12 July 2012

Swatching and a Moscow Mule

Ok, so let's get the most important out of the way first. Inspired by a boardgaming friend of mine, Nathan and I selected the Moscow Mule as our Cocktail of the Week and decided to mix them up for friends as we played games tonight.  First, this drink is delicious. Second, this drink is refreshing and perfect for a hot night. Third, it's easy (well, provided you can find ginger beer.)

Shake together vodka and lime juice (2:1) over a bunch-a ice and serve on light rocks in a highball glass. Top with Ginger Beer - not ginger ale soda! - (2-4 parts, or whatever tops up your glass).  Drink the crap out of it. Be refreshed.

Now that everyone is a little fizzy, I've started swatching for the Magnolia sweater that I'd like to make for myself. I ordered some wool + silk blend yarn from KnitPicks in a grassy green color and it showed up today, so I couldn't help but start swatching.

Look at this! 10 stitches across 2 inches.
The purpose of a gauge swatch is to make sure that using your particular yarn with your particular tension on your particular equipment (needles!), you can create the same sizes. If you do this and adjust at the beginning, you can make a sweater that fits -you- rather than your favorite stuffed animal or Great Aunt Mildred. Despite the benefits, I've never actually swatched before because, boring, and also because I've been making dishcloths and who cares?

But I did it!! The number of stitches per inch across a row is perfectly on target for the pattern, 20 over 4 inches (5 spi)... but my stitches appear to be squat and shorter... either 6 or 7 stitches make up a vertical inch.  Before I go any further and cast on I think that I'll wait for input from more more experienced knitters, but in the meantime I'm really proud of myself.

I've also starting knitting the correct way - knitting into the front of the loop rather than the back of the loop. Ta da!


  1. I like to frequently double check things as I knit by using the gauge to determine how many inches various parts are supposed to be. Especially for something like a sweater, your cast on will be huge compared to your swatch, so if you were off by even a little it will add up. I also like to doublecheck the measurements against my actual body to continually verify that everything makes sense. -Amy Hawkins

    1. Amy, thanks so much - this is a good idea to check. One nice thing is that this pattern is knit top-down, so I can try it on, I guess, and see how much further I have to go.


  2. It's not clear from your post -after you knit the swatch did you try to wash and gently block it before measuring? I don't always do this for small projects, but this is the "correct" procedure. If you wash and gently block it, you may find that the stitches grow or shrink a bit as the water helps the fibers reorient to their new position as knitted stitches. If your "row gauge" is off (the vertical number of rows per inch), it can affect your drape, and a washed swatch will show you better what your final drape will be like.

    If that doesn't work, a Knitty Summer 05 article on gauge suggests trying different materials of needles (and other such adjustments) to see if that will affect your row gauge without impacting your stitch gauge. I have not tried this though. Their other suggestion and the one I've heard most often is to just calculate how many more rows you would need to knit various parts of your sweater (or if the pattern always tells you to knit for x number of inches instead of giving you rows, you are set).

    1. I didn't wash it. To be honest, I sort of didn't want to 'waste' by washing it, but now you're the second to recommend it and I guess I know better... you can see some comments about it on fb http://www.facebook.com/emily.martis.1

      And I just looked at the pattern! It's "knit for x inches"I guess vertical gauge doesn't have to match!

      I like the idea of trying different needle materials/sizes/brands/etc... right now it's a little tougher for me b/c I get them one-at-a-time, you know? I feel lucky that my 7's got me the right swatch. In the long run, though, I'd rather do it right than shortcut and have an expensive, ugly sweater.

      *sigh about deciding I should do it "right"*