The arrival in my mailbox of a new book yesterday has meant that joining in this week's Yarn Along is imperative. Other reading has been cast aside for Ysolda Teague's 'Little Red in the City', which, along with having some lovely patterns, is all about how to adjust a pattern to suit your own shape. As I write this now, I realise that in all the years I've been knitting, I have only knitted three proper garments for myself - not counting scarves and hats - and all of them have ended up being a bad fit.
Perhaps my first problem may be the little swatching block I possess. After reading Ysolda's chapter on that, I think I might just be dedicating the odd evening here and there to checking and rechecking my gauge before I launch into a new project. The way she writes, I think I might be almost convinced swatching is the best part of the whole process. And it's not just knitting a swatch and measuring it, oh, no. She recommends washing it, letting it dry, hanging it out with weights to see how it will be affected once worn, and even carrying the swatch around in your handbag for a few days to see if it pills. (A very sensible idea after I invested over $100 and lots of bits of lots of months knitting a beautiful vest in beautiful alpaca, only to find it misshapen after a few wears, and pilling like an old overused rag...so disappointing!)
I've always struggled with how to switch the recommended yarn in a pattern for something more affordable/available/already in the stash. Ysolda's in-depth discussion of yarn fibre, structure, drape, weight, loftiness, etc, makes me realise there's so much more to consider than matching stitches per centimetre and needle size (and thus why swatching is so important - take note, Greer, take note...)
Ysolda is a young Scottish designer. Ahh, Scotland. Such a beautiful place. Such a cold, cold winter I spent there. No wonder she designs such lovely woollen things...
All this talk of swatching has made me a little nervous about how my Abalone will turn out, given I didn't really do a very good job of...OK, I didn't swatch. I just started a few rows, did a quick measure and decided close enough was good enough. I'm about halfway through it now and if the finished product is a bad fit, I have only myself to blame...and Ysolda to thank for future perfect knitted wonderfulness.