around, I would have saved a lot of time.

Alas.

Still, the good news was that I was free to cast on, and I did and I’m enjoying my new little WIP.

fullsizeoutput_22eeIt’s knit from the bottom up with an interesting band along the bottom, which is done in two pieces and then joined in the round for the body. I love this stitch pattern! And today is quiet and rainy and gray and I think I might spend the day with my knitting and my puppers. Happy Sunday, friends.

p.s. The pretty yarn is Pixie Sock from Supernatural Yarns in the Hogsmeade colorway!

Take time to save time

I bet all my knitters know what I’m talking about! This weekend, in between increasingly long shawl rows, I swatched for a sweater. I’ve been wanting a selfish knitting project and the Funky Grandpa cardigan has been hovering in the back of my mind, so I pulled out the Knit Picks Palette and knit a swatch. And since I had to wash it anyway, I washed some socks too!

Before it was washed, I was sure I’d gotten gauge on my first try. I was only half a stitch short, and I figured my swatch would loosen up with washing. Nope. It pulled in tighter instead, so I had 22 stitches per 4 inches instead of 24.5. Figuring out gauge makes my brain hurt, but I was pretty sure I needed to try with a smaller needle, so that’s what I did next, along with snuggling a pup.

Fingers crossed I got gauge this time!

Weekend Knitting

I don’t have as much progress to show as I should; my knitting was hampered a couple of times the last few days. Part of it was my fault, part of it wasn’t. I had my day-long computer course on Friday, and it was fun to learn stuff again but a lot of the info was review, and the class moved a lot more slowly than I would have liked, so I picked up my hat knitting after I’d finished the exercise, or while we watched short videos. By the end of lunch, I’d made it to the end of the knitting I’d brought. Once again, I was not thinking like a good knitter, and I have now learned to bring much more knitting than you think you need!

That brings us to yesterday. The boy had a marching band competition in a small town about 40 minutes away, and we were going to be spectating for at least two hours, maybe three. I brought three projects. I was ready! I was prepared! I was…COLD. It was sunny and 60 out, so I wore a short-sleeved tee and a hoodie, not realizing that the wind was super blustery and chilly. I was too cold to keep my hands out and knit. The husband was even kind enough to go to the nearby Walmart to get us a blanket, and that helped, but still, I would have needed my nice wool fingerless gloves to be able to knit. Sigh. The best laid plans and all that jazz. Still, with some knitting here and there, I’ve gotten my sock project into the gusset. Plus, we stopped at an antique mall on the way and I found these awesome handmade crochet hooks for $6!

I’m also very close to the end of my first hat commission. I’m on hat four of four, and I’m onto the easy section of plain stockinette in the round. This one will get finished either today or tomorrow, and the hats will be delivered and out of my hands! These are my pombe yeast hats for some friends at work, and you can check out the Ravelry page if you want more info.

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My other hat commission isn’t going as well, and it’s totally my fault because I’m so stubborn about not checking gauge. As always, I got overconfident because almost every time I’ve checked gauge for a hat, knitting or crochet, it’s the same as the designer’s. So I started this project without checking, and got about halfway through and realized it was too big. Frogged and started over with a smaller hook. Got a little farther and it still seemed a little big. I could either go down yet another hook size, or adjust the stitch count. Since I like the density of the fabric, I decided to drop my stitch count and omit the last increase round, which meant frogging back about half my progress. This is the current state of this hat.

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You might think it’s frustrating, but crochet goes so quickly that it’s not painful to frog back that much and start over. And I’d forgotten how much I enjoy crocheting, so it’s been fun to let my hands settle into that rhythm again. Plus the yarn (Expression Fiber Arts Pearlescent Worsted, with SILK!) is heavenly, so I don’t mind spending more time with it! Still, I’m hoping to get this project finished in the next few days too. I’ve got too many other projects waiting in the wings!

 

New Sweater

As I mentioned the other day, I decided the heat of summer was a great time to start a new wool/alpaca sweater. I chose Tea with Jam and Bread and I was so excited about it that I cast on a swatch as soon as I decided on colors. Then I swatched again because my gauge was off. Then I swatched one more time because it was still off.

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That is my biggest complaint about knitting sweaters:  you either have to swatch, or do math. I don’t really care for either, but of the two, I’d rather swatch. I finally got gauge with the third swatch, after going down two needle sizes, and it was totally worth it because I got both stitch gauge AND row gauge! Go me! Then it was off to the races! I knit on this sweater all afternoon yesterday, stopping only around 9:30 last night when it was time to switch to the next color.

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Maybe it looks a little small there, but it’s all bunched up on a 24″ circ. I’ll switch to the 40″ once I get going on the next color, navy. And do you like my stitch marker there? I chose that one in honor of the French Open, which just started. (Go Rafa!) I can’t wait to get home tonight and see how the navy looks with the purple! I can tell already this is going to be a tricky one to photograph well. The bottom color is more true, but even that’s a little too dark. It’ll be a good exercise, I guess!