SWATCH ALREADY

We’ve had lots of enthusiasm for the Fall Sweater KAL, and whether you’ve picked a pattern and yarn and are excited to cast on, or are still deciding if you want to play along, this is a great time to talk about swatching.

What is swatching? In the simplest terms, it’s just knitting a small sample with the yarn and needles you’ll be using for your actual project. Why do this? Well, the success of your project depends on knowing what your fabric will be like. Is it dense or drapey? Can you match the pattern gauge with the recommended needles, or do you need to go up or down a needle size. If you’re swatching in pattern, what do the cables/lace/textured pattern look like in this yarn? Is there a technique you need to practice before committing to the full project?

Most patterns will state a gauge as a number of (horizontal) stitches and (vertical) rows measured over four inches. Typically a swatch will be knit in stockinette stitch (and ideally, should explicitly state as much). Occasionally, a pattern will require you to work in a different pattern stitch, or will ask for a different measurement. To make a swatch, you’ll need enough stitches to allow for accurate counting; you want it to lay flat; and you want to know what your gauge is *after* washing and blocking.

Let’s take a look at how you might gather your best information.

Your pattern tells you that your expected gauge is 20 stitches and 25 rows on a US 7 needle in stockinette stitch.

  • You need at least 20 stitches to measure in stockinette, plus a few edge stitches on either side to help it lay flat. If you like, you can add a few extra stitches to the stockinette middle to make measuring easier. Try casting on 30 stitches: four border stitches on either side, plus two extra in the middle.

  • To help the swatch lay flat, you’ll need a border that lays flat, to counteract the tendency of stockinette to roll toward the knit side of the fabric. I like to do 3/4-1” of seed stitch at the top and bottom, and at the sides. Garter stitch also remains flat, but it has a compressed row gauge as compared to stockinette, which can make it hard to measure row gauge. For this swatch, I would knit 6 rows of seed stitch at the bottom and top of the swatch, and four stitches on each edge.

  • Before counting stitches to compare them to the pattern’s gauge requirements, measure the swatch—its height and width, and a quick and dirty stitch and row count. THEN wash and block the swatch as you intend to care for the finished item. This is important for a couple of reasons. Superwash yarns tend to “grow” once they are wet, and how much they do so varies from yarn to yarn, and can be affected by how dense or open a gauge they are being knit at. Tumble drying them often helps the fabric “rebound” —either a full cycle, or a short session at the beginning or end of the drying process. It is much easier to proceed with confidence on this count if you’re experimenting with your small swatch, rather than weeks’ worth of knitting or crochet! Non-superwash yarns tend to be more stable in size, but may still change somewhat as spinning oils are washed away or certain fiber types “bloom.”

  • Once your swatch is dry (and by dry, we mean dry, unless you plan to wear your finished item damp on a regular basis), measure its height and width again, and count the number of stitches and rows over four inches, and compare to your pattern’s stated gauge.

  • What if your gauge doesn’t match the pattern gauge? If you have more stitches (or rows), your gauge is smaller than the stated gauge. Your stitches are smaller, and without adjustment, the finished item will be smaller as well. (If this is hard to conceptualize, more babies (smaller stitches) can fit into an elevator (your 4”x4” gauge measurement) than professional football players (large stitches). If you have fewer stitches than specified, your gauge is larger. If your gauge is smaller, you need to create larger stitches, so you need to use a larger needle size. If your gauge is larger, you need to create smaller stitches, using a smaller needle.

  • Do you need to match the pattern gauge? It depends. Liz was swatching for her KAL sweater, and measured 21 stitches over 4”, rather than 22 stitches. Sounds pretty good, right? I suggested looking at the total number of body stitches at the bust, then dividing by 5.25. (Twenty-one stitches per 4” is 5.25 stitches per inch; 22 stitches per 4” is 5.5 stitches per inch.) The difference was two inches, or the equivalent of knitting the next larger size. In a garment with a lot of ease (say, 6-8 inches or more), you may well decide that the difference is acceptable. In a closer fitting garment, you need to think carefully about whether the difference will result in a sweater that fits. Don’t be afraid to swatch again! It’s a small investment relative to your total project knitting time, and can dramatically affect your results.

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Ann
Survey says...

Let’s have a knitalong!

Lots of people have asked about the survey results, but aside from the actual scheduling (see below) let’s take a look at the answers:

  • There were 75 respondents.

  • 93% said they were interested in making a sweater this fall.

  • 74% were interested in making an adult sweater.

  • 8"% preferred a formal class; 54% preferred a knitalong; 23% were interested in either option; 12% planned to work independently.

  • If interested in a KAL, 15% were looking for an in-person gathering; 43% were interested in a dedicated Facebook group; and 21% said they would participate in both.

  • 14% of respondents wanted to work on the same pattern, 16% preferred individually-chosen patterns, and 68% did not have a strong preference.

  • A number of comments indicated interest in an online option for participating other than Facebook.

