Wednesday, August 04, 2004

necessary evil of working with yarn

[ mood meter -- hungry ]

your comments, please!

yo. i've mentioned this before. yesterday. i hate swatching. i'm doing it though and i'm trying to like it, but it's hard. i really want to get my sox started! i know. i'm SO impatient.

i looked up "swatching" in google and came up with this list of tips that's helping me through this crucial step.

but now i have questions so i hope y'all will weigh in with your experiences:

  • what do you do with your swatch when you've finished it? (do you wash and dry it as you would the finished garment, and then calculate your gauge? or do you figure out your gauge, then rip it out and start knitting the "real thing"?)

  • do you buy an extra ball/hank/skein of yarn so you have enough for swatching?

  • do you make a single swatch using different needles so that you can compare just one fabric as opposed to 2 or more? the basic ribbed sock class i'm following suggests swatching for 2-3" with the size needles recommended for your yarn (in this case i'm using dpns so i'm knitting every row to get st st). then i'm supposed to do something called a "poke test." if my fabric fails i'm to purl a row then knit another 2-3" with bigger or smaller needles and continue in this manner until my fabric "passes" the poke test (should i grade on a curve? haha)

  • read more about the joys of swatching!


    1. Anonymous6:49 AM GMT-5

      This is in regard to your item on swatching. When I swatch, I use the needles called for in the pattern with the yarn I want to use. After I find my guage, usually a 4 inch swatch. I make note of it, make changes (if any) to my pattern so that I come out with the correct measurements and then I rip the swatch out and start knitting my item.

    2. I'm a rebel. I rarely swatch. When I do, it's half-assed.

      On the rare occasions I check gauge (which I never do for shawls or scarves or socks... maybe the latter if I thought the suggested measurements looked small), I cast on about 25 or 30 stitches, do a few rows of garter stitch, leave a small garter edging, and do the rest in stockinette. If I notice that the gauge isn't working, I switch to a different needle. If it's okay, I rip out whatever I've done and jump in.

      The only time I've blocked a swatch was when I was using super-elasticy yarn. With that one, I finished a whole square and then blocked it.

      Live dangerously! Knit without swatching! ;)

    3. I didn't swatch with the socks I am making. I just checked my gauge after I had a few inches. Mostly because I can't stand swatching in the round, and my gauge when knitting in the round is way looser than my flat knitting. For flat knitted pieces I swatch, don't cast off, measure and then rip it out so as not to waste yarn.

    4. You'll only have to spend a lot of time and money once on a garment that doesn't fit before you realize the importance of swatching for some things. Unless you have lots of money and time or don't care if your garment fits.

      Some yarns shrink or stretch after washing. The problem is that we don't know which ones stretch and which ones shrink. Hence the necessity of swatching and washing the swatch as you would wash the garment.

      Swatching also gives you an introduction to the yarn and an opportunity to try the stitch pattern. You may not like knitting the yarn or may find the stitch pattern has an error. Not much time wasted on a swatch as opposed to casting on a lot of stitches for the back of a garment and struggling through the first few inches.

      I make my swatch for socks on 40 sts in the round on either dpns or 2 circs. Needing to check only stitch gauge, I don't knit it more than 3 inches in length. I measure the gauge before and after washing to determine if it shrinks or stretches. I will knit a row or two of garter in between needle sizes if I need to change needles.

      I keep the swatch and do not use it unless I run out of yarn, A swatch is a great place to practice the edging stitch or other techniques that are new to you.

      Always keep notes on yarn, needles used as well as gauge.


    ... this has been a QuietStorm production, dahling ...