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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Ceil Posted - 10/29/2012 : 5:20:58 PM
Well, now I've done it. I swatch religiously, but only recently blocked the swatch. What an education!

Seems to me I need to know TWO gauges, one for what's on the needles, and the blocked gauge so I know how it'll end up. This is pretty cool.

A couple years ago I knitted a pullover V-neck sweater for my DH. The on-the-needles gauge was right on, at 3 sts/in. But last night I stuck a ruler on it, and that gauge became 2.5 sts/in. after blocking. Can you believe I'm actually thinking about taking the whole thing apart and starting over on smaller needles? DH doesn't wear it much, because it's too big. Turns out all my math should be okay, it was just the needle size. (Dang!)

Anyway, this is the final piece of my swatch story, and I'm putting it here in hopes that many of you who don't swatch at all will find out how great this kind of a "dress rehearsal" is!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Ceil Posted - 11/12/2012 : 8:37:11 PM
So here's the other piece about gauge: It's hard to find any mention of blocking a swatch. We don't see it on the yarn labels, and we don't see it (much) in articles. It's assumed. That's dangerous: when I blocked the swatch for the sweater vest that began this thread, the gauge reduced by a half stitch per inch. Multiply .5 times your bust line, and you can see how much bigger a sweater can become before you soak and block it.

I have two sweater notebooks. One is full (now to overflowing) of patterns I've already knitted. Many of them have swatches with them, and most I designed myself, with a few purchased patterns in between.

The other notebook is loaded with magazine and Internet articles, plus emails from friends and elsewhere that describe helpful knitting how-tos for future reference. I looked through this notebook today and found a Knitting Daily article written by Rita Buchanan about gauge. The photos suggest that the swatches they illustrate are blocked, but nowhere in the article is soaking and blocking mentioned. No wonder I missed the point, that we cannot go after gauge simply by knitting a swatch. It's the blocked swatch that tells us what the end result will be.

Well, I hope everyone who reads this gets the point and spares themselves a lot of headache! On my way home from the LYS today, I thought that it might be a good idea to knit more than one swatch, each for a different project, and then soak and block them at the same time. That might take some of the "sting" out of swatching. No, I don't want to swatch any more than anyone else, but it is necessary.

Happy swatching to all!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
robinstephanie Posted - 11/11/2012 : 11:55:05 AM
Sounds like a super success all the way around.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
Ceil Posted - 11/10/2012 : 11:07:22 PM
Ok, folks, the "new-gauge" sweater is done and almost dry (I guess I ought to call it that!), and I just now tried it on. Gosh, IT FITS!!!

Still have to sew the buttons on. I restored yarn scraps to fiber and spun/plied it real thin. It's drying as I write.

On top of this, I found a way to knit 5-row, vertical buttonholes without cutting the yarn, AND knitted a fold into the collar that looks amazingly good!

Happy day....

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
sweetgrassgal Posted - 11/07/2012 : 08:33:25 AM
As a handspinner i always worry about having enough yarn.
That's why i end my samples by running a scrap piece of yarn through the live stiches before blocking. If i need to i can always unravel the swatch and reuse the yarn by using the russian join to add it back to the working yarn. This has definitely encouraged to me do more experimenting with needle sizes as i don't worry about yarn loss. Try it! Cecelia
Ceil Posted - 11/05/2012 : 7:06:32 PM
Originally posted by purlthis

...I wonder if English knitters knit more loosely or more tightly than continental? Hmmmm wonder if anything that way would/could affect outcomes? GM, may you live long and never be forced to swatch again! Rachel

I have to tell you that my knitting loosened up some when I switched from a very clunky English (I still don't know how to carry yarn in my RH--can someone point me to instructions?) to Combination (LH carry, very figured out). My impression was that I traditionally needed to go up one needle size, which is true if I'm not blocking. But the greater truth is that swatches, and final projects, need to be blocked. I'm a little freaked about my current project, because [i]right now[i] it's too small on me, but I am so sure this is going to fit after blocking. (I've decided to take a photo with a tape measure over the sweater before blocking, and another photo afterwards. Will post both on my projects page at Ravelry.) The loosening up of knitted fabric makes sense, because the same kind of thing happens with handwoven fabric, something I haven't made in a long time, but still understand in my head.

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
Janettoo Posted - 11/03/2012 : 6:48:17 PM
The trick is not to "swatch", but instead "play"! I almost always play with my yarn before I start a project. I may try out several yarns to see which is happier with the stitch pattern or with several stitch patterns to see which is happier with the yarn. I end up with these long strips of various patterns and yarns. Right now I'm about to start a vest, and maybe also a pullover, with stash yarn. I have a zillion patterns, and am competent with making the pattern up as I go along. So I have a pile of yarns and a stack of patterns, and I'm playing with them. When I narrow it down to one or two, then I'll knit just that yarn and pattern, maybe with several needle sizes (I knit a row holding sewing thread along with my yarn to mark the needle change, and I write it down). I measure it. Then I put a dab of detergent in a teacup with water, and leave the swatch in it for an hour or two. Squeeze it in a towel and lay it out (pinning if lace). Measure it again when dry.

Most of the time the pre and post wash gauge is the same, but when it isn't I REALLY want to know that!

If you like to knit, then it is fun and not a burden to play with your yarn. When you're playing, it doesn't matter if it looks funny or you mess up.