Dates are outlined below, but based on the responses, here’s what we have planned: the Yarn Folk Fall Sweater KAL will run from October 16 - November 30. Prior to the official start state, we will host two planning sessions in the shop—a great time to consider pattern choices, select yarn, and make sure you have the needles and notions you need. There will be a dedicated Facebook group (you can join here) and a dedicated thread in Yarn Folk’s Ravelry group (which you can find here).

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Ann
Sweater KAL Poll

While Liz capably handled the shop over the weekend (thanks, Liz!), I accompanied Mr. Yarn Folk to Salt Lake City for the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Above is a moonset (is that a thing?)—looking toward the west at 7:04 am. It was fascinating to watch the moon slowly drop below the mountains. After the race, I had the chance to stop by one of SLC’s local yarn shops, Blazing Needles, where I enjoyed talking with Cynthia and her staff. They had just received a trunk show of garments from Brooklyn Tweed, and I’m mulling some exciting yarn substitutions in my mind. More to follow!

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Ann
Field Trip

While Liz capably handled the shop over the weekend (thanks, Liz!), I accompanied Mr. Yarn Folk to Salt Lake City for the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Above is a moonset (is that a thing?)—looking toward the west at 7:04 am. It was fascinating to watch the moon slowly drop below the mountains. After the race, I had the chance to stop by one of SLC’s local yarn shops, Blazing Needles, where I enjoyed talking with Cynthia and her staff. They had just received a trunk show of garments from Brooklyn Tweed, and I’m mulling some exciting yarn substitutions in my mind. More to follow!

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Ann
A close up view + Slow Crawl prize winners!

If you saw the spectacular sweater that Liz knit for her daughter at the Kittitas County Fair, you will have seen the steer and the border collie on the left and right fronts, but not the horse on the back. The sweater was based on the Knitter’s Dude pattern, knit in the round, and steeked. But rather than using the geometric motifs from the pattern, Liz worked with her daughter to find images that represented ranch life, and then charted them to fit the sweater using knitter’s graph paper.

If you’d like to see the sweater in person, Liz will be covering the shop for me this weekend, so stop by from Friday to Sunday! (Note: Friday is the second edition of September Sock Club, and Liz is an experienced sock knitter….)

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Ann
New tricks, a landscape, and casting on

Above is how I close the gap left after binding off in the round—I decided to video it after Marie Greene shared her method in the Olive Knits weekly email. The two methods are quite similar, but have enough variation to be intriguing! One of my favorite things about knitting is the seemingly infinite number of ways we come up with to accomplish the same task!

(Forgive the background noise—I’m a liiiiiiittle worried about the belt drive in my washing machine….)

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Ann
Side projects

The round table at Yarn Folk has seen many projects, and even more topics of conversation. It’s been in the shop since the beginning, and was purchased from CWU surplus. I’ve been told by several reliable sources that it used to be a library table (and last I checked there was a piece of petrified gum still stuck underneath).

I’ve never been a big fan of the golden oak stain, so over the next little bit, I’ll be stripping it. It will be functional in between stages, but will likely look beat-up in new ways for awhile.

Hope to see you around the table soon!

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Ann
One month until the Kittitas County Fair!

The 2019 Kittitas County Fair is just about a month away! Online and in person entries are accepted from August 1st through August 15, and the late entry period is from August 16-18 for online entries and August 16-25 or in person entries. There is no cost to enter during the regular entry period, and the fee for late entry is only $3. The Fair 101 - How to Enter guide can be found here.

As always, there is no penalty if you don't submit your items! So if you think you might like to enter an item in the fair, go ahead and do it! You can always change your mind later. (Right now? You don’t even need to be DONE with your projects!)

Home Arts exhibits are received in the Home Arts building between 10am and 7pm on Friday, August 23rd. Pick up is on September 2nd (Labor Day), from 6-8pm.

You can find the complete Exhibitor's Guide here. Enter your things--it's fun to see a big range of projects on display, and that only happens if you participate!

(Not a resident of Kittitas County? Here are links to info for the Central Washington State Fair, Chelan County, Grant County and The Puyallup. (Douglas County deadlines have passed.)

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Ann
Join Liz for Project Circle on Friday!

Welcome Liz back to the shop Friday afternoon and Saturday—I’ll be off on a small adventure with Mr. Yarn Folk, as he participates in the White River 50 race near Mt. Rainier. He’ll do the hard part, I’ll provide clean socks and fresh water, and lots and lots of snacks a few times throughout the day—and otherwise hang out and knit and read on a mountain. If I have a cell connection, I’ll post a few #placesyoucanknit photos!

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Ann
Coming Soon: Berroco Fall Yarn Tastings

The Berroco Yarn Tasting returns for Fall! While it was great fun to have a huge group last time, this time around, I’ll be offering two (slightly) smaller sessions—Wednesday, August 14th, 5-7pm, and Friday, August 23rd, 5-7 pm. The fee is $12 and includes refreshments and knittable sample balls of six different yarns. There will be a combined door prize for both sessions—a nice kit containing a pattern booklet and several balls of one of the yarns. This was a popular event in the spring—sign up early to secure your spot!

