Sunday, September 18, 2011

Progress Report

I told you yesterday that I was just about ready to block my February Fitted Pullover, and I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures of my progress.

As usual, I started without a swatch. I knew that I wanted the hip to be a little bigger than what the pattern indicates, so I started out with size 7 needles. Now, this is the size you're supposed to use, but I generally knit loosely enough now that I need to go down 1 or 2 needle sizes from whatever's on the pattern. I figured that using a size 7 would give me the result I wanted. But you know what? Even if it didn't quite, knits are forgiving enough that I knew I'd be in the ballpark. The key is to keep measuring as you go. After I knit the bottom band and the first lace pattern repeat, I had enough on the needles to figure out my gauge. I decided I wanted to go down a needle size, and after another couple of lace repeats, I went down one more needle size, ending with a 5. This provided some gradual shaping already, and by the time I got to size 5 needles, I was knitting at gauge and ready for waist decreases.

When I'm knitting bottom-up sweaters in the round, I usually stop after finishing waist decreases so that I can block the sweater-in-progress and try it on to ensure a good fit. I do not like surprises at the very end! Anyway, I love my Denise needles because it's very easy for me to take off the needle tip, add extra cord length (so that I can try it on later), and throw the whole thing into the sink.

See how the water has turned? I'll have to remember to use one of those Color Catcher sheets when I wash the sweater. Next comes squeezing out as much excess water as I can and rolling it up in a towel to get out even more water. I start out squeezing the towel with my hands but then I move to kneeling on it. This step really speeds up the drying process.

When I'm testing for fit, I like to let the sweater dry au naturale--no pinning, stretching, or manipulating. Every once in a while, I'll pick it up, shake it out a bit to "relax" it, and then lay it back down. I want to make sure that the measurements I end up with are the ones to which the yarn naturally wants to conform. Even though this is a lace pattern, it's not some delicate thing where I have to pin it out to open it up.

And now for the moment of truth:

At this point, I check my gauge again and figure out whether I'll need to make any additional adjustments the rest of the way. Onward!


  1. I have to admit I'm shocked - SHOCKED! - that you don't do a gauge swatch!

    But it's coming along beautifully! And I love the extra close-ups of the nails!

  2. Gail, I am a rebel! ;-) There are some circumstances when I do a swatch, but most of the time I don't.

  3. Very cool. I've tried them on as I go ... but never went as far as to block it while partially knit.

  4. Not only are you a rebel but you're also such a trendsetter. I would have never thought, let alone attempted, to test my knit part-way through knitting. Beautiful detail and, yes, your nail color (again) is beyond words. Okay, what is it this time?? : )

  5. Thanks, Delusional Knitter and Evelyn. It's always worked well for me. If I didn't have needle cords I felt comfortable submersing, I'd put it on waste yarn. If you try it, I'd love to know what you think!

    @Evelyn, it's still the Sephora by OPI Eve-y on the Eyes. It's just different lighting :-)

  6. Looks great so far!

    Even though I've already recovered from my shock on learning (last year?) that you don't swatch, I think I've figured it out :-)

    You spend time matchmaking yarn and pattern options in advance and you're not impulsive. I think it's a matter of a lot of thoughtful reflection, research, and Ravelry. You have good instincts for how a yarn is going to behave and you are comfortable with adjusting as you go.

    You're still a rebel though! It's a rebellious act to dive in and start without a swatch, and I'm sure it's incredibly satisfying to bypass that step and get on with the knitting.

    PS That color reminds me of Jenna Lyons's (<--?) tee in the Stylespotting photo.

  7. @Twisted Knitter: you are a good knitting analyst! You're right in that the times I do swatch are
    -if I don't have a good sense of how a yarn will behave,
    -or if it's an all-over pattern that won't have much give and I don't have a good guess of whether I'll be loose or tight with my gauge

    I found that when I tried to make myself do little 4x4 squares or even a little larger, it wouldn't always give me totally accurate results anyway. Maybe it's because I wouldn't get into the same rhythm and my gauge would change later as I went along for the actual garment; or maybe I was unconsciously or semi-consciously fudging my gauge measurements just a smidge in my impatience to get on with it.