This is probably the most ANNOYING part of knitting (and crocheting, for that matter) - checking your gauge/tension.
[If you knit, skip to the section after the ------ 's ]
For the non-knitters, a gauge swatch is, in so many words, a tool used to ensure that you get the proper sized finished product. Everyone knits differently, at a different tension - some knit tight, some knit loose, some are in between. When I first started, I was loosie goosie. I could barely keep yarn on the needles. Then I was mighty tighty. I held on to that yarn for dear life and had difficulty sticking needles into the stitches. But now that I've learned to relax (maybe this also relates to my lower stress levels?), I'm some where in the middle. Occasionally leaning towards the loose side, and more often than not, I end up going down a needle size (or 2) to get tighter stitches.
Anyway... so you knit up a few rows (usually enough to make a 10cm square/4in square) in said stitch pattern that is given to you on the pattern itself. When you are finished, you measure it out with a ruler and check it with the pattern to see if you are on the money, or if you need to adjust your needle size (not your knitting tension). If I trusted that you clicked on the above link, I would've saved us all a paragraph or 2 here. But I already know...
I can't compare it to sewing because, well, it's just different.
I still occasionally have issues wrapping my head around the whole concept of knitting. I'm used to sewing. That's what I do/did/have done. So when I was reading knitting patterns/books and looking at how the garments were constructed, it was just so counterintuitive to what I was trained to think about garment construction.
I struggled for a bit, trying to visualizing how items were put together, the lack of seam allowance, how to relate a swatch to an actual fitted garment, negative and positive ease on knitwear, seaming, how all these stitches are looped together and don't fall apart, and last, how you don't need to tie knots in your yarn to keep stitches in place. *Whoooo* This whole process has been enlightening (and humbling) though. Ok... I'm digressing.
So today, I was swatching away. I'm still picking slowly and steadily at my sweater [don't worry, I didn't toss it over the fence or anything (yet)] inspite of the fact that if you look at it, you would probably be like, weren't you there LAST time I saw this mess?! *side eye* But in between my eyes crossing and me dropping tiny stitches on what feels like every freakin' row and my fingers cramping after marathon sessions, I seriously need instant gratification projects on much bigger yarn to keep me going. I need to see progress!
But my sweater actually isn't that bad at all, I tend to exaggerate. It makes things a little more interesting. The pattern consists of a 6 row pattern, which gets repeated 6 times. So it's pretty straight forward. The only issue is that the pattern is different on EVERY line, so it's difficult to memorize. I have to have the pattern on my lap when I'm working, and even then, my eyes get crossed up. I am counting constantly too, so when I work on this sweater, I have to be away from ALL distractions. I usually knit on this outside in natural light. I'm having deja vu here. Did I blog about this mess already? *sigh*
But I just know this sweater is going to be the love of my life once it's done, or at least, that is what I pray so hard on every time I start knitting on it. I'm hoping that all my hard work will not be in vain. And that it will fit because I really love the style.
Random Side Bar #4: It's a 1950's era pattern and it's just right for the hour glass figure. I am super picky as it is about my clothing, and even more so with sweaters, as even before I started knitting I knew what looked good and what didn't on my frame (and on others). And even back then, I always leaned towards skinny yarn as it doesn't add a lot of bulk to your frame. After years of trying to hide curves/minimize curves, I just finally came to terms with them. It's true, it comes with age, or you just learn to deal with it. Body type is something you cannot change. It is what it is. But you can always fake the funk ;) Illusions baby! That's why I love costume :D
The key to dressing an hour glass silhouette is to NOT cover/hide your waist! So toss out all those damn tunics, and forget about all those trends from the 60's! They are NOT your friend. That is, unless you plan on belting everything! If not, it all just ends up looking like maternity garb. And that's ok too, if that's the look you are going for. But I don't know any woman who is like "Hmm... what can I put on today that will make me look 15 pounds heavier." If you can find this person, I will eat a grape leaf! I have to be careful what I say I'll eat hahahaaa
You know what... this gives me another blog idea. Maybe I'll do a blog on styles that work for different silhouettes. I know this info is all over the internet, but time and time again, I see that folks just have it all kinds of wrong! And many people suggest things that just don't work and/or are not practical at all. Sure it's all subjective, but the trained eye can NOT be fooled! ;)
Back on topic (wow, I'm all over the place today)...
