Friday, May 28, 2004

Swatching - Or How I spent my lunch hour :-)

Until today I had been mentally swatching - thinking about which yarn I wanted to use. The only rule I had in mind was that it had to be a yarn I already had - since I DO have lots of yarn. Because this is a short-sleeved summer top (and I live in Arizona where it will be good and HOT any minute now) I knew wool would not be a good choice even though it is what I enjoy using.

My second choice was cotton - I have lots of little thin cottons that I can mix together to get the right gauge. And this was as far as I had gotten in the process until this afternoon when we decided to drive down to Cottonwood for lunch (no Mexican food in Jerome.) Quickly grabbing a US 7 circular needle and a couple of balls of cotton, we hit the road and I cast on 21 stitches for a swatch. As a lazy knitter and infrequent swatcher, I was more interested in getting a fabric weight I wanted than in worrying about measuring the gauge.

According to the pattern, the gauge is "18 sts. = 4 in. measured over 2x2 ribbing, slightly stretched." As Marcy so aptly put it "How do I know if I'm stretching it too much or not enough? Argh."

Looking at my swatch, you can see how the ribbing is pulling the sides in - this is the feature that is going to give this T-Top some shape, making it just a bit body-hugging. If I measure one inch of my swatch without stretching it, I get five stitches to the inch and if I stretching it Ever-So-Slightly, I can match the pattern gauge of 4.5 stitches per inch. Marcy's right - this part of the pattern stinks.

Here comes the MATH part of the planning process - and I'll list it in steps because you will need to substitute YOUR figures:

Pick a size to make - I was thinking about doing the smallest size (listed as a Finished Bust size of 36") which is an inch larger than I am - the pattern is form fitting. You may want a size with more ease.

Check the number of cast-on stitches for your size. If I divide the CO number for my size by my STRETCHED gauge (4.5), I get a finished measurement of 35.6 inches.

Will that fit me? Walks to closet, takes out a close fitting t-shirt and measures the width - 26 inches. Answer - yes, it will fit fine. Again, everyone's preference in ease is different. Think about how the measurements of the garment you already own compare to the garment you want to make. If I was making a loose, comfy Hoodie, I would pick a bigger size.

If I divide the CO stitches by my UNSTRETCHED gauge(5 sts. per inch), I get a finished measurement of 32 inches. Based measurements of the garment I already own, I know 32 inches will work.

Measure and count thoughtfully - if you are off half a stitck on your gauge swatch counting and you are making the largest size, you will be waaaaaay off when you are done.

OK - the yarn would work, but in the final analysis, it is really to heavy for the hot weather sweater I am envisioning. It would make a great cardigan or hat - but not a hot weather tee. So I have started a second swatch in a double railroad yarn - Lana Grossa's Viale Print.

It has potential - but it is late and I am off the bed. Will be working in the shop tomorrow and it should be a busy holiday weekend.

Happy Swatching!


Anonymous said...

Does it matter if we swatch for this in the round or flat (back & forth)?

11:04 AM

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