Merrily we Swirl Along

The SwirlAlong in Leonardtown was quite lively.  Connie and Jeannie both cast on and were able to join in the round.  Sigrid swatched, and Shelly got ready to swatch.  Althea brought in two swatches she had worked so that she could decide which needle size was right for her project.  She had worked one on size 6 needles, and the other on size 4
Here are the two swatches right off the needles.  The swatch on the left was done on size 6 needles; the one on the right, size 4.

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Unblocked swatches

You may be at this exact spot with your Swirl.  It would be tempting to simply measure the gauge here, but it would only give you a piece of the picture.  So much of a Swirl depends on the blocking, and your taste in fabric.  Sandra McGyver gives details on this point in her blog here.  Following Sandra’s lead, I got out the blocking board and we pinned the two swatches into 8×8 squares.  First the swatch from size 6 needles.

As we pinned this swatch, it needed no stretching to get to 8 inches across.  In fact, I felt as if I needed to smoosh it into its 8″ boundary a bit, even with stretching the length to 8 inches.  All pinned out, it looks nice, but really just a tad droopy.

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Swatch done on size 6 needles

The size 4 needle swatch needed a little coaxing to reach 8″ in width, but it wasn’t a fight.  Same with getting it to 8″ in length.  Pinned out, it showed the structure of the alternating merino and Kidsilk Haze welts.

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Swatch done on size 4 needles
Blocked side by side
Blocked side by side

Althea and I discussed the possibility of doing another swatch on size 5 needles but she decided that she was going with the size 4 needles.  I think that’s a good decision, and here’s why:

  • Althea really liked the look of the fabric at that gauge
  • Her fabric already has plenty of drape and will benefit from a slightly tighter gauge overall
  • The fabric lends itself to hard blocking if necessary
  • Althea is petite, and the coat could end up too long if it stretched out, which is more likely in a loosely knit fabric.

I had to rip out my swatch Friday as I had not been paying attention and had done the wrong number of rows in my welts.  Alas…

Reading your Knitting

What does it mean to be able to read your knitting, and why is it important?  Reading your knitting is the ability to look at a piece of knitted fabric and determine exactly what happened on the needles to produce that fabric.  This is an important skill for lots of reasons.  How many times have you been in the middle of a project, put it down, and then wondered where in the devil you were in the pattern?  Have you ever been watching a movie and forgotten to advance your row counter and wondered how many rows you’d worked since that last decrease?   Then there’s all that looking at what you’ve done, knowing you’ve made a mistake, and wondering what it was you did and how to fix it.  Honestly, how can you fix a mistake if you don’t even know what you’ve done wrong! 

Maybe you never make mistakes and you never stop without writing down exactly where you are in the pattern.  Good for you.  But let’s say you changed your pattern slightly on the back to better fit you.  Of course, you meticulously wrote down every change you made so that you’d know just what to do on the front.  But what if you’re knitting one afternoon, and your knitting BFF spills her coffeeonto your paper and destroys your notes.  How will you ever figure out what you did?  Well, if you knew how to read your knitting, you’d know exactly what you did on the back and could easily duplicate it. 

In our Reading your Knitting class, you’ll learn how to look at your knitting and see and understand what you have done – right or wrong.  If you can see what you’ve done correctly, then you can easily repeat it for the other side of your jacket, the second sleeve, or the next time you make that garment.  If you have made a mistake, it’s essential that you be able to identify exactly what the problem is before you can correct it! 

This class will help you answer these and many other questions we all have when we look at our knitting:

1.    How many rows have I knitted
2.    Am I supposed to knit or purl this next stitch/row
3.    How many increases/decreases did I do?
4.    Where did I make my increase/decrease?
5.    What kind of increase/decrease did I use here?
6.    How many rows are there between my increases/decreases?
7.    Why is there a hole in my knitting? – Is that a dropped stitch?
8.    Why does this stitch look so long and loose?
9.    Why are these stitches twisted?
10.   How many stitches have I bound off?
11.   and my favorite – This looks really wonky – what did I do?

When you’ve completed this class, you will truly understand your knitted fabric, and you will be able to answer all of those questions listed above.  Additionally, you’ll be able to un-knit correctly stitch by stitch or rip back several rows and still getting your stitches safely back on the needle.

Saturday, February 2nd in La Plata and Sunday, February 10th in Leonardtown 12-3.  Call the shop to register.  

Chrysanthemum Cowl and fabric notes

As I was finishing the second sample of the Chrysanthemum Cowl I noticed that there might be some confusion about how it looks on the needles and what happens when you bind off. 

With all knitting, especially in the round, needle’s circumference limits how much the fabric can stretch, so the fabric will grow substantially when you bind off – assuming you don’t bind off too tightly! 

Here is the blue Chrysanthemum Cowl just prior to binding off.  It looks like it might be the size of just a generous turtleneck, doesn’t it? 

Then after it’s bound off, the fabric can expand into a much larger circumference with terrific drape.  Notice also that the width of the fabric has decreased.  On the needles, it was about 6 inches wide.  Off the needles, it’s around 5 or 5 1/2 inches, depending on how much you stretch it in length. 

This length to width stretch aspect is really important to remember when you measure anything you’re knitting – from a gauge swatch to a garment in progress.  We’ll take a deeper look at what this means for you and your knitting later this week. 

Until then, enjoy your knitting your one-skein Chrysanthemum Cowl!