Here are some swatches that I quickly did over the past few days.
I was happy as a clam that the patterns asked for swatches in stockinette stitch! I know there are some that are advocates of knitting the entire 4" gauge square... but seriously, I just knit 2" and double it. I mean, I get the point! And I hate using up what feels like a lot of yarn on this, even though in reality it's probably not a lot of yardage. The fact that I'm even swatching is a miracle itself! I learned my lesson, the painful way. Fool me twice...
So no surprise that the yarn I pick for myself to wear is SOLID. And NEUTRAL. But not black! Yay!!! Progress happens slowly over here :D I typically stay away from color, and I stay away from all things textured and variegated. I keeps it bland, what can I say :D
In the near future, I'll attempt to wear more color. That is one thing that attracts me to scarves/neck kerchiefs/cowls... I can add a splash of color to my wardrobe without feeling like I'm a walking marker that says "I AM HERE." But for now, at least regarding larger sized objects, I like the security (whether real or imagined) in wearing a neutral palette.
Cotton Swatch for a lightweight Summer Top -
If you are on Ravelry, it's called "Bottoms Up"
Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport in "Malted Milk" (totally looks like a creamy vanilla malt color). 100% Organic Cotton. Sport Weight.
Cotton Swatch #2 (Alternate yarn for above top)
You already know THIS is not going to happen. Nice red though hahahaaaa Maybe this will be a kerchief or something...
Knit Picks Shine Sport in "Serrano." Not an orange/red. Closer to a blue red imo. Very vibrant with great stitch definition. 60% Pima Cotton and 40% Modal. Sport Weight. I'm not really feeling the "shine" aspect of it, but I did want to try it out to see what it was all about. I do love how vibrant the color is on this yarn though (because of the Modal). Great contrast to what you traditionally see on a cotton - dull, muted, pastels.
Yeah Yeah, it's another cotton swatch.
This one is for a "secret" project. Sshh! Only a secret because I don't know if I'm going to end up gifting it. By the way I've been drooling over the swatch, I suspect I'll be
Sublime Organic Cotton in a creamy off white. 100% Organic Cotton (like the name suggests). No colorway name. DK weight. This yarn is sooooo soft. Mmmph. I really love the color (or lack thereof too). A 'warm' white.
Wool Swatch for another "secret" project.
Knit Picks Swish DK. 100% Superwash Merino Wool in "Cobblestone Heather." Sooo soft, and gorgeous color. I've been pretty happy with the Knit Picks yarn. I haven't washed any of it yet so maybe my feelings will change hahaaa , but the colors (and prices) have not disappointed so far.
Wool Swatch for another (future) sweater. A Raglan sweater. I love raglans!
Notice that I chose much bigger yarn this time around! ;) Unfortunately this weight yarn - worsted - is not a trend. The majority of the projects I have lined up for myself are pretty much dominated by DK weight yarn *sigh* It's a love/hate relationship, no doubt.
I'm going to use Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitting Workshop" book for the Raglan.
Cascade Eco Wool in brown/gray. It doesn't have a colorway name. 100% Undyed Peruvian Highland Wool. Worsted weight.
And a revisit to another swatch. The swatch from my current sweater pattern.
But this one is nice, because it's done in a pattern!
Garnstudio Baby Ull in an indigo blue (no colorway name). DK weight. 100% Superwash Merino Wool.
So yeah... this is basically what I'm getting started on. 2-3 new small projects that should keep me active, while I still tinker away at my sweater.
And now once they are all bound off, it will be time to toss them into the wash and PRAY for the best!