I used to greatly dislike swatching. Swatching was not fun… swatching was stressful.
It took me a long time to identify the knot in my stomach: I got it every time I sat down to swatch. I would knit for an hour or so, wait for the swatch to dry, and the whole time a little voice in my head worried that it might be “wrong”.
That it might have been pointless.
That no matter what needle I used, I wouldn’t get gauge… because even if I got close enough on stitch gauge, I rarely matched row gauge too.
And those gauge uncertainties added an element of unease to my sweater knitting. I spent most of my sweater knitting (you know, like hours and hours of my life) worrying about whether…
…was I adjusting my lengths properly to account for my row gauge difference?
…should I add a stitch or two here or there to account for my slight stitch gauge difference?
…should I knit a little looser, a little tighter? Has my gauge changed?
Blocking my sweater was always an exercise in “holy god why doesn’t this match the schematic – tug, tug, push, push, fingers crossed please fit!”.
NOT fun. Worth it for a great sweater, but not fun at all.
I didn’t realize all that, until I swatched without those pressures. First for my Alpha sweater, and now my for second:
(Yarn: Foxhill Farm Cormo Cross 2-ply)
This time, I just got to take my yarn for a test spin. See how I liked it. It was really kind of cool…
I have been waiting to knit this up for 4 years now. This swatch may look boring, but it’s some pretty special yarn: a Cormo cross from Foxhill Farm I bought at my first Rhinebeck post-kids.
I was home with the baby, I had only a small yarn budget, and I spent almost all of it on this yarn. The deep natural chocolate is *perfect* and the unique fiber content makes it extra special.
This yarn is sproing-ey and soft, and produces a uniquely luscious but structured fabric.
(I know this now, because I swatched. This makes me feel smart.)
Also purchased that Rhinebeck, to go with this yarn?
(Buttons: Shipyard Point Glasswords, from Rhinebeck 2009)
The most fabulous buttons ever.
I have been wanting to knit this up for, well, forever. (If you define forever as: almost 4 years now. I do.)
But this unique yarn, purchased at a festival from a small-scale producer, has limited pattern support. I haven’t had the head space to retrofit an existing pattern for this yarn, or design one from scratch for myself. So it’s been sitting in a drawer, slowing turning pleasure into guilt…
It was another big revelation that came from using CustomFit, that hit the core of what I knit and how I knit.
Everything that made it hard to use this yarn? Hard to swatch? Gone.
Swatching was fun. I got to watch the fabric unfold and daydream about what sort of sweater it wanted to be.
I could use the yarn I love. I’m not blocked from using festival yarn from an indie producer because of the lack of pattern support.
It was easy. The only effort it required was knitting up a square, and then making the design choices. (More on those this week.)
So. As Michael Scott said best: It’s a Win, Win. Win.