Sometimes I Swatch


Ah, would ya just look at that swatch!? Isn't it gorgeous? It's the type of swatch that makes me really happy about the fact that I keep all of my swatches in a basket and one day I'll have enough that make sense together to sew into a beautiful patchwork blanket. It makes me want to swatch a few more cable motifs just so I can add them to my swatch basket because the more I think about it the more I really want that blanket... but I want it to be authentic, so I won't knit fake swatches for it, I'll have to just plan more cabled projects. 

Anyways. So the swatch! It's one of two swatches that I knit in preparation for casting on my latest sweater project, the Plattsburg Pullover by Whitney Hayward. I've loved this design ever since it first popped up on my Instagram feed close to a year ago. I had planned on knitting it in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the Faded Quilt colourway left over from Chris' Cordova and even packed the yarn, pattern and needles with me on vacation last summer but never got around to casting on. I think that in my heart of hearts I knew that I wanted this sweater to be white, but I feared that my lifestyle wasn't white-sweater friendly. I've decided to throw caution to the wind and use some long-hoarded Elsa Wool Cormo for this project. The yarn is beautiful, the sweater will be exactly what I wanted and I will just have to grow up already and not spill coffee on myself/not wear this sweater whilst making spaghetti sauce. 


And now for the swatch talk. I don't always swatch - I knit with my own yarns so often that I am very familiar with how they knit up under different circumstances. That's probably not a good enough reason not to swatch though, for me the real kicker is that I am usually not that picky about fit. If I know that I want a finished project to be within a certain size range and I know that I'll be happy with it regardless of the exact finished measurement and that I'll be able to get within that range with a certain TFA yarn/needle combo, then I just jump right in and go for it. A good example would be when I knit Indian Summer. I knew that I wanted it to have positive ease but wether it had 6"-10" didn't bother me so much. The drapey fabric made by the fingering weight yarn and the drop shoulder silhouette are very forgiving so it wasn't that risky a move. I just went for it and knew that I would achieve something within the range that I was going for. And it all worked out! 

For this sweater however, I'm using a new to me yarn and I think that the fit in the shoulder is pretty critical to my overall satisfaction with the finished garment. The pattern gives lots of information about swatching, recommending 2 swatches and specific cast on numbers and measurement goals for each swatch. It also includes specific fit information based on the sample shown on the model, in this case the model is wearing the size 35.5" with 2" of positive ease. This type of info is super helpful because now I can really picture how the sweater will fit me and I have a much narrower specific finished dimension in mind compared to what I had when I knit Indian Summer. 

The swatch was super helpful for several reasons. First off it gave me an idea of how I liked the yarn, how I liked knitting with the yarn on this particular needle size and also how I liked knitting the motif. It has happened in the past that I've knit a swatch, got gauge, but really didn't like the way the fabric created by the specific yarn/needle combo behaved, maybe it was to gauge but it was too stiff for me. It's also happened that I've knit a swatch, everything looked hunky dory, but I hated the actually knitting process, maybe the design featured a specific stitch that I just really didn't enjoy knitting. (That happened when I swatches for Chris' Cordova, I hated knitting the bobble motif that is featured in the pattern). 

For this specific gauge swatch my stockinette stitch gauge was spot on, the fabric created was lovely, the cable looked great and was a pleasure to knit BUT my gauge across the cable panel was off by 1/2 an inch. Which is a big deal! The cable panel is worked four times around the body of the sweater, so I'd be off by 2" if I didn't make adjustments. Luckily, the necessary adjustments were simple enough to make (I omitted a stitch from the centre of the cable panel and that pulled everything in tight enough to make up the difference) and now I'm on my way!

This pattern is so far such a joy to knit. Seriously. It's very clearly written and the results are just so darn crisp and clean. I'm completely into it. The construction is interesting and at this gauge this sweater is knitting up in a flash. 

I'll have more to say about the yarn in a future post because it's really special. It's my first time knitting with cormo and it's unlike any yarn I've ever knit with before. I soaked my swatches for well over an hour and they were still not completely saturated with water, which is just so cool. This is pure wooly wool but still super soft and magical. I can see why people fall hard for cormo, it's very special.