Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: Swatching

It's OWL proposal season and you know what that means? Swatching.  Lots of swatching.

Some of you may be asking, what's a swatch?  How do I do that? Why do I need to swatch?

First, what is a swatch?
A swatch is a sample of the final product.  This is either a small piece of knit/crochet fabric or a short length of spun fiber.

Why swatch?
As stated on the OWL page:
Gauge doesn’t always matter in projects such as afghans, shawls or many charity projects (for example where someone will be able to use the hat you made regardless of the finished size) however swatching can tell you whether you will produce a fabric that is pleasing to you.
But matching gauge is often invaluable when making fitted garments. We want you to know that your yarn and needle(s) play nicely together AND that your final object will fit the intended recipient.
How do I swatch for knitting?
Cast on the number of stitches in the chart below (from Knitty), knit 4 rows garter stitch and then the corresponding number of rows (subtracting 8 for the 2 ends of garter), knitting on the right side and k4, p to 4 from end, k4 on the wrong side.  If you're using super bulky weight, only do 2 stitches of garter stitch on each side.

If you are knitting in the round for your project, be sure to swatch in the round.  Your stitches will be different!  You can either adapt the above chart to the round, knitting garter on the top and bottom edges only, or you could create a large gap in the back, as seen in this article.

Be sure to wash and block your swatch before you measure your stitches & rows per inch (or whichever measurement you prefer!)

How do I swatch for crocheting?
Look at the pattern for a gauge.  Whatever the gauge is, add a few stitches to the sides and a few rows to the row count; the edge stitches have a different consistency than those of the main fabric.  Once done crocheting, wash and block before measuring.

How do I swatch for spinning?
I'm not a spinner, so I'm going to let Knitty do the talking for me!
  • Decide whether your yarn will be singles, 2-ply or 3-ply. This will depend on the yarn you are trying to match, and the effect you wish to achieve.
  • Refer to the gauge table to see how thick your singles should be spun.
  • Spin a test length and measure the wraps per inch (wpi) both in the single and after plying. Even if the wpi is correct, knit a swatch as well for extra reassurance.
  • Keep your sample of singles handy while you spin so you can regularly check for consistency.
Here is the gauge table to which these instructions refer:

Happy swatching!

P.S.  What's your OWL going to be?  Mine is going to be Potions, doing a couple pair of mittens from the Woodland Winter Mittens kit from KnitPicks!

No comments: