Friday, April 17, 2009

Measured After Blocking

I like to swatch, really I do. It’s not only useful for getting the right gauge, but it gives me a chance to get to know the yarn. Is it splitty? fragile? underspun? overspun? should I use wood needles or nickel? does it leave dye on my hands? These are all things I would rather have the answers to before I start my projects.

The Ancient Woodland Shawl suggests using US 4’s (3.5 mm), but if there is one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that I knit loose. So I went straight for a set of US 3’s (3.25 mm) when I started my swatch. I cast on 48 stitches (twice as many as needed, because I’m just strange that way) and started knitting.

I promptly fell in love with the Helen’s Lace… what a joy this is going to be to work with! It feels wonderful sliding through my fingers, and the silk just shines and shimmers.

When I had knitted 52 rows, I bound off as loosely as possible so I’d have plenty of leeway to stretch the piece. Pinned out flat, it measured about six inches square.


Then I gave it a soak in some Soak and a spin in my salad spinner. At this point it looked like a very pretty green and brown drowned rat.


It looks much nicer draped across my hand.


Then I threaded some blocking wires through it and laid it out on the towel.


After that was the really fun bit… stretching the knitting out and showing it who’s boss. This entailed a certain amount of hissing and muttering, as well as crawling around on the floor with my backside up in the air. Lucky for me, my husband was busy watching hockey in the front room and there are no pictures.

Final result: and eight-inch square of a nice even fabric.


This is going to make a wonderful backdrop for the cables and yarn-overs of my shawl… and once again I’m at work and not knitting.


wendie said...

you know, I've never thought to use a salad spinner for my knitting. how curious. also, that yarn is soooo pretty.

Anonymous said...

gorgeous! The sheen, the colour. It looks like sheer joy (pardon the pun) to knit with.

I'm really liking this salad spinner idea. Never considered it before.

Looking forward to seeing the cast on results.

Rose Red said...

I'll third the "clever you" on the salad spinner idea!! Fabulous!

Love the yarn, can't wait to see the lace!! And thanks for the reasons to swatch - I'd never really thought of it that way, but you are right.

Karen said...

So pretty! And good for you re. the generous swatching. I tend to cheap out in that respect, and am usually sorry afterwards.

TinkingBell said...

Oh that looks so ridiculously beautiful it has awakened all sorts of nasty covetousness in me - be glad you're on another continent!

love the colours - mmmmmmmm!

Bells said...

ha! Salad spinner. I must remember that!

essjay said...

The salad spinner is a brilliant idea!!! The yarn is so _lovely_ - I can't wait to see the shawl!

Chandler said...

I never thought of the "getting to know your yarn" aspect of swatching before—you're absolutely right! You'd think that since probably the whole reason I knit is because I love feeling up wool, that I would enjoy swatching...maybe this insight will get me to look at it differently!

Okay, off to feel up some wool...

Joanne said...

This is a GREAT post on swatching. Fabulous. Good for you. You can't imagine how many weird emails designers get from folks who don't swatch first. (just sayin'....:)

Btw, regarding your comment on my blog, I agree with you about book signing. It doesn't actually matter to me that much, so I am really surprised by the # of people it really matters to! Of course, I am happy to sign books, no problem, but I am worried every single time that I will misspell something and spoil a brand new book. It hasn't happened yet (throwing salt over my shoulder...) but there's always a first time!

Anonymous said...

The salad spinner is such a great idea - I normally just wrap the knitting in a towel and then stamp on it. Your solution is so much more elegant!

Nora said...

Very nice! You are definitely a noble swatcher - I have never swatched for a shawl.

Kathleen Taylor said...

Blocking is a sort of magic- I love the before/after shots.

Donna Lee said...

Wow. That is gorgeous. It's funny how some yarns just beg to be knit with and reward you by feeling soooo good.