Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yarn Along in the City

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 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.


  1. Little Red is a beautiful book, I'm knitting Cria from it at the moment :) I didn't swatch 100% properly, but more so than before I read the book at all!

    I love the Abalone pattern, and it's one that doesn't matter if your gauge is a little bit out!

  2. Swatches is something I'm so poor at making, it's no wonder I've had misshaped items too. The yarn in that photos is so lovely. Looks very soft - does it knit nicely?

  3. Thanks so much for stopping by my page and taking time to leave a comment! All this talk of swatching makes me feel very guilty (hanging head) and results in me only knitting things that can turn out any size. Baby blankets, scarves, shawls, jumpers in ages significantly older than my daughter (on the assumption that she'll grow into it one day - it'll be the height of Summer, but that th's the advantage of being Scottish, we can wear wool all year long!).
    And speaking of Scotland and Ysolda, I'm also really homesick :( You're right, such a beautiful place.

  4. Like you, I'm so glad I bought myself a copy of this book. There is so much useful information provided.

  5. Add me to the pile of non-swatchers! I guess I should read the book if she actually can inspire us to swatch on!!!

  6. I have been knitting for decades (cough) and I have to admit I try to swatch the least. I cheat by using the same yarn brands that I know my gauge! Your knitting is lovely. Thanks for the book recommendation!!

  7. That book sounds fabulous, I must put it on my list!

  8. The book sounds like a fabulous resource! I have to admit, I've only recently become a little convinced that I need to swatch; I'm so impatient to start the real project, that it always seems like a waste of time, when really, it's not!

  9. oh i have been waiting to be able to buy my own copy of this book! swatching can be something to look forward to if you knit a 5x5 square each time you start a new skein, save it and when you have many squares, sew up a blanket!

    lovely wool!

  10. Like the colour of your yarn. Your knitting looks lovely and neat.
    Must get a look at that book.
    Thanks for sharing.


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