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Tale of Three Swatches

Posted by on March 18, 2015

I wanted a cardigan with a stripe sequence that looks like this:

I’m using a slightly modified color palette, but I like the proportion and relative values of the stripes.  The sweater shouts “Spring!” to me, so sport weight wool seemed like the right choice.

Enter Galway Sport.  It’s a brand-new 2-ply from Plymouth, and I have 20 or so colors in stock.

I’ve generated the pattern essentials using CustomFit, and with the total number of rows in hand, I worked out a stripe sequence that fit–and maintained the proportion of the inspiration stripes.  This cardigan is a V-neck, but I am knitting Inlet, from the CustomFit Winter/Spring 2015 collection.  I had the option to change the sleeve length from 3/4 to full length, so I did so.

IMG_6525.JPG

L to R — Swatch 1, Swatch 2, Swatch 3

 

The swatching process was interesting.  Swatch 1 used 3.5mm Knitter’s Pride Karbonz, which were one size smaller than the ball band suggested.  My gauge was 5.2 stitches and 7.8 rows per inch–significantly looser than the recommended gauge of 6 stitches and 8 rows per inch.  Swatch 2 was on 3.00mm Addi Turbo Rockets, and while my gauge was a more pleasing 6.1 stitches and 8.8 rows per inch, this swatch was the least consistent of the three I knit. It was noticeably not square, and the tension was less even than I’d like.  I decided to try one more time using needles with a little more grip.  Since I’d used the Karbonz for the first swatch, and ChiaoGoos skip from 2.75mm to 3.25mm, I decided on 3.00mm Addi Turbo Lace needles.  That was the magic combo for me.  (Although I suspect that 3.00mm Karbonz would also have worked.) Some of the inconsistencies of Swatch 2 were probably attributable to inattention–I knit some of it standing up, some sitting, some while doing other things at the same time–but the slight drag of the brass finish on the Lace needles had a subtle effect I liked.

Here’s how my final swatch numbers measured up:

30 stitches measured 4.875″ (6.2 stitches per inch)

40 rows measured 4.625″ (8.6 rows per inch)

Total swatch measured 7″ x 6.875″, and weighed 17.5 grams

Just to be on the safe side, when beginning the pattern, I started with a cardigan front, instead of the larger back piece.  After about 7″ of knitting, my tension seems to be on track, and I love the oatmeal, navy, and bright pink together!

The process so far highlights a couple of the advantages of CustomFit.  You’ll notice that there was never a point where I had an even number of stitches per inch (or even x.5 stitches per inch).  Instead of trying to match the gauge of a pattern, the pattern is created from the gauge of the fabric I liked the best–and I was able to experiment until I was satisfied. Also, this sweater is a pretty math-intensive endeavor–but I only have to worry about the stripe placement & matching part of it–the basic silhouette and shaping are sorted, and are made for me.

If you’ve talked with me, you know I’m not a “hard-sell” kind of gal.  But when I am genuinely enthusiastic about something, I’m not shy about sharing that enthusiasm.  I love making sweaters within the CustomFit platform, and I think that the opportunity to participate in the design process is a big part of the reason why!

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