Monday, January 16, 2012

Design-a-long - More details on Swatching

I ended up struggling a lot regarding my yarn choice for this project. What I wanted was a gorgeous, solid, densely coloured, black yarn with maybe just a bit of sheen in either DK or sport weight yarn. I looked at numerous options, generally blends of wool and silk. You can see a Ravelry search here that shows there were lots of possibilities. Then I started looking  at some garments I already own. I have a lovely silk and wool blend cardigan that I bought last spring that already shows a shocking amount of abrasion wear after not very many outings and no washing. Making a plain black sweater while useful isn't really very exciting so I want to make sure it stands up to lots of wearing and washing. Hummmm, more thinking and pondering and more looking at yarns I've already knit up. What wears best generally is sock yarn, I don't knit a lot of socks but with one exception (that didn't wear well) all mine have some nylon and have been washed and dried many times more than a cardigan will be. The next search was this one. Many options turned up again, so I started looking for black and reading reviews. I ended up with Knitpicks Stroll Sport, you can read the comments here.

I've knit two swatches as you can see in the photo above, one on a 3.25mm and the other on a 3.75mm. I didn't find the yarn splitty, but then I like my needles to have rounded not sharp points and I prefer soft materials. I did one swatch on my Denise circulars and the second on an old pair of needles that were my mothers. I think it's metal set but a relatively soft one as they bend a little. I did the first swatch plain but the second has 3 yarn overs and 3 purl stitches to indicate that it was done on a 3.75 mm. I forgot to use the same marking system on the 3.25 mm swatch. Full disclosure: I have given up on writing notes about what needle I used because I invariably lose the notes!

I like to know if there is any shrinkage in the length before I start knitting, so I can add in extra if that is a concern. I do it by percentage if I do get shrinkage. I check this by lightly steaming my swatch with my iron not touching the knitting, and smoothing it to make it lie flat. Then I drawn out the size on graph paper as a comparison tool for after blocking. The swatches are now in a laundry bag being machine washed on delicate with some other black things. I'll update this post after the machine drying. 

The swatches are dry. I had to steam them to lie flat and then I let them rest overnight. The one on 3.25 mm needles is exactly the same as before. I got 23 stitches for 4 inches not the 26 that the ball band suggests. I'm happy with the fabric which is a little firm and bounces back when I stretch it in either direction. Interestingly the swatch on the 3.75 mm needle did shrink a little in both directions. I already knew the fabric was too loose but I went ahead and washed and dried it anyway. I'm guessing that perhaps the looser gauge allows more for shrinkage. The other factor is that while the fabric looks fine it does not bounce back as quickly after stretching.

Links to the other posts:

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