Swatch, swatch, and swatch some more
(Here’s a secret: swatching is just knitting, only you’re trying to gather some information.)
The January Gansey KAL is underway, and because the pattern gives a range of gauge options, you need to know how many stitches per inch you’re getting in order to pick a size. I was reasonably sure I planned to knit the sweater in Kenzie, but I was curious to see what the combination of stockinette and cables would look like in several other yarns, so I tried out Plymouth Galway Sport, Knitted Wit Polwarth Shimmer, and Elemental Affects Cormo Sport, in addition to the Kenzie. I used the same needles for all the swatches, but the gauge varied slightly—the Galway Sport measured 6.25 stitches per inch, the Polwarth Shimmer was 5.75 stitches per inch, Cormo Sport was 6.125, and Kenzie was 6.00.
So, pretty much the same, right? Yes, but: The stockinette section of the 36” size is 240 stitches. At the gauges above, the finished measurements would be 38.4, 41.74, 39.18, and 40 inches. In the end, it is knit fabric, which is forgiving, but in a pattern that offers sizes in approximately two inch increments, the Galway Sport and the Polwarth Shimmer differ by a size.
Other things to note: the cables have the most dimension in the roundest of the four yarns, the Cormo Sport, but show up very well in the lightest color (the Galway Sport) as well. The Polwarth Shimmer yields a gorgeously even stockinette fabric, and the swatch really shows the luster the silk content lends the yarn. Of all the swatches, the Kenzie swatch probably tells me the least—because I used a much darker color than I actually intend to use. (I swatched with a partial ball left over from a different project.) However, because I’ve used Kenzie frequently, I really just needed to know my gauge. I am confident that I’ll like the results in the oatmeal color I am actually using!
Make it yours: sew on cork tags have a heart shaped yarn ball on one side, “made with love” on the reverse. Sew-in care labels are especially good for gift items—no need for recipients to remember the recommended care!
The Gleener de-pilling tool is back in stock, along with replacement blades, and the travel-sized Gleener On The Go. Along with the Save Our Sweaters Lilly Brush, the Gleener is one of my most-used tools. The Lilly Brush is an excellent choice for 100% natural fibers, while the Gleener also handles anything with synthetic content. Spending just a few minutes after wearing a garment—brushing away any debris, removing any pills that have cropped up—keeps your handknits in good condition and looking their best.
Another new fiber care option is the Eucalan refill. Available only for the 16.9 oz bottles, you can bring in your well-rinsed empty Eucalan bottle and have it refilled for $12. It takes about five minutes—save a couple of bucks, and keep some plastic out of the trash! We also have pumps available to control the amount of wool wash you dispense.
I’m always interested in color names, whether they are perfectly specific or maddeningly vague. (Make Believe, Benjamin Moore? Make Believe??)
I recently encountered a resource documenting colors in Elizabethan dress, which emphasized that both modes of naming hues have been employed for nearly 500 years. Rat’s Colour? Evocative. Sad New Colour? Confusing.
Edward VI, above, decreed that only a specific number of colors could be manufactured in England in 1522. This list is from Color Names Throughout the Centuries, compiled by Penny Ladnier.
Murrey: Mulberry colour
Sheep's Colour: Natural
Puke: Dirty Brown
Orange-Tawney: Worn often in plays.
Lion's Colour: Tawney, yellowish tan
Marble, Sad New Colour, Motley, and Iron Grey were also documented on the list, but are in need of more research.
For more color names and descriptions, check out the Color in Elizabethan Dress page—it’s lots of fun.
The Beeswax Cowl used two skeins of Blue Sky Fibers Eco-Cashmere—it’s a nice size that lets you snuggle the super-soft fiber right up next to your neck. The structure of the pattern—ribbing, transition to the honeycomb, the honeycomb, more transition, and then ribbing again—keeps the knitting interesting. If a cowl isn’t your thing, but you like the stitch pattern, there are patterns for a hat or mitts, available individually, or as a set (with the cowl).
A sad fact of life is that sometimes, through no one’s fault, shop samples get damaged—usually they are just snags that I can ease back into place. My original Seahawkshiker (the Hitchhiker pattern in Frolicking Feet) was finished just in time to wear to watch the Seahawks prevail over the Carolina Panthers in a 2015 playoff game, and has been here at the shop with a shawl pin in it since then. It gets handled a fair amount, and I recently realized that the shawl pin had been poked through several stitches instead of between them. I originally considered a repair, but ultimately decided that knitting a new one, this time in Apple Fiber Studio’s “12” was a better course of action. While this season is over, a Hitchhiker is a great autopilot project to have on the needles, and this will be ready for next year!