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!