Swatching for Loose Gauge Projects

Loose gauge projects create a wonderful fabric, but swatching for them isn’t exactly straight forward. Loose gauge fabrics have a tendency to wiggle around and stretch more easily than denser knits, and that means that the gauge you get when you measure your swatch that has only been laid out flat isn’t necessarily going to be the gauge you end up with once your sweater hangs from your shoulders from a few hours. It’s really easy to end up with a loose gauge sweater that’s much longer than planned with ridiculously deep armholes if you don’t know to plan ahead. So what can you do to avoid this? Hang up your swatch! Some people swear by adding weight too, but just letting it hang can be enough for some projects, like Vianne.

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I knit two swatches, one on 5mm needles and one on 4.5mm needles. The 5 mm needle swatch had a gauge of 18 sts by 26 rows over 4 inches after I blocked it. I stuck it up on my bulletin board for a few days, and when I took it down, my new gauge was 19 sts by 24 rows. See how the yarn wiggled around a bit? My stitches got narrower and longer. My second swatch on the smaller needles also changed a pinch. It went from 20 sts by 27 rows to 19.5 sts by 26 rows. As you can see, with my yarn substitution, I can’t match the pattern gauge with my favorite bamboo needles. It’s not a huge surprise because loose gauges are hard to match, but I have a few more things to try before I throw in the towel and have to do the math for a gauge mod. Using different needle materials and/or shapes often changes my gauge, so I’m going to play with that a bit.

OAL Supplies

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Here’s what I’ve got planned for the Outfit Along! I’m going to knit my second Vianne using Hazel Knits Lively DK in the Poppy color. I need to double check my swatches after letting them hang out a bit (literally), and there’s a slight chance I’ll need to do a row gauge modification, but I’m optimistic and overall the yarn is a good match. It’s a wool and nylon blend, and it should make for a nice, hard-wearing cardigan.

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My fabric on the other hand might be a questionable choice. I had my heart set on a mostly blue or yellow cotton floral with touches of red, but my ideal fabric was nowhere to be found. I roamed around Pacific Fabrics, admiring all the pink and orange florals, but I wasn’t finding anything that went with my yarn. At this point I realized that I should have picked my fabric and then chosen my yarn because there are far more options with yarn than fabric. But I kept looking and went to District Fabric. They also didn’t have what I had in mind, but I kept coming back to this wide roll of linen fabric in the front. The motifs are really weirdly randomly placed and not my usual style, but I kept coming back to it, so I finally decided that it was the one. I wasn’t sure if linen was the best choice for the pattern, but it’s what I liked best. Then I found out that there were only slightly over two yards left. And for some strange reason I still went for it. When I got home, I roughly laid out the pattern pieces, and it seems like it will work. I think it will make a cute dress, especially with the extra large motifs broken up a bit, but I’m still not sure what it is about this fabric that I love so much.

Am I nuts for using linen with this pattern? What yarn and fabric are you using?

Me Made May Days 17-23

Day17 Day18
Day 17: Plain Jane – Day 18: Yellow Circle Skirt
Day19 Day20
Day 19: Marion – Day 20: From A to Z
Day21 Day22
Day 21: Hetty #2 + Striped Butterick 5748 – Day 22: Hetty #1 + Strawberry Print Butterick 5748
Day23
Day 23: From A to Z
P.S. I recently added a request page for blog posts! It’s up there on the menu bar next to “Useful Posts.” I can’t guarantee that a request will turn into a post, but now you can easily tell me what you’d like to see.

Early Morning Knitting

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The sun woke me up much earlier than I would have liked this morning. I don’t feel like I live that far north because our climate is pretty mild, but the truth is hard to ignore when it gets close to the solstice. It’s nice when it stays light out really late, but the trade-off is that it gets really bright really early. Trying to make the most of a not so-pleasant situation, I used the extra time this morning to knit in bed and finish my sleeve. I would rather have been sleeping because sleep is one of the few things I love more than knitting, but I have to admit that knitting in bed is a great way to start the day.

A Cowl For Me

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I mentioned a while ago that I was doing a cowl swap with some friends, and this was the cowl Iz made me! I don’t know any of the details like what yarn she used, but I wanted to show it off. It’s basically perfect. It’s one of my favorite colors and just the right length to loop around my neck twice. It’s going to get worn a lot!