I confess, I am not the world’s most dedicated swatcher.

Most knitters know what a swatch is (it’s a sample size of how your yarn will behave with a certain size needle), but just in case here’s a little explanation of how to swatch correctly.

Back to the confession, because confession is good for the soul, right?  I tend to swatch for an inch or so, maybe as much as three, to make sure that I get the right gauge.  If my gauge isn’t coming out right, and it usually isn’t, I switch to a small size needle.  With me, I almost always know I need to go smaller.  I keep going smaller until I get to the correct gauge.  If I’m really feeling sassy lucky, I do the gauge swatch as part of the garment.  This works especially “well” with sleeves and sock cuffs.  Just cast on the number of stitches for the sleeve and away I go.  I measure after a few inches and then rip and redo if need be.

There’s just one teeny tiny problem.  Knitting tends to behave differently once it’s been washed.  Yarn blooms, the fibers stretch out, sometimes it acts completely differently from the yarn you think you had.  All of a sudden that perfect gauge swatch is big and floppy.  The sock cuff that fit perfectly is now sagging down around your ankles.  Not to mention what happens to a perfectly good sweater.  To get a completely accurate gauge swatch, you really need to wash and block your swatch first.

And that’s where I tend to cut corners.

As in I don’t do it at all.  Or at least I didn’t.  After my last two sweaters haven’t fit as well as I’d like, I am trying to turn over a new leaf.  I have swatched for my April sweater – the February Lady Sweater/Sweater on Two Needles sized for an almost 8 year old girl.  I’m also proactively swatching for my May sweater, done in fingering weight alpaca.

Wish me luck in turning over this new leaf.  I’m a little nervous about the sizing for the April sweater, but I figure if my gauge still leads me wrong at least this time it will fit my 6 year old instead of being given away to a much taller person.

It’s Good Y’all

Lily Times 2

I’ve managed to go an entire month without posting about my March sweater. It is moving right along, just as a good sweater ought to.  (It’s a good thing when a sweater behaves itself during the knitting.)  I do have to admit that I got a little nervous as I skeined up the last 110 yds. of hand painted yarn. I had Kool-aide dyed this years ago, so there was no hope of matching the yarn.  (and I tried to match it by doing some serious stash diving) I knew I’d have to knit fast to make sure I had enough yarn to get through.  I put the body of the sweater off to the side while I finished the cap sleeves.

There was enough yarn to finish the bottom of the sweater and there should be plenty to finish the neckline.  It’s currently soaking in my bathroom sink.  I have to block it to get the cute front pocket portion to lay correctly before I do the neckline edging.  In the meantime I’m swatching for April’s sweater.  For the first time I will be wet blocking my swatch.  I think experience is showing me that I need to wet block my swatches for accuracy.

There are no good pictures to show of the sweater in progress.  One of the pitfalls of Superior in March is that we have very few sunny days.  It’s tough to get a good picture on a grey foggy day.  Especially when I don’t normally have a moment to take a photo until 10pm.  So instead, I give you adventures in iPad’s Photobooth.


The kids were having a ball with this yesterday.  As we drove home from my parents house I had one kid on the iPad reading books and the other on the Nook.  We’re such a techy family all of a sudden.  When Addie discovered the Photobooth icon it was clearly a new toy!  All I heard from the backseat was, “click, click, click.  Here take a picture of this.  Click, click, click.”  Addie’s favorite for herself was the twirl function, which just made her look like she had a sad birth defect.  I really prefer my children looking like themselves.