I never used to swatch. Never. I didn’t even know what swatching was! I still don’t tend to swatch for kids’ garments or accessories, unless I’m making up the pattern myself, but when I comes to sweaters and cardigans for me, I have totally changed my ways.
Last week I spent a couple of evenings swatching, ripping and swatching again for my Outfit 2 sweater. Can you see how my swatch in the photo has a fringe? That’s because I swatched in the round. I needed to do this to check my tension against that required for the pattern (which is knit in the round) and I know that typically my tension changes between knitting flat and knitting in the round. What’s clever about the swatch I made is that instead of using a ton of yarn and knitting a complete tube; at the end of each row I slid my knitting to the tip of my left needle and carried my yarn loosely around the back and then knit the next row. I used a circular needle, but you could use a double pointed straight needle. By slipping your stitches and carrying your yarn this way, you are always knitting on the front of your work, just like you do when knitting in the round. Jane Richmond has a great tutorial explaining this technique which you might like to check out.
Anyway, making the effort to swatch was especially worth it this time because it meant that I got to test out the stitch pattern. I’m so glad I did, as I’ve ended up making some changes to the pattern as written so that it suits me better.
You see, the front and the back of the sweater are covered with a travelling stitch. It’s a two stitch “cable” and although technically it could be done with a cable needle, Veera suggests a method for twisting the stitches without one. I tried but I just couldn’t get it right and my stitches were looking AWFUL.
Here’s what Veera suggested:
Right twist (k/p): knit the second stitch, purl the first from behind, pass both stitches on the right needle;
Left twist (p/k): purl the second stitch from behind, knit the first stitch, pass both stitches on right needle.
I found that my knit stitch ended up too long on the right twist and the left twist was awkward to execute. I wonder if she’s a continental knitter and if that’d make this method easier to execute? Anyone tried it?
After flicking through my books, I found that in fact there are several ways to knit two twisted stitches. I tried a couple and eventually found a method that I liked. Then, after fiddling with it in my swatch, I decided that my travelling knit stitch looked even better if it was twisted. (You can see the difference between untwisted knit stitches at the bottom of my swatch and twisted ones at the top – see how the top ones are so much neater and my tension more even?).
So, my swatching paid off and now I’m twisting every knit stitch (including at the ribbing along the neck and bands so it matches). The method I’m using to do my two stitch (twisted knit) cable is this:
Right twist (k/p): slip the two stitches to right needle as if to knit 2 together, insert left needle through both from left to right and slip back to left needle, knit 1, purl 1 through the back leg;
Left twist (p/k): slip the two stitches to right needle as if to SSK, insert left needle through both from right to left and slip back to left needle, purl 1, knit 1 through the back leg.
It takes a bit longer but the result is a tight, neat line of travelling twisted knit stitches. I’ve noted the method I’m using on my Ravelry project page too.
Better get back to it ;)
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