Hibiscus Cardigan.....the dreaded swatch!
It's June 1 - and as promised (or threatened), let the knitting commence! Well, not the actual knitting, but the preparation we need to do prior to the official cast on.....
Do you have your project "kit" together? Your pattern - it should be the Rev. 2/10 version (check on the bottom left hand corner of the back page).
Double check your yarn requirements - got everything?
I like to put it all together in one of the cubby shelves in my knitting space......like this.....
Needles recommended are 3.25 and 3 mm circular needles for the body and bottom band respectively, and 2.5mm for the neckline and front garter stitch bands. These are recommended needle sizes only -- because you need to use the size of needle that gives you the correct gauge. If you are a loose knitter, you will probably have to go down a size or two - if you are a tight knitter, you might have to go up a size or two -- you have to determine this somehow -- so.......
YOU NEED TO KNIT A GAUGE SWATCH!
OK, we all hate to swatch, but we NEED to swatch to make some crucial decisions about our project.
The pattern indicates a gauge of 32 sts and 32 rows per 4 inches/10 cm........and recommends doing a swatch of 48 sts and 48 rows minimum.
- Your swatch needs to be big enough for accurate measurement.
- You need to knit your swatch on the needles you intend to use to knit the project - because if you switch from bamboo for your swatch, to addi turbos for your sweater - your gauge may change
- Your swatch needs to be wet, blocked and dried - for accurate measuring.
As this sweater is knit in the round, your swatch has to be knit in the round......well, sort of. Use your circular needle - cast on the number of stitches that you want your swatch to be. You need to knit your swatch "in the round"..........like the sweater is going to be knit. Obviously you can't knit it in the round, but you can knit each row, joining in and breaking off the yarn shades needed for each row as you go. In that way you are simulating knitting in the round -- all of your rows are knit rows, and you should be obtaining the same gauge as if knitting in the round.
The stitch/row repeat for this design is 28 pattern stitches and 50 rows for one complete repeat of the motif. True Confession Time (TCT) -- My swatch is 30 stitches - but it is the full 50 rows! I did my swatch before I read the pattern - don't do as I do, do as I say! LOL!!!
Now if you are an experience fair isle (stranded) knitter, and you have worked with Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift before......you might decide that you don't need to do a gauge swatch. Well good for you! TCT - If I was going to sit down and knit a fair isle in Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift that called for this same gauge - I wouldn't either -- because I know that this is pretty much the gauge that I get using a 3.25mm needle. But if you don't know that - you have to swatch!
The size of needle that YOU need to use to get gauge for the body of the sweater dictates what size needle you should require for the bands. The pattern states 3.25mm for the body, 3.0mm for the bottom band and 2.5 for the neckline and front bands. If you say need to use a 3.5mm needle for the body, you probably should use a 3.25 for the bottom band and a 2.75 or 3 for the neckline and front bands. Of course we all knit differently - in designing this sweater I felt that the bottom band needed to be firmer than the body, but not too firm. The neckline and front bands I wanted to be firm to avoid droop. That's why I went down a couple of sizes for the neck/front bands.
Your swatch is key to predicting the resulting fabric of your garment.
So get swatching!
Next time.......my swatch, what size to make? Do I need to make any adjustments?
In preparation for this you'll need to make a copy of the pattern instructions so that you can make any notations on it that pertain to your size.