14 September 2020

On Swatching

I am a monogamous knitter :) I find I progress better if I knit one project at a time.  That doesn't stop me thinking about what I want to knit next or buying yarn! During this crazy year and in particular when we were in full lockdown (we still have lots of restrictions) I spend most afternoons quietly knitting for an hour or two.  I rarely change anything except the yarn when knitting,  sometimes doing nothing more than choosing which colour of the recommend yarn I fancy.  This makes for a stress free relaxing process!

I have lots of Quilting WIPs and I will get back to them this winter, but with each quilting project I have a lot of decision making to do, I very rarely follow a pattern exactly and nearly always chose my own colour palette. My frazzled brain can't cope with this at the moment when everything else is in chaos, and I think this is a common problem with us creatives at this time.

For my next project I want to knit the 'Miss Apple's Little Cardi'  from Issue 9 of Laine magazine. I really enjoyed this magazine and was sorry when they stopped issuing them, I have all nine editions and they are a wonderful mix of Nordic patterns, recipes and travel etc. I knitted My Summer Regn last Summer and have lots more in my to knit queue!

When I started knitting seriously again about 10 years ago I started a stash and I regret it now, I bought lots of really gorgeous expensive yarns when they were on sale with no real plan, I am trying to use some of them up! This pattern calls for using two yarns held together.  A thicker worsted yarn and a whisper fine lace to produce a lovely fabric.  I already had the worsted weight in my stash so only needed to buy 4 balls of the lace.

I am using Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine a 40% wool 40% Alpaca 20% Silk mix in the gorgeous Jade green colour 'Swimming Pool' along with the recommended Ito Sensai 60% Mohair 40% Silk yarn in 'Pool Green'

I always knit a small swatch before knitting a garment as it's really important to me that the finished garment fits well.  It is especially important when using a different yarn to the one recommended.  I always wash and block the swatch, you can see below from my scribbled notes, that the swatch tightened up a little when it was fully dry.  I don't pin my swatches just ease them into shape and let them dry flat naturally; it is easy to stretch things to the size you want, but then they could shrink up again in the first wash!

The top swatch is using the recommend needle size of 4.5mm, however I needed too many stitches to the inch to get the correct size, so if I knit with this combination the finished cardigan would turn out too small.  Standard practice is to then go up a needle size which I did for the second swatch.  This was much better and was close to the stitch count needed, however it was not perfect.  I could have gone up another needle size and would probably have gotten the correct count, BUT I did not especially like the fabric produced on the larger needles; I much preferred the denser tighter weave of the smaller swatch which has produced a lovely soft warm fabric ideal for this winter cardigan. It should also be more hard wearing, an important consideration when you consider the work involved.

Time for some maths! Dividing my stitch count by the recommended stitch count, lets me know what % I am off by, or in other words the ratio of my stitch count to the one needed for the pattern.  The simplest solution for me, would be to knit one size larger using the larger 5mm needles, the finished cardigan would be more or less the correct size.  However as I prefer the first fabric, I have worked out that I need to go up 2 sizes to get the correct finished size. This is fine by me, but does mean that I may need more yarn.  I definitely have enough of the Juniper but may need another ball of the lace, we will see.  I will keep checking my gauge as we go.

Ravelry Notes https://www.ravelry.com/projects/suller/miss-apples-little-cardi


  1. you are an expert knitter in my eyes :) I wish I could concentrate on it better and learn the right way to do it all - I am an impatient person I guess and can never take the time to learn how to read the patterns right - I have to slow down and do that if I will ever turn out a decent garment to wear

  2. I am so impressed that you can not only knit, but manipulate the stitch counts and all to go with the tighter needles that you like better! The yarns are GORGEOUS, and the stitching of that cardigan is very pretty. This is going to be a very nice sweater.

  3. I must admit that anxiety about fitting is partly what has kept my crochet to shawls and one sock pattern so far! You've just demonstrated that it is relatively simple, if distinctly multistage, so maybe I should just Be Brave!