Tuesday, December 4, 2018

HOW TO KNIT AN ACCURATE GAUGE SWATCH


Swatching! 

The dreaded word. This is the part of a knitting project that no one ever wants to do. However, swatching is essential especially if you’re knitting a garment that needs to fit correctly.

Rarely if ever does any knitter get the exact gauge shown in a pattern. We all knit differently and even though you may use the same needle size your knitting will probably not be the same as on the pattern

If your gauge is off, your garment will most likely not match the pattern’s finished measurements and will probably not fit as you expect it to fit. Also, in order to insure proper fit you should know your body measurements and understand the ease built into the garment.  Some have very little ease and your finished project might be too tight others have a lot of ease and might be looser than you like.

Be sure to use the same yarn and the same needles for your swatch as you will for your project. Most needles of the same size are not exactly the same and even the needle material can change your gauge. Steel needles are more slippery than Bamboo or wood and that will also make a difference in your gauge


Bigger is Better
I repeat no one likes to swatch. You do it just because you know you should but you want to get it done and move on. Often knitters make their swatches too small. This leads to inaccurate gauge readings. In order to measure your knitting gauge correctly your swatches should be about an 8 inch square.

Always add 4 stitches of garter stitch on both sides and the top and bottom of your swatch. Just doing stockinette stitch will produce a swatch that will not lay flat when bound off and therefore will not will not read your gauge correctly.

To decide how many stitches to cast on for your swatch look at the gauge recommenced in the pattern. So for example, if the pattern tells you that 20 stitches and 20 rows = 4 inches. Cast on
1 ½ times that amount (30 stitches in my example) and then add 8 stitches to that number for the garter edging for a total of 38 stitches. The larger the swatch the more accurate your gauge will be.

Blocking
We all know that very often blocking is important especially if your piece will have any lace. Blocking will allow for any changes that may happen when you wash your garment. Sometimes you
might plan to block to stretch a project.  This is almost always true with Shawls but is often also true for a sweater. If you are planning on stretching your finished work you should also do this with your swatch to determine the amount of stretch which again will give you a more accurate gauge.

If you are planning to stretch block your project, you should wet it and pin it out stretched to dry. Otherwise, If your garment will not need to be stretched leave your swatch in its relaxed, unpinned, state to dry. You may also just want to steam block your swatch if it will be dry cleaned. It won’t look as neat and straight as a pinned out swatch, but you will get a more accurate reading for what you will be making.

One more consideration is if you will be knitting flat or in the round.  For most knitters the gauge will differ if your swatch is flat but you will be knitting in the round.  The reason for this is that most often our purl stitches are looser than our knit stitches and when you knit in the round you are usually only doing knit stitches.
Here is a Craftsy link to making a swatch for knitting in the www.craftsy.com/knitting/article/gauge-swatch-round/

To swatch for knitting in the round cast on the required number of stitches you have determined you need for your swatch using a circular needle and work the first 4 rows, knitting every row for a garter stitch border . Now begin your mock knitting in the round. Keeping the first and last 4 stitches of each row in garter stitch
Do not turn your work, slide the stitches with the right side facing you to the other end of the needle. Your yarn will be attached on the other side. VERY loosely carry your yarn in the back of your work and work row 2. You will be always be knitting on the right side remembering to work your edge stitches.

Keep repeating this, always working with the right side facing you and be sure that your floats on the back are extra loose so that when you bind off you will be able to make your swatch flat. If when you are finished your floats are too tight you will need to cut them.  When you have completed the swatch work 4 rows of garter stitch.

Bind off and block if necessary before measuring. You will measure the stitches inside the border.  Divide the number of stitches you have between the borders by the number of inches you measured.  If you have 20 stitches and your swatch measured inside the edges 4 inches you will divide 20 (the number of stitches) by 4 (the number of inches) and get a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch.

If you are knitting a pattern or a cable you need to do this on your swatch as well.

Your gauge may come out to be a fraction. Do not ignore this. If your gauge is 5.25 it will be very different over a large amount of stitches than a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch. Never round up or down.

Am I finished Now?
If your swatch is spot on great. You can safely cast on. But what if it is not?

If your swatch is too small (your stitches are tighter) you have more stitches to the inch than you wanted. This will produce a smaller garment. Go up to one needle size larger and make a new swatch.

If your swatch is too big.( Your stitches are looser) go down a needle size and make a new swatch.

How about row gauge?  Row gauge is important in patterns with repeats but for pain knitting I do not usually worry too much about it. You will knit to the desired length as either given in the pattern or to meet your measurements. You might want the body or the sleeve length different from what the pattern calls for.

Conclusion
While Swatching might not be something you love doing it will be worth it in the end when you have produced exactly what you wanted and expected.  So many knitters just pick out a size on a pattern and get to work only to be disappointed in the end with something that doesn’t fit. By knowing your correct gauge you also also might find that you can knit a different size in that pattern. You might think that you are a Large but the pattern could be designed with a lot of ease making the sweater much wider than what you want and you might be able to go down one size or go up one size if the fit is tighter than you want.  Having correct gauge information before you knit will be worth the time you took swatching.

Happy Knitting
Thea
www.patchworkfrog.com

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Keeping up with Changing times




In reading some of my early posts I found one where I was talking about making copies of my patterns, which I still do,  and never carry the original The advantages of doing that are I can write on the pattern without messing up my original and I have a back up copy if I loose the original.

The other problem with writing on the original is that should you ever want to knit this again and maybe not in the same size you have all these notes and circles on your pattern that make it difficult to read especially if you now want new notes and want to knit  a different size. The pattern becomes a mess.

I like to take notes. I almost never knit the pattern as written. I might make it longer, do a different rib stitch, almost always adjust the sleeve length and I especially like to save notes on the yarn I used and the needle size and gauge for reference.

I am a yarn snob and have, I admit favorites. I am also not ashamed to admit that I probably do as much ripping as knitting. As I often point out to people I work with helping them through knitting projects, I don't knit becasue I need something to wear. I knit becasue it is my passion and my hobby but in the end I want to have something that I love and not something that gets finished and shoved away never to be seen again. To that end I often choose the same yarn for a new project in a different color and I find it helpful to remember what needle size I used, and my personal gauge which often is exactly what is recommended on the band since all knitters do not knit the same.

As I read this old post two other things came to mind. One is the improvement of our smart phones and while I can't address the Android phones on my iPhone i have something called iBooks. I can scan and save my pattern as a PDF and save it in iBooks, and I can then read my pattern on my phone so no need to carry a pattern at all. I can make notes regarding my WIP in the notes section. Form this I can also transfer my notes to my computer.  I know this may sound as if I am a bit compulsive but I really do not want to "swatch" again if I want to use the same yarn. Swatching is necessary but let's face it no one like doing it. Any not matter how many years you have been knitting and at what level you would put your knitting skills you still have to make that swatch.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

WIP Button Side Sweater Using German Short Rows

As I follow up on my button side sweater I am coming to close to finishing. Not so easy since I started three projects at the same time.

First of all I just love the yarn. I am knitting the sweater with Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool
 45%Wool, 35%Silk, 20%Nylon Yardage: 192, Stitches: 5.5 = 1 inch
So naturally I am a happy camper. This is one of my favorite yarns. The wool gives it stability, the silk gives it drape and the bit of nylon helps it hold it's shape.  It feels soft and squishy to the touch and my hands are so happy holding it.  I also love the color range.  I need to go down a needle size with this and many yarns because I am a loose knitter and in order to get the fabric I want that is not to tight, not too loose, but just right I often need to use a smaller needle than stated.

I love the color I choose. I went out of my comfort zone and picked a Cinnamon color that I don;t often choose for my wardrobe and I like it a lot. A bit of orange and a bit of brown but very neutral and a departure from my usual grey and black.

The sweater construction is interesting because you knit the curved band bottom together with the body. The sweater uses German Short Rows which are no my favorite. I have always don the wrap and turn and not matter how I tried I could always see the small hole from the turn. For what ever reason this method seems to give a totally invisible turn. From knitting this sweater I now feel quite proficient in this method.

I did, as I always do deviate from the pattern a bit. I decided even though I am not tall that I wanted a longer body so I knit about 16 extra rows which also resulted in one more button on each side.. The pattern calls for a Kitchener Stitch join where the band meets but after doing this I wan;t happy and instead did a three needle bind off which some what matched the pattern on the band and I felt looked better.

