Posts tagged ‘swatching’
I’ve been swatching for days. As much as designing a new sweater can sound all exciting. There is a reality after that first completed sketch that sets in when you reallize how much thought needs to go into getting that sweater from the back of a napkin to cozily wrapped around you. The biggest hurdle is the one all knitters dread. Swatching.
The controversy over swatching is up there with continental vs. english and magic loop vs. DPNs, There is a lot of articles, books, chapters of books, and blog posts written on this topic. Many knitters argue that it’s one of the most important techniques of knitting. Others avoid it like a plauge.
Now, personally I don’t hate swatching categorically. Sometimes I love it. But sometimes it seems downright unnecessary. So as I’ve spent hours and hours working on little bits of knitting that will never turn into anything besides good math, I’ve been thinking a lot about my position on swatching.
When I Love it:
- When I’m feeling noncommittal. It’s an excellent way to feel if I like certain yarn or stitch pattern without feeling like I’m getting married to it for the next chunk of time. Sometimes if I’m really nervous about starting, I’ll do two or three swatches before actually casting on. I heard someone call it the dating phase of the knitting relationship
- It’s the one your knitting teacher/tudor will whack you over the head with every time you have a sweater that doesn’t fit, but it’s absolutely true. If you have a good swatch, your sweater will fit. I love sweaters that fit, therefore I love swatching. A good gauge swatch really is the magic that makes all the math that goes into a design work. If you’re thinking about investing a few weeks or months of your life into something, a few extra hours really is worth it.
- This kinda goes with number 1, but when I’m bored, and don’t have any big knitting to sink my teeth into. A swatch makes me feel like I might start a sweater, or I might come up with something I like better, in either case, my hands were busy, and all I lost was a few yards of yarn.
- As a designer, I LOVE getting to touch the fabric that will make up my next creation, it’s very inspiring. 🙂
- If size doesn’t matter, like a blanket or shawl, no reason to swatch.
- If I’m knitting something small like socks or mittens, it’s just as easy to rip out my work as it is to do a swatch. So why bother knitting a little swatch when the sock or mitten itself could be your swatch. AND you just might get lucky and not need to rip out, in that case a swatch would have actually been a waste of time.
- If I’ve knit with the exact same yarn and needles. Yes, I know stress levels is a big factor in getting gauge, but I like to think I’m relatively predictable. (Full disclosure, I have been burned by this before, but it was a pair of socks, see #2).
- Hats are ambiguous, due to how little time they take, I tend to use the yarn and needles suggested and hope for the best. I do check my gauge along the way.
Chuck left me on Saturday to hang out with some guys over disc golf. It was a gorgeous day and I was a bit disappointed to not spend the afternoon with him. But around 5 minutes after he left this arrived!
The mail man found me on my porch, with my coffee, with these socks almost finished.
I forced myself to finish them.
And then I wore them… on an 80 degree day. They matched my shirt.
But look what I got! Spring yarn. See all that pretty cotlin? That’s going to be my summer design project. A basic summer top with some lace accents. Look at all that pretty pink.
So last night had high hopes and aspirations to make lots more progress on Cranford. Part of that progress included posting pictures here of my swatching. But that’ll have to wait till the weekend, I fear. I have knit just under 5 inches of the body all the way around. Considering that the sweater will be around 25 inches long from shoulder to hip, that means that I’ve done a sizable fraction of it. I’ve hit the raised lace pattern so no mindless knitting for me.
This is my current mindless knitting… recognize it? That is the gorgeous chilean yarn featured in my blog header so picturesequely with the sock DPNs sticking out. Araucania Ranco Multy. (BTW… I can no longer write the word “picturesque”, without laughing over that chapter in Anne of the Island, when she’s riding with that woman that pronouces it as “picture-skew”.)
Its hard for me to believe that a sock, for me, is mindless knitting. I remember almost crying over several sock patterns trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a heel. I have no idea how many heels I’ve torn out. But after years of thinking I would never learn, my Aunt gave me confidence… and with a little help from Holly Shaltz I finally figured it out… now I rarely use a pattern, especially if the socks are pretty basic. And with yarn like this? Who wants to muddy up the beauty with a lace pattern you’ll have to fix 204 times before you’re done.
Cranford pictures will come, I promise.
So I’m designing a sweater. My yarn has arrived. I’ve swatched not once or twice, but three times. And I’ve been spending the last two weeks researching the structure of a set in sleeve sweater. Facinating stuff.
This whole project is representing quite well the reality I deal with all the time. I have two modes, distracted and obsessed. And my knitting follows suit. No guage swatching, no blocking, flying be the seat of my pants and this…