Janet in TN
KnittingKittens Posted - 11/03/2012 : 2:54:45 PM
OK - listen to this. I did a swatch for the Mary Scott Huff Colorwork with Two Strands class I am taking at KRR. I cast-on 40 stitches on a size 4 and worked a stockinette swatch with Harrisville Designs Shetland. The label gauge recommends needle size 2-4 and 6 1/2 stitches per inch. I measured it width-wise and got 8 inches. That would be 5 stitches to the inch.

Then I soaked it in warm water with Eucalan for 30 minutes (or so) and squeezed excess water by gently rolling but not twisitng it in a towel and then pinned it out onto another towel. I failed to measure the length but I would say before soaking it was maybe 3 1/2 to 4 inches.

As I pinned I did not stretch it but was careful that none of the edges were rolled. After it dried, I measured the width and it was 7 1/2 inches -oh my! The length is 3 1/2 inches.

After blocking my gauge now is 5.33 stitches to the inch. Huh!

Lesson learned!
purlthis Posted - 11/01/2012 : 5:27:58 PM
Lol I just hate swatching! I wonder if English knitters knit more loosely or more tightly than continental? Hmmmm wonder if anything that way would/could affect outcomes? GM, may you live long and never be forced to swatch again!

As I get older, I prefer to knit. Tracey Ullman UPDATED! WITH PICS!
Grand-moogi Posted - 11/01/2012 : 5:20:20 PM
Well you have explained a few things to me. But it is too late. During recent illness I managed to finish two cardigans that I had been knitting for myself. The first in very cheap acrylic and it fits nicely. The other in Patons Zhivago which I adore. This second one is miles too big. I am sooo disappointed. I did swatch but did not block. (whispers - cheated in my swatching by only knitting about 2 inches) Naughty naughty Grand-moogi. Daughter has been rousing at her for doing that for years. Now my punishment is that I really should frog the whole thing and re knit it. I wonder! My daughter knitted the sleeves for me. I wonder if she would do that again for me? I will have a talk to her about that.

I knit a hug into every stitch
Ceil Posted - 11/01/2012 : 12:08:24 PM
Well, I >thought< a sweater would be most wearable from swatching alone. I didn't realize the gauge would change after soaking and blocking. This is why a couple of my sweaters came out bigger than I expected. I've learned something good here, and hope this thread is helpful to everyone who visits! (Thanks, Clara, for the plug about this thread on your latest newsletter. I'm LOL!)

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
mjhknits Posted - 11/01/2012 : 10:45:51 AM
I never knit swatches for socks and rarely for something like a scarf or shawl - only when I want to check how the needle size looks with the yarn and pattern. But for a sweater - yes, and then I do block it. Who wants to spend weeks knitting something unwearable!
materavis Posted - 11/01/2012 : 07:47:10 AM
I would imagine blocking only matters if you plan to block the finished item each time you wash it. I don't do all the time, sometimes just wash and lay flat to dry. Generally try to treat the swatch however I will treat the finished product.

As for swatching, there was a time when I too didn't swatch and my garments came out OK. Mostly was knitting with acrylic. Now that I knit mostly natural fibers, I find that I MUST swatch.
robinstephanie Posted - 11/01/2012 : 04:41:33 AM
I am cracking up over here.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
KnittingKittens Posted - 11/01/2012 : 04:10:35 AM
sockjoan, I did that recently. I was working on the snowflake cowl which is on the cover of Interweave Hokiday Knits 2012 and my swatch helped me to have enough red yarn. I felt the knit goddess smiled on me!
sockjoan Posted - 10/31/2012 : 11:20:24 PM
If you're seriously short of yarn, the swatch can be unravelled, skeined and washed in order to return the yarn to its original state, and you can use it for the neckband or whatever...
Ceil Posted - 10/31/2012 : 9:50:36 PM
Yup, I thought swatching was enough, but now I gotta block. It means knowing I have enough yarn to swatch with.

Do you suppose the pattern makers include yarn for swatching in their patterns? If not, maybe they should!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
mcmircle Posted - 10/31/2012 : 7:54:08 PM
Well, shucks. I thought I was doing so well to swatch at all. And as it is, I'll think I have the guage down and suddenly my piece will not be the right size at all.
KnittingKittens Posted - 10/31/2012 : 5:09:04 PM
SMACK! to purlthis--I am soooooooo jealous! I am a loose knitter and never ever get gauge with the needle size suggested. My tale of the time I knit three sweaters imprinted upon my soul for all eternity the greatness of getting gauge but krikee now Ceil and technikat want me to block it too??!! The horror. . . the horror!
Grand-moogi Posted - 10/31/2012 : 1:46:33 PM
I'm bad in that I never swatch, never block, and seem to always get gauge. You can smack me now. Lol!

Purlthis - Who asked you? Go away I do NOT want to hear from you at all: At least on the topic of swatching!!!!

I knit a hug into every stitch
technikat Posted - 10/30/2012 : 10:30:57 PM
I also recently started to block my swatches. Some yarns grow significantly. What I find difficult is when they tell you to knit to a certain length in inches. Somehow I haven't done the math to translate the growth in rows per inch to inches. I'm sure I could do it if I put my mind to it but I just wing it.

My FOs

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