When I saw Knitscene’s winter 2011 issue, I really liked the cover sweater. It doesn’t really scream “WINTER IN CANADA!”, but summer maybe! Then I read about the suggested yarn – a cotton alpaca blend. That’s not a happy blend for my wrists. That stopped me in my tracks.
A few months later, I was at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto and one of my knitting group friend (H) mentioned that she has never knit a sweater and liked the same sweater. It actually took us a while to figure out that it was the same sweater as we were pronouncing the name (Chiton) in very different ways. We all read it with an l in the middle, when in fact it doesn’t have an l at all.
H doesn’t have wrist problems and we found the suggested yarn at the frolic for a good price. She bought that and I bought 2 skeins of Viola Merino Fingering in the Sea Storm colourway.
AS H has never knit a sweater before, I told her we could do this as a knit-a-long (KAL) and I realised this is a good chance to show what I do when I knit a sweater and to have other suggest ways I can improving my knitting.
First I wound balls of my skeins.
Next was gauge swatches. For a sweater, I always knit a gauge swatch AND WASH IT!
These are two gauge swatches, knit on US5 and US6 of my Denise interchangeable needle set. Sorry W, no metric on here.
I measured them before washing – US 5 was 26 st to 4″ and 17 rows to 2″ and the US 6 was 25″ to 4″ and 17 rows to 2″. After washing the US 5 was 24.5 st to 4″ and 19 rows to 2″ and the US6 was 23.5 st to 4″ and 18 rows to 4″. That slight change in gauge doesn’t look like much, but that means the fabric GREW when it was washed – so if I knit the sweater to fit, the first time I washed it it would grow – for each 24 inches around, it would grow an inch – that is enough to really change the fit of the garment. Also, now I know that if the pattern asks me to knit for 2″ I should knit 18 rows instead of the 17 rows that the unblocked gauge gives.
I hope that makes sense.
The gauge swatch not only ensures I get the gauge the pattern wants after washing, but that I like the fabric that I’m knitting. Initially I thought the US6 was too loose – it was like netting, but after it was washed it filled in and had a really nice hand. The sweater needs a drapey fabric and the US5 fabric was too stiff. It would be great for something cabled as the cables would really pop, but the US6 is much better for this pattern.
Now, I get to start the many many inches of garter belt. Well, I’m going to wait for H to catch up and do her gauge swatches. I have 3 other projects on the go (well, more like 4, but one is on timeout!).