20 May 2018

When Swatches Lie

Well, OK swatches don't lie, but they can tell us things we don't want to know.  I have been wanting to make this top since last summer.  I didn't tackle it last year, because I was determined to finish my Cranberry Custom Fit sweater no matter what, and did not want to even think about starting something else.

But as you know, that sweater was finished, another was actually started and successfully completed (I still find that hard to believe!), and this year I decided somewhat informally that my knitting goals were going to include learning some new things.  (I say informally because for the first couple of months of the year, my knitting goals changed several times a day.)  So a few weeks ago I bit the bullet and purchased the pattern and some Quince & Co. Sparrow yarn in the colorway Port.  My "learning" for this was going to be knitting with linen yarn.  I know it's supposed to be tricky, and that it also softens and becomes much more lovely once it has been washed.

Starting off, there are already two things here that are So Not Me:  1) I actually purchased a pattern.  I am such a cheapskate when it comes to patterns, and I think it's because I feel like "little" purchases add up so fast I'm always surprised.  If I spend $$ on yarn, I'm spending all of it at one time, right in front of me.  But if I buy three patterns over the course of say, a month, and each one is $6.00-$10.00, all of sudden I'm surprised at how much I've spent; 2) I am trying a type of yarn that even a lot of really experienced knitters I know just won't even try, as they think linen is AWFUL for knitting.

I can tell you right now, that it's not really wind-able into a center pull skein - ask me how I found out. ;-)  But that aside, I got two skeins ready and knitted a swatch.  Obviously, it's different than using wool - I mean, it's got NO give or springiness at all (kinda like me on my best days).  But I didn't find it particularly frustrating, and I dutifully knitted my swatch, gave it a soak, and a bit of blocking.

Proof (and yes, it's a bit wonky.  Work with me here).

The pattern calls for 5.5 stitches to the inch.  I'm usually pretty spot on getting gauge, which is lucky because I'm not someone who can easily figure out the math/measurements/whatever involved to adjust things.  I measured in four different areas, and each time got 6 stitches to the inch.  GAH!  I asked God WHY SUCH TERRIBLE THINGS MUST BEFALL ME???? (Oddly, he seems otherwise occupied and not completely focused on my knitting.  Thanks, Obama.)

Sigh.  I don't want to go up a needle size, because I like the fabric I have with this swatch, and think going up would make it too sheer for my tastes.  The pattern says that the resulting top has approximately 2 inches of positive ease.  So it seems that my choices are to go ahead with this, but then possibly end up with a top much bigger than I would like, or actually go down a size, and then worry that it will be too form-fitting for my taste (and my form).

It's true.  These are the times that try men's [women's] souls.  WHY MUST MY SWATCH LIE TO ME????

I shall have to make a decision and go forth.  And I will, and hopefully it will all work out in the end.  But I didn't choose the color "Port" so I couldn't w[h]ine.  (I'll be here all week, folks!)

Anyway, if you have any words of wisdom, feel free to share.  If not, fall onto your knees and thank whatever deity you believe in that such tragedy has not entered your life (and you can also thank them for not making you Overly Dramatic while you're at it).


In other news, yesterday was of course the royal wedding, and the excitement level at our house was insane.  This photo pretty much sums it up.

I will say that I thought her dress was lovely, and I hope they will have a happy life.  I shall leave it there, since I have *many* thoughts about the entire topic, but let's just stick with the kind ones, shall we?


And, finally (yes!), I will just share with you that 40 years ago today, The Tim and I graduated from college.  I was first in the class!**

Have a nice Sunday.  I just saw the sun come out here, so I'm gonna get dressed and take a walk.

**we graduated in alphabetical order


Tired Teacher said...

And THAT is exactly why I don't even try to knit garments. Enjoy your walk - I haven't seen the sun in nearly a week.

Araignee said...

I so feel your pain. Me and swatching never goes well. I usually just have to adjust the size I knit with the stitches I get. It's a real crap shoot that rarely works but hey...as slow as I knit it will be years before I know if it worked and I will probably have outgrown the garment anyway. Sigh.....

Mereknits said...

Swatches and I do not get along, well maybe it is because I never swatch big enough. Frankly I usually just jump in and see what happens. I am a big sucker for a royal wedding, well actually any wedding and I thought it was a nice break from all the horrors going on in real life.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I've never knit with linen myself, but I have linen top mom made and I can tell you it doesn't hold its shape well.
I'm down with the cats and the royal wedding. After it was all over, I checked online to see her dress (the only thing I really care about), and I was a little disappointed. It was okay, but I liked Kate's MUCH better. However, I did LOVE the tiara.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the kitties have the right perspective on all the hoopla.

kayT said...

You might get your swatch wet and dry it a bit in the dryer. I have found that often makes things change size a bit, in every direction! In which case you might find going up a needle gives a fabric you like. Also, remember that the more times you wash linen the softer and more pleasant it becomes.

AsKatKnits said...

I am knitting with linen currently as well and found swatching to be a bit of a challenge. And, then I read the instructions on the tag and thought... hmmm, maybe I should be machine washing this sucker. And, so I did. With a load of towels. I know, what was I even thinking. Blocking... nope. I just laid it out on my desk top to dry. AND, my dry fabric was something of a wonder!! The stitches more "floofed" and with the floofing came a more cohesive fabric that was ON GAUGE!!!

The knitting marches on, and I am loving it (okay, maybe that is a stretch) but I am entirely in love with my swatch and I am positive that this will transfer to my finished top.

And, just so you know... I love Edie! I think I might have to bite the bullet and knit one!

Karen in PA said...

I have knitted a couple of tops in linen, and I am here to say that it stretches. My advice is to go down that needle size.

Caffeine Girl said...

Wow, you and The Tim have been together that long? Impressive! Lovely, really.
I have no wisdom on sweaters or linen, so I won't confuse the issue.
I'll be watching your journey with linen, though. It's such a lovely fiber.

Nance said...

I am not a swatcher, but then again, I don't knit with Big Bucks Yarn and don't make garments that need to be fitted carefully. That would be too stressful, and knitting is my Therapy.

Love love LOVE the marmie cat picture. I swear I can almost feel their soft warmth.

Vera said...

I love linen, but not sure I would love to knit with it. Mary (Mere et Filles) just finished Edie and it is gorgeous - go take a look at hers. she also had to majorly change it (after it was finished) to shorten it up. It is a very pretty pattern.

karen said...

I hope you can decide what to do and that whatever you decide makes you happy! I thought her dress was nice too. My husband has way too many comments about the subject.