I have compiled a list of things I have learned from knitting swatches over the years. In knitwear, swatches are imperative! In knitting toys or blankets, it isn’t as imperative unless you are knitting to certain dimension requirements. I’m going to discuss why swatches are so important for knitting garments and what they tell you about the fiber you are using.
Tip 1: Only buy 1 skein of your desired yarn.
Never buy more than 1 ball of yarn for a project until you are certain that this is the yarn that will work best with your pattern and lifestyle. The reason why is very simple, if you buy all the yarn for a project and then after knitting a swatch, find out it won’t work for your project, you could be out $60 – $200 with a pile of yarn and no project for it. I’ve done this so many times and this is how you feed the stash. If you are a minimalist or you just don’t believe in wasting money, only buy that one skein. If it isn’t a match made in heaven, chances are that you aren’t out more than $20 and the upside is that there are plenty of one skein projects out there to repurpose the yarn with and since you already knitted a swatch, you will know if that yarn will be suitable for a future project.
Tip 2: Pattern in the round, means a swatch in the round.
If the project you are working on is knitted flat, then knit your swatch flat. If your project is knitted in the round, knit your swatch in the round. I cannot tell you how many times I did not swatch in the round for a project that was supposed to be knitted in the round. Every time I failed to swatch in the round, I ended up with a garment that fit poorly. The reason why you want to swatch in the manner that you are knitting the project in is because your tension is different for a purl stitch versus a knit stitch. Knit stitches tend to have a higher tension than purl stitches do. When you are knitting plain stockinette in the round your stitches will all be tighter than flat stockinette, resulting in a smaller garment, when you are purling reverse stockinette in the round, your stitches will all be looser than flat reverse stockinette, which means a larger garment. Ysolda has an ingenious way to swatch in the round and this is the way that I swatch in the round.
Its been years since I have posted here, but that does not mean I haven’t been knitting. As a matter of fact, I have been knitting quite a bit off and on over the years and as I have been knitting, my knowledge has increased tremendously about it. For example, always swatch and swatch in the way that you would be knitting…swatch in the round if you are knitting in the round, swatch flat if you are knitting flat. I have made many an error just from bad swatches. Not that swatches can be bad, but bending the swatch to what you want to hear to start a project faster or to use that yarn that you think you want to use with the project is just bad practice…lets not lie to ourselves, trust the swatch and take note of what it is telling you. More on that in a future post.
My last project I knitted was Ysolda’s Smith. I have a four year old daughter now, and she got into my knitting books a couple months ago and requested that I make her a hedgehog. She loved him in the Whimsical Little Knits 2 Book and begged me to get started on it. Although I have knit many toys, I had not knitted a single one for my own child. So of course, I started it immediately! Here’s my finished product. It turned out beautifully and the pattern was super simple to follow. This requires a set of sock needles, I think it was too tiny to magic loop, but you could certainly try it. I was able to knit it in the span of a few days.
So, a lot of knitting has been going on since I post last. I’ve knit a bunch of things that are on my future project list…so I’ve conquered quite a bit in the past year.
Currently, I’ve got the following on my needles: Rambling Rows using Hazel Knits Artisan Sock Yarn (just because I am masochistic enough), the Kusha Kusha Scarf using Habu Wool and Silk/Stainless Steel Yarn, the Red Sox Redux Sock (the original just wasn’t working out for the both of us…sometimes it is better to recognize a bad yarn relationship and move on), and the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan using Red Heart by the pound (which has surprisingly good stitch definition…eventhough I feel like I am knitting with plastic).
These are the projects I’ve got lined up next: Ysolda’s Otto using Karabella Superwash Merino for my cousin’s B-day, EZ’s Tomten Jacket using Merino 5 for the boss man’s baby boy (he has commissioned me for another baby sweater…but he still owes me some pics of the first one I knit), the Mirage Pullover for Moi using Classic Elite’s Classic Silk, the Hemlock Ring Blanket using some Brooks Farm Four Play, and some socks thrown in there. As far as socks go, I’d like to complete my no-show lace socks, then I want to cast on for some Cookie A. socks out of her new book, Sock Innovation. Continue reading Dusting off the Cobwebs→