Knit 101: Sweater Action
I’ve been in the starting phase of my first project for weeks now, and I’m ready for a little less preparation and a little more sweater action! I “mastered” casting on in my last post, so it’s time to start swatching. Yes, I know that swatching is part of the whole preparation process, but it feels like real progress. I’m actually knitting! And I’m so close to starting on this sweater—I just need to make sure I can get gauge.
My Needles are Moving
This pattern indicates gauge as “15 stitches and 22 rows = 4 inches in St st on larger needles.” (Fun fact: St st means stockinette stitch! I had to look that up. Oh, the joys of being a beginner knitter.) Following Deb’s tip in my last post on figuring out how much yarn you need when casting on, I measured out the right amount and cast on the required fifteen stitches. (I’m sure you more advanced knitters have noticed a problem with that.) There were a few false starts, and I ripped everything out a time or two, but overall it was pretty successful. I’m glad that the cast-on lessons I learned from my last blog stuck with me!
Working the twenty-two rows went pretty quickly, although it reminded me that I’m really slow when it comes to purling. (Do you see the problem with this swatch?) At the end of the twenty-two rows, I taught myself to bind off (!!!) using Interweave’s super handy The Essentials of Casting-On and Binding Off: How to Cast-On and Bind-Off Knitting. I was pretty impressed with myself, I can tell you. (And I hadn’t yet realized my mistake.) I pinned the completed swatch to my wall and eagerly took out my ruler to see if I’d achieved the recommended four inches.
Learning, Stitch by Stitch
Alas, no. So close, though! I was at three and a half inches—half an inch shy. I was pretty sure this meant I needed to use bigger needles, but I decided to consult with Laura to be sure. She said I might, but since I didn’t make a big enough swatch, it was hard to say. But how could that be? I made the exact size called for in the pattern!
Turns out that to achieve optimal and accurate results, you’re supposed to make your gauge swatch bigger than what’s called for and measure the stitches in the middle. Who knew?
Well, most of you, I’m guessing. And I should have known—I’ve read Kerry Bogert’s post on the gauge swatches for her Buttonside Sweater. Lesson learned!
So I’m off to make a bigger swatch. Fingers crossed that it’s the right size! If not, I’ll try bigger needles. Wish me luck!
P.S. My yarn came! Isn’t it gorgeous? This yarn is awesomely soft and just lovely to work with. I feel like I’m petting a kitten with every stitch!
Image Credit: Katie Edwards/Getty