Sweetness KAL Part 1: Yarn and Swatching
Welcome to the Knit Darling Sweetness Pullover KAL! If you missed the announcement, catch up on the details about entering to win and participation here. Part 1 is all about yarn! Your KAL assignment this week is to select yarn and figure out what needles you need to use by making some gauge swatches.
The pattern for Sweetness was written using Tosh Sport yarn from Madelinetosh. This superwash yarn is tightly wound, very smooth and a little bit on the dense side. The result of these attributes is incredible stitch definition and a full but supple knitted fabric, which made for a really nice fit on this negative-ease sweater. While these attributes produced a very beautiful sample that looked great in photos, the sweater came out a little bit heavier than I usually prefer for everyday wear.
For my KAL sweater, I have decided to use a different yarn from the pattern. There is always a lot to consider when substituting yarn, but that's all part of the fun, now isn't it? My #1 desire is a lighter weight sweater because I know I will wear it more.
I got some really beautiful Shi-Bui Pebble yarn from Knit-Purl in Portland, Oregon that I am going to try out held doubled. The pebble yarn is an exquisite cashmere/recycled silk/merino blend, so I think the fibers will probably bloom and fill out after blocking to make a deliciously soft light fabric.
If you're also going to substitute yarn, what do you plan to use? Let me know over in the Ravelry forums here.
Now, on to the swatch!
Of course thorough swatching is one of the best ways to ensure a successful project. It's important to keep notes about every swatch you do, too, especially if you're doing a radical yarn substitution like I am.
For every swatch, I make a tag with all the pertinent info: needle size, yarn type, pre-blocking gauge and post-blocking gauge. I'm pretty meticulous with my gauge documentation because I like to know how the fabric is going to behave pre- and post-blocking. This info might be useful when I figure out how long to knit my sweater.
I had to make three gauge swatches before I got close enough to the 5 stitches per inch gauge listed in the pattern. Size 6 needles ended up working best, which was actually a little surprising to me. After blocking my third swatch, I got about 5.25 sts per inch. I want a very snug fit, so I think this will work just fine. Also, my experience with silk blends has been that they grow a little with wear.
When you're making a gauge swatch, it's very important to simulate how you will knit the actual sweater as much as possible. You might notice that my swatches look a little funny. Since this sweater is mostly worked in the round, I decided to also make my swatches in the round on circular needles. Also, it's good to knit the swatch with the exact same needles you plan to use. I've written a little about this subject before, you might remember.
There is an easy technique for this simulated circular swatch. You use circular needles to make something very similar to a gigantic icord. Cast-on normally, a knit row, then scoot the stitches to the other end of your needle. Pull out about a 6" tail, and knit to the end, leaving the strand to dangle across the piece on the backside. Continue scooting and knitting to make the swatch.
There's a good reason for making this funny swatch. Most people have a different gauge for knit stitches vs. purl stitches. The difference can add up dramatically over a large number of rows.
I wet-blocked the swatches (because that's how I plan to finish the actual sweater) and cut the strands with scissors before laying them out to dry.
If you're joining in on the KAL, come on over to the Ravelry Forum and share what kind of yarn you're using.
I'd also love to see you on Instagram. Follow me @alexiswinslow and use the hashtag #sweetnessKAL when you share your project pics.