Although I want to start the Gillespie Shawl in 11 days on January 1, I’m not being sensible and starting a small project like a washcloth or a pair of socks.
No, I’m jumping right into a sweater.
The Tucked Pullover (Ravelry link) by Quenna Lee from the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of knit.wear, to be exact. I’m pretty excited to be knitting a pattern from a current magazine issue, instead of a pattern that is two years old like I normally do.
I’m even using the actual yarn called for in the magazine, which probably isn’t much of a surprise know that I come to think of it.
The pattern calls for 5 to 7 hanks (depending on size) of Elsebeth Lavold Designer’s Choice Silky Wool yarn. I’m planning to make the third size (37 1/4″ bust) so I’ll need six hanks.
The sweater in the magazine is shown in color #109-medium gray. I’m using color #140-Rose Madder.
Every Sweater Begins With A Swatch
It takes me about a month to knit a sweater, if I stay focused and work exclusively on the sweater. Because of the time investment, and the fact that I’d like the sweater to fit when it’s finished, I’m swatching diligently.
Most knitters (and crocheters, for that matter) don’t like swatching. We feel it’s stopping us from working on our project. You have to change your mindset and consider it part of the project. Because it is. And an important one at that.
In the case of the Tucked Pullover the gauge is 23 sts after blocking. I’m glad the “after blocking” was specified because I missed gauge on both a US5 and US4 needle.
To complicate matters, the sweater is worked in the round. As you know, if the project is worked in the round you have to swatch in the round. Many knitters find their purl stitch is a different size than their knit stitch. Therefore, their stockinette stitch gauge in the round and flat can be very different.
Also, you should really work your swatch on the same needles with which you’ll knit your project. Many knitters, myself included, find that their gauge will change if they are using metal needles compared to wood needles. You don’t want your sweater to be the wrong size just because you swatched on bamboo double points, but knit on metal circulars!
This TECHknitting blog post has a good explanation of how to work a circular swatch flat so you don’t have to cast on a billion stitches.
I wish I’d remembered to look for that blog post before I started swatching! I ended up cutting my yarn at the end of each row and reattaching it.
I tied overhand knots in the fringes on the sides so that the swatch wouldn’t come unraveled when I washed it.
When you’re taking the step of washing and blocking your swatch, which most knitters skip, you should treat it the same way you intend to treat the sweater. In my case, I soaked it in the bathroom sink, then tossed it in the washing machine on the spin cycle (with my finished Metalouse Shawl, as a matter of fact). It’s all I can do to be good and hand wash my hand knit sweaters, that “rolling it in a towel” business is just too much for me!
If you look closely at my swatch picture you’ll see eyelets just above my fingers. Since I’m making two swatches (US5 and US4 needles) I needed an easy way to tell them apart.
After working two rows I started the next row K3, YO, K2tog. I worked a YO, K2tog pair to correspond to my needle size. I worked this swatch on my US5 needle, so I have 5 yarn overs.
I’m glad I’m taking the extra step of washing my swatches. Both swatches missed gauge when I first knit them, but they are changing as they dry. I should be able to cast on with confidence tomorrow.
For more tips about swatching properly, check out this article on Knitty.
For a reminder of the importance of proper gauge, check out this article on the Vogue Knitting website. I especially like the picture of the three swatches half-way down that page.
How do you feel about swatches? Do you take the time to get gauge before you start, or do you like to live life on the edge?