How Can I Swatch with This?

March 14, 2018

I’m not a regular swatch knitter, partly because I generally make things where fit isn’t quite as important (like socks or shawls or baby knits). Indeed, dear friend and Fearless Knitter Cathie — who’s been swatch-free for about 50 years — and I regularly share messages about our swatch aversion.

But since I’ve decided to knit a sweater for myself (two rare occurrences), a swatch was in order. After all, if I’m going to spend hours on something that I intend to wear, I want it to fit. What knitter among us hasn’t finished a project, tried it on, discovered it doesn’t fit properly, and then stuffed it tucked it away in the back of a cupboard?

I started with size 5 (3.75mm) and knit a square, then switched to a size 4 (3.5mm) and knit some more. After washing and drying the swatch, I measured.

Swatch

The size 4 needles had yielded the 5 stitches per inch that I was looking for, which would have been terrific if the pattern actually called for 5 stitches per inch. Thinking I was all ready to cast on, I reread the pattern and discovered that the correct gauge is 4 stitches per inch.

That might not seem like a big difference, but over 200ish stitches, that’s more than two inches difference — the difference between a lovely summer sweater that fits and one that is banished to a dark drawer for eternity.

So, with Cathie’s shocked voice in my ear from 3,000 miles away, I pulled out what I thought were size 6 (4mm) needles and started another swatch. Here’s where things got a bit wonky. The size 6 swatch looked and measured the same as the size 5.

Since I’d been using a circular needle that wasn’t labeled and which I’d assumed was a size 6 since that’s what the needle gauge told me, I decided to check the gauge itself. I pulled out a size 6 needle from my interchangeable needle kit and double checked the size on my trust KnitPicks needle gauge, and then, because I’m someone who likes to verify results, I checked the needle size using a different gauge.

Needle-gauge

Who knew that a needle gauge could be miscalibrated? The size 6 needle from my interchangeable kit was too big for the size 6 hole on the KnitPicks gauge but fit smoothly through the Susan Bates gauge.

Now that I’ve got THAT figured out, it’s time to cast on the Sunshine Coast.

How do you feel about swatches?

 

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2 Responses to “How Can I Swatch with This?”


  1. UGH! I feel your frustration! But. Now that the whole swatching business is over, you can move on to the casting on part! YAY!!!

    Liked by 1 person


    • Yes, indeed! I’ve cast on and started. Promptly messed up for a bit and had to tink back a bit, but that’s all part of the process. And it’s a very good thing that I like the process! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like


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