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treadwater
New Pal

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2012 :  1:56:38 PM  Show Profile Send treadwater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am puzzled about knitting to gauge when the finished project might shrink. If your swatch matches the gauge, then will blocking the finished piece to the desired dimensions result in a garment of the size specified in the pattern or do you need to wash and dry the swatch in order to determine whether or not the finished piece will fit properly, i.e. shrink? If the swatch yields the correct stitches and rows per inch, then that should be that, shouldn't it? I guess my basic question is whether or not the stitches per inch takes shrinkage into consideration. Thank you.

Milinda
Permanent Resident

USA
3817 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2012 :  3:52:33 PM  Show Profile Send Milinda a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If I am knitting a garment which does need to fit properly, then I take the time to wash and block my knitted swatch. If I am familiar with a yarn and its fiber, meaning I have worked with it before and know what it will do when washed, perhaps not. But in general, to know how the yarn will respond to being washed is important for fit in a garment. I would recommend taking the time to do this.

M L
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Janettoo
Warming Up

64 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2012 :  8:13:26 PM  Show Profile Send Janettoo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I might be unique, but I LIKE to swatch. I think of it as a chance to play with the yarn, where messing up doesn't matter. I can't tell you how many times swatching tells me that I really won't like using the yarn I thought I'd use or that the stitch pattern was a pain. Far better to find that out before getting into a project. Sometimes I'll only buy one ball/skein to swatch before I decide whether or not to use a particular yarn.

That said, to your question. I measure the swatch both before and after washing. The measurements after washing are the ones that count. I want to know if that will be different from the prewashed measurements so that if there is a difference, I will take that into account when deciding if a sleeve or whatever is long enough as I'm knitting it.

I also want to know if the fabric will change texture or bloom after washing before I commit to using it. The quality, feel, and look of a knitted fabric is a big consideration when I knit something, and swatching and washing is the only way to know that for sure.

Usually a pattern assumes that gauge given is gauge for wearing. There are a few patterns designed for yarns that shrink or stretch where that is factored in, but the pattern will tell you that. You can multiply the pattern's gauge by the dimensions of the garment, assuming there is a schematic, to see.

Janet in TN
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larsan
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 04/21/2012 :  12:48:10 PM  Show Profile Send larsan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always do a swatch, wash it how I will wash it when completed and then block it. Sometimes you'll find that your swatch will dry smaller than what you blocked it out as. You need to know that in order to get the proper fit to you finished garment.

In following this procedure, you will know exactly what your completed garment will look like and feel like once you have laundered it.
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cawelsh
New Pal

USA
3 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  05:04:30 AM  Show Profile Send cawelsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always swatch, especially if it's a garment that needs to fit properly, and like others have said it gives me the opportunity to feel the yarn in my hands. After swatching it's always a good idea to wash and then block. This process may take a little time, but it saves a lot of grief when you knit something beautiful and it doesn't fit.
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larsan
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  06:12:01 AM  Show Profile Send larsan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another thing that you can do with swatching is once you get your yarn and know what pattern you're going to do - - while you're still finishing another project, begin a swatch. Just take a break from what you're doing (at a boring moment) and swatch. When you're ready to begin the new project your swatch has been knit, it's been washed and blocked and you can dive right in knowing exactly how to proceed.
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KnittingCommuter
Chatty Knitter

USA
278 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  06:23:20 AM  Show Profile Send KnittingCommuter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Always swatch and always wash and block. Sometimes will even swatch on anothet pair of needles if I don't like the way swatch looks since my guage sometimes changes if I use bamboo versus metal needles. I don't swatch when I make shawls since it really doesn't matter. Swatching may be a pain but sometimes you discover that you don't like working with the yarn at all...sadly even if you have paid more than a decent price for it.