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Ann
Summer Sweater Knitting

Yarn Folk will be closed on July 4th, but catch me on Instagram or Facebook for progress updates on the first day of the Olive Knits 4 Day KAL! I’ll be casting on for the Foxtrot Cardigan, and posting pictures throughout the day! The fun will continue on Friday, when I’ll host a work party at Yarn Folk from 1-7pm.

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Ann
July 4th holiday, and some words about Ravelry

Yarn Folk will be closed on July 4th, but catch me on Instagram or Facebook for progress updates on the first day of the Olive Knits 4 Day KAL! I’ll be casting on for the Foxtrot Cardigan, and posting pictures throughout the day! The fun will continue on Friday, when I’ll host a work party at Yarn Folk from 1-7pm.

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Ann
Trilogy Yarns Trunk Show this Saturday, June 29th!

Getting closer! If you’re joining us for Olive Knits’ 4 Day Knitalong and have already purchased your pattern, you should see the full pattern arrive in your Ravelry library on Thursday, June 27th! This gives you time to review the pattern and do any preparation you like (highlighting your size, reviewing any stitches or techniques you’re not familiar with, etc) before the official cast on date — July 4th.

There’s always camaraderie, plenty of inspiring progress photos, and more (including prizes!) in the Olive Knits Facebook group, which you can find here. Designer Marie Greene is active in the group during the KAL, and the group’s moderators have been making their sweaters in advance in order to help participants with questions that might crop up.

Don’t forget, although Yarn Folk will be closed on July 4th, I’ll be casting on, and posting progress updates throughout the day, and we’ll have two work parties during the KAL period—one the day after cast on, July 5th, from 1-7pm, and then again a week later, July 12th, also from 1-7pm.

Last but not least, remember that the time frame of this KAL is only intended as a fun personal challenge. There’s a “sliding size timeline” to account for the different number of stitches in different sweaters, and you’re encouraged to count your time in a way that makes sense for you! Ten half-days for a size 40, spread out during the KAL? Sure! Glue yourself to your knitting for four consecutive days? Only if it feels right for you. Count up your hours and apply them toward your total challenge hours? Also fine. The important thing is to have fun with it, and enjoy the company of a community of people knitting together!

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Ann
Socks, Socks, and More Socks!

What’s your oldest *active* unfinished object? (We’re not talking about things that are in hibernation here—I mean the things that get a little attention on a regular basis. Other than the Mountain Colors Throw that I’ve been working on during Project Circle, mine is this (second) sock, followed closely by this other (second) sock! See below for more sock-related inspiration!

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Ann
Classes starting this week, and a peek at the past

A few words about classes starting this week….

Age of Brass & Steam: You know how many shawls start with those mystifying instructions for a “garter tab”? Sign up for this class, and get some tips and tricks to help you master the technique. The pattern uses about 200yards of a DK weight yarn, so it makes a great one-skein accessory project. You’ll also learn a bit about shawl shaping, and there are easy eyelet rows to add interest. The pattern also features M1L and M1R prominently, so we’ll work on approaching them with confidence, and hopefully learn the skills to work them without referring back to the instruction.

The High Relief Cables Hat has interest whether you’ve knit cables for years, or are dipping your toes in the water. Did we mention that it is reversible? Why does that matter? I mean most of us can put a hat on right side out, most of the time. (Most of the time.) But what about scarves? This technique is adaptable to any situation where you want both sides to look good. (Think about the possibilities for knit-as-you-go edging on a cardigan front.

With the cabled hat class, there is a small amount of pre-class knitting, so if you’d like to join us, let’s get you signed up early in the week so you have a chance to knit a bit before Saturday’s class!

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Ann
World Wide Knit in Public Day -- Saturday, 2-5pm

World Wide Knit in Public Day is THIS Saturday, 2-5pm. I know—it’s a busy Saturday for many!—but it’s a fun chance to participate in a truly international event. Since its beginnings in 2005, when there were 25 Knit In Public events, it has grown to over a thousand events in more than fifty countries.

Whether you can join us for ten minutes or the afternoon, I hope you can come by! We’ll have some snacks and a door prize. If you have a lightweight camping chair, bring it along, and don’t forget your sunscreen!

(If you’d like to make a day of it, there is still space in Saturday’s Make-and-Take Wall Hanging class, which offers both knit and crochet possibilities. And we get to have Sandy stay for some knitting in public!)

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Ann
The OTHER Sweater Weather

As we ease into warmer weather, wardrobes change over to spring and summer clothes, and our heavier sweaters take a few months off. While it’s generally unnecessary to wash wool garments after each wear, it *is* best practice to make sure they are clean prior to storing them for any length of time. Warmer temps and drier air help handwashed items dry faster, which is a major bonus in my book. See below for a few tips on garment care.

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Ann