Goldilocks the Knitter and the Three Swatches :)

What is she talking about? you say.....yes, I can hear you!

It's the tale of Goldilocks the Knitter, and the Three Swatches!

Yes, some knitters think that only in fairy tales do you need to swatch......

Let me introduce Rowan's new yarns for Spring/Summer 2016.....

Summerlite DK (100% cotton), which is a dk version of their Summerlite 4ply.

It comes in a range of 16 shades and is the finest of Egyptian cotton.

and SoftYak DK, a combination of Cotton (76%), Yak (15%) and Nylon (9%)  spun in a chainette style.

Softyak DK comes in a range of 14 shades, and the mix of Cotton and Yak fibre gives a depth to the have to see it!

BOTH ARE DK YARNS! Remember that, it is Key to the Fairy Tale, er Story! 

Both have gorgeous yarn specific design booklets!

View all of the designs by Marie Wallin
 in the Softyak DK collection here!

View all of the designs by Martin Storey
in the Summerlite DK!

Well, guess what? Since both of these new yarns are can knit ALL of the designs in both collections in either yarn!

Rowan makes it easy for you, by providing yarn conversion tables right there in the back!

Goldilocks, being of that age.....sometimes she is too hot, sometimes too cool....rarely just right....needs a little cardigan to easily put on and take off......

Bronte, by Martin Storey
from the Summerlite DK Collection

So let me tell you about Goldilocks and her decision to knit Bronte! How could a knitter resist the Moss stitch, the lacy rib, the touch of lace on the front! Martin had created what was the perfect cardigan!!! Goldilocks knows she will have to make it a bit longer....but not too long! 

This design is in the Summerlite DK collection.....but yes, it can be knit in Soft Yak too! Rowan says so, it must be true!

NOW, this is where it the story gets dark.....hold on to your knitting needles!

Lucky knitter that Goldilocks is, she had a ball of each of these new yarns arrive in her mail box. What better way to review a yarn....than by knitting a SWATCH! Yes, I know, cover your ears if you hate the S word.....but you know you have to do these things, don't you?

(I have to tell you, I am AMAZED at the great knitters, fabulous knitters, experienced knitters.....who DO  NOT  S W A T C H!!!!! Seriously.... )

Bronte, knit in Summerlite DK, the gauge for the design is 22 sts and 33 rows per 10 cm (4 inches) with the recommended needle size of 3.75 mm! (Recommended needle size means that this is the size of needle that the average knitter uses to knit to the gauge as stated...the average knitter....that might not be you, or me either!)

Knitting a Swatch!  I like to cast on twice as many stitches as called for per the 10 cm, so that's 44, I then added 1 because you need 1 to balance the stitch design (as per the pattern) and then I added 2 stitches that will be edge stitches and will always be knit, no matter what row you are on!

Since the row gauge is 33 rows, I will complete 66 rows in pattern, so that will be a cast on, 66 rows and then a cast of.

These instructions should give you a  swatch just the tiniest bit over 20 cm (8") square...and be easy to measure for gauge. 

I'll measure stitch and row gauge right off the needle and then after hand washing in Eucalan, laying flat and patting into shape, letting it air dry! This is what is referred to when a designer says a "dressed swatch" - means it has been washed and dried how you intend to handle the finished item.

ok, here goes!


Cast on 47 stitches, two edge stitches always knit, knit 66 rows in Moss Stitch (per pattern), cast off!

Swatch 1 - Summerlite DK using 3.75mm as recommended by the pattern.

I loved knitting with the buttery soft cotton.

Right off the needles, this swatch measured 22sts and 30 rows!
Dressed it measures 20st and 32 rows to 10cm

Remember, we are looking for 
22 sts and 33 rows per 10 cm

Knitting a 40" sweater per the pattern at this gauge,
would give me a 44" sweater!

Yes, it would be too big, wouldn't it!

Swatch 2 - SoftYak DK using 3.75mm as recommended by the pattern.

