Swatching and Finishing – Part 3

Part 3 – in which I apply well-known methods to a new project

Given the history of letting things go to chance as evidenced by Parts 1 and 2, I decided for my current project to plan things out better. My idea was to make another top like this one, which is a summertime staple.It’s sleeveless with shirttail hems, a simple reverse stockinette ribbing, and a bit of beading on the neckline. It’s my own design:

I’m using a similar linen yarn to the original – Reed by Shibui. It’s a chainette of finer linen, and it’s one of the easiest to knit linens that I’ve tried.

I knit a gauge swatch, and even washed it!

It’s a slightly looser gauge, but it looks good and feels nice and drapes.

So, far, so good – I’ve begun the front, and hopefully my attention to swatching and washing the swatch will pay off!

Lesson: try the full swatching method, and see how it goes!

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Tour de Fleece

It’s been a while since I spun, so this year I decided to join Tour de Fleece to get my spinning mojo back.

Midweek I took a spin with spin with some undyed fiber (alpaca, and it was a little hilarious as my hands tried to remember how to draft the fiber, and then get the proper spin. There was a fair amount of park and draft while things got fixed. The result was (remarkably) ok:

Then I had to figure out what out of my stash to spin. I had been holding onto a lovely Fiber Options Yarn gradient in the Smoke on the Water color way in a delicious 80/20 merino/silk blend. Brandy seems to have approved!

Last night I did the swatching and oh my, this is going to be fun! I’m shooting for a 2-ply laceweight/light fingering weight yarn, the sample is a little thicker than I’m planning on.

With my coffee in my Jennie the Potter sheep mug, I’m all set!

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Swatching and Finishing – Part 2

Knitting without Swatching: A Somewhat Sorry Tale

In this example I show what can go wrong with knitting a sweater without a gauge swatch. I had a bunch of free-to-me Tahki Cotton Classic that had been marinating in the stash for at least a decade, so I decided I wanted to knit a cardigan.

I knit a CeCe sweater by Bonne Marie Burns a number of years ago and it’s an easy loose-fitting sweater with a V-neck and a simple lace pattern.

So I started – and as advertised, I skipped the gauge swatch. Even though the yarn recommended and the yarn I used are completely different.

It’s a bottom-up sweater knit in pieces until the yoke. I knit the body – and had to re-knit a few rows because I wasn’t paying attention. I knit the short sleeves and that went well. Then came the time to put the sleeves and the body together.

This next error had nothing to do with gauge and everything to do with not ready the pattern. The body required a lace pattern for the 1st front, stockinette at the side seam, more lace pattern for the back, stockinette at the other side, and then lace for the second front. Unfortunately, I had knit the sweater in a solid lace pattern, which with the size I was knitting coincidentally worked with the stitch count I had.

I ripped back the body to the ribbing and re-knit according to the directions – with a 15″ inch body length. The joining of the sweater working pretty well, and although it was a bit long  before I finished the ribbing at the back.

Then I soaked the sweater in “wool wash” and blocked it without stretching out. When I put it on after drying, the sweater sagged to a long length – and I realized that not swatching had bitten me badly. When on, the body grew to about 18 inches. Yikes~

I ended up cutting off about 4 inches – and then wrangling the live stitches back onto the needle, and re-knit the ribbing from the top/down.

In the end, the sweater is “ok.” It’s a loose-fitting sweater good as a layer piece, but the armholes are pretty big, but I don’t have the heart to re-knit that half of the sweater!

Lesson: It’s always a good idea to swatch (and block the swatch) for a garment!

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Swatching and Finishing – Part 1

I’m doing a very short blog series on how swatching and finishing affect the accessories and clothing that I knit.  It come out of my experience recently in getting stalled on completing a couple of projects, and how I am now working through a new one.

Part 1: The Mystery Knit-along

Long-time readers may know that I have been challenged in doing mystery knit-alongs where I am satisfied with the end result.  In part, it’s because I really am largely a product knitter – knitting for an outcome, and since I don’t know what I am knitting, often I am not all that happy with what is made – which is nothing to do with the designer’s capability, just my personal taste.

Shortly after the race issues got raised in the knitting world, I realized that I had been living in a lily-white bubble as to who I was following on Instagram and my blog-reader, so I upped my game and found some great new-to-me voices, such as @lolabeanyarnco and @untangling.knots, and I’ve really enjoyed @drunkknitter, both her posts and her YouTube channel.

I decided to join Saffiyah’s (aka Drunkknitter) mystery knit-along which was designed in the throes of the final episodes of Game of Thrones, which I haven’t watched since season 1. The plus was that I could knit from stash, so this was all about supporting a designer.  I did knit a swatch (lost to history but didn’t wash and block it,) and then knit-along:

There were some pattern reading adventures along the way (a couple of errata, but mostly me not paying attention), and it looked like this as I got almost to the end:

The thing was, it seemed really small – and I’m not a large person. I finished the knitting, but was feeling discouraged by other knitting too (see the upcoming Part 2), so I just stuffed it away, somehow hoping all would be get fixed by ignoring it.

Finally, I realized how many kinds of stupid that was, so I put it in a bowl with wool wash, blocked it pretty aggressively, and voila!


All the worries about size are gone. And it looks enough for me to wear or give as a gift!

Lesson: sometimes it all does come out in the blocking!

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