Swatch for Success: Prepping to Knit a New Sweater

Posted May 4, 2020 by Maire in Knitting, Videos / 0 Comments

This week’s video is about knitting a gauge swatch for a new sweater!

Learning from past mistakes

I’ve only made one adult sweater in my years as a knitter. It was a Cobblestone Pullover designed by Jared Flood that I made from Cascade 220 for the Husbeast.

My first attempt was…not good. I remembered to swatch, but I used yarn from Michaels and didn’t realize the dye lots were different until I had finished two sleeves and was partway done with the body. The tip-off was the very noticeable difference between the two dye lots on the torso. Then realizing both arms were different shades….it was a mess.

a bunny-shaped garden ornament in a newly weeded bed.
Messes being cleaned up all over the place

I wound up making a trip to one of the local yarn stores that deals specifically in what I call “workhorse yarns” – the kinds of sturdy, reliable yarns that knitters generally turn to when they need a yarn they know will Just Work.

Yes, Gina Brown’s in Calgary is something like the early 2000s Apple Computer of yarn, but it’s very reasonably priced and they don’t redesign their stock every 6 months. Which is a good thing.

Choose your own adventure

screenshot from Ravelry of the Crumb cardigan by Andi Satterlund

I chose the Crumb sweater by Andi Satterlund. It’s a vintage-style sweater that will be nice and cozy for cool summer evenings. I have some dresses and long shirts that should go well with the design.

I’d picked up a sweater’s-worth of yarn from Michaels a few years back with the intention of making a Central Park Hoodie. The bulk of the yarn – about 5 balls – is one dye lot. I think the other 3 balls are one or two other dye lots.

a basket full of balls of worsted-weight yarn
Paton’s Classic Wool – Worsted – in Plum Heather 77307

The Crumb cardigan looks like the largest size will require the 5 balls of yarn. If it comes down to it, I’ll re-knit, alternating dye lots per row. It would be easier if this pattern was knit in the round, but I’ll figure something out.

Swatch for the pattern

The first thing I did was take one of those 3 extra balls of yarn and knit a swatch. Then I knit another. See, the pattern calls for 18 stitches and 26 rows over 4 inches square. The first swatch came out a bit big, so I went down a needle size for the second.

pme gauge swatch each for size 7 and 8 needles
One swatch each per needle size attempted.

The next step was giving the swatches a soak and dry. The larger swatch shrank down to the right stitch gauge. Row gauge is a bit more tricky, so I’m not going to worry too much about it.

And away we go!

I’ve since cast on for the sweater, and I’m enjoying it. I guess we’ll see how things shape up by next weekend!


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