I loved knitting with the combination of Cotton, Yak and Nylon.
Knitting it is like knitting with wool!

Right off the needles, this swatched measured 22sts and 30 rows!
Dressed it measured 24st and 34 rows to 10cm

Remember, we are looking for 22 sts and 33 rows per 10 cm

so that 40" sweater would actually measure 36.5"

It would be too small!

Well well, what do we see here????

Just because the yarns are both DK and they were knit on the same needle following the same instructions......doesn't mean that they will produce the same knit fabric! This so obviously shows the difference in gauge in the swatches, knit on the same needles, in the different yarns.

So what do we do? We swatch again!

Swatch 3 - Softyak on 4mm needles.

Before - 22 and 32 rows per 10cm
Dressed - 22sts and 33 rows per 10 cm!
This swatch hardly changed at all with washing and drying!

You can see that going from 3.75 to 4 mm needles is such a subtle change,
but gave the required result! The 4.0mm swatch is on the bottom!

(back to front)
While the first swatch was too big...
and the second too small...
the third swatch turned out to be Just Right!

This swatch is PERFECT! Goldilocks the Knitter is jumping up and down at this point, so excited to cast on!

You can see by the swatches above that changing needle size, it does make a difference....even if you are getting stitches to gauge, a change in needle size can give you the required row gauge also.  

If you don't obtain gauge....your garment won't will be either too large or too small; you will potentially run out of yarn (if you need more rows than gauge calls for, you'll use up more yarn), the fabric of your knit will be either too firm or too loose, the garment will feel stiff, or it will sag and droop....nobody likes a droopy sweater!

All of this is not a fairy is real life knitters. YOU are in charge of your knitting! Only you can take the time to swatch carefully and obtain gauge! Even when you think you are "close enough" it's worth another swatch to get perfect gauge, without having to do major blocking.

The moral of this story? Take the time to swatch, it is so totally worth it to ensure a perfect fitting sweater!

Is you head spinning yet? Well, not only can these designs be knit in either Summerlite DK or SoftYak DK, then can also be knit in....

Wool Cotton, Revive or Baby Merino Silk DK!

While Rowan has done the yardage conversions for you,
you will have to SWATCH to achieve the proper gauge.

Yes you will!!!

Happy Knitting,


x (with Lackie and Daisy at her feet on this Spring like March day!)

PS:  Then there are all of the lovely wool DK yarns that would make gorgeous wooly versions of these designs too! That means that patterns for other DK yarns can be converted to these new yarns. Swatching will always be required to ensure that the selected pattern is suitable for your chosen favourite yarn.

OMG - Think of the possibilities!

PPS: While I'm blogging here occasionally (when something really need serious conversation), I'm posting on Facebook daily, with knit updates, books, movies, etc. Why not join me there on my knitting community page..... Life LackaDaisiCal!


  1. Some really lovely patterns in the Softyak book. I'm trying desperately to stick to stash when it comes to garment knitting at the moment, but have quite a few DK wools there, so will probably be buying the booklet soon. Looking forward to seeing your Bronte.

  2. Oh grumble, grumble--I just hate it that I have to swatch! Why do why do I hate it so much? (cute post!)

  3. Thanks for doing all the hard watching work! Oh have swatch!

  4. Wow, I'm so surprised at the difference. Great post!

  5. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this post! It is really good information you are sharing here!

    I am just emerging from gloom as I just swatched with the Rowan summerlite 4ply yarn which I was so excited about, but on size 2 bamboo needles, after washing, my swatches are knitting up to only 24.5 stitches = 4 inches!!! This means my best option for a 4ply yarn for summer has now become a sportweight yarn. Sigh.

    So this post of yours makes me even more excited about the softyak dk yarn I just bought. I tend to knit too loosely, but if this yarn actually shrinks after washing it will be a great benefit and at least I should be able to make some normal dk weight patterns this summer! We will see what the swatches say....


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