Lessons in knitting (posted by Ann)
You just know with that title it's going to be bad, don't you. Brace yourself. I have learned Why We Swatch.
Remember the pink sweater that turned out to be for a boy, and the replacement sweater, Fana, I was so excited about? Well, the story starts out well. I swatched, like a smart knitter, and here's the swatch.
Then (this is foreshadowing) I decided that I didn't need to block the swatch, I could just measure and go. (Do you hear the evil music in the background yet?) Then I also decided that I was going to do a different sweater than the one I swatched for but it would be okay since it was the same yarn and the same size needles, and it called for the same guage.
By now anyone but me would have figured out there was trouble ahead, like Jimmy Ray said that the Lone Ranger knew there was a bad guy because he could hear the music.
But no, I cast on and happily knit about 6 inches of a really pretty sweater. Then I get a little worried because the checkerboard pattern at the bottom looked like it wanted to pucker, so I got the iron and steamed a little and while I was steaming I took a good look at it and actually, the sweater would almost fit me. It's meant for a 2 year old. So I threw the sweater in my knitting closet. If it would actually fit me, I'd just keep going, but it almost fits me, not fits me.
While I fumed, I figured out what went wrong. First of all, when I did the swatch it was a little big. Honestly, just a little - like two stitches over four inches. I figured that was close enough when clearly it wasn't. Also, I didn't realize how much wool can relax when it's hit with that steam iron, so I should have blocked and then measured. And another also, the pattern I'm using has more blocks of color and so it seems that my tension is different. So here's what Ann has learned.
Swatching is not something you do 2 minutes before you start a sweater as an offhand nod to the admonition in the pattern. It is a serious endeavour. Now I understand the blogs I read where they show a stack of swatches five high before they find the right needle size etc.
So, on my flight last night, I swatched for another sweater. I'm not ready to forgive Fana, so I need another project. I made this swatch,and I'll steam iron it and measure it about 10 times. Then I'll trust the measurement instead of saying things like "close enough". Then I'll measure the sweater obsessively to ensure that I'm staying true to the guage before I knit 6 inches. Long before I knit 6 inches.
In other news, I'm in the UK at Tylney Hall. It's very cool and very English, with chintz and lace and I'm on a courtyard somewhere in a very nice room. I'm glad they gave me a map, I'd never find my way back otherwise. Upstairs, downstairs, across courtyards, etc. I'm in the mode of "don't sleep today since you'll never get on the right time zone if you sleep in the day" so I sort of look like the walking dead and am starting to feel that way too. Dinner tonight at 8, and bed within 15 minutes afterwards. It's raining here but at least it's not cold.
So, how is the IOE? Are you surviving? I've been thinking about you a lot, hoping that you are finding it not as intimidating as it you thought it would be. Post and tell us that you're alive!
I'm off to take a walk and see if I can find a transformer before my battery dies completely. I brought the camera and my PC, so I'll be blogging my way through Europe. Cheerio!