Ducky's Mom
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treadwater
New Pal

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  06:52:10 AM  Show Profile Send treadwater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you very much for your responses to my question. So, if you find that your washed and dried swatch no longer matches the pattern gauge specifications, i.e. it shrank, do you go to larger needles, knit another swatch and see if that one matches the pattern gauge after being washed and dried OR do you simply stretch the finished garment - based on the first swatch which was to gauge before washing and drying - to match the measurements of the pattern when you block it? It seems that matching gauge in a swatch will not guarantee that the final measurements will be right. It all might shrink and be too small.
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larsan
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  06:58:16 AM  Show Profile Send larsan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I personally would go with a new swatch is a bigger needle. You can tell how much the guage decreased, so go up accordingly for the 2nd swatch. Which is also a reason to always purchase 1 additional skein of yarn for your project.

And if you have trouble remembering the needle size you used, on the string that's dangling either from cast on or bind off, put a knot for each needle size. I can go back to any of my swatches at any time and know exactly what size needle I did the swatch on.
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Tripleransom
New Pal

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  07:28:18 AM  Show Profile Send Tripleransom a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always wash the swatch, unless I have used the yarn before and am confident that I know how it will behave. Not only do some yarns shrink after washing, but some will relax, making the swatch bigger. Besides, some yarns will bleed and I want that information also.
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sweetgrassgal
New Pal

USA
9 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  08:24:52 AM  Show Profile Send sweetgrassgal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To quote a favorite line, "It ain't over til it's over".
I swatch on three sizes of needles, the given size and one size larger and smaller. By separating the different needle sizes of knitting with a few ridges of garter stitch i save time, (no redo's when the given needle size misses the mark).Then wash, block and measure. You might decide you like a slightly different gauge and adjust the pattern accordingly. Happy Knitting!
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stitchellen
Warming Up

60 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  08:43:49 AM  Show Profile Send stitchellen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My experience is limited to natural fibers, but I have found that swatching without washing and blocking is useless. If I'll machine wash the item, I'll machine wash the swatch. The process has worked well for me, with the exception of bamboo yarn. The washed and blocked swatch did not change size a great deal, but I did knit my sweater to the blocked swatch gauge. The sweater fit beautifully when I put it on in the morning, but by evening it had "grown" alarmingly. It continued to increase in width, and I gave it away. I loved the softness and drape of that sweater, but I haven't used bamboo again.
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churchlady
Warming Up

Canada
81 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  10:33:07 AM  Show Profile Send churchlady a Private Message  Reply with Quote
[quote]Originally posted by stitchellen

It continued to increase in width[/quote

Not in length like cotton?

Live, Laugh, Love, Learn
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savvy_C
New Pal

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 04/26/2012 :  10:48:46 AM  Show Profile Send savvy_C a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When making garment when FIT if important, take the time to make up a swatch. As a young, and eager-to-finish knitter, I skipped swatches...and got to experience 'tinking' (un-doing finished knitting)and 'do-overs'. It's no fun to see your brother-in-law standing in his 'ill-fitting' sweater on Christmas morning, and promising to have it done 'again' before his next birthday.
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Janettoo
Warming Up

64 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2012 :  9:02:26 PM  Show Profile Send Janettoo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Needle size is a suggestion, not a requirement It is what the designer used, or thought most knitters might use. It has NOTHING to do with what YOU need to use to get gauge, with the type of needles you're using and your personal knitting style and tension.

Also, knitters tend to relax as they have been working on a project, and gauge might change. It's a good idea to check every so often during a project by measuring gauge, matching it to the unwashed gauge of the swatch that gave you the correct gauge after washing, if washing caused a change.

Janet in TN
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mrsbourg
New Pal

USA
3 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2012 :  07:55:43 AM  Show Profile Send mrsbourg a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How do you block a swatch? I'm concerned about distorting the gauge.

LB from central PA
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Janettoo
Warming Up

64 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2012 :  7:53:31 PM  Show Profile Send Janettoo a Private Message  Reply with Quote

How do you block a swatch? I'm concerned about distorting the gauge.

Depends on what it is. If it is lace, then I block it stretched out, to see if I like how it looks. If it is not lace, I just lay it out smoothly, not stretched or anything. I may stretch it a bit and then smoosh it in, but I let it dry without pins or wires. If it has a texture it may need to be stretched a bit.

In other words, I treat the swatch as I would the completed project. Then, when it has dried completely, I measure it again.

Janet in TN
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