Monday, March 5, 2012

To swatch, or to not swatch...

To swatch, or to not swatch...that is the question! Well, I think Autumn, another Bean who works here, would agree that swatching is the way to go on big projects, such as sweaters and garments we want to fit us. We all seem to have an aversion to this process. I know I do! However, I am here to tell you it really is an important step!

I recently got to take a workshop with Diane Soucy of Knitting Pure and Simple fame, and boy when she stressed the importance of swatching, I listened! Before the class, she had us work up a swatch in stockinette and any stitch pattern we wanted to use...I know it's hard to believe, but I got gauge...yippee!

Autumn is test knitting this sweater for our very own customer/designer, Elizabeth Doherty aka Blue Bee Studio. Stay tuned for the published pattern, as it will be fabulous just like all of her designs. She did three different swatches using different needles, as well as washing and blocking them prior to actually measuring the stitch/row count. I think she did a brilliant job, but I won't discuss the final outcome on needle size, as that should be a surprise for the published pattern.

The bottom line is that we all knit differently and what works for you probably won't work for me and visa versa. The other thing I noticed, as I am knitting along, is that my gauge can change as I relax. I have to say it's important to check your gauge every so often to see where you are. Here is one of my favorite Jimmy articles on gauging and she talks about this very thing and how to adjust if you need to.

Autumn you are doing a GREAT job!
Another great tip (that I didn't think up) is to knit a big enough swatch and begin with the needle size called for and of course if you like the fabric and you get gauge great, BUT maybe you don't. If that happens to me, I will keep on knitting and work a couple garter ridges before I change needle size. I do this as many times as I need to and will eventually rip the swatch out, so I don't cut the yarn. IF I think I will do the project again, however, I will keep the swatch and take good notes.

The other quick tip on doing a swatch would be IF you are knitting in the round...knit your swatch in the round too! Yes, that really can change things for the piece later on!

So, I want you all to run home and do a gauge swatch! LOL! I don't usually swatch for scarves, or shawls; mostly due to the fact that I am lazy and have done enough projects that I can tell if I want to change needle size.

As always, happy swatching, knitting, crocheting and sewing!

Jeanne

PS Check out Stitch Red...we are all super excited!!


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