And I changed the sleeve. I did not like the few rows of garter stitch for the cuff. To me it did not go with the sweater so I did the modified rib patter that is used on the shoulder saddle and I personally like it better for me.  I think it adds a nice detail.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What's On Your Needles

As the weather gets warmer and I start to think about outdoor concerts, days at the pool and travel I start to think about what my knitting projects will be.

I always like to have knitting with me and small projects that are light and easy to carry work well for this purpose. Socks naturally and my favorite one skein shawls.

Checking on Ravelry.com there are wonderful people who have designed and shared their pattern for free.  If you are like me I try to take advantage of their generosity.

If you check on Revelry frequently and click on "Patterns" a small box drops down with the most looked at patterns for that day. This is constantly changing although several will keep appearing.

Down at the bottom it will offer the top 20 and if you click on that you will get small thumbnails of the patterns.  You can also do an advanced sort and then put in specific detail for your search like how many yards (put in 450 for a one skein as a starting point), what type of project (shawl) sort by free.

My recent search gave me Reyna 
a triangle shawl with some open work areas that looked like a good choice for a carry along project because there was some detail but looked like it would be easily memorized and therefore okay to work on if there were other people around .  

I remember that I had started a shawl (KAL) knit along back in December and the design became too tedious for me since it required  watching every row. I need to go back to my abandoned project and I think the yarn may just want to be a Reyna shawl.

Happy Knitting

 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just Couldn't Wait to Start

Every once in a while, well okay really often, I come across something I can't wait to cast on my needles. The minute I saw the book Knitting Short Rows I knew I needle to  knit the cover sweater called Buttonside Sweater.


The book interested me because it has  patterns that use different techniques for  knitting short rows. If you have ever knit short rows you may or may not know that each technique gives you a slightly different look. Often I look at books and there is only one sweater that I want to knit and in that case I check out Ravelry.com to see if I can purchase an individual pattern but when I looked at this book there were several patterns I loved so I knew I needed the book.

I was also happy to see that the sweater was knit in one of my personal favorite yarns, Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool. The yarn has a particular twist that gives a crape appearance to the knit fabric.  Since I tend to knit loose I went down a size needle and I am working on a #4 instead of the size called for in the pattern but I am right on gauge

In checking the pattern size I decided that I was happy with the width but I think I want my sweater longer. I added a few rows to the armhole and I think I will add some rows to the body before I start the curved shaping to give me more lengths by added multiple of the 4 rows that make up the button bands.  I am using locking marker to keep exact count of the rows I am knitting to that when I pick up for the front it will match the back.

The sweater construction is interesting since it starts with should saddles and then stitches are pick up and knit down.  I read ahead and the side panels curve around and meet in the middle with an interesting join. It is a really fun knit.


To make this more fun I decided to challenge a friend to knit along with me.  It is an inspiration to keep knitting and will ensure that we will both finish.

Here are some more pictures of my progress



Does anyone else want to join us?  Would love to see a bunch of these WIP's up on the Patchwork Frog Facebook page.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Popchino

I love shawls and ponchos and sweaters that are easy to wear and fold into my lap when we are at the  theater. I decided to design an oversized poncho that would be fun to knit and easy to wear. One size fits all and it really does. I knit this in Universal Yarn Bamboo Pop because it is light weight and a cotton blend that will be easy to travel with as well as wear most of the year here in southern California.  I designed this in two pieces but I am always worried that if my measurements are off the front and back might not match. I solved this by writing the pattern in sections with each section being a fixed amount of rows. It has a bit of this and a bit of that for interest both in kitting and wearing. A bit of ribbing, a bit of lace (just enough for interest but not so much that it is tedious and some patterns both double and single moss stitch. This could be knit in any DK yarn so if you want something a bit warmer a wool would work and it would be fun in a larger repeat dyed yarn that would self stripe.http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/popchino

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fan Shawl

I know I keep saying the same things but I love knitting shawls and I love working in modular knitting.
I think I like modules because it gives me a sense of completion . there is a certain satisfaction and good feeling when you finish a module even though the project is far from completed. I also find that it keeps my attention more because it isn't just knitting back and forth. I knit this shawl using Petals Sock yarn color Blueberry which is  a a combinations of shades of blue denim
I have posted more information about some changes that I made to this free pattern on my Ravelry page